NATION

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[Earth II] By Rifle or Machete

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Layarteb
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[Earth II] By Rifle or Machete

Postby Layarteb » Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:34 pm



• • • † • • •



Friday, June 11th, 2004 | 22:00 hrs [UTC+12]

Saweni, Fiji | Blue Dragons Camp
17° 54' 15" S, 177° 46' 54" E






Jacob Bray lowered his 200-pound, 6-foot-one stature into his favorite chair, a wide, wooden, teak recliner that sat on the covered porch of the stilt house that he called his home. It was also his headquarters for Bray was the leader of a 300-man strong guerilla group operating in Fiji. It was one of several but it was also the largest and the most capable of the others. In any other nation, the Blue Dragons would have been laughed at for their miniscule size but on Fiji, they were a commanding presence. Bray, who had once been a colonel in the nation's army, fashioned himself a spokesman for God and led the Blue Dragons as if he were leading a cult though the similarities were striking. Yet as a spokesman for God, Bray was hardly angelic or on any moral high ground.

Sitting on the chair, he caught the sound of whimpers coming from the open window of his bedroom on the adjacent side of the hut. Half of the hut served as his personal quarters, the other as the headquarters for his army. It was a cool enough night that the air conditioning wasn't needed and the rainstorm that had only just blown through fifteen minutes earlier had brought down the temperature and soaked everything with a glistening sheen of moisture. With the clouds breaking overhead, the full moon was beginning to cast its silver rays onto the lush, green carpet that was Fiji's surface. Bray lit a cigarette and leaned back and slouched in his chair. The whimpers continued but he blocked them out, having heard them time after time again.

They came from Laisa, a fifteen year old girl who'd served as his "entertainment" for the evening. Having pressed upon her family that he was a spokesman for God and that she was destined to be held in greatness, plus being backed up by a dozen men with Kalashnikovs, Bray absconded with her several weeks ago. Since then, he'd spent each and every night raping her. He was hardly a pillar of God's word but what was else to be expected of a man as vile as Bray was.

It was thoroughly dark on this night and throughout his camp, roving patrols of disciplined men stood guard. At any given point in time, twenty-seven men were on guard, broken up into three, nine-man teams. One team stood at fixed guard posts, chiefly sandbagged emplacements with machine guns or rocket launchers. One team conducted roving patrols in groups of three and the final team stood as backup. Every two hours they rotated so that no team grew too comfortable or complacent during their eight-hour shift. The camp was otherwise quiet. There were no lights on and no fires burning. The leadership cadre of the Blue Dragons had found their beds for the night and were sleeping, as were the majority of the camp's occupants, save for those on guard duty, Bray, and his unfortunate victim.

Yet tonight was going to be a monumental night for the forty-three-year-old. Lurking barely three hundred meters to the west was a 6-man black operations squad. Collectively, they were known simply as Charlie Squad, Alpha Company, 2nd Black Operations Group. Informally, they went by FORCE Spectre or Spectre Company. They'd been sent to the island nation on direct orders from the Emperor himself to capture Joseph Bray alive and render him back to the Empire to stand trial for a number of crimes, one of which included drug trafficking. The Blue Dragons raised a significant portion of their funding through illicit trafficking and smuggling in the Pacific but their drugs did make it to Hawaii, which was a Layartebian territory. For that reason, capturing Bray and using him as an example had been made a major mission by the Emperor. It had taken months of intelligence-collection but the Blue Dragons' leader had finally been spotted one evening in the village of Saweni, approximately forty-five miles northwest of the capital. The 6-man team had thusly been inserted via submarine and they'd spent the better part of the past forty-eight hours crawling through Fiji towards this village. Now there, they were finally about to begin their mission, having spent the last two-and-a-half hours observing the camp, especially the patrols and where the several emplaced positions were located.

They'd yet to get eyes on Bray but their plan was to move through the camp quietly, killing only those guards on patrol and hiding the bodies as best as they could. They knew which building he was in but also knew that the only avenue of approach was this one for the most direct meant going through a minefield and significant amounts of razor wire. They opted for the easier route, even if that meant going through more guards. Armed with MP5SD3 submachine guns and subsonic ammunition, they aimed to be as quiet as possible. They'd rehearsed the assault several times already on a purpose-built camp in the jungles of New Caledonia, where satellites couldn't see them and where they encountered a similar environment. Even during their submarine transit, the men were rehearsing their assault during "role-play" sessions in the mess hall. They'd broken everything down to muscle memory.

Now they were about to enact their small, theatrical charade. Looking through night vision goggles and tailor-made optics, the men quickly took down the first emplacement with ease. The two guards dropped without so much as a whimper, each hit in the head by the nine-millimeter rounds of the submachine guns. Rising up from the vegetation, the six men proceeded carefully into the encampment, holding a watch position by the emplacement while two other men dragged the bodies into the jungle. They were quiet and they were quick and thus they advanced further. A roving patrol was brought down and the bodies stashed underneath one of the stilted buildings of the camp. They'd taken down five of the eighteen on-duty guards in less than two minutes.

Continuing into the camp, the men took down another patrol and another emplacement, all at once, with five expertly placed shots from less than twenty-five meters. Once again, the bodies were hidden and the men moved onward. They were aiming to take down the entire perimeter force before moving on Bray's location. The guard change had happened only thirty minutes ago and that meant they had ninety minutes before anyone would start looking for the current guard shifts. It was more than enough time for them to clear out to the south. With the moon revealing more and more of itself with each passing cloud, the men were careful to stick to the shadows, lest they be silhouetted and spotted. Ten of eighteen meant that they were ahead in the count. They had two more emplaced positions and one more roving patrol to tackle. Carefully, they moved around the corner, cautiously watching each footfall to avoid traps or mines.

Moving further, they approached the next emplaced position, only to find it empty. Looking around with their night vision goggles, they expected a patrol as well but saw nothing. The six men were now beginning to wonder what was happening. The camp was quiet, there was no sign of movement, and yet an enemy force wasn't where it was supposed to be, where they had been time and time again. The men considered an abort but pressed onward, moving onto the next emplaced position. They got halfway there before the entire camp was bathed in illumination from numerous spotlights. Caught in the center of this light tunnel, the six men froze in their tracks.

With one word into his mic, the team leader notified his superiors that they'd been captured, that the mission was a bust, and that they would not be making their extraction. It was the worst code that the mission planners wanted to hear but they had a protocol and with a single word response, they cut the link. Charlie Squad was completely deniable and completely black and, as of the two-word-exchange, no longer in existence. The bright spotlights blinded the men, who removed their night vision goggles but did not release their weapons. They knew that they had weapons pointed at them but no one could see anything.

"Drop your weapons," a voice called out from the silence. The Layartebians held firm. "Drop your weapons," the voice repeated. It was Bray's voice and it boomed over the clearing. By now, the camp was waking up and more men would be grabbing their weapons and coming out to see what was happening. Inadvertently, the men had triggered a motion sensor dug into the ground and linked to the camp's CCTV system. The Layartebians had never stood a chance.

"Yankee," the team leader said as he held up his hands and slid off his backpack, which included the team's radio. He stepped forward a few paces to clear himself away from the radio and held up his MP5 so that he motioned to putting it down. He would have ordered his men to shoot had they been able to see anyone, which would have certainly been suicide but suicide beat imprisonment and torture, which they were sure to endure. As the team leader moved away, another member of the squad casually lowered his weapon and aimed at the radio, though not overtly. With his weapon on automatic, he squeezed and held the trigger until the report of a gunshot cut him down and silenced his weapon but not before he'd emptied the rest of his clip into the radio, destroying it.

The gunshot caused the men to open fire and a quick gun battle ensued. The upper hand went to Bray's men who had the advantage of position and the environment yet two of them were killed in the short melee. The team leader and two other men in the six-man squad were struck and sent to the ground while the other two were outright killed leaving three dead and three wounded. The gunfire stopped and silence filled the camp again until Bray's laughter broke it. "This could have been much easier for you," he said, "now it will be hard."

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | 11:00 hrs [UTC+12]

Suva, Fiji | Toorak
18° 8' 18" S, 178° 25' 59" E






"Why do you fight for Jimi?" Bray implored through his megaphone. He was fifty-eight now but still the soldier that he once was and on the verge of victory. His army had consisted of three hundred men fifteen years ago and now it had swelled to almost a thousand. The other guerilla groups had agreed to unification with Bray's superior force. Six months ago, he'd launched his offensive against the Fijian government and armed forces and now he was but a mile from the Presidential Palace where President Jimi Ridgeway was holed up with the last remnants of his Presidential Guard. Amidst the fury of street fighting and chaos of a civil war, Layartebian Sea Hawk helicopters flew to and from the embassy, picking up vacationers and nationals who'd taken shelter in the embassy over the past two weeks. Until two weeks ago, the fighting had been in a state of stalemate and the island's resorts were open for business. Then Bray ended the stalemate with a rapid drive to Suva.

Nine days ago, Bray's men had captured the airport, effectively shutting down escape from the island nation. Stranded vacationers fled to the embassy, which had become a refuge for far more people than the embassy had capacity to hold yet Ambassador Louise Hester had done her best to take in everyone that she could, though she gave preference to Layartebian nationals, as was her job. Shortly thereafter, a Layartebian amphibious force had put to sea from Pearl Harbor and raced three thousand nautical miles to Fiji to begin evacuations. Those had begun just after dawn and the Sea Hawks and Super Stallions affecting that evacuation were - in some cases - louder than the gunfire. It was cannon fodder for Bray who commanded his men "from the front" and shouted and taunted the opposition from his bullhorn.

"Look at these helicopters," he'd shout, "the Layartebians have come to take their own. To take Jimi. To take your leaders away and to leave you to die. Put down your arms and join us. We will free this island from the rule of Jimi and his Layartebian masters. Forget not that this is the nation which sent commandos to kill me, who failed! The Empire, the greatest military power, has failed to kill me. What does that say?" He'd then go into a spiel about him being God's spokesman, that he was the Hand of God for Fiji.

Defections in the last nine days had been high but not so high that the Fijian Armed Forces simply evaporated. They continued to fight, hearing horrible tales of what Bray's men did to captives and defectors, some of those tales true and some embellishment. The tale about Bray personally eating the heart of a captain who'd been captured was, unfortunately, not false. It was part of a mythos he'd put out for himself and which he used to drive complete fear into his enemies. "Defect from Jimi and return Fiji to the people," he continued to shout as his men continued to fight.

The Fijian Crisis, as it was being called in the Layartebian media, was a crisis made for television. Reporters on the ground showed the gray, Layartebian helicopters flying to and from the sea, their door guns armed and manned by crew chiefs and gunners who looked ominously down to the ground. Sometimes Bray's men took pot shots at the helicopters but he scolded them severely for this saying, "Let the Layartebians leave in peace for if they are poked, they will strike back." His words were true. The Layartebian government wasn't overly concerned that the island nation of Fiji was about to be taken over by a madman so long as none of its nationals were killed or its helicopters shot down. The evacuation of the embassy was running smoothly and there was little to do now but get people into helicopters in an orderly fashion and fly them out to the warships. The embassy's classified information and sensitive electronics had already been destroyed, which was the biggest protocol to follow and not that Fiji was a hotbed of clandestine activity but the Empire didn't want any of its secrets, no matter how benign, to enter the public realm.

"Defect, defect or face defeat. Defeat is dishonorable. Victory is glorious!" Bray continued to goad over his loudspeaker as his men advanced into Suva. It was only a matter of hours, not even days, before they reached the outskirts of the Presidential Palace, before it was overrun, before Bray declared himself President of Fiji.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Layarteb on Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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• The Empire of Layarteb •

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Postby -The United Federation of Nations- » Sun Jun 09, 2019 1:42 pm

Major Thomas Cutler, UDF Marines
Embassy of the United Federation of Nations, Suva
The Republic of Fiji
Monday 3rd June 2019, 1100hrs Local Time


It took a lot for the United Federation of Nations to make the decision to abandon an Embassy or Consulate, given that it constituted a failure of the diplomatic mission and this was something that the Federation was rarely prepared to accept. Indeed, its commitment to diplomacy was written into the Articles of the Federation, and the men and women of the Federation Diplomatic Corps were prepared to accept a great deal of danger to further that commitment. As a result, the Federation’s diplomatic missions had remained in some desperate and dangerous situations, whilst other nation’s were evacuating and shuttering their embassies; sure they might have reinforced the Marine Security Guard detachments and taken other actions to increase the security of the mission, but the point was that they had remained. On more than one occasion in the past this had resulted in tragedy; there had never been an assault on a Federation Embassy (if for no other reason than that if the situation was that bad it would have bbeenevacuated, but Federation diplomats and embassy staff had been injured, and killed, whilst manning their posts during a crisis, and service-members of the United Defence Force had also given their lives in the defence of a diplomatic mission.

In the Republic of Fiji, even the United Federation of Nations was not taking any chances.

The situation had been unstable in Fiji for many years, with rebellions and human rights abuses prevalent since at least the turn of the century, but the situation had gotten much worse in the last year following the unification of the rebel movements behind the Jacob Bray. The Federation Diplomatic Corps had been attempting to make some headway on the diplomatic front, but the simple fact was that the rebels were not prepared to negotiate, and certainly not in good faith. Of all the factors that had been considered at the Department of the Exterior when the question of the Fiji Embassy came up, this had been the deciding one; for if the rebels were not prepared to negotiate there was no reason to think that they would respect international diplomatic customs. In that case, there was nothing beyond the detachment of Federation Marines to protect the embassy, and there was only so much they could do against overwhelming odds.

So the Secretary of the Exterior, Renée Palmer, had made her decision and given the order to evacuate the Embassy. Although not necessary, the Federation Council had endorsed the Secretary’s actions in short order; essentially putting on record that the gathered representatives of the Federation’s member-states agreed with the decision an judgement of the Secretary.

As soon as the order had been given the United Defence Force leapt into action; deploying Task Force 12 of the UDF Navy to Fiji. The Task Force was the UDF First Fleet’s adaptable response force; consisting of a command staff to which ships were assigned as required from, in this case, the Pacific Fleet’s, ready pool of ships available for operations on short notice. What the Task Force lacked in experience working together it more than made up for in adaptability, and the Task Force command staff of any of these adaptable forces tended to run regular exercises with all ships that might end up being assigned to them. In this case, Task Force 12 had been assigned the USS Avenger, a 17,500 tonne guided missile cruiser, USS Antelope and USS Bear, both guided missile destroyers; although the number and size of these ships were hardly due to the military threat they might face but rather to provide as much space for evacuees and as many helicopters and deck space as possible.

The Embassy had already been reinforced a week previously by sixteen operators from the Naval Special Warfare Group (known by most in Navy simply as ‘The Group’ and responsible for maritime special operation), who had been instrumental in supporting the small Marine Detachment already in place and in evacuating the handful of Federation citizens that had ignored the Exterior Department’s travel advisory over recent weeks. However, they were only sixteen men, no matter how highly trained, and the Department of Defence had decided that more troops would be required to cover the evacuation, and it had been for that reason that the three ships of Task Force 12 had embarked between them a company of Marines from the Fleet Antiterrorism Support Team (FAST) whose specialist training would stand them in good-stead in the event of being attacked by a superior enemy force. Truth be told, no one was really sure whether the rebels would be stupid enough to attack a foreign embassy, but no one was prepared to take any chances either.

The ships of Task Force 12 had arrived off Fiji shortly after dawn, linking up with the Layartebian task force that had sailed from Pearl Harbour; for all its reluctance to abandon a diplomatic mission the Federation Council had seen the writing on the wall for some time now and and ordered the Task Force to deploy two weeks previously, as a precautionary move. Although this was not a formal joint operation, it had been simple courtesy and good practice to liaise with the Layartebian naval group, if for no other reason so that both were aware that there were other decks and helicopters available in an emergency. Never the less, when the ships arrived off Fiji the UDF Task Force moved maybe two nautical miles away from the Layartebian ships to give them all room to manoeuvre and began to launch their own helicopters. The first wave had taken the FAST Marines ashore and deployed them into the Embassy, led by Major Thomas Cutler, significantly bolstering the defences of the mission, enough to give even the most bloodthirsty rebel pause for thought whilst the evacuation was conducted.

Major Cutler stood on the roof of the Embassy, by the flagpole from which the Flag of the United Federation of Nations was still defiantly flying, several sharpshooters from the FAST Company in position and scanning the crowds and surrounding buildings for any sign of trouble. Overhead, Layartebian and Federation helicopters were criss-crossing the city as they effected the evacuation, and for all the potential danger and the need to reinforce the Embassy, however temporarily, the evacuation was going on without any issues, all things considered. The Federal Bureau of Intelligence’s operations room had already been fragged and all classified material in the embassy had also been securely destroyed or removed (which, Major Cutler knew all too well, was also a consideration when the decision had been made to deploy his company into Fiji), and the diplomatic and support staff, as well as some refugee civilians who had been contract workers in the embassy, were being ferried to the waiting warships by helicopter. It was sad to see a nation fall, which was effectively what he was watching right now, and he didn’t even want to think about what would happen once the city fell to the rebels.

However, the simple fact of the matter was that the United Federation of Nations could not intervene in a situation that had every indication of being an absolute shambles. For starters, the Federation had a strict policy of not intervening in the internal affairs of other nations unless they were asked, and unfortunately the simple fact that there were so many rebels out there on Fiji proved that the government was unpopular. As such, had the Federation been inclined to intervene here, they would have found themselves bogged down for months if not years of nation-building in a country that didn’t want them; which given that one entire side in the conflict had refused to negotiate seemed very much self-evident.

“Quite a mess, isn’t it, Major,” Ambassador Stephen Rutledge commented as he stepped up beside the Marine Officer.

“Just a little, Mister Ambassador,” Major Cutler commented respectfully. “But then I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t!”

“That is very true, but I am very glad to have you here, Major; just seeing your boys watching over us as we prepare to get the hell out of here is very comforting, given the mess,” Ambassador Rutledge nodded. “Knowing that there are men, and women, like yourselves that are ready to come to our aid at a moment’s notice is part of what allows us to do our job without fear clouding our decisions, the same is true for the normal Marine Guards.”

“It is our pleasure, Mister Ambassador,” Major Cutler smiled. “We do our job so that you can do yours, all to further the ideals of the Federation.”

“Well, as much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think we can do any more good here, espousing the principles that the Federation stands for; the rebels clearly do not appreciate them, so let’s get our people safely out of here whilst we can,” Ambassador Rutledge said firmly. “Maybe once things settle down we can return, or something else will come up in the meantime, but for the moment all we can do its look after ourselves, our friends and those who cannot look after themselves… today that is the Federation’s mission.”

“Understood, Sir,” Major Cutler nodded. “We’ll have your back, Sir.”

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Layarteb
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Postby Layarteb » Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:26 pm



• • • † • • •



Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | 13:45 hrs [UTC+12]

Suva, Fiji | Embassy of the Empire of Layarteb
18° 7' 1" S, 178° 26' 23" E






The Layartebian evacuation of Fiji was continuing as planned. Because of the relative smallness of the embassy's grounds, mission planners couldn't levy all fifty-one helicopters from the 9th Amphibious Ready Group's eleven warships. Instead, they'd dedicated only a pair of CH-53K King Stallions and six MH-60S Knight Hawks to the job. While the former could fly out thirty-seven people at a clip, the latter could only fly out twelve. In truth, the King Stallions could have flown out fifty-five people each but mission planners didn't want them on the ground any longer than they needed to be. With the relative short distance - only 10 nautical miles - between the embassy and the amphibious group's main warships, turnaround time was crucial. The helicopters were making one trip per hour, spending three to ten minutes on the ground - depending on the model - at the embassy, about ten minutes in flight to and from the embassy, another ten or so minutes in a holding pattern to land, and then about twenty minutes on deck for discharging passengers and hot refueling.

It was something of a slow-going operation but the threat wasn't considered so humongous that they need to move more quickly. If it were, they would be. In the seven trips thus far, the Layartebians had flown out just over a thousand people, approximately forty percent of them Layartebian nationals. The Empire had taken its citizens first, before the scores of Fijians taking refuge within the embassy's walls. This was simply a matter of protocols. Evacuating another nation's citizens wasn't necessarily part of the Empire's mandate but that mandate allowed for complete and total evacuate of all persons and personnel within the confines of the embassy. That meant the native Fijians had helicopter seats waiting for them.

In the order of things, the King Stallions would come in first, load up, get out, and let the Knight Hawks come in, each helicopter landing one at a time. By this point, the only Layartebians left on the ground consisted of the security personnel for the embassy, a marine platoon reinforcing them, and some section chiefs who were still tending to last minute procedures. It was for this reason that Ambassador Hester had finally decided to evacuate herself. She'd called it in ahead and she was given the green light before her intended Knight Hawk ever took off from its carrier. Her evacuation was truly the signal that all was lost. She wouldn't be the last off of the ground, that misfortune would fall to Colonel Joel Wetzel, the ranking marine commander on the amphibious group. Wetzel had flown in on the first helicopters with the marine platoon to provide some additional support and authority.

The marine shook the ambassador's hand and personally walked her to the awaiting Knight Hawk, which meant that no Fijians would be getting onto it. Rendering his best salute, Wetzel held firm until the Knight Hawk had taken off and rotated over the embassy's wall. It was then that Wetzel went right back to work. They had some time before the next wave would be coming and Wetzel needed to take stock of who was still remaining. There weren't many Fijians left though outside of the embassy's walls, hundreds were beginning to get in, deviously looking at ways to top the walls and negate the razor wire that prevented unwarranted entry.

Hester watched through the open door as the city of Suva rushed below them. She wouldn't be evacuating to the LHD like everyone else but rather she was heading towards the ILS Davis (AGC-23), a Blue Ridge-class command ship, which was positioned to the east of the island. The Davis was where the evacuation mission was being coordinated and it had the proper facilities for the ambassador, whose husband was already onboard, having gone out in one of the first helicopters along with the senior staffers of the embassy. The Davis was also a bit further out to sea because she wasn't well-equipped to defend herself like the other ships were. There was minimal threat from the rebels but one could never be too safe, especially since the Fijian Armed Forces technically had an anti-shipping unit comprised of several helicopters armed with AGM-119B Penguin anti-ship missiles. Whether or not they could employ them effectively was to be determined but the Layartebians didn't want to find out the hard way.

This meant that the ambassador's helicopter would be flying forty nautical miles, not ten. They immediately set upon a northeasterly heading, passing over the city as technicals full of men or armed with heavy machine guns poured southwards. The rebels would be at the gates of the Presidential Palace within the next two or three hours and they would storm it with no mercy. President Jimi Ridgeway was negotiating his evacuation with commanders aboard the Davis who were reluctant to get that deeply involved in a civil war. Evacuating civilians was one thing, evacuating the head of the government was something entirely different. He'd certainly get his way but there needed to be some assurances ahead of time.

The Knight Hawk sped up to one hundred and twenty knots, its cruising speed, and climbed up to five hundred feet. It was still vulnerable but the Empire knew that Suva's men wouldn't engage them. Suva had told his men, "Let them leave, they are cowards to run from Fiji, to run from us. They will tale wild tales of us, painting us as cannibals and barbarians but we know the truth and little else matters. Let them run and take their lies with them. It's all they have," His men would listen because they revered him like a god, of course he fashioned himself to be one so this only further stroked the man's ego.

As the Knight Hawk passed over the main road into Suva, the cockpit suddenly came alive with klaxons, warning sounds, and chaos. The pilots, quickly assessing the situation, saw that their hydraulic pressure was dropping and so was their oil pressure. They surmised that they'd been hit, which was the only explanation either of them could muster against a double system's fault. They issued a Mayday but it went from bad to worse rapidly. The helicopter lost more systems and suffered a turbine failure barely six nautical miles into the flight. From here, the helicopter was going down and there would be no stopping it. They were over Lokia, a village that no one knew anything about but which sat astride the Rewa River, which ran from the interior of the island. It was here that the Knight Hawk crashed, coming down controlled but hard into a farming field on the western part of the village. The evacuation of Fiji had just become a major nightmare with a downed helicopter, and worse, with the ambassador on it.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Layarteb on Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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• The Empire of Layarteb •

E M B R A C ET H ES Y N T H

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New York Times Democracy

Postby -The United Federation of Nations- » Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:55 am

Major Thomas Cutler, UDF Marines
Embassy of the United Federation of Nations, Suva
The Republic of Fiji
Monday 3rd June 2019, 1345hrs Local Time


“Major!” One of the FAST Sharpshooters called out suddenly, just as Major Cutler had been heading below. “Got a helo going down.”

In an instant Major Cutler had turned and sprinted back up the handful of steps he had made his way down and back onto the roof; a helicopter going down was high on the list of bad-case scenarios, whether it was Federation or Layartebian. It turned a relatively simple evacuation into a complicated rescue mission, likely behind enemy lines, that would require direct contact with the rebels; something which both the Federation and the Empire had been trying desperately to avoid. Indeed, in many respects it did not matter whose helicopter it was; if it was Federation then they would obviously need to secure the crash site, but even if it was Layartebian then the Federation would be more than happy to assist in the rescue; the relationship between the Federation and the Empire was a positive one, and they had co-operated many times before. Truth be told, the United Defence Force would not stand idly by whilst any foreign helicopter was set-upon by the rebels, especially with their reputation, indeed it would likely have offered assistance to even the Ostafrikans, who were the closest things that the Federation had to an ‘enemy’ right now, had one of their birds gone down.

Cutler brought his field glasses, small but powerful binoculars, up to his eyes and looked in the direction the Sharpshooter was pointing his rifle (to make use of the zoom optics) and sure enough there was a helicopter in distress; still under control but clearly heading for the deck.

“Definitely a Knight Hawk,” Major Cutler commented, which made it Layartebian as the UDF operated the Type-90 Helicopter exclusively for tactical transport operations, as well as the naval version aboard warships. “Odd way to go to get to the warships.”

“They must have been heading to the Layartebian command ship, Sir,” Captain Luke Peto, the Company Executive Officer, replied as he joined his CO on the roof, summoned by the sharpshooters shout. “Comms has got the helo squawking a mayday, but I don’t like who might be on that bird if they were heading to the Davis.”

Major Cutler nodded his agreement, keeping his eyes locked on the helicopter as it descended out of sight. They had been made aware of the presence of the ILS Davis, a Layartebian command warship, but they had all assumed that it would largely be kept out of the action on the far-side of the island. There were only a handful of people that either of the two officers could think that would head to a command ship, rather than the amphibious ship like the rest of the evacuees, and none of them were good people to be down behind enemy lines, perhaps very badly hurt. Moreover, rescuing them would be an absolute pain; for they would not be able to advance on foot through the war zone and any helicopter ran the risk of getting itself shot down as well; and yet they would have to try; indeed the Layartebian forces were likely already scrambling a quick reaction force (QRF), much as the UDF would if they were in the same situation. However, that force might be coming from further away and Major Cutler knew from experience that, in a situation like this, every second counted, so he made his decision.

“Get that helicopter to hold on the ground, and don’t let the next load of evacuees board, we’re going to need it for something else,” Major Cutler ordered, gesturing at the UDF Helicopter that was flaring for a landing on the embassy car park being used as a helipad. “Then get Lieutenant Jones to meet me at the helipad, we’re going to need her entire troop so let’s get this thing moving.”

Captain Peto nodded and moved quickly away, snapping orders into his comms headset even before he had hit the stairs. Major Cutler sighed and took one look back at the downed helicopter before making his way down the stairs himself; grabbing his radioman as he passed the ad hoc command post he had established on the second floor and ordering the young Marine to radio the Layartebians to let them know that the UDF was scrambling a team to go to the assistance of their downed helicopter. It was possible that the Layartebian military would wave them off, preferring to handle the matter themselves, but unless they had forces closer Major Cutler deemed it unlikely and in any case he would rather have his only special operations assets in the air and ready to respond if needed.

Less than sixty seconds later Major Cutler was face to face with Lieutenant Samantha Jones, the Officer-in-Charge of Naval Special Warfare Troop 222; and he could see that her reputation, which proceeded her, was well deserved. Lieutenant Jones had been the first female to successfully pass the NAVSPECWAR selection and training process to earn her trident; a accolade that she wore proudly and, once her active career in the Group was over she would likely be a poster girl for recruiting those women capable into combat positions. Lieutenant Jones’ posture, physique and sheer confidence told him immediately that no standards had been lowered to allow her to pass the selection process, and although he was a FAST Marine, in peak physical condition, he could tell she would be able to give him a run for his money if they ever faced off on a training mat.

“What’s the situation, Sir?” Lieutenant Jones asked, no-nonsense.

“Layartebian helicopter gone down, maybe six nautical miles north-east of the city, we don’t know how many aboard but it was heading to their command ship, so we have to assume that there may have been high value persons aboard,” Major Cutler explained crisply, as the other NSW Operators board the Type-90. “We’ve radioed the Layartebians to let them know we’re scrambling you and that you’re available, given them your callsign as well, so follow their lead; if they want you to set a perimeter, set a perimeter, if they want you to go in and get the HVP then go in and get them, got it?”

“Got it, Sir,” Lieutenant Jones nodded. “Trident 222, requesting permission to get underway.”

“Permission granted, Lieutenant,” Major Cutler nodded, of course they didn’t technically need his permission to do anything, as NSW Officers had broad authority, hut he appreciated the formal confirmation of callsign and request. “Give them hell.”

“You know it, Sir,” Lieutenant Jones replied, smiling for the first time Cutler had seen, before heading for the helicopter.

A few moments later the Type-90 was climbing into the skies, its door-gunners on hyper-alert after the last helicopter to go down, turning towards the north east and gaining altitude although there would be a compromise between being high enough to avoid being an easy target and low enough to be able to provide support as required. The pilots of the helicopters aboard warships weren’t used to high-threat environments such as this, they weren’t from a special operations squadron after all, but they were responding with a good level of professionalism and confidence, rising to the challenge in fine form. And they would need it, for god only knew what they would find at the crash site.
Last edited by -The United Federation of Nations- on Mon Jun 10, 2019 3:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Layarteb » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:01 pm



• • • † • • •



Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | 14:00 hrs [UTC+12]

Rewa District, Fiji | Village of Lokia
18° 4' 24" S, 178° 33' 15" E






The MH-60S Knight Hawk hit the ground roughly and, at the moment of impact, rolled hard onto its side. A giant cloud of dirt and grass surrounded, enveloped, and hid the helicopter from view as the rotors chopped into the ground at tremendous speed, destroying themselves upon contact, filling the air with shrapnel and even more dirt and grass. The impact, as rough as it was, killed the pilot and copilot instantly and the two crew chiefs were seriously wounded. The ambassador, who was strapped in, found herself knocked unconscious in the impact though of all five occupants for the MH-60S, she was the least injured. The impact of the bird on the ground had cracked the helicopter in half and torn the boom away, leaving a crater of wreckage but, remarkably, there had not been any fire on the moment of impact though the hot oils of the rotor and engine assembly were pouring onto the ground around the helicopter and there was a matter of its fuel tanks.

Where the helicopter had gone down was an open field a little over a kilometer from the Rewa River, in territory long since held by Bray's men but it hadn't been Bray's men who fired upon the helicopter. In truth, no one fired upon the helicopter. The constant back-and-forth missions simply lead to a series of mechanical failures inside of the helicopter. The loss of hydraulic and oil pressure had led to a series of other issues as the helicopter rapidly lost altitude. The pilots, aiming for a softer landing, had lost control at the last few seconds and the helicopter nosed in rather than touching down on its landing gear. There was no hope once the nose pitched down so low to the ground and in those final moments, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong.

Over the radio, Layartebian helicopter pilots were reporting the downed helicopter. Several were en route working their way towards the embassy when the Knight Hawk crashed. The closest was just six miles away and so quickly, the pilot took it upon himself to alter course and head for the crash site. The Knight Hawk was quick to accelerate and in the hands of a determined pilot, six miles took only two-and-a-half minutes. The Knight Hawk itself had a crew of four, just like all of the Knight Hawks, two pilots, a crew chief, and a door gunner. Going into an orbit at 500 feet over the crash site, the Knight Hawk began to circle while the crew chief hung out of the open door, looking for signs of survivors. They tried to hail the downed helicopter over the radio but there would be no response.

Not more than thirty seconds into the hover, the Knight Hawk's pilot spotted something ominous on the road to the northwest. "Alpha Bravo, Fox Hunter 4-1, we've got ground forces approaching the crash site, ETA two minutes, maybe less."

"Fox Hunter 4-1, can you ID?"

"Unknown, presumed hostile, we have two technicals, one with men, one with a machine gun approaching at a high rate of speed."

"Hold fire unless you're fired upon, we can't tell the good from the bad down there."

"Roger that, permission to defend the crash site."

"Not with hostile force Fox Hunter 4-1."

"Roger, will advise."
The pilot flipped a switch and pushed transmit on the intercom system, "Vehicles with foot mobiles approaching, get ready to engage. No engaging unless we're fired upon." The crew chief quickly shot to his position and racked the machine gun, loading rounds into the chamber. The helicopter had two light machine guns, each with a thousand rounds of ammunition feeding into them.

The pilot banked the helicopter away from the crash site and towards the two incoming vehicles. One had a .50-caliber machine gun and was nothing more than a pickup truck while the other behind it was an open back, military truck with nearly twenty armed men in the back. The truck, a six-wheeled M35A2, bore the symbol of the Fijian Army but who was to know if the vehicle had been seized by the rebels or not. It was impossible to see the occupants clearly enough to determine if they were wearing uniforms or just general clothing. The helicopter banked away from the crash site and towards the incoming vehicles, which had actually departed a checkpoint just a few kilometers to the northwest of the crash site. As the Knight Hawk did so, another one was entering the area, this one also from the same holding pattern that was waiting for the embassy to clear for landing.

The pilot overflew the two vehicles, keeping off to their flank to give the door gunner a clear shot on the vehicles. Tracking them as they went by, he was sharp-eyed and focused on the vehicles. The last thing they wanted was to be caught by surprise but there the vehicles continued on, unfazed. The pilot continued to fly circles around the trucks while the second helicopter stayed about eight hundred meters away, its gunners visually tracking the trucks as well.

When the vehicles came to a halt, the men from the M35 jumped off and waved up at the circling helicopters. They kept their weapons but, for all intents and purposes, they appeared to be signaling that they weren't hostile. They also were wearing a mix of uniforms and civilian clothing. It was thus impossible to tell who they were but all bets were on the rebels, especially with the presence of the technical, who's gunner didn't leave his position, which in and of itself was rather ominous a sign. The men began to walk towards the crash site, leisurely and unthreateningly. During this time, the Knight Hawks continued to circle, with the pilot of Fox Hunter 4-1 relaying the scene over the radio. In the midst of this, a QRF consisting of a Marine platoon, was loading into helicopters onboard the deck of the ILS Corpus Christi (LPD-57), a San Antonio-class LPD but they wouldn't get very far.

As the soldiers walked towards the crash site, orders were relayed on the ground and the technical's gunner rapidly shifted his aim from forward to upwards. He'd been tracking the helicopter out of his peripheral vision the entire time and he knew precisely where to elevate and fire the weapon, doing so in but a few split seconds. His first burst of .50-caliber ammunition tore into the cabin and the tail of the Knight Hawk. Black smoke immediately poured out of the helicopter and the pilot banked away hard while the door gunner tried to return fire. Continued fire from the technical made doing that extremely difficult as the technical gunner was on target and with a good lead. It was only due to speed that the Knight Hawk escaped, albeit it was belching smoke on its escape, the pilot radioing frantically that he'd been engaged, hit, and his bird wounded. The second helicopter, positioned much better than the first, rapidly assumed an attack stance when gunfire from below began to pepper against the helicopter's fuselage. Another group of rebels had moved into position nearby and were now firing upwards with their small arms. An RPG streaked by the helicopter and the pilot quickly banked and cleared the area while the technical gunner poured .50-caliber rounds towards it, although much less effectively than he had the first helicopter.

Just as the second helicopter was clearing the area, two more technicals appeared, both of them with heavy machine guns mounted on them. Another M35A2 with another dozen men arrived to the south and the unknown rebels in the foliage around the area doubled in size as well. In a few short moments there were around fifty men on the ground, all of them intent on protecting the crash site. The call out of ground fire had called off the QRF, which now needed to establish a different course of action. The area was teeming with hostiles and the QRF couldn't set down at the crash site but rather a few kilometers away, if they wanted to accomplish their mission and not protect a second, downed helicopter. It was during this that word came to the commanders on the Davis that the UFN was attempting a rescue. The reports of hostiles were relayed subsequently.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | 14:10 hrs [UTC+12]

Suva, Fiji | Presidential Palace
18° 9' 7" S, 178° 25' 33" E






Around the same time that the Knight Hawks were being shot at over Lokia, an Osprey touched down not more than forty meters from the Presidential Palace. A second one orbited overhead and four armed men departed the first Osprey and set up a perimeter around the helicopter, taking a knee and raising their assault rifles. They bore the uniforms and the patches of the 2nd Special Operations Group, known as the SEALS. The amphibious group had departed with a single, 16-man platoon and its associated 8-man HQ element. They would have been on board the helicopter to evacuate the ambassador but there was no perceived threat to the helicopter whereas the President of Fiji was bound to be a major target for the rebels.

Having finally negotiated his escape from Fiji, President Jimi Ridgeway, his wife and children, and the immediate staff at the Presidential Palace now came running towards the first Osprey. Each one was configured to transport twenty-four men and when the first Osprey rotated off of the ground, it had just that many people: twenty Fijians and four SEALS. The second one came in moments later and took on another twenty Fijians and both Osprey zoomed away, picking up both speed and altitude, flying out over the sea rather than over the island, despite the shorter distance. There was no telling if the Knight Hawk had been downed by ground fire or mechanical issue but there was one damaged Knight Hawk limping to the nearest warship while another one had superficial damage from the fusillade of small arms fire it had taken.

Those two Ospreys headed right for the Davis, where Ridgeway would be the safest and it was only after landing that he learned of the incident over Lokia. Ridgeway couldn't believe it, not expecting that Bray or his men would engage the Empire but secretly happy they did. The shooting down of a helicopter, especially one with the ambassador in it, could not have played more into the hands of Ridgeway who had been trying to beg for Layartebian military intervention since the conflict had begun. The Empire wanted no part in it, at least not prior to these moments. There was still some hesitation in the eyes of the Layartebian government to involve itself in Fiji's crisis, which was thousands upon thousands of miles away from the Layartebian homeland. The presence of nearby territories, particularly in the Coral Republic, didn't mean much to the Empire. Fiji was isolated and of little concern in the political scheme of things.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Layarteb on Sun Jun 16, 2019 5:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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• The Empire of Layarteb •

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Postby -The United Federation of Nations- » Sun Jun 16, 2019 12:55 pm

Lieutenant Samantha Jones, UDF Tactical
Orbiting Crash Site, Suva
The Republic of Fiji
Monday 3rd June 2019, 1400hrs Local Time


“Jesus Christ,” Jones commented dryly, her head stuck into the cockpit between the two pilots, to their annoyance, as they all watched the first Layartebian helicopter get lit up in the distance, and the second one avoid an RPG. “More coming from the south.”

The pilot of the Type-90 nodded his acknowledgement of her report and adjusted his own flight pattern, similar to those of his Layartebian counterparts, to ensure that the door gunner would have the best possible firing arc, but Jones slumped back on her haunches and sighed quietly to herself. Unlike a dedicated special operations variant, the Type-90N used aboard warships, principally for anti-submarine and utility work and did not possess additional modular armour around the cabin and other critical areas. This meant that the amount of fire that had repelled the Layartebian Knight Hawks would also be sufficient to repel the UDF Type-90, and with more hostiles approaching with every passing minute the likelihood of a successful landing an extraction was decreasing exponentially. Moreover, she knew it was only a matter of time before Major Carter issued a direct order to prevent her from trying it anyway; the odds of the helicopter getting shot down, and taking an entire special operations troop with it, was simply too high when balanced against the dwindling change that they would manage to pull it off. Of course Jones would have tried, but then it was not an uncommon drive within the special operations community to attempt the impossible.

“That’s an abort, Lieutenant,” The pilot called back to her glumly. “We can remain in the area, but the insert is scrubbed.”

Jones scowled and considered her next move; there was no way in hell that she was going to simply return to the embassy and meekly sit there whilst the Layartebians fought for their lives. Of course, there was the chance that they would reject all offers of assistance, which was fine, but she was at least going to make sure that they were aware of the offer; they had to know that a special operations was available to them in addition to their own assets. As far as Jones, and the wider UDF, was concerned it was simply a case of being neighbourly; the bulk of the Federation shared a border with the Empire of Layarteb, and the Federation Council had always favoured friendly relations with their closest neighbour.

Of course, the Federation had its own interests and stake in the affairs on Fiji; both locally and more broadly. From a local, immediate perspective there was still the matter of evacuating the Federation Embassy and ensuring that all staff were taken to safely, and that all classified material was properly disposed off. On a broader scale, the Pacific was of key strategic importance. For starters, a majority of the Federation’s membership was in North America, which meant that the Pacific Seaboard was not only vital for the economy but also something to be defended; and the UDF Navy’s defence extended many hundreds of nautical miles into the Pacific. Moreover, the
Federation, by its very nature, was spread out all over the world and the sea lanes of communication (SLOC) were vital, not only for normal international trade but also the vast internal economic interchange and potential that gave the Federation its economic strength, meaning that those SLOCs simply had to be defended, for many reasons, and the islands of the Pacific were a vital aspect of that, especially those that were unclaimed by the two competing powers of the Empire of Layarteb and the Empire of Japan.

Officially speaking, the Federation was not taking sides in the tensions, certainly not from an ideological perspective. As a general rule, the United Federation of Nations avoided wading into ideological disputes, if for no other reason than the simple fact that the Federation’s membership was made up of various different ideologies and and that the Articles of the Federation recognised the right for different ideologies to exist. Of course, there were those ideologies that stood against the principles and values enshrined in the Articles, which could be considered to be the Federation’s own ‘ideology’, and they were opposed wherever possible. Internationally, however, the Federation had a policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of another state without just cause and as such, the Federation handled its foreign policy from a pragmatic perspective; based on the actions of others and their intentions, not solely their ideology. In this case, for example, the actions of the rebels had gone from simply being unpleasant to downright hostile, and that changed things more than anything else could.

“Keep us in the area, but at a safe height for the moment, try and keep the enemy on our optics until we have to choose between sticking with the Layartebians or not,” Jones ordered crisply, making her decision. “Reach out of the Layartebian helicopters directly, let them know we’re ready to assist, I’m sure the skipper of Avenger will be getting in touch with their command vessel himself.”

Commander Edward Ross, UDF Navy
USS Avenger, Off Suva
The Republic of Fiji
Monday 3rd June 2019, 1415hrs Local Time


Commander Edward Ross, the Commanding Officer of the USS Avenger, stood, an island of calm, on the bridge of his ship as activity bustled around him; the downing of a Layartebian helicopter had raised the spectre of outright hostility and the ship was scrambling to complete the evacuation as soon as possible. However, Commander Ross, who due to the unique joint nomenclature of the United Defence Force held a rank equivalent to a Captain in most navies, trusted his officers to conduct their own duties without his input; which was important as he had a decision to make. As the Captain of the Avenger he was the senior UDF Officer in the area; the Sub-Marshal in command of Task Force 12 had not yet shifted his flag, instead monitoring the situation from his shoreside headquarters. It was unfortunate, in a way; for had the situation remained peaceful no one would have batted an eye at Sub-Marshal Preston’s decision to stay ashore, but with the very real possibility of a combat situation the decision would likely have severe consequences on the man’s further advancement. The argument would be made, rightly or wrongly, that he should have foreseen the situation and deployed himself accordingly.

Whatever the case, it left Commander Ross in de facto command over the Task Force, from an operational perspective.

It also meant that it was up to Commander Ross to decide what to do next, in the absence of any orders from on high. In a situation like this, where it was a a judgement call rather than a broader strategic decision, the United Defence Force tended to favour the judgement of the man on the ground, absent any specific intelligence to the contrary, which was precisely why Sub-Marshal Preston would likely be in hot water. Although the situation would likely land on the desk of the President of the Federation in short order, and be discussed on the floor of the Federation Council by tomorrow, the decision on what to do in the here and now fell right at the feet of Commander Ross. The Task Force’s current orders from Defence Force Command were simply to evacuate the embassy, and then ferry the evacuees back to the Federation safely; which meant that, if nothing else, Avenger and her consorts would have to stay here for several more hours at least. It was what they would do in that time, and then whether to immediately pull all three ships out and get the civilians back to the Federation, that Ross would have to decide.

So, he made his decision.

“Yeoman,” Ross said simply.

Ross only had to wait a moment before his Captain’s Yeoman, his personal assistant, stepped up beside him with a notepad, ready to relay his orders, which in this case would be an order to the communications department.

“Send to the Layartebian Commander,” Ross ordered. “We stand ready to assist you, Commander Ross, USS Avenger.”

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Postby Layarteb » Sun Jun 16, 2019 6:32 pm



• • • † • • •



Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | 14:30 hrs [UTC+12]

Southern Pacific Ocean | ILS Davis (AGC-23)
17° 59' 31" S, 178° 52' 56" E






The first Osprey vectored in and came down for a gentle landing on the fantail of the ILS Davis (AGC-23), a Blue Ridge-class command ship that operated as the hub and nerve center to the 17th Amphibious Squadron. It was on this vessel that Vice Admiral Reynaldo Gardner had made his home and where Ambassador Louise Hester had intended to be brought. Thus it was the vice admiral who went out to greet the Fijian head of state and he did so with a handshake just forward of the helipad. "Mister President, welcome aboard the Davis, this here is Lieutenant Arthur and he'll see to it that your family is brought to their accommodations. For now, I need you to come with me." Gardner said, introducing an officer who stood by his side. More hands were shaken and President Ridgeway followed the vice admiral across the deck and down into the ship where he eventually found his way to the headquarters area.

Screens showed the position of the ship as well as the entire operation. Radar feeds were pumped into the CIC from the entire battlegroup and Ridgeway noted that he'd been allowed to see it all, not that much was classified about what the Empire was doing. Ushered to an area where several personnel were sitting, Ridgeway was shown a seat and Gardner sat down adjacent to him at the head of a working table. "All right so the situation is pretty bad right now," Gardner said to the President, "I'm not sure how much you know but we got you out just in time. Rebel forces are within two hundred meters of the outer perimeter of the Presidential Palace and moreover, we have a helicopter down."

"It was shot down?"

"We're not sure, it could have had mechanical issues or it could have been shot down. It has our ambassador aboard and what's worse, two helicopters that went to affect a rescue were fired upon by hostile forces on the ground, likely rebel. One is badly damaged and limping back to the nearest ship while the other escaped relatively unscathed but is returning to its carrier just the same. We're going to have to cease the evacuation of the embassy soon."

"What does that mean for your people? And for the Fijians there?"

"We'll get our people out Mister President but I cannot guarantee we will get the rest of yours out, it's just the price we have to pay."

"But they will be shot, killed, hanged, who knows,"
Ridgeway began to plead.

"That's not our decision Mister President, that's the official stance of our government."

"Then I must talk to the Emperor immediately,"
he demanded but Gardner waved him off, "he has made his decision then?"

"Yes sir he has. You and whomever we have rescued so far will be protected but we cannot risk any more helicopters, I'm sorry Mister President. We already have a major crisis on our hands with this crash. We don't need another."

"I see,"
President Ridgeway answered, rather scornfully, "is it that Fiji is simply too insignificant to the mighty 'Empire'?"

"Mister President, we're not policymakers here, we're simply following our orders."

"Yes, that's all you Layartebians do is follow your orders,"
he stood and slammed his hand down on the table, "well when will your orders be to invade this island?"

"Mister President, if you do not calm down we will have these marines escort you to your quarters, please sit down…"
Gardner said, much more calmly than he wanted to but he knew that raising his voice would only enflame the situation. President Ridgeway was in a tough position. He was safe but his people were not and the Empire simply didn't want to risk more lives for non-Layartebians.

"I'll see myself to my quarters then!" Ridgeway replied snidely and then he snapped his fingers and ordered the marine guard to show him to his quarters. With a nod from Gardner, the marine did so, silently and without emotion.

Back at the working table, Gardner had to assume that the occupants of the Knight Hawk, whether dead or alive, were now prisoners of Bray's rebels and negotiations would have to commence for their safe return. Bray might have had as many as five Layartebians but he stood to lose much more if he didn't cooperate. The Empire wasn't looking to involve itself in the Fijian Civil War nor was it looking to put Ridgeway back into power but now the situation had changed. If Bray wanted the best outcome, which would have been him retaining power, he would be best to surrender the Layartebians otherwise he would face the full might of an amphibious assault group, which was far more powerful than his entire rebel force.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Monday, June 3rd, 2019 | 20:00 hrs [UTC+12]

Suva, Fiji | Presidential Palace
18° 9' 7" S, 178° 25' 33" E






Hours after Jacob Bray marched victorious into the front door of the Presidential Palace, the celebrations in Suva were just beginning but these celebrations weren't coming from the people but rather the rebel soldiers, most of whom drank, smoked their hashish, and fired their rifles into the air. Bullets whizzed down, clanging and ricocheting off of whatever they hit. A few rebels had been injured in the process but these were simply "war wounds" to them. For the city's residents, as well as residents throughout the archipelago, hunkering down and hiding in the dark was the only recourse of action. Jacob Bray wasn't a popular leader, not amongst the general population of Fiji. He had a near fanatical following of soldiers, all of whom he'd pressed into his service and thrown against the Fijian military. Through fear and intimidation, he managed to "convert" his enemies to his side but they'd come more out of fear than out of loyalty. Those who fought against him and refused to join his cause were being held captive, along with the dozens of Fijians caught within the walls of the Layartebian embassy.

Bray had celebrated two major victories on this day. The first was to see President Ridgeway escape the island. His men had the Ospreys in their sights but he ordered them to stand down. He was angry enough at what had transpired at Lokia that he didn't want a second incident plus it behooved him to have Ridgeway alive. So long as Ridgeway was alive, the Layartebians would defer to him for action, if they wanted to act at all. It seemed that they did not, which came at the heels of his second victory, seeing the Layartebian flag lower at the embassy and the last helicopter depart its grounds loaded with marines. "Be gone Pagans!" He shouted to the helicopters as they left, as if they could hear him, which obviously they could not.

At Lokia, Bray had the soldiers who'd fired at the two Knight Hawks disciplined and punished. He'd believed that the first had gone down without being fired upon, as his men had explained, but he didn't accept that they shooed away the others with gunfire, damaging one helicopter and perhaps causing casualties within its crew. It was bad enough, he figured, that the Layartebians had suffered three dead in the crash, the two pilots and the door gunner had died, the former on impact and the latter a short while later. The helicopter's crew chief and the ambassador had both been taken to Suva's main hospital where the former was fighting for his life. The ambassador had suffered a broken pelvis and a concussion in the crash and she would need medical attention as well, which doctors were providing, though the rebel soldiers guarding the two Layartebians were definitely seeing to it.

For Bray, his own celebration was yet to come. The Presidential Palace was his and with it, the bedroom of President Ridgeway, which he found more than adequate for his personal tastes. As such, he saw to it that his entourage of enslaved girls and women were brought down for his amusement and he'd planned something of an orgy with them. Those who would submit willingly would find their time easier than those who did not but such was Bray's behavior. Fueled by drugs and his misguided belief that he spoke to the people on behalf of God, Jacob Bray found himself in high spirits this evening. He'd told the switchboard operators to ignore the calls from the Layartebian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to ignore the calls from anyone else. This was his moment and it was "after hours." He'd deal with his newfound, "Presidential duties" in the morning.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Layarteb on Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Layarteb » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:48 pm



• • • † • • •



Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 | 06:50 hrs [UTC+12]

Nausori, Fiji | Nausori International Airport
18° 2' 36" S, 178° 33' 33" E






Suva smoldered in the wake of the fighting and yet a quietness had descended upon Fiji that was unmistakable in its loudness. There would be no airplanes flying into Fiji today or tomorrow or really in the near future as airlines canceled flights across the board. Vacationers clogged customer service lines looking for refunds and information about what would come next. Nobody had any information to give, which frustrated more than a few people. The biggest question now was what was to come of Fiji. Jacob Bray's guerilla militia had no identifiable political agenda and their military tactics and strategic were indicative of this. By and large, Bray ran a personality cult and his men would now look to him and ask, "What comes next?"

That was the hardest question but one that Bray didn't seem to worry too much about answering. On this morning, like all mornings, he arose at 04:30 and went about his morning routine, which lasted about an hour. From there, he collected himself, had breakfast, and had a driver bring him to Nausori International Airport, where the Fijian Armed Forces kept its helicopters, a ten Westland Lynx helicopters. Four were the naval HAS2 variants while the rest were the land-based AH1 variants. The helicopters themselves had been purchased in the early 1980s and they'd remained in service since, mainly being used for light duty rather than for anything too strenuous. The most action they had was HAS2s flying search and rescue missions for lost boaters.

Yet this morning, Jacob Bray intended to take a flight around Fiji in one of the AH1 variants. He would do a short tour with Brigadier Neumi Sharma, command of the Fijian Armed Forces and a man who'd pledged allegiance to Jacob Bray in the wee hours of the conflict, after Ridgeway had fled. It was Sharma's declaration that ultimately ended the fighting as he had but barely a battalion left. Bray, accepting Sharma's pledge directly, promised Sharma that his position would remain intact so long as his loyalty did. Sharma accepted and now he would tour the island group with Bray. Meeting at the airport, they both climbed aboard the AH1, which lifted into the sky shortly thereafter. It was just them and one of Bray's closest aides in the helicopter's cabin. Though the helicopter would retain its door-mounted machine guns, it wasn't flying with gunners, just its pilots.

They started out flying around Suva and over the southern coast of Fiji, towards the opposite side of the island but sticking to the coastline. From their altitude of 1,000 feet, they could see the Layartebian and Federation warships sailing in the far-off distance, beyond the territorial waters of the nation. The Layartebian Navy had pulled back over twenty nautical miles from the coastline. The Fijians had only claimed up to six nautical miles for their territorial waters and this was something the Layartebians obeyed, in a sense, keeping past the barrier while they flew their helicopters for the evacuation.

During the flight, Bray and Sharma discussed where they should position their troops and how they should reconstitute the fighting force of Fiji. No less than three hundred Fijians escaped the island in the final hours of the fighting but at least fifty of those had been military officers, some of Fiji's best, though to Bray, they were nothing more than cowards for fleeing. Coming around Nadi, the helicopter put into the airport to refuel. The two men stood outside and watched the city from the airport's tarmac. Normally, there would be jetliners queued up to land at Nadi or at the terminal waiting for a departure window. There was none of that today and the helicopter made for the only activity at the airport.

Taking off again, they set course for Vanua Levu, the second largest island in the archipelago. This was why they refueled because while the island was only forty miles away, Bray and Sharma intended to do a more thorough inspection of the island. Most of Bray's forces had focused on the main island, Viti Levu. While he did have men operating on this island, he had not been as diligent in their oversight as he would have liked. Rumors of soldiers committing atrocities against the Indian population had surfaced here and there during the war but Bray let them be, intending to solve them when the war was over, which it now was.

"You know," Bray said in the helicopter as they crossed Viti Levu. "To hear that my men are disrespecting the Indian communities is heartbreaking."

"Perhaps these men would have done so anyway, whether or not you ordered them so."

"Yes, I gather they lack discipline,"
Bray answered the military chief. "What would you have me do?"

"Make examples of them to their peers. This kind of behavior won't be tolerated. Not in this professional military."


Bray nodded, "I would agree," he said with a smile. Sharma was Indian of course and so the rumors had struck a dangerous chord within him. "Open the door," he then said to his aide, "the water is gorgeous, is it not?"

"Yes it is. Our waters are beautiful."

"Yes they are,"
and in a sudden, Bray launched across the helicopter's cabin at the throat of Sharma. The aide, positioned tactically behind Sharma, reached around and grabbed the man's arms to prevent him from swinging. Bray began to choke Sharma, screaming with laughter as he did, "You are a traitor! You'll always be a traitor!" The aide worked to unhook Sharma's belt, which he did. Sharma knew what was coming but he still fought, despite the odds against him. In the end, he lost and he tumbled from the cabin of the helicopter, five hundred feet into the ocean waters below, which he hit at a speed of roughly 124 miles per hour. He was dead on impact and the helicopter hovered now over the area so that Bray could see the body, which floated upside down in the water.

When Bray shut the cabin door, he did so with satisfaction. "The sharks will get him," he said to his aide as he plugged back into the intercom system. "All right, let's go home. He won't be the last." The country had around 900,000 people and about one-third of them were of Indian descent. They didn't fit into Bray's vision for Fiji, whatever that vision may have been.



• • • † • • •


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Cotland
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Founded: Nov 05, 2004
Father Knows Best State

Postby Cotland » Sun Jun 23, 2019 4:01 am

Suva, Fiji
Monday, June 3, 2019


The troubles erupting in Fiji was a troubling surprise for the Cottish government. A few hundred Cottish tourists and expatriates were known to be in Fiji, and the Cottish government had a moral obligation to help their citizens. Unfortunately, as the Pacific Ocean was far from the Cottish powerbase in Europe, there were very few Cottish government assets in the general region.

As airlifting the Cottish citizens was out of the question, and the Cottish naval squadron in the Pacific Ocean still several days' steaming away, the government resorted to an old, time-proven and quite Cottish solution: they reached out to the merchant navy.

As luck would have it, the Petersborg-based shipping line Pauler Lines had a merchant ship in port in Fiji, offloading containers containing consumer goods when the trouble hit the fan. Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Trade quickly approached the shipping line and requested the assistance of the shipping line in evacuating the Cottish embassy and citizens in Fiji. The CEO of Pauler Lines. Lars Webber, quickly accepted the offer, knowing that the Cottish government would offer a handsome compensation for lost revenue and renewed goodwill from the government in future contracts.

The mechantman Pauler Sovereign, a Cottish-flagged feedermax container ship capable of holding up to 907 TEU containers currently berthed in the Suva container port, was subsequently instructed on Saturday morning by the head office in Göteborg to cancel its loading of 178 TEUs and prepare to take aboard a lot of people instead. Within the hour, Cottish government officials from the small embassy had appeared on the gangway carrying documents stating that Pauler Sovereign had been requisitioned by the Cottish government. Accepting this, the 51 year old Master of Pauler Sovereign Egil Høi-Wold, had his 16 strong crew start preparing for the arrival of the refugees.

Shortly thereafter, the first people started appearing at the container port's gates, holding Cottish passports and baggage, demanding entry. The local security at first refused to admit anyone, but after the interference of the young Cottish diplomat sent to coordinate the evacuation (and a stack of Layartebian Shingrots), the refugees were admitted and guided to the 133 meter long container ship.

Meanwhile, starting on Saturday afternoon, the Cottish embassy near Sukuna Park started their own evacuation procedures. Classified documents and crypto were burned, harddrives were either packed in diplomatic pouches for transport to the ship or whiped then burned, and encrypted communication equipment was destroyed. More and more members of the embassy staff relocated themselves to the ship, which increasingly started to be referred to as the Arc by the embassy staff -- surprising, considering that the majority of Cots were pagans -- and an eight-man security detachment from the twenty-strong security detachment in the embassy joined the crew, providing security at the gangway and backing up the Cottish diplomats who verified that only people holding Cottish passports were admitted.

Over the course of the weekend, more and more Cottish citizens appeared and were embarked on the Pauler Sovereign, while Fijians and other nationalities were turned away. By Monday morning, 40 hours after the evacuation effort started and the rebels were coming closer and closer, the Cottish Ambassador, 49-year old career diplomat Helene Øire, who was in charge of the evacuation decided that time was up. Of the 476 Cottish citizens known to be on the island, 464 had been embarked on the Pauler Sovereign. The location of the remaining twelve was unknown, with the Cottish efforts to locate and evacuate them being in vain.

Thus, it was with a heavy heart that Ambassador Øire gave captain Høi-Wold the go-ahead to cast off. As the Cottish refugees hunkered down below decks of the half-full container ship, Pauler Sovereign's crew got to work.

The lines were cut, as there were no line handlers on the pier anymore, and manouvering off the quay proved difficult without tugs, but managable thanks to the bow thruster. It took a little while, but eventually, at 09:58 the merchantman was clear of the quay and manouvering itself out of the canal towards open ocean, the Cottish flag fluttering defiantly in the wind, as arguably the last foreign merchant ship to get out of Suva, just in time to see the rebels appear on the container port.

Making full steam, the Cottish-flagged ship made for international waters and the safety of the growing international coalition of warships off Fiji, before starting the two-day passage towards Layartebian-held New Caledonia where the Cottish hoped their Layartebian allies would allow the Cottish to offload and fly home.

Meanwhile, a Cottish task group of four warships were still steaming at full speed towards Fiji, expecting to arrive on-station by Tuesday forenoon.


[23:24.14] <Praetonia> <@AdmJackieSpiz> my county has already spend more than 70% of its entire salt grit inventory or the year since the year only has 3 days left thats nm of a problem

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Itailian Maifias
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Postby Itailian Maifias » Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:04 pm

Commodore Dirk Goddard D.S.O.
Installation Command Building, Commandant's Office, HMNB Nede, on the island of Tualata, Samoa
June 3, 2019; 16:38 Hrs [UTC+12]






There was a sharp rap on the partially opened door into Dirk's office and he looked up to see Petty Officer Foster Ellis, his administrative aide, standing in the door with a look of urgency on his face and Dirk held up a finger, mouthing an apology as he clenched the phone closer to his head with his other hand. "Yes, I fully agree Admiral, we've been monitoring it to the best of our abilities and we'll be in touch with you once we get more information. Okay, thank you sir."

Dirk replaced the phone back onto the receiver with a sharp click and looked at his aide "Apologies Ellis, that was the Admiral again wanting an update on the situation around Fiji and such."

Ellis nodded "You're going to have to speak to him again soon then, we just got some more news, Commander Bissette has more information us in the TAC."

Dirk nodded and got up from behind his desk, quickly retrieving his water bottle from his desk as he left his office and moved towards the center of the building, where the Tactical Analysis Center or TAC, was located; normally, it didn't receive too much attention at this posting, even though Nede was a significant size but recent events in the last week or so had changed that with Fiji and it's extremely close proximity to Nede and the Samoan islands. While the command building for Nede was defended against many versions of attack, the TAC was specially built to help coordinate a multiple task force effort, and was a Class 3 hardened room by Royal Navy classifications. It would only take him a few minutes to descend a level to reach the room, and another set of minutes to get through the Marine-staffed security, before he was in the room. The central area had been left in an open floor plan with a collection of monitors, small and large, and duty stations to process and display the variety of data that was collected by the assets stationed at Nede, or ones controlled by the command there.

Dirk quickly noticed Commander Bissette, his command's tactical adviser, who was busy studying over the large display currently showing a regional map of the Fiji islands, and the nearby locations around, with a number of markers that were displayed to resemble, what Dirk assumed, to be position of known areas or items of interest. "Commander, what to give me an update?"

The Commander looked up from his work and nodded, taking up a clicker and directing his superior's attention to one of the large monitors, which quickly pulled up a map of Fiji, zooming into the lower portion of the island around Suva "Well sir, there's been a considerable change of events surrounding Fiji. As we discussed at our 1300 briefing, the Layartebian Navy has arrived on station in the waters off of the southern division, an entirety of one of their Amphibious Ready Group's began to proceed in the evacuation of their embassy, guard staff, and nationals who were in country. Additionally, the Federation Navy also arrived on station, three warships one of which is the guided missile cruiser Avenger, accompanied by two destroyer escorts for the purpose of much like the Layartebians, evacuation. However, the uptick in chatter occurred 1400 hrs local time when a MH-60S Seahawk helo was downed just six nautical miles into its journey, ultimately crashing near a village called Lokia. Layartebian air assets responded to the crash scene, and a Federation helo did the same but both appeared to pack off when armed forces arrived at the crash scene, the Layartebians briefly being engaged by said forces. The Nimrod we've had on station since yesterday managed to capture some pictures of the incident, which you'll see displayed here."

Dirk grimaced; he and the greater naval command staff had been hoping that when it became apparent the Fiji government was going to collapse and many other nations would withdraw their presence, it could go peacefully. Now, the new warlord picks a fight seemingly with the precisely wrong nation. "Any news if it was Bray that shot down the helo?"

Bissette shook his head "Nimrod wasn't in position when it was downed, took us a while to confirm the whole incident hence why you're just hearing about it now. But it crashed hard, and Suva is just a hot bed for violence. We have been able to confirm that Layarteb extracted President Ridgeway, so I'm moving up our early assessment and stating that Bray will probably control the city by sundown at the latest, total collapse of whatever remains of Ridgeway's government is all but guaranteed."

"Any word from Ambassador Walterson?"

"Aye sir, he confirms Foreign Office's decision in keeping the embassy open, though he says Major Elder has put the Marine company we sent there earlier to good use and they have continued to shore up for any potential contingencies. He estimates that approximately four hundred British nationals are in country at current time, and all the ones they've managed to get a hold on embassy grounds, and he recommends us airlifting them out of there."

The fact that the embassy would not be evacuated continued to annoy Dirk; he had advised it months ago when Bray really came into power and the government's inability to deal with him effectively became plain and strongly advised it when Bray reached Suva; however, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary both believed that the continued operation of the embassy would allow diplomacy to still be pursued, and also allow other operations within the country to continue, keeping a line of communication open as they put it. It's why they had ordered Dirk to have one of his Royal Marine companies moved from Nede to the embassy to augment the platoon of Marines already there, but he still believed it put them in a ridiculous situation. Even though Nede had a close proximity to the islands, it would still take great effort to get there Bray and his thugs tried to storm it, and there was no guarantee they could help. An unnecessary risk in Dirk's mind, but unfortunately one he had been over-ruled on. "Well, that puts us in a tighter spot. Any news from the Gazelle and when we can expect her squadron back?"

"Few days at best sir, they're moving as fast as they can but this situation's quick escalation got us out of position. However, we do have the Warlock and her group which will be returning at 2100 or so this evening, we can re-task them to move towards Suva and come in near the western harbor so they can directly access the embassy without flying overland and quickly get those people out of there."

Dirk thought it over in his head; Warlock was a heavy cruiser, and could more then capably defend itself against anything Suva had, even if those Wildcat's he had were operational; plus it also had it's three escorts in the frigates attached to it, so they could definitely stay secured and protected, however trying to quickly move four hundred people onto those ships would be a tall order. "Alright, let's get it done. I know they'll need all the room they can get, but get in touch with Colonel Leonce, I want an extra platoon of Marines going with them for shore patrol to ensure safety as they get those civilians aboard. Let's also get the CAG in, I'm going to move our TSR-2's onto Black Alert, just in case something gets weird over there. I don't like the position it's put us in, that's for sure. Let's reach out to the Federals and Layarteb, let them know they can use Nede for whatever they need, supplies, shore relief, etc."
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-The United Federation of Nations-
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Founded: Apr 10, 2018
New York Times Democracy

Postby -The United Federation of Nations- » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:29 am

Commander Edward Ross, UDF Navy
USS Avenger, Off Suva
The Republic of Fiji
Monday 3rd June 2019, 2030hrs Local Time




“Evacuation complete, Sir,” Sub-Commander Denzel Lynch, the ship’s executive officer, reported as he stepped up beside Ross holding a neatly folded Federation flag in his hands. “All evacuees and staff have been transferred to the destroyers.”

Commander Ross nodded his acknowledgement of the report as he accepted the flag from Lynch; as per tradition and protocol Major Carter had made sure to take the Embassy’s flag with him lest it fall into enemy hands. Officially speaking there were now no Federation military assets on Fiji, although unofficially Lieutenant Jones and her Naval Special Warfare troop had been put down in the bush outside the capital with orders to set up observation points and to provide an in-country capability if the need arose. It would be, theoretically speaking, relatively easy to effect an extraction of the operators when the time came. However, with Commander Ross pledging his support to the Layartebians if they wanted to take a more ‘active’ role in this mess, he wanted to make sure that he had at least some troops already ashore. Indeed, Sub-Marshal Preston, the commander of Surface Action Group Two (and in this case, therefore Task Force 12), who was hurrying out to the area in an attempt to salvage his career form his decision not to put to sea himself, had endorsed the decision and was bringing the other four ships of SAG-2 at flank speed from San Diego.

But then, if the man was to succeed in salvaging his career there was little else he could do than endorse Ross’ decision… even if it would take some time for those frigates to get here, my which point it might well be all over.

Thankfully, things weren’t going completely against Commander Ross and his team; for only a short time ago they received a message from the Federation Department of the Exterior, reporting that the Empire of Britannia was offering the use of His Britannic Majesty’s Naval Base Nede on Samoa, less than six hundred nautical miles away, or little over a day’s steaming away. This was fortunate, as although the Avenger herself was nuclear powered, the two destroyers that had accompanied her were not, and after a high-speed dash across the Pacific their fuel reserves left much to be desired. Defence Force Operations had been arranging for a Fleet oiler to rendezvous with them, however the ability to simply sail on over to the British naval base and refuel alongside was a preferable alternative. Moreover, Ross had been quick to realise that if they offloaded the civilians to the destroyers they would be able to put them ashore on Samoa and subsequently be able to fly them back to the Federation, which was much better than keeping them aboard ship whilst they potentially engaged in combat operations against the Fiji rebels.

Therefore, the afternoon had largely been spent with boat transfers and helicopter hops moving civilians from the Avenger to the two destroyers. There had been some talk about leaving one of the two destroyers with the Avenger to provide an escort, however the decision had been made that the cruiser could handle itself for the seventy-two hours it would take the destroyers to sail to Samoa, unload their passengers, refuel and sail back. After all, the Valiant-Class guided missile cruiser was the heaviest armed surface combatant in the UDF Fleet with potent defences of her own, certainly more than would be required to defend against a small, badly mauled, military like Fiji could muster after this mess.

The simple fact of the matter was that, outside of a major fleet operation with designated oilers and supply ships, the UDF Fleet struggled with a lack of forward bases in the deep Pacific, so the British offer could not have come at a better time. It was something that the Department of Defence was working on, for it was really the only theatre that the UDF truly struggled for forward logistics and staging bases, thanks in no small part to the membership of the Federation. Doubtless the Avenger would put into HMNB Nede before heading home, and Ross planned to thank the British senior officer personally once this was all over.

“Very well, Sub-Commander,” Ross said simply. “Permission for the destroyers to detach is granted.”

Lynch nodded and stepped aside to speak to a communications yeoman who passed the orders via ALDIS lamp for the two destroyers to detach. A few moments later the two destroyers noticeably increased their speed and began to pull away from the cruiser, both ships dipping their ensigns in a salute to their ‘flagship’, to which the Officer of the Deck aboard Avenger ordered a matching gesture. With the formalities of tradition complete, the two destroyers completely pulled away from the lone cruiser and settled onto a north-easterly course that would take the towards Samoa, one of the destroyers slotting into formation behind its consort in a line astern formation ideal for simple transit. The senior of the two Sub-Commanders, commanding the destroyers, held a personal note from Ross to the British Commander, effectively repeating the offer made by the Department of the Exterior to the British Foreign Office that, if the situation deteriorated rapidly, the Federation would be prepared to effect the evacuation of the British Embassy, should the British warships not be able to arrive in time.

Truth be told, the Federation was surprised that the British were still holding out with their diplomatic mission, but as close friends and partners, the Federation was more than happy to help the British save face, should their decision not to evacuate the embassy blow up in their faces.

“Sub-Commander,” Ross said after a time, summoning Lynch back to him. “The ship will maintain a standing Yellow Alert.”

Lynch once again nodded and stepped across to make the necessary arrangements. Although up until this point the ship had been operating at Yellow Alert, meaning that close-in weapons systems and other defensive crews had been manned and readied, along with a damage control party, but the rest of the ship had been operating under normal conditions, a standing Yellow Alert was a different proposition entirely. Anything other than normal cruising was designed to only be maintained for a relatively short period of time, meaning that in order to maintain a standing alert the ship’s programme had to be thrown out and changed; in short in this case it would mean that, at any given time, half the crew would be effectively manning their battle stations whilst the other half were in their rack it was, effectively what other navy’s would term ‘Defence Stations’. It was tough, but it was a state that the ship could maintain indefinitely, and was designed to be used when the ship was operating in a potentially hostile environment but not threat was imminent; all the ships that had been deployed to the Persian Gulf during the crisis with Ostafrika the previous year, for example, had operated under a standing Yellow Alert.

The Red, Yellow and Green system, with a few other colours thrown in for various evolutions, might seem somewhat simplistic but it had been developed to take into account the potential for there to be many different languages within the United Defence Force. Although the majority language was English, and the UDF specifically provided non-native speakers with additional lessons, it had been agreed that keeping the alert status system, which was used across the UDF, as simple as possible would streamline communications and avoid any misunderstandings at an inopportune time. By an large this had worked splendidly, especially after the Federation had begun to accept its first non-English speaking countries, for although English as a common enough ‘trade’ language, it was now no longer the first language of all Federation citizens and the foresight of the UDF was paying dividends.

“I’ll be in my cabin, make sure that the Officer of the Deck knows that they can wake me, no matter the time or the scale of their concern, I don’t want to be reacting to something we could have gotten ahead of,” Ross said firmly after Lynch had reported that the ship at a standing Yellow Alert. “In the meantime, make sure that anyone up during the night is keeping themselves busy, especially the flight department, those birds have been worked hard over the past few days.”

“Aye, Sir,” Lynch nodded. “Don’t stay up too late on to Command, Skipper.”

“I’ll do my best,” Ross smiled wryly. “XO has the ship.”

“I have the ship,” Lynch replied simply. “Goodnight, Sir.”
Last edited by -The United Federation of Nations- on Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Layarteb
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Postby Layarteb » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:21 pm



• • • † • • •



Friday, June 7th, 2019 | 14:30 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Fortress of Comhghall
40° 41' 28" N, 74° 0' 58" W






President Jimi Ridgeway, his wife, his two children, and fourteen of his personal aides and government officials who'd successfully escaped had spent the past four days traipsing around the globe and the travel had certainly taken a toll on the whole bunch. After being evacuated to the Davis, they had to wait two days before the ship could be in position to launch an MV-22B Osprey flight to Noumea. Strapped into the noisy, uncomfortable aircraft, they flew onto Noumea where they stayed overnight and throughout most of Thursday, checking out of their hotel just before 18:00. From there, they'd gone to the city's main airport and boarded at flight at 22:30 for Honolulu. Naturally, they stayed in first class, booking the entire 18 seats available on an Air Layarteb 787-9. They left Thursday evening and arrived in Honolulu Thursday morning, crossing twenty-one hours of time zones by hoping across the International Date Line. They spent the next six hours in Honolulu's airport before boarding a second flight to Layarteb City, this one an Air Layarteb LDC Model 003. They landed just before 07:00 on Friday morning, their bodies so thoroughly jetlagged that they were zombies en route to their hotel.

The kicker was Ridgeway's accounts had been frozen by Bray's new administration and so, in effect, his credit card was declined. It was up to the Empire to bail him out, yet again, and for just shy of §76,000 - for the flights alone - the eighteen of them had been spirited from New Caledonia to Layarteb City. The cost to put them up in hotels, evacuate them, hold them on the Davis, and fly them to Noumea via Osprey had added up to one impressive bill. The Empire did it as a gesture of "good will" but they didn't want to become too involved with Ridgeway, or Fiji for that matter. Bray was a monster and a villain but he offered little to no threat to the Empire or his neighbors and with other commitments looming on the horizon, a protracted conflict in Fiji, even one on a small scale, seemed unnecessary and avoidable.

While Ridgeway's family slept, he rose just after 13:00, showered, dressed, and ate a light lunch before being escorted to the steps of the Fortress of Comhghall. He'd requested a meeting with the Emperor as soon as he could, which is what hastened his trip across the Pacific and the North American continent. The Empire would have been happy to leave them all in New Caledonia and letting them resettle there but alas, the Empire wasn't going to get off so easily. While Ridgeway was making his way through the corridors and the stairways of the Fortress of Comhghall, the Layartebian warships around Fiji had pulled back to eighty nautical miles, lingering as much because there were still Layartebians there.

Ahead of Ridgeway's meeting, the Emperor was gathered with the National Security Council. There had been a number of topics discussed, mainly concerning Mexico but Fiji was due to be discussed as well. The Empire was working on getting a representative into Fiji to negotiate the release of the downed helicopter's crew and the ambassador, still unaware if they were alive or dead. All the Empire had was a drone reconnaissance flight over the crash site that revealed no bodies present. "Sir, concerning Fiji," Timothy Fisher of Foreign Affairs said, "we are still working on putting someone on the ground. Flights have yet to resume but we expect them to do so Monday. We currently have a representative in Singapore waiting the first flight into Fiji."

"Who do we have?"

"James Naughton,"
the Emperor wasn't too familiar with the name and his expression showed. "He's a councilman from the Irish Republic, he represents Belfast. He was our main negotiator for the London Accord."

"That was eleven years ago,"
the Emperor said, referring to the 2008 agreement that brought an end to the insurgency in Ireland following the 1993 takeover of the country.

"Yes sir it was but Naughton has been involved in significant negotiations throughout Ireland since. He's our best candidate for this."

"We don't leave our people behind, whether they're dead or alive. I'm not willing to give up much, not to Bray, but we don't leave our people behind."

"Yes sir, that message is crystal clear to Naughton. Also sir, we have confirmation on the helicopter activity in Ireland."

"Do we now? That's good news."

"Not so much sir,"
answered Carmen Flores of Intelligence, "they're death flights sir. Bray's having his people take up wealthy and powerful Indo-Fijians and throwing them out at altitudes of a few hundred feet. Needless to say, no one survives the impact with the water and the sharks do the rest. We estimate there's been about one hundred and fifty people executed in such fashion. Despite pulling out, we still have two operatives on the ground with non-official cover, three agents in place, and one asset. It's not much but it's something. The Fijian government doesn't have the ability to commandeer the phone and satellite lines and uplinks so communication is fairly simple right now, though we are taking precautions."

"Well that's promising,"
the Emperor answered sourly. "So Bray is throwing people out of helicopters, why the Indo-Fijians specifically?"

"We suspect it has something to do with our assassination attempt sir. The leadership at the time was Indo-Fijian with President Rishi Sharma in power."
Sharma served two, 3-year terms from 2002 to 2008, following by President Anthony Narayan. Ridgeway had been in power since 2014 and he was due to exit in 2020 after his second, 3-year term. The constitution limited Presidents to two terms only.

"Let's assume that's it then. Would he begin slaughtering the entire Indo-Fijian populace?"

"Sir we don't have a firm answer but our suspicions are that he would not. Fiji is heavily reliant on their labor for sugarcane exports and tourism is sure to take a major hit, making those exports all the more important. He's going after the wealthy and the powerful, the people he believes did him wrong and who could present a threat to his power,"
Flores continued, "which puts it more as a purge."

"Which means the world isn't going to care."

"Do we care sir?"
Fisher asked.

"Not particularly," the Emperor said - to no objection at the table. "Fiji is insignificant. It holds no strategic or tactical viability to us, especially with our Coral Sea territories. With the British in Samoa and the Japanese at various points around the area, Fiji gains some support but nothing that would warrant action. It is doubtful action on Fiji would be quick. Bray and his followers would take to the rural regions and we would have to hunt him down. That would take significant time and effort. Fiji just isn't worth it to me and in our past discussions to us as a whole. Ridgeway is going to have to face the realities here. Speaking of which, is he here?"

"I should suspect so sir,"
Fisher said, looking at his watch.

"Then are we done here? Is there any additional agenda items to discuss?"

"No sir,"
answered Robert Crawford of National Security.

"All right let's roll right into it then. Timothy if you would be so kind as to get the President. How about we take a short, five-minute recess to use the restroom and refill our cups."

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Friday, June 7th, 2019 | 15:25 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Fortress of Comhghall
40° 41' 28" N, 74° 0' 58" W






Ten minutes after the Emperor ended the meeting, everyone came to their places. There had been a brief break and then a chance for President Ridgeway to meet the principals in the room. Sitting down now, President Ridgeway was given the floor where he gave an impassioned speech, urging the Empire to get involved. Speaking for fifteen minutes, uninterrupted, he touched on many of the topics and troubles of the country as it related to Bray. He paid homage to the fact that the Empire was paying for him and he - for all it was worth - made a major plea for the rescue of his people. He overplayed the death flights but that was emotion talking and the crowd knew it when they saw it, having been briefed ahead of time from their meeting.

When Ridgeway was done, a round of applause was given, out of respect. The National Security Council had already made up their mind and, as such, Ridgeway's words fell on deaf ears. "Before we begin, may I just say it is touching to hear your speak of the nation in such a way," the Emperor said. "However, you must understand the position of the Empire. We've already tried to take out Bray once, at your urging nonetheless." Ridgeway had been the Fijian ambassador to the Empire from 2001 to 2006, during which time the mission to kill Bray had been planned and launched. "That was an unmitigated disaster for us and cost us the lives of six men. Efforts to recover their bodies have, to this day, gone unfulfilled. We further lost a helicopter and the personnel inside, individuals who may still be alive, in an evacuation effort to airlift not only our own citizens but those who sought refuge in the embassy.

"The Empire has taken in these refugees from Fiji and we're planning to give them a comfortable resettlement package. The same package can be offered to you as well. However, the Empire does not wish to become involved in Fiji's troubles. Our primary objective right now is to see to the repatriation of the helicopter crew. Following the success of this objective, we will be withdrawing our forces. Jacob Bray is a monster, a villain, and a tyrant and the world would be far better with him out of it but to involve ourselves would not turn out well.

"The Empire has not excelled in purely peacekeeping operations in the past and we do not have territorial designs for Fiji, despite the presence of the Japanese threat and any efforts to counter the British presence in the Samoa islands. I'm afraid this is a matter we have already decided following a thorough review of the situation."


Ridgeway was deeply hurt by this. He had history with the Empire, loved the country second only to his own, and he believed that they would ride in and save his home. Yet that wasn't what the Emperor was saying. The Empire accounting for a smidgeon of Fiji's exports and imports. Commercially speaking, it was simply too far to be of use by itself and resupply into the Layartebian islands mainly came over the water from Honolulu or from trade deals with the Nanfang Republic. As a tourism destination, Fiji wasn't very popular with Layartebians compared to the Coral Sea territories. Simply put, the Empire didn't have much stake in Fiji and the loss of lives in the past had made the situation there even more untouchable.

"I can't believe I'm hearing this," answered Ridgeway. "Why have you flown me all this way to insult me?" In truth, it was Ridgeway who pushed for this meeting but the question was left unanswered. "The people of Fiji need a power to assist. If the Empire won't then who will? Should I turn to the British? The Federation? Perhaps the Japanese?"

"Mister President, you may turn to whomever will hear you. We won't stand in the way of your efforts nor will we hinder them in any fashion. Our stance on Bray is very clear and we won't be reopening our embassy with him there. The Empire plans to do no business with him and we've already issued preemptive travel warnings as the expectation of flights resuming on Monday has made it necessary."

"You must reconsider."

"We've already tried to assassinate him and failed. A second attempt may yield only embarrassment and without a friendly government in place to provide assistance, our hopes of success are minimal. I surmise you don't want us to drop a stick of JDAMs onto the Presidential Palace?"

"No I should think not,"
Bray said. He stood and buttoned his suit jacket, "If the Empire won't help then I will see about others." He walked off, not waiting any further, truly disheartened by the reception he'd received. It had been hard to hear and even harder to accept. Fiji wasn't a concern to the Empire and Ridgeway wasn't entirely sure, if they refused to act, any other nations might act. He refused to trade any sovereignty away and he refused to trade any land away either. His terms required he be reinstalled in power with no return on that "investment," so to speak.



• • • † • • •


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• The Empire of Layarteb •

E M B R A C ET H ES Y N T H

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Layarteb
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Postby Layarteb » Sat Jul 06, 2019 10:48 am



• • • † • • •



Monday, June 10th, 2019 | 15:00 hrs [UTC+12]

Suva, Fiji | Presidential Palace
18° 9' 7" S, 178° 25' 33" E






James Naughton - at the age of sixty-seven - still found that he preferred the warmer, northern latitudes than the tropical ones. Never one to get used to the heat of the tropics, he'd found Singapore displeasing and Fiji not much better. The intensity of the sun this far south was not something the Irishman was used to and hardly one worth tolerating, especially as he was there on official business and thus dressed appropriately. It was the reason he'd downed an entire glass of ice water upon arriving at the Presidential Palace and eagerly served a second, which sat perspiring, half-drunk, on a coaster next to him. Naughton's past few days had been interesting on his body. First he'd flown to the other side of the world from Dublin to Singapore via Helsinki, leaving Thursday evening and arriving Friday afternoon. Then he'd rested for the weekend, taking in few sights and focusing mainly on the task at hand from the comfort of his air conditioned hotel suite.

Then it had been a late, Sunday evening flight from Singapore to Fiji, direct as it were, landing in the late morning. Yet that had been at Nadi, some one hundred and twenty-five miles - by car - from Suva. The Fijian government had offered a helicopter shuttle to Suva but Naughton wasn't keen on helicopter flights, given what Bray's government was doing with them. Instead, he opted for vehicle transport, which was another three-and-a-half hours. All-in-all, he'd been out of the car for just thirty-five minutes, hardly enough time for his body to accustom itself to being still versus in transit.

Naughton had been forty-one and a politician when the Empire conquered Ireland and he was one of those who fell into the receptive camp. He was branded a traitor by his fellow Irishmen but when the peace negotiations came in 2008, he was seen as someone honest and trustworthy. What he promised the aggrieved parties they received and what he didn't promise them they didn't expect to receive. Whether he still had those negotiating skills remained to be seen, especially as that had been eleven years ago. Still, he was the best chance the Empire had in dealing with Bray now that it no longer had an embassy or any inroads insofar as diplomatic communication existed. The British had offered themselves as the Empire's protecting power to Fiji and an interests section was being ironed out for just that task.

Yet this would require considerable negotiations and effort to set up and the Empire simply didn't have that kind of time, not when it had lives at stake. Bray's government had been tightlipped about those who'd gone down in the helicopter crash and as such, the Empire didn't know if its personnel were dead or alive. Intelligence operatives who'd remained behind had been unable to gather enough information to support any information one way or the other and thus, it all fell onto Naughton. He certainly felt the pressure strongly.

The Presidential Palace was little changed by Bray except that the professional-looking guards had been replaced by his goons. Palace staffers had, by and large, fled to the Layartebian embassy and a good number of them had escaped on the first Ospreys and helicopters out of the embassy. Bray had enlisted several of his own functionaries to fill in for these absent roles but to say that they were qualified would be to strongly stretch the matter. Bray enlisted his women to serve as receptionists and in this they were perhaps more qualified than any of his goons were. Naughton couldn't help but notice a forced tension in the atmosphere but what was to be expected in a country that had just suffered civil war.

Whatever Bray was doing behind closed doors was unknown to Naughton but he took strong note when those doors opened that Bray's office was empty. Perhaps he was forcing the Layartebian to wait. This happened a lot in diplomatic circles, as if it were necessary to forgo customs of cordiality in the face of "power moves" such as being late to a previously established meeting. Bray, in his grandeur, made excuses which Naughton politely dismissed in the manner befitting to all elder statesmen. Bray ushered him inside where a food platter was waiting. Despite Bray's seeming crudeness, he'd adapted a least a little to the appropriate customs of diplomacy and Naughton saw this as a good sign. It meant, perhaps, that progress could be made.

When the cordialities were over and the two men alone, Naughton opened. "Mister President," which Bray found pleasing. If a Layartebian statesman was referring to him by his newly-adopted title, perhaps it would mean they would accept his rule. "I think it is obvious why I am here. During our evacuation, we suffered a terrible tragedy and five of our citizens remain in your care."

"It was indeed a tragedy and I want you to know that my men did not shoot down your helicopter,"
Bray answered, playing the innocent victim. The cause of the crash had yet to be established however.

"We're not pointing any fingers. The official stance of the Layartebian government is that an investigation is needed to determine fault, whether that was pilot-error, mechanical, or otherwise. Yet that is secondary to the manner of the five souls aboard, one of whom was Ambassador Hester."

"Yes it is very tragic indeed,"
answered Bray. "It is tragic that your government saw fit to abandon the nation of Fiji and, with it, provide escape to my predecessor." Bray was beginning his maneuvering almost immediately. "The British did not abandon Fiji and no harm has come to them."

"We should not focus on this. Those decisions are made long before conflicts happen. Defined are a rigid set of parameters and, as such, those conditions were fulfilled. Your predecessor's departure I cannot speak to but the Empire is not averse to refugees."

"You call them refugees,"
Bray laughed, "we call them traitors. Those have left have turned their back on Fiji and as such they will be stripped of everything they left behind. That includes their citizenship to this nation."

"Shall you leave them stateless?"

"I shall."

"Well that is for them to bear,"
Naughton continued, "but our concern is not with these people. Our concern remains with the lives of those in the helicopter. The Empire means not to interfere with Fiji's domestic policies and, as such, they are no threat to your nation."

"Is that so? You do not mean to interfere."

"No we do not."

"And should my predecessor request 'military intervention' will you then involve yourselves?"

"No,"
answered Naughton while shaking his head. "The official stance of the Layartebian government is that what happened here is a Fijian matter and not a Layartebian matter."

"An island group in the Pacific has a revolution and it is not a Layartebian matter? I don't believe it. What of the great game between the Empire and Japan?"

"Has Japan moved towards Fiji?"

"No."

"Then why should the Empire? We're not moving towards Fiji because that would invite the Japanese to do so. We match ourselves move-for-move. If the Japanese hold, we will hold; if we hold, the Japanese will hold."

"And if the Japanese were to move towards Fiji?"

"A matter to be crossed later. I want to convince you that the Empire is no threat to Fiji. That we have done nothing to affect the course of events here."

"Oh but you have already,"
said Bray. "You abandoned your embassy, your citizens have shunned the resorts, your corporations have already canceled contracts and operations, and so on and so forth. By abandoning your embassy your entire nation, and others such as the Federation, has abandoned Fiji. Economically how are we to recover? What is there to fear here? What is there to worry about for your nation?"

"Our nation always takes the interests of its people paramount."

"Yes your people. What about the other people? The Empire is very selfish. If a nation stands in your way, you conquer it. If a natural disaster strikes you take your people. What is a nation the size of the Empire to the world when it only cares about its own interests?"

"Would you prefer the Empire meddlesome?"

"The Empire is already meddlesome. I don't forget. Your nation sent assassins to kill me once but we were ready for them. Now you have sent a diplomat to negotiate. Why were you not so willing to speak the first time? You start with bullets and end with pens."

"I cannot speak to those matters because I am unfamiliar with them."

"I am!"
Naughton saw that Bray was a difficult adversary. Bray didn't want to negotiate, he wanted to embarrass the Empire for a grudge he'd had ever since that fateful June night in 2004.

"Please Mister President, we should not begrudge old incidents be they what they may."

"How much are they worth to you?"

"Do you truly mean to ransom them?"

"I'm contemplating it."

"Allow me to say, strongly, that the Empire has deep interest in recovering its people."

"Is that supposed to be a threat Mister Naughton?"

"You may take it however you wish but I can promise you that it would be in your best interests to release our people. Now, if you wish, we can speak again tomorrow. I believe I've taken enough of your time for one day,"
Naughton said as he stood, offering his hand. "I wish you a good evening Mister President." Naughton's departure had cut Bray of the rest of his spiel and it had also sent a cold chill into the air. Naughton, the elder statesman whose words didn't carry much venom stung like a scorpion's. Bray began to doubt whether or not he should pursue his attempt to embarrass the Empire any further.

For Naughton, the meeting had not ended how he pleased but that was how Bray wanted to play it. Bray had been confrontational and hostile and Naughton knew how to deal with it, chiefly by depriving him of the audience. Bray had plenty more to say and Naughton could see it, which was why he departed when he did, rather than pursue further. He'd take leave at his hotel for the evening, hoping that Bray wouldn't do something stupid to a man who'd come under a flag of peace and diplomacy. If he did, the act would seal his fate.



• • • † • • •


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• The Empire of Layarteb •

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Hi No Moto
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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Hi No Moto » Sat Jul 06, 2019 1:37 pm

June 10th, 2019
HIJMS Zuihō, off the coast of Suva
Fiji, South Pacific

Much like the other evacuation efforts being made a multitude of nations around the globe, the Empire of Japan’s evacuation of its citizens, who were either living or holidaying in Fiji at the time of coup made by the now President Jacob Bray, had been a quick and successful operation. Much like the Cottish the Empire of Japan had had to think on its feet by calling upon the services of a Japanese Merchant Vessel, the Kobayashi Maru that had luckily been at port during the coup and quickly been requisitioned into providing a safe evacuation to the hundreds of Japanese citizens who were desperate to get off the island and back to safety within the Empire, many of those evacuated being taken to the Japanese administered territory of Tonga where they would be afforded travel back to their homes.

Unlike the other governments who were conducting their own evacuations however, the Japanese Embassy in Suva had not been given orders to evacuate and instead had received guidelines from Tokyo to remain very much active in their day to day activities to perhaps encourage any moves to open talks between Tokyo & Suva and their new president whom it was feared could upset the delicate balance in the region. Since the 1960s the Empire of Japan had found itself with a meagre presence in the South Pacific with its territories of Tuvalu, Wallis & Futuna, Tonga and Niue barely registering the grand scheme of things and it had been thought for decades that they would move on Fiji as a counter to the Layartebian holdings in the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia but it was agreed that a neutral Fiji was far better than a Japanese held Fiji, it could easily be cut off from the nearest Japanese bases in Rabaul and Truk and therefore was seen as a hindrance rather than a benefit in times of war.

With a new president forcing his way into power, the chance of a Layartebian infiltration of neutral Fiji was high and something Tokyo wished to make a high priority to hinder. To that end the Imperial Japanese Navy had been ordered to make ready a task force to be sent down to Fiji from Rabaul to ‘assist’ in the evacuation of its citizens and safeguard the Kobayashi Maru as it went about its humanitarian work whereupon it would remain on station to monitor the situation that many feared could blow up at any moment. It was a small squadron centred round the HIJMS Zuihō, a Zuihō-Class Light Carrier, of the Eighth Carrier Division and was supported by a single Takao-Class Cruiser and a trio of Akizuki-Class Destroyers for protection as they sailed off the coast of Fiji.

The Kobayashi Maru had left the area a few days ago on its way to Tonga with its cargo safe if not a little frightened by their recent ordeal but the Japanese task force would remain on station for much longer, the situation demanding that the Empire of Japan be present and able to act on any opportunities that arose.
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Freistaat-Ostafrika
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Founded: Apr 10, 2018
Corporate Police State

Postby Freistaat-Ostafrika » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:18 am

10 June 2019 - 16:00hrs [UTC+12]
Suva, Fiji

It would be of no surprise to anyone who knew the Nanfang Republic that their response to the Fijian coup had been a measured one. Nanjing had issued a statement that branded the coup as an entirely internal Fijian political matter and that relations would only change if the Fijian authorities acted in an 'unfriendly manner' towards Nanfang citizens or interests. This statement from Nanjing had been closely followed by similar statements from the various African and Asian nations which were entering ever more closely into Nanjing's orbit, including the likes of Freistaat Ostafrika and the Grande Império do Zaire. While most of these nations had very few national citizens in Fiji at the time of the coup and were only represented in the nation on a consulate level, they did rally behind the Nanfang Republic in regard to Nanfang nationals in the country. Although Nanfang vacationers were tending more towards the less-explored Kingdom of Travancore this year, there was still a respectable contingent of Nanfang tourists in Fiji when the coup occurred and they had found themselves immediately offered shelter in the Nanfang Republic's embassy, as well as the Ostafrikan embassy and the consulates of their friendly nations. Admittedly this was done more out of a desire to court Nanjing's favour than out of humanitarian concern, but it still allowed Nanfang nationals to take shelter in diplomatic properties with the Nanfang embassy efficiently coordinating with the other sites as well as Nanjing in order to plan the evacuation. It had taken two days for a diverted cruise liner, the Explorer Dream, to leave their pre-planned South Pacific cruise route and reach Fiji, at which point Nanfang nationals were quickly moved aboard and met with sympathy from their vacationing fellow citizens.

With the holidaymakers evacuated, Nanjing had instructed the embassy personnel to stay put. Fiji was a trade partner after all, exporting sugarcane and saw log to the Nanfang Republic while importing goods such as textiles, light industrial products, and mechanical and electrical products. The small island nation imported a great deal more from the Republic than it exported to them and Nanjing had no real desire to lose them as a trading partner, so the embassy would continue to operate as normal in order to engage with the apparent new government. The Ostafrikan embassy staff also remained in place so that Dar es Salaam could be seen to be supporting Nanjing's own decision, and the various consulates of the affiliated nations also remained open as they followed the Nanfang Republic's lead. Of course this offered a great deal of legitimacy to the the new regime of President Jacob Bray as it signalled a willingness to continue doing business. In truth Nanjing were not particularly fond of the rumours that they had heard about his personality cult and the possibility of action against Indo-Fijians, but they resolved to remain in Fiji to keep lines of communication open. It would also put them in a prime position to observe any potential sabre-rattling between the Empire of Japan and the Empire of Layarteb over the Pacific island state.

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Layarteb
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Postby Layarteb » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:00 pm



• • • † • • •



Tuesday, June 11th, 2019 | 17:00 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Fortress of Comhghall
40° 41' 28" N, 74° 0' 58" W






The Emperor had all but one meeting left on his calendar for the day and then he could take his dinner with his wife. The menu for the day was light, largely because summer had kicked in and neither the Emperor nor his wife particularly enjoyed eating heavy during the warmer months. They would sit at a massive table, capable of seating nearly thirty guests but rather than at opposite ends where they'd need a telephone to talk to one another, they'd sit across from each other at one end, close so that they could talk. The Emperor's wife had no official or unofficial role, largely because his predecessor had been unmarried and thus none was subscribed into the procedures and processes of the office. She wasn't looking for an official or an unofficial role however, rather taking pleasure in her retirement - she'd been a government official once upon a time - and going about the duties and requirements of being a grandmother. They'd had a single child - a daughter - born a few years into their marriage who now had children of her own. It was a "complete" family life that the Emperor's predecessor had not had.

The Emperor's final meeting with be with Minister Timothy Fisher of Foreign Affairs, perhaps the Emperor's closest and greatest ally within the Cabinet. During Operation AJAX, which was an unscheduled and unannounced test of the current Emperor's mettle, Minister Fisher had played a highly important and crucial role, backing up the Emperor on every step of the way and introducing logic and pause to an escalating crisis that threatened to consume the entire planet - had it been real. Since then, the bond had stuck and the two men worked in tandem, Minister Fisher a dove - as required of his position - and a source of logic and pause and the Emperor as the ultimate authority for the Empire's foreign policies throughout the world. The Emperor was very unlike his predecessor who was hawkish even at times it wasn't necessary. Perhaps that was why he'd been chosen to succeed the Emperor, whose whereabouts remained unknown except to a very small group of individuals within FORCE Falcon and who were sworn to secrecy, even to the current Emperor. This was precisely why a combat force hadn't yet descended upon Fiji and why the Empire had sent in a negotiator first and not the marines.

When Minister Fisher arrived, he was let right into the Emperor's office and the doors were shut behind him. The two men took up seats near a working area consisting of armchairs and a small table. It was near the fireplace that sat dark and cold for it was summer and there was no need to use it. "Naughton is about an hour from heading into another meeting with Bray," Fisher began. It was 10:00 in the morning - on Wednesday - in Fiji and Naughton had a meeting scheduled from 11:00 to 15:00 with Bray to continue discussing the matter of releasing the Layartebian nationals who remained in Fiji.

"How has his progress been so far?"

"Well the first day was rather telling. He left the matter open and removed Bray's pulpit, setting the man off guard, Naughton reported. Second day, Bray maneuvered with some demands, none of which we can control. It was a stall effort to Naughton. We'll see how today goes."

"Do we even know the condition of the flight crew and the ambassador?"

"No. Intelligence doesn't have very many operatives, agents, or assets in place anymore, not with the embassy evacuation. No one works in a hospital or can gain access to one yet but they're trying. We suspect some died in the crash, it was a rather horrific crash based on the imagery."

"Where has Naughton got on that matter?"
Asked the Emperor, chiefly meaning access to the crash site for an investigation.

"Not far, which is remarkable because Bray insists that his men did not shoot down the helicopter. An investigation - if he were telling the truth - would prove just this. Yet he wants to block access to the site."

"Perhaps because he doesn't want us to know the people are dead. I presume the crash would tell as much?"

"Yes and no, we could ascertain with good idea who survived and who did not but that was only the initial crash. We wouldn't know the extent of their injuries or whether or not they survived post-crash."

"He's ransoming the lives - or bodies - of five Layartebian citizens. Perhaps we need to reintroduce the 9th ARG to persuade him along."

"Naughton thinks that might be a necessity but not yet. There's also the matter of the Japanese. They've maintained a naval presence off the island chain."

"Is Bray courting the Japanese?"

"Unknown at this time. Ridgeway hasn't gone to them yet, despite his insistence that he might. He hasn't gone to the British or the Federation yet either. Perhaps it was a bluff."

"Perhaps…perhaps not,"
said the Emperor, "the 9th ARG pulled back to about four hundred nautical miles off of the coast of Fiji. We've left only a submarine lurking nearby but that's more for reconnaissance than actionable purposes but there are eight SEALS aboard."

"Naughton doesn't know this."

"Nor should we tell him as this might be a tool we need to utilize. We need to ascertain where our people are and, if necessary, extract them. As much as we are putting our faith and trust in Naughton, he can only achieve something if Bray is willing to negotiate. If Bray is just looking to stall and embarrass us then Naughton will never succeed no matter how hard Naughton tries. I want a Plan B."

"I would not advise against a Plan B but we should be very cautious. If we were to launch said 'Plan B' and it were to fail we would entirely lose our negotiating position and we would doom them to certain death."

"Absolutely…"
The Emperor said. In his head however, he was running out of patience with Jacob Bray and seeing Plan B more as Plan A at this point. Yet there would need to be considerable recon done ahead of time. They would need to know the precise location of the Layartebians and the military situation on the ground. More importantly however, they would need to know the medical condition of the Layartebians. If they were too badly injured to be moved then any rescue mission would do far more harm than good.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 | 13:30 hrs [UTC+12]

Suva, Fiji | College of Medicine
18° 8' 3" S, 178° 26' 10" E






Earlier in the morning, Mahendra Ali, the chief surgeon at Suva Emergency Hospital, had entered the bathroom to relieve himself. A man followed only seconds behind him and took a position at the urinal next to him. A second man was in a stall, quiet but present. The man looked Hispanic from his complexion but Mahendra couldn't be sure. "Are you Mahendra Ali?" He asked in a hushed whisper at the staff. It was an awkward place to have a conversation. Instinctively however, Ali responded that he was. "Be in your office Wednesday at 13:30, I want to have a conversation with you." That was all he said. He finished, zipped up his fly, flushed, washed his hands, and left. The man in the stall left as well, going through the same charade. That left Ali alone in the bathroom.

Now, at the appointed time and date, Ali sat nervously behind his desk. He didn't suspect the man was from one of Bray's death squads, who were roaming the country making prominent Indo-Fijians - like Mahendra Ali - disappear in the night. Two of his colleagues had disappeared thus far and he didn't know when his time would come. He wanted out of Fiji, along with his family but he didn't know how to escape and he didn't want to shirk on his responsibilities to his patients, of which he had many. In a way however, he could have his subordinates handle them as he'd taught them all and thus knew their capabilities. He had trust in them but he also knew that the war had created a lot of casualties his subordinates weren't accustomed to seeing. Mahendra, on the other hand, had. He'd spent six years studying in Layarteb and during that time he'd served in a mobile army surgical hospital. The war wounds he treated there had haunted him for long after but he'd never expected to see them again.

When the knock on the door came, Ali's heart was already racing. That it could beat faster surprised the forty-six year old surgeon. "Come in," he said and in stepped the man he'd stood next to at the urinal. The other remained outside, seated in a chair reading a book.

"Doctor Ali," the man said as he came over to the desk and extended his hand. Ali stood and shook it before offering the man a seat. "That you for meeting me so quickly. I'm sure you're a very busy man."

"I am busy, yes. What is this about?"

"Well Doctor, how safe is it to speak here?"

"It is very safe."
Ali assured the man and he knew it was safe as well. The night prior, the man had snuck into Ali's office with electronic devices meant to identify listening devices. None were found and Fiji didn't have a very extensive intelligence department nor did Bray have much of an inkling towards sophisticated intelligence-gathering apparatus or methods. He mostly relied on brute force interrogations rather than extensive operations to gain information. If his death squads suspected someone was a spy they merely beat him until he confessed, or died, whichever came first, whether they were wrong or right.

"Yes it is very safe," the man said. "I represent a party very interested in patients you may have under your care."

"What party?"

"Well Doctor, these patients came in from a helicopter crash. Does that help?"
Ali didn't answer but he didn't have to, his face gave away his answer. "Very good. If you were willing to assist us with these patients then we would be in a giving kind of mood. Perhaps someone as prominent as you are is in danger here. We would see to it that you were removed from that danger, as well as those closest to you."

"You're talking about me running away from Fiji, aren't you?"

"Yes I am Doctor. Is this in your cards?"
Ali thought for a moment but he'd already made up his mind.

"My family has to come with me."

"Good to hear,"
the man smiled, "that makes it easier really. So if you were able to assist us, we would certainly assist you."

"My family has to go first. Even if I don't make it they have to."

"We would prefer it that way Doctor. It makes it easier when the time comes. So if you're willing to be on board I need to have some assurances from you. I did some looking into your background and I am very impressed. You've helped us in the past."

"Yes I did."

"Perhaps it's time for us to repay our debt to you. If you're willing to go through with this I need assurances of secrecy and patience. You cannot tell your family until the time comes."

"I can keep the secret. In my profession we keep information all of the time."

"Very good. Then back to these five individuals. What are their conditions?"

"Three died in the crash. Their bodies are in the morgue. I cannot speculate on what killed them as I have not seen any autopsy information nor do I think one has been conducted yet."

"And the other two?"

"One of them arrived critical. He had massive injuries to his thorax, pelvis, and spine. He's presently in our intensive care unit under constant care. His condition is improving but he is presently on a ventilator and medication to maintain his blood pressure as well as drains in his chest from the surgery we had to do. The woman arrived in a broken pelvis and a concussion, the least injured of everyone. She is stable presently."

"Could they be moved Doctor?"

"Her yes, him not at all."

"What about in an emergency?"

"The only way I'd risk moving him would be if execution were imminent. There's simply no other condition that I would risk moving him for, the risk is simply too high."

"All right Doctor that's good to know. What is his prognosis?"

"He'll survive if that's what you're asking but he's going to need a lot of care and therapy. He may never walk again, it's too early to tell. You want to recover your people, don't you?"

"Yes we do. We know they're being held for ransom and we want to evaluate whether or not we should remove the ransom from the equation."

"This they are. I've had as much said to me, indirectly. There are armed guards at both of their rooms, Bray's men, they're preventing anyone from entering except doctors and nurses. They have malice in their eyes so I have had someone in there at all times for both patients."

"Then we must thank you greatly for protecting our people. I'm sure this is at great risk."

"Well if they weren't stupid it might be but these men aren't very bright. I think they're more interested in some of the nurses than carrying out their orders."

"How many men total at the hospital?"

"Dozens recuperating from the conflict. On guard only about twenty or so."

"Is there a risk to our people at all? Do you think they would be executed?"

"It is a possibility but I should think Bray would rather they die in a manner sufficient to their injuries. Shooting them would do little good, you can't cover that up with an autopsy. They'll probably ask us to push too much morphine or asphyxiate them."

"I'm going to give you a number. I want this number called immediately if something awry happens. It's my job to give this information back to my people but at the same time, it's my job to make the call. Now Doctor if you tell me he's as bad as he is, I wouldn't want to move him either. We want to save our people, not harm them further. However, I must ask, I need a copy of their medical records. It's not be asking so please do not be insulted. They'll want them to prepare for any evacuation so that the receiving facilities are ready."


Ali held for a second but understood. "Yes I understand. I can get them to you but how?"

"My man outside can get them this evening. Here's an address,"
the man passed over a slip of paper. "It's a café. Get out with your briefcase, go inside, get something to drink, and leave them with the cashier. She'll have a red hat and her hair will be in a ponytail. She's not Fijian. Can you do this?"

"Yes I can. I know this place."

"Good. Doctor, how many in your family and where do you live?"
Doctor Ali passed on the information and the man stored that in his head. "We'll be in touch again tomorrow."

"Where?"

"At some point you'll need to take a leak."
The man stood, offered his hand, and left. He'd gained a lot of information in a short amount of time and a receptive and visibly scared chief surgeon as an agent.



• • • † • • •


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Postby Layarteb » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:19 pm



• • • † • • •



Friday, June 14th, 2019 | 11:00 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Fortress of Comhghall
40° 41' 28" N, 74° 0' 58" W






Deep underneath Governors Island and thus the Fortress of Comhghall sat the War Room, a SCIF or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. Within the confines of this SCIF sat the entirety of the National Security Council along with several guests, one of whom was the surgeon general of the Empire, Dr. Jon A. Hood, MD. They were there to discuss plans for evacuating the five Layartebians being held at Suva Emergency Hospital, three of whom were dead and being held in the morgue. Information provided by Dr. Mahendra Ali had been crucial in giving the Layartebian government what it needed and in that short time since, a thorough review had been made and an action plan put into place. All of the pieces of that puzzle were in place, they just needed the go ahead from the Emperor and the NSC.

Beginning the briefing was Minister Sanders of Defense. "Sir, as of 22:00 local time, approximately six hours ago, we've inserted a special forces team into Fiji. They're currently hiding out in a safe house in Suva provided by the Ministry of Intelligence. The team's composition is varied because of the highly specialized nature of the operation. We had four PJs with paramedic certification, four Delta Force operators, two doctors from our regular forces, one navy and one army, and four SEALS, all told a force of fourteen men.

"Assets deployed include two UH-60Q Black Hawk helicopters deployed onto a nearby amphibious assault ship along with its complement of transport and attack helicopters. We brought in the UH-60Qs because of their highly specialized nature.

"The operation will go as such. If authorized, our agent on the ground will provide the necessary cause to have both Ambassador Hester and Chief Petty Officer Webb moved from their current rooms to specialized areas. For both it will be scans. The agent tells us that they're being held in separate areas, the ambassador in the regular ward and Webb in intensive care still. Webb is connected to a bevy of equipment that makes this impossible without the level of cooperation we're receiving.

"When the operation commences, our agent will have the two patients brought to their separate rooms. He informs us that while the guards accompany the patients wherever they go, they won't enter the scanning rooms due to radiation risks so it will be necessary for them to go to separate rooms. He assures us there is no issue with this. Once in these rooms, our PJs and doctors will take possession of the patients while disguised as hospital staff. They will then make an exit from the scan rooms through the rest of the hospital to the receiving areas, which are unguarded. Two ambulances will be waiting, each driven by one of our Delta operators. A third vehicle, a hospital courier van, will be driven by the four SEALS who will go to the morgue to retrieve the bodies of the rest of the flight crew. We have two Delta operators remaining and they will be assisting with the evacuation of the two patients.

"Following this, they will drive to a designated LZ in eastern Suva along the coastline. There is an industrial park with an open, well-paved area perfect for the transfer of the patients and soldiers to helicopters. Helicopters will be on standby to land as soon as the ambulances arrive at the site. The two patients, along with two of the PJs and the doctors will transfer to the UH-60Qs and depart immediately. The rest of the force will board a pair of Knight Hawks from the navy. Should there be a need for force, there will be two additional Knight Hawks with sixteen SEALS and air support provided by Huron attack helicopters. The entire operation, from start-to-finish, is expected to take no longer than thirty minutes at the hospital and fifteen on the road. Extraction from the site to the amphibious group will take a further fifteen minutes. Once there, we will transfer the patients to the onboard hospitals. If we do this right sir, there doesn't need to be a shot fired."

"If I may make a correction,"
Dr. Hood said. The Emperor nodded, "There is only one doctor aboard and the other medical professional is an anesthetist. Both will accompany the more seriously wounded petty officer. Ambassador Hester will be mainly evacuating with the PJs."

"If I may ask Doctor,"
the Emperor began, "what is the role of an 'anesthetist' are we sedating the patient?"

"Sir, anesthesia is one aspect of an anesthetist's job but not the only aspect. His or her role will be to also monitor the patient's blood pressure and pain medication during transit as well as general care. He or she will monitor the vitals throughout the entire transport from the moment they enter that room until their arrival in the hospital ward aboard the New Georgia."

"I'm glad I now know the role of an anesthetist, thank you doctor. So Minister, you're saying if this goes right not a shot is fired and if we should encounter resistance at the hospital?"

"Our PJs, Delta operators, and SEALS will be armed with concealable weaponry. They're not going in with machine guns or assault rifles sir but pistols and, if they can manage to conceal it, SMGs though I suspect only pistols. The agent on the ground confirms that each patient is guarded by two men and that there are approximately ten to twenty armed soldiers in the vicinity of the hospital and its grounds at any given point in time; however, we are assured that they remain out of the way. They are mainly occupying areas of the hospital that our men need not go. If a shootout were to happen, our priority will be the patients."

"Would we engage in a running gun battle between the hospital and the extraction zone?"

"Sir if we have to we would but that is the last thing this operation needs. We'll have an orbiting ISR asset throughout the operation so we'll be able to keep eyes on the entire force once they leave the hospital. If necessary sir, we may have to vector the Hurons over Suva."

"Will the drone be armed?"

"No sir."

"Well then let's hope that isn't necessary. Hurons opening fire in a crowded city would be the opposite of what we want to achieve. What about checkpoints throughout the city?"

"There are no checkpoints along the route as observed by our operatives on the ground. They'll be monitoring ahead of the ambulance team to warn them of route changes, if necessary, should any pop up where they previously weren't."

"Doctor,"
here the Emperor turned back to the surgeon general, "what is to be expected of the petty officer?"

"Well sir moving him is risky but we don't know if Bray intends to execute them. All signs point to them being used for ransom but at some point Bray will run out of patience and based on what Naughton informed us prior to his departure only a few hours ago, Bray's patience is running thin. The man isn't budging in his demands. So what to expect then of the petty officer?

"He'll be packaged up with a considerable amount of equipment. He won't be moved in the hospital without a physician accompanying him with an emergency kit in case something happens en route. There will be orderlies as well and nurses. He'll be on several drip lines and a ventilator. Lines will be for medicine and saline drips as well as drainage from his operation. He'll have had several scans since his operation so moving him won't be atypical for the guards. It will simply be more scans to them as they've certainly grown accustomed to the necessities of critical care."

"What is his prognosis?"

"It's good sir. This Doctor Ali did a remarkable job. I suspect he would have received similar levels of care here."

"That is a relief."

"Yes sir but he'll still need a lot of care."

"What of our agent? Who is he?"

"Sir,"
Minister Flores of Intelligence said, "he is a member of the hospital staff. He'll be extracting as well. We've already ensured his family is en route out of Fiji, his only condition. We'll set him up with a standard relocation package. He's helped us our greatly."

"I'd say so, getting us the medical records as well as surveillance in the hospital. That's no easy endeavor."

"No sir it isn't,"
Minister Flores answered, fully aware that the agent was Doctor Ali himself. It was the middle of the night in Fiji and his family was presently en route to an extraction point themselves. The Ministry of Intelligence had managed to bribe a seaman to spirit them out via boat. He would go out to an awaiting Layartebian warship where an exchange would take place, money for the people. The Ministry of Intelligence was finding that there was no shortage of Fijians willing to oppose the new regimen, so long as they could do so quietly and carefully. Jacob Bray had few supporters outside of his own militia and it was those people who still controlled the many businesses and happenings of Fiji. It was they who ran the power plants and they who kept the water running and the sewers working. They offloaded the ships at the docks and they ran the airport and virtually all of them wanted Bray gone and Ridgeway reinstalled as the island's President.

"So then, I suppose, all that's left is a GO/NO-GO from us."

"Yes sir,"
said Minister Sanders.

"Then let's take it to a vote. Who is in favor?" The NSC had eleven members but the Emperor didn't vote except in the case of a tie. It was the same with the Special Council that had eight members but only seven voting. He wouldn't need a vote today as the NSC voted unanimously to go ahead with the operation. The idea of a quiet operation with no casualties - even to the OPFOR - was desirous, especially in this kind of situation.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Saturday, June 15th, 2019 | 09:45 hrs [UTC+12]

Suva, Fiji | Lauthala Bay Industrial District
18° 8' 25" S, 178° 27' 42" E






This was a vulnerable time for the operation. The helicopter landing force was fast approaching the landing zone while the three-vehicle convoy was nearing it as well. Time was of the essence here. If the birds were on the ground too long they'd be sitting ducks and provide too much of an alert and if the ambulances were sitting in the open for too long they'd be a dead giveaway that something untoward was happening. It had to be timed down to the second and it was for that reason that the helicopter pilots had flown a very specific course across the open water, keeping low and keeping to their waypoints, hitting precise times as indicated. If they were too fast to one they corrected to the next and so on and so forth until they flared for landing in what amounted to an open plot of land in the industrial district of Lauthala Bay.

As the two UH-60Qs flared and settled down, the ambulances turned onto the street. They traversed the three hundred meters quickly, slowing and stopping without too much stress on the patients and passengers within them. From there, the most critical part of the operation commenced, transferring CPO Webb from the ambulance to the Black Hawk without harming him. Doctor Ali, standing alongside the Layartebians, carefully supervised his positioning and movement into the Black Hawk. Meanwhile, Ambassador Hester was carefully placed into her own Black Hawk along with the necessary personnel and already airborne before Webb was even in the helicopter.

At the same time, the three Knight Hawks had put down separately and within a good distance from the Black Hawks to ensure no interference. The SEALS providing ground cover had stepped out of their helicopters and set up a perimeter around the area, weapons raised, looking for targets. Delta and the extra PJs joined them, providing cover behind weapons handed to them by the backup force and when the all clear went over the radio and the second Black Hawk lifted into the sky and headed out over the open water, everyone rushed to their assigned helicopter and boarded quickly. Within seconds, those Knight Hawks were airborne and with the Hurons blocking them, they zoomed out over the water and into the safety that only distance could provide.

From start-to-finish, the operation on the ground took forty-nine minutes, slightly longer than expected but that had every bit to do with the loading and unloading of CPO Webb. They'd gone slowly and carefully, not rushing it despite the dangers. By the time the guards at the hospital noticed anything was wrong, the ambulances were barely a kilometer from the extraction area and there was little the guards could do. Rushing throughout the hospital, they found a largely unaware staff. The operation had been conducted so quietly that no one was the wiser. The PJs dressed as orderlies, the doctor, and anesthetist all blended into the staff of the busy hospital with no one fingering them as intruders. It was a testament to the professionalism and their training that they could pull off such an operation, without a single shot fired.

Upon evacuation, the Emperor received word when the helicopter force was past 6 nautical miles, where they were safely in international airspace. The Hurons, keeping back to provide cover, never reported anyone or anything chasing them and why should they, the Fijians had no clue what had happened right underneath their noses. It wasn't known to the Layartebians when - or how - Bray found out about the operation but wind got back to the Ministry of Intelligence that he was beyond furious. The MoI gathered intelligence that Bray personally punished the four guards, virtually beating them to death before a merciful coup de grâce was issued in the form of a pistol shot to the base of their skulls from behind. The bodies were subsequently cremated on Bray's orders, ostensibly so that their souls couldn't arise to Heaven, or so that was how Bray phrased it.

Upon landing on the New Georgia, the two patients were greeted by cheering sailors and airmen who'd been assembled on deck to welcome them. CPO Webb, in poor shape from the move, managed a smile and a wave but that was it. Ambassador Hester, from her litter, managed a short thank you speech to everyone before being carted off to the hospital. For the three fallen airmen who came next, somber salutes were rendered as the bodies were transported to the on-board morgue.



• • • † • • •


Last edited by Layarteb on Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Layarteb » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:30 pm



• • • † • • •



Wednesday, June 19th, 2019 | 16:00 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Fortress of Comhghall
40° 41' 28" N, 74° 0' 58" W






The Emperor and the Special Council were already aware of the disturbing film before its arrival in the Emperor's office but being aware of it and seeing it were two very different things. The film had come via diplomatic pouch, first from the British embassy in Suva to the British consulate in Singapore. From there it was brought to the Layartebian consulate and then onto Layarteb City, quite a long distance to travel for a single flash drive. It hadn't been viewed until its arrival in Layarteb City and even then, it had been viewed forty-five times before the Emperor had been informed of its existence, chiefly to make sure there weren't any secretive messages and secondly to validate its authenticity. With those markers cleared, the video was copied multiple times and send via courier to the Fortress of Comhghall. It had been downloaded first onto a computer disconnected from any networks, scanned and rescanned for malware, viruses, or other malicious software. Then, when it was cleared safe, it was transferred back to another flash drive and allowed to move to connected computers. Sharing was done via hardcopy only to ensure that the film got to where and only to where it was intended to get.

Seated around the conference table, the Emperor and the Special Council watched as technician set up the television screen as required. He subsequently left and the video was played. The video opened up with a view of the office of the President of Fiji. A cameraman with shaky hands put the camera onto a tripod and swiveled it from the desk to a wall. There, Jacob Bray stood, beaming. He looked at the camera and still smiling said, "You have committed a daring operation against my people. You have rescued your people, you have violated my sovereignty. That is fine. I shall give you this victory. But I shall not give you every victory." He tapped his cane on a door and it opened from the other side.

In stepped two armed men, each carrying a loaded AK-74U. They stepped to the side, guarding the door and I stepped three men, dressed in prison uniforms. They were shackled at their hands and feet and then to one another so that they were forced to waddle into the President's office. Black hoods over their heads hid their faces but even without this, the viewer could easily tell that the men were on a rationed diet designed only to keep them alive and nothing further. The clothes hung on their emaciated frames like garments on a mannequin. Two more men entered, also with AK-74Us and then the door was shut, again from the other side. "Now you will see Mister Emperor," and in rapid motion, Bray yanked the hoods off of the three prisoners.

"Those are our men sir," Chairman-General Barnes said somberly. The video was paused, "In June 2004, your predecessor authorized an incursion into Fiji on behalf of the Fijian government to assassinate Jacob Bray. The men were part of a black operations unit and there were six of them. We believed them all to be dead. When they entered Bray's camp, they inadvertently must have given themselves away. We had radio contact for only a brief time before they destroyed the radio. We were previously under the assumption that all six men were dead. That is not the case."

"Did we try to recover their bodies?"

"We did and we didn't sir,"
answered Minister Flores of Intelligence. "Because it was a black op, we couldn't engage the Fijian government without accepting responsibility for the action. We tried several times through intermediaries but to no avail."

"So he's had three to six prisoners of ours for the past fifteen years."

"Yes sir he has,"
said Chairman-General Barnes who then pushed play. Bray laughed at the camera.

"Fifteen years ago you sent assassins to kill me but I outsmarted them. Now look at their faces! You believed you rescued your people but you did not and now I will not negotiate. I will make you pay!" The two guards stepped forward and aimed their weapons at the soldiers. In a split second, they squeezed the triggers but none of the men flinched and nothing happened, their guns were empty.

"We surmise sir that he's being doing this to them for the past fifteen years for none of them to flinch. At this point they'd probably welcome death," Chairman-General Barnes said. "By now whatever secrets they've had have been long since spilled but it would be of little use to Bray." Bray continued to laugh and then the video ended abruptly.

"So he still has human shields," the Emperor said, "and now he's taunting us with them."

"Yes sir."

"Chairman-General, can we rescue our people? Do we know where they are?"

"We know where they are sir, never more than a few feet from Bray and never where he isn't. He'll have them in the Presidential Mansion most likely. They're his shields. We would need a sizeable force to attack that target and we couldn't guarantee he wouldn't just kill them when the attack happened. Either way sir, they're dead. They've been completed disavowed."

"What about their families?"

"Then men we sent in had none sir,"
Minister Flores said, "it's one of the requirements for a unit like this specifically because of this."

"Does he know this?"

"By now he does, they've been under duress for fifteen years. Surely by now they've revealed everything about themselves sir,"
Minister Flores answered.

"Well I believe this changes things," the Emperor said, "let's have a talk with Ridgeway again, shall we?"



• • • † • • •


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Postby Layarteb » Sun Aug 11, 2019 7:10 am



• • • † • • •



Thursday, June 20th, 2019 | 07:30 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Fortress of Comhghall
40° 41' 28" N, 74° 0' 58" W






President Jimi Ridgeway was shown into the Emperor's office early, ahead of all of his meetings. At this hour of the morning, the hustle and the bustle of the Fortress of Comhghall was not yet in full swing. Those arriving to work this early were having their coffee and getting ready to go about their day's work. The Emperor - deprived of the solace of sleep - had eaten breakfast at 07:00 after a short, thirty-minute workout to keep himself active and his metabolism strong. Then he showered, dressed, and made his way to his office to receive the ousted leader of the Republic of Fiji. With him were two men, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Timothy Fisher and the National Security Advisor, Robert Crawford.

Fisher was the Emperor's closest confidant but in terms of sheer power, Crawford held the most of it behind the Emperor himself. Crawford, for his position, was privy to the highest level of intelligence, sometimes even intelligence the Emperor did not see in full but rather only received summaries of to protect names and covers. Having been in that position now for six years, Crawford and Minister Sara Hill of Commerce were the only two cabinet members in their positions longest. "Mister President, please have a seat," the Emperor said, showing him to a sitting chair nearby the dormant fireplace. Tea was ready for the man and all four men took their seats. "I wanted to bring you here this morning to give you some news."

"News?"

"You're getting your country back Mister President."

"I am?"
President Ridgeway was genuinely surprised, not having been made aware of what the Emperor wanted when he'd asked for an early morning meeting the previous evening. "If I may ask what precipitated this change?"

"Bray has pushed our final button, if you want a simplistic answer of it. In truth, I want to ask you more about the mission in 2004 to assassinate Bray. Do you recall?"
President Ridgeway immediately tensed up and visually gave away the fact that he knew. It had previously been mentioned but not in the level of the detail the Emperor wanted.

"It's okay, we're all cleared for those details," Crawford said.

"It was when I was the ambassador to your nation. I served that post from 2001 to 2006. At the time, Bray was still just a cultist in the jungle. My government decided that he could be a problem but our resources were limited. We had intelligence on where he was from a confidential informant but we lacked the means to take him out so we requested help from your predecessor. He was all too willing I should say. The mission went belly up when the team was found out and a firefight ensued."

"We were led to believe all six men had died but we have evidence..."

"Yes you were,"
Ridgeway confessed, "this was my doing and I apologize for this but it was a situation that went disastrously wrong for our government and we needed to disavow all knowledge of the situation. Three of your men were killed in the firefight but three survived, wounded. They were taken prisoner, patched up, and kept prisoner in the jungle. Our confidential informant kept giving us intel up until seven years ago and then he went dark. We presume he was killed as we haven't seen nor heard from him since."

"So you knew all along we had living prisoners?"

"Yes we did. We couldn't risk another operation so we kept it under wraps."

"Do you understand…"

"I apologize for cutting you off again Mister Emperor but yes we did, that was why we kept that intelligence secret. We hoped to be able to deal with Bray a different way. Our informant was going to be given an assassination mission but we never got to that point and attempts to negotiate with Bray secretly were all failures. After 2012 we had no idea where they were or if they were alive or not and other attempts to penetrate his following failed."

"We were given a video of those three men,"
Crawford said, "alive and now in the Presidential Mansion, presumably as human shields."

"That would be Bray's MO. That's why he was always surrounded by women and children. The children might have had assault rifles but they were shields."

"It's time to atone for your misdeeds Mister President,"
said the Emperor, "from here on out you're to be sequestered as a 'state's witness,' which means we're going to control who you talk to and where you go. The reason being we need intelligence from you and we can't have anyone, not even those in your entourage knowing that we're planning an operation. We know you trust them but we do not. You can cooperate with us and get your nation back or you can refuse to cooperate in which point I am afraid the Empire can no longer host your presence."

"What kind of cooperation is needed?"

"Well we need to know the ins and the outs of the mansion for starters,"
Crawford said, "and we need to know who can give us blueprints."

"Are you going to attempt a rescue mission?"

"Perhaps,"
said the Emperor, "or perhaps we won't. That's entirely up to us in this situation."

"If I don't cooperate? Will you still attack?"

"We would likely yes but we would find a substitute to replace Bray,"
answered the Emperor. He was maintaining what level of professionalism he could with Ridgeway, knowing now that Ridgeway condemned three Layartebian soldiers to fifteen years of torture and captivity. In truth, the Emperor would have liked to see Ridgeway replaced no matter what but he needed something from him first.

"I understand your hostility Mister Emperor. I will cooperate but can you give me an idea how long this will take? I have a family."

"You'll be sequestered with them. As much for your sanity as to keep people quiet,"
answered Crawford, "as for time, a few weeks, a couple of months. It's impossible to say today." Ridgeway nodded, perhaps accepting that to get his position back, he would have to volunteer as a prisoner of the Empire. He didn't know where he'd be going or what the Layartebians had it mind but he did know that he had little choice. In truth, he would be ferried down to the swamps of North Carolina where he and those he identified as capable of helping would assist the premier special operations unit in JSOC prepare for an assault on the Presidential Mansion. Conventional forces, chiefly the Marines, would begin planning for the main operations securing the island of Viti Levu, the main island. Vanua Levu, just north of the main island, would be a secondary target. After they were secure, the remaining islands would be cleared with smaller units of infantry looking for Bray's supporters and removing them from power.



• • • † • • •


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Postby -The United Federation of Nations- » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:07 am

The Honourable Sebastian T. Barnes, President of the United Federation of Nations
Federal Tower, Phoenix
The Commonwealth of the Mojave, United Federation of Nations
Wednesday 19th June 2019, 1900hrs Local Time


President Barnes watched in silence as the debate continued before him in a closed session of the Federation Council. Unlike an open session, which the vast majority were for reasons of transparency, this session was not taking place in the Council Chamber but rather a conference room set aside for precisely this purpose. Given how long the debate had gone on for, Barnes was glad that they were sat at a table meaning he was seated rather than compelled to stand as in the Council Chamber for hours on end. As President, Barnes presided over all meetings of the full Federation Council, although a significant amount of actual work was done by the various Sub-Councils over which he could preside, but was not required to do so. This was how the legislation retained its autonomy, allowing debates to happen without the President’s approval and any Sub-Council could force a vote of the full Council even against the wishes of the President. Of course, in most cases, the President was expected to cultivate support on the Council for various initiatives and it was politically fraught for a President to publicly quarrel with the Council, or vice versa, as both were elected representatives.

The subject of this closed-session was the Fiji Crisis, and it was not made publicly accessible for the simple reason that it was the debate that would decide the Federation’s response to the entire affair, and as such no one had wanted to tip off Jacob Bray if the United Defence Force was about to descend upon him. Although the President was the Chief Executive and was very influential in shaping policy and responding in the immediate-term to various international events, it was ultimately the Federation Council that would set the tone and objectives of the Federation’s foreign policy. The decision to evacuate the Federation Embassy had been Barnes’ and had been a sensible one as the Federation had long been a critic of Bray’s rebels and there had been a very real concern that the maniac might turn his forces on them once he took over. The decision to deploy Task Force 12 of the UDF Navy had been Barnes’ and had helped to facilitate the evacuation in a safe and swift manner. The decision on the long-term Federation response to the entire affair, however, fell to the Council and more than two weeks later that decision had not yet been made.

Which was understandable really, there was a lot to consider.

Although the Federation Council had come out early to condemn the rebel overthrow of the government, and to double-down on that stance as news of Bray’s purges began to leak out from the island, there was a reluctance to get involved more directly. The Federation had long maintained a foreign policy that it does not involve itself in the affairs of another sovereign nation-state unless there was overwhelming humanitarian calamity taking place, or there was a specific request for assistance, either from the government or an opposition group, and even then the exact circumstances would bear consideration. Although the Federation Council might take some time to come to its decision, which was why the President was empowered with significant powers of initiative, once it did that was usually the end of the matter, which was incredibly useful when it is to long-term stability of policy and consistency, which was something that the Federation had a well-deserved reputation for; once the Council made its decision it could be counted on to maintain that, short of any clear change in circumstances.

In this situation, although the purges being conducted by Bray were distasteful and he would never win any awards for his human-rights record, there was not, as far as the Federation Intelligence Service could determine, any major atrocities. Moreover, although the ousted President, Jimi Ridgeway, had made a representation before the Federation Council for support to retake his country, there were very real concerns about the kind of support the man could actually command on Fiji. The simple fact of the matter was that Ridgeway had lost the war, and as such his support could not be much to speak off, and even of the UDF was able to re-install him his regime would be built on a foundation of sand and would require long-term Federation support to maintain. Moreover, although clearly the better of the two choices, Ridgeway was early what you would call a great statesman and some in the Council felt that he was not the sort of man the Federation ought to involve itself with.

As such, Ridgeway’s request for military assistance had been quickly dismissed by the Council and he had been sent on his way. Unless, of course, there was a development towards an international consensus to action, but the Federation was not going to be going it alone on this issue. The continuing debate was to shape the long-term posture the Federation would adopt vis-a-vis Bray and his regime.

The first question had been whether the Federation would have diplomatic relations with Fiji once all this was said and done. On this, the Council was split, roughly sixty-forty, in favour of not. Some, particularly (although not exclusively) the Councillors for the more long-standing member-states argued that the Federation ought to maintain diplomatic relations both in order to attempt to assert some influence to avert atrocities and in keeping with a belief that the Federation ought to maintain diplomatic relations with all states, good or evil, as a matter of principle. Barnes himself had argued strongly in favour of maintaining at least the semblance of a relationship, however, he and those who shared his view had been overruled by those that felt that the Federation had a more pressing responsibility to lead by example and not associate itself with regimes that did not share its values and democracy. Of course, those like Barnes had pointed out that, if the Federation adopted a blanket policy of such that there would be at least a few other nation-states that they ought not to have diplomatic relations with either. Fiji, it seemed was a special case due to its small size and relative importance, which had led to accusations of virtue signalling.

The decision was ultimately made that the Federation would not immediately race to re-embrace Fiji, that it would allow the situation to die-down and reassess before reinstating diplomatic relations. The fact that Bray had consistently rejected Federation attempts to mediate had gone down badly with the Federation Council, and it was concern over this that had led to the evacuation of the embassy in the first place. In the meantime, the Department of the Exterior had already extended the travel advisory that had been put in place when the crisis had truly kicked off, and this showed no sign of ending any-time soon, and the Federation Economic Council would consider sanctions against Bray and his supporters.

Of more immediate concern was the drawdown of the military forces that the Federation had moved into position in anticipation of an international coalition to remove Bray, one that had failed to materialise despite the best efforts of the Federation Department of the Exterior. The Federal Navy had made it very clear to Barnes that they could not leave so many ships, especially a cruiser, tied up at Fiji if there was no prospect of action, and was pushing for permission from Defence Force Command to release the ships for other duties, with Fleet Command suggesting keeping a single frigate or destroyer on-station to fly the flag. Of course, the warships could easily re-deploy themselves without support once orders were given, more complicated was the presence of the 16th Infantry Regiment at a British military base on the island of Samoa. The UDF had made the decision to stage the 16th Infantry, just under thirty-two hundred officers and men all told, on Samoa when military action had seemed the most likely; as although the regiment was part of a brigade, itself part of a division, the assessment by Defence Force Operations was that it alone would likely have been sufficient to get the job done, particularly as military planners had anticipated operating alongside the Layartebian marine brigade already in the theatre.

A Federal Infantry Regiment had a very small operational footprint, as although it could (and often was) augmented with tactical vehicles it was trained to operate on foot to maintain maximum flexibility, but even then returning over three thousand soldiers would not be a simple endeavour and if the situation changed it would take time to get them back over there again. The decision was therefore made, assuming the British were happy to keep hosting them, was for the 16th Infantry to remain on Samoa for the next few months, at least long enough for diplomatic relations to be re-considered, although the regiment would be stood-down from a combat footing.

Ultimately, as Federal troops, the disposition of the 16th Infantry fell to the President, as he did not need support from the State Guards to conduct the operation he did not, legally, need support from the Federation Council. In such situations, the sitting President almost always sought and generally received, the support of the Council, as was the case here.

As the meeting began to break up at least, Barnes spoke to several Councillors as the room slowly emptied. Truth be told, he had hoped that the Council would have been more decisive as although he was a career diplomat the prospect of a monster like Bray being allowed to remain in power was repugnant to say the least. Never the less, the Federation was a democracy and the Council had spoken; and given that the Federation had recently fought a short, but sufficiently large to require State Guard forces, war to overthrow the regime in the old People’s Republic of Canada, and was in the process of rebuilding the Canadian state with a few towards potential Federation membership, Barnes could hardly blame the Council for being a little cautious, even for such a small military action as an invasion of Fiji. Not to mention that the Federation’s diplomatic posture had always been one to avoid conflict, without an international consensus towards action, any unilateral Federation action had been unlikely from the start. And, all other considerations aside, Barnes’ role as President was to uphold the principles of the Federation; peace, prosperity and co-operation with all nations and an argument could be made that if Bray had had sufficient support to seize power, the Fijian people had made their own bed.

Barnes shook hands with the last Councillor, Marco Costa of Portugal, before pinching the bridge of his nose and heading for the door where he picked up his security detail provided by the Presidential Security Division of the Federation Security Agency.

“That’s me done for the day, Dave,” Barnes sighed heavily. “Let’s head back to the residence.”

“Of course, Mister President,” Special Agent Dave O’Brien nodded before adding, a little quieter into his comms mic. “All stations, all stations, Flashlight moving to the cars.”

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Postby Layarteb » Sun Aug 25, 2019 1:40 pm



• • • † • • •



Monday, August 26th, 2019 | 22:00 hrs [UTC-10]

Honolulu, Hawaii | Honolulu Air Force Base
21° 19' 55" N, 157° 57' 29" W






First Lieutenant Tony Allan groggily stepped down the ramp of the C-5M Super Galaxy and onto the tarmac at Honolulu. The warm, humid, island air caught him on his face and it felt refreshing after ten hours in the noisy and otherwise uncomfortable transport plane. His had been one of eight that had flown ten hours across North America and the Pacific Ocean from North Carolina to Honolulu carrying forty helicopters and four hundred and fifty men from two special operations units: the 1st SOG "Delta Force" and the 11th SOG "Night Stalkers." The former was the premier, Tier One unit in JSOC while the latter was their transportation. In Honolulu, they would join up with a forty-man combat troop of SEALS from the 2nd SOG and embark on one of only a four Hawaii-class special operations assault carriers for the journey across the Pacific to Fiji.

Delta and the Night Stalkers had spent the better part of the last two months rehearsing and practicing for an assault on the Presidential Mansion in Suva, aiming to rescue the Layartebian prisoners and either arrest or eliminate Jacob Bray. The assault plan required all sixty-four Delta operators and sixteen of the thirty helicopters they were bringing. Eight MH-6M Little Birds would transport thirty-two men to assault positions on the roof and outside of the target building while four MH-60M Black Hawks would transport the remaining thirty-two into defending positions on the mansion's grounds. They would be supported by four AH-6M Little Bird attack helicopters, two AV-8E Harrier IIs, and two AH-104A Hurons. That was more than enough firepower to keep reinforcements at bay and prevent flanking maneuvers.

Allan, being a platoon leader in Delta, was privy to all of the ins and outs of the operation but he was laser-locked focused solely on the mansion mission, dubbed Operation CACTUS SPINE with the overall Fiji operation taking on the CACTUS designator. The main invasion was CACTUS THORN. The finer details of that operation were being worked out as it was still at least two weeks away from being launched; after all, it was going to take approximately nine to ten days for the Delta contingent and their Hawaii-class CVHA to reach a launch point off of the coast of Fiji. Ultimately, the operation wouldn't require too many resources and it couldn't due to its distance from even the nearest Layartebian territories in the Coral Sea. It would be the navy's show with the marines leading the invasion and the navy providing support. JSOC would have a few objectives but overall, their heavy-hitting services weren't needed as a whole. Their opposition was Bray's militiamen who were a threat more due to their impulsiveness than their training, equipment, and discipline.

On the tarmac, Allan wanted to soak up some of the air but he wasn't going to get a chance. The company commander, Major Rob Hammond, who'd gotten off first, had just finished checking his watch. "Sixty-five minutes boys! Let's get a move on, now!" To keep these activities a secret, the unloading of the Galaxies would only take place when spy satellites weren't overhead and there were small windows with which they had to work, approximately an hour a piece. They had the benefit of night to do their unloading and they'd be finished long before the sun rose, shuttling their helicopters and equipment into hangars before satellites could return overhead. Of course, the satellites would notice eight more C-5s on the tarmac than the last pass but put two-and-two together that there weren't eight sitting in North Carolina anymore but moving transport planes wasn't going to raise alarm bells, even eight of them. The ILAF did this regularly as a means of misdirection, wasting only fuel and hours.

Allan looked at his watch too, making a note of when the window expired. Unloading the equipment would largely be done by groundcrew trained and equipped to operate forklifts and the other equipment needed to ferry the helicopters into their hangars. For the Delta operators however, there was some loose cargo to unload and those few who could operate forklifts with a license did so, lending a hand to speed up the process a little.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Tuesday, August 27th, 2019 | 18:30 hrs [UTC-10]

Pacific Ocean | ILS Oahu (CVAH-114)
21° 12' 2" N, 158° 7' 54" W






First Lieutenant Tony Allan found himself standing just below the aircraft deck but forward and starboard, far removed from the activity overhead and behind him as the Oahu took on her helicopters. Now out of the channels and in the open ocean, the Oahu had begun to receive her forty helicopters. There were fifteen AH-6M Little Bird attack helicopters, fifteen MH-6M Little Bird transport helicopters, and ten MH-60M Black Hawks. Each one was coming aboard with its two or four-man crew and they were stacked up, orbiting the assault carrier as they waited for permission to land. The Oahu, like all Hawaii-class vessels, could handle six helicopter landings at once, which certainly made for a quick process but there was still a bottle neck of course. The ship had only two elevators and they could only get two Little Birds or one Black Hawk onto a lift at a time.

The Hawaii-class was a purpose-built, special operations, helicopter-assault carrier. The ships were a little over 650 feet long and a little over 105 feet wide. They weighed in at over 20,000 tons fully loaded and they were conventionally powered, allowing them to enter virtually any port in the world and operate close to the shoreline where the restrictions of nuclear power kept many vessels of the Imperial Layartebian Navy at bay. With a top speed of 19 knots, they had an unrefueled range of between 5,800 nautical miles and 10,700 nautical miles, depending on their speed. They could support a dynamic air wing of special operations helicopters though the normal loadout was ten Black Hawks, fourteen Little Birds, and five Chinooks. In this instance however, the big Chinooks weren't required and the aircraft embarked would take up less room in the spacious hangar than would the default air wing. To go along with the aircraft, the vessel had space for four, fast attack boats, either of the Mark V or Mark VI type.

In their special configuration as special operations vessels, the vessels carried a purpose-built headquarters or tactical operations center for conducting operations. On long-duration missions, the vessel could support a battle staff of one hundred and fifty and a troop staff of four hundred and fifty. On short missions, the number of troops could be doubled. The complement of the entire vessel was only one hundred and sixty men thanks to a high degree of automation. To deal with threats, the Hawaii-class mounted a pair of RAM CIWS units, two 27-millimeter cannons, two Miniguns, and four M2 Heavy Machine Guns. They had a hefty price tag though, weighing in at §600 million apiece and the navy had four of them, two based in Norfolk and two in Pearl Harbor. One of these four was always forward deployed to Socotra for dealing with Yemen.

The Oahu was nevertheless a big vessel, as Allan would find out over the next ten days. He and his men had yet to be on one of them and they would see the ten-day voyage to Fiji as a bit of a relaxation period. They would still maintain their planning by practicing their marksmanship aboard as well as running through CQB drills in an onboard shoot house that had to be carefully designed to minimize both ricochets and hearing damage. At least they could set up a small shooting range on the deck and fire their rounds over the side of the vessel. They would certainly have a few skeet shooting competitions on the fantail of the big carrier while the Nightstalkers pilots conducted some training exercises taking off and landing on the carrier.

With the sun setting far away to the west, Allan had an unimpeded view of the horizon. Except for a few clouds there was nothing between him and the bright orb known as the Sun. He'd soon be joined by his counterpart in another 16-man platoon, Mark Walker.

Delta's arrangement was like that of the British SAS except the more conventional unit designations had been used. Delta was a 1,000-man unit that was organized into a main, command and support element of 250 men and three, 250-man battalions. Each battalion had a 22-man headquarters section and three, 76-man companies. One such company was aboard the Oahu. The companies were further led by a 12-man command and support element and four, 16-man platoons. Those platoons consisted of two, 8-man squads that could be further segmented into 4-man fireteams. The 4-man unit was the smallest possible unit for Delta. Any fewer and they couldn't adequately protect one another in CQB or during patrols. It also meant that they had extra space in their Black Hawks, could have an extra seat in virtually all military vehicles, and easily commandeer civilian vehicles. Those 16-man platoons were given specialties so that there were platoons designated for air assault, land assault, sea assault, and reconnaissance.

For CACTUS SPINE, Allan would lead his men onto the roof of the Presidential Mansion, being deposited via Little Bird. They would assault down from the roof while Walker and his men would insert in front of and behind the target building, assaulting from ground level. The plan would see eight men from Walker's platoon go into the basement and the other eight clear the ground-level floor. Allan's platoon would separate into three segments with four men remaining on the roof, eight going into the second floor, and four being fluid to assault into either the second floor or the first floor as necessary. They would be backed up by the thirty-two men in the sea assault and the recon platoons who would land on the grounds via fast rope from Black Hawks. Little Birds and the Miniguns on the Black Hawks would be more than enough to provide cover for the entire insertion. If they were successful, they would rescue the Layartebians alive and kill or capture Bray.

It was risky and a low chance of success had been given to rescuing the Layartebian hostages but there had to be an effort to try. These Delta operators, and all warriors within JSOC, had to know that the military would do everything and anything in their power to rescue them. It was what would keep those warriors fighting for the Layartebian flag, knowing that no matter what, they wouldn't be left behind. The Ministry of Defense and JSOC had failed in attempting to retrieve the bodies of the soldiers but a lot of that had to do with the political situation in Fiji. With that all changed, the Empire no longer had any qualms about simply doing what it wanted now.



• • • † • • •


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Postby Layarteb » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:58 pm



• • • † • • •



Saturday, September 7th, 2019 | 01:00 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Fortress of Comhghall
40° 41' 28" N, 74° 0' 58" W






In the confines of the Fortress of Comhghall, where few offices remained occupied and even fewer personnel lingered, the Emperor paced. An hour earlier, he'd been given an update about the situation in Fiji. Task Force Nineteen - the navy's commitment to the operation - was now offshore and complete with the final addition of the Oahu and her contingent of JSOC operators, pilots, and support and HQ personnel. That brought the entire task force up to twenty-four warships, more than enough for an operation against somewhere as small and seemingly insignificant as Fiji was.

The centerpiece of TF-19 was the 9th Amphibious Ready Group, which brought eleven warships and a brigade of marines. Backing it up was the 13th Carrier Battle Group, which included the carrier ILS Independence (CVN-90) and the nine warships of the 24th Escort Group. Two submarines, one Virginia Flight IV and one Seawolf were also operating in the area, more to ward off or monitor interlopers than operate against Fiji. The Oahu had been the final piece of the puzzle and she was now one hundred and eighty nautical miles south of Suva, one of the closest warships to the Fiji archipelago. Most of the rest were around four hundred nautical miles away, operating where they'd been since the Layartebian fleet pulled back following the evacuation of the embassy some many months ago.

The Emperor had yet to give the green light to the operation but it was all there and ready to go. From the moment he said, "Go," it would take forty-eight hours for operations to commence. Light conditions weren't ideal either with a full moon due in just a week but pushing the operation two weeks wasn't an option. Military operations had small windows with which to launch once assets were in place. Any longer and equipment would need a refresh, their presence could be inadvertently detected, or accidents could befall the forces involved, thus causing them to delay and push to a new window. This was why the Emperor was pacing.

There was no negotiating with Jacob Bray. He only wanted to embarrass the Empire, revenge he saw for an earlier attempt to assassinate him. Now he had Layartebian hostages, hostages the Empire thought had died a decade-and-a-half ago. These were men the Empire, "left behind," in direct contravention to the entire motto of "No one gets left behind." It was a sin that the Empire would have to atone for and a sin that the Emperor's predecessor had certainly done penance for, or so the Emperor hoped. These men had been part of an elite, black operations unit, which meant that they had no families or loved ones looking for benefit checks or making inquiries. Their identities were disavowed and any record of them working for the Empire's military had been stricken from the record. Insofar as anyone was concerned, they were "mercenaries" and mercenaries had neither a flag nor a home to claim them.

Chances of their rescue were slim to none. Through all of the intelligence gathered by Layartebian spies and those spying for the Empire, the one constant remained that they were being used as human shields and Bray would sooner kill them before he allowed them to be rescued. The Emperor was thus faced with two awful decisions. He could allow them to live but as hostages, likely tortured and under extreme duress or he could condemn them to certain death with a rescue attempt. To approach the value of human life in such a way guaranteed that no decision would be the "right" one but simply the lesser of two evils. In a way, the Emperor had looked at the situation the same way he'd looked at hunting. To leave a wounded animal, suffering and unable to fend for itself was cruel. It was merciful to kill the animal and so, on more than one occasion, he'd set off following the blood tracks of a wounded deer or other animal that he'd wounded and given it a merciful coup de grâce. To equate humans to deer was a rough road to tread but he was the man to make that decision and no one else.

While the Emperor never slept, a byproduct of the SLEEPWALKER experiment, virtually all of his staff did. This included his closest confidants, Timothy Fisher, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Robert Crawford, the National Security Advisor. Both were asleep but both knew to expect a potential phone call with regards to Fiji. They'd been given the same information as the Emperor had and they both knew the stakes and yet as tempting as it was to phone both men and put their opinions to the test, the Emperor knew that the burden of this decision was solely upon him. Thus, he sat down behind his desk and pushed on the transmit button on the intercom. He said nothing but outside of the closed doors of his office, an identical device buzzed on the desk of the receptionist. The thick doors and walls guaranteed that the sound was not audible in the Emperor's office, no matter how quiet it was.

"Yes sir," answered Angela Thompson, the receptionist sitting on the desk. The Emperor had eighteen receptionists and they worked in three shifts. Each shift had two groups and each group had three secretaries assigned to it so that the desk was always manned and the volumes paperwork and office work required was completed. The receptionists worked a 20-day cycle with four days on, two days off, then four days on, and then three days off, and then another four-three cycle. On four of those twenty days, six secretaries would be on duty, guaranteeing that there could be no backlog of office work. The shift schedule saw them working ten-hour shifts and ensuring that there was always coverage, especially if someone wanted a vacation or was ill.

"Angela, would you please get me Chairman-General Barnes. He should be at home."

"Yes sir."
She pulled out the phone number and, using the secure line, dialed the nominal head of the Imperial Layartebian Military. It took only a few moments as he was up and in his home office, sipping at a bourbon and smoking a cigar. "Sir, I have the Chairman-General."

"Thank you Angela,"
and a moment later the call patched through, "Chairman-General, am I disturbing you?"

"Sir, no sir I was awake."

"Good then I want to discuss the matter at hand."

"Yes sir,"
just because they were on a secure line didn't mean they had to brazenly flaunt the rules of OPSEC.

"How long before our window closes?"

"In roughly five days sir."

"When is the next window?"

"Two weeks sir."

"What is the current risk factor?"

"Low sir but every twenty-four hours it doubles."

"Then you have my authorization for Operation CACTUS THORN. I'll phone the Minister in a moment."

"Yes sir."
Chairman-General Barnes hung up and the Emperor proceeded to inform the rest of the Special Council, starting with the Minister of Defense, speaking to them one-by-one, despite the lateness of the hour. A meeting of the Special Council would convene twenty-four hours prior to operations and then two hours prior so that all were on hand for the initial operation launch. The strikes on Fiji wouldn't necessarily follow the regular format of Layartebian warfare. The country had no major military targets with which to strike with guided bombs or cruise missiles save for a few militia targets. The kickoff of the operation would thusly be the Delta raid on the Presidential Mansion. During that operation, air support would keep reinforcements at bay. If it was successful, the militia would - they hoped - crumble without Bray's leadership. If it didn't, then major offensive operations would be required but they would still be very limited and largely fought on the ground versus from the air.



• • • † • • •


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Postby Layarteb » Sun Sep 08, 2019 8:11 pm



• • • † • • •



Monday, September 9th, 2019 | 23:30 hrs [UTC+12]

South Pacific Ocean | ILS Oahu (CVAH-114)
18° 24' 10" S, 178° 41' 52" E






Sitting just twenty nautical miles from Suva, the Oahu, operating in blackout conditions, was a hive of activity. Men moved and pushed helicopters into their takeoff spots and maneuvered others with skill and precision. In the next few minutes, they had to put four AH-6M Little Birds, eight MH-6M Little Birds, and four MH-60M Black Hawks into the air and they had to do it in the dead of night. The Oahu had spent the entire evening after sunset maneuvering slowly and quietly into position in the Fijian archipelago so that the sixty-four Delta Force operators could launch for their mission, the mission that would kick off Layartebian military action against Fiji, Operation CACTUS SPINE.

The authorization to launch had come hours earlier and now it was simply a matter of getting the job done. Final rehearsals and briefings had been conducted and the Delta operators were now fully committed to assaulting the Presidential Mansion. They'd carefully selected their gear and weighed themselves on the deck before they formed up into their 4-man assault teams. Weight was everything on the Little Bird and there wasn't much of a tolerance for being over one's weight allotment. Their configurations, loads, and equipment had been calculated down to the pound so that they carried everything they needed, a few things they might need, and nothing that they wouldn't need. Everywhere they could free up weight, they did except when it came to body armor and ammunition.

Delta's assault plan was one that they'd executed dozens upon dozens upon hundreds of times before. Sixteen men would be inserted onto the rooftop via MH-6M Little Bird in four groups of four. Another sixteen men would be inserted onto the ground just past the target building, also via MH-6M and also in four groups of four. The remaining thirty-two men would deploy into two sectors of the grounds in MH-60M Black Hawks in groups of eight. The Black Hawks and the four armed Little Birds would circle and loiter over the Presidential Mansion to provide air support against reinforcements. Inside of the Presidential Mansion, the thirty-two Delta operators were on their own. Beyond the confines of the Presidential Mansion, air support would be covered by two AH-104A Huron attack helicopters and two AV-8E Harrier II attack fighters. None of these aircraft would be permitted to strike targets within the perimeter of the Presidential Mansion unless specifically requested. Delta was simply more comfortable with their Little Birds and Black Hawks than with the navy's helicopters and fighters.

By and large, the Delta operators carried much of the same gear. However, when it came to weaponry, they largely went by personal preference, to a degree. The most commonly found weapon was the M6A1 Carbine, the standard issue carbine in the Layartebian armed forces. Chambered in 6.8x43mm, the carbine had a retractable stock, a 14.7-in barrel, and rails for the mounting of accessories such as infrared lasers and optics. Delta also used suppressors on virtually all of their weapons, more to hide their location than for the aural benefits. The exceptions to this rule were the heavier weapons such as shotguns and light machine guns, which some Delta operators carried in lieu of the carbines. In addition, some of the men on point carried smaller submachine guns such as the UMP45.

With the kick-off signal over the radio net, the men moved in a uniform fashion to their helicopters. The Oahu had six deck spots for takeoff but that was more for conventional helicopters. The small size of the Little Birds meant that all twelve of them could take off at the same time and those helicopters were staggered across the deck in a tight but still comfortable fashion. Pilots had already gone through their checklists and now it was simply a matter of spooling up their engines and getting airborne. They worried about the cockpit while the Delta operators strapped themselves onto the benches. Each MH-6M had two side benches and each bench could hold two men. They strapped themselves onto them with quick-release carabineers and relaxed for the ride.

The four AH-6M Little Birds were the first to get aloft since they were the furthest forward on the deck. They lifted up and forward or up and out, sliding over the side of the deck just ten feet up, clearing all railings and - more importantly - people. Two of these helicopters were equipped with 12.7-millimeter Gatling guns and two had smaller, 7.62-millimeter Gatling guns. All had 70-millimeter rockets. Then, one-by-one, the MH-6Ms took to the skies, their engines and rotors making a very distinct sound that wasn't audible past five hundred meters. The same couldn't be said for the Black Hawks however. They were much noisier than the Little Birds were but such was the tradeoff for a bigger, more powerful airframe. As the Little Birds circled at low speed, conserving their fuel, the Black Hawks were pushed onto the deck, loaded, and given the signal to takeoff. All four were airborne at virtually the same time and then, with one more circle, the entire formation was completed and they dove for the sea and headed to their target.

It would be a fourteen minute flight and these pilots had trained and drilled so thoroughly that they could hit each waypoint within thirty seconds of the allotted time. As they did, the Hurons and the Harriers kept further away, hanging back until the assault force was on the ground. They didn't want to go in too early and announce their presence to Bray's men, Delta would get that honor.

Screaming across the waters at barely twenty feet, the twelve helicopters kept a tight formation, the pilots flying only with their night vision goggles. It was a clear night, which benefited this kind of flying. Just as the Oahu was in blackout conditions so too were these helicopters. The Delta operators onboard the MH-6s already had their night vision goggles ready to go into place and onboard the MH-60s, they were waiting for the call to open the doors. Those calls came when the assault force was thirty seconds out from the target. By then, the assault force was but a nautical mile away from the target. The noise of the Black Hawks would begin to be audible, especially given the lack of natural obstacles between where the helicopters were flying and the target building.

Onboard the Black Hawks, the doors were opened and the Delta operators dropped their night vision goggles into place. A final weapons check was conducted and the operators were all ready to go. The target building soon came into sight, identified by an invisible laser designator visible in their night vision goggles. One of the Little Bird copilots was using a handheld, infrared laser designator to designate the target building for the entire formation. Holding the laser right on target, he received confirmations from everyone in his ear that they saw his "spot" and the assault began moments later.

The Little Birds moved to the roof in pairs, coming to a hover only about a foot or so above the rooftop. The Delta operators yanked on their quick-releases and off they went, their boots onto the rooftop. Each Little Bird was emptied in barely five seconds and the next two came in to land while the troops from the first two provided cover. On the ground, the four Little Birds came down at once, disgorging their operators in as quick a time. The Black Hawks went into a hover just above the treetops in the north and south of the grounds and the Delta operators slid down the ropes. It took them fifteen seconds to get from a hover to empty. The ropes, detached via a release from the cockpit, spooled onto the ground where the Black Hawks had hovered. They would be collected at a later time, long after the battle was over and the target secure.

On the roof, Allan led his men up to the main access door where an explosive charge was placed along the doorframe. The low-velocity explosion cracked the door clean in half and the Delta operators threw in two Flashbang grenades. No sooner did they go off than were the men bounding down the steps with their rifles shouldered, looking for targets. The shooting began almost immediately thereafter. Bray had no less than twenty men protecting him and they were handpicked to be the best. Loyal, trained, disciplined, they all had a military background so they knew their way around an assault rifle. Yet despite this, Delta's operators moved with such speed and precision as eight, four-man units, that Bray's men stood little chance. They also didn't have body armor or the benefit of night vision goggles and no one reached for a light switch, not the Delta operators because of their advantage with NODs and not Bray's men because they knew what it would do to their own natural, night vision.

The raid, from the moment that boots touched the roof and the ground to when the all clear was given inside of the Presidential Mansion, lasted eighteen minutes and fourteen seconds. It was a rapid operation that saw all twenty of Bray's guards shot and killed. Two Delta operators were wounded but not too severely to discontinue the raid though they would need medical attention. On the grounds, the action was considerably less intense. There were only eight guards on duty at the time and they weren't the men Bray handpicked to defend him. Three surrendered and the other five were killed. No reinforcements came.

The raid that would start the invasion of Fiji was a failure though. Bray had slipped out of the mansion undetected at the start of the raid, utilizing a utility tunnel. In his wake, he left four of his women who were more than happy to tell the Delta operators which way he went. A four-man team went into the tunnel to the other end but found it led only to a gate, locked from the outside. Bray had slipped away. The other aspect of the mission, the rescue of the POWs, was a failure too, though no one was surprised. They'd all been shot at some point during the raid by Bray's men, as he'd ordered them to do. The bodies lay slumped in the basement of the mansion, where the POWs were being kept. They were shackled and hooded so that they never saw their killers or had any chance to resist.

Delta's mission wasn't over though. This was just the beginning. They had other targets to hit before the first marines hit the island and time would soon be wasting!



• • • † • • •


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Postby Layarteb » Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:02 pm



• • • † • • •



Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 | 00:15 hrs [UTC+12]

South Pacific Ocean | ILS Oahu (CVAH-114)
18° 24' 10" S, 178° 41' 52" E






Despite the fact that Operation CACTUS THORN really began at 23:30 with the launch of Operation CACTUS SPINE, it wasn't until 00:15 that the operation truly commenced. It had been barely twelve minutes since Delta declared the Presidential Mansion secured and less than five minutes since their abortive attempt to follow Bray through the tunnels ended. With the entire invasion force prepped and ready to go, the true start to Layarteb's operations on Fiji would get off rather quickly with little to no hesitation. However, the very nature of warfare against Fiji meant that there would be no grand soliloquy of warfare but rather a very limited, very focused, and very tactical deployment of assets to Fiji's main island, Viti Levu. The military had seven primary targets for the opening hours of operations against Fiji. While Delta would be involved in assaulting some of them, the majority of the heavy lifting would be done by both the navy and the marines.

Sortied against the various targets would be a bevy of aircraft and ground units. The navy had a considerable amount of firepower surrounding Fiji, most of it unnecessary for the task at hand but presently because that was what the warfighting doctrines required and because of "external threats" that could arise to Layartebian operations in the South Pacific Ocean. Fighters and helicopters would soon be whizzing and whirling around and over the Fijian archipelago while marines, brought in via the latter, would be clawing and combing around various targets.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Target 1: Nausori International Airport, Suva
Nausori International Airport was one of two main airports on the island of Suva and, naturally, a major target. It was a single-runway facility with an asphalt runway measuring 1,868 meters in length, which was more than enough to handle regional jets and smaller, propeller-powered aircraft. It was a relatively small airport with a single terminal and some associated repair and maintenance areas. Intel put approximately fifty to one hundred enemy soldiers at the airport but it wasn't known whether they were Jacob Bray's brainwashed adherents or Fiji's conventional armed forces pressed into keeping their jobs by Bray's thugs. The good news was that the airport wasn't defended by major equipment such as anti-aircraft guns or missiles, though it was suggested that the threat from small, man-portable surface-to-air missiles could be present. The primary threat to any assault on the airport was a number of heavily-armed technicals photographed at the airport. These would most certainly be manned by Bray's thugs but to what extent they would fight remained to be seen.

Armed with .50-caliber heavy machine guns, they could easily tear apart Black Hawks, Ospreys, and King Stallions as they dropped off the marines needed to secure the airport. To counter this threat, it was decided that a pair of AH-104A Hurons would first make a sweep of the airport and destroy not only any technicals but also fixed positions that could be identified. Following their runs, a company of marines would air assault onto the airport and secure it. This meant there would be one hundred and forty-six marines assaulting the airport. That assault force would come into the airport aboard four MV-22B Ospreys and a single CH-53K King Stallion, the latter being used to carry the hefty 32-man weapons platoon and their myriad of weapons, ammunition, and equipment.

The two Hurons were aloft in the first wave of aircraft from the 9th ARG and from there, they dropped to low altitude and sped towards Fiji. Crossing over Kiuva Beach, they went feet dry where the pilots increased their altitude enough to put the airport well within visual range. The gunners were already hard at work identifying hostile targets but with the way the airport was situated, this was no difficult endeavor. The technicals were spotted first and engaged from five miles out with Brimstone missiles, each from each helicopter. By the time those hit, the helicopter gunners were already targeting the small fleet of helicopters based at the airport. Neatly lined up, it was decided that they would be a better target for the 70-millimeter rockets that the helicopters were carrying and each helicopter made a single strafing pass, releasing a good salvo of rockets. The accuracy of the rockets was unsurpassed however and all ten helicopters were shredded by their high-explosive warheads.

By then, however, the airport's security personnel were well aware of the situation. Rumors and reports of fighting at the Presidential Mansion had now been proven true by the arrival of attack helicopters over the airport. For the most part, the Fijian soldiers based there put down their weapons and barricaded themselves inside of the terminal, leaving the fight to Bray's thugs, who largely rushed out to their fighting positions. In doing so, they largely exposed themselves to the Hurons who made two more passes over the airport, destroying several machine gun nests that had been built by Bray's men. After this, those that remained took to hiding rather than be caught out in the open. It would be these men who would cause trouble for the marines.

The four Ospreys carried the bulk of the marine company, three carrying a 31-man rifle platoon each and the fourth carrying the 21-man command section, which included not only the command group but also an anti-aircraft team, the forward observers, and a sniper team. The forward observers and the snipers would be thrown into the fray with the JTAC controllers directing the Hurons and the snipers supporting the marines. The three rifle platoons would put down in a triangle around the airport with one platoon at the terminal and support facilities, another at one end of the runway, and another at where the company would set up its headquarters and where the weapons platoon would land. The majority of the fighting would be where the first platoon had put down, chiefly around the terminal and aviation support areas.

The fighting, while intense, was short. The 31-man rifle platoon, moving out in three, 9-man squads, quickly fanned out throughout the aviation support areas. The better-trained and better-equipped marines found that Bray's thugs fought much like gang members would fight. They exposed themselves, fired from the hip with spray-and-pray tactics, and they had little to no concept of maneuvering. Those who exposed themselves were quickly routed and those hiding inside of doorways were killed by grenades and room-clearing tactics. Some surrendered and these men were quickly overrun and thrown to the ground, handcuffed, and brought to a POW holding area. For the Fijian soldiers in the terminal building, their discovery was something of a surprise to the marines who found not battle-hardened or angry soldiers but rather men cheering and crying at the relief the marines brought. By the end of the day, they would all be asked to press into service supporting the marines and to a man, they stood ramrod straight, saluted, and pulled security at the airport. They'd also provide valuable intelligence in the coming hours of the campaign.

Overall, the Battle of Nausori International Airport left only three marines wounded but fifty-one of Bray's men killed, fourteen wounded, and nineteen captured. The platoon of Fijian soldiers suffered absolutely no casualties, much to the smart thinking of their platoon leader and sergeant who'd directed them to surrender before the first marines touched land. Nausori International Airport, once secure, would act as a major conduit for Layartebian supplies coming into Fiji to support the operation, supplies flown in by the air force from neighboring territories.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Target 2: Nadi International Airport, Nadi
Nadi International Airport was the largest airport in Fiji but it was also over seventy miles away from Suva. It featured two runways, one 3,273 meters in length and the other 2,136 meters in length, which meant that it could handle much bigger aircraft such as wide-body jets. Its facilities were arranged in three sections. The main terminal area was the largest of the sections and just north of it were the maintenance facilities. A smaller, private aviation section sat south of the main terminal area, on the opposite side of the shorter runway, along the airport's perimeter. As the main airport for Fiji, it was teeming with Bray's men and only Bray's men were guarding it with over two hundred personnel, several technicals, and a number of emplaced positions.

Four Huron helicopters and a pair of Viper fighters would be tasked with providing air support over Nadi for the company of marines tasked with securing the airport, who would be joined by sixteen SEALS for additional maneuver support. Adding the SEALS was a major force multiplier for the operation against the airport and boost the helicopter assault force by two as the SEALS would air assault from a pair of UH-1Y Super Hueys, fast roping onto the tarmac to tackle the terminal along with a platoon of marines. The main difference between Nadi and Nausori however was the lack of other military targets. The Fijian military had no aircraft stationed there, Bray having moved all of the helicopters to Nausori shortly after seizing power. Beyond the technicals and the emplaced positions, the helicopters and fighters flying over Nadi would have little else to do except direct some of their fire to targets identified by troops on the ground.

It was for this reason that the Vipers were loaded very lightly with ordnance. There being no air-to-air threat, they wouldn't waste weight and drag on air-to-air missiles but they would carry a full load of 275 rounds for their 30-millimeter cannons, which would be useful for strafing. They would take off with only a single, centerline drop tank, which would be exhausted before they reached the island. Beyond this, their ordnance would be six Brimstone missiles, four 19-round rocket pods on dual-racks, and four, 500-pound GBU-22C/B Paveway III bombs equipped with the BLU-129/B warhead. This warhead minimized fragmentation, allowing it to be used closer to friendly forces with reduced risk of anti-personnel effects beyond its blast radius.

For the assault, the Vipers flew in first, targeting and destroying eight technicals that were dispersed around the airport, slamming the Brimstone missiles into them in a single, salvo launch that had occurred eight miles before the fighters ever reached the airport. The tandem warheads on the Brimstone, designed to defeat main battle tanks with reactive armor absolutely annihilated the technicals, which were unscrewed at the time of the strike. As they overflew the target, the Huron helicopters made a series of strafing runs with their guns and rockets, attacking the fixed, emplaced positions that Bray's men had set up around the airport. Some were manned and the crews were killed outright while others were simply destroyed and denied to Bray's men for future use.

By now, the alarms were sounding and Bray's men were storming out of their barracks' and bivouac areas to confront the oncoming force. A few took pot shots with RPGs against the helicopters but to no available. Helicopter gunners quickly turned the chin-guns on the targets, peppering them with 30-millimeter, high-explosive rounds. Both the helicopters and the Vipers made a few more passes with the former utilizing their rockets, guns, and even their Brimstone missiles against targets both stationary and mobile. The Vipers, on the other hand, employed their Paveway III bombs against areas designated by the Hurons. Those bombs were employed with tremendous accuracy and success, destroying several clusters of enemy personnel.

It was only after these passes that the infantry came. The four MV-22s put down at various areas along the runway while the CH-53K put down a little further away due to the larger nature of its fuselage. Hurons provided support, utilizing their guns to attack potential RPG teams and though several were fired, they were fired from too far away and thus inaccurate or ineffective. Along with these five aircraft, the UH-1Ys put down their SEALS close to the terminal, firing their door machine guns down to deter any of Bray's men from getting too close or sticking their heads up to shoot back.

The assault at Nadi thus commenced. One platoon of marines moved to the aviation support and maintenance facilities. They moved quickly with the support of a machine gun team operating with them. The added firepower was used effectively to keep Bray's men from making any major assault, thus pinning them down to be overrun or attacked with grenades. Another platoon moved against the private facilities but they had only a handful of hostiles, virtually all of whom surrendered. The last - though really the first - platoon moved against the terminal with the aid of the SEALS. Broken off into 4-man elements, the SEALS lead the three, 9-man rifle squads and another squad consisting of machine gunners, through the terminal. The fighting was intense, to say the least. Bray's men were using everything available to them for cover and they seemed to have for more ammunition than they should have as the rounds just kept flying.

From the time the first Brimstones slammed into the technicals to the time the last of Bray's men surrendered, almost three hours would elapse, the majority of the time spent trying to clear and secure the main terminal. Damage to the airport would be significant, especially to the terminal. In the end, Layartebian forces would count a total of two hundred and sixteen of Bray's men killed, wounded, or captured, the majority being killed (162). Layartebian marines suffered four deaths and eleven wounded while the SEALS would only count one wounded amongst their numbers.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Target 3: Military Barracks, Suva
The third major military target for the opening shots of Operation CACTUS THORN was the military barracks in Suva. Once the prestigious headquarters of the Fijian Armed Forces, it now sat as a dungeon for Bray's men. Intel even suggested that he might have retreated to the military barracks with the fall of the Presidential Mansion, knowing that the barracks was well defended. It was for this reason that the target was to be secured by Delta and not by the marines. At the Presidential Mansion, Delta had corralled the prisoners they'd captured into a single area and with the launch of military operations throughout the island, the mansion's security was turned over to a platoon of marines who'd chopped in on some MH-60s, the same ones that would be flying Delta to the military barracks. Intelligence analysts from the Oahu flew in as well, partly to interrogate the captures and partly to see what intel could be found at the mansion now that Bray had made a hasty escape.

Loading back up on their MH-6M Little Birds and MH-60M Black Hawks, the sixty-four commandos from Delta restocked their ammunition and sprang off for the three-and-a-half mile flight to the military barracks. Hurons circled and the AH-6M Little Birds provided close-in escort with their Gatling guns and rockets, having only expended about a third of their ordnance at the Presidential Mansion.

Intel on the military barracks was spotty, to say the least, which would provide problematic for the Delta commandos. Operatives working in Fiji had trouble pinpointing the composition of forces at the barracks and the defensive preparations they had taken. Shortly after Bray consolidated his power, he drove out the military soldiers from the barracks and replaced them with his own men but not just the volunteer thugs who knew more about drinking than they did about their assault rifles. However, it wasn't just the thugs based at the military barracks but also the former military soldiers who had fled to join Bray's militia. This put a very different animal at the military barracks than would have otherwise been. Delta had tangoed with Bray's handpicked men at the mansion and while they had been defeated, these men weren't pushovers. They weren't the goons that the marines were mowing down at the airports but men who understood discipline and tactics, who didn't shoot their rifles from the hip and spray their bullets all over ineffectively.

In the first pass over the barracks, there was little activity to spot. Two AH-6Ms passed overhead as scouts, aiming to draw the fire of anyone on the ground but it was silent. The Hurons made their own pass, circling at about a mile or so away so that they could still use their guns if the need arose but there was still no activity. Already having ceded the element of surprise, the helicopters began to move in to insert the commandos and that was when Bray's men struck. The first two RPGs launched upwards missed but the third clipped the fuselage of an MH-6M as it went to insert its commandos. The warhead immediately lurched the helicopter hard to the side and the Delta commandos were thrown about. Two, who had already detached their safety lines were thrown from the helicopter, one was thrown over the side but managed to hold onto the bench, while the fourth was pressed back against the fuselage and managed to stay on the bench. Alarms went off in the cockpit and the helicopter rapidly lost power. The two pilots initiated a hard landing on the roof of one of the barracks' which further injured the dangling Delta commando who simply couldn't be dragged back onto the bench. A fourth RPG struck the tail of an MH-60M Black Hawk as it was in a hover with its ropes released. One Delta commando fell down the rope and those inside of the cabin were nearly thrown out of the side as the helicopter settled back into its hover. Moments later however, the tail rotor quit and the helicopter began to spiral out of control. It crashed onto the ground in the middle of the military base narrowly missing several commandos who had only just slid down the ropes. The landing itself injured virtually everyone onboard the helicopter. A fifth RPG narrowly missed the cockpit of another MH-6M Little Bird as the entire assault force went into a rapid abort. Only half of the Delta commandos had been inserted and of those half, nine were injured or killed in the two crashes.

The gun battle furiously began almost immediately as well. Bray's men opened fire from their concealed positions and utilized cover effectively. Delta fought back as the helicopters returned to a different area to insert the remaining half of the group. These men would have to fight their way into the barracks and flank the enemy to relieve their pinned down comrades who were suddenly facing a wall of Kalashnikov and RPG fire. The radios went crazy as the Delta operators called in support from overhead and the Little Birds executed precision strafing runs with their guns and their rockets. To qualify as an armed Little Bird pilot in the 11th SOG, pilots had to be able to put their unguided, 70-millimeter rockets into the windows of buildings while moving at cruising speed at ranges in excess of two miles.

Because of this, the Little Birds were effective with devastating results. Bray's men, reasonably protected from small arms fire except for the well-placed 40-millimeter grenades, stood no chance against the high-explosive warheads of the CRV7 rockets being fired from the Little Birds. Furthermore, the attack runs made shooting the helicopters with RPGs virtually impossible, especially in the darkness, though AK fire would cause some damage and even wound one co-pilot as the helicopter ended its strafing run. In addition to this, the Black Hawks utilized their own door guns to effectively suppress enemy forces, allowing the Delta commandos to escape from what was essentially a shooting gallery. The last bit of effort was from the Hurons, whose larger and more powerful 30-millimeter guns simply tore through the enemy.

The assault on the military barracks was, militarily speaking, a pyrrhic victory for Delta. In the end, though the barracks would be secured after five hours of intense fighting, it came at a hefty toll. One MH-6M and one MH-60M had been shot down, two AH-6Ms had been damaged, one MH-6M had been damaged, and one MH-60M had been damaged. The 11th SOG suffered one killed and six wounded. Delta had suffered much worse though. The assault left seven dead and nineteen wounded. Of the initial assault force of thirty-two men who'd been dropped into the barracks, only six were able to come out with superficial wounds that wouldn't classify them as wounded-in-action. Bray's men died nearly to the last man with eighty-one killed and only nine captured, all wounded. However, approximately fifty men were believed to have successfully escaped from the barracks during the battle, presumably with Jacob Bray in the midst of them but there was no confirmation of this and because the men escaped "without visible weapons" there was nothing that the Layartebian helicopters could do as they could not positively identify them as hostiles.

The aftermath would reveal that the barracks had become something of a prison for Bray. Political opponents and individuals that Bray earmarked for punishment had been largely imprisoned in the barracks, most of them tortured. It was from here that prisoners were carted off to the airport for their "helicopter flights" around the archipelago, always under the guise of being transported to another camp somewhere else.



• • • † • • •


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• The Empire of Layarteb •

E M B R A C ET H ES Y N T H

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Postby Layarteb » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:59 pm



• • • † • • •



Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 | 02:30 hrs [UTC+12]

South Pacific Ocean | ILS Oahu (CVAH-114)
18° 24' 10" S, 178° 41' 52" E






The Imperial Layartebian Military swarmed over Fiji with speed, with firepower, and with precision. The main targets were struck near simultaneously so that Bray's men and whatever gumption they might have had, would be quickly swept aside in the face of overwhelming force and manpower. Fighting at the two airports would be intense but resolve quickly. The military barracks' assault had gone awry but victory came nonetheless. It left Bray's men in a state of confusion and anxiety as they struggled to counter the Layartebians. Those who called out on the radio for orders were met with silence, their "fearless" leader having flown the coop. His whereabouts, hitherto unknown, were a major focal point for JSOC. Using the resources of the Ministry of Intelligence, they listened to communications as best as they could, hoping to get a glimmer of him, whether it be his voice or a sighting. That endeavor would continue to consume resources disproportionate to what the rest of the operation was consuming. This was the price that the Empire put on him.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Target 4: Fintel Tower Radio Station
Within every infantry battalion of the ILMC rested a specialized unit dedicated to reconnaissance. Attached to the battalion's headquarters and headquarters company, this single unit was a platoon-sized element, led by a second lieutenant and a gunnery sergeant. The platoon consisted of twenty-two men arranged into a 4-man headquarters section and two, 9-man recon squads. The HQ section, aside from consisting of the platoon leader and his sergeant consisted of the medic and a radioman. The first squad consisted of a squad leader, a six-man recon team, and a sniper and spotter team. The second squad was identical except instead of a sniper and spotter team, it included a 2-man forward observer team. On paper, the reconnaissance platoon was to be deployed ahead of the main landing forces where they would work to identify enemy positions that could impede landings. They would also move ahead of the main invasion force with the intention of uncovering ambush positions and pathways of travel. In reality however, recon platoons became something of a thrust element.

In Fiji, there was no difference. The platoon, rather than be tasked with scouting the beaches for the amphibious vehicles, was tasked with securing a radio station. Air mobile, the recon platoon offered a special capability that enabled them to move quickly. In addition, most battalion commanders looked at the reconnaissance platoons as cowboys as was their culture. To be a member of a recon platoon, one had to complete the Recondo School course at Fort Bragg, which was a highly specialized, three-week, grueling class. The goal of the original Recondo School was to train commandos to operate deep behind enemy lines and in a way, it hadn't changed except it was opened to non-commandos, hence why the marine recon platoons participated. Completion of Recondo School gave the graduate a specialized patch to wear on his uniform and it was a coveted patch at this, especially since there were only two hundred and fifty slots per year for training and most of those slots went to special forces soldiers.

Moving in by helicopter, the platoon occupied two UH-1Y Super Huey helicopters. To conserve weight, the heavy armament of the two helicopters had been omitted, leaving only the light machine guns that served as door guns. Those helicopters swooped in low, barely fifty feet above the water. The Fintel Tower Radio Station wasn't even two hundred meters from the water on the eastern shore of Suva. Its location, somewhat isolated from the city, and its value meant that it was a major target for the Layartebians. Seizing Fintel Tower, along with another radio station, meant that the Layartebians could control the airwaves over the main island of Fiji and that went a long way to winning the battle.

Flanking the radio station, the two Hueys raced up to the radio station and went into a hover just thirty feet above the ground. Both helicopters were situated on opposite sides of the radio station, just outside of the chain link fence that kept trespassers and some wildlife out of the station's property. Fast roping onto the ground, the marines fanned out into four separate units. The two, 6-man recon squads led the assault onto the radio compound while the JFO and the sniper-spotter teams provided some cover. The headquarters section worked their own area, observing the assault on the station. That assault would last less than ten minutes as the two squads combed every building, kicking in doors where it was necessary. What they found was a fully automated station that had no personnel manning it and thus the target was captured without a shot fired. For the recon marines, this was anticlimactic, but they knew the drill. Not every target guaranteed the exhilaration of a firefight. Capturing the radio station was still a monumental endeavor, given the element of the unknown. For now, the recon marines were done with their job. Their orders changed from assault to defend. Expecting relief after the initial invasion was underway, the recon marines set up several positions to watch a full 360° view around the target and settled in for what they now hoped would be a quiet and uneventful morning.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Target 5: Mount Nakombalevu
Fintel Tower was one of two, major communications targets being captured on the first night. The second was a radio station atop the 368-meter peak of Mount Nakombalevu. Securing this station would give psyops the ability to broadcast propaganda throughout a considerable portion of the island. The task of securing the station would fall to the second SEAL platoon deployed as part of the invasion as the first was dealing with assaulting Nadi International Airport. They would chopper in aboard a pair of MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopters, eight men per helicopter, which would remain on station to provide support via their door guns. Intel suggested that the site was occupied and so the SEALS had to be prepared for a firefight, which they certainly were.

The station's complex spanned about five hundred meters, with the antenna and transmitter sitting three hundred meters from the main part of the complex. A drone, which had overflown the site some hours earlier, showed that there were armed hostiles guarding the site but that they were clustered in the main part of the complex. There were no patrols conducted to or from the transmitter and antenna, giving the SEALS and area to focus on when they inserted. Insertion would be done via fast rope to minimize exposure to the target and because the only landing areas were in the main part of the complex itself, which meant exposing the helicopters to significant crossfire from any of the defenders, who could be armed with RPGs.

Moving onto the target area, the two Knight Hawks came in fast and initiated a hover to allow the ropes to be dropped. As they did, small arms fire began to ring out from the complex as Bray's men opened fire with their assault rifles on the helicopters. Moving quickly, the SEALS dropped down the ropes under fire, hit the ground, and quickly returned fire. Door gunners opened fire with their light machine guns to provide suppressive fire for the insertion and, once the insertion was completed, which took all of thirty seconds, the helicopters dropped their ropes and withdrew to begin circling to provide gun support.

The sixteen SEALS quickly overran the radio station, killing eight men and taking another six men prisoner, with no casualties of their own. Bray's men had surrendered quickly in the face of superior firepower between the helicopters and the lightning speed of the SEAL assault. However, if the SEALS thought that this was enough, they were sorely mistaken. A relief force had been staged about two and a half kilometers away, down the mountain, and that relief force wasn't another squad of Bray's men but rather a platoon of Filipino advisors, disguised as operators of the radio station. Given trucks and assault rifles, they moved upslope once the Knight Hawk's left station. The arrival of the trucks had certainly caught the SEALS by surprise and as the vehicles approached, the SEALS - weapons shouldered - ordered them to stop. Keeping the disguise, the Filipinos did so, and several got out, speaking to the Layartebians in English, explaining that they were workers.

Of course, the sheer number of workers, the lateness of the hour, and the military stance of the men wasn't going to work on the SEALS. A weapon was spotted by the platoon's observant marksman and a firefight ensued as the SEALS opened fire. Very quickly, the air was alive with bullets. Two Filipinos had been killed outright and one SEAL wounded. Now the firefight was between an entire platoon of Filipino infantrymen and just sixteen SEALS, who lacked air support and were on a finite supply of ammunition, which was quickly running out as the SEALS continued to fight against the numerically superior Filipinos. Trying frantically to get a hold of air support, the SEALS were faced with a difficult decision. Four of their number had been wounded, one seriously, and air support was engaged elsewhere. They had demolitions charges hooked up to the vital parts of the radio station, just for this possibility. They could detonate the charges, blow the station, and evacuate down the mountain towards Suva. It wasn't an ideal plan, but this was their pre-planned escape route.

Rapidly, that decision came to bear, and the SEALS did so. Retreat came approximately ten minutes after the arrival of the Filipinos and without the necessary relief they sought from attack helicopters or fighter jets. Detonating the charges, the SEALS made for their escape route, moving quickly, covering one another in a bounding retreat as they leapfrogged in four-man groups further and further away from the transmitter, with the Filipinos in hot pursuit. It would not be until they were midway down the mountain that air support contacted them. A pair of AV-8E Harrier IIs were available for tasking and each of them were armed with rockets, iron bombs, and their guns, the perfect assortment of CAS weaponry. Of course, there was one issue though; in the thick vegetation of the mountainside, the SEALS were indistinguishable from the Filipinos and the pilots wouldn't be able to see well enough to fire their weapons accurately.

This left the SEALS in a pickle, but they had a plan. They had numerous smoke grenades with them, particularly white smoke, which was normally used for masking purposes. Moving quickly, they used the smoke to not only screen their position but also direct the Harriers. On the radio, the SEALS called out the smoke to the Harrier pilots and rapidly vacated the area. With the Filipinos in hot pursuit they needed only thirty seconds - or so - before they were out of the area and the Filipinos in it, which gave the Harriers enough time to conduct their bombing runs. The first passes, because they benefited from the element of surprise, saw the Harriers drop their iron bombs in an attempt to do maximum damage to the enemy. Coming in with barely ten seconds of separation between the two of them, the Harriers screamed downwards in a dive, their CCIP reticles tracking over the dying smoke clouds. The pilots then pickled their bombs, releasing all of their iron bombs in one salvo pass. This meant four bombs left the pylons of each Harrier and those four bombs detonated upon impact, shattering the jungle around them. Shrapnel whizzed through the air as the SEALS, who'd taken cover, continued to fire upslope at the chasing Filipinos.

It was impossible to tell how many men were killed by the bombs, but it was neither all of them nor none of them. The Filipinos kept coming but the volume of fire was considerably less. In addition, the SEALS could hear the Filipinos calling for medics, presumably to treat their wounded, something Bray's men hardly did or were capable of doing. From then on, the SEALS used IR strobes and IR lasers to mark their position or the enemy's position. The Harriers would make only two more passes, firing their rockets both times and from then on, the Filipinos would cease the chase. The SEALS would never know how many had been killed or whether or not the Filipinos had given up in the face of the Harriers or if they had all been killed. Ultimately, in the end, the SEALS moved over twenty-six hundred meters downslope, a good portion of it under fire, to a clearing where an MV-22B Osprey plucked them up and returned them to the carrier. The mission would see a Silver Star and a Purple Heart awarded to the platoon's commander, several Bronze Stars, and several other decorations go to the rest of the SEALS who managed to escape. The four wounded, which included the platoon's commander, would all survive after being treated aboard one of the hospital ORs aboard the various naval vessels.

• • • • ‡ • • • •


Target 6: Blue Dragons Main Camp
The real reason that the SEALS were hard-pressed for air support as they stormed Mount Nakombalevu was the fact that a considerable amount of air support was being allocated to destroying Jacob Bray's camp. Intel reported that enemy personnel were still occupying the camp and it was believed that Bray would head to the camp as a fallback if he escaped Layartebian forces at the Presidential Mansion. Thus, several hours after the invasion began, as the SEALS were assaulting Nakombalevu, an alpha strike was underway against Bray's camp, which was located - by road - about two hundred kilometers from Suva. Whether or not Bray was there was unknown but ISR did pick up a three-vehicle convoy heading to the direction of the camp shortly after the assault on the Presidential Mansion ended. Because it was impossible to know if Bray was in the vehicles, no action was taken against them.

The first strike wave consisted of four F-28D Vipers carrying something of a heavy load. Each of their four inner, wing hardpoints were loaded with four, five-hundred-pound, iron bombs. Set to drop in pairs, the Vipers moved in at medium altitude, went into a shallow dive, and dropped their bombs on structures at the camp with each Viper targeting two such structures. Intel had warned of the possibility of prisoners being held at the camp but Bray's assassination took precedence and so the strike was authorized. In the second wave of strikes, another four-ship formation of Vipers passed overhead with incendiary bombs, laying them down into the camp at pre-planned locations with the intention of overwhelming the camp with fire. Once that strike had been completed, a few minutes passed before the third and fourth waves came overhead. Those waves consisted of Vipers and Harriers, mainly armed with unguided rockets. The rockets were used to attack the smaller structures left untouched by the first two waves of bombings.

In the end, Bray's camp was reduced to cinders. The bombs hit with devastating accuracy and effect. In the end, not a single structure was standing and what wasn't burned was blown to smithereens. A marine platoon would eventually make their way into the camp to find dozens of bodies, all killed by the bombings and rocket strafing runs. A few would show signs of being killed by the incendiary bombs. All-in-all, one hundred and ten bodies would be found but few would be identifiable. For sure, some included captives being held by Bray's men, a sad instance of fratricide that the Empire would certainly have to atone for in the future.

Target 7: Walu Bay Naval Base
The Fijian Navy consisted of nothing more than a few patrol boats, but those patrol boats could be deadly to the marine landing craft, which were due to come ashore with the vast majority of the marine brigade. For this reason, Walu Bay Naval Base and the patrol boats based there were primary targets, slated to be destroyed in the initial waves of strikes. It was nearly dawn when the tasking order for the naval base was selected. The strike force would consist of one, four-ship formation of Vipers and a two-ship formation armed with precision guided munitions, a bit of a contrast to what the Layartebians had been dropping thus far. The first group would target the patrol vessels, aiming to sink all ten of them with Maverick missiles while the second group would target various structures at the naval base, which included the command headquarters, the communications section, and the barracks. These would be hit with JDAM bombs.

Flying in at medium altitude, the Vipers assigned to the first formation found that all ten vessels were in port. Intel suggested that most of the navy's sailors simply went AWOL when Bray took power. Squads were roving the country trying to find them, but they weren't having any success. This was chiefly because, being sailors, the men took to the seas and traveled - via boat - to several other islands, where Bray's men weren't. Striking the naval base would thus produce few, if any, casualties except for whatever men Bray sent there to act as guards. This would, perhaps, lead command to believe that the patrol boats weren't operational, but they did not want to take any chances and Layarteb could easily supply new patrol boats when the time came.

Moving in quickly, the Vipers split the boats up between themselves and they would engage in pairs, firing their missiles from a range of eight nautical miles. The powerful but subsonic AGM-65F Maverick missiles fired each contained a warhead weighing in at three hundred pounds. Against patrol boats, this was a devastating amount of explosive power. Even to escort warships, the Maverick's warhead could deal considerable damage. To patrol boats, it would outright sink them, which was what the navy was hoping to achieve.

Locked on via infrared guidance, the missiles slammed into their targets in quick succession. The first two Vipers left four patrol boats burning and sinking at the pier. The second two Vipers had equal success against four others. The last two were taken out in short order one the third run at the target. As the first four aircraft cleared the area, the second two aircraft vectored in but from much higher altitude. Operating above twenty thousand feet, the WSO in each aircraft programmed the coordinates of each target into the JDAM bombs. Because none of these buildings was hardened, the heavier one-thousand and two-thousand-pound bombs were unnecessary. Five hundred pounders were more than enough. Those bombs were dropped in a salvo and left to their own devices. Aircrews watched through the FLIR of the Viper, waiting for those bombs to hit, which they did in less than thirty seconds. In rapid succession, the buildings were struck and the bombs detonated, leaving a raging fire to cover the naval base. The sunken patrol boats, combined with the destruction of the facilities, put whatever naval capability Bray's military had completely out of commission.



• • • † • • •


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