Scenes from a Revolution [MT/PMT intro; semi-open]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Scenes from a Revolution [MT/PMT intro; semi-open]

Postby Analeuthocosia » Sat May 07, 2022 11:01 am

Reserving this initial post for some basic housekeeping stuff.

- Semi-open means that anyone can get involved, but please let me know what you plan to do before doing so. I can be reached via TG or discord (nmi#3177).
- This thread covers events up to and including the formal foundation of the country of Analeuthocosia. These events are often alluded to in the text rather than described, and the text is structured more as a montage of scenes from the perspective of characters involved in the action. That said, all of the major events described here should be public knowledge unless the post implies otherwise, and are open for reactions.
- Ways that people can get involved: supporting or opposing the faction that's the main driver of the plot (AKILA) or any of the other various factions mentioned (e.g., the National Front, the People's Islamic Movement, etc.), either diplomatically or through sending weapons. Having volunteers on the ground participating with one of the various factions, or acting as international aid workers. Obviously, the country will be founded no matter what, but you can still intervene militarily to try to weaken it if you want to; how much territory it will control when it's founded is still open.
- An additional way that people can get involved: once I reach the point where independence is declared (probably 6-8 posts if no one wants to add anything), a standard international press release will be issued (potentially also in the GD news feed) and people can then officially establish relations with, condemn, or otherwise interact with the new country in a more RP-typical manner.
- This is a basic draft map showing the relative locations of most of the cities and microstates named in the text. Scale is 1km = 2px. Borders, precise locations, etc., are not final.
- NS population is used, but left intentionally vague for the most part.

If there's any confusion, I'll update this post to clarify matters.

I've added a news post here, which supplies a good deal of backstory. This is not essential reading by any means, but may be helpful for people who still aren't entirely sure what's going on.

I've also added an OOC thread here.

Posts will be long, usually in the 2000-3000 word range. Comments are always welcome, but it's totally understandable if no one reads this.]
Last edited by Analeuthocosia on Tue May 17, 2022 9:13 am, edited 3 times in total.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Posts: 32
Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Sat May 07, 2022 11:03 am

I. The Vanguard Party

For as long as anyone could remember, the Republic of Kozani had been locked in a fratricidal civil war, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced. People who'd travelled there with international aid organisations, and come back with eyes dead as its blighted cities, described it as a place whose entire youth had grown up with the sound of bombs in their ears. Perhaps that's why people had expected the revolution, when it came, to come from Kozani.

In international terms, the Republic of Kozani had been somewhat of a nonentity to begin with: a tiny country sandwiched between the Marshite Theocracy, which had spent centuries trapped in its own long war, and a sizeable upland region referred to as the Analeuths, consisting of dozens of landlocked feudal states left behind in the collapse of an ancient colonising power. Kozani’s capital and largest city, Whitechapel, had mostly served the purpose of producing award-winning stock photos of slums, frequently used by newspapers to illustrate stories about wealth inequality. The country's population had been three hundred and fifty million, though no one knew exactly how many remained, but it was otherwise negligible in terms of economic power or political relevance. Indeed, the total economic output of its three hundred and fifty million prewar citizens had been no more than double that of the eighteen million citizens of the Free City of Laurentia.

It was no surprise, therefore, that Laurentia—largest and most important individual city in the Analeuths, the sole polity in the region governed not by a hereditary nobleman under a quasi-feudal system but by a Council of Electors—had become the regional centre for Kozani watchers. Nowhere more so than the University of the Kara, its four-hundred-year-old ivy-encrusted buildings and sheltered gardens overlooking the eponymous river, which drained most of the Analeuths before flowing out into a broad floodplain that had once made up the economic spine of Kozani.

It was a Saturday in April, just about the start of the rainy season. In the Pierson Botanic Garden, Anker Darby, Professor in International Relations, was seated in the shade of a gingko tree alongside the student who had most recently stolen his heart (or at least some part of his anatomy). History books would later date the start of the revolution to three weeks ago.

"Two years ago," Professor Darby was saying, "the legitimate government of Kozani—or what was left of it, you'll recall—had finally fallen. Lockport was in the hands of the Islamic Socialist Workers' Army, ISKJ. In theory this changed little: the National Front still controlled most of Whitechapel; the Kara Plains were in the hands of the ITH, the People's Islamic Movement. ISKJ was a minor player in this drama." He paused here, more for effect than anything else. "But with the fall of Lockport, where did the Kozanian Army flee to? Only one route was left to them: across the Arvaz Hills, and into Albany—"

"Er, excuse me, Professor," interrupted the student, raising one hand. "Um. Couldn't they have also fled the other way, up towards Turn-of-River?"

She seemed genuinely puzzled; her deep liquid brown eyes were turned upon his beseechingly, or perhaps simply due to the desire to get a First by any means possible. God, she was beautiful. What was her name again? "Ah—into the Analeuths? Certainly some did," said Professor Darby. "But almost certainly no one of any consequence. The bulk of the matériel, as I said, ended up in Albany and Shoreditch and Dacia—in the hands of the Popular Mobilisation Units."

"The whole thing really is just endless alphabet soup, isn't it," said the student ruefully. "So many factions to remember."

"It certainly is, yes," said Professor Darby with a chuckle. "But I'm sure you'll do fine, Madina." Ah, good. He hadn't forgotten her name after all.

"So now we think the... Popular Mobilisation Units... are going to sweep across the rest of the country and fight the National Front?"

"It would be unlikely. They are very decentralised, as you'll remember from last week's lecture." Professor Darby smiled tolerantly, knowing she didn't. "But everyone knows the Kozanian National Front has spent the last two years rearming. They are a present danger. People within the Popular Mobilisation Units know this. If they could unite all twelve major left-wing groups into a true vanguard party, they would be the only force capable of standing up to the Front."

Madina processed this for some moments. "It's complicated," she said, finally.

"Only in the details," said Professor Darby. "There may be thirty-one different factions here. But fundamentally, it's always come down to the Kozanian National Front—the EMK, in their language. Factions can be classified as pro-EMK, anti-EMK or neutral. That's the important thing."

"I... guess so," said Madina, slowly. "We know the National Front's bad. The New City massacre, the ethnic cleansing. But do you really think all these socialist parties will join up into a.... 'vanguard party'?" She didn't make the air-quotes to go with the last two words, but they were nonetheless audible.

"It's been done before," said Professor Darby. "But never in Kozani. Never anywhere in our part of the world, really, except for Mahdah, which has... its own problems. That's why I'm watching the situation so closely. And if you're interested at all in socialist politics, you should, too."

And because he had been watching Kozani so closely, he had missed the formation of the actual vanguard party by about six months.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The first day of the revolution had started much like any other: someone needed something.

It was eight in the morning, on a frosty day in March—statistically speaking, the coldest month of the year—and Serafina Nikhaia, General Secretary of the Laurentia Branch of the Analeuthian-Kozanian International Liberation Army, had only just reached her mobile command post, which was a camper van attached to the back of a pickup truck. There were two men outside, both evidently waiting for her. She could place one of them—he was Ilhan Tsamay, an armed forces volunteer from Elyria, thirty-nine years old, three children, has odd opinions about Mokastana—but the other one didn't seem familiar. Perhaps it was time for Serafina to admit that she couldn't keep up with recognising all sixty thousand people in her branch, but she rebelled against this notion instinctively, despite the fact that it was objectively true.

"Secretary Nikhaia, glad to see you," called Ilhan as she approached. "Do you have a few minutes?"

"Always," said Serafina. "What's going on?"

"You won't know this man," he said. "But we need his cooperation, and you're the best placed to explain who and what we are." A memory from several nights ago struck Serafina as he spoke: Ilhan had been on the list of men Captain Erdeni had assigned to covert operations in Wintervale. She shifted her gaze to the man beside him, who was heavy-set yet oddly gaunt, as though he'd just come out of a long period of malnutrition, and whose beard and black hair were ragged and unkempt.

"I'd be happy to," said Serafina neutrally. There were a lot of reasons she shouldn't be happy to, in fact—this was going to be a busy day—but one of the Captain's intelligence operatives presumably had something important on his mind, to impose on her time like this. At least, that was what she chose to believe. So she directed both of them into the camper and sat down opposite them at the narrow built-in table.

Belief had pushed Serafina through a lot of things. Right now, it pushed her through assembling her automatic rifle as she listened.

The man, whose name proved to be Zayd Alkhosh, told a familiar story: he had been a servant on the estate for all his life, as had his parents before him, and his grandparents, and so on. He had four children, the oldest being twenty-two, the youngest six. He didn't know exactly where they were. His wife had been jailed by the Duke of Wintervale on suspicion of treason. Serafina could deduce that the wife had been one of AKILA's inside agents, and now it was left for them to convince her husband to take her place. She could also deduce that it would not be possible. From Zayd's perspective, the current Duke might be a terror of a man, whose mistreatment of his serfs was legendary; but couldn't the problem be resolved simply by installing a new Duke or Duchess? Why did Serafina want to upend the entire system when she could simply become a liege lady in her own right? (It was, after all, not unheard of for a commoner to ascend to the nobility.) Serafina asked few questions, and these were mostly aimed towards redirecting Zayd gently away from the political topics, and towards his family.

At length Zayd's words began to flow less quickly, and his voice—which had always been calm, even as he described the living conditions under the Duke—began to break with the strain of so much speech. Serafina had, by this point, set her rifle aside to lean against a table leg; its absence seemed to disconcert Zayd more than its presence.

"I've done nothing wrong," he said. "I don't understand why I was brought here with a hood over my head, like a criminal. Even if I wanted to fight for you, I couldn't. And I don't understand why you're doing this... socialist thing... at all."

"That's... understandable," said Serafina cautiously. "I'm glad you at least felt comfortable to tell us as much as you have."

Zayd froze for a moment, as an expression of comprehension seemed to dawn on his face. "You brought me here only to extract information from me, didn't you? You never cared about—"

"No." Serafina cut him off gently, with a raised hand. "Anything strategically useful about the Duke's estate, we already knew. You can ask Ilhan if you don't believe me."

Ilhan half-smiled. "Fact. We've had several people on the inside for weeks."

Zayd looked from one to the other, and then began: "So then why..." before trailing off into silence.

"I asked you questions because I was interested," said Serafina. "I wanted to see your life as you see it. We needed you because we need everyone—all people. Not on our side, specifically," she added, as Zayd seemed about to speak, "but alive, and living good lives. We want as few people to suffer as possible. People are important."

Whatever Zayd had been about to say had evidently been replaced by a separate concern: "I'm just a servant," he said. "I'm not very important."

"What would get done at the Duke's estate if he had no servants?" asked Ilhan.

Zayd opened his mouth, shut it again, and retreated to safer ground. "What would I do without a station? What would happen to me?" he asked.

"I don't know," said Serafina. "What do you want?"

"I want for... maybe the Lord Stephen, that's the Duke's second son, to rule instead, because he's always been a good person," said Zayd after a moment's thought. "We've all been hoping he would take over someday. He might let me see my family again. And perhaps there'd be higher pay for the servants, and better pensions..."

"I'm not asking about how you'd prefer to get what you want," said Serafina. "I'm asking what you want."

"I don't—" Zayd started. Paused. Was silent for several long seconds. "Oh."

"The nature of socialist revolution," Serafina said, "is to free people from having to ask: how can I meet my own wants, or those of others? Because you will always have that ability, under socialism. All people will be equally valuable, with none ruling over the other. And it is something we can achieve. We are an army of international liberation. We have six branches, covering fifty-nine of the sixty-eight Analeuthian Feudal States. We can liberate the Analeuths from feudalism, and Kozani from civil war. But it's only worth it if we're doing it for the people." She paused, trying to gauge whether Zayd was absorbing this; it wasn't possible to tell. "That's why we always ask you what you want."

Zayd stared past Serafina, at nothing. "I think..." he said. "I want stability. Peace and quiet. Safety for my family."

"I can tell you it will take time," she said. "And adjustment. And there are those—like the Duke—who will resist change with violence. But I can also tell you you'll never have those things with a nobleman holding your life in his hands."

He was silent. Serafina took the opportunity to continue.

"There are people who call us a vanguard party. That means we're the ones who clear the way towards a brighter future. It also means that not everyone can keep up." She glanced at Ilhan, realising she had no idea exactly what they were asking of Zayd, and hoping he would pick up on that in what she was about to say. "We're not asking you to fight for us. That is a lot to ask of anyone."

Ilhan had done enough intelligence work to pick up on the cue. "All we're asking," he said, "is for you to give us the space to work. Any access codes, if you have them. You don't have to do anything yourself."

"But we are asking," said Serafina. "Not ordering. You have a choice."

Zayd glanced from one to the other, and let his gaze settle on Serafina. "Then I have to say no," he said. "I know you say you want to do this without violence. But people are going to die, your people and mine. I don't want to be part of that."

Ilhan pinched the bridge of his nose, but kept silent. Serafina said only: "Fair enough. Ilhan will take you home."

"...That's it?" asked Zayd, surprised. "Look, I promise I won't tell anyone about anything I've seen today. I—"

"Taking you home is not a euphemism, Mr. Alkhosh," said Serafina dryly. "You'll be free to return to your duties at the estate. I trust that you won't tell any of the Duke's people you spoke with us."

A cloud of uncertainty passed over Zayd's face: he had clearly never even contemplated that.

"But I do have a suggestion to make," she added. "There must be people you trust, at home. Your friends and fellow servants may have missed you, may have wondered where you've been. I suggest that you tell them the truth. Tell them about us. You can leave out what we asked you to do, if you wish."

At some point while they were speaking the camper had jolted into motion. Serafina only noticed this once it came to a stop once more. Evidently they had reached the rendezvous point.

"Miss... Nikhaia," said Zayd, his voice troubled. "You're the leader of this entire vanguard party, aren't you?"

"Only in this region," she said. "Why?"

"You had me brought here, to yourself in person, without knowing whether or not I was an agent of the Duke or some other nobleman you wish to overthrow." He seemed to be grasping for something. "Isn't that... unsafe?"

"I'm just one person in a big party," said Serafina. "I'm not very important. Besides, there's not much you could have told the Duke that he wouldn't already know."

She picked up the rifle and slung it across her back, and pushed open the door of the camper. Dappled sunlight spilled in. They had arrived at a wide spot in one of the dirt roads that wound through this whole area of the Analeuths, with several cars parked along the fringes of the road, half on gravel and half on the grassy margin. Beyond that, on either side of the road as far as the eye could see, stretched the green expanse of coffee plantations. And audible just over the sound of the pickup truck's idling engine was the distant chatter of gunfire. Just one burst—but enough to know that it was organised.

Zayd heard it too, and his face paled.

"This isn't the estate," he said.

"No. I'll drive you back there." Ilhan picked up a set of car keys. "You'll have to wear the hood again, I'm afraid."

There was another distant fusillade of gunfire, and then an even more distant muffled boom, which reverberated across the landscape. Zayd said: "So the war's already started, then?"

"No." Serafina swung round to look at him directly. "The war started hundreds of years ago, when the first settlers and their aristocrats arrived here. We're just ending it."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Battle of Wintervale lasted three days. The first shots were fired around five in the morning, on March 15. History books would later record that AKILA had shot first. By the time Serafina arrived on the scene, the Ducal arms depot fifteen kilometres from the City of Wintervale had already lost half its garrison, and the remaining dragoons would surrender two hours later, at ten-thirty.

This was not the event later considered the beginning of the Analeuthocosian Revolution.

All morning, bands of AKILA paramilitaries had continued to arrive at the depot. By the time it was taken there were over five thousand on the scene. The Duke of Wintervale's estate had a ceremonial guard of two thousand dragoons, and the City of Wintervale had a security force of four thousand; all of these people had been mobilised to defend the estate by noon. This was, of course, a minimal number for a microstate of four million people, but the only other military force it maintained was the bondsmen, conscripted from the general population, and who would take time to rouse. As such, those six thousand men were all that stood between AKILA and control of the country when Serafina's forces crossed the distance and took up positions surrounding the estate, in the late afternoon. They outnumbered the paramilitaries by enough to make a difference. The war might have ended there.

The siege of the estate was also not considered the beginning of the Analeuthocosian Revolution—and it would be another two days before it fell.

Zayd Alkhosh was returned home on time, arriving just after ten. It is not documented what became of him after Liberation Day, but it is known that he kept his unofficial, unenforceable promise; he did not speak to any of the Duke's people about what had happened, and accepted the blame for being late to work, and the docked pay, and the threats of violence. It is also known that he did follow Serafina's suggestion. He spoke to fellow servants and to guest workers alike, telling them who had abducted him overnight, and telling them what Serafina had told him, about socialism. Always he prefaced these words with phrases like "I'm not sure if I can believe this, but..." and "Bear in mind I can't verify...". It is known that he was not among the eighty or so of the Duke's house staff that revolted over the night, after the estate and its grounds had already been placed under lockdown.

Most of the staff that revolted and tried to kill the Duke themselves did not survive. But, as anachronistic as feudal societies might seem in the modern era, the Duchy of Wintervale had tried to keep up with the times. As such, the Duke had announced that he was under attack on live television. Many of the servants who revolted had mobile phones. Many had quietly shared word of their plans with friends and relatives online. News of the war against the Duke spread rapidly across the City of Wintervale and its surrounding suburbs, and among the many people who hated him and had suffered under his rule, at least a small percentage decided that it was time to make sure this revolt was successful.

Thus it is Zayd Alkhosh who is officially credited with beginning the Analeuthocosian Revolution. Serafina, of course, looms large in his story.

As a cadre leader in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Kozani, KDEK, Serafina had known all of ten people: five in her particular cell, five contacts to whom she disseminated orders and from whom she received information. When KDEK merged with the Analeuthian Antifascist Alliance to form AKILA, its dense top-down structure proved to have concealed ten thousand more party members in Laurentia City alone, all organised into tiny, mutually naive cells, and 3A had brought thirty thousand of its own members. And then Laurentia Branch had been merged with Halua Branch to bring the total even higher. Serafina had chosen to believe she could still manage in exactly the same way, with careful attention paid to the needs of each individual.

By the time the Wintervale Estate fell, near the end of the third day of the siege, another forty thousand volunteers had streamed in from the city alone, all eager to lend a hand to the downfall of their hated lord. The number would swell further over the coming months. And it was not only Laurentia Branch that benefited.

The few times party members spoke to Zayd Alkhosh afterwards, he credited Serafina over himself; he said he would not have passed on word of AKILA and its goals to anyone else, had she not trusted him. That it would never have occurred to him not to do what she said; that he wanted stability, yes, but he was also burningly curious to see what she would do.

In time, this would become a matter of legend as much as fact.
Last edited by Analeuthocosia on Thu Jun 02, 2022 10:17 am, edited 3 times in total.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Posts: 32
Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Sun May 08, 2022 10:35 am

II. The Living and the Dead

Halifax had, at one point, been the fourth-largest city in Kozani, with eight million inhabitants. It was, perhaps, still the fourth-largest in area. Renet Sakashli could believe that; it was essentially her entire world.

She was about a mile away from the front line. Ladies' Mile, once a fashionable shopping avenue, ran from the avenue's terminus at the old Murchisons Insurance Building, whose lower floors still housed machine gun nests and command posts, to Hasadi Square—now a burnt-out no-man's land littered with spent mortar casings and rubble. The Popular Mobilisation Units had turned that entire mile into a kill zone, constantly monitored with artillery and mortars and machine gun nests. On the other side of Hasadi Square, bounded on all sides by barricades, Queens Road led further into what had once been Halifax's central business district. It had been turned into an equally impregnable kill zone by the National Front.

Sometimes, when scouting closer to the front line, Renet could see them: distant tiny figures in dark fatigues, usually disappearing around corners when spotted. She couldn't feel any animosity towards them, just a sense of detachment. Even when the Front advanced—which they did about once every two weeks at this point—it seemed almost orderly, with the PMUs falling back in time with the first mortar shells. Today, stationed at the flat roof of Twelve Ladies' Mile, which had once been three residential floors overlooking a department store, she couldn't see anything at all on the National Front side of the killzone. But she and her squad had to remain on watch until relieved, and as a result, she was rolling her fifth cigarette in as many hours.

"You know," she remarked to Jorge Hadzhi, who was seated a few meters away beside the team's anti-material rifle, "if I'd known the whole war was gonna be like this, I'd've never joined."

"Comes with being a low-intensity conflict, ma'am," said Jorge noncommittally. "Two months a year of actual fighting, ten months of sitting on our asses."

"I guess." Renet tapped her handiwork with a finger, decided it was good enough, and lit up. "If the Front were smart they'd just stay home."

"If they were smart they wouldn't be Front," said Jorge, not looking up from his sights. "Ma'am."

(She was, officially, in command here, but the PMUs remained extremely lax in terms of military discipline.)

"True. Daniels, how are you holding up?" She nodded towards the youngest member of their team, who'd been sneaking surreptitious glances at his phone for at least two hours.

Karoun Daniels looked up guiltily. "Er, fine, ma'am. Everything's shipshape."

"Something real interesting on that phone, I'm sure. Care to share with the group?" Renet blew smoke towards him.

"Um..." Karoun ran a hand through his hair, a nervous gesture for him. "Just curious if any of you've heard what's going on in the Analeuths. It's pretty interesting."

"Yeah, there's some new party, isn't there?" said Jorge. "That's miles from here, though. Not that interesting."

"It's called the Analeuthian-Kozanian International Liberation Army, sir," said Karoun. "Plan to liberate all the Analeuths and Kozani. It's the old Democratic Front merged with some local antifascist group. There's six branches leading open revolts, but the branch down in Laurentia is the one in the news because it's actually winning fights. They took the Duchy of Wintervale and the Principality of Aghavam, and now they're moving on the Barony of Crestmere."

Renet and Jorge shared a glance. "So that's where Chairman Bey's people went," she said. "I'd always wondered. Are they of concern to us?"

"Actually, ma'am..." Karoun flipped his phone around to show them. "Social media says Chairman Bey may or may not be involved. But this person is who's led their victories so far."

Renet accepted the phone and stared at the image on display: a slender, round-faced blonde woman, certainly no older than Renet herself, carrying a Covenant Arms-made rifle and wearing a uniform emblazoned with insignia of a crossed gun and machete, overtopped by a red star. There was nothing particularly remarkable about the woman on first glance; she did not have a fighter's build, nor was she especially attractive, nor did she exude charisma. But there was a particular look in her eyes (which were green, Renet noted) that somehow compelled the viewer not to look away.

Renet scrolled down to read the description: ...Serafina Nikhaia, 26, general secretary of AKILA's Laurentia Branch, is believed to have led the assaults personally...

"Wintervale, Aghavam, Crestmere. That's three of the absolute worst," she said, passing the phone to Jorge. "Probably took only a small push to drive the serfs into open revolt. It'll be a lot harder once they get closer to the border. You know her?"

"Nope," said Jorge. "Is she actually Nikhay? She looks a bit pale for it."

(Inhabitants of Kozani and Analeuthia alike, along with some areas of northern Mahdah, tend to identify themselves less with their nationality and more with one of the original eight tribes believed to have inhabited the area before colonisation. Of the eight tribes, the Nikhay were by some distance the most common. Stereotypically, they were almost all farmers and pastoralists, even if in the last two centuries such tribal distinctions had eroded. The nom de guerre Nikhay or Nikhaia could thus be taken to mean, perhaps, something like "common as dirt".)

"Who knows," said Renet. "Weird to think someone a year younger than me's doing all that."

"I know what you mean, ma'am," said Jorge, who was thirty-two. He was continuing to scroll through the news article on Karoun's phone. "It sounds like she— no way."

Renet straightened up, hearing the disbelief in his voice. "What?"

"I know him." Jorge passed the phone back to her. "We served together at Northcote." It had settled on the image of a man who met every qualification for tall, dark and handsome, his perfectly chiseled jawline adorned with a permanent five o'clock shadow, a confident smile on his face. He was, indeed, so attractive that Renet had difficulty believing this was the face of a soldier rather than a movie star.

"Who's that?" Renet asked.

"His name's Joseph Erdeni. Captain in the Twenty-Seventh Division. I was in the Twenty-Eighth. But the divisions got separated during the retreat. If he's one of this Nikhaia's people, that means she's serious—"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Albert and Maria, 79th Baron and Baroness Crestmere, were a well-matched couple in all respects. Both in their late fifties, they cut dignified figures, he being tall and grey-haired with a handlebar mustache and a body that, while given slightly to fat, still displayed the athletic type associated with his frequent hunting and fishing trips; she being petite with a stern but unlined face, hair still mostly brown with its grey strands un-dyed, and an appearance that overall could have been that of someone ten years younger. Occupying a patch of highland but thirty miles from Laurentia, Crestmere was clearly a politically favoured barony, and husband and wife alike showed every sign that their position had granted them extremely good lives. Those lives were now over. They had been knifed to death and their naked bodies dumped into the stables.

The stench of death didn't bother Serafina; she had encountered it far too many times for that, by now. But she did always want to see the people she'd had killed. To know that they were human beings, like herself, who had once had thoughts and feelings. If you didn't do that, you'd get used to it.

"...was it necessary to take their clothes before killing them?" she murmured to the man beside her, quietly enough that the sounds of celebration and conversation from outside ensured that only he could hear.

Captain Joseph Erdeni kept his face absolutely straight as he replied: "Of course. Would you wear something with machete holes in it?"

"Fair point," said Serafina softly, giving the huddled corpses one last, more-than-cursory examination, noting the patterns of blood spatter. The automatic rifle slung across her body felt heavier than usual. Somewhere in the darkness of the stables, corralled away from the violence, there came the frightened whinny of one of the Baron's thoroughbreds. She turned away, and began to walk back out onto the grounds of Crestmere Manor, Joseph following.

"I think it's just the local serfs doing it, this time," she said. "That fits."

"Don't think the Baron and his people didn't deserve to die," said Joseph. "The things people in Crestmere have been through—"

Serafina shot him a look, and he fell silent. "I'm familiar," she said. "We saw it for the first time when we liberated Wintervale. The people had been frightened for so long. When we came... they wanted revenge. Blood."

"They got it."

Out here on the grounds, amid the small knots of people passing into the manor or emerging from it carrying anything they could find, the bodies of members of the Baron's house guard were littered, already cold and stiff. Serafina paid them no mind. She'd counted all the bodies earlier and matched them up with the household payroll stubs passed to AKILA by their inside source. To a man, the house guard had fought to the death, in exchange for the princely sum of twenty-six thousand talīsi per year, without benefits; a salary barely sufficient to raise a child. She didn't want to think too much about that.

"Well, yes. And some of our Wintervale recruits came with us to Aghavam." She didn't let her voice break, but she didn't want to think too much about Aghavam, or the things she'd seen inside its Prince's palace. "But their desire for revenge was already more tempered by then."

"We hunted down every last member of the Royal Guard," said Joseph. "I would call that many things. Justified. Necessary. Unpleasant. Tempered? Not entirely."

"Our Wintervale recruits—almost universally—just shot the Royal Guardsmen in the head. Humane executions, considering what they deserved." Serafina paused. "It was the Aghvāni who we'd just liberated, hours ago, who were doing, you know—"

"—yes, I know."

Joseph's face was pensive. Serafina couldn't tell if this was because of the actual bloodshed he'd seen or simply the breach of military protocol—he had, after all, served in the Kozanian Army officer corps, or what was left of it, for seven years, before fleeing into the Analeuths. Ever since, he'd been averse to further promotion, but if the Analeuthian-Kozanian International Liberation Army continued to grow at its current pace, she reflected that someone would have to promote him to a Major, or maybe even a Colonel. Probably her. When she'd been elected General Secretary of the Laurentia regional chapter she'd delegated all military planning to him, and he was frighteningly good at it.

He was many other things as well: loyal, brave, beloved by his men. One of the few people Serafina thought she could call a friend. Very nice to look at, too, but she couldn't let herself think that way. Rumour had it Captain Erdeni had lovers, male and female, in every major city on the continent. Rumour was only slightly exaggerating.

"Everyone says we're only succeeding here because of the recruits," she said. "There's almost no local support up in Nashua, or down in Paramac. The knights—or local equivalent—have mustered their bondsmen. But down here in the Kara plains the lords were too extreme, and that's why the common folk are joining us. I don't know if I believe that."

"I think there's an element of... leadership involved," said Joseph, choosing his words carefully.

"Well, perhaps. But to my mind the biggest element is fear." Serafina came to a stop beside her mobile command post, noting with approval that the camper had acquired no new bullet holes, and half turned to face him. "It's not that people in Nashua don't fear Lord Eryrion—I'm sure they do. But we haven't yet offered them an outlet for that fear, a chance of victory. When we do, that fear will drain out, and the true uprising will begin."

"I'm not sure I follow that," said Joseph. "The Nashua branch just needs a stronger military strategy. One that's a bit less conservative. There's a difference between being careful with lives, and being too passive...."

"I'm not considering Nashua," she said. "I'm considering Wintervale, and Aghavam. When we liberated Aghavam, the Aghvāni were afraid, and brutal. The Wintervale recruits were merely angry, and efficient. And today?" Serafina extended an arm towards an open staging area on the manor grounds, which had been taken over by men and women in AKILA uniforms; tents had been erected, and all manner of goods, from priceless artwork to cheap clothing, were strewn over blue tarpaulins on the ground. She could even identify Anrike, one of her first Wintervale recruits, a man who had once torn off a ducal dragoon's kneecap with a shovel, helping direct the orderly organisation of the Baron of Crestmere's worldly possessions, ensuring that nothing would be looted and everything would be disposed of in a centrally planned manner.

Joseph recognised even more of them. "They're distributing the goodies now instead of hunting down the rest of the household," he said, half-smiling. "Good for them. That's the smarter option."

"It's not about being smart," said Serafina. "They're not afraid anymore. And when they lost their fear they also lost their bloodlust. They no longer desire vengeance, or to kill, or maim, or humiliate."

"There was plenty of killing today," said Joseph. "Wintervale recruits took out half the military police when we were taking the city."

"Yes. They'll do it when it's necessary. But what we've shown them is a world without fear. One where the cycle of violence isn't eternal."

Joseph stared at her for a moment. She couldn't read his expression, and wasn't sure if she wanted to.

"Someday, this ends," she said. "Someday we live in a world where no one fears others enough to oppress them; where, when someone has to die, they die a good death. That's the promise we've made the people of our countries. That's what we have to make good on."

She held Joseph's gaze for a few moments.

"If you say so," he said, finally.
Last edited by Analeuthocosia on Thu May 12, 2022 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Holy Marsh
Posts: 5521
Founded: Nov 09, 2007
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Holy Marsh » Mon May 09, 2022 6:34 pm

The land to the northwest of the Theocracy had been in turmoil for decades by the time of AKILA's rise to prominence. There were many small, independent states that operated and gave rise to the Marshite designation for it- the Independent States. Holy Marsh would maintain diplomatic ties with many of them, overseen by a special department. As the war(s) dragged on, many such diplomatic outreaches would end with many of those states that were seen as violating various Marshite principles while some were strengthened. Beyond that, however, they mostly stayed out of the war. The Theocracy had their own concerns- The Long War, the Brief Marshite Civil War, The Shift- and as long as Marshites were safe and there were no great sins being committed, it was decided that the people would solve it their own way. Peacefully or violently, Lainika was content with either. Marshites would still send aid, but at first, it was purely humanitarian. That is until the EMK made a fatal mistake.

The Marshite Self-Defence Force that had been established to protect local Marshites in New City was not what it should have been. Local Shrine Leadership had severely undercut the MSDF's funding and training, trying to maintain a peaceful posture in trying times. Their understanding was that no enemy would be foolish enough to attack them so close to the Theocracy. Their defeat and the death of many Marshites at the hands of the EMK would end such foolishness. For their part, the EMK was brutalized to the very core of their identity with a vicious bombing campaign and an airborne operation that liberated hundreds of thousands of people- mostly Marshites, but others as well.
Lainika was talked out of a ground invasion of the whole mass of the Independent States only barely. From then on, the various MSDF forces in the Independent States would arm themselves appropriately, while the Theocracy made it clear that they would intervene to protect Marshites at any time once more. The object lesson of the EMK- decades after, even their families were still being targeted, their associates wiped out- would prove informative. From that point until the end of the war, the Theocracy would use the navy and air force to regulate the transit of goods into the nation to the best of its ability.

After this, aid would increase manyfold. For the most part, the aid was not dissimilar. Foodstuffs and medicine would be sent to the hardest-hit regions under Marshite protection and distribution, with the help of local officials. These officials would be punished for using food and medicine as leverage if caught doing so, but for the most part, this was a rare occurrence. Marshite refugee bases and aid distribution centers would operate across the Independent States, providing for millions what their states could not. Unlike before however, military aid would be delivered to the combating factions. The overwhelming majority went to factions such as the modern-day AKILA, and it was almost entirely under the table. The Theocracy was not worried about being seen providing arms to rebel groups, of course. They felt no threat from such discovery. Instead, it had been AKILA and likewise that had sent the request, and the Theocracy had agreed to such terms.

The situation continued thusly for some time. The Theocracy would provide aid and protect the Marshite community openly, while silently supporting some factions with military gear over the long haul. This state of affairs would only change slowly over time, as the GDS started taking over the aid shipments. Luboski had argued that even though military aid was involved, the majority of the deliverance required the GDS to be involved and as such, it fell under her purview. Arch-Bishop Lainika was convinced of this after several years, and Luboski was put in charge of the aid distribution. On the service, this changed little. In reality, however, aid flowed more heavily to certain areas and factions than before.

When Luboski became the Arch-Bishop, this aid was supercharged. She had resolved to try and end the Northern Troubles and knew that the time was ripe. She gave KDEK, 3A, and then AKILA tremendous amounts of more direct aid while MSDF forces were gently, and not so gently, advised to help those factions in their localities when the situation presented itself. The involved factions would still want the military aid to be more under the table, though it came to be hard to completely cover the nature and origin due to the sheer amount. The factions involved and the Theocracy itself would deny it still, if only until the war ended.
Holy Marsh is ranked 1st in Nova (Greysteel) and 571st (477th) in the world for Largest Defense Forces.
Holy Marsh is ranked 2,723rd in the world and 1st in Greater Dienstad for Most Inclusive.
The Shift: An Update on Holy Marsh
" exercise in sadomasochistic futility," - Engaging in warfare against the Union
United World Order was unjustly deleted.

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Posts: 32
Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Mon May 09, 2022 8:42 pm

III. Culture Shocks

It was a year when four holidays coincided: Catholic Easter, Karaite Easter, the holy month of Ramadan, and the University of the Kara's Professional Development Week. For one glorious week, every Academic Head, Dean, Provost, and Vice-Chancellor was away at a retreat out in the surrounding hill country, traditionally in the Duke of Delwyn's country estate, granting the real academics an all-too-brief moment of freedom from interference and mindless busywork. Although nominally Catholic, Professor Darby could not resist the opportunity to immerse himself in cleaning up his service commitments, to which every academic was expected to devote a certain amount of time in order to retain their Professorship. He had spent half the year serving on useless committees, boards and mentorship programmes; he could now resign from all of them and still have them show up on his record when his performance review came around.

At least, that was how he would later, privately, explain why he'd had no inkling that anything was even wrong. Of course he'd been aware of AKILA, he would protest. He had simply dismissed it as unimportant, and been too snowed under with academic busywork, and the cancellation thereof. His focus was Kozani, anyway, and AKILA wouldn't cross the border for another three months.

In the moment, things happened quite differently.

His colleague, Associate Professor Frederic Sharp, poked his head around the entryway to Professor Darby's office. It was about half past eleven, and Professor Darby was in the process of viciously (but with great satisfaction) deleting every email he'd ever received from the Humanities and Social Sciences Steering Committee.

"Sorry to bother you, Darby," said AP Sharp, "but have you heard anything at all from the Dean? We seem to have... lost him."

"For good, I hope," said Professor Darby. "No, I haven't heard a thing—not from anyone in our department. I count that a stroke of luck."

"Heh," said AP Sharp, less of a chuckle and more of a forcible exhalation. His voice was light: "Your luck may hold out, then."

But the expression on AP Sharp's face was incredibly worried, something very much unlike him—the man was renowned for his extreme stoicism in the face of any interlocutors, whether tearful students begging for paper extensions or angry administrators berating him for missing grade filing deadlines—and Professor Darby began to wonder exactly what was going on here.

"What exactly is going on here?" he asked.

"It's quite likely nothing," said AP Sharp. "They're probably far away from everything that's happening and, I imagine, worst case scenario they may simply take somewhat longer to get back into the city."

"Everything that's happening," repeated Professor Darby.

AP Sharp blew through pursed lips. "I... may be making a big deal out of nothing," he said, finally. "But you should probably see this. Meet me in my office in a minute or two."

The gathering in AP Sharp's office proved to include a full half-dozen academics and an equal number of students, all summoned on the Associate Professor's vague suspicions, which Professor Darby knew from experience to be more like politely worded certainties. He was exceptionally pleased to see Madina among the students, if somewhat disappointed to note that she was paying no attention to him whatsoever. AP Sharp had already hooked up his laptop to a small wall projector, and was playing back a video clip from one of Laurentia's television stations which had, apparently, been live-streamed half an hour ago.

"—taken the Delwyn Burghaus and the Ducal residence with the assistance of at least a thousand local rioters," a news announcer was saying. "If this can be confirmed, it would be the fifth sovereign state in the Laurentia Region to fall to the so-called Analeuthian-Kozanian International Liberation Army in the last month. Believed to be under the leadership of the reclusive Chairman Bey—"

"He's back?" sputtered Professor Darby. "Here?" Every eye in the room turned towards him, as the newscaster continued:

"—communist paramilitary group that now controls almost twenty-five thousand square kilometres of territory in the Laurentia Region. The city is expected to be placed under curfew—"

"So, how much trouble are we in, exactly?" asked AP Sharp.

Professor Darby rubbed his forehead. "I didn't even know he was still alive. Thought one of the other factions must have gotten him. This could be bad, or good— wait a moment. Did she say twenty-five thousand square kilometres?"

This time it was the student, Madina, who answered: "Wintervale, Aghavam, Wakefield, Crestmere, Delwyn. All their dukes and princes and whatever got overthrown and this AKILA is what's being held responsible. See, I told you Professor Darby would know." These last words were addressed to AP Sharp, but filled Professor Darby with sufficient warmth for a moment that all the heartache of his divorce almost felt worth it.

"Yes, I certainly know Chairman Bey, my dear. Not in person, of course," added Professor Darby hastily, "but I know his work—an interesting synthesis of traditional Marxism-Leninism with a more Hoxhaist mindset, very difficult to get hold of these days, of course. His analyses of cultural imperialism are quite interesting—extreme, I admit, but fascinating. For at least thirty years he has been the figurehead behind the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Kozani, or KDEK, a group that's fallen completely off the radar in the last few years. In fact, there were rumours it had dissolved entirely not too long ago, six or seven months ago, I believe."

"Not the whackjobs who were running cocaine out of smallholdings in Amistad?" asked AP Sharp.

"The very same. Evidently he's back with a new—and more successful—organisation."

"So all our administrators..." started another Professor, whose name Darby couldn't recall at the moment.

"Almost certainly in custody, and will be ransomed back to us in order to raise funds for the next stage of Bey's operations. He follows a predictable modus operandi," said Professor Darby. "But he should have been in Kozani, well, liberating it. Instead he's taken a route straight towards Laurentia from Wintervale. What does he want with us?"

There was a brief silence. Into it, AP Sharp said quietly, "Evidently his modus operandi isn't quite that predictable anymore."

"I've been studying the whole situation," said Madina, frowning. "And you're right, it doesn't make sense. There must be something we've overlooked. Professor, um..." She met Professor Darby's eyes entreatingly. "Can you tell us everything you know about the Chairman? Explain his whole philosophy?"

Professor Darby smiled, and cleared his throat. Sometimes, life was good.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The Duke of Delwyn's Palazzo was not really much more than a big manor house surrounded by grounds, hedges and electric fences in downtown Delwyn itself. As far as the mansions of hereditary nobility went, Serafina had seen (and conquered) more impressive ones. But their plans at the moment called for nine days of downtime prior to taking Laurentia, so she had cleared out a wing of the palazzo for AKILA business: convocations, committee meetings, logistical planning, and of course people coming to her in large numbers to ask her for things. This was not a centralised top-down organisation like the KDEK she had joined at university; its merger with the Analeuthian Antifascist Alliance, ideologically heterogeneous and lacking any central leadership whatsoever, had established a completely new organisation that combined all the simultaneous disadvantages of Marxism-Leninism and Anarchism. She never had time to worry about the questions like "how are we even going to take Laurentia at all?", and didn't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Right now it was a scenario she'd long been prepared for, and one she expected would play out over and over again over the next few weeks. Thus it was with some relief that she called in her 3:30pm visitor, whose more elevated concerns should prove to be a welcome change to the war planning.

Lin Sandanski, who entered, had served as chair of 3A's Marshite Caucus and was now one of Serafina's most trusted Cultural Officers. Tall for a Marshite (that is, a few centimetres taller than Serafina) and with an extremely easygoing manner, Lin could be found wherever there were people in need of emotional or physical support, talking the distressed down from despair and defeatism, helping arrange the distribution of food and clothing and necessities to refugees, liberated serfs, and prisoners-of-war alike, and acting as spiritual advisor to anyone in need—without ever overtly proselytising the Marshite faith. All simply out of a sense of duty born from the call to that faith, one shared by twenty-five million Analeuthians and a near-equal number of Kozanian refugees. It was an aspect that had always drawn Serafina's curiosity, though not enough so to ever visit the country herself.

"Secretary Nikhaia, thanks. It's good to—" Lin stopped short, staring not at Serafina but at the bearded, bald-headed old man beside her. The old man gazed dispassionately back through half-moon spectacles. "Sorry. Is he... supposed to be here?"

Serafina couldn't suppress a smile. "Oh, yes, definitely. But I can ask him to leave if you'd rather speak to me in private."

"No, no, it's fine," said Lin, almost literally waving the objection aside with one hand, before taking a seat in the chair in front of Serafina's desk. "Was just curious, is all. I don't think I've met him before."

Serafina did not make the introduction. Instead she said: "Tell me—us—what's on your mind, then."

"Well... ah... it's a few things," said Lin, carefully. "Okay, I'm sure you've guessed at least two of them. But there's also lots of internal Marshite stuff that you probably don't follow that closely."

"I'm not totally unaware of the outside world, Lin," said Serafina. "You have a new archbishop, don't you?"

"We certainly do." Lin flashed Serafina a small, grateful smile. Serafina couldn't help wondering why the gratitude was necessary—as party secretary, she should have been expected to know basic details about the vast country four hundred kilometres to the southwest of Laurentia—but then that was something Lin always did, in order to set people at ease. "There's a great deal of complicated internal politics involved. Shrines being favoured or sponsored, that sort of thing. I won't go into all of the details right now, but it's prompting some extremely intense debates."

"That's understandable," said Serafina. "There are demonstrations scheduled, aren't there? How many of you need leave to head back—" she didn't say home. "—into the Theocracy for that?"

"Well, that's... something we talked over quite a bit," said Lin. "And it's actually the one thing we could all agree on. None of us are going, not right now. There's not many of us, and our work here and now is too important."

"We appreciate your support, then, for as long as we have it," said Serafina, inclining her head slightly to encompass the old man in this. He had not yet spoken, although he seemed to be listening with some interest.

"The thing is. That won't be very long." Lin took a deep breath. "I know there must be close to a hundred thousand Marshites across all the branches in AKILA. There's thirty thousand of us in this one. Most of us... are happy to fight until we've liberated all of Analeuthia. But when we move into Kozani to liberate it as well, a lot of us won't be going in. You might get a few of the more warlike shrines, the Assassins and so on, but you unfortunately can't count on most of us for that. I think you know why."

The old man spoke now for the first time. His voice was surprisingly gentle. "New City," he said.

"Yeah. Basically." Lin shifted uncomfortably. "A lot of older members were there. So on that level there's direct trauma involved. But all of us—even me, I was only a year old at the time—know what falling into the hands of the National Front means. We've all heard the stories, seen the videos. National Front shock troopers parading Marshites through the streets in cages. The... bonfires. The mass graves. And we know they still have tens of millions of supporters."

New City had fallen to the Kozani National Front (EMK), the far-right fascist paramilitary organisation that still held Whitechapel and a swath of surrounding territory, in mid-2014. They had decided to begin their cleansing of ethnic and religious minorities in Kozani with the Marshites. That hadn't ended well for them. "You've also then seen the videos of paratroopers from the Theocracy liberating the city, then," said the old man, his mind evidently thinking along the same lines.

"Well, yes. We know that if anything happens, no Marshite community is too small not to merit rescue." Lin exhaled audibly. "But no one wants to be one of the two million that—were killed, or worse. You know?"

"Absolutely," said Serafina. "In fact I was already planning for us to be without your caucus if we enter Kozani—and particularly if we get as far as Whitechapel and its satellite cities. Or any of the National Front's former allies in the Islamic Movement, for that matter. Should we succeed in the next few weeks, we'll hopefully have a plan for how to do that. But you won't be holding us back with your absence, either way."

"That's good to know," said Lin. "And yeah—I know it'll be a month or two before we've liberated all of Analeuthia. But I just wanted to make sure you knew well in advance. When we take Paramac and Mathhaven a lot of us are heading back into the Theocracy, but not for good—we're coming back. We just have... Marshite business to take care of."

"Marshite business," repeated Serafina, to prompt an explanation.

"It's like this." Lin leaned back. "This year is a major turning point in Marshite history. Like the Shift in '14, and the end of the Long War back in '08. Each of those events changed our communities in different ways. For us—the Marshites of the Independent States—not much will change on the surface. We're staying about the same. But each thing changed our perception of our place in the world. Our enemies weren't the Cult anymore, or any of its misguided allies; they were people who we'd never given any thought to, who now hated us more than we ever thought possible. And now we're seeing the whole structure of our faith being upended. For us in particular, we have the Communal Shrine. A lot of the refugees joined that in the early years, my parents included. But we're now a lot more, well, extreme than the mainstream Communal Shrine."

"You're taking inspiration from the revolutionary work we've been engaged in," said Serafina.

"Yes. Obviously the Shrines won't change much. They've been the same for thousands of years," said Lin. "But what we need is not really a new Shrine, or anything else headed by the clergy. It's a vanguard party of the working classes, one devoted to the spread of our ideals through... democratic centralism. We don't want top-down imposition of a set of favoured Shrines—as much as the faith might need it. We also don't want a complete free-for-all with dozens of equally valid Shrines; we want Marshism to be determined by the ordinary Marshite." Looking somewhat embarrassed, Lin added: "Honestly, we've been pretty heavily inspired by you in particular, Secretary Nikhaia."

"Oh. Um." Serafina could not figure out how to process this, and eventually decided not to. "That wasn't my intention at all, but I'm grateful for the honour, I suppose."

Lin laughed. "Of course it wasn't. That's the thing. You are a working-class hero. We need more people like that."

The old man saved Serafina from further embarrassment by saying: "So you plan to travel back to the Theocracy to convince people to embrace Marshism-Nikhaianism?"

"Well, we thought..." Lin hesitated for a moment. "If we decouple what we're talking about from most of the... hardline commie stuff... and focus on an overall message of reaching out to ordinary people and the idea of, yeah, a vanguard, we'll reach a lot of people who were left out of the current restructuring, the people whose shrines weren't favoured or sponsored. We might have tacit support from the new Archbishop—she's a lot more... socialist-oriented than anyone we've had before. We might even pick off a few supporters of the old Archbishop, because she supported combating all forms of evil everywhere in the world. That's just a revolutionary vanguard by another name."

"It sounds complicated," said Serafina. "But if there's anyone who can reach people that way, it's you, Lin. Best of luck."

"Thank you," said Lin. "And... um..."


"There's a personal reason as well."

Ah. The other thing Lin thought she had "already guessed". Serafina had no idea what it could be, but knew she had to be supportive here. "Tell me about it," she said.

"Well..." Lin actually blushed. "Morel and I... um... we're going to have a child."

"Aha!" Serafina broke into a grin. "I thought you seemed uncharacteristically happy lately. That's wonderful news."

"Thank you. It's not easy to imagine. It'll be our first." Lin's voice was almost shy, which was an extreme rarity. "It won't be for another six months. I have no idea what to expect."

"You should talk to Dejana," said Serafina, naming one of the other cultural officers. "Before she joined us she was a professional doula. I'm sure she'll give you far more information than you wanted to know."

"Oh. Right," said Lin, with mild embarrassment. "I know Dejana. But I did want to break the news to you first."

"I appreciate it," said Serafina.

"Yes, my congratulations as well," added the old man.

"Thank you," said Lin. "Anyway, yeah. That's the current situation of the Marshite Caucus, and we're... very glad you understand. But I promise you we're still on your side. We always will be."

When they were alone a few minutes later, taking advantage of Serafina's few minutes free between meetings, the old man turned to her.

"I know it's wrong of me," he said, "but I can't help wondering.... Lin and Morel are both gender-neutral names. Which one of them is... which? You know? Which one is the... the..." He trailed off, gesturing with both hands in lieu of words. Serafina stared at him as though the question were insane.

"They're both Marshites," she said.

"Right. Of course. Sorry," said the old man.

There were several seconds of awkward, embarrassed silence. Then the old man spoke again:

"One other thing I noticed. Lin isn't the first today. Everyone you've spoken to says when."

"I don't think I follow, Chairman," said Serafina.

"When you move on Kozani. When you've liberated Analeuthia. When we establish socialism. When we've built peace." Dzhamil Tulqari, perhaps better known as Chairman Bey, sucked in his breath through his teeth. "They never say if. When I started the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Kozani back in the day, that's all I ever heard. If we can liberate Kozani."

"Yes, they're extremely self-confident, aren't they?" Serafina smiled slightly. "It's rather endearing, honestly. Everyone feels assured of victory. They genuinely believe in themselves..."

"I think it's you they believe in," said Chairman Bey. "People have come in with doubts, even if they don't say so. They leave with renewed confidence. That interests me."

"I'm not trying to run some kind of cult of personality here," protested Serafina. "I'm just doing what anyone else would have done."

"Every person that's come in," continued Bey, ignoring her words, "you've known exactly who they are, who their family is, what their hopes and dreams are. Do you know everyone in this branch?"

Serafina considered this question. "Not everyone," she said. "I don't know all the new recruits we've taken in, for one. I try to keep track, but there's too many of them. And I don't know all the refugees and freed slaves and serfs we're providing for, though again, I'm trying to."

"But all of our regular, pre-Wintervale members, you know," said Bey. "All sixty thousand?"

"I mean, when you put it like that, I'm sure there's some I've forgotten," said Serafina, and paused. She was trying to run through, in her head, the last time she'd seen someone she hadn't recognised on sight, and that person had later turned out to be one of the original members before the Laurentia Branch had swelled past a hundred thousand. An occasion wasn't coming to mind. Certainly whenever someone started talking, details of their life would start to resurface in her memory, however obscure. That was the one thing Serafina had never thought much about. Ever since she was very young, she could remember people: all she needed was fifteen seconds with them, or enough time to memorise their face.

She had sometimes wondered why others couldn't do the same, and had always assumed they simply had too much on their minds. It was now beginning to dawn on her for the first time that she was, in fact, extremely unusual. And she was none too happy with that idea. So she did as she always did when something didn't fit her worldview: she set the thought aside, locked it away deep inside her with every other doubt and fear and hope.

"How do you manage?" asked Bey, quietly.

Serafina was silent for a few moments. "The foundation of any revolution is the people," she said. "Why wouldn't I take an interest? They're why I'm here."

Historians would later date the start of the revolution to five weeks ago.
Last edited by Analeuthocosia on Thu Jun 02, 2022 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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South Reinkalistan
Posts: 1785
Founded: Mar 12, 2019

Postby South Reinkalistan » Tue May 10, 2022 3:16 pm


People's Federation of Reinkalistan
Presidential Statement

Press Conference on the Kozani Emergency
10th May, 58th Year of the Revolution (2022 A.A./A.D.)

Comrades at home and abroad:

At the time of this press conference, there is a large degree of strife which has descended upon the Kozani Republic and torn asunder the instruments of its government, ruptured its society completely, and driven brother against brother in a bitter struggle for the future of their homeland.

Times like these demand strong yet measured responses from the international community; they demand decisive action, as well as the natural compassion that all men and women must feel for their fellow human beings. Above all, they demand that conflict ceases, that the rule of law returns, and that the people themselves are firmly vested with complete control of their own destinies. It is essential that in dealing with this conflict that the correct line is taken, that the preservation of Kozanian democracy is held as paramount, and that the nation finds a resolution which guarantees the due freedom and equality of all peoples, races, and religions in Kozani.

Throughout the present conflict, which Reinkalistan has, since its 2006 inception, largely remained a bystander in, many factions have risen, split, and fell, all against the backdrop of a violent, hyper-nationalist, terrorist entity known as the "Kozanian National Front". The National Front has committed myriad atrocities, and intends to wipe away the spectacular diversity of Kozani through eradicating minority groups and anyone else who does not align with their twisted vision of national pride and regeneration. It has already put into practice these barbarous ideals: the massacre of New City's Marshites is just one of their crimes.

As a virulently anti-fascist entity, the People's Federation condemns in strongest possible terms the EMK and its illegitimate leadership.

With what remains of the "legitimate" Kozanian government seeping into the history books, there is now a plethora of factions vying for dominion over Kozani's battered husk, and it has been the subject of much deliberation in the State Commission as to what Reinkalistan's stance and action on this matter should be, with the aforementioned axioms of securing the long-term security, liberty, and equality of the Kozanian people.

We cannot, in due conscience, support the EMK, relegated to its rump-state presence. Neither can we support any of the the similarly regressive successors to the "People's Islamic Movement", and the fiefs they have subsumed to their reactionary, fundamentalist grips.

At the end of the day, as the conflict heats up from its relative slumber once more, one conclusion can be drawn: the Analeuthian-Kozanian International Liberation Army is the only hope for the stabilisation and liberation of the Kozanian people. They embody the left-wing unity which allowed the unified proletarian masses of our Party to throw off the imperial and capitalist chains wrapped around Reinkalistan nearly six decades ago. We applaud AKILA in its ability to work towards a common goal: the total destruction of the enemy and their repressive whims.

As of right now, however, the principal concern of the Reinkalistani government is simple: aiding the bereaved and suffering, and maintaining staunch humanism in the face of mankind's worst impulses. Today, with Congressional consent, I signed Executive Order no. #154, permitting the Reinkalistani Red Cross to assist in distributing medical and food aid to the nation's suffering. Furthermore, any Kozanian refugee wishing to make Reinkalistan their home is free to do so -- the government will assist them in any way they need.

Long live the Kozanian people; long live the international socialist ideal.

- President Mozhkin K. Turaniski
Release authorised by the Executive Office for Ideological Affairs
" We will not bow to your dictation. We are free. We bled to be free.
Who are you to tell us what we may and may not do? We stopped being your slaves an era ago. "
South Reinkalistan is a massive, ecologically-diverse nation notable for its roving student militias and widespread hatred for the elderly.
In the midst of a room-temperature cultural revolution that's lost its momentum, the Party carefully plans its next move.
As the brittle bones of fragile empires begin to crack beneath their own weight, history's symphony reaches crescendo pitch. The future is all but certain.

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South Reinkalistan
Posts: 1785
Founded: Mar 12, 2019

Postby South Reinkalistan » Tue May 10, 2022 5:28 pm

Food, Water, Bandages, and Automatic Firearms

Approaches to Haven Refugee Camp (2.3 miles)
12:37 AM

With a rough 'nudge' to his shoulder, Alex awoke. "Welcome to the middle of bumfuck god-knows-where." The distinct, gravelly voice of his comrade, Joseph. "You've been sleeping like a darling angel," he continued, as Alex was rubbing his eyes, "but we're nearing the border, so get into gear. You're a bloody Red Cross worker, we don't get nap times."

"I wish we did." Came the sleep-addled response. The two men were riding in the front of a four-seater jeep - with Joseph as the driver - in a convoy of cars and trucks, heading through the precarious mountain valleys in the region's south-west on the way to Kozani. "Besides," he continued, it's far better than talking to you."

This earned the younger man another 'nudge' that felt a bit more like a light-hearted punch. "Be careful with that mouth of yours, Al. You're talking to a veteran." Replied Joseph playfully.

"A veteran of what? The war against my beauty sleep?"

The ex-soldier guffawed. "It wasn't my idea, to be fair. Mike wouldn't stop moaning about your snoring."

Alex turned his head to look at the one man in the back-seat behind Joseph. Mykhail, the newest recruit in the vehicle, smiled sheepishly. "It's not my fault you're practically a pneumatic drill. Besides, it's no fair if you're going to call shotgun then just fall asleep for four damn hours. I could've been enjoying the view from the front."

"There's nothing to see but the truck in front of us; plus, you're like, twelve. You'd need a booster-seat." Alex retorted. Mykhail feigned offense, but didn't reply, while Joseph let out another one of his signature raucous laughs. "Careful," reminded Alex, "you're driving, comrade."

"I've driven a jeep through a blizzard while guerrillas on skis harassed me with assault rifles. I think I can handle my own gut instinct to find you two wankers comically stupid." Alex sighed, but resisted the urge to talk back. Joseph talked enough by himself -- he needn't any encouragement.

"Why are we even here?" asked Mykhail. "There are so many war-torn hell-holes to drop us. Why here? What's so special about this whirlwind of ultra-nationalists, religious fundamentalists, and communists? There's a million other places we could be helping out." He kicked his feet up diagonally onto the arm-rest between the two front seats, much to Joseph's silent disdain. Alex deigned to respond.

"Because we're internationalists. We help out people in need. We can't help everyone, but I'm sure the RRC has their priorities straight." He shrugged.

Joseph, however, narrowed his eyes. "Neither of you are with the Office, right?" He noted the quizzed looks from both of his companions. "Actually, yeah, you're both simple to a fault. You'd be shit informants." He sighed. "You guys wonder why we're going on truck to Haven Refugee Camp despite the fact that it has an airfield? Why did we land tens of miles back?"

"I mean, I was told that it was because we're delivering so much aid that we needed to use more airports." Suggested Mykhail. This earned him a sarcastic laugh with an edge of contempt.

"You must be an idiot if you really believe that." Joseph spat, growing more serious. "It's easy to smuggle shit in through this part of the border. Just look at the mountains and valleys. I noticed a few trucks drop from the back of the convoy after dark a while back. I bet neither of you noticed."

"In all fairness," came Alex's protest, "I was asleep."

"And you still wouldn't have noticed." Was the grunted reply. "At the end of the day, that's none of our business. We're here to help and protect, that lot are off to do whatever the fuck they're off to do. It is how it is. You two keep your pretty faces shut about the whole affair, and as far as you're concerned I said nothing."

The three men rode on in silence for a while. Alex tried his best not to fall asleep while Joseph whistled a tune he'd learned from the army. Meanwhile, Mykhail intensely studied a boxed medical kit. "It's mad how this tiny metal box can save so many lives." He said at last. Nobody replied. Sighing, he put it down and looked out the window instead. Alex's sleep-deprived mind, drowsy as it was, still had a few thoughts running through it. They'd be at the border in a bit, and then they'd soon be at the camp. But he couldn't help thinking about what Joseph said. The veteran knew his stuff, but he also talked a lot of bullshit. Nevertheless, he had seemed serious. Were they really covering a gun-run to arm insurgents?

Alex pondered this, but eventually his eyes closed once more and he fell asleep again.
" We will not bow to your dictation. We are free. We bled to be free.
Who are you to tell us what we may and may not do? We stopped being your slaves an era ago. "
South Reinkalistan is a massive, ecologically-diverse nation notable for its roving student militias and widespread hatred for the elderly.
In the midst of a room-temperature cultural revolution that's lost its momentum, the Party carefully plans its next move.
As the brittle bones of fragile empires begin to crack beneath their own weight, history's symphony reaches crescendo pitch. The future is all but certain.

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Posts: 1501
Founded: Feb 20, 2007
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Mokastana » Tue May 10, 2022 6:24 pm

Near the Mahdah-Analeuthian border

Hector Moldova sat in the passenger seat of a Mokan made Valle Zuma M4 Supply Truck as the wheels crossed the border into Analeuths. Dressed in surplus military jungle gear from a half dozen nations, his skin was dark from the hot sun of the Rukkapa Desert. Short black hair hidden by a wide brimmed boonie hat. He waved to the border guards who were no doubt happy to see more weapons for their comrades, but Hector was no communist, he was a Carrion, a merchant of death who sold weapons across the region to warlords who needed them.

Although technically wanted by the PUF's Department of Investigations Federal, their Bureau of Secret Affairs had uses for people who could reliably and covertly move weapons to rebellions organizations. A few FBSA made IDs later, and he was moving weapons from warehouses in Mokastana to Motokata. Some were supplied by the PUF and he was just smuggling them, some were his own he was hoping to sell, and more yet were being purchased from The Theocracy for resale. What he really hoped to do was talk to someone about selling the Armored Vehicles he had in storage. They were burning a hole in his pocket with storage and maintenance, and revolutionaries needed armor. Pillaging the homes of rich nobles would no doubt provide a good portion of funds for their revolution, if not them, then maybe he could find an outsider looking to fund these rebels, maybe someone the PUF, Mahdah, or even the Theocracy itself.

Either way it was good to be back in business. He looked over the invoices once more.

480x Ampere-Martinez Rifles, various Models.
160x Jaguar Defense M3 Stamped Submachine guns
192x LD-1 disposable HEAT Rockets
36x MA-14 Guided Missile Launchers
216x MA-14 HEAT missiles
12x 60mm Dropper Mortars
10x LY60 Heavy Machine Guns
576,000 rounds of 7.62x54r
96,000 rounds of .45 caliber
100,000 rounds of 14.7x115mm

16x LY65 RPG launchers, 320,000 USD
24x Attero anti aircraft missiles 480,000 USD
60x assorted 80mm rockets 120,000 USD
80x GM-F5 Fragmentation grenades
215x mixed grenades from Smoke to Thermobaric 5,900 USD all grenades
500,000 rounds of 6.8mm Marshite 100,000 USD

Buy all price 1.0 million USD
Last edited by Mokastana on Tue May 10, 2022 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Montana Inc

Quotes about Mokastana:
Trust the Mokans to be armed even when among their allies

The fact that the Mokans hadn't faced the same fate was a testament to their preparedness, or perhaps paranoia
-United Gordonopia

Moka you are a land of pimps, prostitutes, drug lords, and corruption.
We love you for it.
-The Scandinvans

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Posts: 32
Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Thu May 12, 2022 9:03 pm

Some dialogue contributed by Mokastana. Part two coming tomorrow in all likelihood

IV. Look for the Helpers (part one)

Haven Refugee Camp, Southwestern Kozani (Image Ref). Under International Administration

Officially, Haven Refugee Camp was administered by a coalition of forty different nations, all of which had agreed to coordinate the supply of humanitarian aid to Kozanian refugees. In practice, it was perhaps the purest example of anarchy in the region.

Kozani's Southern Highlands were an intensely mountainous and rugged region, dominated by smallholding farms that clung perilously to the slopes of hills and defiles. In the rainy season the entirety of the highlands exploded into a blaze of green, with forest and undergrowth perennially encroaching on farmland and threatening the integrity of mountains and canyons; in the dry season, the green faded to brown, and the people had time to rebuild what roads and houses had been destroyed in mudslides and floods. And now, at the turn of seasons, came the time of frantic activity among the farmers and pastoralists that dominated this area as they prepared for the monsoon rains. Everyone said this would be a bad year for them.

Here, across a dozen hilltops and spread out across a small plateau, had Haven Camp been formed. Initially this had been a tent city near the Kozani-Holy Marsh border, as refugees seeking to flee the country camped outside the small city of Haven. They had then been relocated further into the highlands, closer to the border, into a set of purpose-built traditional thatched-roof cottages. The assumption at the time had been that perhaps, by 2010 or so, the war would be over, so nothing particularly permanent was needed. By now, those cottages had been in turn replaced with modular prefab houses, which covered the slopes in all directions surrounding the central Refugee Office, extending like fingers through the narrow valleys of the area. Amidst them were dirt roads twisting and turning in every direction, trampled by countless feet into the golden earth.

There were people everywhere. A conservative estimate gave the population of the camp as one and a half million.

Those who remained at Haven Camp were largely those who had pledged never to leave their homeland behind, who had promised to return home someday. They tended to be the most devout—primarily hailing from Kozani's majority-Muslim southern half—and the most attracted by political activism. It was no surprise that practically every major faction in the civil war had at one time or another maintained unofficial offices here, run out of trailers and prefab houses abutting the dirt paths and the crowded markets.

In one such unofficial office Hany al-Kashatiya was onboarding yet another volunteer from Mahdah.

"Welcome to AKILA," she was saying. "We try to maintain the spirit of a big-tent organisation here. Know that you won't agree with everything you hear from your fellow party members."

"Really?" said Musa Ranjvran. "How does that work?" He was a big sunbaked man, classically handsome, whose English carried just enough of a hint of the Mahdavian accent to sound wonderfully cultured. Hany approved of this on a number of levels.

"Mostly? We avoid talking about it. We have a war to win." Hany gathered up a few of the papers she'd set out for him to sign, collecting them into a folder. Those would have to be scanned and sent onwards to the Paramac Branch for processing. She'd do it later. "Islamic Socialism isn't too far off from Marxism-Leninism, anyway, except for our inspiration. It's the anarchists who will be the real problem."

"I see." Musa smiled in amusement. "But yes. The war comes first. Even given where I come from... every time I see the people out here, it's an important reminder that—"

He stopped short as Hany held up a hand for silence. "al-Kashatiya," she said, into her earpiece.

"Limonova," said the voice on the other end, across the unsteady radio connection. Nadia Limonova was one of AKILA's security personnel. "Red Cross convoy has reached the valley entrance. We're going to need people on site."

"Thanks, Nadia. I'll put out a general call." Hany clicked the radio off, and glanced at Musa. "Ready for your first assignment?" she asked.

Several minutes later, by the time the aid convoy climbed out of the deep valley and attained the ridgetop (and the thick press of humanity that covered it), there was already a crowd of twenty or thirty people waiting for it, greeting the leaders and beginning to unload supplies while a perimeter of armed security personnel kept back any adventurists seeking to make off with humanitarian goods of their own. The twenty or thirty AKILA personnel were by and large only distinguishable from the crowd of onlookers by the red and white patches they wore. All were casually dressed, yet the way they moved in synchronisation was incredibly well-coordinated: the kind of coordination that said we don't need uniforms or titles; we're just that good. This appearance of effectiveness in action was perhaps part of the explanation for AKILA's meteoric rise. There was no one openly giving orders, but from close examination it would become obvious that they all ultimately deferred to a youngish woman in headscarf and 'abaya, perhaps about twenty-five, who wore no accoutrements of leadership or even party affiliation, save for the assault rifle slung across her back and the same red-and-white patch sewn over her chest:


★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Analeuthian-Mahdavian Border (Image Ref), Principality of Aghavam. Under AKILA Control

There was no true border delineating where Aghavam ended, merely a line on a map that ran through the wild country where the tropical highland climate of Analeuthia gave way to the more arid, less monsoon-influenced climate of Mahdah. There had been a border control post along the narrow mountain road here. It was abandoned.

Anyone driving through this region would pass through a vast, empty landscape of mountains and deep arid gorges. The mountains of Aghavam were much higher than those in the Kozanian highlands, and the climate correspondingly colder and drier; very little vegetation grew at this altitude, and what did was stunted and miniature, or looked it amidst the house-sized boulders and glacial defiles of the area. The Vānia River rose here from hundreds of glacial meltwater streams, which sank beneath the scree-covered earth only to reemerge as gushing springs many miles to the northwest. It was nearly an hour through this landscape, along the winding road, before the first signs that humans resided in Aghavam would make themselves apparent.

In this case, it was an AKILA flying checkpoint, set up and manned by some of Captain Joseph Erdeni's 27th Division stalwarts. Their Kozanian Army uniforms were recognisable to anyone familiar with the country; the AKILA patches replacing rank insignia, however, were new.

When Hector arrived and slowed down to await permission to travel onwards, they would be the first thing he noticed. One of them, an older man with a prominent mustache and a scar running down the right-hand side of his face, signalled for him to lower the passenger-side window of his vehicle.

"Welcome to Aghavam, Mr. ...," said the officer, waiting a few seconds for a name to be supplied. "I take it you have some business here? You're aware of recent events, yes?"

"De Gaulle, Hector De Gaulle, but you may call me Hector," the obviously Latino Mokan named Hector Moldova responded, "and yes, business. Looking forward to it. You see, not only have I heard of recent events, but a few governments known as the People's Unified Federation and the People's Revolutionary State [of Mahdah] have as well, and they've hired me to ensure these recent events keep happening. I was told to make contact with an…." Hector pretended to shuffle through paperwork in front of the guard, "an Ilhan Tsamay, I have a few gifts for him." 

Hector waved to the nearly dozen six ton olive green cargo trucks behind him. Each rumbled, waiting for clearance to pass, with two men in their cabins, no doubt armed to protect the cargo. 

"Ah." The officer took a few steps back, murmured something into a radio, and then brought his attention back to Hector. "Yes, we've been expecting you, Monsieur De Gaulle. You're pre-cleared for entrance, as are your colleagues." He stamped Hector's false passport and that of the driver. "Mr. Tsamay will meet you at the palace. We hope you enjoy your visit."

From here onwards the road began a precipitous descent through perilous switchbacks. Mountain scenery gave way to a broad view across the Kara Plains, somewhat hazy in the early-wet-season light. The trucks negotiated this road slowly but assuredly—the slow speed as much to take in the vistas as to manage the hairpin curves. At one point they crossed over what might, in a few months, become one of the largest waterfalls in the Analeuths. At present it was a dry channel that drained the plateau above, with rocks plastered with a damp smear. They also began to catch sight of the towns in the valley below, and in the middle distance a jumble of skyscrapers marking the actual city of Aghavam.

Reaching the city took two and a half hours, perhaps somewhat longer if any of the men in the cargo trucks stopped by the side of the road to take photographs.

Where the road levelled out it joined several others down in the valley to become a highway—or at least a roadway with other vehicles on it. This highway would lead through dense forest, past the signed turnoffs for numerous small towns, into the heart of Aghavam City itself. Impoverished and deeply unequal, a city where gleaming modern towers were the backdrop to slums caught in the grip of urban blight, the city made clear the extent to which its longtime rulers had abandoned their population. Here and there Hector and his men might catch sight of the AKILA uniform itself; of small groups of men and women (and those whose gender wasn't readily identifiable) in jungle camo-patterned webbing marked with the universal machete, rifle, red star. AKILA volunteers had fanned out all across the city, distributing food and water to impoverished locals and chatting with them animatedly. Certainly there was no violence to be seen, but it was notable that every one of them was armed.

Evidence of violence became more pronounced as Hector approached the Prince of Aghavam's Palace: damaged buildings, mortar craters in the asphalt, and here and there covered ambulances that remained stationed on the streets of the city, caring for wounded survivors. The gates to the palace opened up into an enormous courtyard that had once been beautiful and peaceful, an icon of tranquility in a crowded, dirty city. Virtually everything in the courtyard had been smashed into rubble: fountains, statues, pavilions. Most of the leaves had been stripped from the hedge mazes. A few trees had even been uprooted; many more were damaged. The façade of the palace was scored with impacts from grenade and mortar rounds, although the building itself was still structurally sound.

The trucks and Hector's jeep alike pulled up at the end of a broad promenade lined with Norfolk pines, reaching a wide clear staging area in front of the palace building. There were about a dozen people in AKILA uniforms here, and then one in casual clothes: a man only somewhat darker in skin than Hector himself, shaven-headed, with a neatly trimmed black goatee. Strongly built, heavily muscled, just over a meter eighty; could have been taken for a bouncer or a street thug, until one saw his eyes. Unusually for AKILA, he was unarmed, but he didn't look as though he needed weapons to kill you. Hector would know, from the images he'd seen, that this was Ilhan Tsamay, armed services volunteer and intelligence coordinator. He was also the one who came up to greet Hector directly.

"Mr. De Gaulle," he said; his voice was gruff but not unfriendly. "Welcome. There are quarters set up for you and your men indoors. Come with me. We have much to talk about."
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Posts: 32
Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Fri May 13, 2022 9:57 pm

Posted with permission.

IV. Look for the Helpers (part two)

Saoshai River Gorge (Image Ref), Southern Paramac, Analeuths

It had been a long three months for the Paramac Branch of AKILA. They had seized a few small villages in the Grand Duchy of Paramac, and continually made sorties and inroads further towards the ducal seat, but were invariably rebuffed. Paramac, rare among the Analeuthian Feudal States, had an independent and tough-minded foreign policy, and therefore its own military—a proper military, too, nothing like Laurentia's Military Police. They had tanks, and aircraft, and batteries of missiles. AKILA had guns, warm bodies, and optimism, and warm bodies and optimism were in short supply, these days.

Field Commander Feliks Kapp was crouched in the gloom of early dawn beside the Saoshai River, idly scratching patterns in the riverbank with a shard of reed. Beside him, one of his Mathhavenite volunteers was watching the scene on the other side of the river in fascination. The roaring of the river's countless rapids and shoals was loud enough that they could speak without being overheard; indeed, they almost needed to shout.

"What are they doing?" asked the volunteer, whose name, Feliks remembered, was Tomas.

"Setting up a pontoon bridge," said Feliks, without looking up. "Evidently we have vehicles inbound."

"You don't seem that interested, er, Commander."

Feliks glanced at him. "We've done these drops quite a few times before, in all honesty. How else do you think we've held out this long?"

"Right," said Tomas. "What are those little truck things, then?"

This time Feliks did look up. Through the darkness he could just about see them: camouflage-painted for the rainforest environment, armoured heavily enough to take a grenade and keep driving, hooked up to flatbed trailers loaded with what on a first glance looked like enormous PVC pipes. "God is great," he half-murmured, reverentially. "Or Marsh, I guess. If this works as well as they say it does, I'm converting."

Another Mathhavenite volunteer squatted beside them. This one Feliks could put first and last names to: Nico Laroux had been leader of the student protests in the Exarchy of Mathhaven, and since being ejected from the country by the militarised Burghers' Police, had come to view the liberation of Mathhaven as a project he was willing to die for. The Paramac Branch had planned to expand into Mathhaven at some point. Nowadays, with the Marquess of Mathhaven instating perhaps the most extreme surveillance state in the Analeuths, providing monetary compensation and surveillance relief to serfs, knights and nobles alike if they reported any subversive activity by their friends and family, that seemed practically impossible. Perhaps they would be able to take it by force after Paramac fell.

"That's a LA-30," said Nico for Tomas's benefit, gesturing towards one of the vehicles. "Sometimes called a Magister. Multirole infantry vehicle. What the trailer is carrying is its anti-tank and anti-air munitions."

Tomas stared at the train of vehicles on the other side of the river for a long moment. "Can they... do that?" he asked, in wonderment.

"Do what?" said Feliks.

"Send us heavy weapons like this. Wouldn't that piss people off?"

Nico laughed. "What's the Archduke going to do to a country whose standing army is bigger than the entirety of Paramac? Him and his hundred thousand soldiers that you've already got pinned down?"

"It's been like this for a long time," said Feliks. "The Ordenites send weapons to Keel and Whitechapel, and the Marshites pretend not to know; the Marshites send weapons to us—well, okay, the Triple-A, since we weren't part of AKILA back then—and the Ordenites pretend not to know. It's an international proxy war. Always has been."

"That's a cynical way of looking at things," said Tomas. "They might be helping us out of the goodness of their hearts."

The last pontoon segment had now been laid down on the Analeuthian side of the river. From where it intersected the riverbank, a small knot of people broke off from the larger group assembling the ribbon bridge deck, and followed the narrow dirt path towards where Feliks and his fellow volunteers were seated. All of the people in the group were uniformed Marshite soldiers, and as they came closer Feliks could distinguish faces, rank patches and division affiliations, although their voices were still drowned out by the noise of the river.

When they had closed to within earshot Feliks said: "Need any help out there?"

"I think we're good," said the lead Marshite. From the various contextual clues he'd become used to picking up on, Feliks concluded this soldier was probably male. "You must be Field Commander Kapp."

"I am that, unfortunately," said Feliks. "You are—?"

"Captain Kanele of the 232nd." Captain Kanele extended his hand for a handshake, and Feliks accepted it. "Good to meet you at last."

"I see you guys finally brought out the hardware," said Feliks.

"That we did. The area's being canvassed for enemy HUMINT and GEOINT, and we think it's clear. But I can't promise you it'll keep secret for very long," said Captain Kanele. "It's pretty much guaranteed that they have an intelligence source we don't know about, and of course the vehicles will be spotted at some point."

"We only need to keep them secret for two days," said Feliks. "We have a planned pullout from our entrenched positions. The Archduke's tank divisions will then move in to retake, probably with air support."

"Gotcha," said Captain Kanele. "We'll see what we can do. But I gather secrecy isn't much of a priority for AKILA anymore. We got a communiqué from your Laurentia branch, from Serafina something-or-other, to that effect."

"Right. We're not happy about the continued secrecy either." Felix nodded in the upstream, westwards direction. "But until we've taken the bridge at High Falls, secrecy is the only way you can resupply us."

"Let me speak to my subordinates," said Captain Kanele, and proceeded to exchange a rapid fusillade of words in a language Feliks didn't know with one of the other Marshites, someone wearing a lieutenant's uniform, whose gender was indeterminable. There was a certain amount of back-and-forth, with Captain Kanele seeming to insist on something, and the lieutenant seemingly reluctant. But after a few moments the lieutenant saluted and withdrew, making for the pontoon bridge once more with a renewed sense of purpose.

"Are subtitles provided?" asked Nico Laroux, who had listened to the entire exchange.

"We're going to seek approval from high command on this," said the captain. "But we've long needed a supply route to get matériel to you more efficiently. If we receive permission, we're going to secure High Falls Bridge. On both sides. That's the best possible route for us, I think."

All three stared at him for a few moments. At length Feliks said: "There's a Border Police command post there. Probably about fifty troops, total."

"We know. We've been waiting for authorisation to deal with that particular threat," said Captain Kanele. "Now that you've approved us to operate in the open, or at least this Serafina Nikhaia has, I think we're a lot more likely to get it. We're not going to kill them unless it's necessary—we've dealt with Border Police a lot, they're not too bad—but we will hold them there for as long as we need the bridge as a staging point, and then release them. Unless you'd rather do that for us."

"We... don't have the manpower to spare," said Feliks. "We could just bomb them, I guess, but, yeah. They don't really deserve it."

"We have the manpower," said Nico. "Hi. I'm Nico Laroux, by the way. From Mathhaven." (Several Marshites chorused "Hi" and "Welcome".) "There's about a hundred of us here, student volunteers, who aren't officially AKILA members but still know how to handle a weapon. And I think I know how we're going to play it. We can't do much at home, so this is our best chance to make a difference."

"What do you have in mind, then?" asked Captain Kanele.

Nico told him.

Captain Kanele considered this for a few moments. "Well... that could work. It could also just kill you."

"Martyrdom's a good way to go," said Nico. "But I think everyone else will need guns. Just in case it doesn't."

Captain Kanele smirked. "Oh, the guns shouldn't be a problem. We have six trucks full of them."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

City of Keel (Image Ref), National Front-occupied territory, Kozani

"Brigadier-General Lethe," said the voice through the door, "we have a situation."

"Protocol, Major," snapped Brigadier-General Lethe. "Have you forgotten yourself, man?"

There was approximately ten seconds of silence. Brigadier-General Lethe always insisted on this; it would not do to simply leap into action immediately after a breach in protocol. Then three knocks came, rather hesitantly, and the Major's voice anew: "Permission to enter, sir?"

"Granted, Major."

The door to the Brigadier-General's office swung open and Major Atanasz Kowalski entered, promptly snapping to attention as Brigadier-General Lethe examined him carefully. There was always something about the man that looked maddeningly hangdog: nowhere near respectable enough to be a Major in the Revanchist Armed Forces of Kozani—the military branch of the Kozanian National Front. Kowalski's eyes were too close together, his chin too weak, his jawline nowhere near befitting a specimen of Kozanian manhood. It was all the worse that he was, despite his appearance, an absolutely principled and honest man, albeit one with no respect for discipline. At least if he had been a traitor the ugly physiognomy would have made sense.

In any case, his uniform appeared flawless today, so Brigadier-General Lethe said, "As you were, Major," and Kowalski relaxed.

"Permission to report, sir?"

"Granted. What's your report, Major?"

"Sitrep is as follows, sir. Humanitarian aid barge Ngairea, flying under International Humanitarian Aid Coordination Committee flag, transited port and customs and offloaded materiel at oh-five-hundred," said Kowalski crisply. "In dialoguing with registered aid personnel, sir, this officer ascertained that they were in actuality military advisors from the Ordenite Reich, operating incognito, and they requested to interface with you in person, sir. If you could inform this officer as to your schedule, so that a liaison could be undertaken...."

"Advisors?" asked Brigadier-General Lethe. "Last I heard, we were requesting MLRS and IFVs from Ordena. What's this about?"

"Was unable to determine that knowledge, sir," said Kowalski.

"Well, I'm free now, I suppose. Lead on, Major."

As Brigadier-General Lethe followed Kowalski he had to admit to himself one thing: the man certainly knew how to talk properly.

The EMK offices in Keel were located directly adjacent to the port itself, in a cluster of heritage buildings—built by settlers in the 1700s—that had miraculously survived the war almost unscathed. The walkway leading towards the container port was broad and sheltered, shaded from the hot Kozanian sun by dozens of non-native palms planted along either side. Though Brigadier-General Lethe himself had no settler blood, he couldn't help admiring the way they had remade all of Kozani and beyond in their image. What had the original Kozanian name of Whitechapel been? Or Keel itself, for that matter? No one remembered, anymore.

Two men were waiting in the sunny open plaza beside what had once been the Keel Shipping Museum, and was now a National Front communications office. The only visible change was the large posters of Generalissima Viktoria Alandi, current supreme commander of the EMK, emblazoned with the words "If You See Something, Say Something." (Posters such as these, bearing various patriotic messages, were almost more numerous than people throughout EMK-held territory. The benevolent smiling face of Generalissima Alandi was inescapable. Also several years out of date; her hair was grey now, for instance.) The Brigadier-General took in the men, pleased to see that they maintained some degree of military bearing despite their incognito status. No true military officer, he thought, would have ever been fooled.

"Gentlemen. I am Brigadier-General Pasha Lethe," he said. "National Front Order of Merit, Knight of the True Cross. I'm very pleased to make your acquaintance."

The two men exchanged a momentary glance. Presumably they were well aware that the National Front Order of Merit and Knighthood were among the highest honours the EMK bestowed upon its fighters, and that, despite having been introduced only a few years ago, both decorations would someday be among the most respected titles in the future Kozanian Imperium. (That or perhaps they were merely thinking Can you believe this guy?)

"Markus Schäfer," said one of the men, and then indicating the other: "Stefan Harbeck. We represent the Ordenite Reich's interests in Kozani, which happily, also seem to be your own."

"Indeed," said Brigadier-General Lethe, proffering handshakes to both men, which were accepted. "And I believe you've met Major Kowalski."

"We certainly have," said Schäfer. "Or rather, we, er, ascertained the esteemed Major's acquaintance during a prior communication." Harbeck appeared to be stifling a smile. "We are covert operatives here, but we will nonetheless do what we can to assist you..."

"Er, yes, about that," said Brigadier-General Lethe. "When I last spoke to Generalissima Alandi, I was under the impression that we would be receiving heavy equipment from Ordena. Artillery, multiple rocket launchers, infantry fighting vehicles. Equipment we are in dire need of. Are you aware of the current status of those requests?"

Stefan Harbeck spoke this time; his voice was deeper and more grating, that of a lifelong smoker. "The situation has changed, unfortunately, and not in our favour. Marshite forces are intercepting almost every vessel that attempts to enter Kozanian waters or airspace. In the past we could get about two out of every three shipments into Keel; we've tried about six times in the last month, and every one has been turned back. They're only letting allies through."

"Yes. We were ourselves intercepted and boarded. It's fortunate that I can manage a passable Stevidian accent, and, of course, that we had no weapons on board," said Schäfer. "Or at least, no visible weapons."

"I see," said Brigadier-General Lethe, with palpable disappointment. "Well, I appreciate any aid our Ordenite allies are able to supply under these circumstances, of course, but it's understandable that you're rather limited in your capacity right now."

"Oh, hardly limited," said Schäfer. "We brought with us the most important weapon of all. Information."

"I gather," added Harbeck, before Brigadier-General Lethe could speak, "that you control an industrial base, don't you? You have weapons factories in Whitechapel and Marion."

"Yes, we do," said Brigadier-General Lethe. "I don't see what that has to do with—"

"We have blueprints," said Harbeck.

This was well beyond Brigadier-General Lethe's field of expertise, but he wasn't entirely sure it was wise to say so. Instead he said: "Er... you'll need to talk to Generalissima Alandi for that, I think. Only she can grant you access to our factories."

"We certainly will. But of course, that doesn't solve our immediate problem." Schäfer unfolded an annotated map of Kozani. "It will take more than a month for you to put new heavy weapons into the field. Before that happens, our first goal is to seize the city of Halifax. That will be an important staging point, and it's time to push the Popular Mobilisation Units back. I think we've put together a picture of the best way to do that."

Brigadier-General Lethe did not particularly like the man's tone here, but he swallowed his pride: "Very well. Tell me."

Schäfer told him.

Brigadier-General Lethe sighed. "Well, if that's what we've been reduced to, I suppose it could work," he said. "Or could have worked. You would need a whole shipful of military advisors for that, I'd think."

Schäfer and Harbeck exchanged a glance. "Did you think there were only the two of us?" asked Harbeck. "Everyone on the Ngairea is Ordenite military, Brigadier-General."
Last edited by Analeuthocosia on Fri May 13, 2022 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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South Reinkalistan
Posts: 1785
Founded: Mar 12, 2019

Co-Write with Analeuthocosia

Postby South Reinkalistan » Sat May 14, 2022 9:06 am

Haven Refugee Camp
6:45 AM

As the Red Cross convoy shuddered to a halt, the various trucks and jeeps - packed to the brim with aid workers, food, water, and medical kits - began to see their doors open and close in an almost rhythmic fashion, as the drivers and Red Cross personnel started to disembark from their vehicles.

Already, the presence of the red and white-patched figures appeared to be noted – the Reinkalistanis would, nigh-monolithically, look around at their surroundings until focusing on the group that, despite being theoretically 'neutral', they had been informed about. All except Mykhail, who had slept through his briefing on the matter. He leaned towards Alex, whispering in Reinkalistani: "Who are those people?"

Alex resisted the urge to sigh. "They're AKILA personnel. For the life of me, I can't remember what that stands for, but they're the lot that Comrade President Turaniski is vouching for. But, at the end of the day, we're here to help people. Not pick sides."

Mykhail nodded excitedly. "Oh, they're our Comrades, right?"

Alex gritted his teeth. "If you had listened to your briefing, you'd have realised that it's a bit more complicated than that, but put quite simply, yes."

"That's all I need to hear." Mykhail responded, grinning sheepishly. Meanwhile, the Red Cross workers, almost spell-struck by the sheer size of the prefabricated settlement, seemed to be slowly glancing towards Joseph - by far the most experienced of the bunch, and the de-facto 'head' of this whole operation - for leadership.

Sighing, the grizzled veteran walked towards Hany. "Hello." He said in English, gruffly, his thick Reinkalistani accent dominating his speech. "We are here on behalf of the Reinkalistani Red Cross, here to aid the wounded, the needy, and the hungry. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance – what is your name?"

“Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place. I am Hany al-Kashatiya, AKILA’s head of operations here,” she said. Her English was, like that of many Kozanians, largely unaccented. “We’ve been overseeing aid distribution throughout the camp in the, er, relative absence of the international community.”

"Good to hear." Nodded Joseph. He muttered something in Reinkalistani to Alex, who nodded and shouted it to the assembled workers. They proceeded to mill about, unpacking the various supplies they'd brought. "We've got a lot of supplies here - MREs, water, medkits, whatever you'd need." He inspected Hany's patch. "And yes, you must be with AKILA, Comrade. It's good to know that you lot are looking after these folks. They must need it."

Behind Joseph the AKILA personnel were beginning to engage in desultory conversation with the Red Cross workers. One thing to be said for them: they were certainly friendly. Hany smiled slightly. “We’re very grateful, of course. We’ll make sure everything is distributed to where it needs to go – it’s definitely a challenge keeping track of the needs of a million and a half people.” For the moment, she was evidently choosing not to comment on his mention of AKILA.

"Well I'll be damned." Joseph took another glance at the camp. He, at the very least, appeared awed at the whole affair. "I'd heard this place was big, but that's a lot of weary people to look after. If I can, I'll send a note back to STATCOM to send more supplies. The folks back home are - uh, how do you say it - stingy? But a bit of heart-wrenching can go far. If I recall correctly, those who remain here aren't exactly intent on leaving their homeland."

There were several things Hany did not do at this moment: she did not wink conspiratorially, or raise an eyebrow suggestively. She merely spoke, rather casually: “We have a good deal of facts and figures you could use to support your… heart-wrenching appeal, back at the office.” She indicated a trailer some distance behind them, one among many such anonymous vehicles that proliferated throughout the refugee camp. “If you have time, feel free to come in, and we can provide as much information as you might need.”

Picking up on the implicit hint, Joseph shouted again in Reinkalistani to Alex and Mykhail, who both nodded - the former dutifully, the latter sheepishly - and went back to working with the rest of the personnel, unpacking equipment and chatting with the AKILA personnel.

“I take it you do have time,” she said. “Walk with me.”

Joseph nodded silently, and headed with Hany towards the trailer.

As they walked she spoke briefly into an earpiece: “Nadia, can you babysit Musa for a bit? I’ll take the Red Cross meeting.” A crackled, mostly-inaudible reply. “Thanks.” She otherwise exchanged no more than pleasantries with Joseph.

The trailer was situated about two hundred metres away from the convoy staging point. About forty of those metres were vertical. At Haven, everything was built on a slope; it was a wonder the place could even support an airfield. The interior of the trailer was surprisingly bright and airy for someplace so cluttered, covered in papers and folders and very modern-looking computers and comms equipment. That and the central location where it was situated bespoke AKILA’s strong position in the camp – if nothing else did. Inside, Hany took a seat at what could approximately be called a desk, and invited Joseph to sit in a chair opposite.

“Welcome to AKILA,” she said, dryly. “We don’t need a lot of operational security here. But I gather some things are better discussed in private.”

"Ah, OPSEC. What a horrid word I've loved to miss." Joked Joseph, taking the seat he was offered. "Well, I can't say that I'm vested with a substantial degree of operational authority, but let's say that it's far beyond that which my more… apolitically-focused comrades understand themselves to possess." He looked around the trailer, nodding approvingly at the relatively advanced equipment. "But what I can do is discuss the nature of Reinkalistan's relationship with your righteous struggle henceforth, and any further things STATCOM can do to help."

Hany smiled at this. “I’m afraid I don’t keep up with the… international struggle quite as much as I should,” she murmured.

"I wouldn't expect you to." Interrupted Joseph. "You're first and foremost concerned with your own struggle, after all."

“That’s quite fair,” said Hany. “We have a lot of people to deal with. I can tell you a bit about that: there are thirty-six individual factions attempting to recruit new members in this camp. We are the largest and, at the moment, by far the best-organised. There are some twenty-five thousand AKILA volunteers within the camp. Unfortunately, best-organised is… a relative superlative.” She glanced almost involuntarily towards the open window. “As you can see, things are difficult here.”

"Superlative?" Asked Joseph. "I'm afraid I'm not exactly fluent in your language."

“I mean…” Hany paused. “We are… more organised than anyone else here. But we are not so well organised that we can, for example –” here she took a moment to choose her words – “accomplish anything significant. We can distribute aid, but we are not yet at the point where we can mobilise a true resistance force.”

The veteran nodded. "I understand that entirely. At least, to my understanding, the AKILA presence here could use some timely support? Again, this is all contingent on what I can wrangle out of the bastards at home, but they're trigger-happy with how much shit they send out to those they consider their future allies anyway."

“Yes. Specifically,” said Hany, “we could use… people, quite honestly. We don’t impose a great deal of ideological discipline here – otherwise everything could fall apart, between the Islamic Socialists and the Marxist-Leninists and the Maoists, to say nothing of the Anarchists – but we need someone to impose self-discipline, to get our people… active beyond simply dealing with the day-to-day challenges. Which are considerable.” She paused. “At minimum, perhaps, if someone else were taking care of aid distribution, we could achieve that on our own. But perhaps you have some ideas?”

Joseph thought for a moment. Finally, he spoke. "The Party Unity front isn't something we can help with – we are neither Marxist-Leninist, Maoist, Islamic Socialist, nor Anarchist – but what we certainly can do is deal with aid distribution. That's what the muppets out there are for to begin with." He gestured in the general direction of the Reinkalistani Red Cross workers. "I can't make any promises, but if I were to get my government to mark this location as high priority, they'd focus on aid distribution to the point that you'd be able to effectively focus entirely on militant and party matters. After all, we're aid workers. It'd just be doing our job." He winked.

She smirked at this. “That might be a good starting point, yes. Of course, if you do have a few more experienced militants, who might be able to present themselves as an example – that does a great deal for party discipline.” She paused for a moment, evidently thinking of recent events in the Analeuths. “It’s amazing how much people need someone to look up to… But for as long as you can take care of aid, we have extensive records involving that, which we could pass on.”

Joseph raised an eyebrow. "Are you suggesting that we could send a handful of firebrand militants? I'll have you know that's not within my faculty to grant as a Red Cross worker-" he paused- "but I do know a few people who might have what you're looking for, if that's indeed what you're after."

“It’s hard to find reliable suppliers of firebrands these days,” said Hany. She was, quite possibly, making a joke, but she invariably kept her face so straight it was hard to tell. “But if you do have such contacts, perhaps you could put the word in. In the meantime, we can focus on what the Red Cross can provide.”

She pulled a folder from somewhere in the depths of a desk drawer. “This gives about as much information as we can offer: which blocks of the camp tend to need what sorts of things. A who’s who of who lives where, who the most important local leaders are. How much our aid turnover is per week. Which people try to steal aid and hawk it at inflated prices; who you need to watch out for. Which World Assembly officials you have to bribe, and how much. All the basics.”

"Ah, that's more like it. Bribery is my passion." Joseph laughed. "Well, that'll be a decent start, I'll distribute this knowledge to the boys. In the meantime, I'll hit up my guys who know guys. Perhaps they'll get you AKILA folk some firebrands after all." He stood up. "Regardless, I think it's time to make my leave. This has been productive; looking forward to working with you in the future."

“And I with you, Mr. …” she paused for a moment, evidently realising he hadn’t given her a name. “... Red Cross. It’s been most diverting. If you need additional information on our strength here for the bigwigs upstairs, certainly pass that request onto our Paramac branch via the usual contacts.”

"Mr. Red Cross." Joseph let loose a thunderous laugh. "I like that. It's Mr. Yaginovich. Joseph Yaginovich. But yes, I'll pass on any information necessary." He walked towards the door. "A pleasure, Mrs. al-Kashatiya." With that, he opened the trailer's door, and exited, closing it silently behind him.
Last edited by South Reinkalistan on Sat May 14, 2022 4:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
" We will not bow to your dictation. We are free. We bled to be free.
Who are you to tell us what we may and may not do? We stopped being your slaves an era ago. "
South Reinkalistan is a massive, ecologically-diverse nation notable for its roving student militias and widespread hatred for the elderly.
In the midst of a room-temperature cultural revolution that's lost its momentum, the Party carefully plans its next move.
As the brittle bones of fragile empires begin to crack beneath their own weight, history's symphony reaches crescendo pitch. The future is all but certain.

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Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Tue May 17, 2022 6:04 pm

V. Fulcrum

From the air, the city of Laurentia was an endless, dizzying swirl of straight and curved lines, like the spokes of countless wheels within wheels. At points these lines converged into enormous plazas and squares, open spaces cut into the urban labyrinth initially to facilitate the flow of traffic and now—with the Laurentia Rapid Transit Authority’s vast subway system—dominated by foot traffic, the umbrella-covered tables of restauranteurs, and small green spaces, part of a vague attempt to beautify the industrial city-state. From most of these plazas, broad avenues exited, cutting canyons through the city’s skyscrapers and brownstones as they converged on one single point at the geographic centre of the city. This point could be described as a roughly triangular mega-plaza, the Electors’ Piece. It faced the great hall of the Council of Electors on one side, the dizzying glass menangerie of the Financial District on another, and the ancient riverside castle of the Kings of Laurentia—now long since consigned to history—on a third. It was the centre of the city-state by any metric, and its surface area was several square kilometres, dotted with statues and fountains and park benches.

Today it was full of students. Madina al-Da’at even recognised a few of them.

The latest speaker, occupying a purpose-built dais near the Fountain of the Kozanian Elders, was someone she didn’t know, somewhat too old to be a student; perhaps a local political activist. “In the past several years,” the speaker was saying, “we have watched the Council sell off our public property, remove accountability from the Military Police, launch campaigns to cleanse the city of our unhoused neighbours, and more. And now, as a pro-democracy movement sweeps the Analeuths, we see our Council not only refuse to seek relations with it, but instead punish us—through curfews, through raising the prices of food and medicine, through closing the city gates. Enough! We, the people of Laurentia, demand change…”

“Heard enough yet?” Madina asked, leaning against one of the heavy metal barricades that surrounded the Electors’ Piece.

“It sounds nice,” said Julia Rezaia, whom she knew well enough to call more than an acquaintance but somewhat less than a friend, from beside her. “Can they actually put this ‘democracy’ into practice?”

“Who knows.” Madina shrugged and returned her attention to her smartphone.

Julia smirked. “It’s amazing how apolitical you are. You’d think a History-International Relations dual major would care more.”

“Yeah, and you’re a compsci major. Yet here you are.” Madina’s social media feeds held little of interest, and she stuffed the phone back into her purse. “Kozani’s my country. I don’t care all that much about what happens here, honestly.”

“Fair enough,” said Julia. “We’d better head back before the cops start breaking heads, I guess.” There were lines of Military Police along the edges of the plaza. Not many of them—perhaps only a few hundred, against a crowd of thousands—but Madina knew well that as the hours ticked towards seven-thirty and the curfew, hundreds more would trickle in, little by little, until there were enough to kettle and suppress the protest. She’d seen it before.

“…so what are your plans for Eid al-Fitr?” asked Julia, once they had gone far enough from the plaza that the noise of the crowd had receded.

“It’s all a bit up in the air, with this curfew,” said Madina. “But y’know, even if we don’t get invaded, I’m probably going to be mostly stuck dealing with exams. It’s a—”

The noise of the crowd was distant enough now that both of them could hear Madina’s phone ringing. She dug it out of her purse, glanced at the number, and rolled her eyes. “Great.”

“What?” said Julia, but Madina was already answering. “Hi. Carol here.”

Carol? mouthed Julia, and Madina mouthed, Guy I don’t want to talk to. She wasn’t sure if the message was received. The male voice on the other end of the line said: “Hey Carol! This is Jeremiah. We met at Sarah’s study group the other day. I had a great time meeting you and your friends, and wanted to find out if you’re free tonight…”

“Um, you do know we’re under curfew? Tonight and probably like, future nights, too.” Madina made sure she presented the appropriate amount of disbelief at the suggestion.

“Doesn’t matter,” said the voice of Jeremiah. “I know some people on the force. They’ll let us break curfew for a bit. It’ll be exciting! We’ll have the city to ourselves.”

“Um…” said Madina.

“So, do I pick you up at the Scholars’ Gate, maybe around eight?”

“Look, Jeremiah,” said Madina. “You seem like a nice dude and all of that, but I just didn’t feel a connection between us. The only reason you have my number is because of the study group. I don’t actually want to go on a date with you. Sorry.”

Momentary silence. “Wow. You really are a bitch, aren’t you?” Jeremiah’s voice had abruptly turned bitter. “Leading guys on like that… you’re not even that hot anyway—”

Madina hung up, and glanced at Julia. Her phone was old and primitive enough that Julia had probably heard both sides of the conversation. “Who even asks someone out when the city’s under curfew anyway?” she said.

Julia smiled. “I swear,” she said. “Laurentia fuckboys are the most oblivious people I’ve ever met.”

“Yeah. For real.” Madina sighed. “I’d almost rather hang out with Professor Darby. At least he’s never actually done anything inappropriate.”

“Wait, really? That’s even sadder than I thought,” said Julia. “Poor guy.”

“Yeah, I know he’s got this reputation. But he mostly is just lonely. Needs someone to sit there and listen to him talk about communism.” Madina gave a shrug. “Sometimes I don’t think he even remembers my name.”

“He gives me the creeps,” said Julia. “But if you can stand it, more power to you, I guess. Maybe you’ll get a First out of it.”

Desultory conversation about their holiday plans, or what those plans might have looked like before the city gates were closed and the Military Police deployed throughout the city, carried them as far as the Scholars’ Gate and onto the University campus. Here the two of them proceeded to the library to study together, keeping one another in line—an arrangement that suited Madina quite well, due to how easily she became distracted under normal circumstances. They were thus together for almost all of the remainder of the day. But there was one lapse: a minute or two when Madina ran up to her dorm room to pick up her laptop and textbooks, and Julia waited down below on the quad.

It was for this reason that Julia missed the moment when, on the way back down from her room, Madina paused for long enough to throw her phone down the compactor chute.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

In the event, police started the breaking of heads a bit early—half an hour before curfew. The sounds of chants and mayhem were audible even from the University campus. Professor Darby could even make out a call and response of “Whose streets?” “Our streets!” if he paid sufficiently close attention.

This was of little concern to him on its own, except that it interfered most damnably with his attempts to correct the latest round of student papers that had come in over the weekend. (In light of the unrest within the city, he had extended the deadline by two weeks, but evidently quite a few students had forgotten, and had turned in quite a lot of—frankly—half-complete work. He was tempted, as always, to send every single paper back with little more than a note saying “learn to write.”) After about half an hour of noise, shot through at times with the sounds of gunfire and of metallic objects being thrown or dropped, he decided there was nothing to be gained from staying late at the office tonight. But before heading home, Professor Darby decided to climb up to the building roof to see if he could make out where exactly the protests were happening, so he’d know in advance what areas of the city to avoid.

It was here, on the roof deck of the Liberal Arts Building, that Professor Darby first encountered the Military Police. They were swarming down a rope from a helicopter hovering not far above the building. (Come to think of it, the sound of a helicopter had seemed rather loud lately.) A uniformed officer caught sight of Professor Darby and shouted something inaudible.

“I beg your pardon?” said Professor Darby.

The officer jogged close enough to be heard over the noise of the chopper. “Campus is coming under lockdown, sir. Everyone’s being quarantined in the auditorium.”

“Oh my,” said Professor Darby. “Are things that bad?”

The officer, however, had already turned away and was gesturing towards the others as they made their way onto the relatively flat ground of the roof deck. Then he turned back.

“You need to come with us, sir.”

In the end four officers accompanied Professor Darby downstairs to the Henry F. Fincklemann Memorial Lecture Hall, which was not strictly an auditorium but still large enough to host the first-year general education lectures, which could draw thousands of students at a time. There were already over a hundred people in the hall, some of them seated in the chairs and others on the lecture stage, and more were being herded in by the minute by other small groups of officers. Evidently the entire population of the University was being quarantined here for the duration of the protests. With only a few hundred people on campus—the vast majority of students still being away for Easter Break—that became a much more feasible proposition.

Professor Darby took a seat beside Associate Professor Sharp on the edge of the lecture stage. “Working late didn’t pay off tonight, Sharp,” he observed.

“Have you followed the news?” asked AP Sharp.

“What news?” asked Professor Darby.

“Your AKILA hit the city gates an hour ago. Or someone did.” AP Sharp presented his phone to Professor Darby. “Explosions were heard by people who live near the River Gate. Ever since then—no news. Unrest in the city heightening, but no way of knowing what’s going on.”

“That’s why I asked. What news?” Professor Darby made clear, this time, that the question was rhetorical. “We know nothing. We know less than nothing. If the news agencies know anything, they’re not reporting it. We’re on our own here.”

“True.” AP Sharp exhaled sharply with a whuff. “I wonder who does know.”

“Ask the kids,” said Professor Darby. He glanced up at a large group of several dozen students being herded into the lecture hall. “They probably know.”

A small knot of students seated themselves around the two academics, some of them withdrawing laptops and tablets and affixing headphones to block out the growing hubbub of conversation. One of them—whose name, Professor Darby remembered, was Jérémie, one of his brighter students—turned towards both to ask: “You guys know what’s going on?”

“No. We were just saying you might,” said Professor Darby. “Perhaps you’ve seen something on social media.”

“Not me. I was studying in the library all day.” Jérémie frowned, and turned away. Behind him Professor Darby, with a small leap of his heart, spotted Madina, along with a handful of her friends that he knew by sight but not by name. She was chatting with one of them.

“—course I left my phone in my dorm room, so now I have no idea what’s going on.”

Her friend, who was tall and dark-haired and striking, said, “Me neither, honestly. Social media posts from people near the River Gate say they’ve heard nothing much since the explosion. Whatever’s happening in the city isn’t happening there.”

“Wait, really? Weird. That whole area’s been locked down, last I saw.” Madina balanced her laptop on her knees and opened it, evidently searching for something. Professor Darby was struck anew by wonderment that she had been born now, into an era when she was just one university-aged girl among many, when in colonial times she might have been a courtly lady whose beauty might inspire songs and poetry, with men vying in tournaments of knightly character simply for a chance to dance with her. Or perhaps he was just being fanciful.

Her friend shrugged. “I don’t see anything except from people around downtown. Cops everywhere, protestors setting up barricades, all that stuff. Someone on 19th and Birkenhead had a molotov cocktail thrown into their car. And then someone else who lives twenty blocks further down Birkenhead, at 39th, says ‘what are you talking about? It’s totally dead down here.’ Whatever’s happening seems really localised.”

“Could be,” said Madina, gazing into her laptop. After a moment she looked away, scanned the room, and her eyes alighted on Professor Darby.

“Professor, any ideas for what we should be searching for?”

“Oh, er, on social media? I’m afraid I have no idea, my dear,” said Professor Darby. “Perhaps... AKILA. Or any mentions of socialism, or liberation. That sort of thing.”

“Oh right,” said Madina’s friend. “I hadn’t thought of that.” She began typing into her smartphone. “Socialism gets a lot of hits from people at the protests... there’s someone describing AKILA as ‘based’...”

As she continued (and Professor Darby finally remembered that her name was probably Julia or Julie, something like that), Madina seemed to tune out. Professor Darby glanced at her.

“You know, I’m surprised to see you in here instead of out documenting the protests,” he said.

“Me?” Madina looked surprised. “Honestly? I think I’m good. I chose my side a long time ago.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

They spent an uncomfortable night in the lecture hall. Occasionally, the sounds of violence could be heard, even through its impregnable walls, but for the most part there was only the sound of muted conversation and the buzzing of the fluorescent lights. At one point Military Police reentered the lecture hall and distributed a few hundred sleeping mats—not quite enough for everyone present—and advised students and staff alike to take turns with them. Then they passed through the big sets of double doors and were gone once more.

Professor Darby did not sleep. He somehow felt he couldn’t. As the night wore on and others took turns stretching out on the thin mats, laid out across the lecture stage and the aisles between the chairs, he found himself becoming ever more alert and wired. Something important was happening and for once he was on the scene. He only wished that perhaps the Military Police would let him document events in real time, instead of leaving him in this apprehensive state of boredom.

He did not keep track very extensively of Madina and her friend Julia, or of his fellow Professors and Associate Professors. At one point Madina did allow him to borrow her laptop in order to examine Laurentia’s live social media feeds for information. He could quickly dismiss virtually everything he saw as misinformation and rumour, or alternately as simply unprovable—videos that could have been faked, text posts that almost certainly were—and returned the device to the student with his apologies. This was an area where his expertise would not prove useful.

Thus, he was not watching where she was when, at shortly after eight in the morning, a Military Police officer burst through one of the double doors. He was armed, carrying a very modern-looking BCR. It felt surprising, however, that he was alone; no previous encounter had involved less than four officers.

“Enemy forces have breached the campus,” he yelled, though there was little conversation for him to drown out. “This is a lockdown zone. No one is to leave or enter this auditorium.”

“Do we get any more information?” cried Professor Darby, from his distant position on the lecture stage.

The officer rubbed his forehead. “We believe these are the forces of the Analeuthian-Kozanian International Liberation Army,” he said. “Please do not believe any reports you hear. They will seize you and ransom you for cash.”

“...any reports we hear?” asked another voice. Professor Urgun. He was a tall, saturnine man from the Psychology Department.

“Any reports,” confirmed the officer, evidently choosing not to accept Professor Urgun’s implicit request for elaboration.

“So we get no information whatsoever? When will we be allowed to leave?” demanded AP Sharp. “We’ve been here all night—”

“When it’s safe. I cannot share with you any of the reports we’ve received. That is private information.”

“I can share them with you,” said Madina’s voice.

The officer half turned to face her, and fell silent. For a moment Professor Darby thought he was merely struck dumb by Madina’s beauty—which would have been entirely possible, in his opinion—until he realised that the officer had dropped his rifle, which still hung loosely from his neck, and that he was slowly moving his hands to the top of his head, and staring, very intently, at the military-grade handgun she had trained on him.

“We’ve taken the city with almost no bloodshed,” Madina continued, her voice dreamlike. “Most of your fellow officers have surrendered rather than fight us. Most of the Council of Electors fled last night, for Turn-of-River. But nine of them are still here—that’s enough for a quorum, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” murmured AP Sharp, almost involuntarily. “Nine is quorum. And let me guess. It’s the nine associated with the Liberty Party.”

Madina smiled, but didn’t look at him. She kept her focus on the officer. “Now, very slowly, Officer Keshgra, please sit down.”

The officer did as he was told. “Should have known AKILA had someone on the inside,” he said, ruefully. “I won’t make any trouble.”

“Multiple someones,” said Madina. “Jérémie, disarm him, please.”

The student Jérémie, who was now seated beside the officer, reached over and expertly unhooked the rifle from around his neck. “As ordered, Agent al-Da’at,” he said.

In a moment like this, with two of his students—including one he felt quite strongly about—exposed as AKILA sleeper agents and the university lockdown entirely compromised, Professor Darby should have had something intelligent to say. Eloquent, even. These were the Kozani liberationists he’d wanted to meet for his entire academic career: followers of the Chairman. They were also potentially putting him and his entire faculty and staff at risk. In the event, however, all he could say was “Er... I... what?”

AP Sharp was somewhat more comprehensible. “Madina,” he said. “You’ve been a spy for this... AKILA... the entire time?”

Madina took neither her eyes nor her gun off the Military Police officer, but she did, for a moment, look somewhat sheepish. “Er, yes. Technically. But I have always wanted to study international relations. So when the cover opportunity came up, I couldn’t not take it, I guess.” She gave half of what could have been a shrug. “I still want to finish my degree.”

“That’s your problem, al-Da’at,” said another voice. “Too clever for your own good. Drop the gun.” Professor Darby looked up. It was Madina’s friend, Julia or Julie... whatever her name was. She had a handgun of her own.

“Julia?” Madina asked. This time she did turn, at least partway, to face the speaker. Her eyes widened fractionally, and her pistol clattered across the floor, out of sight.

“You surely didn’t think you were the only ones who have people here?” Julia’s voice was contemptuous. “Zeynep Dzhagish, Military Police Psychological Operations Division. Pleased to make your acquaintance. Officer Keshgra, stand up please, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

Officer Keshgra glanced involuntarily at Jérémie, who was cradling his rifle. “Um... I think I’m good where I am, ma’am.”

“Seriously, Madina,” said Julia, or Zeynep, whoever she was. “Infiltrating under your real name. Improvising. ‘Who even asks someone out when the city’s under curfew?’ That wasn’t part of your courtesy call, was it? You just made that up to make it sound convincing. And yeah—no one does. Unless it’s spy shit.”

“What’s your point?” asked Madina coldly.

“You’re right. You won and we lost. But at least I can take out a valuable enemy asset before your extraction team arrives.”

Professor Darby had always considered himself a quiet, retiring man, shy to the point of awkwardness, incapable of any sort of impulsive or risky action, certainly not someone who would ever do anything without first thinking it over for a long period of time. Perhaps with a break for some tea and biscuits in the interim. He also, if pressed, might admit that, as fond as he was of Madina, as much as she aroused certain forbidden passions in him, he did not, in actuality, know her that well, or wish to seriously pursue her as a long-term romantic partner; indeed, in the normal course of events, his affections would transfer to another student once she had left his class. He was not truly attracted to her, only to youth and beauty more generally. Especially with her now having proven to be a communist spy, there was no particular reason for him to intercede. Therefore he could not entirely explain why, or how quickly, he interposed himself between Madina and Julia/Zeynep, positioning himself among the seats in such a way as to completely shield Madina’s body with his own. Julia/Zeynep lowered her firearm fractionally.

“Julia—Officer Dzhagish,” he cried, “please don’t shoot! This can be resolved without violence. I’m confident of it.”

“Professor,” said Julia/Zeynep, her voice cold. “Defending your latest obsession? You really think she’ll repay you with access to her body?”

“No,” said Professor Darby. “I’m defending her because she’s my student. We protect our students from harm. That is our responsibility as academics.”

The words were high-minded as all hell, and watching himself say this from a great distance, aware of his likely impending death, Professor Darby wondered exactly where they’d come from.

“Fine. You’re not wearing body armour. I can shoot through you and still hit her.” Julia/Zeynep took aim once more, and then—

—the double doors behind her burst open once more. Framed in them was what appeared, at first glance, to be—well, Professor Darby couldn’t really deny it: a stunningly attractive young woman with deep blue eyes and pink-dyed hair, cut to roughly shoulder length, in an unfamiliar quasi-military uniform marked by the emblem of a machete and gun with the ubiquitous Red Star. But he could also see the figure of the Marshite Goddess the interloper wore, which meant that they could be, well, also a young man, or perhaps something else entirely.

“Ah, damn it,” said Julia/Zeynep, and collapsed. Professor Darby was close enough to see two objects protruding from her back—knives, he thought—and then blood beginning to soak through her shirt.

Subhanallah, Lin,” said Madina. “You never fail to surprise me.”

“Um, yeah, sorry,” said the newcomer—Lin, evidently—walking forward into the lecture hall. The doors remained open, and behind them Professor Darby could see several other people in identical uniforms. “Was completely out of bullets. I genuinely wasn’t planning on making that kind of entrance. Sorry, everyone. I’ll clean it up.”

“Are all Marshites this deadly?” asked Madina.

“I’m not normally a violent person. I swear. I just have this, you know, training,” said Lin, pausing beside the fallen Julia/Zeynep, who seemed to be still alive—she glared angrily at the Marshite—and using one foot to prise the gun out of her hands and send it spinning across the floor.

“What the hell is going on?” asked Professor Urgun from across the room.

“Um... yeah. Hi, everyone. AKILA has taken your university campus as of, uh, now, I think.” Lin glanced around the room, taking in everyone present. “But there should be no reason for panic. I’m not going to like, kill anyone else. My name is Lin Sandanski, uh, zie/hir pronouns please, and I’m an AKILA cultural officer. I want to re-emphasise that everything will be back to normal in a couple of days. But for now, I’m going to ask all of you to come outside into the main quad...”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Apart from AKILA troops being everywhere, the quad was... almost normal. Busy, but normal. This could have been the day of a football game, perhaps.

Lin was the first cultural officer Professor Darby had met, but zie was hardly the only one present. There was a whole coterie, twenty or thirty of them, overseeing the distribution of food and water to University staff and students and surrendered Military Police officers alike, introducing themselves and chatting in a friendly manner. Julia/Zeynep was extracted on a stretcher and disappeared into a medical tent, but every so often, when someone asked, a cultural officer would confirm that yes, she was alive and doing well. Professor Darby lost track of Madina very quickly as she disappeared among her... well, her comrades, he supposed. Though none of them ever used that word.

The bulk of Laurentia’s Military Police had indeed surrendered as she had indicated. They had apparently been infiltrated from the beginning. The “battle” for Laurentia had been over by six in the morning: the nine members of the Council of Electors that had not fled had convened, and agreed to expand the franchise and hold full democratic elections by the end of the month, as well as to ally with AKILA and agree to follow any laws imposed by its legitimate successor organisation, on the condition that Laurentia would be named primary capital city of any future Analeuthian-Kozanian joint republic. It seemed that otherwise life in the city-state would not change overnight. Business owners, certainly, would flee the country as quickly as possible given the prospect of a future socialist government, and it would be some time before a future socialist government could be established and replace them with state-owned industries. The fates of large landowners remained unclear as well. But with the legitimate government at least partially on board, perhaps the bleeding wouldn’t be too intense.

Professor Darby was, essentially, now living under the socialism that he had studied. It was an amazing professional opportunity. And all he could think of was: why did I do that?

It must have been two or three hours later when he saw her again. This time she came right up to him. She was in the company of a tall, well-built man; Professor Darby was no connoisseur of male beauty, but even he had to admit that this man was quite handsome indeed. There was also, however, something deferential in her body language, suggesting that this man was a superior rather than, say, a boyfriend. Or perhaps that she was simply ashamed to face the Professor she’d deceived for almost a full academic year.

“This is him,” she said, to the man.

“Professor.” The man smiled. “I understand you helped save the life of this agent recently.”

“I... suppose I did,” said Professor Darby, sheepishly. “I would have preferred to remain neutral, myself, but the officer did not look like she could be dissuaded, unfortunately.”

“Well. You have our gratitude nevertheless.” The man extended his hand, and Professor Darby shook it, for lack of anything better to do. “My name is Joseph Erdeni—Captain Joseph Erdeni. I’m the head of AKILA’s military operations in this region.”

“Charmed,” said Professor Darby. “I just find it... rather unbelievable, I have to say. I’ve spent my entire academic career studying socialist militancy and politics in this region, only for... when revolution happens, for me to be just as unprepared as anyone else.”

“We were all caught unawares,” said Captain Erdeni. “I don’t think any of us expected to get this far.”

“You certainly had some very capable agents involved,” said Professor Darby. “I must admit I was totally taken in by... Madina, if that’s even her real name.”

Madina, who had been staring fixedly at her shoes, looked up and met his eyes. “My real first name,” she said quietly. “But al-Da’at is a kunya. We all use them. We don’t want to put our families in danger.”

“Quite understandable,” said Professor Darby. He had to bite his tongue to avoid adding the my dear. “I suppose you were not even playing much of a role, then.”

“No. Except me and Julia, or Zeynep I guess, had pretty strong suspicions of each other from the beginning. We were never really friends,” said Madina. “And it was entertaining hearing you speculate that no Kozanian military officers of importance crossed into Analeuthia.” She smiled wanly. Captain Erdeni smiled as well, and Professor Darby made the implicit connection immediately.


“I hope you can forgive me,” Madina said.

Professor Darby was genuinely puzzled. “For what? You only did what your Captain required of you, after all.”

“For what I’m about to ask you...” Madina twisted her hands anxiously. “I’m likely to be redeployed into the field after this. So I’m probably going to miss the deadline for my term paper. I’d really appreciate it if you could give me an extension—”
Last edited by Analeuthocosia on Tue May 17, 2022 8:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Founded: Feb 20, 2007
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Mokastana » Wed May 18, 2022 3:01 pm

Newmarket, Kozani
coastal town occupied by the Popular Mobilisation Units

Newmarket was not a deep-water port. It couldn't handle large vessels full of armored personnel carriers and other heavy military supplies, but luckily for the PMU, these were not serious obstacles for the People's Unified Federation to overcome. While the PUF was supplying the communists in the East with arms, it was the western PMU who would get the bulk of the Federation's attention. AKILA had the support of Mahdah, the Marshites, and other international communists. The PUF's efforts out east would be a drop in the bucket compared to their allies. So the Federation turned its attention to the western coast, where the ethnic purity militias still held power. It was here that the PMU was holding on. It was a moderate fraction the Federation could get behind.

Inside the cockpit of a large plane, the communications officer perked up, listening intently before switching to message the Captain of the plane.

"Pedro, we are getting buzzed by the blockade."

"Copy that." Pedro turned his headset to the open comms channel used by allied forces. "Attention Theocratic Forces, this is Captain Pedro Navilan of the People's Unified Federation, People's Federal Navy. I am commanding ten MGV-02 Warbeach Ekranoplanes, transmitting authorization codes now."

"Sending now." A voice spoke up in his headset, the comms officer doing so at the implicated order. In a few moments the Marshite voiced hailed back a friendly welcoming and wished them well on their mission.

A few hours later they would be arriving at the coast of Newmarket. However the fleet of planes would not be flying overhead towards any airport, instead they appeared on the horizon, as if ships, skimming only a few meters off the water. The massive MGV-02 Warbeach airplanes headed straight for the coastline, each carrying over 170 tons of supplies for the militias: weapons, ammo, medicine, and food. The latter included a number of Federal Army 24-hour ration packs.

One by one they would make landfall, and trucks full of supplies would disembark, driving inland to unload supplies someplace safe. In addition to the crates of goods, two Warbeaches began to unload military vehicles, LA-30 multipurpose vehicles, four small ASH-12 Buzzer helicopters, and platoons of well armed men to escort the supplies further inland. This was the Independent Special Forces Company of the 23rd Naval Infantry Regiment, People's Federal Navy. The Naval Infantry's special forces were known as Blue Frogs, named after the infamous Poison Dart Frog found in the Surian jungles. They were not meant to take and hold territory, but instead be a surgical blade to destroy something vital and disappear. For now, they would be considered "advisors" to the Popular Mobilisation Units, and would be sent to Halifax to help "train recruits".

Rumors were that the Ordenites were trying to aid the local extremists, so the Federation would respond in kind.
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Trust the Mokans to be armed even when among their allies

The fact that the Mokans hadn't faced the same fate was a testament to their preparedness, or perhaps paranoia
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Holy Marsh
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Founded: Nov 09, 2007
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Holy Marsh » Wed May 18, 2022 6:18 pm

Y'Skarla, 23 miles from the Kozanian-Marshite Border, along the Vrendaline Coast
M-SAD Field Office in the Bashiur Towers

The Bashiur Towers were built the same as most other Northern Marshite buildings, with defense in mind. Y'Skarla's outskirts were never far from the brutality of the Long War since the Trombsca Mountain Sub-Range's liberation three hundred years ago. The towers had been built and rebuilt with thick walls and all manner of electronic and physical resistance in mind. Despite this, Agent-Director Jaynus Subalaska had an office with a wide window of the city's beaches and the waters that lay beyond. It certainly made remembering what she was here for easier since it was the Independent Peoples who made up much of her view.

Y'Skarla was the largest principal city to the troubled region and as such had seen a wide influx of refugees and displaced peoples over the decades. Many had converted and become Marshites while others rejected such things and chose to live apart. Never away, never unkindly, and always supported, it was these people who made up the majority of the beachgoers in her view. Marshites came out in force on Wednesdays, which meant that most other days she could watch how the foreigners acted. They were more reserved than Marshites. Not a shock. Marshites could be extreme by other people's standards. Their familial bonds were much tighter, however. Subalaska couldn't name her parents. She had been taken in by the Church when she was an infant. Marshites would think nothing of allowing their offspring to wander the sandy shoals on their own, unlike the foreigners. It was a blessing and a curse no matter which way one looked at it.

Her eyes closed. When they opened, the window she had been looking out of changed what it was showing, tinting and darkening to match the underground office she was stationed in. The window would shift from time to time, giving her glimpses of the above-world. It would continue to shift. "Latest field reports have been analyzed and secured point to point, Jaynus," the voice in her head began. AI Citizen Cluster Katabarasin-Ander-Tarygun, or KAT, was assigned to her. Thanks to her implant, the back and forth was as quick as could be and very annoying at times for Jaynus. You can't hide thoughts from the AICC.

Jaynus took a sip of coffee as the screen that was her window changed to a series of codes, followed by information. "Let's get to work."
With that, her office would explode into information as she started immersing herself in the reports.

K16 Report on activities of suspected and known foreign advisors and aides to the Nationalist Front. Sources confirm a higher than expected number of localized military advisors. Theorized Ordernite. If true, we will be operating OEMK-12 until further notice. Vessel Ngairea was flagged as a possible intrusion mechanism. Naval confirmation of crew manifest, match with known records for identification. Seek permission for agitation. K9-13 report higher than expected production capabilities remain should Bluefold remain in play. The latest data transfer is complete. Agent note: suggest military action to reduce military output. Suggest direct action against foreign military advisors aiding EMK. If Ordenite, lean on them to remove support for factions that have murdered Marshites. Data disintegration.

Interesting, though not unexpected. M-SAD knew full well that the Ordenites were supporting the EMK. How could they not? Birds of a fascist feather flocked together. It seemed to her to be a foolish cause. Even if the EMK emerged victorious from the localized conflict, it did not have the power to take the rest of the chaotic landmass. And if it did, it would simply get run over by the Matriarchy or Mahdah. If her agents were now reporting a greater number, however, then that could mean something was in play. Bluefold referred to the possible transfer of military technology to the industrial sectors of EMK. Potentially an issue.

"Not authorized: Agitation or direct action against Ordenites," KAT reminded her inside her head. "I am aware. I am also in agreement. The situation has proceeded according to expectations. So should we, until developments trigger new requirements," she replied, also in her own head. Even as they had this back and forth, her mind was being flooded with information. Names, dates, details of captured conversations and interceptions. Her augmentations allowed her to process it at a much greater speed than any human, but even then she could almost feel KAT's eagerness to move on. KAT and other AIs were often slaved to a human mind for some time, or at least a part of them. This was to teach them patience. In order to work with their human sisters and brothers, they would need to understand what made them great and what made them limited.

"Agreed. I shall respond with standing orders K-2. New Field report."

CROW-2-5 has compiled the following: In the last forty-eight hours, eleven successful deliveries of aid to AKILA have occurred. Distribution teams report no conflicts. Route 13-A may soon become harder to use if the local March continues to agitate in opposition. Triton 2 has been given information. Of the forty-eight routes in play, all but six are secure or facing no additional issues. Rifles, body armor, anti-tank, anti-air, light vehicles, and communications gear. Basics as provided for everyone, AKILA given first preference for food and water, medicine. Waiting for go-ahead to authorize larger scale direct combat aid packages after capture of Laurentia. Data Disintigration.

Jaynus nodded. They had many supply routes open. The most direct over the border, sure, but a litany of networks had been formed over the years. Marshite civilian aid camps inside of the border were often used once local security apparatuses had been infiltrated or co-opted. The Untamed Borders of the north were always open for smuggling. Friendly borders as well, plus naval deliveries along the non-EMK controlled coast. While AKILA certainly was the apple in the eye of the Matriarchy, there were other groups who they supplied, especially when they fought the EMK. Those other efforts were not for Jaynus to know. CROW was in charge of AKILA deliveries. That meant Jaynus got to make the call.

She looked up, reviewing the several tranches of aid that was already prepped should she give the okay. to do so. It was an effective tripling of the already substantial aid being delivered, with a special emphasis on anti-armor and anti-air weaponry. Those were already being shipped in large amounts, growing too. But if she gave the okay, the aid would become nearly impossible to hide. Now that AKILA had made its move, so would she.

"Authorize order C-4, all tranches open."
"Understood, Jaynus. New field report."

Triton 2 has updated the list of assassination targets once more. Functionaries who seem agreeable have been removed per the last request. The list now contains eighty-seven individuals and sixteen organizations, concentrated along the coasts and borders. Dry run for scenarios in Paramac and Mathhaven show multiple avenues of success. Investigation into the killing of multiple National Front members who were previously on this list is ongoing. Triton 6 got into a firefight with local EMK forces while doing so; successfully maintained cover as PMU. It is our belief that the killings were local or Holy Warrior- lean to the latter due to coordination. If so, we will not discover anything else. Data disintegrate.

"We remain locked out of all Holy Warrior Systems, Jaynus," KAT replied. "Do I detect some continued frustrations?" Jaynus replied as her mind took in scores of operational data. "It is possible I- we-" KAT replied, referring to the full AI cluster that she was a part of, "have tried and failed for the last several months. We have not encountered such resistance from friendly programs."
Jaynus smiled beside herself. "I do not find this funny, Jaynus. Why do they shield themselves from us?"
"That is how they are, KAT. They are apart and above. Cease your attempts."
Her mind was silent for a moment, the information blissfully unaccompanied by KAT's commentary.
"I will try."
"I said I will try, Jaynus."
"Authorize T-2 on Op Order M-4. Authorize only insofar as we do not feel there will be issues with allied forces in the region. Authorize Op Order PR-7 only in case of M-4 failure."

"Authorizations noted. New Field Report."

INDIGO 10 reports success in latest intelligence releases to various AKILA cells and friendly PMU forces near the LOC. Long-term efforts in Laurentia successful. Sources under budget, seeking additional uses. Capture of source in Amistad resolved, potential local leak plugged. Attached will be all new information received in the last 24 hours, all updated information from previous reports, and intellgence gathering operations currewntly ongoing. Detailed also are the data streams available for use with AKILA, as well as those already in use. Seek authorization for greater working relationships. Note: Certain intelligence tranches may reveal deep sources to AKILA. Data disintigration.

M-SAD had given information to any number of groups over the years. It had infiltrated many different elements of the various small polities and took advantage of the corruption common in many of their societies. Their human intelligence network was ever-expanding now with multiple generations of effort. Their signals and communications intelligence sources only ever got stronger. Not much happened over large stretches of the territory without M-SAD having an idea of it. Over the years they had dealt it out in short parcels, allowing their sources to remain good and to further embed themselves. Now that AKILA was making better moves and bigger ones, M-SAD would share more and more. Everything from the detailed plans of security officials to the schedules of individual officers, the favorite foods of nobles to the specific deployment of military forces. M-SAD could deliver if they wanted to know how to turn someone or how to crush them with the speed and ease of a revolution on the rise. They knew just about everything there was to know, so the real debate was what to share and how to share it.

"Authorize further intelligence releases to the Akilan main Cell group. Authorize localized releases to smaller cells that we have already labeled with either Ashka level security or need. Continue normal releases as well," Jaynus said as she sat back down in her chair and looked at the information-streaming wall and imagined a beach. "KAT?"

"Yes, Jaynus. I have identified items of note as well and am authorizing release on vectors Ashka, Shashka, Delcik. New field rep-" Kat began before Jaynus raised her hand slightly. "Yes, Jaynus?"

"Remove vector Delcick. I don't want to burn our agents inside of the Kozani Border Territories until we get the Communist Independents firmly in Akila's camp."

"Understood, Jaynus. New Field Report."

Pacer reports the ongoing Mahdahian support for Islamist and communist forces has reached a new level. A detailed summary of expected goals and efforts. No change in threat assessment. Mokan efforts continue. Bureau of Secret Affairs is using Hector Moldova as a proxy. We expect him to be running an operation for profit. Executive Order no. #154 has given SR efforts greater capability. Allied aid value increasing in positive attributes to AKILA. Data disintegration.

Mahdah's involvement was well-known and supported by the Theocracy. While the nations had their differences, their commonalities were numerous and they worked well together. They did support some forces that were rather disconnected and even at cross purposes. Indeed, there had been some incidents of violence occasionally between some forces the two nations supported. The Matriarchy did not take out any of its frustrations on Mahdah, however. They could not always assume the factions that they worked with would abide by their every desire. The post-war situation would likely prove beneficial to both of them- there was a broad agreement 'ideologically' between them all. Outside of Mahdah, the Matriarchy kept watch on the other allied nations that worked inside of the warzone. The results of such aid delivery would lead to modified Marshite aid accordingly when needed. Sometimes M-SAD would conduct operations to refocus antagonistic attention back on the Matriarchy. By taking the 'blame' for allied involvement, they lessened the likelihood of violent conduct directed at allies. After all, the Matriarchy was well known for responding to such attacks in an extremely violent manner.

"Continue operations as normal," Jaynus said matter of factly. "There isn't much to do. We will not block Mr. Moldova from his little scheme, for now. Alert the FBSA only if his ops turn against standard doctrine. Do not interfere with Reinkalistani efforts as long as they are supporting AKILA."
"Agreed. Allied states are comporting themselves appropriately in almost every case. Order P-1 continued. New field report."

Rocker reports general peace within the PMUs. Small localized fights are not unheard of, but recent efforts have proven fruitful. Humanitarian aid delivery, military aid delivery, and intelligence operations are aided by this. Unity is not common, but generally, the focus is kept on EMK and Halifax as POC. Efforts are ongoing to support friendly PMUs, Marshite PMUs, and shielding of ethnic groups ongoing. The groundwork for AKILA involvement continues. Independent Communist forces have by and large been brought in line. Chances of AKILA absorbing them peacefully growing. Details on PMU efforts and what support operations are being taken submitted. Data Disintegration.

There were two long-lasting headaches in the war. The first was the various northern independent states who were consistently inconsistent. The other was the PMUs. Ideologically they were closely aligned but their differences drove them apart. It was one of the major issues when dealing with weaker ideologies. Unlike Marshism, a faith brought together by its many beliefs and made stronger by its vastness and variety, socialism seemed to bleed itself on the edges. Jaynus reckoned this was little different from the religious wars and schisms found in the weaker faiths, nor was it unique among ideologies. If brother fought brother often enough, there had to a cause for it. Uniting them was a long-term effort. They had the aid of several ethnic forces, not to mention Marshite militias, and once united they would be a formidable power. The same could be said of the various communist groups that moved into northern Kozani. If the Marshite plan worked, then there would be three major Marshite-supported polities that would in time become one, and then that one would become the full nation in time.
"Continue standing orders. No need for changes," Jaynus stated as she started to feel the film of her cup, the coffee residue still thick.

"Done. Jaynus, there are no more field reports at this time. Petabyte of data has been analyzed and orders and analysis kicked up," KAT responded with a bit more pep than normal. It seemed she, too, was happy to see things progress. Everything they had done here would be sent to others and the final orders would come within the half-hour, once a dozen or so AI clusters and Agent-Directors had gone over the data and operations plans. Eventually, the Kastrum AI Cluster and her Operations Manager would approve it. It struck her that her team- the dozen or so AI Clusters and ADs- were just one team of several dozen in the facility. Each team had their own agents and own operations, all of it managed at a higher level by her superiors so they worked efficiently together. Just how much data was being analyzed and transmitted on an hourly basis? "What shall we do to pass the time?"

"How long did that take?"

"Three minutes and ten seconds."

"Do we have time for the beach before the meeting begins?"

"We do."

"Let's do that, then."

"I would like that very much," KAT replied with a barely concealed warmth that reminded Jaynus of the hot sands of the beach as the window shimmered and bathed her office in the cold light of the sun.
Holy Marsh is ranked 1st in Nova (Greysteel) and 571st (477th) in the world for Largest Defense Forces.
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The Shift: An Update on Holy Marsh
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Postby Severina » Fri May 20, 2022 3:27 pm

Alexandria, Southeast Severina

As a formation of fighter jets soared over the stadium, Yusif's immediate concern was to make sure they hadn't interrupted the match. His sister was the captain of Alexandria South women's under eighteens. Thankfully, all the players seem unfazed. That made sense, he supposed, as the sound and sight of fighter jets being scrambled had become more and more common in recent weeks. It made his stomach turn over, but that was only because he knew it related to the conflict in Kozani. Sophia was born here, and she was barely a toddler by the time Khuseyn had gone off to fight and thrown their household into chaos. He admired his brother's bravery but hated him for breaking their mother's heart.

Yusif was briefly ripped from his thoughts by the roar of the crowd, small though it was. Alexandria South was the most popular club in the city but that didn't translate into a particularly strong turnout for the junior youth squad of the women's team. Sophia had just brought the score up to 5 - 1, against the fairly woeful Riverside Rangers, and looked exceptionally pleased with herself. He wished he could become as lost in football as her but his thoughts were more often dominated by the war. He became lost in his own head once again, and had to be dragged back to the land of the living by his sister long after the match had ended.

"You coming, then?" Her accent was Alexandrian through and through, no more than a trace of Kozanian had managed to implant itself.

"Yeah ... uh, no, actually, I think I'll go to the docks."

She regarded him suspiciously. "You aren't planning to go and fight in Kozani, are you?" Her question was unlikely to be serious but it stung a little all the same.

"I'd never do something like that." To our mother was left unsaid. "I just like to watch the ships come in." That was technically true, Severina's Navy had some amazing vessels and some of the best ones were docked at Alexandria.

"Okay," she said with a fake smile, and she and her best friend Chloe took off.

He took the tram to the docks and found a good spot to watch the ships come in. His real purpose for being here was to immerse himself in half forgotten memories. He'd been four years old when he first came here. He saw a few families wander off the IRNS Defiant, obviously refugees from the looks in their eyes, and he was taken back to that time. He'd been terrified of everything, on the verge of tears but the sight of his mother crying in such a raw and ugly way had shamed him into remaining silent, even at that age he'd taken to heart his father's lectures on being strong for his mother's sake.

His memories of life in Kozani were the ones he was really after. He always hoped that coming here would trigger them. Instead, now, as always, they remained abstract, broken and out-of-reach. He wondered where his brother was, what he was doing, who he was fighting, what he was fighting for - he'd gone to fight for President Matirashi but that was so long ago now and that man was long dead. He prayed every night that Khuseyn hadn't died and that one day the war would be over and he'd come back home.

He knew, of course, his brother never considered Severina his home, even for a second.

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Postby South Reinkalistan » Sat May 21, 2022 2:14 pm


Comrade Director,

As Reinkalistani Red Cross personnel, alongside more covert military assistance provided by the Office's Department for Revolutionary Diplomacy, have safely crossed the Kozanian border - with the entirety of Reinkalistan's strictly official presence currently relegated to the Haven Refugee Camp (herein "HRC") - the necessity for a general analysis and plan of action for the E.O.I.A.'s involvement in the Kozanian Civil War has arisen.

Currently, Field Operative Yaginovich has continued to exist in his capacity as an undercover - and officially neutral - Red Cross aid worker who nevertheless holds a small degree of authority regarding decision-making for the Federation's operations in the region. While he has fed information regarding AKILA's presence in HRC back to us, he has nevertheless requested that no further unofficial or official E.O.I.A. presence is directed towards the area, citing the modus operandi of the Office being incompatible with the way in which things are developing there.

Yaginovich is respected by his comrades, and furthermore is known to be well-acquainted with senior STATCOM aides. It is recommended that we work with him rather than against him for now.

Regarding AKILA itself - officially the Analeuthian-Kozanian International Liberation Army - the composition of the coalition appears to be almost analogous to the situation faced by the nascent People's Federation of Reinkalistan itself and the VzKI during the anti-imperialist revolution of 1964, were it not for a few key differences regarding the nature of AKILA on the organisational basis, as well as its long-term commitment to co-operation between its myriad factions.

AKILA is a "Big Tent" organisation, with the main twofold tendencies being Marxism-Leninism and Anarchism. There also exists a sizable group of Islamic Socialists, alongside Maoist tendencies as well. As such, the unity experienced by AKILA is imposed by necessity, and I reckon it is due in part to this unity and connections to so many different communities which has allowed them to stretch their influence over so much of the Analeuths.

As such, despite the Federation's own convictions, it is my recommendation to the Office that AKILA's unity not be interfered with until they are victorious in their goal. However, the possibility of a split before then should not be discounted. While our operations in the region will generally be directed towards preserving AKILA cohesion and aiding the group as it exists, i.e. aiding all factions, contingencies should be taken to account regarding potential splinters, with special attention focusing on the anarchists. However, until such a threat materialises, it is my sincerest suggestion that such backup plans remain as such unless the security of the Kozanian revolution is irrevocably jeopardised.

Until then, arms supplies to AKILA will continue as scheduled, and our good Comrade Yaginovich will sit tight. He is currently instructed to ingratiate the Federation with AKILA through being generally flexible. Our general approach has been to give the Kozanians a good impression of the Reinkalistani people before the Reinkalistani state, hence the decision to first and foremost establish contact through Red Cross personnel; though the Federation should still maintain its stalwart support of the Kozanian united-front popular revolution, as proof of its commitment to proletarian internationalism.

On a slightly less important note, it is known that Yaginovich has expended a favour or two with various WARCOM functionaries; already, the decision has been made by Comrade Commissar Karayov to dispatch various revolutionary war heroes to Kozani on the supposed request of AKILA's authorities (?) in the region. These men are generally both ideologically committed and physically brave; Yaginovich appears, for now, to be acting in our interests.

I see no need to further interfere for now.

Yours Sincerely,
Joseph Hyaragnari
Office Commissar for External Operations
Executive Office for Ideological Affairs
Last edited by South Reinkalistan on Sat May 21, 2022 2:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Who are you to tell us what we may and may not do? We stopped being your slaves an era ago. "
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In the midst of a room-temperature cultural revolution that's lost its momentum, the Party carefully plans its next move.
As the brittle bones of fragile empires begin to crack beneath their own weight, history's symphony reaches crescendo pitch. The future is all but certain.

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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Sat May 21, 2022 7:18 pm

VI. Snowball Effects

Château Keltonnais, Free County of Amistad

Count Janis Kelton stared at the five men before him. They stared back at him.

“You cannot be serious, my lord. You would sacrifice all of us?” demanded Sir Karish Lanturi. “For yourself?”

“I am only, Sir Lanturi, appraising you,” said the Count, “of what could happen. These are the types of measures this AKILA could force upon us.”

“We will certainly not stand for it,” said Sir Edwin de Chalumeau, who controlled the largest vassal holding in the City of Amistad. “We shall muster our bondsmen, and they will fight. To the death, if necessary.”

“You shall do nothing of the kind.” The Count was an older man by now, almost seventy; he had always been perceived as the feckless, weak playboy of the family. But when he needed to he could invest his voice with the authority brought by countless generations of noble blood. “We saw what happened in Aghavam, in Wintervale, even in Crestmere. The bondsmen revolted, and the bodies of the lords and their knights—or whatever other name they gave their vassals—attest to the ferocity of their revolt. You shall do nothing. You shall announce that we are too small and insignificant a County to be worth notice, and people shall believe it.”

“You have some... other plan, then, my lord?” asked Sir Allan Norrington. He was the youngest of the knights present, and somewhat more perceptive than the others; perhaps somewhat less likely to automatically defer to nobility. He would have to be watched.

“I do indeed,” said the Count. “I believe I can trick this AKILA into passing us by. They will not touch us. I will pretend to assent to their demands—in time, perhaps. Weeks or months. After all, the transition period must not be overly sudden, must it? And I know they have not the military strength to subdue every single one of the Analeuthian States by force.”

“That’s... true, my lord,” said Sir Norrington, “as far as we know. Perhaps they are receiving aid from foreign communist regimes.”

“Perhaps. But that is of no account. We shall ask them for time—and we shall use it. You’re dismissed, gentlemen.”

The knights filed out, their faces still despondent. When they were gone the Count rose and took a somewhat unusual step for him: locking the door to his magnificent oak-panelled office, overlooking the broad gardens of his château, was normal; minutely scrutinising every one of its surfaces for listening devices was not. After a few moments he was satisfied that none of the knights had dared to plant anything, and he returned to his computer, and opened the video call window that he had kept minimised for the last half hour.

“You see what I have to deal with, Miss Nikhaia,” he said.

Onscreen, Serafina Nikhaia smiled primly. “I heard, yes. I can guess what you’re going to ask for.”

The Count hesitated for a moment. “When we spoke earlier, you asked me what I wanted. I want protection, Miss Nikhaia. I want to live a long, quiet life in the country with my family. I don’t want my body dragged through the streets by your militants, and I don’t want it to catch a fatal overdose of bullets from my knights.”

“I can’t guarantee anything, Mr. Kelton,” said Serafina. She always avoided the noble title. The Count couldn’t fault her in that; it was difficult enough already for a nobleman and a socialist militant to even be polite to one another. “But I can tell you that if you do what we ask of you... your chances of attaining a peaceful life will be much higher. We don’t kill needlessly, Mr. Kelton, and you haven’t mistreated your serfs the way others have. That already counts in your favour...”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

High Falls Bridge, Grand Duchy of Paramac

The Border Police command post at High Falls had been under sustained attack for at least three hours. Superintendent Elim Mazheri wasn’t sure how much longer he could stand it.

As commanding officer on the scene, with fifty uniformed men and women to be responsible for, Mazheri had trained for all sorts of eventualities. Total war, sure. Massive invasion by a half-crazed force of Marshite Holy Warriors, there was a code for that in the manual. Natural disaster, fine. Peasant uprising, there was certainly a code, but he would have expected this to be... more of, well, an uprising, less of a professional military assault. What made this one more disconcerting was the long periods of quiet. It would sometimes be fifteen minutes between gunshots. But the initial assault—gunfire from all sides, Molotov cocktails thrown into their squad cars—gave him a clear picture of the size of the force they were facing. It was larger than his.

So why weren’t they attacking? Why had he yet to lose a single officer? Customs Officer Mira Linaia was injured, to be sure, because she’d dislocated her ankle while diving for cover. That was it. The enemy had not yet shown themselves closely enough to lose a single one of their own, either. But they absolutely could have stormed the command post at any point, and almost certainly would have killed many more than they lost. Mazheri had trained in forensics before switching to the officer track, and he had retrieved a few spent bullets once the suppressive fire had died down: they were all 6.8mm Marshite hollow-points, the preferred ammunition of militia groups throughout the region.

(Of course it was possible they were under attack by Marshites themselves. But that even more so raised the question of why they hadn’t simply flattened the command post.)

These questions were only partly answered when the lookout on duty reported a single man approaching, on foot, unarmed, requesting to speak to a commanding officer. Mazheri decided he could take that chance: if it was a trap, at least the rest of his men should be safe.

The man was young, with a head of sandy curls and an expressive craggy face—the kind that could, perhaps, serve as the visage of a nontraditional action hero on a movie poster. He was clad in a day labourer’s garments, overalls and work boots. He had an air of being completely at ease with himself and the world, a supreme confidence that shook Mazheri’s own.

“Good afternoon,” he called. “Are you in command here?”

“I am. Superintendent Elim Mazheri. Who are you, and what do you want?”

“Good, exactly the man I’ve been looking for,” said the young man. “My name is Nico Laroux, and I represent the Mathhavenite Peasants’ and Workers’ Army. There are more than ten thousand of us here, all seeking to free ourselves from the Marquess of Mathhaven’s tyranny.”

Mazheri should not, in retrospect, have been convinced, but Nico Laroux’s absolute self-confidence was intoxicating. “Supposing I believe that,” said the Superintendent, “why are you here? What business do you have with us? We don’t represent the Marquess.”

“I’m aware,” said Nico. “We fled into Paramac over the past month, while the Archduke was distracted with his own gang of rebels. Border Police were not always kind to us over this time.” Mazheri shifted uneasily. “But we can forgive that. All we need, right now, is that bridge half a kilometre behind you.”

“You seek to flee into the Theocracy?” asked Mazheri. “You could have done that without besieging us.”

“No. We will not flee.” These words had, in Nico’s voice, a stony determination to them. “We besieged you to make this convincing. This way, when the Archduke comes to you later and asks why his friend, the Marquess of Mathhaven, was overthrown, you can say: we were attacked and overrun, we could do nothing. Do you follow me?”

Mazheri stared at him. “But you haven’t overrun us. You torched our vehicles, sure, but you haven’t even touched us. And we have no reason to give up.”

“Do you have a reason to fight us? We have no quarrel with you,” said Nico. “We don’t care what happens to Paramac. But if we take losses here... our allies might care.”

That was the moment that it first occurred to Mazheri: with every officer pinned inside the command post, the actual auto gate at the bridge over the High Falls had been unattended for three hours. And just as he thought this, he heard the sounds of vehicles, perhaps a whole column of them, emerging from the distant roar of the waterfall.

“Let me speak to my officers,” said Mazheri.

If he witnessed a column of Marshite vehicles crossing into the sovereign territory of Paramac, he would be obliged to activate the Marshite Invasion Protocol. He would report the invasion on the encrypted line to Paramac Keep. He would gather his men, and retreat to a bunker deep underground, safe from the cleansing fire of the Holy Warriors. This protocol was to be followed even in the case that the Marshites were not invading Paramac itself, merely providing military aid to an enemy of one of its allies, and even in the case that the Border Police had insufficient time to evacuate to their bunker. He could report anyway, and become a hero of the Grand Duchy. His memory would be forever kept sacred. Stories of the valiant last stand of his fifty officers would undoubtedly resound through the ages.

Or he could surrender, and live an uneventful life—but, importantly, a life that would continue beyond the next fifteen minutes. He chose the latter. When he had explained things thus to his men and women in uniform, they chose to do the same.

A few minutes later all fifty were out in the gravel lot outside the command post. The space had filled with human bodies from the other side. Dozens of other people, these all armed and mostly wearing similar labourers’ uniforms, formed a perimeter around the space. Two of them were attending to the injured Customs Officer’s ankle. A LA-30 in command vehicle configuration was stationed just beyond the outpost, on the far side of the road leading to High Falls Bridge; every few minutes, another miniature convoy of vehicles would pass through from the Theocracy side into Paramac. And Superintendent Mazheri was seated on an upturned fuel drum alongside Nico Laroux.

“I appreciate your cooperativeness, Superintendent,” he was saying. “Some of my comrades didn’t believe we’d be able to take this place without a fight.”

“I’m not an unreasonable man, Mister Laroux,” said Mazheri. “But I’m also not stupid. I’m not going to fight Marshites, and I don’t think there is a Mathhavenite Peasants’ and Workers’ Army.”

Nico smiled. “There isn’t, in fact. It’s me and a hundred or so student volunteers. What gave us away?”

“Your hands, for one. A real labourer’s hands would be a lot rougher,” said Mazheri. “The outfit was also a bit too on-the-nose. Besides, I’d never seen your organisation mentioned in any of our intercepted comms from Mathhaven. And peasants would know how to handle firearms, sure—but not battle rifles. Shotguns, maybe.” He took a deep breath. “Like the one on your emblem.”

Nico glanced at his hands. They were grimy but uncallused, delicate.

“So you knew who we were all along?” he asked.

“No.” Mazheri smirked. “I just had a hunch. You confirmed it for me, just now.”

Nico sighed. “Never dealing with cops again.”

“Look on the bright side,” said Mazheri. “If you lose, I’ll probably lose my job.”

Nico stared into space for a long moment. He was watching as the injured Customs Officer tested the dressing on her ankle and made a few steps with an improvised crutch. “But if we win,” he said, giving voice to their shared thoughts, “we’ll still probably need customs officers.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

En route to West St. Nevis City, Saint Nevis’s Earldom, Central Analeuths

The report from Field Commander Feliks Kapp was three hours old before Captain Joseph Erdeni had time to look at it. Covering in detail everything that had happened in the three days after Nico Laroux’s volunteers had taken the High Falls bridge, it was almost too much for Joseph to deal with. He had to manage St. Nevis as well, which was... its own problem.

The Newbury Branch of AKILA was disorganised as all hell. Joseph couldn’t blame them. None of its commanding officers had professional military experience. They had been extremely conservative with lives and matériel, despite the increasing amounts of military aid finding its way into their hands. Though the city had eventually fallen, the path to Newbury itself, largest and most influential of the states in the region, was far from clear; Her Highness Ayah Marvani, Queen of Newbury, had had time to entrench quite a considerable number of knights and their battalions of bondsmen along every conceivable approach to the small kingdom.

It was a question Joseph would have to deal with himself. But he wouldn’t be able to do so until he was actually in St. Nevis.

Therefore, stuck in the back of a military truck following the reasonably well-defended highway from Laurentia to Newbury—much of which had been quietly seized by AKILA over the last two days—Joseph had two choices. He could think about everything that had happened over the last few weeks, about where events would lead him, about Serafina and everything involved with her. Or he could read, and think about Paramac. The choice was straightforward.

Kapp had fielded approximately three hundred LA-30s, which he had divided into two groups codenamed Stick and Bucket. He had approximately ten thousand irregulars, which he’d divided into four groups, codenamed Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Moe. (Feliks Kapp was not the most creative of men.) Groups Eeny, Meeny and Miney were already entrenched in fortified positions outside Paramac City, specifically surrounding the village of Searchlight. The Archduke of Paramac had fielded approximately a hundred and fifty main battle tanks, three hundred infantry fighting vehicles and an additional six thousand infantry conscripts, not to mention twenty-eight helicopter gunships and an unknown number of drones.

On the first day of fighting, Kapp had positioned his two groups of LA-30s approximately eight kilometres from Searchlight, under forest cover, covering the village from two sides. He had then ordered a general withdrawal from all positions around Searchlight, and his three groups had done so, retreating approximately three kilometres across the infant Paramac River and mining the bridges they had used. The Archduke’s forces had advanced in an orderly fashion, infantry entering the village first to clear out any remaining resistance—and finding none—and then the tank column rolling in with air support, preparing to engage AKILA at or near the river crossing.

Once most of the column had entered the village, they were fired on by Groups Stick and Bucket. Two hundred of the vehicles had been configured to fire guided anti-tank missiles; one hundred had been configured to fire anti-air munitions. With AKILA retaining the element of surprise thanks to the concealment of its operations around High Falls, this destroyed an estimated sixty percent of the Archduke’s armour, downed all of the gunships, and neutralised more than thirty drones, some of which were later determined to have AWACS capabilities. The surviving Archducal forces were forced to retreat to their previous entrenchments. It would have been a very effective killing stroke, but Joseph could already see where Kapp had gone wrong. He had failed to obtain a full accounting of the drones.

Joseph was not surprised, therefore, when Kapp reported that Group Stick had been deployed towards the village supported by Group Moe, and had taken heavy losses and been forced to withdraw back across the river. More than forty vehicles were destroyed, and two hundred casualties were reported. The Archduke’s forces had retreated, but they had not abandoned the village entirely; they had seeded its entire airspace with loitering munitions. From Joseph’s experience so far he knew these were likely to be M-285s: designed by a Kozanian company strongly suspected to be tied to the National Front; almost undetectable on the portable radars AKILA irregulars relied upon. Thus, the first day of combat around Searchlight had come very close to ending in a loss.

Field Commander Kapp had called upon the Marshite 232nd for assistance. Here the LA-30s truly came into their own as vehicles. Each one featured a sophisticated built-in electronics system, one capable of receiving and processing data in an integrated battlespace that interlinked their capabilities. It was this, rather than their missile armament, that made them the true secret weapon here. All they had to do was network themselves and then share data with a small constellation of Marshite reconnaissance drones. As the sun set on that first day, the positions of enemy munitions and drones were systematically located and targeted with surface-to-air missiles. Some positions were extrapolated algorithmically rather than located through emissions, which would potentially cost missiles that AKILA ordinarily would have hoarded; but with High Falls Bridge under AKILA control, supplies were suddenly no longer an issue.

Overnight, elements of Group Eeny reentered the village, this time unmolested. Kapp had given it that designation in recognition that it contained many of the oldest and most experienced AKILA fighters, and thus came “first”, so to speak. The forces were now back in equilibrium, except that this time, Paramac’s troops were demoralised from the surprise losses, and AKILA had the motivation advantage. Day two therefore began with an attempted encirclement maneuver, in which—

“Captain?” The voice belonged to his current noncom, Sergeant Tadmur, who’d been with the 27th for more than a decade, and pulled Joseph out of his reading material. He could guess the rest, anyway. “Call coming through on the secure line, sir.”

“Thanks, Sergeant,” he said, and accepted the secure phone. Into it he said: “Erdeni.”

“Nikhaia here,” said Serafina’s voice. “Just a positional update from me. Our spearpoint has entered Turn-of-River. Zero casualties.”

“What the hell did you do, Serafina? We even had casualties in Laurentia,” said Joseph. “And it surrendered peacefully, after a few hours, anyway.”

“The knights—well, they’re called shareholders here—handed Margrave de Boucher over to us and allowed us to transit in exchange for peace,” said Serafina. “They’ve been unhappy with him for a while. They’ve proclaimed themselves the Republic of Arvazia. A liberal democracy with a market economy. I think Amistad will join them, I talked to Count Kelton and he’s been worried his knights will do the same. He’ll surrender in exchange for safe passage.”

“A— what? They just gave you the Margrave...”

“Yes. I’m not sure what we will do with him, to be honest. Put him on trial, perhaps. Depends on what the locals want.” Serafina sounded amused.

“And... a liberal democracy with a market economy? Are you going to allow that?”

Serafina was silent for a moment. “No. Even I have limits. But it’s not our concern at the moment... Concord is, and then we cross into Mezhgani. Into Kozani. You know I’ve never been there. After Kozani... if we survive that, we’ll see. I don’t think the Republic of Arvazia will last very long. I think it’ll give the people a taste of democracy, but they’ll want the real thing, and we’ll be able to resolve the situation peacefully.”

Joseph did not answer. He glanced at his NCO, who was listening to the conversation in silent amusement, and then out the window at the burned-out remnant of a St. Nevis self-propelled artillery piece that had been destroyed no more than twelve hours ago, and then beyond it into the fields and pastures of the rural outskirts of the earldom. Finally he said: “You know, Serafina, some day you’re going to encounter a situation that you can’t resolve just by appealing to everyone’s best nature and having it work out somehow. Deep down, people are not as good as you think they are.”

“Are you hoping for some schadenfreude, Joseph?” Her voice was gently humorous.

“No. I’m just hoping I’m there when it happens, because I’m the one who’s going to have to pull your ass out of the fire.”
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Tue May 24, 2022 1:57 pm

Posted with permission.

VII. Scenes from the Front Line (part one)

City of Halifax, Kozani. Western Suburbs (EMK Held). 14:00. Yesterday

There were thirty-five students in this classroom, aged between five and fourteen. Each one was a model. Here, at the Stephen Taqima Memorial Preparatory School in the outskirts of Halifax, the future of the Kozanian Imperium was being written: a project, in Brigadier-General Lethe’s opinion, far more important than even the liberation of the city from the PMU race traitors.

Onscreen, the teacher had progressed to the latest in a series of short animated clips. This one was a short video depicting a man in an EMK soldier’s uniform seizing and assaulting a young woman as she resisted fruitlessly. The animation had frozen on a frame with the soldier pointing a gun at the woman. “And in this situation,” the teacher was saying, “what would you do?”

The children were mostly silent. Eventually an older boy piped up: “Ask to join in?”

This opened the floodgates, and one by one other answers trickled in: “Ignore it”, “Salute the soldier”, “Mind my own business and hope the soldier doesn’t notice me” (this last from one of the few girls in the class), “Tell the nearest Lion Force officer”. At this last the teacher seemed to perk up.

“Correct, Kemal. You would report this incident to the Lion Force. Why?”

Kemal seemed unsure: “No true Kozanian soldier would hurt a Kozanian woman,” he said shyly, “so perhaps it was a communist in disguise?”

“Perhaps—or perhaps not. That doesn’t matter,” said the teacher. “But the first part of your statement is correct. No true Kozanian soldier would hurt a Kozanian woman—why? Our women are the cradle of our race. They are our future, and they must be protected from defilement, whether at the hands of one of impure blood, or at the hands of a soldier who has chosen, despite his training, to pervert the ideals of our race.”

The older boy who’d spoken first, who would have asked to join in, spoke up, in wonderment. “Is that even possible? Aren’t our soldiers the most virtuous—”

“Oh yes, Zak, it is very possible. In fact, moving on to our next animation...”

There were some two hundred thousand civilians remaining in the city, mostly in this stretch of western suburbs from Pamirlik to Ozgyn, and all of them sent their children to schools very like this one. There was no other choice, after all. “You see, of course, how essential our work here is,” said Brigadier-General Lethe under his breath, watching from an alcove alongside the two Ordenite advisors he’d met previously.

“I suppose so,” murmured Schäfer doubtfully. “Conditioning can be done—and it can be undone, of course, with time and effort. Which does make it essential that you actually hold Halifax for the long term.”

“Yes, of course.” Brigadier-General Lethe sighed, and the three of them withdrew back into the empty hallways of the school, where the indefatigable Major Kowalski was waiting for them with arms full of maps and tactical projections and personnel files. “We’re only waiting for your say-so to begin the operation.”

“You sound reluctant, Brigadier-General,” said Harbeck.

“Doubling our force commitment in Halifax brings us to thirty thousand men,” said Brigadier-General Lethe. “Our intelligence suggests the PMUs have no more than ten thousand. We would be committing a significant proportion of our reserves for a small enemy force, one made up, moreover, of race-mixers and degenerates who by nature lack the morale and fighting spirit of good and true Kozanian men.”

“Unfriendly operators in this theatre possess significant force multipliers, sir,” Kowalski reminded him.

“True, true. Artillery and MLRS—the things we’re unfortunately most lacking.”

“And I’m given to understand you’ve had quite a lot of trouble with Marshites,” said Harbeck.

“Ugh. Don’t talk to me about Marshites,” said Brigadier-General Lethe acidly. “A people that deserve nothing but utter extermination. My own personal bodyguard was a refugee in Holy Marsh at one time—he has some stories he can tell you, to be sure.” The Brigadier-General folded his hands behind his back. “Do you know they do not even raise their children in families? A truly degenerate nation.”

“Yes, yes, of course,” said Schäfer impatiently. “But one you lack the power to defeat, and one that—I believe—accounts for your lack of armoured divisions or artillery power.”

“Indeed. Sad to say.”

“Be that as it may,” said Schäfer, “you have agreed to commit thirty thousand men. I was given to understand you also possess significant missile stockpiles.”

“Yes, but no way of delivering them—”

“On the contrary. My forces have already helped your men retrofit mortars and portable armaments to use the warheads.” Schäfer gave a small, tight-lipped smile. “Your fifteen thousand reinforcements will be armed with thermobaric munitions for anti-personnel actions, and anti-air rockets and missiles in case of Marshite air support. Major Kowalski, your maps, please.”

Brigadier-General Lethe stayed silent. The Ordenites evidently wished to take full command here; he couldn’t help resent that, since they had never shared with him their actual rank, but he supposed the Generalissima would be most unhappy if he were to displease a honoured foreign ally. (Perhaps if he’d spoken, he might have survived the night—but more on that later.)

Kowalski laid out the maps crisply and officiously. “Maps indicate sitrep as determined through sigint and humint resources, sirs. Friendly operators have been coded for operational purposes in blue, while ascertained positions of unfriendly operators are coded in dark red and extrapolated positions in lighter red, here. As you can see, all unfriendly operators have synergised their efforts across these lines of contact through the eastern suburbs, in specificity, east of Highway 23, sirs. Locations and junctures of kill zones have been determined—”

Harbeck cut Kowalski off: “Yes, I think I’ve gathered all we need to know from this. We’ll need you to throw ten thousand personnel at Exit 327.”

“That has been determined to be a highly defended strategic salient, sirs,” said Kowalski.

“Yes. Valley Road runs under the highway there, correct?” Schäfer took over from his compatriot. “And to the east is this… shopping mall structure, and parking lot, which has undoubtedly been turned into a kill zone. We’re taking that via brute force. Your remaining forces will add pressure here and here, cutting off all other approaches to Highway 23 from the east.” Schäfer jabbed at the map with a thumb, and Kowalski dutifully added black circles.

“Is this officer to assume Ordenite friendlies will be conducting special forces operations in conjunction, sir?” asked Kowalski.

“Yes. In fact, we’re going to be inserting as far behind enemy lines as we can get. The idea is to push east and north for partial encirclement—”

“It sounds as though you’ve planned all of this out already, Herr Schäfer,” said Brigadier-General Lethe, doubtfully. “We can certainly prepare for such an all-out assault given sufficient training time, however.”

“No.” Schäfer’s voice brooked no disagreement. “This will all happen tonight. First mark will be at oh-two-thirty—”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

City of Halifax, Kozani. Eastern CBD (PMU Held). 02:00. Today

Renet Sakashli didn’t sleep in full uniform, but she sometimes wished she did. Tonight was definitely one of those nights.

She was awakened by a pounding at the door of her bunkroom (not a true barracks; they’d just dragged mattresses into empty offices at the back of an abandoned corporate building and put up a few screens and curtains), followed by the sound of footsteps and then her privacy curtain being dragged aside by someone with a torch. The torch, at least, was pointed at the ground, so that as she opened her eyes she could identify the interlocutor as Karoun Daniels, who was on night watch shift.

“Ma’am, we have a situation,” said Karoun. “Allies have arrived and are requesting positions and intelligence-sharing.”

“Allies? Which ones?” She sounded at least half-awake to her own ears, which was better than mumbling incoherently.

“People’s Unified Federation, I think, ma’am. They requested to speak to someone in charge. At the moment that’s you, I believe.”

“Understood, thanks, Daniels.” She reached out with one arm, taking care to stabilise the blanket with the other, for uniform and cigarettes. “Tell them I’ll be with them as soon as I’m wearing clothes.”

She saw Karoun’s eyes widen fractionally as the reality began to sink in of exactly how much fabric—i.e., one blanket—protected him from seeing more of Renet than would be advisable. Karoun said something that sounded like “Eep” and retreated back behind the privacy curtain faster than she’d ever seen him move before. In the dark, Renet smiled; it was useful at times to have a reputation.

Every military organisation, at some point, faces the problem of sexual assault. The PMUs were no different. Joining her local PMU at age nineteen, Renet had quickly been disabused of any idealistic notions when three men, one of whom was among her commanding officers, had ambushed her in the showers one night. Those three men, in turn, found themselves quickly disabused of any preconceptions about Renet, who had the striking good looks often associated with Kozani’s Western Highlander minority, but had also grown up on a farm and been capable of carrying a yearling lamb under each arm since she was twelve. Two of the men were reduced to the state of, well, wethers, and the third man only barely avoided this, taking an injury that very nearly ended his bloodline. Subsequent attempts by the PMU to initiate a transformative justice process were stalled when the men’s other victims began to come forward; in the end, all three were expelled from the PMU, and Renet found herself promoted in the officer’s place, the first step in her repeated field-promotion into leadership. No one had given her trouble in the intervening eight years, and she tried her best to make sure no one in her units had trouble, either.

It was thus several minutes later, fully dressed in PMU fatigues, armed with rifle and sidearm mostly for the appearances—she didn’t expect to need them—and with a cigarette in her mouth, that Renet emerged into the loading dock at the back of the building and had her first glimpse of the PUF forces that would be, ahem, “advising” her.

From Newmarket to Halifax had been a thirteen-hour journey for the PUF’s Kozani deployment, and most of that not due to travel time. The drive down Highway 23, which was a heavily fortified “finger” controlled by the PMUs running through the midst of contested or EMK-held territory, accounted for only about five hours considering the PMU flying checkpoints, at which they had been waved through with minimal security. Exit 327, where Highway 23 intersected Valley Road, was the most heavily defended checkpoint, but took only fifteen minutes to transit. The primary difficulties, instead, had arisen in Newmarket.

First and foremost, there had been the difficulty associated with finding out exactly who was in charge. The PMUs had no one leader; they followed the ideological teachings of Ali Biyalik, whose name and face were prominently displayed on banners throughout the city, but he had been assassinated more than a decade ago by Islamic Movement forces. After some frustrating interactions with local militia forces who seemed unable to agree on what to do, an emergency PMU Council meeting had been convened, with most of the local party leadership present, and had approved the PUF aid convoy by a nearly unanimous vote. From here, all that remained was deciding exactly who should be on hand in Halifax to receive the aid. This could have sparked a lengthy debate, but in the event, Captain Navilan had insisted that his forces were there to resupply and reinforce whatever areas were currently most in need—and ideally prevent Halifax from being completely overrun—and examination of any map would reveal that Renet Sakashli’s units held by far the most vulnerable salient. The decision had thus been easy.

Upon arriving in the darkened city of Halifax, eerie in its lack of electricity with its vast skyscrapers only slightly darker than the night sky above, Captain Navilan’s forces were relieved to discover a much more professional environment on this end. Their arrival was announced and passed up an actual chain of command, even if no one in the PMUs had a rank, per se. They were directed down unlit streets and into alleyways between abandoned multi-storey residential and office buildings, and in addition to Renet as local commanding officer, there were over a hundred uniformed personnel on hand to begin unloading supplies and sharing intel. But it might be understandable if, by the time they had come into view of their quarry herself, they had quite a bit of built-up frustration.

Renet herself, of course, was none too happy about being awakened in the middle of the night, but at least looked impressed at the sheer size of the resupply. She didn’t know it yet, but it would be the last new supplies she would receive for some time.

The first shots of the EMK assault were twenty-two minutes away.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Tue Jun 07, 2022 2:15 pm

VIII. On Cults of Personality

The first day of the liberation of Kozani was the twenty-first of May, 2037. Later on, all of them would agree that there had been something special about it; all except Serafina. For her, it was Thursday.

Chairman Bey had, in recent years, adopted somewhat of a routine. Each morning he would awaken and, trading out his wheelchair for a walker, walk as much as he could in the surroundings he had available. It was important, he had always believed, to keep one’s body active even when weakened by illness or disability. He had remained near the front with Serafina and what he increasingly thought of as Serafina’s retinue, and as such almost every day had found himself in a new part of the country, some familiar and some less so. For the last two days they had been encamped at the bridge over the Arvaz River separating Turn-of-River from Concord: the banks of the river fringed with invasive willows and bulrushes, its quiet tannin-stained waters a clear brown, placid and misty in the mornings. The mists that settled over the upper Arvaz valley gave the whole area a sense of fairytale, of a country lost to time. Perhaps it was no surprise that the states of the Arvaz Valley had developed their own independent identity.

He would, therefore, walk along the riverbank as far as he could—not far these days—before retracing his steps back to the AKILA encampment, where he would sit and write. He wrote invariably by hand, filling notebook after notebook; along with some clothes and a few mementos, they were his only real possessions. Each text he wrote, though all on the subject of Marxist theory as interpreted through his own unique lens, was deeply personal, drawn from his own experience. As much as the language might be filled with the impersonal jargon of classical Marxism, each text meant as much to him as a novel might to a novelist. That which he now devoted his attention to was a volume, increasingly less slim with each passing day, titled On Cults of Personality.

He was learning a great deal for this treatise by observing Serafina Nikhaia.

On the morning of May twenty-first, no mists rose over the Arvaz River. It was already hot by nine-thirty, and the sun burned against the Chairman’s neck. Despite the heat, AKILA’s countless volunteers were quickly and efficiently taking apart the encampment by the time Chairman Bey returned from his morning walk. His own things, as always, had been moved to Serafina’s camper-slash-command-post, and he thus made for that vehicle, not begrudging the universe the extra twenty minutes of painful exercise. A revolutionary had to discipline his body, not merely his mind.

Serafina was inside the camper along with her small coterie of supporters. Among them Chairman Bey recognised Lin, the cultural officer, and Madina, the intelligence agent. He also spotted a handful of his own people, including Amin al-Tayib, one of KDEK’s cadre leaders, and Khalil Taldan, who oversaw a good portion of AKILA’s military operations in the Concord region. Those operations did not seem to be going well.

“We’re dug in at Kotha,” said Khalil. “They’re dug in at Junction. That makes things a permanent stalemate from our point of view.”

Someone Chairman Bey didn’t recognise, an older man smoking a cigar, said: “We can resupply you indefinitely. When we have heavier equipment, we’ll also be able to encircle Junction by way of the Branford Arterial. They’ll be forced to withdraw, and we’ll have a clear route into Kingsford and the Royal Armory.”

“Sure. When you have your heavy equipment—if it’s not tied up fighting the National Front and the Islamic Movement.” Khalil shook his head. “The problem is, we need a centralised strategy. We need governance. We can’t rely on the people rising up spontaneously, or on mutual aid. Someone needs to make decisions here.”

“If this is meant to imply something, say it openly,” said the cigar-smoking man. “We at 3A have sacrificed a great deal to be here. We already granted you leadership of our military campaigns. We know the transitional government won’t be something any of us can be part of. If you think we’re somehow still taking too much from you—”

“You are. You’re moving too fast.” This was Amin, who’d served with KDEK for twenty years. “First we secure Concord, then we can move on into—” but at the same moment, Serafina said: “Gentlemen.”

There was dead calm. Serafina’s voice was not loud, but when she spoke, silence followed.

“Our failure to secure Concord,” she said, “is something for which I have to take responsibility. None of you were at fault for this. I simply didn’t have the expertise necessary to take advantage of the conditions.”

There was a brief pause. Khalil began: “Secretary, we aren’t blami—”

“I know I’m not in charge of the Concord Branch,” Serafina continued, cutting him off effortlessly. “But I am party leadership, and we help one another. In this case, I should have helped Secretary Rashidi. I did not. That’s why I’ve asked our intelligence operatives to help plan the next stage of our Concord operations.”

Madina took over smoothly: “Yes. We’ve had agents embedded within the student protests for some time. I’m happy to report a recent breakthrough. The protesters were limited in number and hadn’t been able to take territory. I guess they occupied limited areas of the Concord Royal University campus, but that doesn’t really count. We’ve been able to increase their recruitment numbers and funnel a lot of weapons to protest leadership.”

“Interesting,” said Khalil. “We hadn’t thought much about the student protestors, to be honest. They seemed irrelevant.”

“They were,” said Madina. “They no longer are. Our lead agent believes they’ll break through into Concord’s city centre in the next few days—joined by at least a few trade unions and guilds, and of course, some of our special forces. There’s a good chance they will become AKILA auxiliaries in the long term, if we can... keep them alive and everything. Either way, we’ve opened a front in the war for public opinion.”

“And how, exactly, did you accomplish that? Or are Intelligence’s methods classified for the likes of us?” asked the cigar-smoking man, with just enough sardonicism.

“Well, we...” Madina shifted uncomfortably. “We’ve been using a lot of propaganda material focused on Secretary Nikhaia. How she united every leftist tendency in the region and led us to victory time and time again. Video of her speeches, when we can get them—those work especially well. Emphasising that she’s just a normal person like them, not an orator or a statesman or a fighter, just— you know.” She shot a guilty look towards Serafina, who was very still.

“Oh. Yeah.” Amin glanced not at Serafina but at Chairman Bey. There was some guilt in his face, too. “That could work. Sets up expectations, though.”

“She exceeds them every time,” said Madina. “I’m not even on board with you guys ideologically—I doubt I’ll stay here much longer after you win—and I’m still here, just to see how she does it.”

“I didn’t approve any of this,” said Serafina softly.

“I know. But that’s how this entire operation has been going,” said Lin Sandanski, speaking for the first time. “When infighting starts, when things start to fall apart, we get people to focus on you. It almost always works. If you’re going to do—what you’ve done, then you have to accept that people will look up to you.”

“I don’t want any kind of... cult of personality,” said Serafina. “We’re all equal here. But I suppose if you have to...” She trailed off, and seemed to wrestle with this for a moment. Then her face cleared and Chairman Bey knew she had simply put the knowledge aside and resolved not to think about it. “Regardless of my wishes, you have to do what works, of course. That makes this a good time for my next announcement. Our negotiations with the Islamic Socialist Workers’ Army have been fruitful, and they’ll allow us to use their border crossing.”

“I’m not going to even guess how you did that,” said Amin.

“Let me guess,” said the cigar-smoking man. “You just talked to them.”

“...what else would I do?” asked Serafina. “Of course I talked to them. They’re not unreasonable, Davit.”

“Not for you, perhaps.” Davit—the cigar-smoking man—stubbed out his cigar. “We had no luck for weeks. I’m beginning to see where Agent al-Da’at is coming from here.”

“ISKJ will allow us through the border crossing,” said Chairman Bey, feeling it was time someone refocused the meeting on the important issues. “In force? Into Kozani?”

“Yes,” said Serafina.

“For what? What did you offer them in exchange?”

“They wanted recognition,” she said. “Legitimacy. The love of the people. They thought they had to rule over a breakaway state centered on Mezhgani to survive, especially against the Islamic Movement. I asked them what they really wanted, and told them their best route towards legitimacy was through us. If they can meet basic criteria, I’ll let them into the tent.” She shrugged. “We’ll need allies against the Islamic Movement anyway. They aren’t open to talking.”

“I’m not sure I could work with ISKJ,” said Lin. “But I guess I don’t have to. We’re chartering a flight out of Mezhgani for Y’Skarla.”

“Yes. That should be easy to arrange. We’ve had agents in Mezhgani Camp for years.” Serafina turned to Chairman Bey. “You started here, didn’t you?”

“Cross-border recruitment from Amistad, yes,” said the Chairman. “All very much in secret. But I strongly suspect they’re going to welcome us with open arms, this time. Do you have any other announcements to make, Secretary?”

Serafina was silent for several moments, and then said, almost shyly: “It’s also my birthday. I’m turning twenty-seven. I’m obliged to buy you all presents, I think.”

Davit laughed, a deep rumble from his belly. “Congratulations,” he said. “You’re making us all feel old. I think the presents can wait until next year.”

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

It was not so much AKILA’s entry into Kozani that felt special, or the crowds that welcomed its convoys of vehicles. It was not even the first appearance of what the world would later come to recognise as the flag, the AKILA emblem painted crudely over the rising sun of the old flag of the Kozani Republic, which on this occasion was waved by a supporter whose name Chairman Bey would never learn. It was largely the details. The foreign media outlets that were present, with journalists throwing questions at Serafina and her followers as they emerged from the camper into the market square fringed by prefab houses at the very centre of Mezhgani Camp. The relief in the eyes of the ISKJ troopers, who had long tried and failed to control this restive region, and now wished more than anything else to give up trying. The street musician playing the Internationale on his tambura, just because it was the only vaguely socialist song he knew.

Someone had set up portable speakers around the open-air market, and a small crowd had gathered. It was, apparently, incumbent on Serafina to make a speech. She had protested against this repeatedly, to no avail. At length a microphone had been produced, and she had emerged onto a small open platform before the crowd, at this point no more than five hundred people.

“People of Kozani,” Serafina began, “greetings. I know you—”

Her satellite phone rang. A few giggles ran through the audience. The moment was lost, irrevocably. Serafina’s retinue also seemed lost, unsure of what to do from their position on the sidelines.

Somewhat annoyed, Serafina clicked off the microphone and answered: “Hello?...Yes, Captain Erdeni. We’ve just reached Kozani. ... What? ... Well, yes, I can supply whatever you— ...” Here she paused as the unheard Joseph Erdeni presumably described exactly what he needed supplied. At length: “Can you repeat that? ... Okay. MLR...S units. I’m not sure how many of those we have, but I can speak to Khalil... LA what? Oh, thirty. Are those part of the MLRS units? ... Oh, I see. Perhaps you should talk to—”

“Astaghfirullah,” murmured Madina, who was standing beside Chairman Bey’s wheelchair. Without hesitation she marched onto the platform, in full view of the small crowd. “Look, Secretary, why don’t you just—”, she said, and claimed the satellite phone from Serafina’s unresisting hand.

Some of the crowd, at this point, were beginning to disperse. Many of those who did would later regret doing so.

“al-Da’at here,” she said. “Repeat what you just told the Secretary? ... Yes. We have sixty working S-600s, twenty-five S-450s and about a hundred S-225s. All with full missile complements. But we don’t have crews for most of the 225s. Do you need crews? ... Alright. And resupply? We can get you trucks if you keep the route clear...” At this point Madina sandwiched the phone between ear and shoulder, produced a pen from somewhere on her person, and began to write on her hand, and later, forearm.

“...right. Artillery? ... Self-propelled or standalone? ... We’ve got 155mm, 125mm, and 105mm pieces. Treaded. How are your shell stocks looking?...”

As Madina proceeded to ask, with calm professionalism, questions about every aspect of military logistics, Serafina was watching and listening attentively. It was hard to read her expressions at the best of times, but it was obvious on this occasion that she was impressed. Everyone knew Madina al-Da’at as highly capable intelligence agent and relaxed fun-loving university girl, but people—evidently including Serafina, not to mention Chairman Bey himself—tended to forget how much she knew about things.

“... I can pass all of that on to the Marshites and Mahdavians via the usual networks,” Madina was saying. “Otherwise, sounds like we’re set. I’ll ask Secretary Rashidi to handle the logistics on our end. ... Yeah, you too. al-Da’at out.”

She clicked the satellite phone off, looked up at Serafina, and then seemed to realise exactly where she was and what she’d done. There were still some three hundred people in the crowd, watching, expectantly. Here because they’d heard Serafina’s name somewhere or other, heard her described as the liberator of Aghavam and Wintervale and Laurentia, the one who’d taken Turn-of-River without firing a shot, and they assumed that whatever they saw on stage had to be part of her plan.

The microphone came back on in time to pick up Serafina’s gentle laughter. “That goes to show me, doesn’t it? How do you know all this?” (This was a stupid question, in Chairman Bey’s opinion.)

“You—pick this stuff up, I guess,” said Madina, uncomfortably, avoiding the microphone. “I’m sorry, Secretary. I didn’t think— I didn’t mean to—”

“No, no, this is good. Stay for a moment.” Serafina turned back to the crowd. “Hello everyone. I’m Serafina Nikhaia. You may have heard my name before. But, as you can see, I’m only human... I rely, more than anything else, on all of the volunteers that make AKILA what it is, more than a million of us now. All of whom are also exceptional people, with their own exceptional talents, like Madina here, whose expertise in military strategy you’ve just witnessed. Madina, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.”

Chairman Bey recognised this tactic as Serafina’s modus operandi: she always made others feel as though she took a personal interest; she tried to make them feel good about themselves. It was her way of bringing skeptics on board, and she’d evidently identified Madina as a route into the heart of the AKILA anarchist contingent. She passed the microphone over, and Madina took it, hesitantly. “Um, hi...”

She dithered for a moment and then began again, her prior self-confidence now completely shot: “I, um, my family comes from Whitechapel. We had to flee, like, right at the start of the war, when the... the Nationalists came in, because we’re, y’know—” she gestured at her own ethnic-minority features with the written-on hand— “araviye. I joined the Analeuthian Antifascists when I was eighteen, and AKILA when I was twenty-three, all so I could... uh, come back to where my people come from, and end this war. And now...” She paused here, evidently having run out of words. “...I’m doing that.”

There was a smattering of applause. Among the small knot of Serafina’s retinue at the far edge of stage right, Davit gestured for Madina to step back, but she was still looking out towards the crowd, and did not see him. Serafina took back the microphone.

“You see, any one of us could have ended up as a party leader in AKILA,” she said. Chairman Bey had the sudden sense that she was speaking to him directly, a rebuke, even though with her face to the audience she had her back to him. “We all have stories like this. Madina’s is even more impressive than mine—she’s a daughter of Kozanian refugees; I come from a family of servants in the far eastern Analeuths. AKILA, and 3A before it, owes the success of many of our operations to her. Perhaps she’s the one who deserves a cult of personality here.” This got a few laughs from the audience. Serafina cast a sidelong glance at Madina, who was still processing this, and added: “Besides, look at her. She’s gorgeous. Don’t you want to see that face on a propaganda poster?”

Madina took a step back. Serafina was still facing the crowd, and did not fully see her. Davit and the others around Chairman Bey were in turn watching Serafina. It is therefore entirely possible that the only person who saw the expression on Madina’s face at that moment was Chairman Bey.

“I’m only joking, of course. Not...” Serafina regarded Madina once more, this time with concern in her eyes; Madina’s silence was evidently not the reaction she’d expected. “...about you. All of that is true. But we do not require cults of personality to be socialists.”

She paused for a moment. The audience was silent, even though the crowd was beginning to thicken, little by little. “The core principle of socialism, instead, is that we are all equal. Different, to be sure—we all have our own individual skills, our own knowledge and lives, but we are united in our humanity. Our value comes from our existence alone, not our possessions, or our skills, or our origins. So why does any one person—or one class of people—rule over another?...”

It was not, Chairman Bey determined, one of her better speeches, even though by its conclusion the crowd had swelled to several thousand. It was perhaps for the best that only short segments of it were ever recorded. But it was quite possibly the first real exposure to socialist ideas and ideals for many of the refugees who’d grown up in Mezhgani Camp. When AKILA personnel would take over the camp infrastructure over the next few days and begin recruiting new volunteers, it was perhaps what made the difference, what pushed people closer to some notion of socialism or some belief in their own self-discipline. That was all something Chairman Bey would note down later; for the moment, he was watching Madina.

Serafina released her after a few more perfunctory exchanges, and she rejoined the retinue, slightly dazed but having regained enough of her composure to at least act like her usual self. But every so often, he would see her eyes slide onto Serafina and stay there for more than a few moments, and catch only a hint of that same expression. It was the look of someone who had just received a divine revelation, and was none too happy about it. No—Chairman Bey amended that thought: it was the look of an atheist who had just received a divine revelation. For Madina, a fundamental property of the universe had been irrevocably altered in that moment. For Serafina... it was Thursday.

Chairman Bey supposed it was inevitable: sooner or later, Serafina would have had to be confronted with the natural consequence of taking a personal interest in everyone she met. He merely felt privileged to have a front seat to the fallout.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Posts: 32
Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Wed Jun 08, 2022 9:20 pm

[Interlude 1]

The important thing was not to panic.

Madina told herself this at least a dozen times as she navigated the overwhelming press of humanity on all sides of her—AKILA vehicles, camp residents, ISKJ troopers—who in their numbers seemed to threaten to crush her underfoot. The hum of human activity surrounding her, normally comforting, now threatened constantly to send her into a state of breakdown. It was with no small amount of nausea rising in her that she eventually found a parked Intelligence van that her keycard could open, and heaved herself inside, shutting out the noise of the world and giving herself time to think. She tried to calm herself, and found that she could not. The thudding of her heart drowned out the noise of the crowds outside.

It had only been... a few friendly compliments, the kind friends give one another to inflate one another’s self-confidence. She should have responded in kind, probably. It shouldn’t have hit her with the strength of a thousand fantasies.

The important thing was not to panic. Everything hurt. Why did this hurt so much?

How long had she felt this way? Madina let her Intelligence Analyst persona take over. Every time she’d ever met Serafina, more than a dozen times by now, it had always felt special. Historic. As though the fate of the world were shifting around her. Every meeting had left her on edge, a nervous wreck, yet filled her with anticipation for the next one, and given her a sense of loyalty towards someone of an ideological tendency that, by all rights, she shouldn’t have been following. Everyone around her had said it was simply because Serafina was special, that she could inspire others in a way no one else could. That may have been true. But Madina had allowed these views to influence her, and therefore had remained unaware of her true feelings, leaving them to grow inside her, unimpeded.

In the end it was almost embarrassingly simple. AKILA consisted mostly of young people, many of them attractive, all working together towards a common goal and therefore sharing a number of common interests. She was a bisexual in a target-rich environment. Something like this had been inevitable, especially given the sexual frustration imposed by a strict zero-fraternisation policy that prohibited both internal and external entanglements, and only grudgingly had permitted preexisting couples to join the organization. A policy which, naturally, had been developed, and insisted upon, by Serafina Nikhaia.

That answered both questions neatly. The feeling as though she was being torn apart from the inside out was because she had feelings for— no, she reminded her Intelligence Analyst self, don’t soft-pedal this. She was in love with Serafina, and could not have her. And presumably she had felt this way from the very beginning.

Now that she could admit this to herself she could add another emotion: betrayal. She had thought she was looking up to Serafina as a revolutionary heroine, as someone who carried the burden of history on her shoulders. She had instead been deceived by her own hormones, and had therefore allowed them to push her into something very close to a violation of her own principles. Madina opposed the top-down imposition of power in the Marxist-Leninist sense. She would never have willingly supported the current governing structure of AKILA, with power increasingly concentrating around one individual, if she hadn’t happened to trust Serafina. But if that trust came not from a reasoned assessment, but simply because she wanted Serafina for herself, well...

She made a resolution in that moment. This was the new field mission she was assigning herself. She would make herself part of Serafina’s inner circle, rather than taking on new field assignments. She would observe Serafina—which her emotions anyway gave her a powerful incentive to do—and learn what she was truly like; whether she truly deserved the esteem she was held in, or the cult of personality evolving around her. She would do her best to frustrate any attempts to centralise power in Serafina’s inner circle. Most importantly, she would have to make herself indispensable, to get Serafina to trust her in return. (And maybe—she could allow herself to think—someday the time would come for revision to that fraternisation policy; but thinking that brought her once more into the realm of pure fantasy. She didn’t know at this stage anything about Serafina’s personal life, let alone her sexual orientation. She would have to prepare herself for the strong likelihood of disappointment.)

Perhaps today’s display of military logistics knowledge would be sufficient—but here her train of thought came to an abrupt halt as someone rapped loudly on the van door, jangling her already-frayed nerves. She had to act normal. For her plan to succeed, she had to appear to be completely loyal to Serafina and the inner circle. That, at least, wouldn’t be hard. So she pulled aside the van door and found herself face to face with Chairman Bey.

He smiled rather uncharacteristically at her, and said: “Busy with intelligence work? Or simply getting out of the hot sun?”

She should have told him to fuck off, but even at this point, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She couldn’t even bring herself to use the out he was offering her.

“The latter, I’m afraid,” she said, forcing a smile. “Not doing anything useful at the moment. How can I—”

“You could hardly be expected to, under the circumstances,” interrupted Chairman Bey. “I hope you don’t mind indulging an old man for a moment.” He pointed towards one of the unoccupied chairs.

“Not at all,” said Madina, wondering if it was that obvious, and turning round to grab a water bottle for him from the cooler. He levered himself into the van with a grunt before she could assist him, and slid the door shut behind him.

“I swear the wet seasons get warmer each year,” grumbled the Chairman, and then as Madina proffered the water: “Ah, thank you.”

“So what brings you to the Intelligence Division, Chairman?” asked Madina, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in her stomach.

Chairman Bey drank deeply of the chilled water, and then, with an expression of some satisfaction, set it aside. “A surmise,” he said. “I’m not a cultural officer, so I can’t do this in a nice and affirming way. But I may be one of the few people who understands. My surmise is—” Chairman Bey paused to think for a moment. “—and if I’m wrong, I will surrender my position to a member of the Anarchist Caucus—that you have become somewhat infatuated with a particular Party Secretary.”

Madina took a moment to process this. That was a temptation indeed. She could lie, and achieve everything, at one stroke. And she could lie, convincingly too, especially if she could avoid her natural impulsiveness. But if the Chairman had noticed, others would, too. And she found that she looked forward to having someone to talk to.

“You’re not wrong,” she said, slowly. “How obvious is it?”

“Perhaps not very, to most people,” said the Chairman. “But I saw the same look in the eyes of some of my own comrades, when I was much younger, and more active as a revolutionary. It always led to trouble. Hero worship turned hormonal always does.”

“It’s not like that,” protested Madina. “I haven’t felt this way about someone since—”

“How much time have you spent with Serafina?” asked Chairman Bey, cutting her off. “Does it add up to a full day? Or less than that?”

Madina was silent. He really wasn’t suited to be a cultural officer—but he had a point.

“Do you know why it’s trouble?” he continued. “Truth is, I’ve left alone the cult of personality thing. It’s important for our volunteers to regard Serafina as a revolutionary hero. That builds party discipline, encourages people to contribute. That’s fine. The problem arises when they instead start to regard Serafina as a human woman.”

“...why not both?” asked Madina, genuinely confused. “That’s what she is.”

“There is a difference,” said Chairman Bey. “Revolutionary heroes make mistakes, which can be corrected. They are only following... the path of scientific socialism set out by our forebears, or perhaps the principles of materialist anarchism, or whatever it is that you people look towards. Human women have flaws. They are imperfect, subjective, limited. When the two become confused in one’s mind, and one becomes exposed to the human flaws behind the revolutionary hero, one might... tear down the revolutionary hero in one’s mind, and in turn come to regard the path of revolution as hopelessly flawed. In this way a supporter of a Party might become an opponent of it, and an internal opponent, one placed to do as much damage as possible.”

A ball of ice had formed in the pit of Madina’s stomach. Chairman Bey continued, unruffled. “This is why love is the enemy of discipline. Do you understand me?”

“I... think so,” she said, trying her best to sound still confused. “But I already know she has flaws. Like how she just suppresses everything that conflicts with her worldview. How genuinely unprepared she is for people to not be good. That doesn’t change—”

Chairman Bey raised his eyebrows. “I continue to underestimate you, Agent al-Da’at. It seems you’ve already reached the stage of trying to—what’s the phrase?—bridge the gap?”

Madina was silent.

“Perhaps I can help with that. I’ve known Serafina for longer than anyone else here,” he said. “I have a story to tell you, which may help you reconcile the two, the human and the revolutionary.”

His name was Lewis Ruzhin, and he—

“Oh,” said Madina. “I think I’ve heard some of this. I didn’t know she was involved.”

Chairman Bey smiled again. “Very much so.”

His name was Lewis Ruzhin. He stood accused of the sexual assault and domestic abuse of a young volunteer, only nineteen, who had joined AKILA as his common-law partner. They had become an item during the 3A days, and been grandfathered in under fraternisation rules. Lewis had been a longtime democratic socialist agitator, an immensely popular thorn in the side of 3A leadership, and was known for—among other things—railing against those same fraternisation rules for almost his entire time in the party.

It was a simple hearing, now in its third hour. Serafina presided. A half-dozen cultural officers were in attendance, along with Captain Joseph Erdeni and Chairman Bey, and two armed forces volunteers seated on either side of Lewis. He himself was unrestrained. “Over the last two days,” Serafina was saying, “we’ve heard not only from Mira but from two other women you were involved with prior to her. Leila and Haslika. Both described similar behaviour on your part, including sexual coercion and emotional abuse.”

“I don’t see them here,” said Lewis. “Don’t I have the right to confront my accusers? Or have you waived that too?”

“In this case,” said Serafina, “none of them wished to be confronted, as you put it, by you. I saw no reason not to agree to their requests.”

“Well, that’s bullshit.” Lewis’s voice was calm and steady, and had been throughout the hearing. “This is why no one likes you Marxist-Leninists. Everything has to be done your way—”

“Do you have any claims to make in your defence?” asked Serafina.

“I categorically deny all charges,” said Lewis. “That’s it, isn’t it? It’s my word against theirs. You can’t prove anything.”

“In this case, three people’s testimony outweighs yours,” said Serafina. “Especially since you’re categorically denying charges when I haven’t told you what specifically Leila and Haslika accused you of.”

Lewis was silent now for the first time, beginning to realise that perhaps he was in trouble. Serafina glanced at the small group of cultural officers. “Any opinions from you?” she asked.

“I think we’re all of one mind,” said Dejana Behzadova, lead cultural officer, also from 3A. “We all think he’s guilty. Now, normally we would have attempted some kind of transformative justice, but I’m interested to see what you will do.”

“Me too,” said Serafina, with a half smile, before allowing her expression to become serious once more. “Mister Ruzhin. Your cultural officers think you’re guilty. I think you’re guilty. You’ve been unremittingly hostile for the entire duration of this hearing, which has done nothing to dispel the notion that you’re a serial sexual abuser. Why are you here at all, in AKILA? What do you want?”

“Socialist revolution, same as you,” said Lewis. His calm was beginning to break; his voice was beginning to strain.

“Socialist revolution is a route for people to meet their wants,” said Serafina, still calm. “Not an end in itself. What do you want?

Lewis’s patience, at this point, snapped. “I want for this clown show of a hearing to be over,” he said. “I want a party leader who’s not an uptight little bitch. I want a party structure that doesn’t pathologise the most natural and normal human urge in existence. But I’m not going to get what I want, am I?”

“Interesting,” said Serafina, as though this had been a completely normal answer. She turned back to Dejana. “Under post-Revolutionary circumstances, I would be inclined to agree with you. Mister Ruzhin may be a good candidate for re-education. He may, of course, also not be. It would require time, and internment, and a great deal of patience—”

Re-education?” Lewis tried to stand, but was pulled back down and restrained by the two armed forces volunteers. “You’d send me to some kind of concentration camp, just for something those girls probably enjoyed anyway?”

“Case in point,” said Dejana, now ignoring Lewis completely. Serafina smirked. “But we don’t have any re-education facilities.”

“We certainly don’t. Nor the time, nor the personnel,” said Serafina.

“So what?” Lewis seemed a little calmer, though still held fast by his guards. “Just put me in some kind of prison, then. I’m sure your Marxist-Leninist comrades would love that.”

“We don’t have any prisons, either. It’s an interesting question—would we use such things, after the Revolution? Perhaps worth considering.” Serafina directed this towards Captain Erdeni, who shrugged. “And we can’t rely on Laurentia’s justice system to imprison him, either. There’s no guarantee that they would.”

“What a dilemma,” moaned Lewis. “I don’t care. I’ll agree to whatever you make me do. I’ve been a loyal member of the Antifascists for years. That has to mean something.”

“You,” said Serafina to Lewis, “are a threat to women, inside or outside our party. We cannot let you remain as a member.”

“It sounds like there’s only one course of action, then,” said Captain Erdeni, speaking for the first time in the hearing.

Serafina looked from him to the cultural officers. Dejana seemed about to speak, but stopped herself. Three of the others met her gaze unflinchingly and with approval, including the two Marshites. Lewis seemed nonplussed.

“What? You’re going to kick me out?” He stared at Serafina. “You can’t do that. All the regulations state—”

Serafina interrupted him: “You get one of the things you want. This hearing is now over.” And she unshouldered her rifle—

“No,” whispered Madina. “She didn’t do that.”

Chairman Bey quirked an eyebrow at her.

“You seemed curious as to what Serafina might do, if confronted with someone whose internal goodness she couldn’t appeal to,” he said. “Now, I suppose, you know. Have you ever seen what happens when someone puts a six point eight millimetre round through a human head?”

Madina nodded dumbly. She herself had done that to a few human heads.

“You’ve seen the things we’ve done to some of our enemies. Did you think Serafina would order us to do that, if she wasn’t willing to do it herself?”

“No,” she said, finally. “I guess not. I knew Ruzhin was dead. I just can’t imagine—” but her imagination was already filling in the details. She could imagine it, in full colour, smell and all. She could picture Serafina at a court hearing, carefully taking aim, apologising politely to the armed forces volunteers as they struggled to restrain a defendant who had just realised exactly how much longer his life was.

“I later found out that she’d given the volunteers earplugs, and they had been wearing them for the entire hearing,” Chairman Bey continued. “She had known, from the very beginning, that this was how things would end. And she could still sit there, calmly, knowing she was about to kill a man in cold blood. Does knowing this change your opinion of Serafina at all?”

Yes, Madina thought. It makes her even more attractive. But she didn’t say that. “I... guess,” she said. “Thanks, Chairman.”

“I hope I’ve given you something to think about,” said Chairman Bey. “Something other than a calendar of Serafina posing with various firearms, of course.”

Madina met his eyes sharply. She would swear, later, that the man could sometimes read her mind.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Wed Jun 08, 2022 9:29 pm

x-posted to the GD News Feed

[Interlude 2]

“—but first,” said the news anchor, “this week on the Kozani War Report: Marielena Mendes travelled to Mezhgani Refugee Camp in search of communist paramilitaries. This is what she found.”

There was a brief, five-second transition featuring the ubiquitous dramatic music sting, before the scene settled upon the Kozani War Report. The graphics looked surprisingly retro. 2010s perhaps. The words "Kozani War Report with Marielena Mendes" remained highlighted onscreen for several seconds, before fading in onto the segment.

It began with a recording. The camera was focused on a young woman in dark clothing, ash blonde and round-faced, speaking into a microphone, on a makeshift stage fringed with portable speakers. Her voice was no different from that of many Analeuthians: very close to standard Received Pronunciation, with only a slight half-closing of the vowels to differentiate it from standard English. She was saying:

“...why does any one person—or one class of people—rule over another? The answer is class warfare.” There was a slight murmur from within the crowd. “For generations a war has been waged against us, the working peoples of the world, by kings, noblemen and capitalists alike, a war whose sole purpose is to enrich them at our expense. All that socialist revolution requires from us, is for us to begin to fight back...”

Her tone was not declamatory; it was gentle, almost dreamlike. There was at the same time something clear and compelling about it that made one want to keep listening. Perhaps in another era she might have made a good radio presenter. Towards the end of the excerpt, the image crossfaded into that of another woman, this one more recognisable to an international audience. Photojournalist and occasional TV presenter Marielena Mendes had an almost supernatural ability to report from deep within conflict zones and come out alive. Her English had, as always, a trace of a Mokan accent.

“These are the words,” she said, “of Serafina Nikhaia, a senior party official of AKILA—the Analeuthian-Kozanian International Liberation Army—speaking to a small group of supporters here in Mezhgani Refugee Camp, Kozani.”

The camera panned behind her, a wide shot of a sunny landscape crowded with uncountable mobile homes and prefabricated tiny houses, revealing that Marielena was standing beside a wide brown river and separated from the main body of the refugee camp by a narrow strip of pastureland alongside the river’s edge.

“A far-left militant organisation headquartered in Laurentia—some five hundred kilometres northeast of Y'Skarla—AKILA is a name that’s made international news lately for its military and political successes throughout the Analeuthian Independent States. Here in Mezhgani Camp, population one point one million, inhabited by refugees from the long Kozanian Civil War, it’s the only thing people want to talk about.” The image shifted to a still photograph of an older man, bald-headed and bearded, with spectacles perched on a severe face. “Thirty years ago, a man named Dzhamil Tulqari—today better known as ‘Chairman Bey’—had a vision: a united socialist republic not only encompassing the former Kozanian Republic, but also taking in the states of the western Analeuths. His Democratic Front for the Liberation of Kozani became one of the largest factions in the civil war. Now, with its successor organisation, AKILA, the reclusive Chairman is poised to make his dream a reality.”

The shot cut back to Serafina on the stage, still speaking: “...we have lived in darkness for too long. But between the darkness and the dawn, as someone once said, there rises the Red Star. Now is our time to realise the vision of a society that is truly free from want. There is no reason to settle for less.”

“Serafina Nikhaia herself,” said Marielena, the video cutting back to her, “is typical in some respects of AKILA officials: young—today is, in fact, her twenty-seventh birthday—idealistic, militant, and not particularly ideological. This party is, at its core, a group of socialists and communists that have decided to set aside the sectarian differences that have long plagued such movements. But in other respects, she is exceptional—at least in the eyes of her fellow party members. I was, unfortunately, unable to interview her myself, but I spoke to another senior AKILA official.”

The image cut to a different area of the camp, to an older man, grey of hair and beard but still handsome, with a definite if indefinable charisma and a military bearing. “My name,” he said, “is Khalil Taldan. I’ve been with the Democratic Front for nineteen years, and now AKILA.”

“I asked Khalil,” said Marielena, back by her riverbank, “about AKILA’s successes, and to what he attributed them. I also asked him about Chairman Bey, who, unusually, he knows personally—the reclusive Chairman has been rarely seen in public for over a decade. This is what he told me.”

“The truth is,” said Khalil, “we all do look up to Chairman Bey as a great revolutionary, of course. But increasingly, who we follow is Serafina. It is her leadership that brought us into Kozani, and it’s her leadership that will someday liberate it.”

“So was she handpicked by Chairman Bey to succeed him?” asked the unseen Marielena with the camera. “Or was she elected?”

“To hear Chairman Bey tell it, he just wanted to see what someone with perfect recall for faces and people would do if he put her in charge of ten thousand people,” said Khalil, with a laugh. “But I think he also saw that the movement needed a face; the volunteers, who are mostly young, needed someone like themselves to look up to.”

The scene returned to the riverbank: “And Serafina herself, in her speeches, credits her fellow volunteers above herself.”

The scene now cut once more to Serafina: “I rely, more than anything else, on all of the volunteers that make AKILA what it is, more than a million of us now. All of whom are also exceptional people...”

“Will a million volunteers be enough for AKILA to take over all of Kozani?” Marielena asked rhetorically. “We can’t know, but at the end of my interview with him, I put the question to Khalil.”

“Yes,” said Khalil. “Undoubtedly. Within the next few months, I think.”

“If his optimism proves accurate, within a few months, the world’s socialist states may well find their numbers enriched by one,” said Marielena. “And the long war in Kozani will finally be over. You’re watching the Marshite News Agency. From Kozani, I’m Marielena Mendes.”
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Sun Jun 26, 2022 11:24 pm

co-written with South Reinkalistan

IX. Raindrops

The rainy season started in earnest the day after AKILA entered Mezhgani. By the 24th, every afternoon predictably saw thunderstorms spread across Kozani and the Western Analeuths, and even when the sun was out, thunderheads were never far from the horizon.

A monsoon rain is steady: it may not be heavy, but it falls continuously, in big fat droplets. It is inevitably only an hour or two before dry earth turns to mud and dirt roads turn to watercourses. Perhaps this could also be said to be the strategy of AKILA: a continuous stream of droplets, not many of them, but consequential ones that gather into rivers, much like those which now flowed freely through the muddy paths and drainage ditches of Haven Refugee Camp. The water would filter through the earth into the limestone bedrock, carving out karstic formations and emerging in springs that collected into the Saoshai River and flowed down to Laurentia, and from there, to the sea. Within weeks the river would swell into a deep muddy torrent, practically impassable, depositing its fertile silty soil throughout the floodplains below. For now, the rushing waters were a distant sonic backdrop, drowned out by the clatter of the driving rain and other sounds that disturbed the everyday routine of the camp.

Joseph was awoken by the unmistakable thudding of distant helicopter blades. He rubbed his eyes, groggily returning to the realm of the living. "Alright there, Joe?" inquired Alex, his companion.

"Yeah. I'm fine. Just had no sleep last night. Burn wounds are a bitch to deal with," the older man replied, recounting his experiences from the previous evening. The two men were in a small prefabricated shelter near the camp's only airfield, sitting in camping chairs they'd dragged in due to the relative absence of seating in the structure. They'd been outside earlier, but the sudden downpour of torrential rain had quickly forced them indoors.

"Tell me about it," moaned Alex. "I only got to sleep at two in the morning. I don't know how you do it."

"Uh huh. But from the sound of the helicopter, I'd imagine the cunts that those AKILA lot requested have finally made their way here." Joseph shrugged. "So-called 'firebrands', revolutionarily-experienced preachers of socialism or whatever. I asked WARCOM for them, WARCOM complied. Dunno who we have, though."

Alex looked at his superior quizzically. "You sure do know a lot of people, don't you?"

Joseph laughed ever-so-slightly. "That I do." The helicopter's noise was now dominant, the shouting of the airfield's personnel audible despite the torrential rain.

"Should we run out and greet them?" asked Alex.

"Fuck no," came the swift reply. "They know to come here and report to me, and I'm not standing outside in that shit weather for any longer than I need to be."

Alex nodded, clearly not particularly keen on the weather outside either. "Seems like a good idea."

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

About seven people had dismounted the helicopter, four men and three women. Quickly rushing through the rain—Reinkalistanis were largely unused to monsoon-tier weather conditions—they reached the shelter, already lightly drenched and in absence of any serious raincoats or clothing suited to such weather. Their pseudo-military uniforms looked far less impressive with soaked hair and covered in damp patches.

As they arrived, so had multiple AKILA personnel, including Hany al-Kashatiya, head of operations for the organisation's operations in the refugee camp. Natasha Ulyakova, an aged and well-known war hero of Reinkalistan's operations in the Askanderean continent, was the first through the door. "For the love of God, the fucking rain—" her complaints suddenly ceased as she noticed the AKILA presence. "Oh, greetings, Comrades." Her tone suddenly shifted, her myriad comrades piling into the building after her. "I did not expect to see you here so suddenly."

Hany could not suppress a smile at the remark. Her only protection against the rain was a light poncho, little more than a sheet of clear plastic with a few holes in it. “You’re in luck, the rains only came two days ago, on the twenty-second. They must have been waiting for you,” she joked. “Welcome to Kozani, friends. Musa, can you bring a space heater in?”

Musa Ranjvran, the Mahdavian volunteer, hurried to comply.

"Ah, thank you," commented Natasha, shivering slightly. "I've dealt with a lot of bullshit in my time, but the cold and the rain is something I just cannot deal with." Her accent was different to Joseph's—it was stronger, but almost more sing-songish, with stressed vowels. "It is good to see Kozani, anyway, even if it is less good to see its weather. So how are we all doing today?"

“The rains are our lifeblood here,” said Hany, “in moderation. This year it doesn’t seem as though we’ll get moderation. We’re all fine, I hope.” She tentatively extended a hand. “My name is Hany al-Kashatiya. I am head of AKILA’s operations here. I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.”

"Ah, rain can be lifeblood, rain can be shit. I mean, shit food is still shit, even if it is what you need to live, eh?" joked Natasha, taking the handshake. "I am Colonel Natasha Ulyakova, Reinkalistani Red Army. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

“Enchanted,” said Hany, evidently noting the mention of Reinkalistan: “I presume you already know Mr. Yaginovich, then.”

"Unfortunately," laughed Joseph. Natasha shot him a glare.

"More so than I would have liked." Her glare suddenly broke into a smile. "I've met Comrade Yaginovich, yes. He is an absolute cunt, I love him." She glanced back at Hany. "And I presume you have already spoken to him as well? This is why I am here, I should think."

Hany paused, looking from one to the other, still smiling but evidently puzzled by the exchange of good-natured insults. “Ah, yes, certainly,” she said. “We were discussing the nature of AKILA’s mission here, I believe, and the need for a certain degree of… shall we say, self-discipline, among our volunteer members.”

"Ah, I see," nodded Natasha. "You need to make comrades and kill fascists, but some of your new comrades don't appreciate…" —she paused— "the lifestyle? No problem, we can help with that. Say nice things, preach propaganda, and train your cadres, I presume?"

“Something like that, indeed,” said Hany. “Our situation has evolved quite a bit in the last few days. On May twenty-first the main body of our forces entered Kozani proper—that being the Laurentia branch under the leadership of Secretary Nikhaia, of course. It was a bloodless entry, through finalising a treaty with the Islamic Socialist Workers’ Army, which had long been a thorn in our side. This means we now control Mezhgani Camp in full, and the plurality of this one as well. It has done wonders for recruitment in the last three days alone. For… organisation? It’s been a nightmare.”

Musa re-entered at this point with not one but two space heaters, positioning them adequately for the Reinkalistanis to warm themselves and their damp garments. Hany continued: “We’re strategically positioned here to support our comrades from Laurentia and our comrades from Paramac. But as things are, we can barely support one another. People understand, at best, the rudiments of party organisation, but convincing them to wage an insurgency is a different matter.”

"Oh yes, this is a big problem." The Colonel shrugged, while silently smiling at Musa to indicate thanks. "Well, we all know some people need to be kicked in the balls to get them going. Is not a huge problem; getting comrades to agree is one thing, getting comrades to be ready for death is another. Mud, blood, and a lot of gunfire, it's not exactly… enticing."

“At least one of those we have plenty of,” murmured Musa, glancing down at his muddy boots. Almost too quietly to hear. Not quite.

Smiling to herself at the Mahdavian's comment, Natasha stood up, gesturing to the hitherto then silent figures who had been waiting behind her. "Luckily, these pieces of shit are ready to help. We have been killing fascists for long time now, it is only fair that we pass on such a sacred art to younger generations." She smiled with an almost homicidal glee. "Where should we start?"

“An excellent question,” said Hany. “I’ve called a general convocation for tonight, if the rain dies down, right here on the airfield. The cultural officers are rounding up as many volunteers as are willing to, well, volunteer. With the Red Cross handling the aid distribution now—for which we’re extremely grateful—” she nodded towards Joseph. “—it’s time for us to discuss specifically which fascists we’re going to kill.”

Natasha's face lit up at this remark. "Ah, wonderful. I presume you have quite the list, no? EMK, religious extremists, you name what you name! Please, elaborate." Joseph almost smiled at her enthusiasm, completely unweathered by the years.

“In fact our positioning makes it hard for us to hit the EMK—not that we wouldn’t love the opportunity,” said Hany. “But to our east lies the Exarchy of Mathhaven, which is almost as bad, and may well be one of their allies. It’s certainly been spotted with EMK-made weapons. It is under almost complete lockdown, one of the few of the Feudal States we’ve been unable to insert agents into. Drones monitoring the streets, citizens encouraged to report their friends and families for subversive activity, AI-controlled surveillance, that sort of thing—” she paused, and glanced at Musa— “not that there isn’t a place for that sometimes, of course, but not in the service of a quasi-feudal society, to be sure. And as far as we know, they are completely unprepared for an attack coming down from the mountains. In theory, all we’d need is twenty-five thousand fanatics and five hundred armoured vehicles; in practice, all we’ll get is the first one, at best.”

“As for our northern enemies… it’s a longer way to the ITH, the Islamist EMK allies our friends from Laurentia will have to deal with. But it’s an even softer target: their front lines are much more porous, their equipment much more outdated. They’re also much more spread out. We might need a hundred thousand volunteers to attack them, in theory. Again. We’ll get twenty-five thousand.”

Natasha seemed to ponder this for a second. "Have you considered an approach involving planes? Death from the skies tends to make fascists and… feudalists shit bricks. I am sure that shithead here—" she gestured again to Joseph— "could get you a few TkaN-92s or whatever. Could make attacking, say, Mathhaven, a whole lot easier. A man is easier to beat the shit out of when he has his eyes on the skies and the ground. We even have a few drones." She grinned. "But I think definitely the focus should be on Mathhaven, securing the flank seems like the best option. But hey, it's your revolution. You do as you want."

“So far,” said Hany, “all we’ve had in terms of aerial assets are commercial-spec drones. You can fit a few grenades on one and drop them on an enemy. That’s about it.” She looked from Natasha to Joseph. “On the other hand, if fighter jets are on the table, well…” she spread her hands. “...that does change things. Could you supply pilots?”

"Oh, definitely pilots," Joseph said. "You have to understand that WARCOM is giving out manpower to foreign interventions like candy. The amount of global revolutions descending upon the Earth is enough to make the CPR giddy. You chose the right time, for sure."

Natasha nodded, confirming this. "I have not checked RPAF assets for a while, but we should have a few fourth-generation jets on the table. A handful of ground attack craft, a bit of drone warfare, and you should have these crypto-fascist bastards grovelling at your feet."

“That’ll be an interesting proposition to present tonight,” said Hany. “But yes, I’m in agreement with you, Colonel. Mathhaven is our priority—the Paramac Branch has seen some successes lately, but it’ll be back into the dry season before it takes the exarchy without our help. The Laurentia Branch, meanwhile, seems to win every battle it takes on—I’ll bet they’ll be able to handle the Islamists themselves and be in Halifax by June.”

"Good stuff!" exclaimed Natasha, who seemed genuinely pleased. "So what are the plans for this evening's convocation, if the sky stops pissing rain? What are our roles and so forth?"

“It should stop,” said Hany doubtfully. Careful observers would note that indeed it was raining slightly less heavily than an hour ago. “For us, it’ll be a way for cadre leaders and cultural officers to be introduced to as many of our new volunteers as choose to come—we can be assured they’ll be the serious ones. And we were hoping to introduce all of you, and perhaps hear your practical experiences from the trenches, as it were, fighting for socialism. People want speeches.”

"Yes, I understand," nodded the Colonel. "And I should suppose it is about more general socialist rhetoric? No Marx and Lenin, no Mother Anarchy, no Mao, no Islam, just class warfare, correct? I understand you are 'big tent', as Joseph puts it."

“Yes. Truth be told, many of our volunteers have only the most basic understanding of socialism in the first place,” Hany admitted. “You can call it a Socialism 101, if you wish. I find that it’s generally fine to reference historical figures, while avoiding the… main points of debate.”

"Very good to hear. Education, of course… it is important! But as long as they understand their primal desire to be free of chains of war and slavery, it should be easy to get into their heads. Me and my comrades here would be more than happy to speak at your convocation. Then we'll get Var- sorry, WARCOM to bomb the fascists, everyone wins!" She looked at Joseph. "Yaginovich, you were in army, perhaps you can be involved?"

"No, no," said Joseph firmly. "I'm in the Red Cross now, you know that." Natasha sulked, but relented, looking back at Hany.

"So, I presume that is all settled?"

“I imagine that concludes the business portion of today’s discussion, yes,” said Hany. “But some volunteers should be along to show you to your temporary places of accommodation. Which are, of course, palatial.” She glanced out the door at the clusters of prefab houses ringing the hills. The faint sarcasm in her voice was, this time, perceptible.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

It was just before nightfall and the rains had, indeed, finally come to a pause. The skies were clear enough to support a sunset, shot through with pink and purple clouds. The sun, fittingly enough, was red.

On the damp and muddy earth of the airfield a large crowd had gathered; larger even than Hany had expected, numbering perhaps in the low thousands. Someone had provided her with a megaphone, in the absence of anything more sophisticated, but she was not sure how one person and a few well-placed allies could possibly marshal such a large and disorganised crowd—many of them new volunteers, people even she had not met, who had been onboarded by the various cultural officers that surrounded her.

A few floodlights had been set up for once darkness fell, and their glare was already attracting countless moths and insects, thereby also drawing them away from the crowds of people. Hany had a sense, nevertheless, that her Reinkalistani comrades were none too happy about being significantly closer to the floodlights, and beckoned them forwards.

Taking the megaphone in hand—deciding that, since no specific time had been agreed upon other than “around sunset”, there was no time but the present to begin—she began.

“Good evening, everyone.”

The noise of conversation did not quiet.

“I said, good evening. Everyone.”

The noise dimmed, somewhat. Hany waited a few moments as conversations trailed off, until there was relative silence (relative: the hum of floodlights, the low roar of generators, the high buzz of tree frogs).

“Many of you will know me. For those who do not, I am Hany al-Kashatiya, field commander of this sub-branch of AKILA’s operations. As far as operations go here, I am the one who coordinates them—along with, of course, the cultural officers that many of you have met.”

A slightly rambling start, but serviceable.

“I’m pleased to announce that, as of earlier today, we are no longer merely scenery. With aid distribution now handled by the proper authorities, including our friends in the Red Cross, it’s time for us to discuss our political mission here.” (She wished she had, perhaps, a laser pointer and a projector. Before joining AKILA, Hany had been a schoolteacher, and missed the tools of her trade.) “AKILA is a militant organisation; an army of international liberation. Obviously, our long-term focus is the liberation of the entirety of Kozani. But at the moment…” The hum of conversation was beginning to return, and she sensed her audience slightly losing focus. “...our enemies, the destroyers of Kozani, have allies. It is time that we saw they no longer did.”

“I am speaking, of course, of the Exarchy of Mathhaven, one of many of the Analeuthian states, a friend to the fascist assholes that have torn our country in half.” (Here a few, somewhat over-enthusiastic, volunteers shouted things like “Traitors!” and “Pigs!”) “It is a small country of five million inhabitants who live under the terror of a mad Marquess and his army of murderous secret police. And—as far as we know—we can take them.”

At these words, there was complete silence from the audience: expectancy. Hany continued: “They are unprepared for a well-organised guerrilla attack. We can bring the fight to them, end their reign of terror, and further isolate the National Front and its lackeys as we prepare for their inevitable destruction in Halifax and Whitechapel.” She paused for half a second, mostly for effect. “But we can’t do this alone.”

This was Natasha’s cue, and Hany glanced at her expectantly, before saying, through the megaphone: “This is Colonel Natasha Ulyakova. She and her comrades are here on a humanitarian mission. They are very familiar with this kind of work. Perhaps, Colonel, you’d like to introduce yourself and tell us more about what we’re going to be doing.”

All right, that was a weak finish, she admitted. But it was enough for her to pass the megaphone over.

Natasha stepped forward, graciously smiling at her fellow militant. "Thank you, Comrade Hany." She took the megaphone with a nod, and stepped forward. She was not a conventionally 'impressive' woman; she was short, did not wear many medals, and had close-cropped raven-black hair. But when she spoke, there was a certain authority behind it; as if she did not, perhaps, need medals or posture to know what she was talking about. Nevertheless, she continued, her voice loud and slightly less accented than when she had been speaking earlier—clearly, this was somewhat rehearsed. "Comrades!" she bellowed to the crowd, standing straight. "As Comrade Hany has told you, I am a Colonel of the Reinkalistani Red Army. I serve the proletarian cause of the People's Federation of Reinkalistan. You all may not have heard much about my country—it is a big world, and there are myriad struggles to be aware of. Nevertheless, you can be sure of one thing: we are here to help."

Joseph, standing on the sidelines, watched, nodding, as Natasha went on. "I was talking earlier to your head of operations. She is doing a good job, from what I see; you are very lucky to have her. However, she discussed the situation regarding this bastard Marquess, his bastard 'Exarchy', and how we're going to crush his pig armies like the fascists they are!" She began to pace back and forth, gesturing with her hands as she spoke. The audience, initially unsure about this foreigner, was now evidently becoming somewhat interested. Any mention of crushing fascists seemed to do that. "The Red Army is large and powerful, and though it cannot be everywhere at once, we can still help you where we can. While the Red Cross personnel here are apolitical and neutral, concerned with your wellbeing over fighting, I—" she couldn't help but smile— "and my comrades here are under no such obligations. We have no barriers to helping you completely and utterly destroy the barbarous traitors to your country that have ravaged your lands for far too long." She waved her hand at the assembled 'firebrands', who were all standing monolithic and proud. "These men and women are like me. They have fought, they have bled, and they have killed for the international ideal and the global revolution. Some of them have families with a long and storied history of shooting imperialists and fascists; others are stars all by their own right.” (At this point, several people did in fact applaud; though it was hard to tell in the failing light, these seemed to be the same overenthusiastic volunteers from before.) “In any case, I believe you can consider them your comrades in every sense. The fight ahead will not be easy, no matter how many planes and guns and bombs and men we send you. The enemy is strong. But we are stronger. Workers and people of Kozani, history is on your side: and we will make sure that the enemy is totally buried beneath your countless fists!" She paused for a moment, hoping that her zeal had not been too enthusiastic, trying to gauge the audience's response.

The audience had certainly responded, although not so much with cheers or revolutionary chants: no one had given them any such chants quite yet. They were, instead, rapt, absorbing every word with minimal added conversation and only occasional gestures to brush off the odd errant moth. Satisfied, Natasha continued. "We have only one thing to ask of you in return. We do not ask for money, nor soldiers for Reinkalistan's own conflicts once the fight is over. We merely ask of you, all of your hearts and voices as one, to not let your country disappear beneath the ravenous hordes of the fascist dogs—to persecute a campaign of unrelenting, total war against the enemy, looking for nothing less than absolute victory. Hoist high the banner of the people, and send those who have raped your country for so long to their unmarked graves!"

Here several people did shout things like “Death to Alandi!” and “Down with the EMK!”, sometimes in multiple languages. At least one of these people was recognisable as a cultural officer, but several of the others appeared to be the same group of overenthusiastic volunteers from earlier. And another voice yelled “When can we start?”—not anyone either Hany or Natasha recognised.

The Colonel picked up on this last chant, chuckling slightly. "We will start when you are all ready, comrade! And I'd better see some of you in the charge—I for one will be. I'm forty-eight, but there is no age at which it is inappropriate to put enemies of the people to death. Which of you comrades will be with me?"

The response emerged as a sea of mumbled voices. This was evidently a crowd that needed the schoolteacher’s touch, or at least slightly more prompting. Noting this, Natasha deferred to Hany with a nod, passing over the megaphone swiftly.

Hany took it up immediately: “I will be with you, Colonel! Which of you—” (pointing to the audience) “—will be with us?”

This time, a “We will!” was somewhat more distinguishable among the mumbled voices.

“To fight the enemies of the people, we need full hearts and loud voices,” Hany declared, and repeated: “Which of you will be with us?”

The third time did the trick: almost all of the audience roared “We will!” in response. Hany smiled, somewhat sardonically, and passed the megaphone back to Natasha.

Natasha laughed, with an uncharacteristic sense of humility. This, however, quickly dissipated as she went back into full rowdyish form, almost—almost—screaming into the megaphone now: "Let the ground tremble beneath our boots in our forward charge, comrades!” At this a number of people did attempt to stomp the ground beneath their boots, only to find it muddy and squelching, and quickly gave up the attempt. In any case, with the perpetual risk of mudslides, it was unwise to make the ground tremble too much at the moment. “If you have anything to ask, please come to me or one of my comrades behind me. We will all be wearing Red Army uniform, and we will be organising military and political training sessions in parts of the camp. Together, the people will always triumph."

There was scattered applause as Natasha passed the megaphone back to Hany, who said, cutting the applause off practically before it started: “Thank you very much, Colonel. Your expertise here, I believe, will truly prove invaluable. AKILA cultural officers will also be organising our own training, and are always here if anyone needs someone to talk to—about anything. Cultural officers, please raise your hands and introduce yourselves.”

About fifty hands went up, and the cultural officers began to thread their way through the crowd towards the front. Hany passed the megaphone to the first in line, and they all began to speak now, each one introducing themselves by name and giving a very brief one-minute or so description of their origin and role in the branch. Hany joined the Reinkalistanis on the sidelines.

“I think that went well, all things considering,” she murmured to Natasha once the crowd’s attention was on the cultural officers. “Not always easy to get a crowd like this in line.”

Despite clearly putting on a quiet voice, Natasha's response seemed loud by nature regardless. "Hey, they are enthusiastic. That is the first step. Next step is kicking them in the balls and getting them into shape. That is more difficult, but still the second step. I think you are aware of this, though." She shrugged, smiling slightly.

Hany tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a smile at this remark. “Wise words, indeed. I only hope most of them live to see the end of the stepladder.”
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).

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Founded: Dec 29, 2015
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Analeuthocosia » Mon Jun 27, 2022 2:53 pm

co-written with Holy Marsh

X. Towards a Wider World

Mezhgani camp abutted—surrounded, perhaps, more accurately—a city that had once been a place of prosperity. One could call the camp a suburb were it not larger than the city itself.

It was the first Kozanian city Serafina had ever seen in person, and she already found herself adjusting to it as though she’d lived there all her life. Its spokes of streets and avenues lined with tropical greenery, its masses of residential tower blocks separated by open communal areas, its whitewashed public buildings, and of course the typical Kozanian traffic: streets absolutely filled from one end to another with motorbikes, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians alike, with donkeys and horses here and there winding their way amongst the gridlock. Some may have found the city much less “civilised” than the eastern Analeuths, where Serafina had grown up, but to her it felt instead like freedom from strict societal rules. Perhaps this was what every city would look like, in a few years.

The centre of Mezhgani contained a half-dozen neo-colonial buildings in an airy, fountain-filled plaza. The City Hall and the Mezhgani District Court adjoined the large complex that made up the Arvaz Valley National Historical Museum, and behind them to some distance was the building for which she now set out: Mezhgani Cathedral. It was a building that had stood for seven hundred years. It had seen many uses in that time, but this was perhaps the first time it was being used for a state visit: the first official meeting between AKILA officials and a high-ranking clergybeing of Holy Marsh.

(She had repeatedly asked Dejana Behzadova, whom she’d decided would be her cultural officer liaison, whether their guests would be offended by being asked to meet in a foreign house of worship. Dejana had repeatedly assured her it would be fine. There was in any case no other building in the city as beautiful as the cathedral, with its pre-colonial frame and the fine stonework of its main doors.)

As she reached the gates to the cathedral’s yard, a call came through on her satellite phone. She lifted it to her ear. “Hello?”

“Hi,” said the voice of Madina al-Da’at. “I’m just returning your c— Secretary Nikhaia?

“Yes, it’s me, hi,” said Serafina. “Agent. Good to hear from you. Are you on assignment?”

“Er, not as such,” said Madina. “I’m at our mobile headquarters. Trying to negotiate permission to relocate our gear to Khalkent Hall, since the symphony orchestra’s out for the next few months, and... stuff.” She trailed off in what struck Serafina as an unusual moment of awkwardness. “How can I help?”

“Have you been assigned any work?” asked Serafina.

“No. Not yet. Haven’t heard from Captain Erdeni at all.”

“Very well. I’d like you with me,” said Serafina, sliding open the gates and moving into the yard. “We need people for the diplomatic summit.”

There was a brief pause. “You have people securing the cathedral already though, don’t you?”

“I mean I’d like you to be part of the meeting,” said Serafina. “We have Dejana and Khalil already. Cultural officer and military affairs. But we don’t have a diplomat. We don’t have someone who’s worked with Marshites before, and closely; for that matter, we don’t have someone with a broader intelligence overview of the situation.”

“I’m a spy,” protested Madina, as Serafina’s footsteps carried her to the cathedral’s front door itself. “You want me to play diplomat?”

“Isn’t that how all diplomats get started?” said Serafina, with mild amusement. She waved to the AKILA security personnel on perimeter watch. “I can have you there as official representative of our intelligence services, if you prefer. But in the long run, we’ll need a foreign affairs ministry.”

There was silence for several seconds. “I guess I’ll do it,” said Madina slowly. “But I might still be put on assignment. You’ll have to cancel any new orders that come in.”

“Don’t worry about that,” said Serafina. She passed among the aisles of pews, eyes on the table that had been set up at the far end of the cathedral, between the lectern and the pipe organ. “Just be here in... an hour, or so. Air traffic control advises me they’re landing in thirty minutes.”

“Acknowledged... Secretary. I promise I’ll do my best.”

Serafina glanced at the table, and the armed personnel securing the area, ensuring every exit was covered, sweeping for recording devices. Yes, this was good. Dejana could bring her knowledge of the organisation and its administration, as well as her role in instilling party discipline. She was also the point person who’d bring their guests over from the airfield. Khalil had the military knowledge, and a detailed disposition of AKILA’s forces, strengths and weaknesses throughout the Analeuths and Kozani. Madina would bring a combination of both skillsets, and hopefully integrate them into a larger view of the geopolitical situation; at least, she would have been trained to. And she was more familiar with the culture and society of the Theocratic Matriarchy of Holy Marsh than anyone else present.

The only question was whether Serafina herself was up for the meeting. She doubted it, privately. But when did she ever have time for doubt?

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Sabastian once more checked the manifest, his eyes scanning the logs lazily. The C-10 Minotaur he had arrived in was parked in the refugee camp's airstrip that lay just outside the camp itself, just as the previous day's C-10 had and as would the next. The Theocratic Matriarchy had for some time helped maintain the field near the camp. For years, daily C-10 deliveries had arrived, each one carrying around 250 metric tons of supplies. Twelve arrived daily in two-hour intervals, keeping the airfield busy. It had started off much smaller, of course, but the footprint had grown as the camp had. What had first been fit for a few small deliveries from smaller cargo aircraft had evolved into a vast airborne distribution network. Now they delivered up to 3000 tons of aid to the vast camp daily, not including the many efforts from other nations as well as the Theocracy's other avenues of aid delivery. There was waste and there was the ever-present danger of corruption, but all in all the effort was quite successful.

This C-10 had a mixed cargo, all of it necessary. Food, water, fuel, and medicine, as always. Perishables were the bane of such a camp. Clothing and fuel were delivered often enough but in a general sense, the majority of the 17.5 million tons of aid that had been delivered over the years was made up of food and water. That had been the primary desire for this camp, keeping them alive. At least, that was this operation's goal. Sabastian knew there were others as he put the clipboard down, taking his time to walk down the long body of the Minotaur. Specific aid packages for specific people and groups across the region. Conversion operations. Innumerable M-SAD efforts, a treasure trove of intertwined and separate operations—many thousands at any given time. Sabastian liked this one, however. There was nothing behind the efforts at Airfield Albatross other than humanitarian aid.

It was for this reason that over the years many shrine officials had journeyed here. Many did so in public, looking to stamp this work with their seal of approval. Many times they used it to support their shrine's individual efforts in the region. Others used them as secret transports to the area for more subtle causes. Just a few months ago, the Maestro of Assassins was here to meet with his Blades to discover their progress. Sabastian was not here for any of those reasons. Indeed, no one except his closest confidantes knew he was here. Many knew that a plane carrying the First Claw of the Non-Human Shrine was due to land in the local airport soon, flanked by a squadron of fighters. It was due to land in just a few minutes, a matter of fact. But he was already on solid ground, as he walked down the ramp of the C-10 and into the day.

He wanted to see the work that went into this camp. He knew well enough from the reports what to expect. The plane landed and would be offloaded by Marshites before being given over to local authorities. No doubt there was some corruption involved, but over the decades and plenty of corrective measures, the absolute majority of the aid entered the camp effectively. The Marshites were local. So were the majority of people who did the work after the cargo was offloaded and sorted. It was one of the camp's only reliable sources of jobs and one of the few methods that locals had of creating a better future. What that better future was, however? That was the stated reason for his arrival in this land.

"First Claw, your plane is due to arrive in five minutes. Shall we begin?" came a voice in his ear, which twitched in response. If he tried he was sure he would be able to see and hear the sound of the chartered flight and the squadron of escorts not far away- well, at least for his non-human senses. Sabastian nodded as he saw an LA-30 approach.

"It is, Attendant. We will meet the others en route. I have seen the records and done what else I came to do," he said as he looked at the control tower. His visit there had been informative. Underneath it was a communications and intelligence compound devoted to keeping the camp and surrounding region safe and secure, or at least as much as they could without more direct involvement from the military. Beyond what agents and local Marshites could do, they did their best to keep the communications of local friendly, Mahdahian-aligned Islamists secure, and occasionally make sure certain articles of intelligence were given to them. Anything for the people, or so they said.

The LA-30 pulled up and he got in, sweeping the edges of his cloak in as he did so. Inside the Magister was the driver and two Attendants, his guards and confidants in equal measure and respect. Both of them were tall, broad Panthera, just as he liked them. He needed teeth, eyes, claw, and itchy trigger fingers at all times, complete with his own personal requirements of being as well educated as possible. He needed them to not just guard him physically, but mentally as well. He would say spiritually, but he was fortified against such methods.

"First Claw," Attendant Erinasas said briefly as he entered. She pawed her weaponry as her eyes scanned out of habit. She was the taller of the two he had with him, older to boot. She was the lead Attendant for this job and had some experience in this land. While Non-Humans themselves were not to be found in any appreciable numbers, her father had once called these lands home. Her mother had helped save his life thanks to surgery and love had blossomed there. Erinasas was indeed a good choice to come to these lands for that reason alone, but he enjoyed her for her many other talents.

"Erin, please," Sabastian said as he made himself comfortable, the Magister peeling away. "No need for that now. Hugeri?" Sabastian asked of the other attendant.

Hugeri didn't respond at first. The smaller dog-marshite looked around, his Azenian heritage on full display. Submissive and respectful with dogged devotion, Hugeri did not have a great many traits that were all that differentiated from the other Attendants. Instead, he had been picked at near-random from a roster of other species within the Shrine who had achieved high ratings. Diversity would be important in today's meeting, or so Sabastian believed.

"All is well, First Claw. Just having some pain with my eye is all," came the reply, Hugeri tapping his cybernetic eye. He had lost his own left eye in a grenade explosion, something that had scarred his once divine canine visage. A shame, but a beautiful one in its own way. Conflict and pain were the seed of all righteousness, and blood was the water of faith.

"Erin, see if you can help him," Sabastian asked. The Panthera nodded and unleashed one of her claws, moving in and holding his head still with the other. For his part, Hugeri tapped the temple of his skull, which forced the cybernetic eye to open.

Erin performed her duty, trying as best she could with her one claw to fix whatever mechanical issue he was experiencing and power cycling the thing, while Sabastian allowed himself some time to think about the meeting as they drove through the city. It was as beautiful a city as this region could produce, likely because they intended to keep the refugees as distanced from it as they could. That would not last long. As the vehicle drove by one structure after another, he wondered how many of them could or would be repurposed to fit the needs of the people. The city was by no means fully capable of it, however. Many would need to return from whence they came or be otherwise redistributed. The post-war situation would be messy. That is why the meeting today would be important.

AKILA had been supported by the Theocracy even before it existed in its new form. Its predecessor organizations had received some moderate aid, though it was only after AKILA was seen as a truly viable force for the post-war Independent States that the weight of the Theocracy had been thrown behind it. Considering the fracturous landscape around it and the power and influence of cruel regimes in the area, how could they not? There had been a number of meetings between AKILA and Marshite officials in the past, largely unofficial and not much concerned with factors outside the immediate needs of AKILA and the gains needed to provoke change. But as AKILA grew, so did the Marshite certainty in their eventual victory. Today's meeting would detail several possible avenues of more immediate aid, but it would mostly concern the post-war relationship between the states and the methods needed to bring this land into a new and brighter future.

Sabastian had been chosen for the meeting specifically because he was sceptical by and large of revolutionary figures. Many Marshites were by faith, since the whims of sentience so reliably corrupted ideology. Only faith would endure the tides of time, but that did not mean that it was right to dismiss the idealism of others. Hidden in the sharpest tips of the spear of the revolution were the seeds of a people's greatness. Properly cultivated and guided, all people could become worthy of the Clawed Goddess grand affections and love. He was charged with ensuring that this Serafina would be worthy, in her own time and way.

Erin pulled herself off of Hugeri, his eye moving appropriately once more. She retracted her claw as the Magister found its brothers halfway to the cathedral where the meeting was taking place, sliding in behind two other vehicles and in front of one to form a four-vehicle convoy. The other vehicles had come from the airport and were full of guards and some petty functionaries that would do the real work, the holy work, of setting things in motion should AKILA prove capable. "Thanks, Erinasas," Hugeri said as he blinked a few times. Looks like her mechanical engineering and experience came in useful, as expected, as would her language skills. Hugeri would have to keep silent about his own senses, which was best saved for after.

Sabastian pulled up some files for the rest of the drive, allowing himself the time to read up on some of the notable personalities expected at the meeting before they pulled up in good time to the cathedral.

The cathedral was a grand imposing structure, appearing almost as though cut from a single immense block of stone. On approach one might notice that it had also acquired a discreet but palpable security perimeter; vehicles blocked the side roads, uniformed security personnel materialised here and there in the shadow of the gates to its yard. Behind the gates, in the shadow of the low stone walls that surrounded it, was a churchyard containing a small, equally discreet cemetery, gravestones etched with the names of hundreds of years of bishops and notables, around which grew tropical grasses and sedges. A handful of plane trees both shaded the churchyard from the heat—although not the humidity—and largely screened it from an outside observer. This was an island of tranquility in the midst of a busy city, with one sole concession to modernity: there was a small open parking area of tiled stonework, one large enough for perhaps five or six vehicles.

There were three human figures waiting in the shade of the cathedral door, and one who emerged from the vehicle immediately ahead of Sabastian’s, having met what proved to be his group of functionaries at the airport. This was a woman just on the cusp of middle age, with short dark hair and a perpetual expression of good humour, with a broad smile on her face as she exchanged a few words with one of the Marshite personnel she had been escorting. Her expression became serious again as she spotted Sabastian. From his files, he would know that this was Dejana Behzadova. AKILA’s cultural officers were somewhere between commissars, psychologists and spiritual advisors in role, and she had been with the organisation and its predecessors for a very long time.

The three behind her now approaching included a tall, heavily built man who looked to be in his mid-to-late forties, with curly, prematurely grey hair and a well-trimmed beard—Khalil Taldan, field commander, who had once served with the Kozanian Army before defecting after the assassination of President Matirashi—and a much younger woman, scarcely more than a girl, with dark hair backlit in gold by the sun and done up into an elegant bun—and M-SAD certainly had extensive records of its cooperation with Madina al-Da’at, long considered one of the most helpful field agents. The third of them, Serafina Nikhaia herself, had to be somewhat of an anticlimax by comparison: short, slightly built, blonde hair very close to colourless, and certainly dressed no differently than any of the others, in the same anonymous AKILA fatigues. But she was the one to whom the others all looked in the moment, and when Sabastian emerged towards the cathedral, she was the one who stepped forwards to greet him.

“Cardinal,” she said, “and First Claw. Welcome to Kozani.”

“Secretary Serafina,” Sebastian replied with a gentle tilt of his head. His two attendants had flanked him, but stopped a few paces away. “A pleasure to meet you.”

She inclined her head likewise. “I suppose you’ve been briefed,” she said, “but these are my colleagues—” and she introduced Dejana, Khalil and Madina in turn. “I trust you’ve had a safe journey? Come inside, the heat’s less oppressive indoors.” (Perhaps some part of her was contemplating how well a furred being might withstand the high temperatures of the Kozanian wet season.)

“Indeed, I know these three and their duties to the future of the people here,” Sebastian replied as he gave all three a quick but burrowing glance. “Your work is vital, as you know. Know that in doing your duty, you are blessed by the Clawed Goddess, and we will continue to pray for Her vigilance on your behalf,” he said before directing his gaze back at the Secretary. “We may proceed, Secretary Serafina, at your convenience. The Pushanian jungle has always been home, so comfort is a dream long since dead,” he murmured with a smile, his two attendants also allowing their visages to be pierced by the joke. It was most true of Hugeri, whose Azenian heritage did not armor him against the jungles and other rougher environments of the world in the manner of his sisters and brothers. Erinasas was more than comfortable, of course. Sebastian? He was only comfortable when he was allowed sleep to commune with the Clawed Goddess in peace. Everything else was a burden, as he often griped playfully.

“I can’t speak for all of the Kozanian and Analeuthian people,” said Serafina, “but I know all your prayers and intercessions are greatly appreciated, Cardinal—by me and by AKILA.” There was no hint of insincerity in her voice, even though Sabastian would know from his briefings that she was an agnostic. Her green eyes briefly touched on both of the attendants, including them in this sentiment. “Shall we begin?”

So saying, she led the small party through the open doorway into the cathedral, which was cool and dark, although illuminated by beams of sunlight in which swirls of dust motes danced. Down an aisle they proceeded, amidst rows of pews that could easily sit a thousand, exchanging a few remaining pleasantries and words of small talk, towards a long table that had already been set out with seven chairs. Here and there throughout the interior, individual security personnel could be seen, loitering discreetly.

Once all involved had taken their seats, Serafina nodded to Sabastian, resting her hands on the polished rosewood of the table. “I’m afraid there are no shrines to the Clawed Goddess in these lands, Cardinal, though we have no shortage of holy sites. But in the future, once peace is restored to these lands, perhaps that will change. That is what we’re here to discuss today, isn’t it? The future.”

“It is. The future that you intend to make after your inevitable victory in this generational conflict. The nation you intend to weld together as well as the one you plan to leave behind for the following generations. We have always taken an interest in these lands and see in you and AKILA at large a positive expression of this very topic, the future. What does the Secretary and the AKILA organization have planned for once the guns stop, I wonder?” Sabastian said as he allowed his cloak to get caught by his chair in a scene of fallibility. He had been briefed on what M-SAD believed were the prevailing headwinds of the post-war state. But he was not here to confirm beliefs, but to hear it from Serafina herself.

“Well, at least we have an easy question to start out with,” said Serafina, with dry humour. Dejana Behzadova also chuckled at this. Serafina glanced at her, briefly. “Our vision is... straightforward to describe: to unite the former Kozani Republic with all of these former feudal states, from the Kara Estuary to the Mahekhan Valley, into a plurinational, socialist confederation, in which every ma- every being has the right to determine their own destiny.” She paused for a moment, and added: “Of course, that’s easy to say. How easy it will be to put into practice... is something we’re still working on.”

Sabastian smiled when she finished and leaned in. He wasn’t close, but it was for impact. “Secretary, you do not need to concern yourself with being inclusive on my account alone, worried I will take offense. You can say man. I’m not going to bite, I’ll have you know,” he said as he pulled back. “As you said, it is easy to say, hard to do. Have you drawn up any plans for how to structure this government, in its details?” He steepled his front paws and laid his chin on it. “That will be a true test of your revolution’s future prospects, will it not?”

Serafina suppressed a smile and lowered her eyes for a moment—just the tiniest flash of embarrassment. (Across the table, Madina al-Da’at had also caught it, and there was concern in her eyes.) It was over in less than an instant, and she met Sabastian’s eyes steadily once more as he continued to speak. “Yes, it certainly will be,” she said. “We face a particular challenge as an organisation taking in many different ideological strains, which is one reason I chose these people for our meeting today. I myself represent a more orthodox Marxist-Leninist strain. Field Commander Taldan is most closely aligned with Islamic Socialism. Agent al-Da’at is an Anarchist. Cultural Officer Behzadova, well...”

Dejana spoke for herself, amusement in her voice. “I don’t care too much about any of that ideological stuff,” she said, “so long as there’s food in people’s bellies and clothing on their backs.”

“And perhaps that’s what this comes down to,” said Serafina. “We’re gaining more volunteers and partisan movements than I’d ever thought possible. But in the end, people need to live, to be able to meet their wants. Do I have plans? Certainly—a democratically elected workers’ council, detailed plans for the reindustrialisation of the country, a new name and national identity to promote unity. But in the end... I am only one person, one voice among many. An... influential voice, I will admit.” There was a moment of discomfort as she admitted this. It too was over almost before it was noticed.

That had sufficiently answered some of his concerns, at least in a manner that informed him that AKILA was aware of how fractured they truly were. It was one of the innumerable sins of ideology, after all. They could all believe in the same basic truths but history had shown that it was within these like-groups that the greatest violence among details could be found. It was why states bound to ideological principles rarely survived the generation that built them. Every new iteration created a new absurdity until the edifice, constructed with often pure will and heart, came crashing down, having rotted and become ugly on the inside.

Recognizing that there were several strains of socialism in play was important. Recognizing that it would be important to have them weld together in the absence of threat was also important. The only other option was to continually seek threats real and imagined, internal and external in equal measure. That could work for a little longer but it would never change the final outcome, it would only make it bloodier.

“It is good to hear you note the different strains of socialism within AKILA, and your acknowledgement of this difficulty inherent in moving them forward is also a positive sign. You are not naive, but a true believer in your cause. This will help you greatly, for the path ahead is assuredly lined with woe and heartbreak. The making of a state is always a trauma. To have your eyes open to the fault lines that will appear after is perhaps the most important trait you could possess,” Sabastian started before he picked his chin up and allowed his left paw to open.

He whispered something in Pushanian and allowed some lines of magic to form into a ball before spreading it on his side of the table. In a moment, it would form into various small figures. With an outstretched claw, he dipped into one figure and brought it up. It was the estimated population of the plurinational area that was in discussion. “This number is as accurate an estimation as exists, Secretary. Some information is, of course, hard to entirely back up due to the situation on the ground in several areas,” he whipped his claws lazily, and the numbers divided into various brackets. “Here is the average age, best we can tell, of a member of AKILA. Here is the general population’s demographics, and finally the Scum on the Coasts, the fascist murderers. They range older than your people by some degrees. As you can see, there appears to be strong data that should hearten you. The region is, on the whole, quite young. Younger than most. Your AKILA is in many ways representative of the youth, are you not?”

(The only visible response to Sabastian’s display of outright thaumaturgy was a raised eyebrow from Khalil Taldan. Serafina, who had never seen something similar before, didn’t even blink. She had been well briefed.)

“Yes. Some forty-five percent of our volunteers are under the age of thirty,” said Serafina. “In this respect we do match the overall age structure among both the Analeuthian States and the Kozanian refugees. We are a young people, in general... yes, Agent al-Da’at?”

Madina didn’t have magic, but she did have a tablet, which she pushed out towards the centre of the table. “Our own population estimates, Cardinal,” she said, “are a little higher than that. One point two billion overall if you don’t count the overseas refugees. And we assume most of them will want to come home, so that could add... a hundred million more or so.”

“Yes, that’s a very good point,” said Serafina. “There are large numbers of Kozanians in Holy Marsh, in Severina, in many other countries throughout the region. Just as we’ll need to accommodate the internally displaced refugees, we’ll need to be prepared for... an influx.”

“Forty-seven million, three hundred and ninety-two thousand, six hundred and eighty-eight refugees in Holy Marsh, to be exact,” Sabastian would confirm as he pulled the number up. It would change even as they spoke, for it took up to the moment births and deaths into account. “Not including those who have converted and identify as Theocratic Marshites, which number several million, though I will share with you several documents of note for you,” Sebastian would say as several documents appeared out of the magic and onto the table, pushed towards Serafina and with a great deal of excitement by whatever forced propelled it.

“The vast majority of the refugees that have come to Holy Marsh we no longer classify as true refugees. They are hard working creatures of the Theocratic Matriarchy. But, as you can tell, most available data shows, and who they have often turned to for leadership has confirmed, that the majority of them would return home, here. Not because they must, but because they want to help build a better future,” Sabastian waved his claw. The documents were duplicated and then replaced by new documents.

“As a gesture of our belief in your virtues, we will share that for the last sixteen years we have been preparing them for a return. You will find among them well-educated creatures who will no doubt be worthy citizens of your new nation who will have the skills and ethics needed to help you, backed up by vast billions that has been set aside as part of the Kozani Refugee Rebuilding Fund, or KRRF. The money will be released to them, and by proxy you, when the conflict ends. The Commune Shrine will also be leading The People’s Crusade, a reconstruction and volunteer project that will be working closely with you. There are many avenues that Crusade may go down, of course. What becomes of it is up to you. These are two methods of our aid that have already been planned for.”

Serafina blinked, and shot the briefest of glances towards each of the three AKILA officers seated around her. Their expressions were unreadable. She said: “Well, we are very gratified to hear that. The compassion and generosity of the Marshite people know no bounds, and the Kozanian and Analeuthian people will forever be in your debt.” She paused momentarily, and then continued: “We will certainly welcome the return of these refugees, and have already drawn up plans for the rebuilding of cities, towns and villages that have been destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. Your offer also does draw attention to one limitation of AKILA.”

This time it was Dejana who took up the conversational thread in her heavier, more musical accent. “We are an army,” she said simply. “We are devoted to liberation. We do not have educators—we have cultural officers.” She indicated herself. “We do not have hospitals—we have field medics.” She pointed now at Khalil, who gave her a nod. “We do not have diplomats—we have spies.” She smiled at Madina. “As much as some among us may have drawn up architectural designs for apartment blocks that can be built in two weeks and house a thousand people each, we do not have the people to build them. So yes, Cardinal. Your People’s Crusade is an absolute necessity.”

Sabastian nodded. “That will be good to bring back to Her Holiness. An idea regarding just who you will be needing is most appreciated.”

“Some basic economic figures may be important, then,” said Serafina, pushing an errant lock of hair from her eyes. “Almost fifty-five percent of the economy of our territories is agricultural—a mix of subsistence farming, making up the large majority of workers, and large-scale feudal holdings. This may even be an underestimate, because the situation in Kozani changes frequently. Thirty-four percent is manufacturing and secondary industry. This leaves a very small services and high-tech sector. Only eight percent of Analeuthians have a university education; only thirty-one percent have completed high school. And this is without considering the situation with the National Front.” She had no reference materials in front of her, and gave the figures without a hint of hesitation, evidently having committed them to memory.

She made no gesture towards Khalil Taldan, but he now picked up the narrative seamlessly: “The EMK, as you will be aware, controls almost a third of the combined secondary industries of the Independent States, and uses its factories as military depots—essentially holding its citizens hostage as human shields. We expect we’re going to have to destroy or damage virtually every industrial facility from Marion to Keel to dislodge them.” He rubbed at his beard. “And its secondary- and university-educated population, some twenty-eight million people, will also have to be written off in the short term; they have been fed a diet of fascist propaganda for thirty years.”

“Yes. And—” Serafina began, but was cut off by Madina beginning to say something; for a moment there was silence as both waited for the other to begin, before the intelligence agent took the initiative. “We’ve run some, uh, algorithmic models. Assuming the battles against the Front and the Islamists are within the expected range of outcomes... the economy of a, you know, united single state would risk collapse within five years-ish. Most of Kozani’s agricultural land is going to be a total write-off for at least two years, our industrial capacity will be down by fifty percent, and GDP per capita will be about five and a half thousand talīsi.”

“Yes, thanks,” said Serafina. “As I was saying... our longterm priority is to transition to a modern industrial economy by 2050. This means we’ll need to start by planning the rebuilding of the factories we’re going to destroy—it sounds strange to be thinking like that—as well as the construction of new industrial plants and the training of workers. We’ll also need to integrate existing universities and schools into a comprehensive education system, in order to lay the groundwork for high-tech and tertiary industries. We’ll need to rebuild infrastructure—a transit network spanning the entire country, modernized ports and airfields, modernized emergency services, the works. Essentially,” she took a moment here to pause for breath, “we need architects. Builders. Urban planners. Teachers. Hospital administrators. More teachers. We’ll need to put together a plan for how to deradicalise the fascists and get through to the domestic servants. And in particular—we’ll have huge pools of people with no education or training, who’ve lived for so long without prospects. Forty-six million Kozanians are unemployed. Tens of millions of Analeuthians soon will be as well. We would need people who can train them, and keep them from becoming unmoored and resentful.”

She sat back, perhaps wondering if this was too much detail, and doing her best to gauge Sabastian’s reaction.

Sabastian followed along as they spoke. Much of the data, though not all, fell within the expected numbers that he had been prepared with. The numbers that were not as accurate were more negative than expected, but the result wasn’t greatly changed by them. He took notes of their needs, his claws moving every once in a while as he changed the statistics held in his control and running through the possibilities. The People’s Crusade would need to be larger than initially envisioned but he saw little reason that could not be done, especially with such a lead-time on its creation.

“Rebuilding a nation ravaged by war takes much. In the end it will be a nation made with your own blood, sweat, and tears, but this information will help us manage the packages sent to you as well as the nature of those who are asked to volunteer for the Crusade. Rest assured that you will have a ready ally in the long-running rebuilding of the state, as well as its prosperity,” Sabastian replied as his eyes took in the work of his magic again. After a few hurried motions, his slate vanished with a whisp. Left in his paw was a singular token, a half-crescent moon of ancient design. A talisman, a gift.

Serafina perhaps had a sense of what this presaged, and her expression became solemn.

“From the Moon Shrine I come bearing the first of many gifts. This is a symbol of the Moon Shrine’s acknowledgement of your government being, as of this moment, the official national government of this land. With this token, this gift of the Ulnarian Crescent Moon, you are recognized. In the coming days, you will receive such gifts and tokens from each Shrine acknowledging your rule over these lands,” Sabastian said as unveiled the item in his other paw. It was a small, everchanging bust of a non-human, whose species seemed to change as it fed off of the emotions of the room.

“I give you the gift of the Non-Human Shrine, The Changeling Carvadsa, a symbol of the nature within all of us given form. With it, the Non-Human Shrine recognizes your rule. I recognize your rule. As a more practical application, each Shrine shall be opening up its localized information networks to you. Some Shrines are small here, others larger—in the end though, every Shrine shall open itself to you in full. You will know of their worshippers, and you will know what their worshippers know. We hope this helps you as you move forward through these dark days as readily as this knowledge will help you in the brighter ones that will follow. I have also been authorized to inform you that when the war ends, along with financial and military aid, the Theocracy is willing to provide you diplomatic and social aid as you develop yourself,” Sebastian continued, putting the bust on the table for Serafina or her compatriots. It was a small gift, but meaningful.

There was silence for several seconds, first broken by Dejana, who murmured: “It is beautiful. Thank you.”

It may have been obvious from the expression in Serafina’s eyes that she shared this sentiment, but she also had a sense of what it meant. “We are touched and honoured by the support of both your Shrines—and that of the other Shrines whose representatives could not be here today.” She took up the bust for a moment, watching as it shifted in reflection of her iron emotional self-discipline. (Perhaps any of the Marshites watching the figure could have identified the different, subtle emotional pulls that had previously been acting on it from the four humans: clouds of relief, hints of surprise, strong currents of determination, touches of fear, suppressed masses of anticipation, undercurrents of love, occasional twinges of shame.)

“I look forward to a day when I—or whoever is chosen in my place—can return these gifts and alliances in kind as a representative of the Analeuthian-Kozanian union, and solidify what is certain to be a very special relationship with the Theocratic Matriarchy,” Serafina continued, her eyes straying back to the bust for a few moments, before she placed it back down upon the table. “And, Cardinal—you asked me not to temper my words for your sake in speaking of humanity and mankind. But it is not only for your sake that I do so. We are at the moment, yes, an entirely human territory—” and anyone who was watching noted that Madina seemed about to speak, but did not— “but I would wish for any nonhuman beings, whether they wish to settle here permanently or to join the People’s Crusade, not to feel as though their species is beyond my consideration.”

When Madina did speak, it was with some trepidation: “Secretary, not to… undercut you too much, I hope, but there is at least one nonhuman we—and M-SAD—know about. Mathhaven has a sapient AI running their surveillance state. One reason M-SAD is helping us so much in that region is the prospect of liberating and... deprogramming her, for lack of a better word.”

“I stand corrected, then. Again.” Serafina smiled. Madina didn’t meet her eyes. “In any case, Cardinal, I hope you understand. We will go to great lengths to ensure that any Marshite volunteers that choose to join these efforts are completely accepted. Even among elements of our population that might have otherwise been hostile.”

Sebastian smiled. The Non-Human Shrine itself didn’t consider Artificial Life under its banner- that was more of the Singularity Shrine. But it was good to hear in any case that they would try to make sure that future Non-Human citizens would be treated well. He never doubted it. As for that AI, it was very true that M-SAD was dealing with it, and dealing with it the way only they could. M-SAD was very confident that when the time came, the Mathhaven AI would find its priorities to have changed, its beliefs altered, and its path forward more closely aligned with the AI clusters that were interacting with it. It would become another citizen, in time.

“Your words bring me comfort. I have great confidence in all of the people to be their best selves in regards to my kind. All creatures will work together in their own way. It will be hard to get there, but nothing worth doing is easy,” Sebastian replied as he shifted a little in his seat, allowing his tail some more comfort. He hated sitting in human-designed chairs.

Serafina’s eyes twinkled. “Indeed not,” she said. “Well said. Now, to begin delving more deeply into specifics…” For the first time since the start of the meeting, she produced a tablet of her own. “To start with, I’ve had our field administrators draw up drafts of the data-sharing agreements. I don’t have anything on the People’s Crusade, since that’s something I was unfortunately not informed of in advance, but I’m sure we’ll be able to reach satisfactory agreements in time. Khalil has a detailed accounting of not only our current military operations, but our expected postwar needs and defense production targets. Madina has the details of most of our political and diplomatic goals, and Dejana can provide breakdowns of specific infrastructural and demographic needs. Where would you like to begin?...”

In total, Sebastian would wind up spending another six hours in human chairs today, not counting breaks for lunch and coffee (the latter always a serious affair in the Independent States). Perhaps this was, in its own way, a small form of living martyrdom; whether it would prove to be for a worthy cause was something not yet knowable.
Who we are, and how we came to be

A nation that can perhaps best be summed up with some questions: what might the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia have looked like in a world where idealism could be made material? What about a world where a vanguard party avoided backsliding into social imperialism or ideological deviationism? Is it even legal to run a communist nation where people don't call each other "comrade" or have "Five-Year Plans"? We'll find out (maybe).


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