[Earth II] One Reaps what One Sows

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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[Earth II] One Reaps what One Sows

Postby Cotland » Fri May 01, 2020 4:31 pm

[Earth II] One Reaps what One Sows


* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Um ljod bed eg alle
helga lydar,
store og småe
søner åt Heimdall.
Det vil du, Valfader,
at vel eg fortel
frå fyrndeheim
det som fyrst eg minnest.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Makarelv, Kostroma len, Realm of Cotland
16:30, Friday, 27 March 2020

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon in Makarelv, a small city of 26,000 inhabitants situated on the western bank of the Unzja river. The temperature was creeping above freezing, the sun was slowly setting, and the snow was finally slowly melting away, heralding the long awaited arrival of spring and the start of the warm season.

All around the city, the working week was gradually coming to an end and giving way to the joys of weekend. Families were gathering to break the fast with the family supper, and the younger generation was preparing for a night out on the town. The more devout of Makarelv’s inhabitants were making their way to the town hov, or temple, where they would make their offerings and prayers to the Gods and Godesses of their faith. Like almost 80% of the Cottish population, some 72% of Makarelv’s populace adhered to the Åsatru, or norse paganism, explaining the prominent location of the temple centrally in the small city, conveniently located by a livestock pen, and could accommodate two thousand worshipers at the time.

Welcoming the worshipers to the temple were the goði, or priests, who guided the faithful and accepted their offerings to the deities. Mostly, the offerings were chickens or other smaller creatures, purchased locally in the neighboring livestock pen, but occasionally, when someone had a serious request or some grevious sins to atone for, they would bring a significantly larger offering such as a bull or horse.

Today, one such worshiper had shown up, trying to atone for cheating on his wife with his secretary and his maid by offering a bullock up to seek the help from the Gods, more specifically the goddess of love Frøya, to get his wife to forgive him and take him back. As you could expect, trying to wrestle a frightened bullock into the hov was a noisy, distracting thing that required not only the repenting sinner but also two goði and another couple of worshipers to get the beast into the large, incense-laden wooden structure.

As this took place, Valdemar Holm helped guide his two young children, nine year old Ellen and six year old Sebastian, past the debacle towards the depiction of Balder, who was the kindest and most beautiful of the gods, where they would make their offering and pray for a good spring and year to come. Valdemar was thirty-one years old, working as an industrial mechanic in the cornerstone Soldemalt furniture factory, and had been bringing his children to the temple since they were born. His wife Karen wasn’t as devout as Valdemar was, and so had opted to stay at home and prepare supper while Valdemar took the children to temple.

After getting past the scene at the entryway, bullock and all, the small Holm family made it to the large idol, a four meter tall marble statue of Balder, just as an elderly man finished his prayers. Standing up from the kneeling position he had prayed in, the man noticed the small family and smiled kindly as he yielded his place before the idol to them. Thanking him with a kind nod and a smile, Valdemar held one child in each hand as they approached the idol and nodded in deference to the god embodied before them. With a kind word of encouragement from her father, Ellen held out the day’s offering to the goði – a live chicken purchased just outside the temple.

The goði accepted the offering, and as the young family kneeled before the idol, the goði took out a vicious-looking knife and adeptly decapitated the chicken before the idol. Chicken blood splattered over the idol, before the goði turned and splattered the chicken’s blood over the kneeling family’s hands as they held out their hands and said their prayers. As the prayers were finished, the worshipers took their bloody hands up to their faces and dragged them across their face, spreading the blood across their cheeks. Satisfied that their offering had pleased Balder, the small family got back up on their feet and accepted the slain and bloodless chicken carcass from the goði before moving on to the next post: the central fireplace.

Here, the family laid their offering on the sacrificial altar, where another goði accepted their offering and blessed them before taking the carcass and throwing it in the appropriate basket. The offerings were later skinned and gutted, and what was edible was cooked and provided to the city’s hospitals, orphanages and other charitable organizations for feeding the poor. It was one of many ways the temple and worshipers gave back to the community.

The bullock had been maneuvered out of the way and into Frøyas alcove, as could be heard by the distressed sounds of the poor animal, allowing Valdemar and his offspring to make their way to the exit, where large washing basins and soap waited for the devout to wash off the sacrificial blood before returning into the world outside the temple gates.

Just as Valdemar reached down to help Sebastian wash the last of the blood off his hands, a massive flash of orange and brown shocked the young family’s visual cortex before everything turned black as a massive explosion ripped through the temple.

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Postby Cotland » Sat May 02, 2020 3:08 am

South-Eastern Kostroma Regional Emergency Dispatch Centre
16 Vildervey Drive, KS-16792 Manterborg
16:51, Friday, 27 March 2020

“Emergency Dispatch.” The calm, professional voice spoke after he accepted the incoming emergency call from the Makarelv area.

“Yes hello, there’s been an explosion at the temple on Main Street in Makarelv!” A frantic shaking female voice said.

“An explosion?” The dispatcher asked, as he reached for the button that activated the fire alarm at the nearest fire station. As he was about to activate the Makarelv Fire Brigade, he noticed a steadily growing spike in the incoming emergency calls.

“Yes, an explosion! A massive fireball came out of the temple! You must send help quickly!” The voice demanded, shaking with fear and horror.

“OK, we’re dispatching rescue workers as we speak. Can you describe for me how the situation is at the temple now? What is your name please?” The dispatcher said as he activated the alarm and started typing in information so the emergency workers could prepare themselves. He also activated dispatch alarms at the MakarelvAmbulance Service and the regional Police operations center.

“Julie Dammen. It’s partially collapsed, and there’s a lot of smoke but I think its burning. Oh my Gods…”

“Ok Julie, the Fire Brigade, ambulances and the Police have been notified and are on the way.” The dispatcher said as he decided to jump the gun and push the Big Red Button, automatically dispatching every firehouse in the general Makarelv area and available ambulance and police patrol to the ongoing incident.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Makarelv Main Fire Station
255 Main Street, KS-12855 Makarelv
16:52, Friday, 27 March 2020

At Makarjev Main Fire Station nine blocks away from the temple, the firefighters had heard the explosion as they were preparing to sit down for supper. As they saw the cloud of smoke emerge from the city’s main square, they used their own initiative and prepared themselves for deployment. That meant that when the bells indicating a new emergency deployment order started ringing two minutes later, the fire fighters were already suited up and in their vehicles, ready to go as the vehicle gates opened. All they needed was an address. Now they got it, along with notification that they should prepare for a mass casualty incident.

With flashing blue emergency lights and the howling of the siren, the Main Firehouse’s five emergency response vehicles and two rescue trucks quickly navigated themselves through the steadily growing traffic jam along Main Street and were on station less than two minutes later.

The scene that met the firefighters was one of apocalyptic dimensions. The vast temple was ablaze and had partially collapsed, sending wooden splinters across the City Square and Main Street like a wooden flechette bomb. There appeared to be many wounded, but ambulances were appearing and would be able to handle the nearest casualties – the firefighters needed to start combatting the blaze before it spread further.

Taking charge as the on-scene incident commander as there was an ongoing fire and the Police hadn’t shown up yet, the Fire Brigade Commander set his feelings aside and went into a professional mindset, blocking out the impressions his senses were forcing upon him. Activating his handheld radio, he started issuing his orders to the fire engines. It wasn’t long before the firefighters started combatting the blaze.

Meanwhile, the first Police patrol had appeared and started cordoning off the incident scene to avoid bystanders getting in the way for the first responders. Paramedics were also getting into the fray, setting up a triage area in the far corner of the City Square. The most greviously wounded were given CPR and first aid at the scene, attempting to stabilize them before they could be sent to Queen Margrethe’s Minde General Hospital. There were just so many wounded and dead along the square, many with splinter injuries, having been caught by the sharp wooden splinters when the temple detonated.

As more police patrols responded to the scene, the police officers started collecting witness statements and tried to figure out what had caused the temple to collapse. It soon dawned on them that the burning temple was an active crime scene.

It wasn’t long before the first journalists appeared, like sharks smelling blood. Filming and taking photos, the journalists were getting premium and shocking footage of the unfolding carnage. At 17:01 local time, 15:01 UTC, the first television team was on scene and went live on the air with CTV Øst, the eastern affiliate of Cotlands Televisjon, one of the top five networks in Cotland.

“We are here with a breaking news report live from the City Square in Makarelv in Kostroma len, where the Åsatru Temple has partially collapsed and is burning! Information is still confused and what has happened is as of yet not clear, but what we do know is that there has been an explosion of some sort and that there are many injured. Emergency services have responded and are actively fighting the fire.”

The young blonde female reporter spoke quickly as she focused on the iPhone her camera man was holding – Skype was proving a better medium for getting the information out quickly when the Satellite TV truck was still stuck in traffic six blocks out. She didn’t have time to say much more before a harried-looking police officer with fresh blood and soot on his uniform jacket and stab-vest came over and told her in no uncertain terms to “Get across the other side of Main Street – this is an active crime scene. Please give us room to work!” Deciding to comply, the journalist nodded, but didn’t more until she finished her report.

“As you heard, this is now considered an active crime scene and we have to move away. We’ll get back to you guys in studio and you viewers at home with more as we have it. This is Anni Kolanjev, CTV Øst, with breaking news live from Makarelv.”

This report was quickly repeated on the main networks and was quickly picked up by international media houses.

The firefighters were slowly getting the blaze under control, which meant that there was no longer any risk of it spreading to the neighboring structures, most of which were fortunately solidly constructed made of stone or brick, and the paramedics and emergency-response doctors that had responded were getting on top of the wounded. Most had been dispatched to hospital, most by ambulance but a few were sent in police vehicles or even commandeered taxis, where the emergency room had declared Code Orange, meaning an ongoing mass casualty situation, and were working as hard as they could in treating the incoming wounded. Half an hour after the explosion, at 17:20 local time, Queen Margrethe’s Minde General Hospital had officially admitted seventy-one wounded, of which thirty-two were classified as seriously wounded and lined up for emergency surgery. Unfortunately, the hospital only had twenty operating rooms, and only eleven surgery teams available (although surgeons, anasthesiologists and nurses that were off duty were being emergency recalled), meaning that almost two thirds of the seriously wounded would have to wait in line.

At 17:26, thirty-six minutes after the explosion occurred and while the temple was still burning, the O-group between the Fire Brigade Commander, the Makarelv Police Department's on-scene incident commander, and the lead Paramedic was held and it was determined that the preliminary butcher's bill indicated that there were over a hundred injured, nine deceased so far, and an unknown number of people still inside the burning temple and unaccounted for. The death toll was expected to rise drastically when the fire fighters could enter the structure, as the temple could house well over two thousand people at full capacity and knowing that Friday afternoons typically were busy for the temple staff.

It was also learned that the temple wasn't connected to the gas main, relying on old-school wood-burning ovens and fireplaces, ruling out the until then prevalent suspicion of a gas explosion as the cause of the fire. Therefore, at 17:31, the Police on-scene incident commander formally declared that foul play in the form of possible terrorism was suspected and the temple was therefore hereby declared an active crime scene. With this in mind, he requested reinforcements and investigator assistance. As terrorism was a federal crime in Cotland, that meant that national agencies would become involved.
Last edited by Cotland on Sat May 02, 2020 3:20 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby Cotland » Sat May 02, 2020 4:42 am

Makarelv City Square
20:50, Friday, 27 March 2020


The emergency response workers had been working the incident scene for the past three hours, and while the fire had taken a hold in the hundred-year old wooden structure, the fire fighters were finally succeeding in subduing the raging fires. Hopes of getting survivors out was still present, but growing slimmer as evening turned into night. The wounded had all been evacuated to the city hospital a few hours ago, and police investigators were present at the hospital interviewing those wounded that were capable and willing to give statements while uniformed police officers were keeping journalists and others away from the hospital.

At the City Square, the territorial strifes was starting to emerge, as the on-scene incident commander’s declaration of an active crime scene had so far caused three different jurisdictions to claim precedence. The local Makarjev Police Department Detective’s Bureau were the first to start working the scene, until an investigator from the Kostroma Regional Police Force appeared and declared that this was their case. Then thirty minutes later, a team from the Royal Gendarmerie showed up and told every other jurisdiction to cease and desist as this was their ball now, causing a bit of a shouting match that was still ongoing when a black unmarked BMW 4-series rolled up.

Parking in the street right next to a local police car, a suit-clad pair stepped out and started making their way through the barrier tape, flashing official IDs to the constable that demanded their stop at once and made their way over to the still on-going shouting match.

“OK OK settle down,” the leader of the two, a fifty-something looking gentleman with short-cropped grey hair and designer spectacles framed by a full grey Van Dyke beard and the golden badge of the Cottish National Police Service - Rikspolitiet - accented his expensive-looking dark blue designer suit.

“My name is Jarle Reeder, Rikspolitiet. I’ve been sent by the Ministry of the Interior to take charge of and lead this investigation.” Holding up his hands to stave off the inevitable protests, he added, “This is a possible terror attack, which makes this our job under national law. We will naturally appreciate and accept any help your respective agencies, and devolve responsibility to the relevant agency if this turns out not to be a terror attack. If anyone still want to protest, you’re free to call Oslo and challenge the decision. I’m sure the Interior Minister will be thrilled to hear that there’s an ongoing pissing match three hours after the attack took place.”

Accepting defeat, the respective representatives begrudgingly nodded.

“OK, good. This is my colleague, Christine Fredheim, who will be my deputy in this investigation,” Reeder continued, nodding to the maybe forty year old smartly dressed, no-nonsense looking brunette that had accompanied him.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Fredheim said in greeting before getting straight to it. “Where do we stand so far?”

The Makarjev Police Department detective lieutenant started, “So far, we have a dozen witness statements that say pretty much the same thing: they heard a large explosion at or about ten to five coming from the temple, and observed massive fireballs coming out of every doorway and window. We have not yet uncovered any survivors from inside the temple, so we don’t have any statements from that perspective.”

“Our investigators have started pulling CCTV footage to see if we can find anything,” The representative for the Kostroma Regional Police offered. “We’re also in contact with the temple administration to see if there are any CCTV footage available from within the temple. Apart from that, we have confirmation from the gas companies that the temple was not connected to the gas main, and confirmation from the temple administration that the temple did not use natural gas in heating or food preperations for religious reasons.”

“OK good,” Reeder said. “If you could please ensure that we get those statements in writing if you don’t have that already, it would be very appreciated.”

“The Royal Gendarmerie does not have much to offer the investigation at the moment, but I can have two hundred interior troops here within a few hours if you need more bodies,” the urban camo-clad Gendarmerie Major stated.

“We will probably need the extra manpower to relieve the local police officers manning cordons, and for when we get access to the temple itself,” Fredheim stated. “Chief, any estimate on when we can get access to the temple?”

The Fire Chief who had remained quiet so far finally spoke, glad that the ongoing pissing match appeared to have been ended with Rikspolitiet – the national law enforcement agency (think FBI) – having won. “We’re still beating down the blaze. The timbers have been drying for the better part of two centuries, and the fire got a really good hold in the structure. I think its going to be a while still, and even when its extinguished, with this dry wood it doesn’t take much for the fire to reignite. My crews are working their darndest, and we’re doing what we can to preserve the crime scene, but our main priority is to extinguish the fire and try to locate any survivors as long as there remains hope.”

“What are the odds of locating survivors?” Reeder asked.

“The blueprints for the temple show that there is a stone cellar underneath the structure. We haven’t been able to gain access to this yet due to the fire and debris yet, but there is a chance of survivors in air pockets in the cellar if the fire hasn’t spread down there. As I’m sure you all know, fire spreads upwards in seconds, sideways in minutes, and down in hours. There is still a viable chance of finding survivors.”

“OK good. I concur with your assessment Chief. Until all hope is gone, the main priority remains to save lives.”

Remains of Makarelv hov
Makarelv City Square
05:22, Saturday, 28 March 2020

At 05:22 the following morning, the fire was officially declared extinguished. Fire fighters from nine different firehouses had responded to the blaze and fought the fires all night. Tragically, the fire had gotten such a good hold that the remaining roof with the characteristic dragonhead spires had collapsed just past midnight, and come crashing down inside the structure, which was really just a burned-out shell once the fire was put out.

Paramedics and police officers from three different agencies were waiting restlessly for the fire fighters to give them the go-ahead to enter the structure to see if they could recover any survivors or, failing that, the deceased. Most everyone had been there since the previous evening, growing ever more frustrated with the forced inaction they were forced to endure. Every fiber of their beings wanted to rush into the structure to try to save lives, but rationally, everyone knew that their own health and safety came first and that they needed to let the Fire Brigade do their job first. It wouldn’t do anyone any good if they risked their own lives willy-nilly, least of all potential survivors inside the temple!

When at last the Fire Brigade declared that the emergency services could enter the temple, the emergency workers got to work. Carefully in teams, wearing helmets, gloves and other necessary PPE, the emergency workers started searching for victims in the burned temple. It wasn’t long before the first dead were located. While every fibre in their being wanted to just immediately drag them out of there, the teams knew that the investigators had to do their jobs first.

Over night, several forensic analysts and investigators from Rikspolitiet had arrived in Makarelv, drawn from regional offices in Kostroma, Petersborg and Riga, with a specialist fire investigation squad being en route on the first commercial flight from Oslo and expected to arrive by noon. Joining forces with fire scene investigators from the Fire Brigade and crime scene investigators from other law enforcement agencies, the multi-agency task force had gotten the initial coordination out of the way over night and by the time the structure was cleared to enter, seven multi-agency investigator teams led by an investigator from Rikspolitiet had been formed. Every time a body was discovered, the investigator teams were notified and carefully documented the necessary details and photographed the discovery site before the body could be recovered.

Over the course of the morning, the search parties and investigators worked their way through the structure. By noon when the specialist investigating squad arrived, a hundred ninety-eight bodies had been recovered, of which some sixty appeared to have been children. It was difficult to tell, as many of the bodies had been badly burned, forcing the investigators to resort to DNA tests and dental records in order to identify the deceased.

Cottish law demanded that persons suspected to have died from foul play be autopsied, meaning that the first stop for the victims was the city’s pathological laboratory/morgue, located in the basement of Queen Margrethe’s Minde General Hospital. Needless to say, the city morgue was overwhelmed by the sudden influx of dead, forcing the city officials to commandeer two sports halls to serve as temporary morgues until the dead could be positively identified and released to their next of kin. A somber procession of hearses spent the afternoon driving in shuttle traffic between the City Square and the hospital, two kilometers distant, as more and more bodies were recovered from the temple.

Following the established emergency plans, next of kin were turned away from the hospital by police officers and requested to go to the City Hall where name lists of wounded admitted to hospital were sent and continuously updated, and information distributed from. The Mayor of Makarelv, Trine Roeng, had declared a state of emergency in the city following the fire, activating emergency resources and the crisis psychiatric services for those who required so. Hundreds of concerned family and friends that couldn’t locate or contact their loved ones converged on City Hall, growing ever more desperate for information as the hours passed. As it became clear that many of the deceased were beyond recognition, the next of kin were asked to provide DNA samples to help in the identification effort. While some naturally refused, many willingly gave samples which were carefully labelled in order to prevent misidentification foul-ups.

By late afternoon, the emergency workers had managed to locate an intact stairwell down to the cellar of the temple. The sturdy thick stone cellar was nominally used for storage and utilities, and not a place where the general public had access, but there was a chance that someone might have made their way down there to escape the fires and smoke. The cellar appeared intact, with the fires not appearing to have reached that far down the walls, but there was a thick layer of smoke up underneath the ceiling, meaning that the chance of survival for so long was slim.

As they made their way into the technical room, the fire fighters discovered something that shouldn’t be there. The technical room in the basement was where the waterboiler, fuze box, and fire alarm central was located, along with piping and electrical installations. The initial suspicion of a gas explosion had already been ruled out, but the violent explosive spread of the fire had to be explained. Arson was the prime suspect, but how? No one of the many people who had come forward over the night that had been in the temple prior to the fire reported noticing anything out of the ordinary. The fire was a mystery. That was, until they got into the technical room.

The room was absolutely wrecked. It looked like a bomb had gone off in the confined stone room, with frayed, shattered and charred piping and wiring littering the sizable room. By the fire alarm central, the tell-tale blast markings on the stone told the fire fighters that something had exploded there. Before long, similar blast markings were found elsewhere in the room. With a cold sweat as he realized the importance of the discovery, the lead fire fighter called it in and asked for investigators down in the basement.

An investigating team quickly reported to the scene, and set to work documenting the scene. After photographing everything in detail, they started taking forensic samples around the blast areas. These samples were rushed by helicopter to the nearest forensic laboratory, at Vologda Scientific University 270 kilometers to the northwest, for immediate analysis.

The discovery strengthened the terror hypothesis and weakened the arson hypothesis – an arsonist would have used kerosene or similar incendiary agents to start the fire – and put to rest any lingering jurisdictional fights that might have taken place.

As afternoon turned to evening and the official death toll rose past six hundred, further blast areas were located near all emergency exits and central areas, indicating that someone had planted explosives in an apparent attempt to block all emergency exists and kill as many people as possible.

The chilling conclusion was clear: There was at least one terrorist loose in eastern Cotland.

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Chapter 1

Postby Cotland » Sat May 02, 2020 6:59 am

Chapter 1: “The Gathering Storm”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Jotnar eg minnest
i upphav borne,
dei som fordom
meg fostra hadde.
Nie heimar,
nie innvere,
heilagt stortre,
fyrr det spratt or mold.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Makarelv Main Police Station
07:30, Sunday, 29 March 2020

“Alright, lets begin. Good morning. I hope everyone got at least some sleep last night.” Jarle Reeder opened the morning’s coordination meeting. As the main police station had the most space and best facilities available in Makarjev, it had been decided early on to use the main police station as the command post for the initial investigation.

Present apart from Reeder himself was his deputy Christine Fredheim; Chief Hilmar Brande of the Makarelv Police Department, representing the local police force; Special Agent Gunnhild Sergetov of the Kostroma Regional Police Force, representing the regional police forces who normally handled major crimes in the province; Major Karl Underlinten of the Royal Gendarmerie, the paramilitary internal troops of Cotland; Fire Chief Jonna Jæger of the Makarelv Fire Brigade; Mayor Trine Roeng, who as Mayor of Makarelv was the local political leader that was being supported; Prof.Med. Lena Wende, Chief Medical Officer at Queen Margrethe’s Minde General Hospital and the head of the Makarjev municipal medical preparedness organization; Dr.Med. Olav Greeb, the County Coroner; and a few other representatives of various agencies and investigators participating in the investigation. Also joining the meeting by video-telephone conference was Professor Yngvar Mehlsen-Holth of the Vologda Scentific University.

“I’m told there’s been some important developments over the night, so I’ll give the word directly to Professor Mehlsen-Holth at the Vologda Scentific University. Professor?”

“Thank you sir,” The elderly Professor started over the VTC. He was dressed nicely in a distinguished suit and tie, but you could tell through the webcamera feed that he hadn’t changed clothes since yesterday. A tell-tale sign of the importance of his statement.

“My team and I concluded the preliminary analysis of the forensic samples from the Makarelv temple cellar a few hours ago, and while I stress that these findings are still preliminary, we can with a high level of confidence determine the identity of the explosive used. With a 95% likelihood, we have identified the explosive as containing a mix of Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine, or RDX as it is more commonly known, and penthrite, both of which are military-grade plastic high explosives. While RDX is the explosive agent in a number of different types of explosives, the specific combination of RDX and penthrite, which is more commonly known as PETN, that is present in the received samples is found only in the military-grade plastic explosive commonly known as SEMTEX.”

Professor Mehlsen-Holth paused, allowing Reeder to speak again.

“Thank you Professor. We are very grateful for your assistance in this matter. I’m informed that further samples have been collected and are en route to you for analysis. It would aid the investigation greatly if we can get the report as soon as possible.”

“The preliminary report will be typed up and on the way within a few hours. The full report will take some days to prepare, but we will have it available as soon as possible. We will make sure to process the new samples as well as soon as they arrive.”

“Thank you Professor,” Reeder replied. “Cathrine, we need to find out how commonly available Semtex is, where it came from, where it was produced, if it can be obtained on the open market, you know the score.”

“On it,” Fredheim said, scribbling furiously on a legal pad.

“How many blast sites have been uncovered so far?” Mayor Roeng asked, desperate for information and to appear to have some semblance of control over a situation she had absolutely no control over.

“Our teams have so far discovered eleven different blast sites at the temple. Mostly from blast markings on the stone floor, as the remaining walls are very badly damaged. Forensic samples have been collected from all sites and sent to analysis.” Special Agent Sergetov offered.

“Very good. Do we have any development on the search for suspects?”

“Our teams have been reviewing retrieved footage from the areas surrounding the temple since yesterday. Mostly it has been collected from CCTV cameras in local shops and businesses, as well as footage generously volunteered from bystanders’ cell phones. So far, we haven’t found much. The CCTV camera footage from within the temple itself is badly corrupted and need to be recovered. Technicians are working on it as we speak. Police officers have also interviewed over two thousand people since the blast, without result. Together with the Royal Gendarmerie, we’re starting a deeper canvas today, seeking out the shadier walks of life here in town to see if they can come up with anything. We’ll turn every stone if necessary, but unfortunately, so far, we don’t have much to offer.” Chief Brande of Makarjev Police Department offered.

“No known terrorist organization has assumed responsibility for the attack so far,” A grey-suited, non-descript man at the far end of the table offered. The representative for the Police Intelligence Service continued, “Our cyber teams are scouring all known terrorist websites of all denominations looking for information. So far, there’s been a lot of chatter, especially on jihadist websites, but no group has claimed responsibility yet.”

“So basically we have nothing at this time,” Reeder stated out in the open.

“Unfortunately, that is the case.” Chief Brande admitted with a sigh.

“What is the status on the victims? Professor Wende?”

Professor Wende sat up straight and cleared her throat before speaking.

“As of five minutes before this meeting started, the casualty count stands at eight hundred and twenty-two deceased, and ninety-eight registered injured. Forty-eight of these are critically injured and undergoing intensive care in hospital, while thirty-odd have been discharged to home care. The majority of the injured have puncture wounds caused by wooden fragments from the initial explosion, having been sustained mainly on the streets and City Square. Of the deceased, the majority appear to have perished from a mix of burn wounds and smoke inhalation. Some of the deceased – I regret that I don’t have an exact number at this time – some of the deceased appear to have injuries sustained by the initial blasts, with what appears to be steel ball bearings or similar items.” The Professor paused and took a deep breath before she added. “As for the deceased… I regret to inform that some one hundred and eleven of the deceased appear to be children.”

That piece of information gave everyone in the room pause and brought home the severity of the situation.

“The next of kin are becoming quite distressed with the lack of information,” Mayor Roeng said. “Is it possible at all to speed up the identification process so the families can start their grief processes?”

“Mayor, we’re working as fast as we can,” Dr. Greeb replied, “But this isn’t like you see on CSI or any number of other television shows. Many of the victims are in a bad state, and we’re dependent on DNA testing and dental record matches in order to make a positive identification according to law. These things regrettably take time. The fact that we have over eight hundred deceased victims and literarily thousands of relatives providing DNA samples to catalogue and sort does not make things easier. I’m very sorry, but it is going to take time.”

“How much time?”

“One sample takes between twenty-four and seventy-two hours to process. The regional crime lab in Kostroma can process upwards of one hundred DNA samples per working day. So, with thousands of samples to process and compare, we’re likely looking at two to three weeks before everyone has been identified.” Greeb admitted.

“Doctor, I have been assured by the Interior Minister herself that whatever resources are needed will be made available. Just tell us what you need, and we’ll make it happen,” Reeder offered.

“I need lab facilities, trained lab technicians, reactants, and money for overtime pay.”

“You’ve got it,” Reeder said as Christine scribbled down on the legal pad. It was growing to become quite a list. “We’ll sort out the details after the meeting. Speaking of which, we’re getting to the bottom of my agenda here. Does anyone have anything further to add before we adjourn?”

Mayor Roeng stood.

“I’d just like to express my personal gratitude and the gratitude of the municipality of Makarjev to all of you for the job you’re doing. I’m confident that you’ll get to the bottom of this and bring the culprits to justice. Please, convey our thanks to your people. Thank you.”

“Okay, thank you Mayor. Anything further?”

No one had anything.

“Very well, thank you all. We’ll reconvene at sixteen hundred.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Makarjev Main Police Station
12:04, Sunday 29 March 2020

Word had been passed that a press conference was to take place at the main police station at noon, where the investigators would offer the first proper information to the public. So far, there had not been any official word or official use of the word “terrorism”, stating only that the fire was being investigated as having started under “suspicious circumstances.” Speculation in the media was rife, but as of yet, there had been no official word. That was all about to change.

A few minutes delayed, the press conference started as Mayor Roeng, lead investigator Reeder, Chief of Police Brande and a few other officials entered the podium in the lunch room-turned-press center.

“Ladies and gentlemen, good day and welcome to this press conference,” Chief of Police Brande started. He’d serve as the moderator, as the journalists were present in his facility and he was the senior local law enforcement authority. “I’ll give the word to Chief Inspector Reeder of Rikspolitiet. Chief Inspector?”

Reeder sat up a bit straighter and looked right into the cameras and photographers snapping pictures furiously. Taking a deep breath, he started his statement.

“Thank you sir. Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Chief Inspector Jarle Reeder, of the Kostroma City Field Office of Rikspolitiet. I will now give a brief statement concerning the fire at Makarjev Temple and the status of the ongoing investigation, and I will open for questions after my statement.” Reeder spoke, clearing his throat before he started reading from the piece of paper in front of him.

“At sixteen fifty hours on Friday the twenty-seventh of March in the year of the Common Era two thousand twenty, a violent conflagration started in Makarjev Åsatru Temple. The conflagration spread very rapidly through the structure, and within minutes the entire wooden structure was ablaze.

“Despite valiant efforts from the Makarjev Fire Brigade and adjacent fire brigades, the structure partially collapsed during the night of Friday to Saturday, before finally being declared extinguished at oh five twenty-two hours on the morning of Saturday the twenty-eighth of March.

“As a result of the conflagration, ninety-eight persons have been treated for injured sustained, of which forty-eight remain in critical condition in hospital. Next of kin of the injured have been notified. I regret to inform that eight hundred and twenty-two persons are confirmed deceased as a result of this conflagration. The victims are currently in the process of being identified, and I regret that I cannot comment this further at this time.

“A multi-agency task force under the coordination of Rikspolitiet was established on the evening of Friday the twenty-seventh of March, and the investigation has proceeded without delay since that time. While it remains too soon to give an exact cause, I am at liberty to disclose the following:

“During the course of the post-fire investigation, marks indicating the use of an explosive substance were discovered in several locations in the burned-out structure. Further investigation have disproved initial suspicions of a gas explosion.

“The present working hypothesis of the multi-agency investigating team is that this conflagration is a willed, intentionally initiated fire through the use of one or several explosive devices, based on gathered evidence. The conflagration is therefore being investigated as a murder by arson, which is in violation of article two-hundred-thirty-four of the Criminal Offences Act 1996, and as a possible terroristic attack, which is in violation of the articles two-hundred-fifty-nine and four-hundred-thirty of the Criminal Offences Act 1996. Terrorism is a Level One criminal offence that falls under the purview of Rikspolitiet. Therefore, in accordance with the Law Enforcement Act 2001, Rikspolitiet has assumed primacy of the investigation until such a time that this suspicion can be confirmed or dismissed, with valuable assistance from local and regional law enforcement agencies.

“The public have been very helpful in the initial phase of the investigation, and we appreciate all the tips and information that has been volunteered by the public. As always, we appreciate any assistance the general public can provide. If you’ve seen anything that you think might aid the investigation, please feel free to contact the police.

“The investigation team are presently pursuing several interesting leads, which we remain confident will lead to a breakthrough in short order. However, due to tactical investigative concerns, I am unable to elaborate on this at this time. What I can say at this time is that the investigation continues with the undiminished resolve and strength of the entirety of the Realm’s might.

“We remain confident that the responsible culprit will be identified and brought to justice in short order.

“That concludes my statement. Thank you.”

With that, a veritable storm of questions started.
Last edited by Cotland on Sat May 30, 2020 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Layarteb » Sat May 02, 2020 9:15 am

• • • † • • •

Sunday, March 29th, 2020 | 12:15 hrs [UTC+2]

Oslo, Norway | Embassy of the Empire of Layarteb
59° 56' 28" N, 10° 40' 8" E

The Layartebian embassy in Oslo had been alerted to the incident in Makaryev virtually the same way everyone in the Realm of Cotland had been alerted, via the flurry of news activity on Friday evening. Like many, the embassy joined the initial speculation that a gas line had ruptured and caused the catastrophic fire. It was a sensible theory and easily explained the sudden explosion, the vastness of the fire, and the level of destruction surrounding the temple. Yet this wasn't the case and as more and more information came to light about the lack of gas service and the timing, those within the embassy who were paid to analyze such things fell quicker and quicker to it being a deliberate act of terrorism. Arson might have made sense had there been no explosions but the explosion piece was quickly captured by those very analysts. It wasn't hard for them to begin assumptions on who was at fault either.

The Realm of Cotland, like the Empire, is a pagan nation and though the Empire has a significant number of Roman Catholics, it remains pagan at its core. Religious terrorism, the more common seen in this world, pointed to the biggest suspect of all, Al-Shams, who'd called out the Cottish as much as they called out the Layartebians for their pagan beliefs. The embassy was thus decided on Al-Shams being at fault even before anyone else though it was striking that Al-Shams hadn't yet placed its signature claim of responsibility. Al-Shams frequently laid claim to every incident before it happened, sometimes placing claim for incidents that weren't even the cause of terrorism. For example, in 2014, a gas line ruptured in a building in Layarteb City, exploding, leading to collapse of several buildings. Al-Shams laid claim to this. They'd even laid claim to several steam explosions in Layarteb City, which was inane. They simply wanted news agencies to repeat their names as a recruitment tool and, to that effect, it worked.

Yet, despite analysts rushing to pin the blame on Al-Shams and despite them being a likely culprit, the Layartebian ambassador wasn't so quick to jump on the bandwagon. Her name was Kathryn Albers and she was 48 years old and two years into her tenure as ambassador, having relieved her predecessor who'd remained in the post for nine years, retiring due to health reasons when he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He'd since recovered but he was officially enjoying the retired life in the Bahamas.

Generally speaking, the embassy worked business hours, Monday to Friday but the situation in Makaryev had triggered a bit of an emergency, which meant that several department heads and their workers were in their offices and at their desks, trying to piece together as much information as possible to cable back to Layarteb City. The anticipated police briefing had given only vague insights to what the analysts at the embassy already knew. Even the death toll had been correctly estimated thanks to information publicly available though it was still shocking to hear the numbers spoken aloud in an official manner. For Ambassador Albers, the revelation of so many dead children certainly hit her emotional response and she was a woman with two children, both teenagers - sixteen and fifteen. Letters of sympathy and condolences had already gone out from the embassy but now it was a matter of action. The Empire wasn't a nation of "thoughts and prayers" types of token support. Sending condolences was respectful but not an escape for action.

In her office, Ambassador Albers was drafting two communiqués. One would go directly to the Cottish government's highest offices while the other would go back to Layarteb City. The former would pledge the full resources of the Empire, as needed and as requested, while the latter would be her recommendation for what Layarteb City needed to do to assist the Empire's closest ally.

In the meantime, the announcement of terrorism activated some emergency, security precautions at the embassy. The 15-acre compound, protected on all of its sides by thick, tall walls, would look upon guests and vehicles with more scrutiny than normal. No word had yet come that the bombers of the Makaryev Temple had been suicide bombers but that didn't mean they weren't done yet. A bomb hidden in a car or a light truck could do devastating damage to the embassy and given the many unknowns to this incident, it wasn't going to be regarded as a single act by a lone wolf terrorist until someone turned up with a body and an investigation turned up no further connections. That was going to be a long way away in the investigation though as it would take a significant amount of time to identify all of the bodies. The fire had been extremely devastating and that meant a rough time for medical examiners. Unless something definitive was suddenly discovered, the embassy would take its extra precautions.

• • • † • • •

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Postby Cotland » Sun May 03, 2020 7:15 am

Irgens Residence
Apartment 6C, 84 Jordbærstien, VO-09022 Nikol, Vologda len, Realm of Cotland
18:02, Thursday, 02 April 2020

Like many Cottish citizens, Mikaela Irgens usually took the time to sit down with a cup of tea and catch the six o’clock news on CTV, getting the daily proper news update. Tuning in on CTV and yelling for her three kids to pipe it down for the next thirty minutes, the thirty-six year old dental assistant turned up the volume so she could hear over the noises of gleeful playing from her small “pack of offspring,” as her husband, presently at work, called them.

As had become normal in the past week, the top story was the ongoing investigation down in Makarjev which appeared to be stalling but also that King Sverre had defied security concerns and travelled to Makarjev to “share in the sorrow and grief of his people.” A preview snippet was aired in the intro of the King dropping all sense of decorum and embracing and comforting a desperately crying mother who had lost her husband and her two children as she fell to her knees, before the camera changed to the news anchor.

After a brief intro from the news anchor, the reporter in the first report of the evening could state that despite the confident statement made by the lead investigator on Sunday’s press conference, there was very little in the way of development according to informed sources.

“Sources close to the investigation state that there are presently no suspects, which is unusual for…” was all the handsome CTV reporter managed to say before he disappeared as the screen went black, along with everything else connected to the wall sockets, leaving Mikaela left in the dark dusk. Baffled at the coincidence, Mikaela first tried “zapping” the TV with the remote a few times before the shrieks of her children roused her into action. Everything in the apartment was dark, so she had to use the flashlight app on her Nokia smartphone to light the way in the dark apartment.

Glancing outside, she could see that the power was out throughout her neighborhood. Thinking that this was damned inconvenient and hoping that it would return soon, she made her way towards the kids.

Operations Centre, Eastern Vologda Power Company
17 Grubbeveien, VO-28862 Tarno, Vologda len, Realm of Cotland
18:09, Thursday, 02 April 2020

“Yes, I’m telling you that the whole Nikol region just went dark!

"Yes, we’ve checked the systems and they’re working as they should!” The duty supervisor at the power distribution grid operations center almost shouted into the telephone for the third time in two minutes.

“There must be a problem with the lines. Yes, I know that we have redundancy in the power net so this shouldn’t happen, but I’m telling you, they’re both down! We need to do a survey of the power lines as quickly as possible to find out what happened.


"Yes, everything. We’re trying to reroute via the Manterborg line, but it’s not going to be enough to meet demands. There will be brown-outs until we can figure out what’s wrong and fix it.”

Four kilometers south of Little Småskardalen hamlet, Vologda len, Realm of Cotland
18:17, Thursday, 02 April 2020

The police officer from the Vologda Regional Police Force pulled the Dodge Ram patrol truck over to the side of the dark main road, stopping twenty meters behind the old red Ford F-150 truck that had flagged him down. Stepping out from the truck, the officer made sure he had everything he needed – pistol, tazer, radio, flashlight and hat -– before approaching the driver, a young man dressed in dark cargo pants, a white hoodie bearing the brightly coloured logo of the Vologda Vultures hockey team, and a bright red ballcap -- who stood by the side of his truck. The man was illuminated by the headlights of the Dodge Ram, and the police officer eyed him carefully. While the people around here were mostly kind, law-abiding citizens, there were those who weren't afraid of getting into a scruffle with law enforcement. The police officers usually knew who those persons were though, and this chap was an unknown person for the police officer.

“Good evening,” the police officer said, lighting his own flashlight.

“Good evening. There’s something in the woods over by that powerline that you need to see!” The man said, excitedly.

“Oh yeah? What’s that?” The officer said cautiously.

“The powerlines. They’ve on the ground! The whole mast’s down!”

“The whole mast you say?” The officer said disbelieving. Sure, things suddenly went dark all around Nikol about fifteen minutes ago, but that the power masts would fall down just all of a sudden was rather unlikely.

“Yes sir. I can show you.”

“Okay, we’ll check it out. Just real quick, do you have some ID on you? Just so I know who I’m talking to.” The police officer said. He had no intention of going into the woods without first knowing who he was speaking with and letting dispatch know.

“Oh yeah, yeah sure. Let me pull it out for you.” The man said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a wallet before the police officer had the chance to stop him. Fortunately, the man held out his driver’s license before the police officer managed to pull out his pistol, so the police officer decided to let it slide for now.

Cautiously accepting the laminated piece of plastic from the man after chiding the man that abruptly reaching into his pockets without warning was a surefire way of getting shot, the officer inspected the ID. Apparently, he was speaking with one Morten Jonassen, age twenty-three. After calling it in to the dispatch, which was still operational, and informing that he was investigating the report from Jonassen, he returned the license to the young man.

“Okay, lead the way Mister Jonassen,” the police officer said, motioning for the man to take point.

The young man needed no further encouragement, and led the police officer through a patch of forest to the powerline pathway about sixty meters into the woods. As they came out into the pathway, the police officer learned that Jonassen had indeed not been exaggerating when he said that the powermast was down.

It looked like it had collapsed on all four legs, falling down to the side and physically snapping the thick high-voltage cables. It certainly explained why the power was out in this area. Not really wanting to go any closer, as there were still sparks coming out from the severed wires, the police officer decided that someone with a helluva lot more knowledge about these things than he had would need to get out here.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Vologda City Field Office, Rikspolitiet
11th Floor, Government House
4 Kong Valdemars Plass, VO-00150 Vologda, Vologda len, Realm of Cotland
09:00, Friday, 03 April 2020

One power mast falling down is unfortunate.

Two power masts falling down is suspicious.

Eleven power masts falling down across three different provinces is sabotage.

Especially when the technicians from the respective power companies reported that the power mast foundations appeared to have blast damage that the forensic explosives experts who had responded in due course reported to be consistent with military-grade high-explosives. Samples had naturally been gathered and were being sent to forensic analysis, but it would take time to get the results back.

The end result of the sabotage was that power was intermittently available across an estimated 96,000 square kilometers across parts of the provinces of Bjarmeland, Komi and Vologda in eastern Cotland, including cutting power to five cities and risking life and health for a combined total of almost three million Cottish citizens. Emergency generators had fortunately worked as intended and almost instantly kicked into action in hospitals and other essential installations and were keeping essential services going, but most homes were left dark and cold until repairs could be made. Not a good thing in eastern Cotland in early April, where snow was still present on the ground and temperatures fluxuated between -10C and +10C. While power was being rerouted across the few remaining intact powerlines, the demand far surpassed the supply and meant that where power was reaching, brown-outs were taking place.

Sabotage of essential infrastructure had very serious implications, and rocked the Cottish nation to its very core. Shockwaves had gone up the chain of command through the night as the realization of the size of the sabotage sank in. Government officials in all levels had been recalled to their respective places of work, but so far there were greater demands for information than actual information to provide. After another small power struggle, it was decided at the highest level that Rikspolitiet would take charge on this investigation as well, as it appeared to be a trans-provincial, organized crime given a similar modus operandi almost simultaneously in all eleven blast sites. Forensic specialists were already at the scenes – all of them remotely placed in rural areas. Whoever was responsible for this knew what they were doing.

Some bright soul had already suggested that perhaps these attacks were connected with last week’s terrorist attack in Kostroma, where high explosives had also been used, but at this point it was far too early to draw any conclusions. It wasn’t a far-fetched thought, Chief Inspector Marianne Tørnquist though, but it was far too premature to get tunnel vision on one hitherto distant theory.

As an immediate reaction, the government in Oslo had ordered the Royal Gendarmerie to cancel all leaves and start patrolling the remaining power lines and adjacent areas. Everyone knew that it was a kneejerk reaction move, designed more to be seen to actually be doing something rather than realistically expecting to catch the perpetrators red-handed, but it was seen as being better than doing nothing.

At the same time, subpoenas were fast-tracked through the courts, asking the courts to instruct the various Telecom companies to hand over positioning and metadata for all cellphone towers that covered the eleven different power masts to the investigators, in order to try to see if anyone had passed nearby. The problem was that seven of the eleven masts lay within a hundred meters of main highway, meaning that there would likely be many people who would have passed by.

It was like searching for the famous needle in eleven haystacks, but they had to start somewhere.

One thing was certain though. Something was very rotten in the eastern parts of the Realm of Cotland.

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Postby Cotland » Sun May 03, 2020 9:07 am

Royal Palace
Oslo, Capital Region, Realm of Cotland
11:00, Friday, 03 April 2020


The black cars driving up to the Royal Palace in Oslo was a usual sight on a Friday, signaling that a Royal Council was taking place as was common, but the large crowd of reporters that had gathered at the palace plaza was larger than usual. Many of the reporters were hoping for a comment from the Chancellor Andreas Riis Dahle afterwards, and had therefore shown up early.

Inside the Royal Palace, the entire cabinet was assembled in the Large Cabinet Room in the eastern wing of the Palace, awaiting the arrival of King Sverre II. As the Monarch of Cotland, the thirty-eight year old King served as Head of State for the tenth year now, intending to celebrate his tenth year as Monarch of July 18th. While monarchs didn’t do much hands-on ruling these days, following parliamentary tradition by leaving the day-to-day administration of his kingdom to the politically elected cabinet and thus following the will of the people, ultimately every major decision was up to the King to either accept or reject. Parliamentary tradition dictated that the King, who held vast powers over life and death and pretty much every other aspect of life in Cotland according to the Constitution, would only make active use of said powers in times of trouble and need.

At exactly 11 o’clock, the exquisitely decorated double doors to the Large Cabinet Room swung open, as a Herald proclaimed, “His Majesty the King!”, prompting the assembled cabinet to face the doors just in time to see King Sverre, dressed as was custom in his black Army Field Marshall's parade uniform, enter. After making the round, greeting everyone assembled with a firm handshake, the King took his seat at the head of the large conference table.

“With Your Majesty’s permission,” Chancellor Riis Larsen spoke formally, following a centuries-old ritual, “Your Majesty’s Royal Council of State is lawfully assembled to guide and council Your Majesty on important matters of State.”

The King, following the ritual, nodded and spoke, “In the name of the Realm of Cotland, you may proceed.”

With the ritualistic formalities out of the way, the cabinet meeting got to work.

“As Your Majesty is aware, the majority of the agenda for today’s cabinet meeting is devoted to the ongoing situation in the east.” The Chancellor spoke.

“Yes, I noticed.” King Sverre replied. As this was his meeting with his council, he served as chair with the Chancellor as his trusted sidekick. The agenda had naturally been provided with yesterday’s blue chest of papers for the King’s review, so the King was familiar with the stated agenda. “The first point on the agenda is a report on the status of the investigations. Madam Interior Minister, the word is yours.”

Rising from her chair, fifty-two year old career politician Anne-Frida Johansson faced the King and curtsied, as was decorum, before starting her briefing.

“Your Majesty, my Lords and Ladies, at present there are two separate investigations taking place in Eastern Cotland under the direction of Rikspolitiet. One concerning the terrorist attack in Makarjev last week, and one that commenced last night concerning the destruction of power lines in the provinces of Bjarmeland, Komi, and Vologda. I shall start with updates on the Makarjev investigation since the last Council of State.

“As stated in the written report that was distributed two days ago, the investigators were able to recover part of the surveillance videos from a harddrive that somehow survived the fire. The only video recovered so far covers the rear emergency entrance and is reported to be grainy and in an unfavorable angle, but the investigators report that at least two persons, perhaps three, wearing dark clothing and balaclavas entered the temple on the night of Thursday to Friday, at around two o’clock in the morning. The persons were inside the temple for about ten minutes, before they appear to have left. The investigators are redoubling their efforts to find out more about these three persons, who are presently the prime suspects.

“The lead investigator’s most recent report from yesterday evening state that they have positively identified the explosive used as SEMTEX-2P, which is a military-grade high explosive intended for military demolition, not the more commonly SEMTEX-10 which is commonly used for mining purposes. I’m informed that SEMTEX is not an explosive commonly sold in Cotland, and Rikspolitiet have interviewed all importers and sales outlets that offer SEMTEX. No one legally sells the military variant of SEMTEX that was used in the attack on Makarjev Temple. The investigators believe that the explosives were smuggled into Cotland from abroad, and this is a lead they are investigating further.

“The current working theory, based on the use of high explosives and the target used, is that the temple was targeted for religious reasons and that the culprits intended to kill as many as possible. Initially a jihadist islamist grouping such as Al-Shams or a fringe group within the Caliphate of Rum was the prime suspect, but this theory is weakened from the lack of anyone claiming responsibility. Usually, Al-Shams will be very quick to claim responsibility for everything adverse that happens in the western world, regardless of what it is, but in this event there’s nothing.”

“Your Majesty, my Lords and Ladies,” Defence Minister Tomas Leikvang spoke as he stood. “I would just like to comment that should it turn out that Al-Shams is responsible for the attack, the General Staff have drawn up a plan for retaliation that will ensure that no one will even think about attempting attacking Cotland’s citizens in the future.”

“Thank you my Lord, but it is far too premature to target Al-Shams at this juncture,” Interior Minister Johansson retorted, slightly annoyed that Defence was trying to usurp the spotlight.

“Now on to the second investigation. While details remain unclear, what we do know is the following: Yesterday evening, almost simultaneously, just after six o’clock in the afternoon local time, at eleven different locations in Bjarmeland, Komi, and Vologda, eleven high-voltage power masts supporting the main power lines in their respective regions were bombed and destroyed.

“We do not yet know who are responsible, but the initial investigations have uncovered high explosive residue and what is believed to be timers, leading the investigators to suspect that someone planted the explosives ahead of time and likely made a clean getaway some time before the bombs detonated. All power masts are in remote, sparsely populated rural regions, but all masts share the distinction of being essential infrastructure. Therefore, this is being investigated as a likely act of sabotage. The motive for the sabotage remains unclear at the present time.

“Given the vast geographical distances involved, its four hundred and eighty-odd kilometers as the bird flies between the southern-most destroyed power mast and the north-eastern most one, meaning that it is unlikely that one person or group was responsible for the bombing. The investigators therefore believe that there are several groups of saboteurs at large in eastern Cotland.

“At present, five cities are left without power: Jarensk in Bjarmeland; Mikun and Jemva in Komi; and Nikol and Kosjakka in Vologda. Additionally, almost a hundred villages and halmets have lost power, as well as a number of government and military installations in these regions. Almost three million citizens are directly affected by the power outage. The power companies that own the power lines report that it can take as much as a week to restore power, due to the extent of the damages.

“That concludes my briefing, if Your Majesty’s please.“

The King nodded, concern clearly showing across his face.

“Thank you Interior Minister. This news is deeply concerning. What are assessed as probable reasons for such active means of sabotage against critical infrastructure?”

“Your Majesty, generally speaking there can be several reasons. Political motives, intending to destabilize popular support for the Government in the areas. It could be separatist groups that could mark their dissatisfaction with the Government, though we have no information or intelligence suggesting that any such groups exist. Even the most likely such grouping, the Komi Liberation Committee, renounced armed revolution in the 1970s and enjoys very little sympathy with the population in Komi, if any. Needless to say, the Police Intelligence Service is looking closely at all known sympathizers to all such groupings in eastern Cotland. “

“Defence Minister?”

“Your Majesty, it could also be a state-sponsored action, possibly as a prelude to some form of armed intervention or as a distraction as a prelude to an action against us somewhere else in the world.

“The Cottish Intelligence Service have redoubled its efforts, especially considering that only the eastern parts of Cotland were targeted and not the south or west.

“If it is any of our neighbors, they’re being awfully quiet about it. We see no unusual activity within the Russian Federation.

“The Confederacy of the Urals have been moving their forces around a bit, which is a bit unusual, but they are nowhere near our borders, and open sources indicate that they are conducting long-planned winter exercises on the Perm-Tartarstan border region.

“The Yamal Republic are also very quiet, as is common for the season.

“The Ukranians are focusing all their efforts to the south, where the advance of the Caliphate of Rum towards their southern borders is causing them a great headache.

"Speaking of the Caliphate of Rum. They are none too pleased with the Realm after the incident in Italy a few months ago, and as you know, the local Emir in Yugoslavia have proclaimed eternal revenge upon us for our pagan ways.

“Unfortunately, at present we have too little information to conclude. However, the prudent thing to do at this point would be to assume the worst. My council to Your Majesty would therefore be that we should take the necessary precautions in the event that this sabotage is a state-sponsored action. This entails raising the terror alertness level in all border regions to Bravo, which is the second level of four on the terror alertness ladder. At present, all of Your Majesty’s forces and other government installations are at level Alpha, which is the lowest level.”

The King nodded his acceptance, and the Defence Minister sat back down. “Thank you for your council, Defence Minister.” The King spoke, turning to the Chancellor sitting to his right.

“Chancellor, what are your thoughts?”

“Your Majesty, as you are aware,” Chancellor Riis Larsen answered, “The Royal Gendarmerie have already been directed to recall all its personell and increase patrols along the remaining power lines, in the event that further attacks takes place. It is unlikely, I know, but its better safe than sorry. Looking at the bigger picture, with the terrorist attack in Makarjev and now the sabotage in the east, I concur with the Defence Minister that increasing vigilance is the prudent course of action. I would also recommend that Your Majesty direct Defence to step up its surveillance of our neighbors and the Caliphate of Rum, as a precaution.”

“Very well, thank you Chancellor.” King Sverre said. “I share the concerns and concur with the recommendations. Chancellor, Defence Minister, Interior Minister, please take the necessary steps to implement these recommendations as presented to me here today.”

All three councilors rose and bowed, accepting the royal command.

“The next step on the agenda, foreign responses to the terror attacks. Foreign Minister.”

Foreign Minister Ine Sørheim rose and curtsied before starting her presentation.

“Your Majesty, my Lords and Ladies. Many foreign governments have sent letters of sympathy and condolences in the past week. The Empire of Layarteb has also separately pledged its full support and placed, and I quote, ‘the full resources of the Empire at your disposal, as needed and as requested.’ This most generous offer has been passed on to the Interior Ministry.

“Of note is the letter of sympathy that was issued by the Confederacy of the Urals, our eastern neighbor. President Termjakov of Perm, who is the incumbent leader of the Confederacy, states after the initial greetings and official condolence that, and I quote, ‘the Confederacy weeps for the perished and offers its tears to the people of Cotland. We also weep for the souls of the perished, who are tragically denied the entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. We pray that this tragedy can open a new door and let the glorious Light and Word of God into the barren, yearning hearts of the people of Cotland.’”

“Well, that was different,” the King remarked. “But not entirely unexpected, given the religious upswing they’ve had over there in the last decade.”

“Indeed sir,” Foreign Minister Sørheim concurred. “Its actually rather mild, compared to some of the words that fell during the state visit five years ago when former president Lughankov found out that his hotel was situated right next to the Grand Temple.”

“That’s the strange thing about religious zealots, regardless of actual faith.” The King mused. ”They’re always sacredly convinced that their way of life is the only correct one, and that everyone has to follow their exact doctrine or else they’ll end up in their version of Hel. I regret that the Urals feel that way, but then again, it is not our place to tell their people how to live their lives.”

“Indeed sir. Other than that, there are nothing further from the Foreign Ministry.”

“Thank you Foreign Minister. Let’s see, next point on the agenda is the Health Minister…”
Last edited by Cotland on Sun May 03, 2020 9:18 am, edited 4 times in total.

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The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Sun May 03, 2020 4:31 pm

Sir Thomas Webber, KCG
Embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia, Oslo
The Realm of Cotland
Sunday 29th March 2020, 1210hrs Local Time

Groans echoed around the conference room table as the Cottish Chief Inspector giving the press conference formally announced the number of fatalities in the bombing that had shook the Realm of Cotland a couple of days previously. It had been obvious for some hours now that the death toll was going to be substantial to say the least, based on the reports from the scene both from the media and from official sources. News had reached the Embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia in Oslo on Friday evening, much as it had for pretty much everyone else, and had hit like a body blow. The world was not a stranger to terrorist attacks, most notably from the Islamic extremist group known as Al-Shams, but it had quickly become obvious that the death toll in this attack was particularly egregious. Most of the Embassy staff had been finishing up for the day, by the time that the news reached them, but as the news reports made clear that it was a major explosion, possibly gas related but naturally thoughts turned to terrorism almost immediately, the majority of the staff had gathered around television screens in the main bullpen to watch the coverage.

As soon as the Ambassador, Sir Thomas Webber, had been able to gather together his senior staff to formulate a response, the Embassy immediately offered whatever assistance was required to the Cottish Government, including both from the handful of medical staff attached to the Embassy and the manpower of the (small) security detachment. Of course, by the time any such offers could be accepted and the personnel moved to the scene of the incident it would be far, far too late, given the distance between Oslo and the site of the explosion. Nevertheless, Sir Thomas had wanted to ensure that the Cottish Government knew that any assistance that could be offered would be offered, it was the least that he could do until a clearer picture of the situation could emerge. Over the following hours the Embassy staff, not to mention the desk officers back at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seattle, as well as the analysts of the Royal Intelligence Service (RIS), had worked feverishly to identify the explosion and, when it became obvious that it was indeed a bomb, the identify of the perpetrators.

By Saturday morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a statement of condolences to the Realm of Cotland, and an offer of whatever assistance may be required. Although geographically separated from the Realm, the Kingdom of Apilonia enjoyed good relations with Cotland, both historically and more recently. The current Queen of Cotland was a younger daughter of the Duke of California, after all, and one of King Sverre’s own sisters, the young and wild Princess Tyra, was currently dating Prince Alexander of Cascadia, the second-in-line to the Apilonian throne, and the couple had announced their engagement the previous autumn. Suffice it to say, the Kingdom and the Realm had close ties and a positive relationship. Indeed, vigils had taken place all over the Kingdom on Friday night (Apilonian time) as reports of the devastation had continued to pour in, and the Cottish Embassy in Seattle had been inundated with flowers and other gestures of condolences by the citizens of Seattle and the Duchy of Washington more broadly.

The Kingdom had been lucky, it had not suffered a foreign terror attack in some years, but less than eighteen years had passed since the Insurgency, in which Lord James Henderson had pressed his (weak) claim on the throne. Lacking support, either in the military or amongst the populous, Lord Henderson had resorted to a campaign of murder and domestic terrorism to further his agenda. Of course, this had had no chance of succeeding, and after his capture Henderson had been declared insane and admitted to a secure psychiatric facility where he remained to this day, but he had set the Kingdom aflame in his madness. So, the Kingdom was no stranger to terror, and would not wish it on anyone else. The King himself had phoned King Sverre to personally offer his condolences and to pledge his support.

Nevertheless, the sheer size and scale of the attack now being reported were difficult to comprehend, especially the number of children who had been killed. Sir Thomas was father to two young girls, just entering their rebellious teenage years, and many of his staff were old enough to have children of their own; the diplomatic mission to Cotland was a plum posting and, as such, tended to attract an above-average amount of older staff members. Indeed, shortly after the numbers had been announced Sir Thomas had stepped into his office to ring his wife and children, back in Portland, just to hear their voices.

When he returned to the conference room a few minutes later, he looked around at the weary yet determined eyes of his staff.

“I know this is a difficult situation for us all to comprehend, but I guarantee that it is far harder and more painful for the Cottish citizens outside of those walls, and in the spirit of our good relations with the Realm we owe it to them to do whatever we can to help,” Sir Thomas said firmly. “Rosemary, continue reaching out to the Cottish Government to offer our assistance, I spoke to the Minister this morning and he made clear that we’re to offer any assistance short of requiring a Senate vote, which we’ll pass up the chain if requested.”

The Counsellor for Political Affairs, Rosemary Burton, nodded.

“Frank, although we’ve not yet received any requests for assistance from ex-patriates, businesspeople or tourists currently in the Realm, go through all the visas we’ve approved and get in touch with every Apilonian citizen in-country, make sure they’re okay,” Sir Thomas continued, speaking to the Counsellor for Consular Affairs, Frank Ward, who nodded as well. “Advise all of our citizens that they need to be on their guard; we don’t anticipate them being directly targeted, but they may get caught up in them if there are follow-up attacks.”

Sir Thomas looked around at the group.

“We are limited what we can do, here and now, to help with this situation, but by god we will do everything that is within our power, we will put out every stop and we will make any arrangement that is necessary; when it comes to terrorism, there is no middle ground, we stand with Cotland and we will assist in any way possible.”

Sir Thomas Webber, KCG
Embassy of the Kingdom of Apilonia, Oslo
The Realm of Cotland
Friday 3rd April 2020, 1200hrs Local Time

“The Cottish have just increased their terror alert for their military forces in the border regions, Your Excellency,” Captain Douglas Hart, Royal Apilonian Navy, the Defence Attaché, reported as he entered the Ambassador’s office, as explanation for his lateness to the meeting Sir Thomas had called. “This follows their orders for all units of the Royal Gendarmerie to suspend leave after the power lines went down.”

Sir Thomas leant back in his chair and sighed heavily. The situation, which had seemed like it couldn’t get any worse after bombings, had proceeded to get worse overnight with the failure of no less than eleven power masts, across a wide area, failing overnight. It had not been independently confirmed by the Kingdom, but friendly contacts between the Defence Attaché’s Office and the Cottish Ministry of Defence had indicated that they had been deliberately destroyed by military-grade explosives. Given that power lines counted as essential infrastructure, this pointed directly towards a deliberate campaign of sabotage to plunge eastern Cotland into darkness, which was not a good thing given the temperature at this time of year. Moreover, it was a very disturbing occurrence so soon after the Temple Bombing and, as such, theories were abound in both the Apilonian Embassy and across the entire Apilonian Government that something far worse was afoot, although no evidence was forthcoming and senior managers were emphasising the need to avoid jumping to conclusions. The decision by the Cottish to raise their alert levels only confirmed that they were also considering the same implications, which was only to be expected and was an entirely sensible precaution.

“Well, as much as I don’t see us being specifically targeted, I think we need to take precautions of our own, just in case, sabotage is a very different thing from a terrorist attack, it suggests that this thing, whatever it is, isn’t over and we need to be ready,” Sir Thomas said grimly, looking at his staff. “Increase the Embassy’s security level, make sure that none of our staff go off on their own without someone else knowing, and reach out again to all Apilonian citizens in-country, advise against any but essential business in the impacted provinces.”

“Are we expecting further attacks on Cotland?” Rosemary Burton frowned.

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Sir Thomas sighed. “Captain, what is Defence’s position on all this?”

“The MOD is operating under the assumption that there will be further attacks, possibly including conventional military action, taking out the power lines could be the start of a full-on sabotage campaign,” Captain Hart replied. “We can only assume that the Cottish MOD is doing the same, indeed we expect to see increased Cottish military activity as they uncover more intelligence around the attack.”

“You really think we’re looking at an escalation here?” Burton frowned.

“The aim of terrorism is to cause terror, Counsellor, to kill as many people as quickly as possible, ideally women and children, that’s why your modern terrorist tends to go after ‘soft’ civilian targets, rather than more hardened military or critical infrastructure,” Captain Hart replied. “Although damaging, targeting infrastructure with minimal civilian casualties does not inflict ‘terror’, that’s why you won’t find Al-Shams claiming responsibility every time a transformer failure plunges a Duchy into darkness… if you’re contemplating the first-stage of an asymmetrical campaign, however…”

“I should point on that this is all conjecture, at the moment,” Ronnie Cox, the RIS Station Chief, commented from his seat in the corner, upholding the ‘Spook’ stereotype. “RIS is still looking at all possibilities, and we’re liaising appropriately with Cottish intelligence.”

Captain Hart was about to reply when Sir Thomas held up his hand.

“Whilst I agree with Mr Cox that we should not jump to conclusions, we also mustn’t be blind to the concerning implications of what has occurred, particularly given that the Archduchy of Austria is only a stone’s throw away if Europe gets set-ablaze by Cottish revenge,” Sir Thomas sighed. “In any case, we can’t do much until we learn more about what is going on, and we can’t launch our own investigation so must rely on official information from the Cottish, so we need to be ready for anything, both to protect our own people and provide what assistance we may to the Realm.”
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Postby Cotland » Mon May 04, 2020 5:32 am

Corner of Main Street and Kong Harald IV Drive
Nem, Komi len, Realm of Cotland
03:57, Tuesday, 07 April 2020

The town of Nem was a sleepy rural industrial town, not much larger than some 9,000 inhabitants spread across three main settlements divided by the delta where the Kelma river flowed into the Vytsjegda river. Historically, Nem had been a natural place for tribes and travelers following the river met to barter and trade, and later it became an important hub for the important lumber trade as lumber was floated down the two rivers to Nem for processing. The lumber mill remained an important cornerstone enterprise in the small but bustling settlement, though rail had replaced the lumber barges as the main mode of shipping the processed lumber on to the recipients.

A patrol car from the Royal Gendarmerie, the paramilitary internal troops of Cotland, was conducting a routine patrol of the streets of the sleepy rural river town of Nem when something off caught the attention of the two Gendarmes. They couldn’t really explain why the dark blue Volvo van idling next to Harjalan’s Corner Store caught their attention – after all, it could be a new fellow delivering the morning edition of the Komi Daily – but their police intuition told them that this vehicle should be checked out.

After stopping behind the vehicle and radioing in the license plate number for a check, which came back clean, one of the Gendarmes stepped out of the olive drab Dodge Ram patrol vehicle. He was dressed in the urban camo pattern of the Royal Gendarmerie, with a black tactical stab-proof vest with “KONGELIGE GENDARMERIE” prominently displayed, an equipment belt with handcuffs, baton, P95 pistol in a hip-holster, multitool, and LedLenser TT flashlight firmly fastened around his waist, and the red beret of the Royal Gendarmes on his head, concealing the earplug connected to the personal patrolman’s radio mounted on the back of his tactical vest. After getting out, he pulled his standard-issue MP14 submachine gun over his head and shoulder and let it rest comfortably along his torso, in a relaxed but ready state in case it became necessary.

As the Gendarme approached, he took a quick look around to see if there were anyone lurking nearby. The alley between Harjalan’s and the Boots Chemist was empty, and there were no one else out on the streets. Satisfied, the Gendarme continued walking up to the van.

Carefully stepping up to the driver’s side of the van, the Gendarme could see one person sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle. Shining his 280 lumen flashlight straight at the man, who squinted as the powerful light raped his visual senses, the Gendarme could see that the man was about thirty years old, clean-shaven with closely cropped brown hair, and appeared to be quite fit. Some form of athlete perhaps. No tattoos that he could discern. Tapping the window, the Gendarme indicated for the man to crank down the window so they could speak. It took two tries before the man reluctantly lowered the window. Suspicious indeed.

“Good morning,” The Gendarme spoke politely but firmly in Cottish, his accent revealing that he was originally from northern Svea. “I’m with the Royal Gendarmerie. Can I see your license and registration please.”

The man didn’t speak, but nodded that he understood and reached carefully over to the passenger’s seat…

The tranquility of the night was shattered by the rattle of automatic gunfire coming from the nearby alley that cut down the Gendarme before he had the chance to realize what had happened. Before the second Gendarme sitting in the driver’s seat of the Ram had a chance to react, a rattle of automatic gunfire fired into the windscreen of the unarmored patrol truck extinguished his life.

Citizens living along the streets in question later reported that they saw two men with rifles jump into the Volvo van, which immediately sped away from the scene heading north and out of town. Almost immediately, several citizens called the police to report the events, while others hastily threw on clothes and ran down to render assistance. It was futile though. Both Gendarmes had been slain by the intense gunfire, being declared dead by the paramedics that responded and arrived within minutes.

Not five minutes after the shootings, violence struck Nem again as an explosion on the roof of Harjalan’s destroyed the cellphone tower that serviced downtown Nem. An all-points bulletin was issued almost immediately for the van, which was located almost two hours later by a patrol from the Southern Komi Regional Police Force, burning and abandoned in a forest clearing some twelve kilometers north of Nem.

As if this wasn't enough, further explosions were heard over the course of the next few hours across four provinces in eastern Cotland as telecom masts and cellphone towers were bombed, marking another series of sabotage against critical infrastructure.

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Postby Layarteb » Mon May 04, 2020 8:20 pm

• • • † • • •

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020 | 11:08 hrs [UTC+2]

Oslo, Norway | Embassy of the Empire of Layarteb
59° 56' 28" N, 10° 40' 8" E

Eight minutes later to her own meeting, Ambassador Albers walked through the door of the conference room and took her seat at the table. "Sorry I'm late," she said, "I was just on the phone with Minister Fisher. It's rather early over there so it would have been rude to hurry him off of the phone, all right so, now that I'm eight minutes later, we have eight fewer minutes to discuss this. What is happening in the Cottish Realm? We start with a massive bombing of a temple killing hundreds. Then we advance to eleven high-power transmission towers being brought down by demolitions charges, likely the same ones used in the temple. Now this morning we're facing a slew of destroyed telecom masts and cellphone towers in Nem. Who's behind this?"

"Ma'am right now, it's the biggest mystery in the world,"
said Chris Reavis, the Chief of Station, "we've got nothing. There's no chatter and even the Cottish authorities don't have any leads. We do know that these attacks are sophisticated, they are coordinated, and they have been preplanned. There are multiple cells operating in the Realm of Cotland right now and all of them are working to a plan and likely working independently based on a previously agreed upon timetable and target list. This would explain the lack of chatter. There's nothing to coordinate if each cell is operating independently."

"What's the possibility that each cell doesn't know of the others?"

"No ma'am, not something this sophisticated and they would have figured it out after the transmission towers came down. Whoever's responsible for this, they know what they're doing and they know that there are others out there. They're also highly committed. The shooting of the Gendarmes in Nem can only tell us that they didn't expect to be caught but they also had a plan if they were caught. Based on initial witness accounts, two men got into the vehicle. There was one man in the vehicle, a getaway driver. This leads us to believe that the cells are three-man teams, perhaps four but we have no known information if a fourth person was in the vehicle."

"Have the Cottish reached out to us ma'am, from our offer?"
Patti Santoro, the legal attaché asked.

Ambassador Albers shook her head, "Not yet but there's not a lot we can offer anyway. If Reavis is saying there's no chatter there goes our biggest contribution to the table. Still think it's Al-Shams or Rum?" Albers asked Reavis, somewhat sardonically.

"No ma'am, not anymore."


"Al-Shams doesn't operate like this. Their pattern of behavior is for high-casualty attacks. If the temple was a single incident, we'd still be on this theory but it isn't. These are all connected and Al-Shams wouldn't care to go for infrastructure like this. They'd strap bombs with ball bearings to their bodies and detonate them in the middle of malls, markets, and playgrounds,"
Reavis explained.

"Good because that theory didn't last very long because it wasn't meant to last very long," she said, emphasizing the word "meant" for added effect. "So who are the Cottish dealing with here? Separatists? Some far-right militia group? Apocalyptic doomsday cult? Who? I know you don't know but I also know we cannot afford to sit around and not do something. I'm trying to get into a meeting with the Chancellor this week but that's if he has time. It's been a busy week for them and today's just another day in a long period. I want to have some answers for the Chancellor when I finally get a chance to meet with him."

"We'll do our level best ma'am,"
Reavis said.

"Good because intelligence is what we need. We have how many people in this country both nationals and indigenous. We need to know."

"Yes ma'am."

"All right now what about security precautions? Are we issuing an alert to Layartebian citizens in Cotland?"
She asked, turning to the Chief of Security, Patrick Hill.

"Embassy grounds are secure ma'am. We've added extra scrutiny to all visitors and any vehicle that lingers within visual range of the embassy but we're unlikely to be a target. We're not five hundred meters from Huseby Leir so we're in one of the most secure parts of this country and city. Still, we aren't taking chances. I would recommend ma'am a standard alert to Layartebian citizens warning them of the potential for danger in the eastern territories but as there are no specific details, this is more a message of 'caution' to our citizens. It need not be said but sometimes people don't think of things until they see them on their screens."

"All right, yes I want a low-level alert. We don't need to spook anyone and I'm sure we'll have three hundred phone calls the moment the alert goes out from worried tourists and businessmen afraid to get their suits wrinkled. We're not recommending anyone evacuate and we're not recommending anyone cut their business dealings or vacations short."

"Got it, it'll go out today ma'am."

"Last but not least, is there anything at all that the FJA can lend to the Cottish? Anything in the archives at all that matches this?"

"I'll ask my colleagues in Layarteb City to look ma'am,"
Patti answered "but nothing comes to mind. We've not dealt with much of a militia issue at home nor have we had this level of sophisticated terrorism to deal with in recent times. Still, one never knows what exists in the FJA archives. I'll convey the request."

"Good, all right, done on time,"
she said as she looked at her wristwatch, "let's reconvene tomorrow morning, provided nothing else occurs the rest of today."

• • • † • • •

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Postby Cotland » Thu May 07, 2020 2:39 am

Kotlas Cultural Palace
Kotlas, Bjarmeland len, Realm of Cotland
23:29, Friday, 10 April 2020

As the days passed, the investigations in eastern Cotland proceeded with undiminished resolve, though the investigators were not able to produce conclusive results. Whoever had been responsible for the attacks knew what they were doing, and they knew how to cover their own tracks. There had been only one reported sighting of the perpetrators, namely the shooting in Nem, but the descriptions investigators were able to get from the badly shaken townspeople in Nem – about 170-180 centimeters high, normal build, white –matched some 70% of the Cottish male population. At the same time, the victims of the Makarjev bombing had finally started to be identified and could be returned to their relatives for burial.

Power had fortunately been restored to the last of the darkened regions two days ago, with temporary connections being established along the ground of the power pathways pending new mast construction when the spring thaw would finish around May. The telecom masts that had been destroyed had also been rapidly replaced by the telecom companies, restoring service in all affected areas within twelve hours of going dark. The forensic investigations had revealed that every single one of the bombings had used SEMTEX-2P, which was the same military-grade explosive that had been used in the Makarjev Temple bombings.

Unmanned drones and manned helicopters belonging to the Royal Cottish Air Force and the Royal Gendarmerie, respectively, had started patrolling and surveilling the main power lines in an effort to at least get observations if there were any future attacks on the power infrastructure. This, combined with the tasking from the Cabinet to step up surveillance flights against the neighboring nations started putting a large stress on the relatively limited UAV resources available to the Royal Cottish Air Force. Temporary measures were put into place by fitting multirole fighters with reconnaissance pods and sending them on intelligence collection flights along the borders with Cotland’s neighbors, which helped in the short haul, but also led to reactions from the neighbors when Cottish fighters suddenly started flying within 10 kilometers of the border. Ukranian, Russian and Ural Su-27s, Su-30s, and MiG-35s, respectively, rose to the skies to track the Cottish JAS-39 and JAS-43 fighters, naturally safely within their own respective borders, but the unspoken diplomatic message from the neighbors was clear: We’re watching, and we’re wondering what you’re on about.

At the same time, the Royal Gendarmerie had been ordered to increase physical security measures at critical infrastructure similar to that which had been targeted such as power plants and telecommunications centres, while stepping up armed and visible patrols in public areas such as public transportation hubs, markets and shopping centres, and areas where people met such as plazas and museums, while the local and regional police forces were instructed to step up patrols and increase the number of foot patrols undertaken during the day. This had a two-fold purpose: Firstly, to increase the visible police presence and thus hopefully reassure the general public that security was a priority; and second, to dissuade the perpetrators from conducting any further action and improve response times. While these very public efforts were being undertaken, the Army’s garrisons and standing units in the eastern provinces were quietly instructed to start preparing for deployment to reinforce the Royal Gendarmerie with patrols and static security duties in the event that further attacks were to take place.

While the security situation in the eastern provinces appeared to deteriorate, and remained the main topic in most conversations both at work, school, and over a cold beer in the pub in the evenings, life went on. Children still attended school, adults still went to work, and people attended to their interests. While it had been considered recommending suspending cultural activities in the eastern provinces, the Cottish government had been decided that such a drastic step would be too drastic and premature, and that the situation did not (yet) warrant taking such severe measures. After all, Cotland remained a fairly free country and there hadn’t been any further attacks on public gatherings since the Makarjev Temple bombing almost two weeks ago. Culture would be allowed to go on.

Hence, over seven thousand people gathered at the Kotlas Cultural Palace, a rather pompous name for the main cultural arena in the city of Kotlas in southeastern Bjarmeland, for the spring’s main event: Monsters of Rock (the 2020 Tour). An annual rock/metal musical event taking place in the early spring, the touring rock concert was a one-night only show that toured across thirty different cities and towns in Cotland, starting in Ålborg in Denmark in late February and moving in a counter-clockwise circle across Cotland, playing three nights per week for ten weeks until ending up in Trondheim in Noreg in May. Monsters of Rock was a highly popular event, and generated a welcome income for the bands that attended. This year’s lineup consisted of four bands, playing for about five hours in total starting at around eight in the evening and wrapping it up sometime around one in the morning, and featured Cottish hard rock band Gluecifer and Layartebian hard rock veterans Sevendust as the main features. Heavy metal band Apostasy and the prog-rock legends Motorpsycho complemented the lineup.

In the main concert hall, capable of safely fitting around seven thousand people, Motorpsycho had just finished their set list and yielded the stage to Sevendust ten minutes ago. Seven thousand pumped-up concert-goers, riled up on metal and beer, let their enthusiasm and joy be known as Sevendust finished their starting act Praise and followed up with the classic Black.

As lead vocalist Lajon Witherspoon started on the second verse and a mosh pit was starting to develop, the concert experience was shattered by a massive explosion in the rear-most corner of the concert venture.

The band stopped playing abruptly as the flash and roar of the explosion spread and the fire alarms started going off almost instantly. While the explosion subsided rapidly, it didn’t take long before panic took hold in the concert goers as people realized what had happened and desperately tried fleeing the area. The emergency exits were naturally open, but with thousands trying to get out at the same time, queues were inevitable and the desperation of people literarily fighting to get out.

Police officers and paramedics, already pre-positioned as was normal during large cultural events, immediately responded to the event even before most people had managed to evacuate themselves from the concert venue. Police officers kept people moving on out of the area in order to stop them from congesting the areas directly outside the emergency exits, while other officers and paramedics tried to get inside to find out what had happened and help out as best they could.

As the first responders made their way inside the main concert hall, light show from the concert was still ongoing despite the fact that the band had been evacuated outside by the organizers, giving the whole scene a bizzare lighting. In the far corner near the toilets, the first responders found many people lying on the blood-soaked floor, and immediately started providing emergency assistance. While many appeared to have died, there were many more still alive that needed help, and to their credit, the first responders found that many staff and several concert-goers had stayed behind and started helping their injured compatriots, thus saving several lives.

Outside the Cultural Palace, police and Royal Gendarmes that had responded to the initial call started establishing a cordon and tried to clear a path through the veritable sea of people so the ambulances could get a clear route through and on to one of the city’s three hospitals. It didn’t take long before the media were on the scene, sending live despite the lateness of the hour, and interviewing shocked concert-goers who could report that Sevendust was just starting their second song when there was a massive blast from the toilets and that panic took hold almost immediately. The local law enforcement at the scene could only confirm to journalists that yes, there had been an explosion at the Kotlas Cultural Palace during Monsters of Rock; that yes, there were fatalities; that yes, it appeared that the bands were all uninjured and safe; and that they were actively investigating and could not offer any further information at that time.

As the hours passed and fewer gurneys laden with injured people were evacuated from the concert hall into the waiting ambulances, the first numbers started being reported. An hour after the blast, it was reported that at least twelve people had been killed and a hundred wounded. Three hours later, this was updated to seventeen killed, one hundred twenty-two injured. By the time the morning news started, the casualty count had settled at twenty-three killed and one hundred thirty-nine physically injured.
Last edited by Cotland on Thu May 07, 2020 3:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Cotland » Mon May 11, 2020 2:26 pm

Kotlas, Bjarmeland len, Realm of Cotland
08:22, Saturday, 11 April 2020

The investigation into the bombing of the Kotlas Cultural Palace was the third major investigation Rikspolitiet had started in eastern Cotland as many weeks, stretching the available resources to the limit. Forensic labs were already taxed by the Makarjev bombing, and backreach resources in the region were being strained to the limits. Despite reinforcements being sent from other parts of Cotland to assist, this was an unsustainable situation.

As it this wasn’t enough, the journalists and people were starting to connect the dots, speaking out loud what had been dismissed as scare-mongering and inappropriate comments just days before. As was now being said out loud: No sooner had the poor people of Makarjev been able to start burning their dead before new violence and death were taking place. Saturday morning talkshows were latching on to this, grasping at any straw they could find and blowing it up and speculating wildly as to what was happening, and why the government weren’t able to do anything about it!

Undeterred by this, the investigators were working the crime scene, as the Cultural Palace had now been declared, getting whatever forensic evidence they could and reviewing both CCTV footage and interviewing the responsible managers to establish what kind of security procedures had been in place in order to try to find out how someone had been able to bring a bomb into the concert hall. As the venue manager said with tears in her eyes, the focus the security people had was to make sure no one smuggled in weapons, drugs or alcohol, and that no one were too intoxicated prior to the concert, but they had checked every bag and purse that was brought into the concert hall, and none of the surviving security had seen anything that could be a bomb.

It was early in the morning when an investigator caught a lucky break. Reviewing CCTV footage of the area where the bomb had gone off, he could see a person wearing a backpack casually crouch down like if he was just tying a shoelace, then get back up without wearing the backpack. After a few seconds, he left the area, heading for one of the exits. Ten minutes later, the bomb detonated. Following his gut instinct, the investigator started reviewing further and found the man a little while earlier. A security camera overlooking the main security checkpoint got the investigators a good closeup of his face.

The person was a man in his thirties wearing a black hoodie and a grey t-shirt over a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans, three-day black stubble on his face, and wearing black shades. The security made him unhood and remove his shades so they could see if he was intoxicated, which allowed the investigators to learn that their prime suspect had medium long black hair and what looked like green eyes. Interviews with the security staff that had interacted with him confirmed this information, and added that he had spoken Cottish but with a mild Slavic accent. She remembered because it wasn’t all that common that people from Perm to come across the border for metal concerts. The investigators learned that the suspect arrived through the main security checkpoint about twenty minutes after the doors opened when the main concert going crowd arrived, thus stressing the security staff as many people had to be processed through the security checkpoint as quickly as possible. The suspect blended in with the crowd and got through, but he didn’t have a backpack! As they followed the man through the concert hall via the security cameras, they tracked his movement from the entrance, via the back corner where the bomb would later go off, where he lingered for the first few hours as first Apostasy and then Motorpsycho did their gigs. When Motorpsycho was getting into their final act, the man was on the move again, going into the toilets where there were no security cameras for privacy reasons. As he reemerged from the toilet, he was in possession of the backpack.

Following the man out again, the outside CCTV cameras revealed the man quickly making his way across the street to a black Mercedes Transporter, which then promptly left the area about five minutes prior to the detonation.

A quick review of nearby cameras later revealed the registry of the black Mercedes Transporter as a vehicle that had been leased from a car rental firm in Kargopol in southwestern Bjarmeland four weeks earlier. Registered to one Ragnar Ludbark, who it would turn out did not exist in any Cottish official registries or databases, the car had not returned when it should have been two days ago, causing the rental firm to report the car as stolen to the police.

Further checks of the highway cameras revealed the Transporter moving north at the legal 110 km/h speed limit on Royal Motorway 25, which largely followed the Northern Dvina river north and connected Kotlas with Gandviken up by the White Sea. It was last seen driving north on Royal Motorway 25 near Dvinskoj in Bjarmeland len at 00:45, just over an hour after the bombing took place.

At a press conference at 11 o’clock, the investigators from Rikspolitiet went public with what information they had at that time, and released the picture of the man who they now considered the prime suspect in the bombing. The picture and license plate number of the black Mercedes Transporter was also released, asking anyone who had seen the car to please contact the Police.

South of Mojsejev hamlet, Bjarmeland len, Realm of Cotland
13:30, Saturday, 11 April 2020

Mojsejev was nestled along fairly unbusy County Road 387 on the western bank of the Northern Dvina river. Nothing really happened in Mojsejev, which was why it was a popular place for people working in the nearby town and municipal hub Øvre Tomja to settle down and raise their kids. Since it was so quiet and small, the small halmet of 175 souls (and growing since Mrs Burugle in No 58 was expecting twins come June) was the sort of place where everyone knew everyone and no one could hold any secrets secret for very long.

Thus, when the police announced on the press conference that they were looking for a black Mercedes Transporter van in conjunction with the grievous attack in Kotlas, a mere 146 kilometers further south, or just over an hour and fifteen minute drive on Royal Motorway 25 distant, sixty-six year old retired bus driver Karl Heimvert in No 26 remembered that he had indeed seen a black Mercedes Transporter driving at breakneck speed along the old logging road when he was out that morning walking his trusty old retriever Labben. As he explained to the police dispatcher when he called to report it, he had thought it odd that someone would be driving that fast so early in the morning, but dismissed the thought as being some big city dweller going up to one of the old cabins near the lakes.

Within an hour, two police officers from the Bjarmeland Regional Police Force showed up on Heimvert’s doorstep for a more in-depth interview, which Heimvert was only too happy to give. Over coffee and freshly made buns, Heimvert explained in detail what he had seen and also gave the police officers the lay of the land, so to speak. Using a map the officers had brought, Karl explained to the officers how many cabins were up by the seven lakes in the highland overlooking the river valley, commonly known as “the Dimples” to the locals, and which of these cabins were accessible by car from the long, winding old logging road. As he explained, “this late in the winter season, no one usually goes up there because of the poor road conditions. Either you go by snowmobile during the winter, or you wait until the thaw is over.”

The information was interesting enough for the investigators to request use of a drone to check out the places.

Main Operations Centre, 286 (Reconnaissance) Squadron
Plesetsk Air Force Base
Plesetsk, Bjarmeland len, Realm of Cotland
16:11, Saturday, 11 April 2020

The main operations center for 286 (Reconnaissance) Squadron was commonly known as Predator Bay, as it was arranged as a horseshoe of consoles and computers controlling the squadron’s assigned Reaper multirole drones, the replacements for the original Layartebian-made Predator reconnaissance drones that the squadron had originally been equipped with when it was stood up in 1996. Nowadays, the squadron usually operated in support of the King Haakon VII Spaceport, home of the Cottish space programme, protecting the space launches by observing the perimeter and surrounding areas for any lost tourists or unwelcome guests of a foreign conviction. Since the bombings of the power lines and communications towers, the squadron had been tasked with supporting the Royal Gendarmerie and Rikspolitiet with surveillance assets, meaning that they had four of their twenty-four Reapers airborne and operational at any given time.

One of these drones were urgently retasked at the request of Rikspolitiet, which had come not from the local investigators in Kotlas, but rather from the Interior Ministry in Oslo direct to the Air Force Staff in Oslo. As such, when the big bosses said jump, the Air Force asked how high, and made available the asset.

Reaper #874 “Katlin” was cruising at an operating altitude of 5,500 meters (18,044 feet), unarmed, as was common in peacetime operations over own soil, and had been aloft for four hours, meaning she had another eight hours on-station before declaring BINGO and returning to Plesetsk. When the new tasking came to the two operators in Predator Bay, “Katlin” was surveilling the power line between Vaga and Velsk, and was the closest asset. Twenty minutes later, she was repositioned over “the Dimples”. The police investigators had radioed in the locations that were most likely to their dispatch, who had relayed it to the Air Force liason in the regional office who subsequently relayed it to Predator Bay. There were only some twenty-nine cabins that were likely targets, across three of the lakes. The two-man crew were told that human activity was interesting, and locating a black Mercedes Transporter was even more interesting. With that tasking, the crew started a systematic search using the full spectrum of the drone’s sensor package.

The first eleven cabins were dead ends, revealing no human activity for some time. However, when they came up on target #12, things were different. Target #12 was a cabin on the eastern shore overlooking the eastern-most lake of “the Dimples”, located just at the foot of the small hill the map said was called Jantaryggen. The cabin was accessible only by a small road that branched off the logging road four kilometers further east, and was located almost 18 kilometers as the bird flies from Mojsejev to the north and a tad over 10 kilometers from the closest settlement, the small hamlet of Popsjera to the south. The Air Force crew agreed that this would probably be the last place anyone would think to look for anyone.

Observing through the drone’s powerful electro-optical sensor since it was still daylight out, the crew could see that the cabin roof had been cleared of snow recently, and there were smoke coming up from the chimney. Clearly, this cabin was inhabited. Their interest piqued after hours of no joy, the sensor operator zoomed closer as the Battle Captain came over from his own console and stared at the main screen displaying the live feed from “Katlin”.

As the pilot started circling around the cabin, keeping the drone high enough that it couldn’t be seen or heard from the ground, the perspective changed and revealed a number of vehicles parked neatly in a row outside the cabin. Lo and behold, one of the vehicles looked suspiciously like a black van, being parked alongside two Toyota Landcruisers and a Toyota Hilux. Unlike the Landcruisers and the Hilux, the van had clearly been driven recently as it wasn’t coated with a light layer of snow. A review with the Met Office would later reveal that the last snow reported by the nearest weather station had fallen two days ago.

As “Katlin” moved around to get a better look, the license plates for the van became visible. Zooming in, the Air Force crew were able to positively identify the van as that which had fled from Kotlas the night prior. Slamming his fist into the seat of the pilot, scaring the Flight Lieutenant slightly, the Battle Captain sneered, “Got’cha!” before walking over to the phone to report the finding as instructed.

That 286 Squadron was tasked with maintaining continuous surveillance and coverage over the area was a dead given, and maintainers were already told to prepare the next drone on the roster, #538 “Valhall her kommer jeg!" for operations to replace “Katlin” when she’d reach BINGO.

On the ground, the police station at Øvre Tomja were ordered to send two armed patrols at once up the forest road to block the northern part of the logging road and stop and arrest anyone who might attempt to leave the area by car, while a police patrol from the police station in Usjd would race ahead of Team HUBRO to Popsjera and set up a blocking position on the logging road a bit north of the hamlet.

Meanwhile, an advance element of the Bjarmeland Regional Police Force’s Special-Purpose Team HUBRO started loading up into armored trucks for the long 111 kilometer drive north to near Kurtasjev, where they’d leave Royal Motorway 25, cross the North Dvina river and drive the 42 kilometers along County Road 863 to Popsjera, where they’d go up the logging road towards the cabin and reconnoiter the area. As the advance team left Kotlas at 17:01, a helpful JTAC attached from the Air Force wing in Kotlas had tagged along and brought with him a handheld rugged tactical tablet that could tap into the drone feed – a nifty piece of kit that already helped immensely as the HUBRO Team Leader and the rest of the team started planning while the truck humped along the dark road.

The plan which developed as they drove at what some would consider unsafe speeds up the country road, was for the advance party to reconnoiter during the night and get his team into position, then storm the building in the early hours of the next morning when they knew more.

Meanwhile, the balance of Team HUBRO prepared for deployment by helicopter to the area near Popsjera, where they’d stage for the expected operation against the cabin. Things were starting to develop rapidly.

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Postby Cotland » Thu May 14, 2020 5:10 pm

Cabin on the banks of Lake Pralak
62° 6'24.61"N, 44°35'57.87"E
20:50, Saturday, 11 April 2020


As darkness began to set upon eastern Bjarmeland, the first of the Cottish law enforcement agents had arrived in the area and started setting themselves up for the upcoming raid that would be conducted when everyone were in position and everything was set; or the suspected perpetrators discovered them – whichever came first. Two two-man sniper-spotter teams had already made concealed infiltrations to observation posts up to 800 meters away from the cabin, allowing them a combined good enough view of the entire structure.

Meanwhile, the Team Commander and his deputy were busy planning how to execute the raid. They had, as far as the Commander could tell, two methods of getting this done. The first was to approach by the only easily accessible access – the road – under cover of the darkness and storm the structure under cover of darkness. The second was to just land his team by helicopter right on top of the structure and conduct an immediate storming. The problem with both methods was that the snow was fairly deep, meaning that the mobility of the assault team which was already laden down with heavy bulletproof protective gear and weaponry would suffer even more, regardless of how physically fit the assault team was. Additionally, the team didn’t have a layout of the cabin, meaning that they couldn’t even make any more than a rough plan.

Fortunately, the Team Commander would have his full team – forty men – for this operation. Of these, twenty-six men were already in the area, while helicopters were collecting the balance of the force from Kotlas.

The sniper teams reported in that they could see lights in the cabin’s windows, and smoke coming from the chimney, meaning that the cabin was still occupied. They couldn’t see in the windows though, as drapes covered all the windows, but from the shadows that occasionally passed the windows, they could see at least four or five persons inside.

As part of the preparations, a PD-100 Black Hornet nano-UAV was sent up and towards the cabin to try to get better optics on the structure. However, to the surprise of the UAV operator, the signal was lost as the UAV approached the cabin. When a second UAV experienced the same difficulties, the Team Commander and UAV operator came to the same conclusion: the perpetrators had jamming equipment. That would complicate things somewhat, but also emphasized to the Team Commander that these people needed to be stopped.

As such, as darkness fell, the first of the teams set off, driving up to the T-intersection that led down to the target objective, four kilometers further down. Unfortunately, the large heavy armoured trucks the teams used relied on thirsty diesel engines to power them, meaning that the sound would carry across to the cabin once they came to the final turn, some 1.7 kilometers south of the cabin. Stopping just before the turn, sixteen of the heavily armed and equipped special-purpose agents disembarked from the four armoured trucks and checked their equipment one final time. Satisfied that everything was in order, and shrugging away the chill away, the agents locked and loaded their assault rifles and submachine guns before setting off in two tactical columns, hugging the side of the road as they trudged towards the cabin, one and a half kilometers further north.

Meanwhile, another sixteen agents were loaded up and ready in two AW109 helicopters holding position ten kilometers further to the south in Popsjera, ready for immediate action. In Popsjera, the locals had let their curiosity get the better of them and come out to see what was going on. They weren’t used to a lot of commotion in the small hillside hamlet, and this would certainly be the talk of the town for the time to come. Fearing that some of the locals were in league with the perpetrators, the police had ensured that the cellphone tower that served Popsjera and surroundings had been taken offline for the duration, just in case.

The snipers continued to report no activity as the assault team closed the distance relatively slowly due to the thirty-odd centimeters of rotten snow they had to trudge through and the crouching march the team were using, trying to conceal their approach. Twenty minutes later, the team were a mere four hundred meters away from the cabin and could see the cabin and parked vehicles clearly, when their commo started acting up. It seemed the jammer didn’t just jam the UAV’s frequencies, but the VHF frequencies their tactical comms operated on as well. Stopping to report this before they moved further and lost all comms, the assault team was ordered to proceed with caution and take the objective. The four armoured vehicles were also told to stand ready to rush up to the target once the assault team breached.

Watching the feed provided by the ever present MQ-9 Reaper overhead, courtesy of the Army JTAC that had tagged along and his uplink, the Team Commander could see as clear as day that the team advanced slowly, their black uniforms standing out against the white of the snow. No one had thought to pack white camouflage suits. Fortunately, it was getting quite dark outside as the clock neared midnight.

23:57, Saturday, 11 April 2020

“Command, this is Sierra Two.” The radio set in the makeshift command post by the T-junction crackled as one of the sniper teams reported in. “All lights just went out in the target. Over.”

“Command, roger. Do you see any movement on your thermals, over.”

“Negative, over.”

“Roger, maintain vigilance and report any changes. Out.” The Commander stated before returning his attention to the Reaper feed. He just had time to think that they really needed to get one of these gadgets for themselves before all hell broke loose up at the cabin.

“Command, this is Sierra Two! Shots fired, shots fired! We have heavy volume gunfire coming from the target towards Bravo team!” The sniper team reported immediately.

On the screen, the FLIR camera on the Reaper bloomed up as a number of muzzle flashes erupted from the windows of the cabin. In one of the corners, the Commander could see that at least two of his men were lying motionless in the snow, while the rest had thrown themselves flat on their bellies and were crawling into what looked like a firing line. He could also see that some of the rifle-equipped assaulters were returning fire as best they could.

“All callsigns, this is Command. Shots fired, execute immediate direct action! Hotel, Victor – get up there and cover Bravo! Sierra, you are authorized to open fire at targets of opportunity! Out.”

Without needing any further prompting, the four armoured vehicles revved up their engines and started driving at unsafe speeds towards the cabin and their beleaguered men, while the sniper teams got to work. It seemed from the volume of fire that the perpetrators had at least two machine guns opening up on the beleaguered assault team.

Ten seconds after being authorized to fire, the opposition had two less machine gunners, giving the assault team a brief respite and allowed them to reorganize. The roar of the trucks told the assault team leader, tactical callsign Bravo 1, that they had to conduct an immediate storm of the cabin before the perpetrators could destroy evidence and effect an escape, and the trucks being armoured would give them much needed cover. After a quick rally and the use of a pair of smoke grenades to give them cover, the thirteen remaining assaulters had assembled behind the trucks and used them as cover as they rapidly advanced on the cabin, where someone else had picked up the machine guns and resumed shooting. The driver of the lead armoured truck – Victor 1 – found himself praying to Tor that the people who had made the bulletproof glass that was taking quite the pounding had taken pride in their workmanship. A pair of hand grenades exploding harmlessly in the snow convinced Victor 1 to pull to a stop fifty meters from the cabin.

As the trucks came to a stop, the heavy flaps of helicopter rotors told Bravo team that Hotel 1 and Hotel 2 – the two helicopters with Bravo 3 and Bravo 4, respectively – were approaching and would add another sixteen assaulters to the storming that was inevitable. After taking stock of the situation and cursing the lack of reliable comms, Bravo 1 had half his team lay down covering fire towards all windows. With lead flying towards them, the occupants of the cabin seemed decidedly less enthusiastic in firing accurately, giving the window of opportunity needed for Bravo 1 to approach.

Taking six men with him, the assault element moved up to the cabin wall as a quick-thinking individual in Bravo 3 decided that this was a good moment to use the heavy-as-fuck grenade launcher attached to his carbine and popped off three teargas canisters into the building in quick succession while shouting “Gas gas gas!” as loud as he could. By some miracle of the Gods, and the repeat of the cry by everyone who heard it, Bravo 1 managed to get that vital bit of information before effecting the storming of the cabin, and pulled off their balaclavas and put on their own gas masks before replacing their heavy helmets and awkward night-vision goggles, ignoring the cold -11C temperatures on their exposed ears and skin underneath the helmets as they prepared themselves for the storming.

It would seem that the gas canisters lobbed into the cabin had an effect on the occupants, as there were now only sporadic shots coming from the windows. The combined fire from snipers, covering force, and the light machine guns on the trucks could definitely also have had something to do with this state of affairs, but as long as they weren’t shooting accurately, the agents didn’t really care for the reason, just that it stopped.

With the breaching element stacked up, reinforced by six men from Bravo 4 who had managed to make their way from the road behind the trucks where they fast-roped in and up to the cabin exterior, everyone sounded off by laying a hand on the shoulder of the man in front of him, starting with the rear-most man, and squeezing gently, giving the sign that he was ready to go.

As everyone had “sounded” off, Bravo 1 decided that it was time, and squeezed the lead breacher’s shoulder. This was the sign the breacher needed to take a deep breath and click the detonator in his left hand firmly, sending an electrical pulse down the meter of wire to the strips of C4 which had been fitted to the door, sending the door flying into the cabin. This was followed by two flashbang grenades that detonated with a massive bang that deafened anyone inside and a massive flash of light that blinded anyone unfortunate enough to look at it, hence revealing the reason for its name. It wasn’t until both flashbangs had detonated that the assaulters rushed the cabin, weapons at the ready.

The first thing they discovered was that one of the perpetrators had caught the door straight in the face. The next thing they discovered was that they were in an entrance with four doorways and a staircase leading down to a basement. This was where countless hours of training paid off. Without having to say a word, the assaulters split into five two-man elements and stacked up on each their doorway, while the remaining two men secured the still breathing suspect with handcuffs and secured the entrance. Without hesitation, the elements opened the doors and tossed in flashbangs and waited for the bang before moving in. Anyone holding weapons were put down with double shots to the chest – the assaulters had already taken casualties and weren’t ready to take any further casualties. Besides, the occupants had already proven their willingness to use deadly force, meaning that the agents were well within their rights to employ deadly force.

As they came into the living room, the agents could see the effect of the snipers’ work as not one, but three men lay with skulls cracked open and blood still oozing from chest wounds where the snipers’ .338 Lapua Magnum rounds had forced significant emotional events upon them. There were still a pair of men in there, coughing and incapacitated by the thick blanket of military-grade CS gas, but still alive. They didn’t put up much resistance as the agents manhandled them on the ground and handcuffed them.

In the kitchen, the agents found what looked like a heavy radio pack with a funky antenna – probably the comms jammer – and after a bit of looking and tinkering as none of the three agents could read Cyrillic writing, they managed to shut the damn thing off. All of a sudden, the comms were operational again.

“Command this is Bravo One. Radio check, over.” The assault team leader spoke, keying his radio.

“Bravo One this is Command, Lima Charlie. SITREP, over.”

“We’re inside the cabin and are clearing it. Wait one, out.” Bravo 1 responded before switching to the internal team frequency. “All elements inside the cabin, this is Bravo One. SITREP.”

“Bravo One-Two, we’ve cleared the guest bedrooms. Two Tangos neutralized, no own casualties.”

“Bravo Two-One, we’ve cleared the living room. Four Tangos neutralized, two Tangos in custody. No own casualties.”

“Bravo Two-Two. We’ve cleared the master bedroom and bathroom. Two Tangos neutralized. I have one Whiskey, not critical.”

“Bravo Four-one. Entrance and lobby is clear. One Tango in custody, no own casualties.”

“Bravo Four-two. We’ve cleared the basement. No Tangos, but there’s a lot of stuff that can go boom down here. We’re gonna need Echo to get in here to make the place safe.”

“This is Bravo One, solid copy. My element has cleared the kitchen and pantry. One Tango neutralized, no own casualties. The jammer is, as you’ve probably surmised by now, neutralized. Check your areas again, make sure we haven’t missed anything. Two-One and Four-One, I’m gonna have Three come take your breathing Tangos off your hands. Break break. Bravo Three-One, this is One. We have three Tangos in custody. I’m gonna need you to come take them outside, over.”

“This is Three-One. Roger, on our way.”

With the immediate coordination and critically needed information acquired, the lead switched back to the main frequency.

“Command, this is Bravo One. SITREP as follows: Structure is tentatively cleared, we’re going over it one more time now just to make sure. I have zero niner Tangos neutralized, zero three Tangos in custody. Total of one two Tangos. Inside the structure I have one Whiskey India Alpha, not critical. Outside I have at least three men down, status unknown at this time. We’re going to need MEDEVAC for my casualties and probably the Tangos as well. We’re also going to need Echo Oscar Delta in here ASAP. How copy?”

“This is Command, copy all. Hotel is available for MEDEVAC. Let me know as soon as the objective is secured. Good job so far. Out.”

Five minutes later, the structure was declared cleared without locating anyone else alive. After opening up all unbroken windows to ventilate out the lingering CS gas from the structure, the assaulters exited the structure and allowed the atmosphere inside to become breathable again, although the acrid tinge of CS gas lingering in the structure would make prolonged stays in the cabin most uncomfortable.
In the basement, the EOD team that were sent in immediately after the structure was declared cleared located and disabled seven booby-traps that had been rigged to blow the cache of thirty kilos of SEMTEX-2P that was discovered in the basement along with a small arsenal of weapons ranging from AKS-74Us via AS VALs and PKP Pecheneg machine guns to RPG-18 light anti-tank weapons and even a pair of SA-18 GROUSE man-portable surface-to-air missiles. In the basement, the EOD team also discovered the body of an elderly couple who would later be identified as the owners of the cabin and also of the Hilux parked outside, executed with gunshots point-blanc to the head.

As night turned to morning, the forensic teams got to work as the bodies of the killed were first photographed where they fell, before they were searched and then moved outside and lined up in the snow. A total of twelve men had occupied the structure and engaged the agents in a twenty-odd minute firefight before they had been defeated. The men hadn’t been wearing protective gear, unlike the agents who had worn heavy Level IV rated body armour, capable of resisting rifle bullets. The after-action report would show that five of the agents should have been dead or at least seriously wounded, but had been saved by the body armour stopping the bullets intended for them. The total of five agents who were killed in the vicious initial firefight had been cut down by the PKP Pecheneg medium machine guns that fired armour-piercing bullets. Now, the nine deceased occupants of the cabin lay in a row, while the five deceased agents lay in another row, separated from the villains they had come to this remote place to stop.

The wounded agents – it turned out that several of the agents had indeed been wounded in the storming, but been too pumped up on adrenaline to notice until afterwards – were being airlifted to the nearest emergency hospital, twenty-six kilometers to the northeast in Øvre Tomja, along with one of the arrested persons, who had suffered violent trauma to his head and torso by the heavy door hitting him square in the chest and needed emergency surgery. Naturally, the suspect, as he was formally referred to, was handcuffed and under heavy guard both during the ten-minute flight and while in hospital.

The other two suspects had started to recover from the CS gas, but their initial attempts at resistance had been promptly stopped by agents pinning them firmly on the snowy ground and instructing them in no uncertain terms to “face down on the ground, and stay still!” as they restrained the suspects’ feet and blindfolded them before man-handling them into the second helicopter, where they would be flown under heavy guard down to Kotlas for questioning.
Last edited by Cotland on Thu May 14, 2020 5:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Father Knows Best State

Postby Cotland » Sun May 17, 2020 1:08 pm

Kotlas Main Police Station
09:30, Sunday, 12 April 2020

The two suspects that had been arrested up by Lake Pralak were processed through the central booking at Kotlas Main Police Station just after nine o’clock in the morning, following the same procedure that everyone that were being placed into a holding cell had to go through regardless of their offence. The difference in this case being that the suspects were brought in one at the time, and six police officers and a police dog were present at all times, ready to intervene if the suspects got any funny ideas. The suspects were brought before a solid metal bar and told to strip completely nude so their clothes could be searched once more for contraband, and the bailees manning the Kotlas Central Arrest followed the standard formula as if this was any other arrested person. The suspects both refused categorically to answer the questions asked, refusing to even state their name, meaning they were processed into the system as “N.N. #1” and “N.N. #2”, respectively. After processing, the suspects were re-cuffed and escorted – still naked as the day they were born – by the bailees and the police officers down through a pair of locked heavy metal doors to the basement where the high-security cells were located.

Each suspect was brought into a holding cell measuring three by two meters and completely empty of anything save for a hole in the floor for a toilet and a thin yellow mattress with a protective plastic cover lying directly on the ground. There were no windows, and the only source of light was a bright LED ceiling light illuminating the cell. In one of the corners, a camera was located securely behind a Plexiglas cover under the 2.5 meter roof, providing a complete view without blind zones of the cell. Once inside the cell, the suspect was instructed to lie down on the mattress and submit to a cavity search. As one would expect, the suspect refused, but to no avail. With the aid of four of the police officers, the cavity search was conducted without any find, bringing the booking procedure to a close. After instructing the suspect that there were clothes and a blanket for him in the corner, and that they’d be along in a little while with water and something to eat, the hand cuffs were removed and the police officers and bailee quickly removed themselves from the cell.

As the door slammed shut and was locked, the suspect found himself naked and alone in the brightly lit cell. In the corner, he found a bright red t-shirt and grey sweatpants, both of them ill-fitting, and an itchy woolen blanket. Every five to ten minutes, the feeding slot in the door opened up and the suspect could see a set of eyes checking in on him. Within half an hour of being processed, the door opened once more and two bailees carrying mace and tazers kept a careful eye on the suspect as a third bailee placed a large paper cup of water and a paper plate holding four loafs of bread on the floor just inside the door, and telling the suspect to just call out if he needed more water and it would be provided, before exiting and shutting the door once more, leaving the suspect to himself once more.

For the next few hours, the suspects were left to themselves and their own thoughts as wheels were in motion elsewhere. Investigation of the cabin had revealed not only a number of military-grade weapons and explosives of eastern bloc origin, but also military-grade communications equipment, a military-grade communications jammer, and a lot of different maps and documents which hadn’t been completely destroyed. The communications equipment had been zeroized, thus destroying the encryption keys and all frequencies inputted into the radios, but it failed to hide the fact that this sort of equipment was not found on the open or black market. A SATCOM terminal and an encrypted HF long-range radio set also told the investigators that these people weren’t acting on their own accord. The documents found included a number of fake identification papers of both Cottish and foreign origin. Yamali, Russian, Zapadnarodi, even Nanfang and Britannian papers were located. All of them, probably, fakes, but they would still all be run through all databases the Cottish government had access to in order to try to learn more.

All of this combined told the investigators that they were likely up against a state-sponsored actor of some sort. The question now was who? Fortunately, they had three suspects that were still breathing that could hopefully tell them something useful. While two of the suspects were in holding in Kotlas, the third was currently on the surgical table in Øvre Tomja, with chances of survival being moderate to high.

Armed with this information, two investigators with Rikspolitiet started the first of the interviews with the suspects at two o’clock in the afternoon. The suspect was sat down in an interrogation room and offered a cup of water before the investigators started.

“The time is… fourteen oh nine on Sunday the twelth of April twenty twenty. Initial interview with suspect, name unknown, in conjuction with case number B J T two zero dash zero zero one three five. I am Inspector Harald Jubel of Rikspolitiet. With me is...”

“Inspector Julius Berger of Rikspolitiet.” The other investigator spoke for the audio track. The interview was being filmed and recorded, as per procedure, so that it could be used in court at a later date.

“And the suspect, name presently unknown. You have been advised of your rights, I believe?”

The suspect remained completely silent.

“Do you understand me? Can you understand Cottish?”

The suspect looked Berger in the eyes and nodded, ever so slightly, but remained quiet. The Inspector felt like he looked into an abyss of darkness when he saw the cold deep gaze of the suspect.

“Okay, the suspect nodded in the affirmative,” Berger said as he broke the eye contact and looked into the manila folder in his hands, shrugging off the sense of discomfort he felt. “Have you been advised of your rights?”

Still no response.

“Very well, I’ll read you your rights before we start, just so all the formalities are in order. You have been detained on suspicion of a criminal offence, and may face criminal charges as a consequence. You have the right not to make a statement. If you choose to make a statement, this may be held against you at a later time. You have the right for an attorney to be present at any legal proceedings. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?”

The suspect remained completely silent.

“We’ll consider your silence to mean consent, since you’ve confirmed that you do in fact understand Cottish,” Berger continued. “Let’s start with an easy one. What is your name?”

The suspect remained mute.

“I caution you that under law, you are required to give your name to law enforcement officers when requested. What is your name?”

Finally, the suspect spoke in a heavy Slavic accent. “Lawyer. Give lawyer.”

“Certainly, do you have a specific lawyer you wish to represent you, or do you require that one be appointed to you?” Berger asked, adding, “We’ll make sure your lawyer is present at the arraignment, which should be in about sixty hours’ time. Under the Criminal Procedures Act 1964 article 98, you are not entitled to an attorney until you have been indicted with a crime, which must take place within seventy-two hours after you are detained. At this time, you are not formally charged with having committed a crime. Rather, you are currently detained on suspicion, and thus are not entitled to have a lawyer present during interrogation.”


Berger sighed. This was going to be a long interrogation.

Øvre Tomja District Hospital
Karl Herders vei 56, BJ-75981 Øvre Tomja
22:18, Sunday, 12 April 2020

The third suspect, who had been helicoptered to the closest hospital with surgeons, had come out of surgery ten hours prior and remained unconscious since. During the afternoon, the already guarded recovery wing of the hospital had been further secured, with heavily armed Royal Gendarmes placing the wing under lockdown as a pair of non-descript men in dark suits arrived in the hospital.

After a brief, one-sided discussion with first the hospital’s director, then the chief of surgery, the two “suits” and an offended doctor entered the ICU room where the suspect lay in a gurney, handcuffed on both hands to the gurney and with tubes and wires connected to help him survive. After once more voicing his protests, the doctor and the head nurse attending to the patient/suspect started the process of bringing him out of the medically induced coma he lay in.

Half an hour later, as the patient started waking up from the deep coma he had been put into, one of the “suits” handed the doctor a vial of clear liquid. Reluctantly, the doctor accepted the vial and put the liquid into a syringe. Shaking his head in dejected anger, the doctor placed the syringe into the peripheral venous catheter in the patient’s hand and gently depressed the plunger, sending the clear liquid into his veins. With the deed done, the doctor removed the syringe from the catheter and moved to the back of the room.

It took a few more moments before the patient started to try to open his eyes, moaning and harking as he tried to speak. The nurse, strictly instructed to just do her job and not utter a word, gently removed the tube that had helped the patient breathe and gave him some crushed ice to help return moisture to the parched patient.

“Как ты себя чувствуешь?” (“How do you feel?”) The lead “suit” asked quietly.

“гнилой” (“Rotten”) The patient eventually managed to say. “Что случилось?” (“What happened?”)

“Что последнее, что ты помнишь?” (“What is the last that you remember?”)

“На нас напали. Язычники обнаружили наше местоположение.” (“We were being attacked. The heathens discovered our location.”)

“Вы боролись с ними, но вам было больно. Твои товарищи вернули тебя домой. Теперь ты в безопасности.” (“You fought them off, but you were hurt. Your comrades got you back home. You’re safe now.”)

The patient visibly relaxed as the sodium triopental, commonly referred to as a “truth serum”, worked its way through his already reduced system. The barbituates reduced the suspect’s higher cortical brain functions and as a result his ability to think critically. This in turn made him more susceptible to believe what he was told and to trust those he spoke to, thus reducing the patient’s ability to tell lies. Now, unlike common misconceptions, it wasn’t enough to simply inject the drug and that’s that. No, one had to combine it with a deception and make the subject trust the person he spoke with.

“Нам нужно подтвердить вашу личность, чтобы мы могли сообщить вашей семье, что вы в безопасности. Просто для протокола, пожалуйста, укажите свое имя, ранг и подразделение.” ("We need to confirm your identity so we can let your family know that you're safe. Just for the record, please state your name, rank, and unit.”)

“Ананов Сергей Анатольевич. Старший сержант 7-й роты 27-го спецназского полка, база Ижевск.” (“Ananov, Sergey Anatolyevich. Senior Sergeant, 7th Company, 27th Spetsnaz Regiment, based in Izjevsk.”)

“Спасибо товарищ старший сержант.” (“Thank you Comrade Senior Sergeant.”) The interrogator said, looking to the back of the darkened room where his colleague was filming the whole thing to make sure he got it all. A nod to the affirmative prompted the interrogator to go on.

“Можете ли вы подтвердить нам имя ваших товарищей во время битвы. Нам это нужно для украшения, которое вы получите.” (“Can you please confirm to us the name of your comrades during the battle. We need it for the decorations you are to receive.”)

“Товарищ майор Валикиев был командиром. Товарищ капитан Беликов был заместителем. Старшие лейтенанты Горя и Вулкайов возглавляли два отделения, а старший сержант Яколев и я были заместителями командира. Ефрейторы Камев, Лукагов, Илюмин, Сегеров, Оленеск и Колесников сформировали баланс.” (“Comrade Major Valikijev was the commander. Comrade Captain Belikov was the deputy. Senior Lieutenants Gorja and Wulkajov led the two squads, with Senior Sergeant Jakolev and myself as deputy squad leaders. Yefreitors Kamev, Lukagov, Iljumin, Segerov, Olenesk and Kolesnikov formed the balance.”) Ananov eventually managed to state.

"большое Вам спасибо. Все ваши товарищи были из 7-й роты, верно?" (“Thank you very much. All your comrades were of the 7th Company, correct?»)

“да” (“Yes.”)

“А кто участвовал в успешной атаке на концерт в Котласе? Нам нужно подтвердить, намедалей.” (“And who participated in the successful attack on the concert in Kotlas? We need to confirm, for the medals.”)

“Миссию возглавлял товарищ капитан Беликов, вместе со мной и Ефрейторами Лукаговым и Оленеском. Оленеск разместил устройство. Мы были успешны?” (“Comrade Captain Belikov led the mission, with myself and Yefreitors Lukagov and Olenesk. Olenesk placed the device. We were successful?”)

“Больше, чем вы можете себе представить.” (“More than you can possibly fathom.”)

“Хорошо” (“Good”) Ananov sighed before slipping into unconsciousness as alarms on the medical machines he was hooked up to started blaring. The doctor and nurse pushed themselves past the two interrogators and started working on the patient. With years of experience behind them, the doctor and nurse swiftly re-intubated Ananov and hooked him back up on the ventilator as more nurses came into the ICU room to assist, summoned there by the alarms which were connected to the ICU’s central monitoring system. The doctor administered another syringe, sending the patient back into a deep coma, before turning to the two suits.

“I hope you got enough, because the patient cannot survive any further interrogation until he’s stabilized. Unless you’re going to kill him here and now, you need to get out.”

Holding up his hand to silence his already protesting partner, the leader of the two nodded started packing the video camera.

“We have enough, for now. I don’t think I need to remind you that you and everyone else in this room remain bound by the Offical Secrets Act when it comes to this patient. The Crown thanks you for your assistance doctor.”

Before long, the information gained by the interrogation was classified Top Secret and started to be put to work. In the morning, briefings which would shake Cotland to its core would have to be given, and time was of the essence.

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Postby Cotland » Sat May 23, 2020 9:26 am

Leadership Bunker Complex underneath Oslo, Noreg len, Realm of Cotland
08:30, Monday, 13 April 2020

The emergency cabinet meeting took place first thing in the morning in Oslo, not in the better suited main conference room in the Government Complex in Oslo, but rather in the far less luxurious but vastly better protected “Dovregubbens Hall”, the highly secret bunker complex deep underneath the streets of Oslo that was cross-connected via secret tunnels and connections with all major government ministries and other essential government agencies. The facility had been built in secret during the 1940s under the cover of the development of the Oslo Metro Network and continuously improved and enlarged, again often during completely transparent and openly available information on construction and improvements of the Metro Network or other underground works.

Unlike many other nations, it was an open secret that the Cottish had an almost obsessive thing for digging in and burying things and installations underneath its mountains and cities. Being a mountainous nation, it came naturally for the Cottish to make room for things underneath the mountains when the forbidding terrain made it impractical to level the mountains. As such, it was only natural that the highest seat of power in Cotland would have a similar buried facility. “Dovregubbens Hall” was located 50 meters underneath the deepest Metro tunnel, under a layer of granite, making it virtually impervious to so-called “bunker busters” and nuclear weapons, and allowed the Cottish government to function even in the event of nuclear war up above.

Often dormant, “Dovregubbens Hall” was used only for major exercises or serious crises, but were still maintained by small skeleton staffs drawn from the ministries and agencies that maintained their own sections in the complex that maintained the facility and kept it in such a state that it could be put to use with only a few minutes’ warning. Over the course of the last few hours, the normally quiet night for the ten people manning the facility had been made anything but as orders came from on high to place the facility on highest alert and ready for operations by daybreak. As night turned to morning, specially designated and vetted bureaucrats, government officials, and military personnel started arriving to bring up manning. By 08:00, arriving by secret passages from their respective ministries, the National Security Council started arriving in “Dovregubbens Hall”.

Inside the SCIF, the Chancellor of Cotland, as the highest elected leader of Cotland and Head of Government, chaired the National Security Council. Apart from the Chancellor, the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of the Interior, and the Minister of Treasure sat on the National Security Council, with the Chief of the Royal Defence Staff, the Chief of the Cottish Intelligence Service, and the Marshall of the Royal Court making up the balance of the Council. By half nine, all had gotten through the stringent security and into the highly secure SCIF, dubbed the “glass bowl” from the glass walls surrounding the room, forming a Faraday cage to prevent any electronic signals from escaping. Apart from two staffers taking minutes and an Air Force officer that would hold the briefing, no one else were admitted into the “glass bowl”. Sitting around the conference table, every member of the Council had a a closed deep red manilla folder in front of them marked with “STRENGT HEMMELIG // NØKKELORD // SENSITIV“ on the cover sheet, along with three rows of smaller print warning of the penalties for revealing the information to uninitiated (“death”) along with the legal references authorizing such drastic measures.

“Good morning and welcome to this extraordinary meeting in the National Security Council.” Chancellor Riis Dahle spoke. “I’m told we have a new development in the east that can’t be spoken of elsewhere. General Holm, the floor is yours.”

With that, Colonel General Hans Holm, Chief of the Cottish Intelligence Service and highest authority on intelligence in Cotland, spoke and straightened his uniform jacket before speaking.

“Chancellor, ministers, the information you are about to receive is highly sensitive. It cannot leak, as this will have serious consequences for the national security of the Realm.” The fifty-six year old four-star general turned to the Air Force officer standing at the briefing podium. “Major, please tell the council what you told me last night.”

The Major nodded. “Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen. The following information is classified TOP SECRET in its entirety.

“On early Sunday morning, a Bjarmeland SWAT team conducted an operation against a group suspected of having committed the attack on the concert in Kotlas on Friday evening last. The suspects were in the possession of a large quantity of military-grade explosives and heavy weaponry, including anti-tank and light anti-aircraft weapons, and military-grade electronics and communications equipment. They also displayed combatant skills not usually found in common criminals, and inflicted a number of casualties upon the SWAT team before being defeated. During SSE after the operation, a large number of skillfully forged documents were recovered. This operation, which has been reported in open media, is considered successful in that nine suspects were killed and two captured by the SWAT team, albeit at the loss of five police officers. What has not been reported is this:

“While two persons were indeed captured alive and are currently being held in Kotlas, a third person was captured, severely wounded but alive, and brought to hospital. He has been through emergency surgery, and last night he had recovered sufficiently to be interrogated. In the course of the interrogation, the suspect revealed that he and his compatriots are actively serving Special Forces operatives serving in the Army of the Republic of Perm. During questioning, the suspect confirmed that they were directly responsible for the bombing of the concert in Kotlas.

“The other two suspects in Kotlas have since been questioned, and when confronted with this information, broke. We have reports that they have confirmed everything their injured compatriot have stated, and also claimed that they were operating on direct orders from the Confederacy of the Urals’ High Command. They are still undergoing questioning as we speak. The information has been classified as A1, which means that we consider the information as credible and reliable. This classification is based on the circumstances around the interrogation and on the items recovered during SSE.”

The Major paused as the shock of the news was allowed to seep in with the National Security Council’s members. That terrorists were at large in eastern Cotland was bad enough and something they had prepared for, but that those terrorists were military personell operating on orders from a foreign neighboring power was another thing entirely!

“The enemy combatants, as the suspects are now being reclassified as, have been confirmed to belong to the 27th Special Purpose Regiment of the Army of the Republic of Perm, which is one of three premier Special Forces unit in the Perm Armed Forces, based in the Jeltzin Barracks outside the city of Izjevsk in southeastern Perm, and reports directly to the KSSO, or the unified Special Operations Command of the Confederacy of the Urals. The 27th and the two other Regiments of KSSO, the Perm 24th and Niezjogorodskaja 30th, are roughly equal in training and standing to our own Jegerregiment, a so-called Tier Two special-operations force, and each Regiment nominally consists of nine companies of three platoons each, which can form up to one hundred eight six-man patrols across the Regiment. The SWAT team in Bjarmeland thus took out the equivalent of two such patrols.

“We do not at this time know exactly how many patrols are operating in Cottish territory, but given the recent events, we consider it highly likely that all attacks that have taken place in Cotland recently, including the bombing in Makarelv and the sabotage of the power and telecom infrastructure, are connected. Based on the number of attacks, the geographical spread of the attacks, and the level of sophistication, we consider it highly likely that there are still a minimum of twelve to fifteen enemy Special Forces patrols are operating on Cottish territory.

“That concludes my briefing.”

With that, the Major was dismissed as Colonel General Holm concluded, “As you realize, ladies and gentlemen, we have been presented with evidence of the Confederacy of the Urals conducting acts of war against the Realm of Cotland, within Cotland herself, against Cottish citizens. This was why the Intelligence Service requested this urgent meeting of the National Security Council.”

Shocked and pale as the realization of the new information sank in, Chancellor Riis Dahle took a sip of water from the crystal glass and looked across the room. He could see the same shock to varying degrees in the faces of the other ministers, while two officers in the room sat with grim determination on their stone faces.

“Thank you General. Obviously we need to learn more. How many other groupings are there? Where are they? How are they operating? Why are they doing this? And most importantly, how shall we respond. We have much to discuss, and not much time to discuss it. We need to brief the King and the Parliamentary Security Committee.”

The Foreign Minister took the word. “The Confederacy of the Urals are de facto a personal union of the Republic of Perm and the People’s Republic of Niezjogorodskaja, in which Perm is the dominant partner. Both nations have historically been friendly towards Cotland, but over the past decade there’s been a religious revival of Russian-Orthodox Christendom as an indirect consequence of the resurgence of Islam from the Middle East into southern Europe. This has caused a religious awakening that has started to strain relations between the Urals and Cotland. Until now, the Foreign Ministry has dismissed it as rethoric.”

The Interior Minister picked up the mantle. “I agree with the Foreign Minister. The targets they’ve attacked tie in with a religious motive. Attacking an Åsatru Temple filled with what they perceive as heathens. Attacking a heavy rock festival that plays music that many hardline Christian sects classify as demonic.”

“Apart from the attacks, have we seen any abnormal activity from the Urals?” The Chancellor asked the Intelligence Chief.

“Their armies have been busy conducting manouvers in the central Perm-Niezjogorodskaja border region for the past two weeks, which is out of the ordinary. The exercises were announced last spring, giving us fair and ample warning. As previously reported, both partner nations have called up their organized reserves and are training their structure in an exercise slated to last four weeks. They’re going to great lengths to keep their forces well away from the border with us. The assessment was that they’re not intending to conduct any offensive actions against us. Considering what we know today, we will reassess that assessment very shortly.”

“So the entire Urals army effectively mobilized and increasing their skills, while their special forces are conducting offensive operations against us within our own borders, and we’ve done nothing. Is that a fair assessment?”

Field Marshall Fridtjof Olsnes, Chief of the Royal General Staff and the highest-ranking officer in the Armed Forces of the Realm of Cotland spoke up for the first time.

“The Armed Forces have taken the usual precautions when our neighbors are exercising in our border areas, which is to say that we’ve increased our surveillance. We also maintain a ready brigade in each standing Army division at increased readiness with leaves cancelled and live ammunition readily available, and combat aircraft are kept on heightened alert and ready for operations at short notice. I remind the Council that there are the very measures that this very Council reviewed and sanctioned before the exercises commenced three weeks ago.”

Not failing to notice the not very concealed rebuke, the Chancellor and Defence Minister both silently accepted the rebuke and let the matter lie. “The real question is, what can we do now?”

The Field Marshall didn’t skip a beat. “Sir, if the intelligence is indeed credible, we are under attack from a foreign power and de facto at war. As such, we need to act accordingly. The first thing we need to do is to neutralize the enemy threat behind our own lines. Then we need to respond. The Armed Forces are responsible for protecting the Realm and her interests from external threats, while the Interior Ministry are responsible for interior security. Law enforcement is also a civilian responsibility, and one that we do not want the military to start doing in a democracy such as ours. I therefore recommend that the Interior Ministry continue to have primacy in the interior security operations, with the necessary support from the Armed Forces as allowed by law, while the Armed Forces start preparing for military operations against the Urals in the event that this is the prelude to invasion.”

“Do you believe that the invasion threat is real?” The Treasury Minister asked, incredulous as he realized the economic and human consequences of a war in the eastern territories.

“To use a blunt metaphor sir, you don’t put on a condom unless you’re going to get laid.” The Field Marshall said. “Likewise, you don’t mobilize your military unless you’re going to use it. We are under attack, and the enemy’s intentions are at present unclear. As Chief of the Royal General Staff, I strongly recommend that the Council advise His Majesty to immediately declare Simple Alert. This allows the General Staff to put our own forces in the field, where they are more unpredictable for the opponent and less susceptible to surprise attack. It also allows us to quietly mobilize key personnel in the organized reserve which will ease mobilization considerably if it should become necessary.”

The Chancellor nodded, and looked around the table before asking.

“If His Majesty declares Simple Alert, what will happen?”

“Sir, Simple Alert triggers a number of pre-planned actions. All our War Headquarters are activated and go to 24-hour operations. All standing forces go on highest alert, and the Army, Navy and Air Force’s mobile units starts preparing for dispersal to wartime dispersal areas. Our sensor installations, air and coastal defences go on full alert. The mobilization reserve of active units and key personnel in all reserve units – commanding officers and key staff members, signals units, et cetera – are ordered to report to their war assignments. As are key personnel in the civil administration. Continuation of Government plans go into effect, as do the Readiness Laws. The National Emergency Broadcasting system go into operation.” Field Marshall Olsnes paused and looked around at the ministers. “All of these measures can be implemented with minimal fuss and should escape notice by the general public, but put us in an infinitely better position. The Simple Alert can be elevated to Reinforced Alert, which involves calling up our own reserves, or General Alert, which is full-scale war. The Simple Alert can also be cancelled at any time.”

“Does anyone have any objections?” Chancellor Riis Dahle asked, to which there was none.

After a brief discussion on the other consequences of the new situation, it was decided that the Interior Ministry would continue to uncover and root out the enemy forces operating within Cotland, with the assistance of the Armed Forces as required. Considering the skill sets the enemy forces held, it was also agreed that it was relatively irrelevant whether the enemy were apprehended dead or alive. The Justice Minister was instructed to start drawing up the paperwork for implementing martial law in the border region, which would make matters easier, but that the Government would hold off on implementing martial law until the situation deteriorated further. The Armed Forces were also instructed to start planning for offensive operations against the Confederacy of the Urals.

The Foreign Ministry was instructed to start quietly inquiring with its closest allies – Layarteb and Apilonia – on what they could provide, if anything, of intelligence on the twelve men that had so far been killed or captured in Bjarmeland. Electronic dossiers with names and mugshots of the deceased, along with scanned photocopies of the captured identification, including a suspected fake Apilonian passport for one of the men, were provided with the request for information, allowing the Layartebian and Apilonian intelligence services to do their own inquiries.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Two hours later, the Chancellor met with the King of Cotland for an emergency audience behind closed doors in the Royal Palace. In the fifty minute audience, the King was briefed on the developments and the recommendations. At 11:04 on Monday, 13 April 2020, the King of Cotland declared Simple Alert. This declaration was not announced to the public, and only through quiet diplomatic channels to Cotland's closest allies. Still, it wasn't easy to miss the tell-tale signs of Cotland going on heightened military alert.

Less than half an hour after the King made the declaration, in garrisons across Cotland, soldiers wearing service uniforms standing sentry in the gates were quietly replaced by soldiers clad in camouflage fatigues and full battle rattle, establishing machine gun nets and having armoured vehicles with manned machine guns on overwatch. Foreign electronic intelligence gathering systems would easily pick up a lot of increased electronic chatter and signatures emerging from locations across Cotland suspected of being headquarters units and signals units, as well as a number of previously undiscovered locations as air search radars, fire control radars and electronic warfare systems filled the skies with electronic radio signals, and wartime headquarters borrowed deep beneath the mountains and surface of the Earth awoke from their long slumber, issuing coded commands to subordinate units on hitherto unused frequencies. Command aircraft started rising to the skies from airbases across Cotland and issue commands and Emergency Action Messages on previously dormant radio frequencies, which shifted at unpredictable times, while fighter aircraft supported by tanker aircraft and AWACS started establishing combat air patrols and barrier patrols across Cotland’s borders in close support with the ground-based air defences, establishing a new normal situation of heightened military readiness.

As day turned to afternoon, a number of persons started getting text messages and automated cryptic telephone calls stating codewords to be checked on the War Service Card. The War Service Card was updated and reissued by mail annually to every person with a wartime assignment in Cotland, and stated where and what the reservist was to serve in the event of war or increased readiness, and how quickly the person was to report for service. Those receiving the codeword combination SYRIN BLÅ CÆSAR found that they were to report to their wartime unit as quickly as practicable.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

At about the same time, in the skies above eastern Cotland, ES-12 Guardrail electronic intelligence aircraft started operating, using their sensitive sensors to try to locate and triangulate military signals in certain frequency bands, while olive drab military helicopters laden with personell and equipment started staging from the Special Forces garrisons in Jarenga in Komi len and Vyterga in Vologda len, home to the Cottish Special Operations Command’s Jegerregiment nr 6 and Jegerregiment nr 3, respectively, to field bases in the border areas.

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The Kingdom of Apilonia
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Founded: Feb 10, 2020
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Kingdom of Apilonia » Sun May 24, 2020 3:57 am

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew T. Whittaker
Cunningham Building, Royal District
The Duchy of Washington, Kingdom of Apilonia
Monday 13th April 2020, 0500hrs Local Time

In the pre-dawn light, the Chief of the Defence Staff for the Royal Apilonian Military, stepped out of the staff car that had ferried him from his grace-and-favour home in the prestigious Southbank neighbourhood of the Royal District, and made his way up the steps into the Cunningham Building; the main building of the Ministry of Defence. Sir Andrew had been woken at home by his Flag Lieutenant and advised that there was a developing situation in the Realm of Cotland in the wake of the attacks of recent weeks, and that the Minister of Defence, who had also been woken and informed, was assembling the Defence Staff to put together an assessment with which to brief the Prime Minister and the King in the morning. Even from the limited information that his Flag Lieutenant had been provided with, the full details were currently classified at the highest levels, it was obvious that something big was afoot. Accustomed to being woken from slumber half a dozen times every night with shipping reports, back during his time in the Fleet, Sir Andrew was up and pulling on his uniform almost immediately and was out of the door within ten minutes, kissing his wife before disappearing into the night.

Sir Andrew was met in the Atrium of the Cunningham Building by the Minister of Defence; The Right Honourable William S. Riches, who briefed him on the developments out of Cotland on their way down into the Defence Operations Centre (DOC), the multi-story bunker underneath the Cunningham Building from which the Ministry of Defence co-ordinated global operations, and a key link with the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) at the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) at Cheyenne Mountain in the Duchy of Colorado. Gathered around a large table in a conference room just off the main DOC were the First Sea Lord, the Chief of the General Staff, the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of Defence Intelligence, with the Chief of the Joint Staff also in attendance via video-conference from PJHQ as it was long-standing policy for the Chief of the Joint Staff to never be in the same location as the rest of the Defence Staff, to minimise the possibility of any decapitation strike being successful in crippling the Royal Apilonian Military’s senior leadership.

Also present, stood at the head of the table, was a suited woman that Sir Andrew recognized as the Liaison Officer from the Secret Intelligence Service, or Royal Intelligence Directorate Six (RI6), to the Ministry of Defence, Stephanie Diaz.

“Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for all coming in so quickly; you’ve all already been briefed on the big picture in Cotland, I am here to brief you on the requests that have been made from Cottish Intelligence to the Royal Intelligence Directorate,” Diaz began. “To recap; a short time ago His Majesty’s Ambassador to the Realm of Cotland, Sir Thomas Webber, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and was informed that not only has the King of Cotland Simple Alert, their first-stage mobilization alert, but that they had linked the attacks in Eastern Cotland to the Republic of Perm and therefore the Confederacy of the Urals.”

Low level murmuring broke out amongst the gathered the officers; none of them had yet been briefed about the links that the Cottish had made, which added context to the Simple Alert, which they had been briefed on. Diaz smiled humorously before waiting for silence before she continued.

“Cottish Intelligence has quietly reached out to the RID to request any information that we might have on the captured or killed hostiles, providing us with full electronic dossiers to allow us to cross-reference across everything that we’ve got,” Diaz said, glancing around at the military officers, particularly the Chief of Defence Intelligence. “Of particular interest, to the Kingdom is the counterfeit Apilonian passport, which we’ve passed onto our colleagues at the Security Service as we think that’s the best hope of a lead, as the Diplomatic Security Section at Five has been tracking contefiters of Apilonian passports for some time, so if they used one of them…”

“They might have some valuable information,” The Chief of Defence Intelligence, General Sir Thomas Sloane, commented. “What if it’s just tradecraft from Confederate Intelligence?”

“That’s a very real possibility too, but it’s also a good lead that we can chase down to help our Cottish friends,” Diaz replied with a shrug, passing out a pile of manila folders. “We’re also stepping up our operations against the Confederacy, and the broad European theatre.”

“Which leads us to why I’ve called this meeting,” Minister Riches commented, assuming control of the meeting. “The CDS and I will be briefing the King and the PM in the morning, I want a consensus on any military support we could offer the Realm, if required… round the table if you please, Army?”

General Sir Michael L. Dempsey, the Chief of the General Staff, spoke first.

“We’ve very limited on what we can do on the ground, without the deployment of a major combat formation which would take some time and would require close co-operation with the Cottish, but we can start by putting three divisions already on-rotation on high alert, which will reduce mobilisation time if required,” General Dempsey replied with a heavy sigh. “Unfortunately, as we do not have a ground presence on mainland Europe, the logistical task of getting three armoured divisions across the Atlantic will be no mean feat, and knowing how the Cottish like to fight, I regret to say that the Army might not be able to respond in time, this whole mess caught us flat-footed.”

General Dempsey sighed again.

“As you will all know, the Royal Army’s doctrine is based on smaller, rapidly-deployable infantry forces being deployed to hold the line, with heavy air support, long enough for our armoured divisions to mobilise and deploy, in force, to crush any enemy,” General Dempsey added. “This would be fine in most cases, but I’m sceptical how useful a few of our infantry divisions will be to the Cottish in the meantime, they’re unlikely to be lacking in manpower after all, and infantry simply doesn’t offer the same punch as an armoured division.”


“We’re limited as well; the Confederacy is land-locked, of course, so even with an aircraft carrier we can only get so close, and realistically if we wanted to provide air power assistance to the Cottish we’d be better off stationing them in Cottish territory,” Admiral Dame Elizabeth Hart, the First Sea Lord, replied. “We’d be better off offering to cover some Cottish naval commitments to allow them to concentrate their forces home, and/or offer to help them police the Baltics against any fresh attacks, but they likely have that covered.”

“Air Force?”

“We’re probably best placed to provide some support if requested; we recently finished upgrades to our airfields on Malta to be able to handle our strategic bombers, so we could station a squadron of Lancers on Malta with more than enough range to hit potential targets,” Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Haig, the Chief of the Air Staff, replied. “Other than that, as Admiral Hart said, our best bet would be to forward-deploy squadrons to Cotland itself, which may be easier said than done from a logistics perspective, or again supporting other Cottish commitments elsewhere.”

“Very well, so, to summarise, we can offer assistance, but it’ll take some time to get our heaviest units into the fray” Minister Riches sighed. “Alright then, on my authority, get our rapid response units stood-up to immediate notice, get the on-rotation corps at increased readiness and move a squadron of Lancers to Malta.”

Minister Riches paused and glanced around at the table.

“I’ll inform the King and the Prime Minister, in the meantime keep working on any and all options to support the Cottish if our offer of direct assistance is accepted, and continue all activities to support them up to direct assistance in any case, they will not stand alone,” He continued. “I want Defence Intelligence to work closely with the SIS on this matter, if we have any information that might be useful to the Cottish I want it found, and I want it shared with them as quickly as possible, this is no time to be playing spy games… alright then, let’s get to work.”
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Father Knows Best State

Chapter 2

Postby Cotland » Sat May 30, 2020 6:30 am

Chapter 2: “Thunder on the Horizon”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tivar alle
på tingstolar gjekk,
dei høgheilage
heldo rådlag:
kven skal drosen
av dvergar skapa
or Brime sitt blod
og hans blåe leggjer.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

(National Assembly of the Realm of Cotland)
Løvebakken, NO-00026 Oslo, Noreg len, Realm of Cotland
09:15, Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Situated centrally in downtown Oslo and facing the Royal Palace a mere 800 meters up Karl Johan’s Gate, Rikstinget, or the Great Ting of the Realm, was the ultimate seat of elected power in Cotland. Built in the 1860s as Parliamentarism was starting to really take hold in Cotland and the powers that be came to realize that the elected officials needed a proper place to hold their meetings, the magnificent but relatively small stone structure had housed the Cottish national assembly and its elected members since its inauguration in 1866 and continued to do so uninterrupted to the present day. The number of elected representatives had varied over the years as the Realm had grown and contracted and electorate reforms had modified how the number of representatives was calculated. In 2020, the roughly 349 million people that held Cottish citizenship and resided within the Realm were represented by 320 representatives from across fourteen different political parties, who congregated to Oslo to make laws, oversee the elected government, and represent the interests of their electorate at the national level.

As had developed into constitutional custom over the centuries, major events and incidents were quietly notified to the Parliamentary party leadership by the Government, for further dissemination down the ranks as was deemed necessary. This satisfied the requirement laid down in the Constitution of 1814 that “Parliament should be kept informed of current affairs of the State so as to be able to make qualified decisions.” For this reason, Chancellor Andreas Riis Dahle travelled the short distance from the Government Quarter to Parliament to meet with the thirteen other party leaders (the Chancellor himself was the leader of Advance Cotland party) and the leadership of the Parliamentary National Security Committee in one of the secure conference rooms in the third floor of the Parliament building’s southern wing. The party leaders had been notified the previous afternoon that a meeting was urgently required with no further information, forcing several of them to postpone previous arrangements.

The thirty-odd Parliamentarians, in the form of the President of the Parliament and her three deputies, the leaders and deputy leaders of the fourteen political parties and the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the National Security Committee, had surrendered their personal electronic devices at the polite but no-nonsense request of the Parliament’s Master at Arms before entering the conference room, where coffee, tea, juice and water was waiting for them. Fifteen minutes late, Chancellor Riis Dahle entered the conference room.

“Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, and my apologies for being late. You will soon understand the reason why I was late.” The Chancellor spoke as he immediately made for the refreshment stand and poured himself a cup of coffee. The fifty year old career politician was freshly showered and in a fresh suit, but he still somehow looked uncharacteristically harried with bags starting to become noticeable underneath his eyes and his brown hair starting to show discreet streaks of grey.

“We all have somewhere to be, mister Riis Dahle,” Mira Sandmo First Secretary of the Labour Party and ardent opponent of Riis Dahle’s own Advance Cotland Party stated. There was no love lost between the two politicians, rather quite the opposite after a particularly heated and nasty debate during the last election three years ago. “So I think we’d all appreciate it if you got started.”

Ignoring the barb, the Chancellor took a deep sip of the coffee. Only after the warm bitter liquid had warmed up his insides and given the necessary kick of caffeine to his system did he begin.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming here so early in the morning and at such short notice. What you are about to hear is highly classified information, and you are all bound by the Official Secrets Act and the oath you all took when you became Members of Parliament not to jeopardize Cotland or her national security.”

Over the next twenty minutes, Riis Dahle gave a quick summary of the events in eastern Cotland over the past few weeks and what the investigations had uncovered, followed by a detailed explanation of what the past few days had revealed and its consequences. At the end of the presentation, the Parliamentarians had lost any lingering resentment with being forced to cancel appointments as they realized the gravity of what the Chancellor had just explained to them.

“The King was informed yesterday, and decided to implement certain readiness efforts by declaring Simple Alert. Our armed forces have gone on full alert, and we’ve started calling up certain key personnel to ease a future mobilization.”

“Mobilization? Without consulting Parliament first?” Chairman Teodor Birkeland of the Communist Party demanded.

“Declaring Simple Alert is well within the Government and King’s right under article twenty-four of the Constitution,” Riis Dahle returned fire. “In any rate, we have not ordered mobilization just yet. The key personnel that have been called up are leadership in the units we might be required to call up, should this situation worsen. The Government wanted to make sure Parliament was suitably informed before taking any further action.”

“If I understood you correctly Chancellor, there are currently foreign special forces operating on Cottish territory, attacking Cottish citizens and infrastructure.” Trym Vestvik, Deputy Chairperson of the Liberal Party spoke. “The situation seems pretty bad from where I’m sitting. How exactly do you see that the situation can get worse?”

“Invasion.” The Chancellor replied without skipping a beat. “The Confederacy has called up its entire military. There are more than twenty divisions currently in the field that can be redeployed relatively quickly to threaten Komi, Bjarmeland and Vologda. We, on the other hand, have a mere four divisions garrisoned in the respective border areas which can effectively resist. Our military advisors say that you don’t start actions such as those the Confederacy have started taking just out of the blue. There has to be a reason. Disrupting our infrastructure, making it more difficult for us to communicate, and taking away the security the people in the border region have to erode the trust they hold with the government are typical steps taken as a prelude to invasion, according to the military. I have no reason to distrust them on this.”

“So what exactly do you require from Parliament?” Ida Fjeld, President of the Parliament asked.

“At present, nothing more than your support for the measures that the Government will be required to undertake to reestablish security and law and order in eastern Cotland. As I said earlier, we will be summoning the Confederacy’s ambassador later today and demand an explanation, at which point we expect that the news will break. Until then, everything said here today remains Top Secret. When this breaks, however, it is not out of the realm of possibility that we will need to declare war on the Confederacy. The people will be furious and demand retribution, forcing the Government to act.”

“What will be the Government’s plan at that juncture?”

“We will make several demands to the Confederacy via their ambassador. Firstly, that the Confederacy immediately cease and desist from any further attacks upon Cotland. Secondly, that all persons responsible for orchestrating the attacks are extradited to Cotland for criminal prosecution. Thirdly, that the Confederacy publically apologize and pay a generous compensation and restitution to all those affected by their actions. Failing to meet those demands, Cotland will take any and all steps required to force compliance with our demands.”

“In other words, we’ll go to war.” Chairperson Ask Aalvik of the Cotland Centre Party stated.

“Technically, we are already at war. The Confederacy’s actions in the eastern provinces are acts of war against Cotland. But to answer your question, if need be, and with the consent of Parliament and the King, yes. The Government is prepared to levy war against the Confederacy to protect the citizens of the eastern provinces if our demands are not met.”

Looking around the table, the President and the party leaders all quietly nodded in agreement. Even Mira Sandmo agreed. There was a time and place for political quarrels, but not at the expense of the security of the twenty-four million voters in eastern Cotland. Publically, the Labour Party would support the efforts taken by the Government to protect Cotland, but behind the closed doors, they’d make sure to nitpick the government response to find something to use against them in the upcoming election next year.

“Very well,” President Fjeld spoke after surveying the mood around the table. “It seems that you have a broad backing in Parliament, at least at present. Thank you for the briefing, Chancellor, and the best of luck to you and the Government in the coming days. We expect that you’ll keep Parliament apprised of all developments.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cotlands Rikes Kongelige Utenriksministerium
Royal Ministry for the Foreign Affairs of the Realm of Cotland (Foreign Ministry)
5 Victoria Terrasse, NO-00251 Oslo, Noreg len, Realm of Cotland
15:00, Tuesday, 14 April 2020

The black BMW pulled up to the main entrance of the Cottish Foreign Ministry a few minutes short of 3 o’clock and stopped at the no-parking zone, allowing Ivan Dmitrevitsj Orlov to disembark. A career banker prior to becoming a diplomat, the fifty-nine year old Perm native had served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Realm of Cotland for the past six years, and was reaching the end of his career as he looked forward to a smooth retirement. He had enjoyed his posting in Cotland, despite its pagan ways, and had worked tirelessly for the improvement of Cottish-Confederacy relations despite the efforts of the government back home, believing that he had done a fairly decent job given the circumstances. Therefore, he had been puzzled at the summons delivered to the Embassy by courier earlier that morning, instructing the ambassador to appear before the Foreign Minister herself at 3 o’clock that afternoon. Greeted by a polite junior staffer at the entrance, the Ambassador was escorted through the lobby and up the floors to the top floor of the fourth floor of main building, where the Foreign Minister’s office was located.

Unlike his last visit, the Ambassador was allowed entry into the office without having to wait, causing the diplomat’s keen sense of urgency to tingle. Something was up.

After the initial greetings, the Foreign Minister, usually a warm and welcoming host, displayed an aura of cold, no-nonsense professionalism this time around. He didn’t have to wait long to find out why.

“Mister Ambassador, as you are no doubt aware, there has been a slew of terrorist attacks in eastern Cotland near the border to the Confederacy. Our investigations have uncovered irrefutable proof that these attacks have been conducted by the Confederacy.” Foreign Minister Ine Sørheim stated, not allowing the Ambassador a chance to reply before continuing.

“This is a completely unacceptable act of hostility that His Majesty’s Government cannot and will not accept. Therefore, I have been instructed by His Majesty’s Government to deliver the following note to you to convey back home to the Confederacy. I shall read it for you.”

Reading from a piece of paper, the Foreign Minister read:

“Oslo, April 14, year 2020 of the Common Era.

His Majesty’s Government of the Realm of Cotland presents its complements to the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals, and has the honour to state the following:

The Realm of Cotland and the Confederacy of the Urals has maintained excellent relations for decades, and have engaged in substantial cooperation in a variety of fields, to the shared benefit of both countries and their populations. Both countries value these relations greatly.

In the last few weeks, the eastern provinces of the Realm of Cotland has suffered a number of horrific attacks, causing large-scale destruction of property and the loss of life of over 1,200 of His Majesty's subjects. In the course of the investigations of these attacks, His Majesty’s Government has been horrified to uncover evidence that these attacks originated within the Confederacy of the Urals. This evidence is further confirmed by the statements made by several perpetrators, captured alive and currently being held in the custody of His Majesty’s Government. The combined sum of the evidences and statements gathered during the course of the investigation has led His Majesty’s Government to the uncomfortable realization that the Confederacy of the Urals, or elements therein, are responsible for the attacks upon the Realm of Cotland.

His Majesty’s Government recognizes the gravity of the situation and allegations made, and do not make them lightly. However, the evidence available does not support any other conclusion, and forces His Majesty’s Government to take action. The attacks upon the Realm of Cotland can be considered as acts of war, and His Majesty’s Government believes that it has
casus belli to levy war upon the Confederacy of the Urals, should it so desire.

In the recognition that war between our two countries will be destructive and cause widespread destruction and loss of life, property and treasure, His Majesty’s Government remains hopeful that a peaceful resolution can be reached. It is at present the belief of His Majesty’s Government that the attacks upon Cotland has been made by disloyal elements within the Confederacy of the Urals, and that the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals share in His Majesty’s Government’s desire to avoid war. Nevertheless, the principal duty any Government has is to protect the lives and security of its citizens.

Therefore, His Majesty’s Government is forced to make the following demands of the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals:

  • First, that the Confederacy of the Urals immediately and without delay ceases and desists from any further attacks upon the Realm of Cotland.
  • Second, that the Confederacy of the Urals immediately open their own transparent investigation into the attacks in Cotland to uncover the perpetrators responsible.
  • Third, that the Confederacy of the Urals allow the extradition of the persons responsible for orchestrating and executing the actions that led to the loss of life and property to the Realm of Cotland for criminal prosecution to the fullest extent of law.
  • Fourth, that the Confederacy of the Urals accepts the moral responsibility for the attacks through apologizing and offering restitution to those affected by the illegal attacks or their next of kin.

His Majesty's Government feels obligated to take certain defensive measures to ensure the safety and security of His Majesty's subjects in the eastern provinces. Therefore, a number of military defensive measures will be undertaken to assure the security of the eastern provinces. His Majesty's Government are certain that the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals understands that these measures are defensive in nature, and does not escalate the sitaution further.

It is the hope of His Majesty’s Government that the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals share in His Majesty’s Governments desire to reach a swift and peaceful resolution. However, the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals is warned that failure to comply with these most reasonable demands will force His Majesty’s Government to conclude that the attacks are in fact a willed action made by the Confederacy of the Urals as a whole, and force His Majesty’s Government to act accordingly.

Given under my hand and affixed with the Great Seal of the Realm of Cotland,

Ine Sørheim
Minister for the Foreign Affairs of the Realm of Cotland”

Ambassador Orlov was shocked. He had heard of the terrorist attacks in the border region, yes, but he had not been privy to any information that this was something done by the Confederacy. After offering his personal assurances that this was not something the Confederacy had done to his knowledge, the Foreign Minister handed the diplomatic note to the ambassador and showed him the door, so to speak.

The whole affair took less than fifteen minutes from when the Ambassador entered the office until he was back in the car heading back to the Embassy. Needless to say, the diplomatic note had to be conveyed back to Perm as quickly as possible. Perhaps they could make more sense out of it than Orlov could.
Last edited by Cotland on Sat May 30, 2020 6:34 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Layarteb » Sat May 30, 2020 8:22 am

• • • † • • •

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020 | 09:00 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Embassy of the Realm of Cotland
40° 46' 8" N, 73° 56' 39" W

Parking fines in Layarteb City weren't cheap. Simply parking in a no parking zone brought on a fine of §65 and parking in a zone labeled "Authorized Vehicles Only" ratcheted that up by §30 to §95. A simple "General No Standing" zone was §115 and the Layarteb City Traffic Enforcement Division was ruthless about handing out fines. The LCTED generated over §800 million annually in just parking fines alone, which was a sizeable boost to the city's operating budget and there were plenty of no parking zones throughout the city. For instance, the area around the Cottish embassy was a designated "Authorized Vehicles Only" zone and normally there were a dozen or so empty parking spots that only the stupid dared to take. It was into one of these open spots that a dark blue Cadillac CT6 with official plates was in the process of taking via parallel parking, another skill that was truly indelible to the average city driver.

Once into the spot, the driver turned off the engine and unlocked the doors. In the back seat, Colonel Robert Montgomery, wearing his air force uniform, unbuckled his seatbelt and opened the door. "I shouldn't be too long Barry," he said as he stepped out and shut the door behind him. His driver nodded and began to unfold the newspaper that had been sitting on the passenger seat. The Cadillac CT6, an extremely roomy and comfortable car, was the fleet sedan of the Layartebian government. Procured in such vast numbers, General Motors was initially unable to keep up with demand, expecting only one-tenth the orders that they received. The vast majority of the models procured were the most basic models available with the 2.0L LSY engine, which only offered 237 hp and 258 ft-lb of torque. On the heavy CT6, the engine made for sluggish performance but the vast majority of these vehicles didn't need performance. The vehicle Colonel Montgomery had just climbed out of had the uprated 3.6L LGW engine, which offered 404 hp and 400 ft-lb of torque, enough to make the CT6 anything but sluggish.

The reason Colonel Montgomery was able to rate such a vehicle out of the motor pool was because he was carrying highly sensitive information and he worked for the Executive Office of National Security. The EONS consisted of nineteen persons and was headed by the National Security Advisor, Robert Crawford. The colonel's official title was Liaison, October Alliance and in that capacity, he was the official government liaison to the Cottish via the October Alliance. It was why he was now entering the Cottish embassy with a metal, attaché case and why he had a pistol on his hip. Unlike the movies, the briefcase wasn't handcuffed to his hand but any attempt to take it would have meant he would have drawn his pistol and fired first, making a statement later. His driver, armed with a submachine gun, would provide additional fire support. Of course, such an attack in the middle of Layarteb City wasn't even a consideration though document handlers were always properly prepared.

Upon his arrival, the colonel found that a pair of Cottish embassy guards were waiting for him. "Colonel, the ambassador is waiting for you," they said. The colonel nodded, knowing that he was right on time, in fact early enough that he could be escorted up to the ambassador's office and still be five minutes early. The guards deposited him in the waiting area, standing sentry outside of the suite to ensure that it was guarded at all times, really a formality given the sheer lack of threat that the Cottish embassy faced in the heart of the Layartebian capital. He would only be there a short while before Saara Paasio admitted him into her office.

"Madam Ambassador, it's good to see you, I just wish it was under different terms," Montgomery said in Cottish as he sat down in a chair at her instance. The ambassador was fifty-eight and originally from Rovaniemi in Finland. This was her retirement posting and when her service here in Layarteb City was over, she would be fully retired with the diplomatic corps. A divorcee with two daughters, it would certainly be an abrupt change of her lifestyle going from one posting to the next.

"Yes Colonel it is," she answered, first in Cottish but then continued in English. Montgomery spoke Cottish well enough but he'd never quite gotten rid of his accent and one could tell he wasn't a native speaker though he could manage any conversation necessary in whatever manner needed. The ambassador however was as courteous to him and he was to her. "I am glad your intelligence services could react so quickly."

"React quickly yes ma'am but I am the unfortunate bearer of bad news. We don't have much in general and very little on the names your government requested. You probably have more than us but nevertheless, what we have, we're sharing in its entirety even if it's duplicate information. We don't know the full extent on what you have so who be it for us to judge what to give you on the matter,"
he opened his satchel case and handed over a sealed envelope. The seal was important, it showed the ambassador that the intelligence had not been tampered with since it was printed, bound, and set in the Ministry of Intelligence. Couriers brought it from there to the Fortress of Comhghall and now the colonel to the Cottish embassy. "We've included our intelligence on the Urals as well, specifically military and political intelligence we've collected. As you know, the Empire doesn't have any borders and we have limited trade with the nation though we do have an embassy. Should the Cottish Realm decide to move against the Urals, which far be it for me to speculate, they would find a level of cooperation from the Empire commensurate with our agreements."

"Thank you Colonel and it may be that we request such help. For now, the Cottish Realm will be taking this matter 'close to the chest' as the phrase goes."

"And we shall oblige, well ma'am I presume you'll have a busy day. I believe our next scheduled meeting is Friday at 10:00. Until then I presume?"
They shook hands and the colonel was given an escort back out of the building and to where his vehicle was waiting. His driver, seeing him approach, started the car and unlocked the doors. The colonel slid into the backseat and said, "All right, shall we go back to work?"

"Yes sir, traffic is the usual."

"I bet it is,"
the colonel said as he leaned forward and took the newspaper from the front seat. "Where were you?"

"Page three."

"Got it,"
he said, folding the tab over so that his driver wouldn't lose his place. The route back to the embassy wasn't particularly far, just ten miles, but it meant slogging through morning traffic. The Cottish embassy was on the northern end of Roosevelt Island, which meant at least that going over the Roosevelt Island Bridge, instead of the 59th Street Bridge was sounder. The drawback there was going through Hunters Point and Greenpoint to the BQE. It would just be a crawl all the way down to Pier 12 where the drawbridge to Governors Island sat. It should have only taken then thirty minutes but it would take over an hour. Welcome to morning traffic in Layarteb City.

• • • • ‡ • • • •

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020 | 13:00 hrs [UTC-5]

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

While Colonel Montgomery handed his intelligence packet to the Cottish ambassador, the Cottish were handing their missive to the Ural ambassador. It was a cycle of diplomacy that existed both independently and concurrently within the world. The Cottish had, similarly, passed on intelligence to the Layartebians via the embassy in Oslo but that had been days earlier, when the first requests had been made. Just as the Empire had a liaison in the executive branch that met with the Cottish ambassador so too did the Cottish have one for the Layartebian ambassador. What one had so did the other so that everything ran smoothly on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. Old allies, the October Alliance brought Cotland and Layarteb closer than any two nations on Earth. It also meant that an attack on one was an attack on both and just as the Empire might look to the Cottish for help in trying times, so too would the Empire be available to the Cottish.

It was not known to the Emperor when he convened the National Security Council for an early afternoon meeting that the Cottish had delivered their demands to the Urals' ambassador. What was known however was the process. The process was virtually the same for the Empire. War, while prevalent in these times, was never the first avenue of resort. If it had been, the Layartebian military would be pounding the Filipinos still for shooting down AL604. Instead, the diplomatic games were being played, if just to maneuver the state into a corner where war was the only solution. To say that the Empire was a peaceful nation was to lie. The Empire was far from peaceful, especially when it was threatened; after all, they hadn't conquered a sizeable portion of the Western Hemisphere through peace.

In the Emperor's office, as the NSC gathered, a lot was happening in the world. No doubt both the Cottish and the Ural governments were marching onward towards the next gates of the process. In the Empire, there would be some catchup to be had. For the Emperor, playing catchup was always a undesirable condition but it was to be addressed and he did so as he sat down from closing the doors, "All right so what's next? Let's go through it."

Minister Fisher of Foreign Affairs began, "the Cottish will likely deliver an ultimatum to the Ural government. If we were making that ultimatum, we would ask for a full stand down of forces across the border and the handover of those responsible. Whether or not the Ural government is implicit in the attacks, we would be holding them accountable. If it were rebellious elements, it would behoove them to turn over those responsible; if it were not, then it would behoove them to make it so unless war was their ultimate aim."

"What if it was?"

"Then sir, the Ural government would stall and stymie any efforts to cooperate until they were in a position where they were ready to commence combat operations."

"All right then let's play the other side, what if it is being done without their knowledge?"

"Then they have a serious problem sir and could be fighting a coup at any time. Given just how many men they've marshaled, that would escalate out of hand very quickly."

"All right, let's take the assumption then that the Urals are willing to go to war. Let's take the assumption that the Cottish are not as prepared as the Urals are. Allen, where do they stand?"

"Well sir, we're looking at the Cottish needing to mobilize very quickly. They've already started an initial process but they've got a long way to go to meet what the Ural's has. This means that the Urals are at an advantage. They've been setting the pace of this. The Cottish will need to - and very quickly sir - outpace their foe."

"What can we do on our side to be prepared to assist without giving away our position or that the Cottish are aware?"

"Sir that does limit us but at the same time, we don't have any assets specifically aimed at the Urals. Obviously, the Ural government would know the bond of the October Alliance so they may be watching us but there is an 'out' right now sir."

"What is that 'out' then?"

"Rum sir. We've been raising our alert levels in the Med. We have an extra carrier group deployed right now and all forces in the Eastern Med theater are on high alert. Carrier-based aircraft have zero involvement in any war in the Urals, its simply too far inland; however sir, it's a pretext to bring more forces up to bear. We don't have anything in direct range of the Urals but we could move up our alert levels."

"All right then we'll do that and if we need to airlift troops and matériel into Cotland to fight this with them, could we?"

"Yes sir we can, in fact we have regular drills with the Cottish on logistics. We move a brigade to them and the following year they move a brigade to us and the cycle repeats. This year would be the cycle for them, moving a brigade to us."

"Is it always the same place?"

"No sir, we rotate through several different areas but given the size of a brigade sir, there are only so many places capable of handling that size of a force."

"What is the composition of this brigade?"

"It's called our 'Heavy Support Brigade' sir and it's an ad-hoc unit that takes battalions and regiments from forces within the army and puts them together. There are some designated units to ensure unit cohesion remains at the forefront. The brigade consists of three regiments: a combat regiment, an air support regiment, and a logistical support regiment.

"The combat regiment consists of two tank and three mechanized infantry battalions, quite a sizeable force. The air support regiment consists of an air cavalry battalion and their associated transport helicopters along with an attack helicopter battalion. The logistical support regiment consists of an air defense battalion, a medical battalion, and two support and supply battalions. Overall sir, the force size is around seven thousand men, it's a bit larger than our brigades but it is much smaller than our divisions."

"Get them ready, how long does it take to deploy the entire brigade to Cotland?"

"Ninety-six hours sir."

"Larger units?"

"Five days sir."

"Well if anyone opposes, we're bringing them online,"
no one opposed, "how long until they can be ready to deploy?"

"They're always ready sir. The 'Heavy Support Brigade' is made up of units that are always on active readiness. If you said, 'Deploy now,' they would be on the ground in full in ninety-six hours.

"It's not much but it's enough for an initial thrust of support. We need to ensure that we're ready to help the Cottish. They would be helping us if the situation were reversed, if Al-Shams started an active campaign within our borders."

"Yes sir. We have other assets already in the docket to be ready."

"All right they're next then,"
once again no one opposed.

• • • † • • •

Last edited by Layarteb on Sat Jun 06, 2020 9:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Cotland » Sun May 31, 2020 4:09 am

Yellow Palace
Perm, Republic of Perm
21:00, Tuesday, 14 April 2020

The Republic of Perm was one of two partner nations in the Confederacy of the Urals, and the undisputed powerhouse in the Confederacy. Blessed with 12 million citizens, allowing it to boast the majority of the combined population with a comfortable margin, and the natural resources that made the Confederate economy function, Perm had vast reserves of oil, natural gas, gold, diamonds, chromites, peat, coal, limestone and building materials, as well as a well-developed agricultural sector that made the Republic self-sufficient in basic food staples. The problem for Perm was that it did not have the industrial base to process its natural resources, which was where the other partner in the Confederacy came into the picture.

The People's Republic of Niezjogorodskaja, the second nation in the Confederacy of the Urals, lay to the south of Perm and was a resource-poor nation that in turn enjoyed a very well developed industrial base, a side effect of having embraced the Marxist-Leninist way of life half a century earlier and crash-industrialized the country. Over 70% of the 7 million strong country’s population worked in the industries or in the agricultural sector, which was a willed development by the weak pseudo-communist leadership in Niezjogorodskaja. The alliance into the Confederacy of the Urals was therefore an alliance of convenience that allowed Perm to export its natural resources for processing, and for Niezjogorodskaja to get natural resources for its industries and further process these for export. Both nations relied on each other, but there was little doubt that Niezjogorodskaja was the weaker party and generally went along with whatever Perm wanted, as long as it got natural resources for its industry so the people could get to work.

The President of the Republic of Perm was Ruslan Termjakov, a sixty-one year old career politician who had been re-elected as President in 2017 on a platform of making Perm stronger and advancing the true faith. While seventy year old President Anatoliy Sardjenski of Niezjogorodskaja was nominally the incumbent head of the Confederacy, having taken over the mantle last year as the leadership switched between the two heads of state every two years, Sardjenski was firmly under Termjakov’s control after the latter obtained compromising footage of the former engaged in homosexual activity – a criminal offence in both countries and one that defied everything Sardjenski had proclaimed in his official policies – meaning that Termjakov was the de facto ruler of the Confederacy. Fearful of losing his position with the privileges that entailed and being branded a degenerate criminal and tossed into a Niezjogorodskajan prison for the next twelve years, Sardjenski had allowed himself to become Termjakov’s puppet in exchange for the latter’s silence.

In the Yellow Palace, the official residence of the President of Perm was located in downtown Perm directly from the Duma on the other side of the Republic Park, President Termjakov had just curled the copy of the Cottish diplomatic note with its demands up into a ball and thrown it at General Armii Vasiliy Karlov, the leader of the Confederacy High Command.

“You told me they would never find out it was us!” Termjakov screamed, his mouth frothing with anger. “You told me your men are professionals and will never allow themselves to be caught!”

“President, I don’t understand how they could possibly know. Our boys don’t allow themselves to be caught alive. They never have. It must be a ruse. A trick. The heathens are bluffing.” The General stammered, trying and failing to calm the furious President down.

“Bluffing?! Bluffing!? Look, they say it right here!” Termjakov said, grabbing the curled-up piece of paper and shoved it into the General’s face. “It says ‘several perpetrators captured alive and being held in custody’ right fucking there!”

The General wisely held his tounge, allowing the President to take out his frustration and calm down before saying anything else. Eventually, Termjakov had spent his powder and calmed down, collapsing into one of the exquisite rococo chairs in his decadent office.

“Clearly sir, this was an unexpected development, but as I and the rest of the High Command stressed prior to you approving this course of action six months ago, we know that the heathens aren’t stupid and that we would have to expect unexpected developments. This is one of those, but up till now, the boys have done their job to perfection.” General Karlov stated, daring to sit down in the opposite chair and offering the President a cigarette, which was accepted. Lighting it from a golden Zippo lighter, the General took one of his own and lit it before continuing. “With the heathens aware and alert, we have to move up the time tables somewhat. The Grand Army is still working out the kinks, and while another four weeks of sorting out the lingering issues would be appreciated, I’m confident that we can have them ready in four weeks. The heathens will take longer to get their forces mobilized and in position, and by that time, we will have reached our objectives and forced a fait accompli upon them. They will have no choice but to accept our demands. I assure you of this.”

“So mid-May instead of mid-June?” Termjakov said wearily.

“Mid-May instead of mid-June.” Karlov confirmed. “However, for this to work, we need political maskirovka to prevent the heathens from jumping the gun. We need for the diplomacy to play along for some time. Deny the allegations they make and say that you’ll support the investigations, play along in the public arena, but behind the doors we stall. Stall for as long as possible.”

“And if we do this for you, you’re still confident of success?”

“Yes sir, if we get the political backing and maskirovka we need to keep the heathens at bay for long enough, the Grand Army will make Operation CRUSADE a resounding success.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Statement from the Confederacy of the Urals

Delivered by hand from the Embassy of the Confederacy of the Urals to the Foreign Ministry of the Realm of Cotland

Perm, April 15, 2020

The Confederacy of the Urals presents it complements to the Realm of Cotland, and has the honour to state the following:

The Confederacy of the Urals have received your diplomatic note of April 14, 2020, and wish to note the following.

The Government of the Confederacy of the Urals does not recognize itself in any of the allegations made by the Government of the Realm of Cotland in your diplomatic note of 14 April, and wish to state once again that the Confederacy abhors and denounce the tragic terrorist attacks undertaken in the Realm of Cotland as of late. The Confederacy and the Realm have enjoyed good relations for many years, and the thought that the Confederacy would jeopardize these mutually beneficial relations are absurd and beyond the realm of belief.

Accordingly, the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals will support the investigations into these terrorist attacks in any way that it is able. Furthermore, the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals respectfully requests that the Government of the Realm of Cotland provide any information that it is willing to offer, so that the Confederacy can start its own investigation. If the perpetrators of these horrible attacks did indeed originate within the Confederacy, it is as much in the interest of the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals to uncover them as it is in the interest of the Government of the Realm of Cotland.

Finally, the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals does not wish for conflict between our two countries, and are disturbed by the unveiled and misguided threats made by the Realm of Cotland towards the Confederacy of the Urals. The Government of the Confederacy of the Urals therefore give fair warning that any buildup of military forces on our mutual border will force the Confederacy to take similar defensive actions in order to safeguard the territorial integrity and national security of the Confederacy.

In closing, allow me to once again reiterate the deepest condolences of the Confederacy of the Urals and its peoples to the people of the Realm of Cotland.

Given under my hand and seal,

Anatoliy Sardjenski
President of the People’s Republic of Niezjogorodskaja
Chairman of the Confederacy of the Urals
Last edited by Cotland on Sun May 31, 2020 4:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Cotland » Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:04 am

Leadership Bunker Complex underneath Oslo, Noreg len, Realm of Cotland
11:45, Thursday, 16 April 2020

The past two days had seen the normal teething problems that always happened when something new started occur, be handled, and resolved, meaning that by Wednesday, the bunker complex underneath Oslo was operating as intended – effectively and with minimum disruption. It had become custom over the past few days for the National Security Council to assemble daily to review the developing situation and its implications to the Realm, all of it taking place without the outside world realizing, thanks to the network of secret tunnels underneath the streets.

The communiqué from the Republic of Perm had been delivered by hand to the Foreign Ministry the previous evening by Ambassador Orlov, who had tried and failed to spin this in a positive light. The ambassador had clearly been instructed by Perm to shut up and do as instructed. Needless to say, the contents of the communiqué had been disseminated throughout the Cottish government circles and thoroughly nitpicked for concealed meanings and messages.

The media and thus the general populace in Cotland had also started to pick up on that something was amiss, with a lot of meetings in the various ministers’ official calenders being either postponed or cancelled, leading to speculation. A news crew from TV7 News, a privately owned news corporation headquartered in Stockholm, had been outside the Foreign Ministry last night when the Confederate Ambassador arrived to deliver the diplomatic note, and made sure to film this and use it to speculate wildly. The Foreign Ministry spokesperson on duty that evening had tried to dismiss the connection TV7 was making, stating that the exchange of diplomatic notes was a very common occurrence and that nothing special should be read into that. This led TV7 to ask “What diplomatic notes?”, leading the spokesperson to shut down the interview there and then. Said spokesperson was no longer in the watch rotation, pending review, and TV7 had filed an injunction with the Oslo District Court asking for the diplomatic notes to be released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act 1969. The court would review the case on Monday, and likely grant the request, giving the Government a hard deadline to reach a decision and another headache to process.

With this background, Chancellor Riis Dahle called the meeting to order at 11:45, closing the doors to the “glass bowl” and allowing the Top Secret deliberations to start.

The first to start was the Interior Minister who could report that over the past twelve hours Cottish security services had discovered and neutralized another three Confederate Spetznaz cells in Komi len without having taken any losses of their own, thanks to the use of elite Cottish Tier One special forces of Spesialjegerkommandoen doing the actual stormings. Thirteen foreign fighters had been killed over the course of the night and another two had been captured alive in three separate operations. The Interior Ministry also had the likely locations of another five cells thanks to signals intelligence gathered from the Guardrail aircraft flying over the eastern provinces, which would hopefully be neutralized in due course. With the Cottish security services going on the offensive, the Interior Ministry reported a distinct reduction in terrorist attacks against Cottish infrastructure over the past few days, and no loss of Cottish lives.

Pleased with this report, Chancellor Riis Dahle instructed the Interior Ministry to continue the good job and maintain the pressure, before moving on to the next post on the agenda: the Confederate reactions to the Cottish diplomatic note.

After the Confederate diplomatic note had been read loud by Foreign Minister Sørheim to the National Security Council, Colonel General Holm of the Cottish Intelligence Service presented the latest intelligence collected on the disposition and strength of the Confederate Armies. The forces in the central Confederacy were still engaged in wargames against each other and showed little sign of preparing to redeploy, but the number of flatbed railroad cars assembled in marshalling yards near the exercise areas were steadily increasing. This meant that the Confederate forces could be redeployed relatively quickly if needed. The Confederate Border Guards had increased their readiness across the Cottish border, and the Confederate Air Force had established continuous combat air patrols along the Cottish border since the Cottish diplomatic note was issued. Communications chatter and radio-technical emissions had also increased, meaning that the Confederates were filling the airwaves with energy as their own radars started matching the Cottish readiness levels.

The Cottish embassy in Perm also reported that there was a gradually shifting focus in the popular media, trending towards anti-Cottish rhetoric. Additionally, the embassy reported that it had just been announced that the Government-owned PTN media network would start showing a cavalcade to Permian movie director Sergej Karjalov over the next two weeks, showing classic (and patriotic) movies from the 1930s and 1940s. The movies Karjalov made had usually featured historical themes where foreign invaders came to threaten the existence of the proud, hard-working, God-fearing Slavic people of Greater Rus, usually in the form of the bloodthirsty, heathen Cottish warriors.

The Justice Minister reported that his Ministry had issued a formal request for information via Interpol channels to the Confederate Security Services for information on the three suspects caught alive, but that they hadn’t even gotten a confirmation that the Confederates had received the RFI yet, which was out of the ordinary.

“In conclusion, the Confederacy of the Urals is denying responsibility and while promising to offer whatever assistance they can, their actions indicate that they’re doing the complete opposite. At the same time, we are starting to see overwhelming evidence that the Confederacy is responsible for the attacks in Cotland. Does anyone disagree with this assessment?” The Chancellor asked, to which no one disagreed.

“Ok, then we are all on the same page. The question then is, where do we go from here?”

“If the Confederacy does not take our warnings seriously, I believe that the time has come for us to show that we intend to put action behind our words,” The Defence Minister stated. “So far, we have played nice, but not really shown that we mean business. The military is, as you are all aware, one of the tools we have in the diplomatic toolbox. We are already at Simple Alert, and placing the military into a position to put action behind our words will serve several purposes. Firstly, it will be a forceful reminder to the Confederacy that we mean business. Secondly, it will improve the security situation in the east considerably. Thirdly, it is only a question of time before this whole situation is revealed to the people. Showing that we take this seriously will stave off critical voices and show that this government takes the security of its people seriously. With luck, a show of force in the east will convince the Confederacy that the best course of action is to pursue diplomacy, as the alternative will be detrimental to their national wellbeing.”

Foreign Minister Sørheim nodded in agreement. “As you all know, I am the first to seek a diplomatic resolution to the issues we encounter in the world. It is my conviction that a peaceful resolution is always preferable. Our people and our culture has endured for over a thousand years against a myriad of foreign threats that have hated us for a variety of reasons. In many cases, we have had to fight to defend our way of life, and in many more cases, we have been able to reach a mutually amicable peaceful resolution to our differences. In this case, and it pains me to say this, but in this case I sincerely believe that we need to be ready to put force behind our demands. Putting the military on alert will show that we are ready to defend ourselves, and hopefully that will prove that it isn’t worth it to defy our demands any further. I agree with the Defence Minister. We should mobilize.”

The rest of the National Security Council agreed. However, due to the way the Cottish government and division of powers had developed over the centuries, he couldn’t actually order the mobilization of the Cottish military on his own authority. This power had been reserved as one of the Royal prerogatives two hundred years earlier as a safeguard against the government trying to overthrow the Monarch. The Cottish armed forces still swore their allegiance to the King of Cotland and to the Constitution, not to the Government, thus establishing itself as a dual guarantor of the Monarchy and by extension of democracy in Cotland. Thus, the Chancellor had to meet with the King and offer the recommendation of the National Security Council, but ultimately leave the decision to mobilize up to King Sverre. As Supreme Warlord of the Realm, the decision to levy war and peace rested squarely on his shoulders, and so did the decision to mobilize the military. If the King disagreed, the Government couldn’t order mobilization.

Royal Palace
Oslo, Capital Region, Realm of Cotland
13:00, Thursday, 16 April 2020

“Your Majesty, the Chancellor.” The Colonel serving as military adjutant stated after having opened the double doors to the King’s office and bowing in deference. The King nodded, prompting the Colonel to open the doors fully to admit the Chancellor to the King’s office.

Chancellor Riis Dahle entered and bowed, as per protocol. “Your Majesty.”

“Chancellor, please come in,” King Sverre said as he offered his hand. With the formalities over with, the Chancellor approached and shook the offered hand. The King was dressed in the everyday wear – a fine three-piece dark business suit with a silk tie – while the Chancellor was dressed in a fine charcoal suit, as was tradition when attending an audience with the King.

As they sat down, the Chancellor opened the leather document case he had hand-carried all the way and offered a deep red manila folder to the King.

“Your Majesty. As you are aware, the Confederacy has basically refused our diplomatic note and claim ignorance. At the same time, they do not appear to honor their own claim of offering assistance, and have heightened their military readiness further. All the details are in the daily briefing.”

“Yes, I saw. I do not like the development here. They don’t appear to realize the gravity of the situation.” The King stated.

“Indeed sir. The National Security Council agrees with your assessment entirely. That is why the Council believes that the Realm need to prepare itself to put action behind our words, so to speak.”

Cautiously, the King looked the Chancellor in the eyes as he said, “Go on.”

“Sir, right now, the Confederate Army outnumbers the Cottish Army five to one in terms of ground divisions in the eastern provinces. If they attack now, they can penetrate deep into Cotland proper before we have the forces in place to do anything about it. The Confederate leaders know this, and we believe that this gives the Confederate leadership courage to defy our most reasonable demands. The Council is in agreement that the prudent thing to do is to demonstrate to the Confederacy that this belief is wrong. Therefore, the recommendation from the Council, which I agree with wholeheartedly, is to request that Your Majesty order the mobilization and deployment of military forces to the east. We believe that this will give the Confederacy pause and force them to reconsider their actions and return to the negotiating table.”

“And if it does not?” The King asked. “What then?”

“Then sir, the Council believes that Your Majesty’s Government will be forced to do as warned in the diplomatic note and force our will upon the Confederacy. I should add that at this point we do not believe that it will come to that.”

Sighing, the King sat back and pondered the question in silence. Recognizing that the Monarch was about to make one of the defining decisions of his reign, the Chancellor kept his tongue. After a little while, the King asked, “What forces are required?”

“The recommended Force list is enclosed in the folder sir,” The Chancellor said, “So too is the draft to the Royal Decree that will be formally presented in tomorrow’s Council of State for Your Majesty’s assent.”

The King opened the folder and quickly skimmed it. The Government recommended calling up almost half a million reservists, and for the King to order the military to make the necessary preparations for offensive operations against the Confederacy.

Sighing once again, the King thought it over. Truth be told, he had thought about this more or less continuously for the past week, and had come to accept that the oath he had taken when he ascended to the throne all those years ago was even more important now than ever before during his reign.

“I promise and swear to reign over the Kingdom of Cotland in accordance with its Constitution, and to protect and defend the Kingdom of Cotland and its peoples and to put the welfare and protection of Cotland before my personal needs.”

Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, the King exhaled before looking deep into the Chancellor’s eyes, his icy blue eyes filled with renewed determination and his voice sharp and clear as he spoke.

“Very well. Make it so.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Official Statement
Office of the Chancellor of the Realm of Cotland
Issued at 15:00, Thursday, 15 April 2020

The Office of the Chancellor of the Realm of Cotland hereby gives notice that Chancellor Andreas Riis Dahle will make an official statement to the population regarding the deteriorating security situation in the provinces of Bjarmeland, Komi and Vologda following the conclusion of the Royal Council-in-State, which is to be held in the Royal Palace in Oslo tomorrow on Friday the 16th of April at 11 o’clock, Oslo time. His Majesty the King will attend the Royal Council-in-State, as will the members of the full Council-in-State.

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Postby Cotland » Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:40 am

Voloborg Castle
Volgoda, Vologda len, Realm of Cotland
10:00, Friday, 17 April 2020

The officers had started arriving two hours earlier, arriving singly or in pairs at the Barbican of the eight hundred year old medieval fort that had guarded the city of Vologda since its construction. Dressed in service uniforms displaying the distinctive unit patches of more than three dozen different field commands, the forty-odd command teams of general officers and their chiefs of staff had all been required to present their identification papers and written orders to the no-nonsense scrutiny of the Sergeant of the Guard and his vigilant and unusually heavily armed force of camouflage-uniformed and seemingly battle-ready guard force that guarded the main entrance to the castle before being admitted to the headquarters garrison of First Army. The seasoned officers couldn’t help but notice manned machine gun and anti-tank weapon emplacements overlooking the entrance, and the red tape around the magazine in the bayonet-fitted G-95 assault rifles and chest rigs the sentries all carried, indicating they were carrying a full load of live ammunition. Clearly, they knew something the officers didn’t.

Once inside the headquarters building, the officers were escorted to a conference room in the third floor of the main keep of the castle, where refreshment in the form of coffee, fruit, pastries and chilled water bottles had been prepared. To most everyone’s surprise, the officers found that the Commanding Generals and Chief of Staff of every Corps, Division, separate Brigade and equivalent unit of First Army and Second Tactical Air Force had been ordered to the First Army headquarters at short notice, along with officers from other units from other higher commands. As was only natural, the officers found old friends and acquaintances and caught up, and met and learned to know new faces. No one knew why they were there though, although speculations were rife, almost all some variation around the recent events in the east.

At ten minutes to ten, a Lieutenant Colonel of Signals requested everyone in the room to leave their cellphones and all other electronics they might have in their possession in the room and to follow him. Like a flock of highly decorated sheep, the generals, brigadiers and colonels followed the Lieutenant Colonel up to the fifth floor of the keep into a stepped auditorium. As the officers found their seats in the auditorium, which easily fitted a hundred persons comfortably, the Lieutenant Colonel once again asked that any electronic equipment had to be surrendered, and as usual, there was always one or two that hadn’t gotten the message the first time and offered a phone or smart watch to a Corporal. With this done, a murmur of chatter buzzed in the room as the officers small-talked while waiting for whatever they were here for to begin.

At exactly 10 o’clock, the doors to the auditorium opened and a grizzled old Sergeant Major stepped in and sharply ordered, “Attention!” like only a Sergeant Major can.

As eighty-odd men and women in their forties and fifties rose to their feet at the bark from the grizzled Sergeant Major, Colonel General Johan Fagerholt entered the room and took the podium. Dressed in the same mountain green service uniform that the majority of the men were dressed in, the Colonel General’s four silver stars on the golden rank tabards and distinctive unit metal crest on his uniform jacket betrayed that Fagerholt was the Commanding General of First Army, and thus the highest-ranking officer in the room. Looking over the room, he ordered, “Thank you, be seated,” and allowed everyone to sit down. The General looked at the Sergeant Major by the door and nodded, prompting the Sergeant Major to lock the doors.

“Ladies and gentlemen, for those who do not know me, I am Colonel General Johan Fagerholt, General Commanding First Army. What you are to learn in this briefing is classified Secret in its entirety and is not to be discussed outside duly authorized spaces. Here’s why: The Government of the Realm fears that it will soon find itself in a state of war with the Confederacy of the Urals.

“Subsequently, by the High Command of His Majesty the King in Council, pursuant to Article Twenty-Four of the Constitution of the Realm of Cotland, First Army has been ordered to prepare for offensive military operations against the Confederacy of the Urals, and to be prepared to initiate hostilities no later than the Fifteenth of June of this year.”

A brief murmur of shock and surprise was cut short as the general continued.

“The reasons for this rather drastic turn of events will be briefed by my G2, Major General Hansen. General Hansen?”

An overweight sixty year old Major General came up to the podium and nodded for the lights to be dimmed as Fagerholt sat down on the reserved seat on the front row, providing a fairly detailed briefing to the officers explaining the events that had taken place in eastern Cotland over the past few weeks and putting them into context, culminating with the revelation of the Confederacy’s culpability. After the intelligence briefing, Fagerholt returned to the podium.

“So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Now, I reiterate the given mission: First Army has been ordered to prepare for military operations against the Confederacy of the Urals, to commence no later than June Fifteenth. In other words, we have less than two months to plan, prepare, train for, and execute a viable battle plan. You and your units are or will be assigned to First Army for participation in this war. This is why you are here now.

“My G3 and G5 have already drafted a rough plan based on contingency plans, which is tentatively codenamed Operation JALLARHORN, but the operation’s name is liable to change as the situation develops. If you need notebooks, the Corporal here have some for you.”

After a minute of getting notebooks and pens distributed and ready, the General started the no-notice order meeting.

“Operation JALLARHORN is intended to support a war of maneuver against the Confederacy of the Urals on Urals territory in order to One: force the Confederacy political leadership to accept Cottish political demands; and Two: destroy the Confederacy’s ability to conduct future infiltrations and offensive operations into Cotland.”

“Commanders Intent is as follows: I initially intend to prosecute the war against the Confederacy through overwhelming and massed use of fires and air power against the enemy’s command and control; logistics and sustainment; aviation; long-range fires; and air defence; in order to favorably shape the battlespace prior to committing my ground maneuver forces to action.

“Only when the enemy’s ability to effectively control and sustain his forces has been sufficiently degraded, and the battlespace has been shaped to favor our own operations, will I commit my ground forces to offensive action. Through aggressive and decisive maneuver warfare supported by own air and fires, and deep interdiction, I intend to deny the enemy freedom of maneuver and allow my own forces freedom of maneuver. I will seek decisive resolution to ground combat at the earliest opportunity in order to destroy the enemy’s ground combat ability. This in turn will shape the situation towards a political state that will demoralize the enemy’s population and leadership, and force him to accept our political demands.

“Desired end state for Operation JALLARHORN has been achieved when the Confederacy’s air and ground forces’ offensive capability have been destroyed and is no longer able to effectively threaten Cottish national security; thus forcing the Confederacy to accept Cottish political demands, and subsequently bringing the war to a successful resolution.”

The General paused and allowed the generals to finish writing down before he motioned for the G2 to return to the podium.

“The enemy forces are organized into two Armies along national lines, but the operational forces of both armies report to and are given orders by the High Command of the Confederacy of the Urals, located in Perm.

“The People’s Army of Nizhnogorodskaya consists of four Tank Divisions, seven Motor Rifle Divisions, two separate Motor Rifle Regiments, two Air Assault Rifle Regiments, and one Spetznaz Regiment. Supporting this is two Engineer Brigades, four Field Artillery Brigades equipped with 2S7, 2S19 and BM-27, three Air Defence Brigades equipped with SA-15 GAUNTLET and SA-17 GRIZZLY, one Air Defence Brigade equipped with SA-12 GLADIATOR, two Tactical Missile Brigades equipped with SS-21 SCARAB, and two Aviation Brigades equipped primarily with Mi-35 HIND and Mi-17 HIP.

“The Army of the Republic of Perm consists of six Tank Divisions, eleven Motor Rifle Divisions, three separate Motor Rifle Regiments, one Air Assault Rifle Regiment, and two Spetznaz Regiments. Supporting this is three Engineer Regiments, four Field Artillery Brigades equipped with 2S3, 2S4, 2S7, and BM-21, three Air Defence Brigades equipped with SA-15 GAUNTLET and SA-17 GRIZZLY, one Air Defence Brigade equipped with SA-10 GLADIATOR, three Tactical Missile Brigades equipped with SS-26 STONE, and three Aviation Brigades equipped with Mi-28 HAVOC and Mi-17 HIP.

“Principal equipment for both the Nizhnogorodskaya and Perm ground forces are T-80BVM tanks and BMP-2M, MT-LB, and BTR-82 infantry combat vehicles, and derivatives thereof. Both armies are organized along the old Soviet lines and much of their equipment hails from this era. Both armies are trained along old Soviet lines with all that entails, and still use a Soviet pattern of organization and combat drills. Both armies have been plagued with a chronic shortage of funding in recent years, which greatly affect their readiness levels and training levels. Having a bloated structure relative to their available manpower and economy certainly does not do them any favors.

“The enemy’s air power consists of the two air forces operating under the unified control of the High Command:

“The People’s Air Force of Nizhnogorodskaya has in its OOB six Fighter Aviation Regiments of forty MiG-35 FULCRUM-F each, three Fighter Attack Aviation Regiment of forty Su-25 FROGFOOT, two Bomber Aviation Regiment of forty Su-34 FULLBACK fighter-bombers, and one Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment of thirty Orlan-10 UAVs. Additionally, the Long-Range Aviation Division consists of one Transport Aviation Regiment of twenty-one An-26 CURL transport aircraft and one Transport Aviation Regiment of seventeen Il-76 CANDID transport aircraft, as well as a Special-Purpose Squadron consisting of an eclectic mix of four Il-20 COOT-A SIGINT aircraft, three Il-20 COOT-B command and control aircraft, and the presidential Tu-154 CARELESS transport aircraft.

“The Air Force of the Republic of Perm consists of seven Fighter Aviation Regiments with forty MIG-35 FULCRUM-F, three Fighter Aviation Regiment with thirty Su-35 FLANKER-E, and four Attack Aviation Regiment of Su-25 FROGFOOT, plus three independent squadrons of MIG SKAT combat drones. The Long-Range Aviation Division consists of two Transport Aviation Regiments of twenty An-26 CURL and ten An-72 COALER transport aircraft, and one Transport Aviation Regiment of thirty Il-76 CANDID strategic transports, a Command Aviation Regiment of twelve A-50 MAINSTAY command and control aircraft, and a Special-Purpose Regiment consisting of nine Il-20 COOT-A SIGINT aircraft, five Il-20 COOT-B command and control aircraft, three Il-86 CAMBER VIP transport aircraft, and two Il-80 MAXDOME airborne command posts.

“The enemy depends on 12-month national service conscripts to swell their ranks, who are given a mere two months of training before being sent to their maneuver units, where they serve the remainder of their national service. The officer corps is trained in Soviet maneuver doctrine, and are unlikely to display personal initiative at the company-grade or even field-grade officer level. The NCO Corps is virtually non-existent, meaning that the enemy depends on junior officers doing jobs we would have NCOs do. The quality of the enemy troops and training is assessed as low, and equipment availability is expected to be below 50% in all but the highest prioritized units. As such, we assess the enemy to essentially be a paper tiger, better suited for military parades than actual combat operations against a competent force.”

With that, the G2 stepped back down and let General Fagerholt continue.

“With the opposition’s capabilities fresh in mind, let me present the general outline of the plan as it presently stands and the constraints you’ll be operating under. Our own order of battle will be according to the slide. As you can see, First Army’s field order will consist of five maneuver corps which will be responsible for the operational art. The main “fists” are Two and Four Armoured Corps’, along with Eight, Fourteen and Sixteen Corps’. Additionally, Twelve and Seventeen Corps’ of the Sixth Army will be mobilized as follow-on forces for rear-area security in occupied territories, along with the Royal Gendarmerie.

“Second Tactical Air Force will carry the brunt of the initial operations, with Twenty-Sixth Air Division and its Raptors seeking to establish and maintain air superiority over the battlespace, while Twenty-First and Twenty-Second Air Divisions conduct deep interdiction missions over Confederacy territory in support of the general mission objectives. Corps and Army artillery and missile assets will also be tasked with conducting interdiction and deep strike fire missions in the initial phase of the operation. The fire missions will be directed by long-range reconnaissance and Special Forces patrols that will infiltrate into the Confederacy prior to D-Day.

“Once ground operations starts, the tasking is as follows:

“Two Armoured Corps with Twenty-Ninth, Fifty-Second and Sixty-Ninth Armoured Divisions supported by Eight Corps with Twentieth and Fifty-Fourth Mechanized and Thirteenth Infantry Divisions, the Seventh Airmobile Division of the Airborne Forces, and Twenty-Third Air Division of the Second Tactical Air Force, will form the southern fist, attacking from the Starting Line south into Niezjogorodskaja, with initial objectives being the capture of Nizjny Novgorod, the capital of Niezjogorodskaja.

“Four Armoured Corps with Fourtieth, Sixtieth and Eightieth Armoured Divisions supported by Fourteen Corps with Thirty-Eighth and Sixty-Fourth Mechanized and Twenty-Second Infantry Divisions, two brigades of Twenty-Eight Airmobile Division of the Airborne Forces, and Twenty-Fifth Air Division of the Second Tactical Air Force, constitute the northern fist, which will attack from the Starting Line south towards Tsjerdyn and Krasnovisjersk in the Republic of Perm.

“Sixteen Corps with Twenty-Seventh Infantry and Forty-First and Seventy-Second Mechanized Divisions supported by the balance of Twenty-Eight Airmobile Division and Twenty-Seventh Air Division of the Second Tactical Air Force will attack into the Pinyug Gap and secure it. This objective is considered mission essential, as it will shorten our lines and improve our logistics situation considerably. General Karlsen, the success of the operation rests with you and your troops.” General Fagerholt said to Lieutenant General Mikkel Karlsen, General Commanding 16 Corps, who nodded with a smirk.

“You can count on us sir. We may be reservists, but we won’t let you down.”

”Of that, General, I have no doubt. Once the Pinyug Gap is secured, Sixteen Corps will hand over occupation duty to follow-on forces and reorganize with front to the south, advancing towards and capturing Kirov.

“Follow-on forces under Sixth Army in the form of Twelve Corps with Thirty-First and Sixty-Second Mechanized and Eighteenth Infantry Divisions in the northern sector; and Seventeen Corps with Forty-Second and Seventy-Fourth Mechanized and Thirty-Second Infantry Divisions in the southern sector, will be reinforced by six Royal Gendarmerie regiments each, for rear-area security in occupied territories, freeing the maneuver forces to press on. Sixth Army will be responsible for occupation duties and securing our lines of communication, allowing First Army to focus on defeating the enemy.

“We do not intend to use special weapons during this operation, and as our principal targets are legitimate military objectives, enemy civilian losses should be low. Our fight is with the government of the Confederacy, not its peoples! I cannot stress this point enough, ladies and gentlemen. We have the moral high ground in this conflict, and we will maintain it throughout this campaign. Violation of the Laws of War will be punished swiftly and to the fullest extent that law allows.”

That meant summary court-martials and subsequent executions of violators.

“While our forces will at all times observe the Laws of War and the inherent restraints in our maneuver doctrine, your mantra once we kick off JALLARHORN is simple: Attack, attack, attack! Make the enemy rue the day he decided to attack us!”

General Fagerholm paused and looked over the congregation. The seasoned general saw to his great pleasure that the surprise he had seen at the start of the briefing had been replaced by cold professionalism as the generals absorbed the overall plans and started the process of formulating their own plans.

“Alright, I think that’s enough for now. Secure conference rooms with the necessary background materials, maps and everything else you need are available here in the Keep for each Corps. Lunch will be served for you there. We will all reconvene here in six hours, at eighteen hundred hours, for backbrief. Be prepared to present a general outline of how you intend to solve your assigned missions. Corps Commanders, take charge. Dismissed!”

With that, the General left the room as the officers quickly gathered into the operational groupings they would operate in and found junior officers that escorted them to their respective conference rooms. The Cottish Army trained its officers (and NCOs) in the principle of Mission Tactic, which meant that while a mission with general guidance and constraints was issued, figuring out exactly how the mission would be accomplished was left to the creativity and imagination of the subordinates. As long as the subordinate understood the Commander’s Intent, there wasn’t much need for long-winded and detailed orders and detailed control of the unit, allowing for creativity and thus unpredictability – how one officer interpreted and executed a given set of orders wasn’t necessarily how another officer would do it. While it depended on having well trained and skilled subordinates, the benefits outweighed the disadvantages, and had carried Cotland to victory over its enemies in the past. Hopefully, the superior training of the Cottish would carry the day yet again. Another benefit of Mission Tactic was that by evening, the collective brainpower of the Cottish generals and staff officers had laid the framework for how they would carry the war that they hadn’t even known was happening when they rose from bed that very same morning.

While the Chancellor presented the Cottish government's narrative to the population, the staff officers made their plans. As the Cottish nation and the world reacted, the officers reconvened in the auditorium and presented the rough outline of how they interpented the given tasks and how they'd seek to achieve these.

After reviewing the respective plans presented by the Corps Commanders and offering the Commander’s guidance, tweaking some things here and there, Colonel General Fagerholt approved the general framework of the plans for further development, to be undertaken in the respective Corps HQs. More detailed battle plans were to be ready for formal approval by the National Command Authority within five days, Tuesday, 21 April, which was when the limited mobilization was expected to be announced. Within seven days of mobilization being ordered, almost eight hundred thousand Cottish servicemen, the majority of them reservists recalled to colours by the mobilization order, were expected to start assembling in the eastern provinces along with tens of thousands of pieces of military equipment.
Last edited by Cotland on Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Cotland » Sat Jun 06, 2020 6:20 am

Cotland, 17 April 2020

”Good morning, and welcome to TV2 News. The time is nine o’clock on Friday the 17th of April, and our top story is the breaking news that the Confederacy of the Urals are believed to be responsible for the attacks in eastern Cotland!”
- TV2 News Anchor Sture Helm, top of the hour news cycle 09:00, Friday 17 April 2020

* * * * * * * * * * *

”Anonymous Parliamentary sources state that the Parliamentary leadership was informed earlier this week that the Government has uncovered hitherto unannounced evidence that the terrorist attacks that have rocked eastern Cotland over the last month are perpetrated by the Confederacy of the Urals. This information is as of yet unconfirmed, but we do know that Chancellor Andreas Riis Dahle intends to host a press conference after the weekly Council-in-State later today.”
- Aftenposten news bulletin, published online at 09:26, Friday 17 April 2020

* * * * * * * * * * *

”The Foreign Ministry of the Confederacy of the Urals refuse to issue a comment, saying that the matter is between the Governments of Cotland and the Confederacy, not the press.”
- Helene Jengedal, Verdens Gang foreign correspondent in Perm, published online at 10:40, Friday 17 April 2020

* * * * * * * * * * *

Office of the Chancellor of the Realm of Cotland
Government Quarter
Oslo, Noreg len, Realm of Cotland
12:54, Friday, April 17 2020

Chancellor Andreas Riis Dahle stepped out into the absolutely packed press room in the main building of the Government Quarter in Oslo, looking determined as he took the podium, flanked by the Defence Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Justice Minister and the Interior Minister. Pausing to let the rain of photographers flashes subside, the Chancellor collected his thoughts for a second before starting, speaking in Cottish. The foreign reporters there were offered headsets which offered simultaneous translations to English.

“As you are all aware, the provinces of Vologda, Bjarmeland and Komi have been rocked by violence for the past three weeks. There has been a focused, determined series of attacks which have prematurely claimed the lives of over one thousand two hundred Cottish citizens and maimed hundreds more for life. Thousands of children have been made orphans by these cowardly attacks. Additionally, the attacks have caused damages in the scale of several billion Rikskroner, and the disruption of power and telecommunications have jeopardized the life and security of millions of Cottish citizens.

“Since the attacks started on the 27th of March, the full resources of the Realm have been committed to find, stop, and bring to justice the persons that are responsible for these cowardly attacks. Over the course of the past two weeks, His Majesty’s Government has been severely criticized for not bringing anyone to justice, and for not sharing enough information on the status of the investigations. This criticism is understandable, but unjustified.

"The first and foremost responsibility any Government has is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. This Government is very conscious of its responsibility, and has the safety and security of the Cottish people as its first priority in everything it does. For these reasons, it was deemed necessary to keep this information out of the public discourse as premature revelations could seriously jeopardize the national security of the Realm and its citizens. At this time, the situation has developed sufficiently not to risk the national security by revealing our discoveries, allowing this Government to follow its stated goal of transparency in its actions.

"With the full resources of the Realm behind them, Rikspolitiet and other law enforcement agencies have worked tirelessly around the clock, and I can today report that their efforts have paid off. This is what we have learned so far.

“On the night of the 12th of April, only a few hours after the terrorist attack in Kotlas, police forces uncovered and apprehended the responsible terrorist cell, albeit at the loss of five of its own police officers. In the course of the post-operation investigation, evidences were gathered that indicated that the terrorist attacks in the east were all interconnected. Over the next few days, the broadened investigation found more proof that support this suspicion.

“The investigation has uncovered unrefutable proof that the terrorists that attacked the temple in Makarjev, the cultural palace in Kotlas, and the powerlines and the phone towers, are all citizens of the Confederacy of the Urals. Since the 11th of April, Cottish security services have uncovered and taken into custody a total of six terrorist cells operating in the provinces of Vologda, Bjarmeland, and Komi. Almost thirty terrorists have been killed while resisting arrest by our security services over the course of the past week, and several more terrorists have been arrested and are being held in custody at undisclosed locations. We believe that there are still several more terrorist cells operating in eastern Cotland, and further operations to uncover and unroot these cells by our security services are expected in the coming days.

“All suspects captured or killed to date are citizens of the Confederacy of the Urals, have all had backgrounds from the Confederacy military, and are proved to be trained Special Forces operatives. They have all been in possession of advanced equipment and weaponry, and certain other items that unequivocally ties them to the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals. This has also been admitted by several of the arrested terrorists during interrogation.

“Seeking an explanation for these acts of hostility towards the Realm, His Majesty’s Government has for the past few days been in diplomatic communication with the Government of the Confederacy of the Urals. The Confederacy vehemently deny any culpability. At the same time, despite promising to support the Cottish investigation, the Confederacy has yet to answer even the most basic of questions posed by His Majesty’s Government. Instead, they have continued to mobilize the entirety of their military, which can be in a position to threaten eastern Cotland very quickly.

“The Confederacy’s actions and apparent refusal to honor its word in supporting our investigation are seen by His Majesty’s Government as a direct threat to the Cottish national security. As I stated earlier, the first and foremost responsibility any Government has is to protect its citizens.

"Therefore, my Government has recommended to His Majesty the King that a number of measures be implemented to ensure the safety of the Realm of Cotland and the citizens in the eastern provinces. His Majesty in Council has concurred with the recommendations and ordered them put into place, which I will now outline briefly.

“On the recommendation from the National Security Council, and with the concurrence of the Parliamentary National Security Committee, His Majesty the King ordered the implementation of Simple Alert on 13 April, four days ago. This is the first step of military mobilization, and enabled the Armed Forces to increase its readiness.

“In today’s Council-in-State, His Majesty authorized the activation of the Readiness Laws, to take effect in the provinces of Bjarmeland, Vologda and Komi as of today, Friday the 17th of April. The Royal Decree signed today devolves the War Powers given by the Readiness Laws from His Majesty the King to His Majesty’s Government. The Readiness Laws will initially remain in effect for a period of thirty days, until the 17th of May, unless renewed or revoked by Parliament. His Majesty’s Government intend to seek a broad mandate of support for the implementation of War Powers by Parliament come Monday.

“His Majesty’s Government has today also been authorized by His Majesty the King to make all necessary arrangements to safeguard the national security of the Realm and the security of the citizens of the Realm of Cotland.

"As there remains terrorists at large in eastern Cotland, His Majesty’s Government, with the support of the Parliamentary National Security Committee, has authorized the deployment of elements of His Majesty’s Armed Forces to support the security services. As the attacks are considered terrorism, which is a civilian offence, the military forces deployed will be under the operational control of the civilian law enforcement agencies.

“Separate from this military support to civilian society, His Majesty’s Government has directed the Royal General Staff to prepare to deploy substantial military forces to the eastern provinces, and to draw up the necessary plans to put force behind the most reasonable political demands His Majesty’s Government has made to the Confederacy of the Urals.

“To the Confederacy of the Urals, I have this to say: His Majesty’s Government reiterates the reasonable demands made in our diplomatic note of April 14. The people responsible for the attacks in Cotland must be identified and handed over to Cotland for prosecution. This is non-negotiable. His Majesty’s Government will not now nor ever permit aggression against Cotland to take place unchecked.”

"I fear that the troubles we have seen for the past three weeks are not yet at an end, and I therefore urge all citizens to loyally follow the instructions given by His Majesty’s Government and to continue to show their support and steadfast resolve in these troubling times.

“That concludes my statement. I will now take questions.”

The room exploded as a hundred journalists started shouting their questions.
Last edited by Cotland on Sat Jun 06, 2020 6:30 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby Cotland » Fri Jun 12, 2020 1:15 am

Courtroom 206, Kotlas Central Courthouse
Kotlas, Bjarmeland len, Realm of Cotland
10:00, 20 April 2020

The weekend that followed the press conference had been a non-stop flurry of accusations, allegations, and even a few hysterical voices claiming that it was the coming of ragnarok. While most voices were unanimous in their denouncing of the violence sown by the Confederacy, quite a bit of criticism was levied towards the Cottish Government for having kept quiet about this for so long. At the same time, there were more or less spontaneous demonstrations in the major cities in Cotland protesting the Confederate attacks and showing their support for the beleaguered people in eastern Cotland. The protest against the Confederate embassy in Oslo drew 50,000 people, despite being announced and permitted a mere five hours before it was planned to start. A large force of Police and Royal Gendarmerie ensured that the demonstrations went about in a peaceful manner, although there were some troublestarters that tried to start a ruckus, as usual. Using tried and true methods, and knowing who most of the troublestarters were from earlier demonstrations, the security forces were able to quickly and quietly remove them from the demonstrations before things got out of hand. The end result was that the Confederate embassy remained untouched by the demonstrations without infringing upon the people of Cotland’s constitutional right to protest.

Across the border, across Perm and Niezhnogorskaja, large protests erupted at what the local population saw as baseless Cottish claims, further enciting the mood. The Cottish embassy in Perm had to go into lockdown as the local police struggled to keep the demonstrators away, but the embassy staff and guard force managed to keep their cool and eventually the demonstrations subsided. The demonstrations were noticeably not denounced by the Confederate governments, as was expected.

Come Monday, attention shifted slightly as the medias converged on the hundred year old stone structure that housed the Kotlas District Court. The District Court was the lowest tier of courts in Cotland, with the Court of Appeals serving as the middle tier before the Supreme Court of the Realm topped off the top tier.Heavily armed security forces controlled access to the surrounding area, and everyone wishing entry had to submit to searches and metal detector scans before being admitted. The reason for this heavy security came just before 10 o’clock, as the bailiffs brought two handcuffed men in their late 20s into Courtroom 206, escorted by a squad of heavily armed police officers. The cameras livestreaming this to the news channels could see that the men were quite fit, despite the baggy clothes they had been given to wear, but looked quite worse for the wear. Both men looked tired, and one had a large bandage over his head.

As it became the top of the hour, the lead Bailiff rose and ordered the packed courtroom to fall to order as the panel of three judges entered the courtroom and took their seats at the bench. Prominently positioned above and behind the lead judge was the Great Crest of the Realm of Cotland, symbolizing that the court’s decisions were made with the authority of the laws and the might of the Realm.

After sitting down, the lead judge banged his gavel and ordered the court into session.

“Your Honour, may it please the court,” the Crown Prosecutor spoke as he rose and bowed, following the centuries old tradition. "For the Crown, Ubbe Holtorn of the Kotlas Crown Prosecutors Office.”

The appointed lawyer for the two defendants, who were sat on the opposite side of the prosecutors and carefully watched by police officers and bailiffs, rose and bowed to the judges.

“May it please the court. For the Defence, Inge Bergmann.”

“Thank you,” the lead judge said before he started reading the court papers. “This court is now in session to hear case number KT2020-09650, the Crown versus Anatoliy Havalov and Kirill Oslenkov. The charge is violation of the Criminal Offences Act 1996 articles 233, to wit six cases of attempted murder; article 238, to wit attempt of the same against Government officials; article 249, to wit terrorism against the people of the Realm; and article 430, to wit attacks upon the State at the behest of a foreign power. How do the defendants plea?”

The Defence barrister rose again.

“Your Honour, my clients both plead not guilty. They have further instructed me to note that they protest being brought before court, which they claim to be a violation. I have been instructed to inform the court that both my clients claim to belong to the military of a foreign power, and that they should therefore be considered prisoners of war, not as common criminals.”

“Thank you,” the judge said as he noted the plea. “The court will ensure that the protest is noted in the transcripts. I would also like to know why the defendants look like they’ve been in a streetfight. Have they been mistreated?”

The Crown Prosecutor vehemently denied the mistreatment charge, explaining to the court (and the cameras) that the injuries had been sustained during the men’s arrest at the hands of the Police SWAT team a few nights prior, and that the defendants had both been seen by a doctor after the arrest as per the rules. The Defence barrister confirmed these claims after a quick consultation with his clients.

Pleased with the answer, the judge nodded and continued the court session. “What punishment does the Crown intend to seek?”

The Crown Prosecutor rose. “Your Honour, the Crown intends to seek the death penalty for both defendants.”

“Thank you.”

After a brief review of the case and the evidences presented, the panel of judges rejected the protest made by the defendants and decided that the evidences were such to warrant further incarceration pending trial. The defendants were to be held on remand “at His Majesty’s pleasure” for at least eight more weeks, pending trial.

Monter Residence
Apartment 207
Artemisgatan 69, SV-11542 Stockholm, Svea len, Realm of Cotland
16:30, Monday, 20 April 2020

Twenty-seven year old Erik Monter had just stepped inside the entry of the apartment he shared with his girlfriend in Hjorthagen in northern Stockholm when his phone started ringing. Setting down the groceries on the floor, he saw that the phone number was from the Oslo region, which was a little puzzling. He didn’t know anyone in Oslo. Curious, he accepted the call.

“This is the Armed Forces. This is an automated message. Military Readiness has been increased. This is a mobilization order to all persons with codeword SATYR on their War Service Card. You are ordered to report to your mobilization location for extraordinary military service no later than One Two Zero Zero hours on Thursday the Twenty-Third of April Twenty Twenty. Failure to appear at the appointed time will be prosecuted. Acknowledge the message by stating YES at the end of the message.” An eerily human-like computer voice spoke in perfect textbook Cottish, before a beep indicated the end of the message.

“Fuck.” Erik muttered before stating clearly “Yes,” to the phone. The phone beeped once more in acknowledgement before hanging up automatically, leaving Erik standing looking dumbfounded on the phone.

The sounds had attracted the attention of his girlfriend Sylvia, who looked curiously at her man. He looked at her.

“You’re not going to believe this,” He said. “I’ve been mobilized.”

“What?!” She exclaimed as she came closer.

“Extraordinary military service. They’ve raised military readiness levels. I’ve got to report to barracks by Thursday.”

“But... but we’ve got plans this weekend.” She said, not having fully processed the meaning yet. Sylvia had, unlike Erik, done her mandatory national service in the Civil Service, working for two years in a retirement home before starting her nursing education.

“I know, but somehow, I doubt they care.” He said as he embraced Sylvia.

“Is it really that bad?” The twenty-five year old woman whispered as she returned the embrace, holding her man close.

“I don’t know. Maybe they’re calling up enough people to scare the other guys into backing off. It’ll be alright, you’ll see.” He said, as much to try to calm himself down as to calm Sylvia down.

“Yes, that’s probably it.”

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Postby Layarteb » Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:13 pm

• • • † • • •

Monday, April 20th, 2020 | 13:00 hrs [UTC-5]

Layarteb City, New York | Ministry of Intelligence
40° 47' 10" N, 73° 55' 58" W

George Rogers carefully maneuvered the sealed packet underneath his armpit so that he could hold it without dropping his coffee. Removing his ID from his belt, he scanned it through the lock on his office door and watched the light go from red to green, admitting him to the small corner of the Ministry of Intelligence that he could call his own. It had been his for the past twenty years, slightly more than half of his now 37-year-career with the Ministry of Intelligence. He joined out of the army, having done a 6-year stint in army intelligence, having avoided the battlefield and all of its dangers. Now just two year away from retirement, Rogers was looking forward to a quiet, uneventful, and peaceful final two years. It wasn't too much to ask from the man who'd been leading the Photographic Interpretation Section for as long as he'd been in this particular, four-walled office.

Inside, he flipped off the lights and walked over to his desk where he turned on a working lamp. Behind him sat a special light board with a swing arm holding a magnifying glass. It was a relic of the 1980s but Rogers somehow managed to still do things the way he'd been taught, the way he'd learned. He appreciated what digital imaging could do but he also preferred to look at photographs in hardcopy. Prints weren't prone to pixilation nor were they subject to distortion when zooming in or out and no matter how clean the software ran, Rogers could still pick out some details in the prints that - albeit sometimes irrelevant - were tough on a digital screen.

The packet he had underneath his armpit held the latest batch of satellite photography that OPS-10745 had taken the day before. OPS-10745 was a KH-12 IMPROVED CRYSTAL electro-optical reconnaissance satellite operating in low-Earth orbit. It was one of six satellites that were responsible for the lion's share of the satellite-provided, imagery-based reconnaissance that the Ministry of Intelligence conducted and just yesterday it had made several passes over the Confederacy of the Urals at an altitude of just 280 miles and a speed of 17,135 mph. Every ninety-two minutes, it came around again, providing a number of passes over the Confederacy of the Urals, photographing military installations and other "areas of interest" as directed by the tasking committee. Now copies of that photography were circulating through his section with all six of his photo analysts running through them. Everyone had a unique photograph assigned to them so that if anyone leaked (or worse) anything, the security personnel would know precisely who it was and be able to run them through the gauntlet.

In his years, Rogers had seen two men in his unit pulled into interrogation. One had leaked satellite photographs to the press in 1992 to get some extra money. Inadvertently, he'd revealed the capabilities of the satellites to the Empire's enemies. He found himself in jail for eight years for a litany of counts. The second was in 2000 when the 17-year career of mole Patrick Evans came to a conclusion with his capture. He was still in jail and expected to die there before he could finish serving his 209-year sentence. Evans had been a double agent, spying for the Kingdom of Italy since almost his first day with the Ministry of Intelligence he'd quite a bit to the Kingdom of Italy in exchange for millions in compensation.

Rogers hadn't been involved in either case but they were a stain on his section. Evans had been his predecessor and his capture elevated Rogers to his position as section chief. Provided he had no more leaks, he could cap off his career with a flawless record. This is what he wanted above all things and he and his staff routinely submitted to polygraph tests and were given trials and examinations, most of the time without their knowledge that they were being tested by the MoI's internal security people. They passed, they always passed but could they keep passing? The remained to be seen but so far, his reputation was intact and that was important.

Sitting down at his desk, he put the coffee to the right of the unit and turned the unit on, bathing the area in more bright light. Then he opened the packet seal and pulled out the photographs one-by-one. He had a box full of arrow stickers that he could use to highlight specific areas of the photograph and he kept a pen and a paper next to him so that he could write down what he saw. He would do this the rest of the afternoon, writing the photo's serial number down first, then stare at it for a few or more minutes, looking through the magnifying glass. He'd jot down notes, affix the stickers, and move on to the next.

When he got to photograph 200419-0332-0062 (the time being in UTC), he didn't realize it but he was looking at a stunning piece of intelligence. The photograph was of Perm International Airport at 57° 55' N, 56° 02' E, which was the military section of the airport. Perm International Airport was a dual-use airport with a civilian and a military section. The military section was to the east while the civilian section to the west. There were thirty parking areas for fighter aircraft and a tarmac that was 400 meters long with an additional fifteen parking spots. Normally, the tarmac area was empty but on this pass, OPS-10745 photographed eight aircraft parked on the tarmac in perfect formation along the parking spots. Not because he had a photographic memory of the last satellite pass over the airport but rather because it was procedure, he swung around on his chair and logged into his computer.

Going through the database, he pulled up the last photographs of the airport and noticed immediately that the aircraft had been moved around. The last pass had been made in July 2019 and it showed twelve aircraft parked along the revetment spots, none of them in operational use just by the way they were parked. Then he went back further to August 2018 to find twenty-one aircraft parked, also not in any usable state. He went back another year to August 2017 to find thirty aircraft. "So where are you going?" He asked of himself and then he went back to the photograph and started to look at other ones of the airport. He went about counting and before he was done he saw thirty aircraft again but this time they weren't parked in such a way that would indicate they weren't being used. On the contrary, all thirty appeared to be in usable shape. They were spread out tactically across the military section and they had fresh coats of paint on them and the associated ground equipment that would indicate they were expected to fly. "Well isn't that something," he said to himself as he wrote down on his notepad, "30 operational MiG-31, variant unknown, Perm International Airport." He went onto the next photograph, unaware of the value of the intelligence he'd just discovered by merely doing his work the way anyone should, by referencing previous photographs and noticing the small details, such as the placement of the airport, the ground equipment, and even the even paint on all of the aircraft.

• • • • ‡ • • • •

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 | 06:00 hrs [UTC-5]

Riverhead, New York | Calverton Air Base
40° 55' 12" N, 72° 47' 47" W

The sun began to rise over Eastern Long Island, casting its first rays on the tarmac at Calverton Air Base. Situated 65 miles east of Layarteb City, the sizeable air base was home to the 57th Tactical Fighter Wing, the premier fighter squadron of the Imperial Layartebian Air Force. Consisting of three fighter squadrons of twenty-four F-25A Wraiths a piece, the 57th TFW had a long and distinguished history dating back to the 1940s. They flew the P-51 Mustang back then, which they retired in favor of the F-86 Sabre in the early 1950s. The Sabre was retired in favor of the F-100 Super Sabre, which was - in turn, retired in favor of the F-4 Phantom II. The 57th TFW kept the F-4s around until the mid-1970s, when they transitioned into the F-15 Eagle. When the F-25A Wraith came into service, the 57th TFW was the first wing to receive this new fighter and it made sense, they flew escort for the Emperor's plane and they were tasked with defending the Empire's capital city.

The 57th TFW tended to be the first Layartebian air units deployed in advance of a conflict and most recently they had flown in support of the Kingdom of Apilonia against the People's Republic of Canada. Pilots of the 57th TFW downed a considerable amount of aircraft during the conflict, including the wing's commanding officer, Colonel Adam Fordham. Fordham shot down three fighters, two of them the mystical ZuB-12 Stervyatnik, becoming a member of a very exclusive and elite club of fighter pilots. The three aircraft he'd shot down were numbers five to seven, meaning that Colonel Fordham was officially awarded ace status. He was the only ace still flying in the ILAF and that earned him a certain level of prestige amongst his aviators.

This morning, he was going to be leading two squadrons of aircraft into the skies on a ferry flight that would take them up and over Greenland and the Arctic Circle into Central Eurasia, specifically the Cottish province of Komi. The forty-eight aircraft of the 5701st and the 5702nd Tactical Fighter Squadrons, forming the 571st Tactical Fighter Group, would be flying into Ukhta in support of the Realm of Cotland against the Confederacy of the Urals. While more aircraft would be following at future dates, the 57th TFW was going to be the first, a prestigious honor. They'd need some time to get familiar with the area of operations and they would fly a few orientation flights with the Cottish Air Force but only just to orientate them with the current situation. The Cottish and the Layartebians, brothers through the October Alliance, conducted exercises regularly just for these scenarios specifically.

The trip to Komi would take a little over eight hours from takeoff and the weather report promise an otherwise smooth and uneventful flight. The F-25s would take off and climb to an altitude of 45,000 feet, above civilian air traffic, and cruise at an economical speed. Even with carrying external drop tanks, they'd need to hit tankers twice on the way over and when they landed, the pilots would be more than happy to get out of their cramped cockpits and stretch. The long flight and the time zone difference meant that they would be touching down at near midnight, though their internal clocks would be eight hours behind. They'd have to adjust to the jetlag quickly if they were going to be a battle-ready unit, which they needed to be. There would be no telling what the Urals' intelligence report of their arrival would do to the situation.

Taking off in formation, four at a time, the forty-eight fighters of the 57th TFW rolled down runway 14 and into the dawn skies over Riverhead. The roaring of their engines would certainly wake up anyone who wasn't already awake, especially as they turned into the traffic pattern exiting the air base's airspace. They came off the afterburner quickly and began a gradual climb but they were still low as they passed over Manorville and the Brookhaven National Nuclear Laboratory in Upton. Brookhaven was one of two locations within the Empire where nuclear weapons were manufactured and, for obvious reasons, a target of protection for the 57th TFW. As they turned north, they came over Shoreham, passing just to the west of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Station. The power station had gone online in 1986 with a single reactor and then, thirty years later, a second reactor had been finished, providing significantly more power to the grid. This power plant provided power to both Brookhaven and Calverton though the former had their own internal reactor for full autonomy and research purposes. Brookhaven's sister facility was in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, which was also protected by a nearby air base.

Climbing over the Long Island Sound, the aircraft met up in several formations. From here it was simply a matter of flying through their waypoints. They would hit the first tankers over the Labrador Sea and the second over the Norwegian Sea, almost in the Barents Sea. From there it would be down into Komi and onto the ground near Ukhta at a forward operating base that the Cottish were bringing online to support the 57th TFW. If combat operations commenced, they were only 180 miles from the border with the Confederacy of the Urals and only 400 miles from the capital of Perm. With inflight refueling, they could easily press into the capital and conduct air-to-air missions.

• • • † • • •

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Father Knows Best State

Postby Cotland » Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:49 am

Oslo, Noreg len, Realm of Cotland
07:08, Tuesday, 21 April 2020

It was just after the morning rush traffic started to start that the traffic lights in downtown Oslo started going haywire, switching between the red, gold and green denominations at random. Needless to say, traffic rapidly started queuing and spreading as the lines of waiting cars became longer and longer. That some road-raging motorists tried to take matter into their own hands and ignore the traffic lights ended up with the inevitable traffic accidents, throwing the morning rush traffic into further chaos as the emergency services and tow trucks were having difficulties in getting to the accident scenes. The traffic chaos very rapidly spread to the highways that led into Oslo, leading to lines that stretched back many kilometers. Within twenty minutes, Oslo was essentially in gridlock.

The Oslo Road Administration reported that they had somehow lost control over the servers that controlled the automatic traffic lights, and were unable to regain control. It took a hard shutdown of all the servers to stop the traffic lights, and rebooting the servers in safe mode for the technicians to understand that they had been hacked.

It took the better part of three hours and a lot of Police officers doing manual traffic direction to clear up the gridlock and get traffic flowing again. Purging the virus the hackers had implanted in the servers would take significantly longer. Until then, the Police would have to manually direct the busiest intersections, complicating the already busy rush hour traffic in Oslo further.

Attribution of the hacker attack proved difficult, with the hackers having been skilled in hiding their tracks. Over the coming week, more hacker attacks would be attempted against Cottish “soft targets” such as traffic lights, power distribution, communications hubs, banking services, and other such targets, with varying success.

Vuktyl-4 Air Station
Codename “GRIZZLY”
21:16, Tuesday 21 April 2020

Vuktyl Air Station Dispersal Field no 4, codenamed “GRIZZLY”, was what the Cottish called a “bare base” installation. Conceived, designed and constructed in the 1970s and maintained ever since, the “base base” concept that the Cottish operated had been born after the experiences of the Third Smolenski War in 1964, where the Smolenski forces had surprised the Royal Cottish Air Force and wiped out its frontline bases in the initial strike on Day One of the war. Hellbent on not being tied to one fixed installation again, the Cottish concept that had been conceived involved establishing between three and seven dispersal fields within 150 kilometers of the main air base, permitting dispersal of the forces so as not to get caught with all the eggs in one basket. The dispersal fields that were constructed were, as the name indicated, bare bases. Save for the most basic installations – a runway, a taxiway, refueling equipment and munition bunkers, and some rudimentary installations hidden beneath the ground – the rest had to be constructed if and when the base was required for operational service. Apart from a small caretaker crew that checked in every once in a while, the bases were unmanned until activated, being staffed initially by groups from the parent base until reservists could be mobilized and deployed. Apart from the most basic maintenance, all heavy-duty maintenance was the responsibility of the main maintenance group at the parent air base. All in all, each bare base was designed to handle up to sixty front-line combat aircraft and a staff of 1100 persons.

As the Royal Cottish Air Force started deploying en masse to the east, the announced Layartebian force contribution was assigned GRIZZLY and a number of other dispersal fields across Komi and Bjarmeland as their forward operation bases. As the Layartebian fighters started landing at the bare base as dusk set in, they could see the field base already taking form. Air defence posts brizzling with short-range SAMs and active air search and fire control radar sets were protecting the air base from surprise air attack.

After taxiing off the runway, the fighters were guided by a “follow me” jeep to the concrete revetments the Cottish had established forty years ago and hastily fortified with Hesco barriers earlier that day in anticipation of the arrival of operational aircraft. Eventually, the Hesco barriers would be reinforced by more dirt mounds and form proper revetments, but for now the Hesco barriers did their job.

After shutting down, the Cottish ground crews immediately got to work refueling the jets even before the Layartebian maintenance crews could disembark their transport aircraft, preparing the jets for immediate action as was SOP for the Royal Cottish Air Force. The Layartebian pilots could see that the majority of the ground crews were very young men and women, conscripted Cottish youths serving their eighteen-month National Service, but monitored and guided by older, more experienced enlisted and NCOs. While they looked tired, the ground crews did their jobs professionally and without delay – the advantage of drill, drill and more drill, enabling them to do their jobs even when dead tired.

While the ground crews did their jobs and armed sentries were posted at each plane to prevent unauthorized access, a Royal Cottish Air Force officer met each pilot at their respective revetments and gave a quick in-brief right then and there before escorting them into a waiting truck – an older-model Geländerwagen – which brought the pilots from the aircraft down to the mess hall where hot food and toilet facilities awaited. After a meal, the pilots would be shown their accommodations for the night before tomorrow’s in-brief, operations theatre indoctrination, and familiarization-flights, all of which were necessary before being cleared for live operations in the area of operations. The accommodations were field cots in heated tents, which while primitive did the job and emphasized to pilots more accustomed to living in five-star hotels that they weren’t out on exercises now.

Søderholm Barracks
Stockholm, Svea len, Realm of Cotland
11:25, Thursday 23 April 2020

As he got off the bus at the bus stop outside the venerable 200-year old stone barracks in southwestern Stockholm, Erik Monter could see that the gates were manned by camo-clad, armed soldiers wearing field caps instead of the usual formal service uniform that gate sentries usually wore. Shifting the weight of the bag containing his old uniforms and other field kit that he had been issued and told to keep for reservist duty when he was discharged from his National Service with the Karjala Armoured Regiment five years ago, Erik saw that he wasn’t the only one that had been mobilized and told to report to the barracks, as a steady stream of youngish men and women aged between twenty-five and thirty-five converged on the barracks gate.

After having his War Service Card and ID carefully checked by a Corporal of the Guard in the gate, Erik was admitted to the barracks and instructed to report to the Administration Building. It wasn’t far to walk to the large administration building overlooking the parade grounds, and within five minutes, Erik found himself standing in a long line. After almost twenty minutes of gradually shuffling himself and his bag up the line, he found himself standing in front of a Lieutenant sitting at a desk with a laptop computer.

“Scan your War Service Card here,” the Lieutenant said, motioning to the QR-code scanner that was connected to the laptop. While Erik scanned the small QR code on the back of the War Service Card, the Lieutenant checked the info that popped up on his screen and quizzed Erik on his name, national ID number and current address, and checked the ID card Erik offered when prompted. Satisfied that Erik was indeed who he claimed to be and that he was on the mobilization rolls, the Lieutenant typed something on his computer before grabbing a form and scribbled furiously for a moment.

“Report to Foxtrot Company, building one fifty-seven,” The Lieutenant said, handing the War Service Card, ID card and the form to Erik, who accepted the documents and grabbed his bag before getting out of the Admin building. Next challenge: find building 157.

After a bit of looking around and asking for directions, Erik found himself in front of Building 157, a five-floor stone building. When he entered, he found a lot of familiar faces from the last reservist exercise last year. After some quick catching up, Erik learned that they had been assigned with most of his old group to the same company, but that the officers and NCOs were mostly new faces, and that he had better check in with the company at the double. Finding the company office, Erik came to attention as he had been taught all those years ago and reported for duty. Accepting his documents, the thirty year old Captain in front of the desk quickly scanned the documents before giving Erik the once-over.

“Private Monter, welcome to Foxtrot Company. I’m Captain Herjer, company XO. I see that you were trained as a machine gunner during your National Service, so I’m assigning you to Third Platoon as a machine gunner. Report to Lieutenant Axelson, you’ll find him on the third floor with the rest of your platoon. There’ll be a company formation at 1800 outside, more information will be given then. Dismissed.”

Without further ceremony, Erik came to attention as was custom before vacating the office and climbing the wide stairs up to the third floor, where the first thing he found was a grizzled old Staff Sergeant.

“Who are you, and where are you going son?” The forty-five year old Sergeant demanded in that ‘you had best have a good reason or else’ tone that only NCOs and parents could master.

“Staff Sergeant, Private Monter. I’ve been assigned as a machine gunner to Third Platoon. Captain Herjer told me to report to a Lieutenant Axelson.”

The NCO eased up a bit and motioned Erik to come closer.

“The El-Tee is in an O-group with the Major right now. I’m Staff Sergeant Olsen, your new Platoon Sergeant.” In other words, the second in command of the platoon. “A machine gunner, eh? We’re short a gunner in number eight section. You know your way around a MAG?”

“Yes sergeant.”

“Good, it’s settled then. Your new section leader is Sergeant Jonssøn, with Corporal Ingerhelm as 2IC. Number eight section is in room 307, so go find yourself a bunk there. I’ll let Jonssøn he’s got a new MGer.”

“Yes sergeant.”

“Oh, and one more thing. I’m assuming you have some cammies in that there bag?”

“Yes sergeant.” Erik answered warily.

“Good. Then I don’t want to see you in civvies again today. Carry on.”

Not one to miss a hint, Erik snapped to attention before making sure he disappeared from the NCOs field of vision. An hour into mobilization, and the military routines were already starting to reestablish themselves in Erik’s mindset.

A few hours after finding his room, getting settled in, and changing into the camouflage uniform, Third Platoon was mustered in the common room in the third floor and found to be at 100% strength. The Platoon Leader, a relatively fresh First Lieutenant from northern Svea named Axelson, introduced himself and gave off a good impression on the troops, as did Staff Sergeant Olsen. After a quick introduction of the section leaders and 2ICs, the men of Third Platoon, Foxtrot Company were told to return to their rooms and get settled in, and ready for the first company formation no later than 17:40.

By 17:50, the small square outside the building had been filled with rows of camouflage-dressed men in neat rows. Almost two hundred men and women in four platoons – three rifle platoons and one combat support platoon – plus a company staff made up Foxtrot Company.

By 17:59, the relative tranquil of the spring evening was broken by the sudden shouts of military commands and subsequent bangs of boots hitting the pavement ground almost as one. After a short series of commands, a tall man stepped out in front of the assembled men and saluted.

After bringing the men to stand easy, the man stood easy himself and started speaking. His deep baritone voice carried easily across the square, so every man and woman assembled could hear his every word.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Foxtrot Company. I am Major Iver Holterman, and I am your Company Commander. I wish it could be under better circumstances that we would meet, but our nation has put out the call to arms, and you have answered. The Realm is under attack in the east. Foreign powers are involved. And we have been summoned by our nation to protect our people and our country. This is not – I repeat, not – an exercise. More information will come in the days ahead, but suffice it to say that we are here for a good reason.

“Foxtrot Company is assigned as one of three mechanized infantry companies in Mechanized Infantry Battalion Two of Infantry Regiment 84, which is assigned to the Second Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the 22nd Infantry Division.

“Now, on to more practical issues. For the next few days, the Company will undergo an intensive period of refresher training here in Svea before we are slated for operational deployment eastward. I am not at liberty to disclose exactly where we’re going, for reasons of operational security. I expect every person in the Company to accept this challenge that the nation has presented us with without reservation and to give their all in everything that we are to face in the coming days and weeks. Leave your civilian habits behind – you’re back in the military now.

“Starting tomorrow morning, Foxtrot Company will begin training to go to war. Reveille is at 0600, breakfast at 0630, and the first refresher training lessons commences at 0730 after morning inspections, with drawing of weapons and equipment from the depot. If you have uniform effects that need to be exchanged or are lacking, it will be arranged there. More detailed program to be posted in the platoon common rooms shortly.

“Good luck to you all. I look forward to working with you all.

“Platoon Leaders, take charge!”

With that, the Company Commander left the parade ground and left the Platoon Leaders to handle the rest. The troops were sent back to relax and get acquainted for the rest of the evening, before the preparations for war started in earnest the next morning.



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