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Forest State
Posts: 4359
Founded: Aug 23, 2016
Capitalist Paradise


Postby Forest State » Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:46 pm


Theme | Global Map WIP (Updated 8/21) | Northwest Sea Theater Map (WIP) | Oserian Theater Map (WIP)


This is Nycala - an alternate world familiar to our own in some respects but different, drastically so even, in many others. It's a world where humans live alongside demons and fae, and where mixing magic and science is entirely possible... It's also a world wracked with violence, and as of 2025, the world is recovering from the Continental War 30 years ago which pitted superpowers against each other in a conflict that left the entire world recovering by the end. The nation that can perhaps claim the title of top dog, the Union of Andegard, is recovering from a civil war 15 years ago, between the Continental War and now... A civil war which ultimately resulted in the political game changing in the Union forever. To the east, a battle for the throne is set to ensue in the powerful Tsardom of Vanderoia, one of the key players in the Continental War that is now facing struggle on the inside and abroad. Elsewhere, rising powers aim to use the global power shuffle to establish themselves, and old powers struggle to restore their former dominance. It's this backdrop that the story of Peace And War II takes place.

Why is it called Peace and War II?

Peace and War was a previous thread which followed a different universe but had a similar concept including the idea of an MT/PMT setting where some more fantastical powers were integrated. Additionally, some of the nations in Peace and War could be considered rougher proto-versions of nations in Nycala.

What is the tech level?

The tech level is MT in most situations but some of the time, PMT aspects are incorporated such as weapons and technologies that are still in development, and heavier and more futuristic body armor and other such things. The FanT label is from the supernatural races and magic present in the setting despite the somewhat realistic approach to combat.

What is the story?

Season one largely follows the politicking and events in the buildup to another large conflict, with civil conflict in the Union of Andegard as well as action in smaller nations in the Northwest Andregard continent taking center stage. With that being said, the story isn't strictly military and more down to earth segments can be expected to show what life is like for more normal people in this world.

What are the differences between Nycala and Earth?

Other than the different culture groups and the presence of magic and nonhumans? A primary difference would be the way culture and society have developed over the years. Nycala take some things from the modern world but also the past, with many cultural practices from places such as ancient Rome and medieval Europe and Asia surviving in some way.

Empires still exist, absolute monarchies are major players in international geopolitics, the status of colonialism depends on region rather than having been eliminated entirely, and international law has not been formed in a meaningful way. At the same time, however, technology continues to push into the future as topics such as AI and space colonization become relevant, and many modern political ideals are still present in a lot of areas and are points of debate at times. in a way, Nycala is a blend of the old and the new of Earth.

Last edited by Forest State on Fri Aug 21, 2020 4:13 pm, edited 4 times in total.
i'm the bad guy... duh.

for: the anime right
anti: people who step on snek

User avatar
Forest State
Posts: 4359
Founded: Aug 23, 2016
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Forest State » Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:47 pm


Collaborative post by Forest State and Durmatagno

October 25th, 2025
Newport, Newport Capital Region, Union of Andegard

Peace… It was hard to find around here. It had existed for a fleeting period, but that was soon to pass, recent events making it look more and more likely that the world was about to descend into violence once again. Thirty two years after the Continental War had torn apart both east and west, the current generation hadn’t learnt their lessons from the past. Then again, with the war having happened thirty two years ago, there were plenty of people in positions of power that had been more directly influenced by it and believed there was unfinished business of some kind. Surprisingly enough, these opinions were seen on both the winning and the losing side; if there even were winners and losers in such a conflict, that is. There hadn’t been a decisive victor as either side had aimed to be.

However, right now, at the villa that the gens Law called home, the woman that was called Damia Septima Law was at peace - a change of pace considering her regular life.

The entire gens Law was known for its political stature and for making big moves within the political landscape of the country, but she had managed to attain a position that warranted even the respect of them: Imperator. Her position was a high one in the government but it wasn’t that of Consul, nor was it similar to the role that Senators and Magisters played in the political landscape. Her role was the person that was… Involved in the trenches, so to speak. The role that was responsible for maintaining the military and overseeing the stability of the nation, handling diplomacy when a more hard nosed attitude was needed, and other things such as that. While the Consul was dining with foreign leaders, Damia would often be on the ground ensuring the readiness of the military for any threat that might come, or handling the reaction to some emergency that had just arisen.

There was a reason she was in this position in her thirties - it took a certain amount of youth to be able to carry it out effectively. After all, one couldn’t expect to do a good job with this from behind a desk. No, it required traveling around and speaking to people… Constantly.

But even someone like her wasn’t on the job 24/7. And this time, her break from the action of it all brought her to this place, where she had grown up.

“I have the feeling this calm isn’t going to last long,” she admitted, standing in front of the dining table where both of her parents were sitting, taking time out of their own careers. Every family needed to spend some time together… Even theirs, one where just about everyone was involved in some kind of work that could be considered important in some way. There was a certain pressure that came with being from their gens. Pressure to be something. Damia had fulfilled the expectation - she knew of others in the family that hadn’t had as lucky of a path as she had, and she had always been determined to not end up like them.

“The Consul election looks like it’s going to turn into a civil war at this rate… It’s looking like the situation fifteen years ago. Same kind of issues, you know. The establishment versus change, and all that. Talk about replacing the system with something more… Popular. Nothing good came out of it last time, but I feel they haven’t learned their lessons,” Damia continued with a sigh, looking down. Of course, there had been another major conflict in between the Continental War and now - the Andegardian Civil War, which split the most powerful country in the world, the Union of Andegard, on establishment versus anti-establishment lines.

The Consul election had been disputed, and the popular candidate who had promised to overturn the system in the name of the people had ended up in control of the capital, Newport. That hadn’t lasted long, however, as civil war broke out and the nation was thrown into a conflict in just about every city. It had only ended when the establishment side, led by Dominus Gallius, the victor of both the conflict and the Consul election. As the name indicated, of course, Gallius was from the more… Traditional sections of the Union. That side had went on to keep control of the nation, but the ideas of their opposing side hadn’t been wiped out entirely.

And that was where the fuel for a future conflict came from. A future conflict that Damia and the latest generation would have to deal with.

“The followers of Galen Reilly… The populists… There’s already been several clashes between them and the authorities. Riot police have been deployed, the military has been put on alert when their rallies come through. Nothing has gotten too out of hand so far, except for the one protest in Skarvik against the corporate system of things - at least, that’s what they claim the protest was about. I don’t know the validity of their complaints. Just that my job for now is to make sure they voice them through the system and not through actions in the streets. But during this one protest, things turned into a riot and didn’t calm until the Civil Guard was dispatched to break it up. There were millions of dollars of damages… And who knows how many more in lost revenue for businesses in the area,” Damia continued, sighing and resting her hands against the table in front of her, her eyes staring into her own reflection.

Silence hung over the room for a few moments. “But I don’t think the other side, the establishment, is going to take kindly to this if it keeps going. If more things like the Skarvik riot happen. I predict them pushing back, which…” she let her voice trail off. “If it spills into the election, things could turn out like they did all those years ago.”

Their family, of course, was firmly on the side of the establishment - it was the only option when they were one of the traditional names that only served to be uprooted by a new popular movement.

“It does seem that way,” her father, Kestrel Law, who had witnessed the war personally, stated. “It’s concerning, to say the least. For this family, and for the nation. But, I trust your work ethic enough to do all that you can to keep the situation under control.”

“And if I can’t?” questioned Damia, standing a bit straighter, raising an eyebrow. It wasn’t the kind of answer she was looking for. Not very specific, just an assumption that she would be able to handle whatever life ended up throwing at her with this crisis.

“That’s a bridge to cross if it happens,” her mother, Maria Law, stated. “Worrying about it now only distracts from the task at hand.”

“Maybe it’s advice for the task at hand I’m looking for by talking about it,” Damia said, pacing a couple of steps. “I’m thirty four. I was selected to run with the Consul for this position because of my vigor, not because of my experience. I remember the last war, yes… But my experiences with it are altered by youth. I couldn’t tell you what caused it all, based just on what I know from those memories.”

“Many who were grown when the conflict happened didn’t know what started it exactly, either. It all seemed to go to hell so quickly,” Maria pointed out.

“True,” Damia admitted, stopping in her tracks, looking back to the table. “I suppose this is something worth speaking to the Governors about? It might benefit us all to avoid another Skarvik. But… I know at least a couple of the Governors may be Reillyists, whether they want to admit it to the public or not. Whether authentically or not, some regions would benefit from instability and change in the system.”

“If you feel the situation warrants it, speak to them. But as you said, not everyone that you speak to will have the best interests of the Union at mind. Don’t think you need to speak to everybody about this right now… And don’t put too much faith in anyone that hasn’t earned it themselves,” her father instructed. “After all… The last thing the Reillyists need is fuel for a persecution complex - for the idea that the central government is conspiring to shut them down.”

“I don’t wish to shut them down,” Damia shook her head, letting out a slight sigh. “But I promised to fight for these institutions, and I’m doing my job. If they want to seize power outside of them…” she drew the gladius from her hip, extending it forward to show the blade, which glistened in the light of the crystal chandelier hanging overhead. “They’re going to have to defeat my authority first.”

The battle at home, however, wasn’t the only one that the Union had on its hands to deal with. Further east, beyond the borders of the territory of Ostgren, in another country entirely, there were more Union forces than most would expect… Because while the civil war here wasn’t the first thing on the mind of most union citizens, that didn’t mean it lacked relevance to the country. No, it was incredibly relevant, because the battles fought here would have an impact on future ones back home.

The aim of the Union’s involvement in the Valriki Civil War was simple - clean out the den of terrorism on its border that directly resulted in action back in the Union at the hands of groups who hid out here… Some of them even participating in the conflict directly as their own sides. Though, they ween’t the target today. No, the target in this case was the army of the Valrik Liberation Government, the second of the rebel factions which now held territory in the troubled Northwest Andegardian nation. Where the Social Nationalist Party had risen up in their attempt at saving the country from its economic downturn and poor leadership, the Liberation Government had arisen as a more liberal alternative to the extreme party which now reigned in the east.

But they were still fine with allowing terrorists - Andegardian ethnic nationalists to be specific - to take refuge in their fledgling country… If it could even be called a country, and not simply a bandit state carved out of the legitimate government of Valrik. And because of that, their movement needed to die - even if it took Union forces supporting the Valrik National Accord, the coalition that made up the legitimate elected government of the nation.

“Welcome to Valrik… The place where you feel like you’re never gettin’ out,” said the face that was speaking into the shakily held camera, out near the frontlines, a small group of soldiers gathered next to an empty Valriki Army main battle tank. Outdated, and probably Vanderoi made, but it was good enough for the current job. It wasn’t as if the opposition had a technological advantage.

“We’re back here… Again… And we stand on the verge of either the biggest breakthrough or the biggest shitshow yet. The Valrikis are about to throw themselves at each other once again and massacre each other by the thousands, and during this, we have a bit of a more important task. If we’re lucky, our victory won’t be robbed from us by Valriki incompetence,” the speaker continued, holding up a rifle for the camera - a Andegardian battle rifle, the AR-105. The standard one that was used by the special units in the Union military.

The speaker started to walk away, but stopped and looked back to the camera. “We’d record the action for all of you back home… But Group HQ said we can’t do that, anymore. Something something, OPSEC. Feel differently, send a strongly worded letter to Regia from Group HQ. You dig?”

The camera seemingly stopped rolling, and the woman speaking reached down to get her chest armor off the ground, pulling it on over her head and starting to fix the straps properly to make it fit. It didn’t cover everything, as it was no heavy armor or power armor or anything along those lines, but it was still much bulkier than a normal tactical vest or anything similar. It was a dark shade of grey, the metal somewhat scratched up from use over time - she’d been in battles here already, aside from training back home in live exercises.

Of course, the armor wasn’t used by every unit. No, they were a special one - Elite Forces Command, 207th Special Tactics Group, Alpha Squadron. There were only a small amount of them, but that was only ever what was needed. They didn’t need to be a large unit when their ‘Squadron’ was part of a group that specialized in… Its psychic connections. Most of the squadron was capable of something out of the ordinary. All of them, at least, were competent at what they did.

In the case of the one that was now pulling on her helmet and adjusting it, looking between the others through the slot that gave her a decent field of view, it was plain telekinesis. Others were stronger or weaker, but it was good enough at doing what she needed it to do. Especially when she was working with the others.

Her name was Sergeant Major Oriane Beaulieu, and she was the leader of this unit. “Move your asses into gear,” she told the others, finishing with her own equipment for the most part and throwing her rifle over her shoulder, sliding her gladius shortsword into its sheath on her hip. “Once these Valriki tanks get crewed and moving, that’s going to be our sign we need to be gone from here and headed towards LibGov territory.”

Specialist Ava Grey was finishing checking her gear as the Sergeant Major gave her orders. Her equipment generally mimicked the rest of the squad, with one major exception. Instead of the AR-105 everyone else used, she held the MR-4 Marksman Rifle, a .300 caliber rifle with which she was extremely skilled. To her left, checking the last of the extra equipment she was carrying, was Specialist Gwen Knox, the group's medic, and a damn fine one at that, possibly one of the best, on the medic side anyway. The pair of them were the only non Psychic members of the unit, but they were skilled in their own right. They’d been part of the unit for long enough that no one coil doubt their ability, but it was their newest member that the two watched.

Sergeant Ivy Millea, fairly experienced, but had never stuck in one unit for very long, though she had no marks on her record. She was already done checking her gear, and ready to go. She bore a sabre on one hip, and held her rifle with comfortable ease. Her own psychic abilities were chlorokinesis, and many scoffed at the ‘weakness’, right up until they saw it in action. It wasn’t that it was particularly strong, it was that many underestimated it compared to the normal mainstays.

The one holding the camera and putting it away right now was Gunnar Krause, Corporal and the one that tended to manage the electronic warfare duties of the group… When those capabilities were needed, anyway. That wasn’t all of the time, but it was useful to have the capability. Krause tended to be a shady type of person, a reputation not helped by his west coast origin, but had a useful enough ability… The ability to apply a psychic cloak, becoming much harder for the other side to detect. “Just about ready, boss.”

While the second in command of the unit was more of a serious type than Gunnar - Drue Ateius came from a military background from the start instead of some of the others who had only been around that kind of thing later on. Ateius intended to carry the legacy on, his dedication to that goal and his own fear of disappointment at the hands of that family had led him to the rank of Staff Sergeant, which was the second highest at the moment in the unit. Additionally, Drue had one of the more dangerous powers… Ferrokinesis, the control of metal.

“As a reminder…” started Drue, already prepared and standing waiting for the others. “The primary objective is an artillery camp two kilometers outside of the city of Soren. This will be located in the suburbs of the city and we may run into resistance from the Valriki Liberation Army or their associated militia forces. When we do reach the site, we’ll be calling in the Valriki Air Force - the government one - and dropping smoke signals to identify the site for them so they can bomb it to hell. Considering how their weapons are decidedly unguided, it would also be a good idea to get out of the premises after deploying the smoke signals for the aircraft. Understood?”


Ivy said calmly while Gwen and Ava both signaled their own understanding, all three also indicating they were good to go at any time. Ivy fixed her eyes ahead, patiently waiting for her chance to bring death to another in her way. Ava didn’t know if she’d get any good, clear shots, but if they showed themselves, she’d take them. Traditionally Gwen tried to keep herself near the rough center of the group, that way she could get to anyone hurt as quickly as possible.

By now, the crew were returning to their vehicles that were parked in the grass here near the border with the Liberation Government’s territory, and close to the city of Soren - the city wasn’t the largest, but some of the skyline was still visible on the horizon regardless, and the area around them was marked with the scars of the fighting already. Craters where artillery had struck, places where the grass was worn away by the treads of armored vehicles, and more things such as this. Soon enough, it would be a warzone again… The tank engines starting up in their usual rumbling way was one sign of that.

The Vanderoian designed T-136 tank, used by all sides of the Valriki conflict and many other nations as well.
“We’ll ride with the armor for the first part of the trip and we’ll head out on foot before there’s combat. Hope that there’s, you know, no artillery attacks while we’re on our way,” Beaulieu said, starting to climb up onto the back of the armored vehicle as it was starting up, waving for the others to follow after her.

Ava was quick to find a good place to sit, and used her scope to get a better view of the horizon before the view was gone. Mostly to pass the time while everyone else was getting situated, as anything risking attacking armor would be unlikely to care about her rifle. Gwen found a decent spot, and settled in for the trip while Ivy was still situated herself. She disliked this waiting, but it was needed, and she’d probably dislike hiking the distance on foot more. She kept hre rifle ready, just in case, but signaled she was strapped in and ready to go.

Soon enough, the tank was getting moving… And the rest of the formation with it, headed en route for Soren - Oriane looked up at the sky, taking note of the weather right now as they got on their course. It was the middle of the day, but it was hardly bright out, storm clouds hanging over the potential battlefield and playing with the senses of both sides. The formations moving towards the front were larger than what could be seen immediately, the operation involving thousands of soldiers on both sides after all, but they could see even here that the scale was fairly large - there were APCs and trucks moving some distance behind them, and jets streaked overhead as they arrived from the airbase at Rundstad… Not one that was particularly close, but it was the closest to the battle that would happen soon.

“A true battle…” remarked Gunnar, looking around at the scenery and the mobilizing units as they picked up a good pace. They were going slower than a car, but about as fast as a tank would normally go when moving off-road.

“Are you scared of this?” questioned Drue, sitting near the front, facing forwards with rifle in hand.

“Myself? No. Scared because of a bunch of Valrikis? Don’t make me laugh,” Gunnar replied with a slight roll of the eyes. “They’ll have to try hard just not to destroy themselves during this battle.”

“Which side? Because both sides are Valriki,” Oriane pointed out from a spot a little further back near the center.

“The Liberation Government. The VNA might be Valriki but at least they aren’t in constant danger of exploding into twenty groups who all hate each other for like… One policy difference,” shrugged Gunnar. “I’m more scared of their advisers.”

“Who haven’t been confirmed to exist,” Drue pointed out.

“Yeah, well… If they do, bringing back one of their heads should be enough to prove it.”

“If we get the chance.”

Ivy said quietly, relatively speaking as she still had to be heard over the armor they were riding. She scratched her nose as she spoke, but didn’t really seem inclined to offer much more at the moment. After all, she barely knew the unit. Ava and Gwen glanced at each other, it was the first time they’d heard Ivy talk when not required, she seemed to mostly keep to herself.

Of course, the advisers were supposedly from the Kingdom of Karonia, which neighbored the Union territory of Ostgren. The Karonians weren’t quite Andegardians ethnically, they were, well… Karonians. Their own thing. But they were close enough to their native Andegardian brothers to feel closer to Valrik than they did the Union, and they knew of the Union’s policies of integrating Andegardian lands. For them to support a Valriki side that wasn’t the one the Union supported wasn’t a surprise development. Assuming it was true.

“We know that Karonian planes take off from military bases and land in Valrik. In Soren, in Starstrop, in other areas held by the Liberation Government. Military planes. And they say that they’re just carrying humanitarian supplies. Do any of you really believe that?” questioned the unit leader, Beaulieau. “Because it sounds to me like those soldiers there unloading supplies are overstaying their welcome. If there even are supplies in the first place and this all just isn’t an elaborate ruse.”

“We’ve gotta catch them to prove anything, until then it's ‘just rumors and speculation’. Even if the soldiers aren’t overstaying, I’d be surprised if the supplies weren’t military, make us throw more resources at Valrik for whatever inane reason.”

Ivy offered. Her tone indicated she believed they were overstaying their welcome, and were probably shipping in military supplies of some kind or another. Her last unit had speculated that they could even ship tanks or some such in piece by piece, but she wasn’t sure about that, it felt faster and more efficient to just keep normal soldiers armed rather than ship heavy equipment piecemeal.

“A mission for the future, possibly…” said Oriane. It wasn’t out of the question, for sure. Their unique skills made them an ideal unit for going behind enemy lines and finding out things that needed to be cleared up. And this issue was definitely something that had to be looked into more in the future, lest they suffer against an opponent that was inexplicably better armed and trained than it should be.

“Speak of the devil,” said Gunnar, as the communications channel went live again with instructions from the group headquarters coming in. They could, of course, hear this within their helmets without needing to pick up a radio or another device. It was a benefit of being from a unit like this compared to a normal one.


-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [LT COL. REGIA THOMSON] - “Good day, Alpha Squadron. I was updated that you’re currently on your way into the hellhole that we call Soren, to take out an artillery camp. Let me warn you now that combat has just begun and the battle is expected to take longer than expected - the enemy is more prepared than we thought. Depending on your status at the end of your first assignment, you may be given further targets to hit behind enemy lines. I’m sure that you can handle this… Unplanned overtime, however. You are supposed to be the best at what you do.”

-] - [EFOR] - [207TH STG] - [SGT MAJ. ORIANE BEAULIEU] - “Understood… We’ll give a status report after we’re done with the first target. Rest assured, we aren’t running away from this one. Even if we don’t get paid enough to do this.”

-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [LT COL. REGIA THOMSON] - “As expected. I’ll check in with you again later. Hail the Republic!”

“Sounds like shit’s already hitting the fan,” said Oriane as she finished speaking with their superior, the group leader. “Enemy more dug in than they were expecting. Multiple targets for us to hit…” she continued. “Hope for our sake that it’s easy ones.”

“This is why I always bring a pack of cards with me, shit always takes longer than expected. Yeah...easy for us at least.”

As the tanks continued rolling on, they could see the changes in how the battle was actually developing. It was more active, more dangerous… They could see fighter aircraft heading overhead after getting their assignments, en route to strike targets such as the one the group was meant to mark. Sometimes, off in the distance, they could see an explosion along the skyline. This clash wouldn’t be friendly to a city that had already been the host to a couple in the past.

They could be glad, of course, to be further removed from it than the actual combatants that had to deal with the fighting with their own lives at stake.

But soon enough, they would also be combatants.

“End of the line for our ride, I think,” Oriane said, climbing off the top of the tank now that it had stopped and they were getting to the city outskirts. “They’re going to continue further into the city but the target we need is in the suburbs. Let’s get it moving.”

Drue and Gunnar were quick to follow after, keeping their weapons ready in case they ran into enemies right here. Given the unpredictable nature of this urban fight, that wouldn’t exactly be a surprise.

Ivy was right behind them, Gwen wasted no time making sure she was in the middle of the pack, while Ava made sure she had the space she needed from the front to get a chance to actually aim if anything happened. She had sharp eyes, and kept them peeled for any danger as they moved, though she hoped fighting before the artillery would be sparse to non-existent, she knew that rarely happened. Still, if they were lucky they’d be able to take the artillery out without much fuss, and move onto the next target, whatever that was.

The suburbs were calmer than the city… At least from what they could see on the hill they were on as they looked over it, the tanks continuing on their way after the brief stop to get their bearings from this overlooking view of the place. The skyline in the distance, with smoke coming off it at the moment from various points, had the average stuff - the banks, office spaces, television towers, and the other things that were expected. Meanwhile, though, the urban sprawl of houses radiating outwards from that average downtown was… A considerably larger and harder to tame place.

“Ain’t going to get anywhere if we don’t get going,” Drue said, the first one to start off down the hill while the others would take up their positions and follow.

It wasn’t exactly a fun walk, considering their armor wasn’t exactly light and there wasn’t actual action yet, only tension and wonders about whether or not it would boil over into actual action. And tension about what they would run into when they did see combat.

“Row after row of white picket fences… You’d think it wasn’t a warzone,” Gunnar pointed out. “Looks like any neighborhood back home.”

“For now,” corrected Oriane. “The battle just hasn’t hit this part yet… It’s not going to be real nice when that happens.”

She was probably correct. This was, after all, the largest engagement in Soren to date, as the Valrik National Accord aimed to capture the city by the end of the offensive, throwing many soldiers into the meat grinder in their efforts to do so. In this case, it was also foreign forces that were seeing action here, though they were already experienced in the country. They hadn’t yet been sent in for an offensive like this one, though.

“I can hear the sound of engines, front,” Drue picked up, stopping and holding a hand up. “Doesn’t sound like a military vehicle but it could very well be paramilitary.”


Ivy asked quietly. Some commanders she’d had would push on, others would investigate and engage if needed, and others still would wait and see. She wasn’t sure about this one, wasn’t tuned to the unit’s habits quite yet. She was a fast learner though, and didn’t intend to be dead weight, and hesitate. She just needed to know how Oriane wanted to handle this.

“We’ll move into the fence line over there and see if whatever this is passes… It may be nothing. May be paramilitary forces. There’s not many civilians on the street,” said Oriane, gesturing to the left side of the road and starting there herself, climbing the fence and lowering herself down behind the white pickets for some degree of stealth. It wasn’t perfect, but it made her a bit harder to see from the road.

Ava and Gwen both followed, and got behind the fence without comment. Ivy briefly considered forcing some hedges to grow for better line of sight interruption, but she thought it was too risky. She moved as she considered this, but her reasoning boiled down to anyone that saw it growing would know something weird was going on, where with this they’d have to be seen for it to matter.

Before long, there were a pair of vehicles roaring down the road - pickup trucks, white with markings on the side. In this case, the markings were the four pointed star of the Liberation Government movement, in a dark shade of red similar to that of the one on the faction’s flag. The trucks had passengers in the back, and they also each had a machine gun and gunner in the back, and they didn’t notice the hiding group, as they were instead heading for a destination closer to the frontline. They were out of view quickly enough.

Oriane only moved once the sound indicated they weren’t going to turn back around for anything, and she climbed back over the fence and gestured forwards. “That seems to have been from the Army of the Mountain Brothers, one of the paramilitary groups under the banner of the VLG. One of the more rural ones, hence, you know… The name. If we’re running into more forces like that and not official military, I suppose it’s good. The regulars get actual training.”

“Yeah, but they’re also more predictable. Militia like that will do bizarre, unpredictable things that normal tactics says is ‘fucking stupid’.”

Gwen said as she adjusted her pack once over the fence. Ave kept her eyes in the direction the trucks had gone, ready to move out, but not quite willing to believe they were alone yet. Ivy checked the small pouch at her side where she kept some seeds. Couldn’t grow them fast, but most of them came from poisonous or vine plants that could still make a quick difference. She also kept a few apple seeds from meals, just because they were convenient to keep at hand.

“The actual military also has tanks,” pointed out Drue, before pausing as the group continued their walk towards the artillery camp. “Though, I don’t think some random locations in the suburbs are where they’re sending the armor.”

“That’s for downtown. Pray to the gods that we don’t end up in that,” Oriane replied. “That’s, well… Where the smoke trails are coming from. And where the planes are going to.”

“Knowing our luck? Probably,” Oriane remarked. For now, though, they had the trek in front of them.

Some time had passed. And much walking had been done. But they were closing on the location they were looking for, and they were close enough to get an idea of the defenses. The artillery camp was, in fact, in the middle of a public park… From their position at the end of one of the residential streets that connected to it, they would be able to get an idea of just how guarded the place was. There were a couple APCs sitting around, but they didn’t seem manned at the moment. The rest of the threat came from infantry, but the infantry watching the site weren’t expecting an attack. And why would they? They were behind enemy lines with no sign of an impending attack.

“The important thing is putting up the smoke signal,” Oriane said in a low tone, leaning against a fence as she looked further down the street and into the park, where a decent amount of infantry were lazily watching the perimeter. “From there… We have to defend it, I imagine. It’s rather important to getting the strike on target. When we know that the pilots have acquired the target, we bail. They’re going to release a lot of bombs at once.”

“I can post up in a tall tree, pick off people trying to get into the APCs once things kick off. They’ll likely be busy enough with you guys they won’t notice me, but there’s plenty of trees around here to hide behind if they come looking.”

Ava offered, gesturing at the terrain surrounding the park. She could probably post up on a house here on the street too, but that’d be more limited than a tree nearer to the clearing for the park. Gwen had to stick with the group, she was the medic, she needed to be on hand if something happened. Ivy herself bit her lip, and looked at the trees. Nothing helpful there, and she doubted the park itself would have kept around anything most people knew was poisonous. She could however create tripping hazards once they got in place.

“I can turn the APCs over… Probably. But the rest of you would have to deal with the other stuff since I can’t really multitask with this,” Oriane remarked, pausing.

“I could deploy the smoke without being seen. Probably. Which would give us the head start. But we’re going to have to knock some heads either way, y’know,” Gunnar said, stepping forward next to Oriane.

Oriane paused for a moment before issuing her final orders - they didn’t have time to hang around and plan forever. “Ava, Gunnar, move out near the perimeter. You two can deploy the smoke and look for targets from above… I can make sure that the APCs along the road aren’t a factor in the fight, but the rest of you are going to have to set up around my general area and make sure the infantry are suppressed until the Air Force radios in saying that they’ve acquired the target. Then, we retreat into the treelines and regroup in the distance. Understood?”

“Got it.”

Ivy said with a quick nod, while Ava made one last check to see if her rifle was chambered. Gwen nodded, and clicked the safety off on her rifle. Ava moved next to Gunnar to follow her orders, while Gwen and Ivy readied themselves for Oriane’s signale. They’d need to hold out against an unknown number of infantry, the flipped APCs might serve as nice cover, if they could get behind them without getting caught. They probably could, they were some of the best after all.

The first one that had to take an action, however, was Gunnar - the stealth expert quickly became less visible, cloaking with his psychic ability and starting towards the area that was under guard, walking past the pair of APCs and towards the infantry… Which was the area that required real caution. The outcome, however, was about as expected. They didn’t notice anything… It was hard to notice anything except for maybe brief ripples in the air, a sign that something unnatural was there.

But most wouldn’t look closer to realize that it was more than a simple illusion of the eye - that there was something more there.

With their infiltrator behind enemy lines, they were just about ready to strike. However, there were still at least five infantry watching the perimeter. There were perhaps more elsewhere, but those were the ones that could be counted the easiest.

Oriane was set on thinning their numbers. “Send the smoke signal up when the combat begins…” she said through the radio. “Everyone else… Your weapons are free now.”

While Oriane and the others were getting ready to open fire, Ava moved right into the trees, keeping a few trees in from the edge to give herself cover, and shadows to hide in. She moved as quickly as she could while remaining silent, she was looking for a good angle to provide support from. Gwen and Ivy meanwhile leveled their rifles. As soon as Oriane gave weapons free, Ivy opened fire with a three shot burst at the first target she could see. Before Ivy’s gun finished firing it’s burst, Gwen started her own three round burst, targeting the soldier furthest back, the one most likely to try and run. Two of Ivy’s rounds hit, tearing into an arm and leg of her target, where Gwen cut the legs out from underneath hers, and she was pretty sure that his left foot was no longer recognizable as a foot.

Saying nothing more than she already had before, Oriane was moving to use her telekinetic ability against the first APC, reaching out with both hands as she focused on it and reached out with her psychic sense - a connection to other realms, that in her case could be leveraged to move even things like this just by focusing on them… The APC flipped on its side like she had intended, leaving her to focus on the second one, which was still dangerous. They both had guns mounted to the top, after all.

Now, since the action was underway, Gunnar reached into a bag and deployed the smoke flare which would send up a trail of blue smoke that could be seen clearly from the sky, and would signal to the fighter aircraft just where this site was. It was only a matter of time now before the air strike could wipe the site out entirely…

For now, though, there was still opposition. At least three infantryman remaining, some more around the general area who were working with the artillery guns that were scattered across the site. Easy targets form the air once the fighters actually honed in on the obvious blue smoke rising into the air.

“Where’s that coming from?” one of them asked at the sight of the smoke, looking to an ally.

“Doesn’t matter where it’s from, get to cover…” that soldier replied, running away from the perimeter and towards the guns in the middle of the park, which at least provided some cover. The other two rose their Vanderoian rifles and fired on the visible members of the group, or at least, the ones that had actually shot at them first - it seemed the two focused in on Ivy and both fired, but neither of the enemy gunmen actually hit the mark, one missing very obviously and the other shooting relatively on target but not accounting enough for movement from the other side.


-] - [EFOR] - [207TH STG] - [CPL. GUNNAR KRAUSE] - “X-Ray leader, this is Alpha-4… The smoke signal has been deployed and the target has been confirmed. Awaiting inbound.”

-] - [VAF] - [30TH FIGHTER AVIATION REGIMENT] - [F-61 COMET II] - [CPT. FREDERIK JACOBSEN] - “Alpha-4, this is X-Ray leader… The flight is inbound towards your location and will arrive in approximately three minutes.”

A couple more minutes and they would be out of here. But, in terms of a firefight, that still seemed like a long time in its own right…

From her position in the shadows, Ava lined up her shot on the perimeter guard that had run for cover, and smiled as he dropped, gurgling from some wound. Ivy raised focused on one target, and let a burst of shots fly. Gwen somewhere off to her side was doing the same. Ivy’s shots flew true, dropping him where he stood, while Gwen’s went...she didn’t know where. She didn’t hear them hit anything, must have gone wide and deep into the park. She hoped. Gwen was moving to one side, and Ivy the other, drawing fire away from each other and keeping from being close enough for grenades to catch them both.

There was still at least one more infantry soldier that had evaded being taken out, however, which provided a chance for Drue, who was positioned a bit further back on the road from the others, near Oriane, but fired off from range anyway with a five round burst. This would hit - in fact, all of the bullets hit despite the range being a bit further out from the other shots. Then again, Drue always had been one of the ones that was the most trained on the rifle.

“Perimeter guards seem clear…” announced Oriane as she finished with flipping the second of the APCs, eliminating most of its threat. The gun was still active, but if anyone managed to get inside, they wouldn’t be able to move the vehicle to find targets.

The artillery camp itself, without the guard force there, seemed to be giving itself up in surrender - there were a number more soldiers, but they weren’t wearing the same uniforms as the infantry, nor did they look like they were armed… They probably did have weapons, but they had been attacked by surprise before they could get them. One didn’t normally need a rifle to man the artillery guns, after all, and the infantry had been there for site protection. They’d probably assumed they had no reason to fight, as most of them were wearing camouflaged cargo pants and tee shirts with the four pointed star emblazoned on them.

“We have… Twelve plus surrenders,” Oriane remarked, stepping away from the two APCs she had flipped over with her telekinesis. “The place is going to get blown to hell when the Comets come in, should we leave ‘em be and let them get outta that or not?”

“We really wanna babysit them until we meet up with other forces? Especially as we’re probably going to have other stops to make?”

Ivy asked, keeping her multi-colored eyes trained on the surrenders she could see. She didn’t care too much either way, but it was a while until they’d meet up with anyone friendly. If they encountered a hostile on the way back, that’d give these twelve a chance to cause some shit, and Ivy wasn’t sure she liked that idea, though she’d accept Oriane’s decision either way.

“Don’t have to babysit shit,” Oriane pointed out. “We’re getting the hell out of here either way, just a matter of whether or not we shoot these guys first.”

“Point uh...might as well just shoot them, they’ll be drawn back to the fighting one way or another. Might as well spare the lines a few more corpses.”

“Any other objections?” asked Oriane - but of course, she didn’t get anything. So, checking in with the time to see how long it was before they had to get on the move, she started towards the group with her rifle at the ready before she fired across the group that was forming, expending about fifteen shots from her previously full magazine to do so, firing in quick succession before there were no more standing soldiers and rather just the pile of bodies that was left. After she was sure that she was done with her task, she began to walk towards the pile, most likely for the sake of, well… Seeing what was there of note. Plans, valuables, things such as that.

“Unfortunately, they don’t give artillery the best intel…” she said, looking at a piece of paper that she had fished out of that pile before tossing it aside in disappointment when she saw that it didn’t have much info they didn’t already have. “I don’t see evidence of foreign interference here, either. But… Ain’t the kind of thing they would know too much about in the first place, I think. Karonia’s more infantry based than artillery based.”

The F-61 Comet II, a Union produced fighter originally sold to the Valriki government - and now used by multiple sides.
“Should probably get moving, don’t want to be close when the shells start kicking off.”

Gwen said, eyeing the sky nervously. Her job was to keep the unit healthy, that meant not near explosions as much as it meant stitching up wounds. She looked at the pile of bodies and shook her head. Damn fools would have been better off just running.

“No need to act scared,” said Oriane, turning and facing the other direction as she walked away from her work, having no particular feelings herself about the massacre. She was from a rough placed, raised in a rough background, and pretty much any expression about that kind of thing ended up fitting her. This was just another act that reflected on all of that, for better or worse. “But yes, the flight will be inbound in… Sometime soon.”

So, she joined the others in starting the walk away - it was less of a walk and more running considering the circumstances and how they didn’t want to get caught on the wrong end of this.

As they moved, Ava caught up to them from the trees, but the rest of the group had a head start. Ivy for her part had been ready to move pretty quickly, while Gwen had done a quick scan to make sure no one had gotten grazed. Once they had a moment to breath she’d have to check them, but luckily so far there wasn’t even a scrape.

The flight of planes roared overhead as they managed to get outside of the kill zone, keeping a safe distance as the fighters came in for the unguided bombing pass… And they did their job as intended, a number of bombs falling off the planes as they made their pass before pulling up and popping flares due to the potential event of a surprised ground attack. The ground rumbled, there was a loud series of explosions, and the camp was likely no more after the pilots confirmed its destruction on the radio.

Now, it was just a matter of finding out what they had to do next.


-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [LT COL. REGIA THOMSON] - “I take it that you’ve completed your job as requested and eliminated the artillery camp.”

-] - [EFOR] - [207TH STG] - [SGT MAJ. ORIANE BEAULIEU] - “That’s exactly what happened… We’re still in he suburbs, if you need us.”

-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [LT COL. REGIA THOMSON] - “I do, in fact. But you’ll have to sit tight for a moment. The front is ever changing and so will your instructions… I’ll contact you when high command has something final.”

As they were finally safe, Oriane stopped - they had been traveling down a suburban road, but now it was safe to take a breather. “Looks like we have a little bit of a break before getting deployed again on another mission. And we’re supposed to stay where we are. Not quite sure if it’s a blessing or a curse.”

“So we wanna just get behind a fence, or see about going into a possibly empty house. Might have something nice we can eat while we wait, or take with us.”

Ivy said, looking at all the houses around them. She doubted there’d be many with people, anyone sane would be fleeing the battle and come back later to see what was left.

“I don’t think we’re going to end up waiting around long enough to bother having a picnic or anything, but I’m not stopping anyone,” Oriane said, as Drue caught up with them.

“Based on the snippets of what we can hear from the radio, it sounds like the next thing is going to be closer to downtown where the battle is headed. Helping out behind the enemy lines or something like that,” Drue stated. “At least if the task’s all the way out there it means something is moving and we’re not getting stuck in the suburbs forever…”

“I was more meaning we just grab whatever looks good, but the time is probably better served doing something else.”

Ivy shrugged after listening to Drue.

“Doesn’t matter too much, just don’t like standing around much. If we’re probably headed to downtown we could start that way now, doubt there’s anything particularly close for us to do.”

“Or find an SUV to smash the window of and take for ourselves. Far quicker than hiking the distance and leaves us in better fighting shape without having to take a rest before going into combat,” Drue pointed out. “If the rest of you want to get to it, let’s get to it… The gods favor those that help themselves.”

“True, might take a bit to find something that can fit us all, but at least we won’t have to slog around.”
Last edited by Forest State on Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Lunas Legion
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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Lunas Legion » Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:49 pm


Collaborative post by Forest State and Lunas Legion

October 20th, 2025
Byelgorod, Tsardom of Vanderoia

It was a stormy night… And Leigh Hyland wondered if he was even going to get to his destination. It wasn’t that the destination was exceptionally far or anything like that - no, it was outside of the city of Byelgorod, the capital of the Tsardom of Vanderoia. Otherwise known as the White City. And the place that Leigh was headed, it wasn’t all that far from there. Granted, one did have to take several alternate routes to get there compared to most destinations that were outside of the city. It was, after all, a castle that had a sprawling fortress laid out around it… Not located off any of the main public roads, it was located on noble land.

Everyone in Vanderoia knew that dealing with the noble world was an entirely different practice than dealing with the public one. However, the difficulty in getting to the location wasn’t because of the labyrinthine system of noble politics and unofficial checks and balances, but because of the weather. The weather tended to not be so great in this nation… The fact that it was winter right now didn’t help things.

The fact that they were in the middle of a blizzard was just the cherry on top.

“Also tonight, nobility from across the country is set to assemble in Byelgorod to decide the candidates for the next Tsar election… Members of each of the great houses of the country will gather and through internal talks, decide on their nomination…” read off the local newscaster on the radio, summing up the event that the lone car was speeding towards, aiming to not be late. Though, even if they were late for the opening, they wouldn’t miss the important parts. This was a days long event, not one that was handled quickly.

After all, the decision was important.

“How did we even end up getting invited to this?” questioned the woman in the passenger seat, next to Leigh, who had been silent for the past few minutes as they continued through the blizzard, the visibility basically zero.

It was rather strange that they had been invited, after all. They were foreign contractors from the Union. They had done a bit of work for some of the nobles here, enforcing their will on the ordinary people of the country, but they hadn’t done anything important enough to warrant getting invited to something like this. More accurately, Leigh hadn’t done anything so important. The woman next to him, Brenna Wesley, hadn’t done anything to get invited herself, specifically… The invitation had been extended to Leigh, and he’d received the chance to bring someone else of his choosing.

Perhaps it was to score points with a decent looking coworker, or perhaps it was because of not knowing that many people in this country - but Leigh had chosen to bring Brenna. And now, they were both on the way there.

“I knew someone from when I first came and started working here… Guess that was a year ago. Probably should know more people by now, but eh,” said Leigh, looking ahead rather than to the side, trying to avoid slipping up navigating these country roads in no visibility. “I knew the right person for this regardless, apparently.”

“Didn’t know you had the connections to get into a place like this, though,” replied Brenna. And to her credit, it was indeed a rather exclusive event. There weren’t too many random commoners that would also be in attendance.

“I didn’t know I had the connections either. But I suppose the conversations I had with this noble back then were enough to leave an impression. Or something.”

“A noble, you say? From… One of the great houses?”

“House Bezrukov. Now that I think about it… She might be one of the ones in the running to get a nomination. I did some work for her family, back then. Helped in suppressing a peasant’s uprising, and handled some security around their grounds. I can’t say I have complaints. They always paid a little more than the others.”

“My Leigh managed to get invited to something by a noblewoman, eh… Maybe I’m just here to be the third wheel.”

Leigh raised an eyebrow at the rmark, continuing to drive and navigate the road at a quick but careful pace. “I don’t think it’s like that. I wouldn’t complain about it… Probably… But we never talked that much in the long run. I’m probably just one of a number of people that ended up getting invited by nobles-”

“Selling yourself short?”

“Don’t think so… Just think that’s the truth of it-”

In the next moment or so, the situation would change drastically - it happened in a flash, but then again, it was hard to plan ahead without being able to see ahead. Leigh slammed on the brakes… The headlights were illuminating a pair of figures standing on the road, in the middle of the blizzard, in a spot where they would have definitely been hit if it wasn’t for the quick reflexes from the part of Leigh.

But there was no reason for a regular person to be out here in the middle of a blizzard, standing in the middle of the road and facing down the car directly. They weren’t looking in any other direction… They were looking at the car specifically, presumably staring through the windshield and deciding if they were going to let it pass or not. After a brief moment of this, they started talking quickly to each other.

“Is this…” started Brenna, her voice starting to trail off. “Part of the plan?”

“Not that I know of…” Leigh said, before opening the door and moving to get out of the vehicle. “I’ll see what they want, I suppose.”

“Both of you can come here,” the leading figure of the duo said.

The pair of them were dressed strangely for the weather. Not wearing coats or the usual attire someone would expect from a winter environment like this. They had robes - the type that mystics tended to wear, adorned with patterns in red that contrasted against the dark grey of most of the fabric. Whatever they were, normal people just wouldn’t be in this spot and normal people just wouldn’t dress this way.

They were something different altogether, and they were calling both Leigh and Brenna to approach them.

“Here goes nothing, I guess,” said Brenna, stepping out of the vehicle, raising her hand slightly into the air to show she didn’t have a weapon as she made the walk up next to Leigh, wondering just what this was all about.

“This is the right one alright…” the second of the robed figures said in a lower tone, that was barely audible to the two contractors, speaking mainly to the leader of the pair. Still, Leigh was able to hear it clearly enough.

He didn’t get to make a judgement before the lead figure spoke again. “You know, I have a question for you…” the leader said. The male - the other figure seemed vaguely female, but Leigh couldn’t be sure because of the hoods which cast a shadow over the faces. “Answer properly, and you might just get out of this one…”

The phrasing put Leigh on edge - he didn’t have a gun with him at the moment, that had been left in the car, but he did have one trick up his sleeve. One trick that mercenaries didn’t usually have. Magic, or a psychic connection, or whatever one wanted to call it. Reaching out psychically, Leigh did a quick scan for what natural spirits were in the area. Considering the weather right now, as well as where they were, most of it was related to snow and ice… Not the most ideal, but not useless either.

Still, the fight hadn’t broken out just yet. And Leigh kept the knowledge in the back of his mind as, instead of starting a fight right away, he gave a calm reply. “That depends on the question… What’s going on?”

The hooded man chuckled.

“We already know that you and Princess Ioanna are selling out this country to the Andegardians… But the question is how, and for what cost. You’ve been caught up with. You’re cornered. But give the details of her treason, and you might just get to head back home to your Union instead of meeting your end here. You’re just a contractor. Not a big player. And yet… You come here to involve yourself in her campaign for the throne,” the man in the hood said, pacing slowly in the snow before stopping and looking directly at Leigh. “Who’s pulling the strings? What are the big plans?”

But the questions… Were confusing.

Because Leigh Hyland had never met Ioanna Sizova, who was believed to be one of the contenders for the vacant throne. She stood to receive a nomination from House Sizova to become Tsarina, but… While Leigh had done one or two jobs for the house in the past, never once had he interacted with the high ranking Princess Ioanna. Or even met her.

Fact of the matter was, she was pretty much a stranger - and that was the only truth that Leigh knew.

Still, the words of the hooded man were filled with absolute conviction… No, he wasn’t trying to set up Leigh with a false premise. To the hooded man, that was… Well, that was apparently just the truth. Even if his truth didn’t line up with Leigh’s truth.

“I think there’s some kind of misunderstanding,” Leigh said honestly, still on edge because of the earlier threat and the conviction of the man. The man believed Leigh had done something wrong, and was willing to punish him for it - even if the truth of the matter was that nothing of the sort was true. “I’ve never even met Princess Ioanna. The closest I’ve ever been to her is visiting the same palace. And well… The palaces are big places. I haven’t so much as run into her-”

“You have a chance to get out of trouble and you use it to lie instead?” the man questioned, his voice rising.

“It’s not a lie as far as I know… I’m here under the invitation of Galina Bezrukova. I’m sure if you could get in contact with her she could clear up the fact that I’m not involved in any conspiracies for the throne or anything like that… I’ve actually fought against rebels in this country before, you know-”

“I’m well aware that you were invited to the district by Lady Bezrukova. However…”

The man stepped back into more of a combat stance, flicking his wrists to cause a pair of claws to appear from his sleeves, covering his hands and giving any punches that came from him a much sharper edge to them than just knuckles. “That doesn’t mean you’ll get away with your attempt to play Lady Bezrukova like a fool while undermining her run at the throne…”

“Huh? How am I undermining anything-” Leigh started… But by the time he spoke, it was too late. The time for speaking had passed. The time for action was here.

“Albina, attack!” the hooded man said, and the woman standing next to him sprung into action - she extended her own pair of claws mounted on her wrists, and accelerated forwards with a magically assisted jump, a quick boom sounding and blowing back snow as she distorted the air around herself with the sudden acceleration. She was flying straight towards the most confused one in this conversation… The one who had nothing to do with this.

She was flying towards Brenna, a non magic user whose reactions weren’t on par with any of the other three in the encounter. In other words, she was just about defenseless.

“Brenna! Get down-”

Blood filled the air. Went up in the air as a spray and came down and turned the snow red… But the most notable thing was that there was a lot of it and it seemed to fly up in the air in slow motion at first before dropping to the ground at a regular speed after the moment had processed… Adrenaline could change the way time wa scene, and that was the case here, as Leigh focused on the blood and nothing else for a brief moment - perhaps a split second.

That amount of time was quick enough to lose track of where the woman, Albina, was. The split second was also enough time for the claws to practically tear the defenseless non magic user in half, a definite instant kill even from first glances. There was no walking away from this one… And really, there had only been about a second of warning before the kill.

One moment, Brenna had been there. The next moment… Gone. And just about separated into two halves by the killing blow with the claws-


The thought rang through Leigh’s mind - if he didn’t force it away from the subject of losing a friend, he was going to end up joining her. Because for however strong the one on the left side was, the enemy that he was facing now was the leader… The shot caller. The more experienced one. The enemy that was facing off with Leigh was more dangerous and that enemy was…

On the move.

Can’t even see this guy right now… Gotta do something…

Knowing the next few seconds were a matter of life and death, Leigh raised an ice wall in front of himself… Which seemed to do the trick. The man had charged only a split second after the woman had, but the sudden wall of ice forced him to adjust his course and jump above it instead of going through it - it was too thick and heavy for that… Leigh could get an idea of who the opposition was, now. Two mages, although that had been obvious. What hadn’t been obvious the entire time was their style. Quick and aggressive… The only type of magic they had used was physical enhancement magic. That could be countered, but they seemed skilled enough in it that it wouldn’t be easy.

Leigh spun around. If the man was attacking from above, there was a good chance the woman was attacking from…

Ah… Got you.

He fired off a spray of ice shards, each one created out of thin air using the power of the spirits of this area, amd each one of them penetrating the thin chest armor that was seemingly underneath the robes of the woman, who stumbled back as she tried to reach for her chest and pull the long shards out - wouldn’t matter, really. He had already done his damage and that would distract her long enough.

But the man had jumped again, and was reaching the top of his arc and getting ready to come down on top of Leigh. Most would have failed to notice it… But Leigh had always been perceptive. Especially in a fight.

Leigh deftly stepped to the side. The man came down immediately next to him, and took a swipe with the claws, but thanks to predicting his moves earlier, it wasn’t too hard to lean back… And now, he had his opponent off balance. Grunting with exertion in the process, Leigh lunged forward and materialized another ice shard out of the air, this one in his hand, sharpened as much as he could manage it in the quick time span which he had to summon it.

He stabbed it right into the neck of the hooded man, quickly pooling up blood. “D-Damn it… Your plans… Will be uncovered,” the man said - for the time that he could speak, anyway.

Leigh drove the shard of ice deeper, until he didn’t hear anything from his opponent, and then gave the man a kick backwards to send him onto the ground to spend his dying breaths. There was no time for a more ceremonious execution - the enemy who had killed Brenna was still at large. Leigh spun around to face the hooded woman… Albina, her name had apparently been. She was just about done catching her breath from the previous attack when Leigh faced her, and she uttered a brief curse.

If she’d hung in there a moment longer, she would have suffered another attack. But she knew when to hold, and when to fold… She smashed a crystal that was imbued with magic, causing her to quickly disappear - presumably, it was a teleportation trick, designed to send her to some location out of the immediate danger area.

“Damn it…” Leigh said, just about immediately.

It was true that he had been the victor in the quick and decisive battle. But at the cost of a friend, who hadn’t seen the attack coming and who hadn’t been a part of this… Hell, he himself wasn’t even a part of whatever this fight was over.

For all Leigh knew, this was just one big misunderstanding… And one that had already cost a body on each side.

He looked at the scene on the ground that was marked by blood and by his dead friend. There was no time, however, to stick around and feel too bad about that… There was time to say what had happened, time for mourning, later. For now the time was… The time to get to the castle. Maybe things would be explained there. But it would definitely be safer there than it was out here in the country roads leading to the damned place, where anything could be waiting around the corner.

It wasn’t like this ambush had been part of the plan, after all. There was no telling if there would be another one. Especially when the first one hadn’t gone according to plan for the attacker.

Giving Brenna one more glance and wishing things could have been different, wishing that she hadn’t been brought along in the first place, Leigh shoved any of those feelings down deeply and climbed back into the driver’s seat of the car, stepping on the gas and tearing off towards the castle.

If there was anywhere to find answers from, it was there… And that was also where Princess Ioanna was going to be.

Even if he hadn’t met her in the past, even if he had no idea what his current relation with her was… It seemed like Ioanna Sizova was meant to be a part of Leigh’s future. Even if them being tied together like this was only triggered by a sudden accusation of a conspiracy from robed figures in the sticks… Leigh hadn’t been in a stranger situation before.

And definitely not one on the job that warranted as much anger as this one did.

The Byelgorod Palace… One of the landmark structures of the area, and known internationally for its fortress and its many winding halls and rooms. Normally, it was the place where the Tsar ruled from the top and where the imperial family was based. However, these days, with no one on the throne, the place had turned into somewhat of a den of intrigue. The kind of place where only one’s closest allies could be trusted - and sometimes, not even them.

The place practically lived on the phrase ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer.’ Beecause on this night, just about everyone who had some relevance was either here directly or in the general area…

“I do believe the actions were taken in misjudgement,” said the young woman, Albina, who had healed her wounds to the best of her ability and was standing in one of the many side rooms away from the main ones. Nobody knew how much intrigue would happen in these rooms tonight… It was impossible to say for sure. But just about everyone estimated a lot. After all, they were gathering here to start down the path of deciding the future of the country. “I saw no lie on the face of the boy we were intercepting…”

“You call him a boy and you still lost to him?” scoffed the figure at the other end of the room… Her face was obscured by a cloud of black smoke. She was, of course, magical in her own right. The cloud of smoke was relatively easy to do - a party trick, so to speak. Though in thi case, it was standing operating procedure for her. Albina had seen her face, but she would rather ensure any surprise intruders on the meeting didn’t.

“That’s a pathetic performance. You traded one experienced mage for one mundane contractor… Apparently if I want something done, I have to do it myself. Well… I suppose after said pathetic performance, you should put your attention into fixing your wounds,” the other woman said, smirking behind the cloud of smoke as she stopped leaning against the wall, standing straight and starting towards the door.

“I’ll investigate the matter further…” she said, waving a hand and dismissing the smoke. “Don’t worry too much about it for now. I’ll call you when you’re needed. Rest assured, whatever plot is happening to bring Sizova to the throne isn’t going to be a success…”

Although it might not have looked like it, to Princess Ioanna Sizova, this room was as much of a battlefield as might have been found anywhere else on the planet, and one wrong step would see her explode just as if it were a minefield.

Oh, the crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and the mirror and gold-paneled walls gave the room a degree of grandeur and lit it well, reflecting off the polished marble beneath her heels, but it was beauty that hid the real danger, the viper’s nest of everyone in this room poised against everyone else.

She sipped carefully from her glass, swirling the wine inside, watching it move, taking her time and drawing the glass out to last longer. She would only allow herself one glass; more would inebriate her, she knew her limits and how low they were, and would increase the odds of poison. She wouldn’t have put it past someone to have been stupid and amateur enough to try poisoning the wine, not realising how ineffective and unaimed such a delivery was. Not that anything as exciting as someone drowning in their internals had happened so far, if anything, this evening was proving to be positively dull.

Another place on the high society scene one simply had to be at, not even because one liked it, but because not to be there would be interpreted all the wrong ways.

It was hard to tell when these things would pick up in terms of action, but it was equally unlikely that it would remain this calm forever - there was just a feel that it wouldn’t, perhaps an otherworldly feeling but one that was present nonetheless, even if its source wasn’t known. The peace would only last for a while before… The sound of something out of the ordinary. Boots moving against the ground in unison, a group of people approaching from one of the side entrances seemingly… But what could it mean?

The sound was louder than anything else happening in that part of the room right now - the slam of someone running into the double doors and pushing them open was even louder.

Ioanna didn’t react, other than a slight rise of her head, flicking across the room. It didn’t seem like anyone else had noticed the odd noises, but given the noise of the rest of the party, it was unsurprising. Still, it was out of the ordinary, and out of the ordinary, with this many important people around only meant one thing.


She sipped at her wine as she glided smoothly back towards the main bulk of the party, centered around the open part of the ballroom used for dancing. Always assume a plot was being made against you, if there was anything off, unless you were responsible for it. And her fellow vipers, well, they made ideal human shields if it were targeted against her.

Wasn’t long before the source of the disturbance became more clear - a small group, bursting through the side door, armed to the teeth it seemed… Somehow, it had gotten past any guards elsewhere in the castle. But then again, in a place like this, guards that weren’t privately hired weren’t necessarily reliable in all cases. Wasn’t as if it was impossible for someone to sway them to get out of the way for the right price or because of a grudge with the right target.

However, gunfire didn’t start as soon as they entered. They moved through methodically, looking for… Something. No, considering the context, it was probably someone. But they weren’t just here to spray random, whoever they were looking for. They had an actual target in mind.

Ioanna breathed out. Okay. She watched the new arrivals move into the room, and took a step back, turning away. There’d been seemingly no resistance so far from the estate’s guards, which meant there’d be no help from that quarter. Bribed, blackmailed, intimidated or some combination thereof. She needed to leave, but more importantly, she needed to leave quietly.

Always assume a plot was being made against you.

She was short, thankfully, and so she could use the crowd as a shield even as the armed men moved through them, searching for their target. She moved slowly, carefully, not wanting to draw attention, seemingly backing away as any sane person in the room was also doing, moving slowly towards one of the doors to leave. This wasn’t her castle, it wasn’t anyone’s castle as unowned as it was, but neutral ground just meant you didn’t know how everything would fall with loyalties. It was best to play it safe, leave, get to her security detail, and then be done with this night.

There were at least… Four intruders. A couple more hanging back by the double doors they had entered through in the first place. The other ones were spreading out and heading for the main ballroom floor, looking for anyone that was doing just what Ioanna was doing at the moment and running. A single shot was fired into the air, but the loud BANG was still enough to get the attention of everyone in the room, a sharp warning that things were more serious.

“Freeze!” one of them called out - the accent said they were definitely locals and not some foreign threat that had ended up on their soil. It didn’t say much about who they were affiliated with, though… And their plain olive drab fatigues had no markings. Nor were their faces visible. They were, rather, covered up by plain black ski masks, like they might as well be a crew of the most generic hijackers imaginable.

Ioanna stopped where she was, not close enough to a door to risk bolting for it and figuring that not doing something stupid was the better idea. They should be assumed to be after her but they might not be, and so sticking her neck too far out would, well, be dumb. Better to keep her head down for now, play along. The gunshot had likely been a mistake on the part of their mysterious assailants; everyone here had their own private security teams, some in here, some elsewhere in the castle, and a gunshot would have been a signal to any of them that could hear that something was wrong. She just had to wait, now.

There was something of a standoff… There were, of course, private security mixed in with the regular partygoers. But it also wasn’t the smartest move for them to immediately start a fight with the same people that had their guns leveled at important figures in the crowd. They couldn’t take out all of the attackers instantly, after all. No more shots were fired… Yet. The four intruders moved closer to the main group of people, starting to push through and look for whoever it was they were here because of.

There was also at least one figure moving through the crowd even with all of this going on, however - not someone from around here from the looks of things, but someone that was plenty physically imposing, with a pistol in hand already… Not everyone armed here was from the security forces, state or otherwise. “You’re going to want to get out of here…” the voice said from just behind Ioanna after the footsteps stopped. “You seem to be the target at the middle of this.”

“They’ll shoot anyone who tries to leave, in case you didn’t notice.” Ioanna said, stepping backwards through the crowd, relying once again on her limited height to use the taller people around her to hide her movement. “Otherwise I’d be gone.”

“You’re also just as damned if you stay here,” pointed out the voice behind her, a hand suddenly being placed on her shoulder as the men continued sifting through the crowd slowly, getting closer to the spot where Ioanna actually was. “Because apparently… You and me are in hot water for working together to undermine the state. Or that’s what they said.”

“Ah, plots.” Ioanna said, rolling her eyes and looking back over her shoulder at her newfound friend. Well, more acquaintance than friend, nobility did not have ‘friends’ unless you’d known them for a very long time. “Well, if you’re stuck here with me, cause a distraction, would you? I’m generous to those who help me out of difficult spots, and you’ll be helping yourself.”

“Fair enough. But you’ll still have a stretch in the open where you have to get to the door…” the man replied, before pausing and raising the pistol slightly, turning in the other direction. “Don’t fuck it up.”

Before Ioanna could actually reply, he pushed someone to the side and moved again, taking aim at one of the four men that was searching through the crowd and firing off a couple of bullets, the shots managing to miss but at least throwing the other side off guard long enough to make a distraction… But that kicked off something bigger, it seemed. “Where did that come from?” one of them called out, before they focused in on the source of the shots.

The intruder that had been shot at raised the rifle in his hands, staring down the ironsight of the gun and hitting the one who had fired the shots with a burst… This, of course, did damage. It made the man fall back, definitely, but they were apparently dealing with someone that wasn’t just a regular person but was some kind of psychic - and one never knew what a psychic had up their sleeves. The man reached out and felt which spirits were active in this area… It always changed, depending on where they were. But the stone construction of the castle and the vast forests around them ensured that there were more… Nature spirits than any other kind in this specific area.

Which was useful for healing. Though, not healing enough to shrug off getting shot three times with a rifle. But healing enough to maybe have the energy to get out of the area. After drawing a quick surge of energy in from the surrounding spirits, which was enough to stay conscious and avoid losing too much blood, the mysterious spirit user send a quick hail of ice shards out of nowhere at the enemy in front of him. The one that had shot. Like the pistol shots however, these were to miss… It was a rather unlucky moment. An unlucky day in general, really.

Ioanna didn’t waste any time while the intruders were distracted, using those brief few seconds to break into a headlong sprint through the crowd towards the nearest set of doors to where she’d been standing, having made it fairly close to one set while she’d been moving earlier. There was still a small stretch in the open ahead of her as she broke out of the crowd, but she was confident enough that the few seconds it would take for her to cross it weren’t going to be enough for the intruders to actually shoot her as she sprinted across it towards the door on the other side.

Gunshots erupted from within the room. Not directed at Ioanna. More like, the first shots had inspired the security forces to join in the fighting, and the intruders fought back, leaving the main crowd stuck dangerously close to a deadly crossfire. The two intruders by the door found themselves under attack first and raised their rifles for a moment before both of them were shot at, one of them getting hit in the head and slumping to the ground shakily and the other one taking cover behind a bar table, glasses on that table shattering as the shots continued to rain towards that area. Another one of the security officers fired a spray of five shots, the rifle rounds tearing up the fatigues and body of the man as they went through or around the plastic table.

Four were still active, however. And they were in less obvious positions, mixed in with the crowd. “Find every intruder!” one of the security captains said… Was impossible to tell just from that sound which faction that captain was aligned with. But from the sound of it, it was someone with at least some authority. Still kneeling on the ground, Leigh took the distraction as a chance to shoot again. This time, the pair of shots actually hit and caused the gunman to drop his rifle in pain, leaving a chance.

Leigh didn’t push his luck. He simply ran, or at least as much as was possible with the injury. He had a bit of luck on his side in the fact that the on the spot healing had done more than he’d hoped, but he was still someone that had been shot three times. It was best not to test the gods, and Leigh moved for the same door as Ioanna.

“You alright?” Ioanna asked as Leigh stumbled through the same door she’d come out of just seconds earlier, having decided to wait by it rather than run off deeper into the castle as she perhaps should have, but equally there was nothing to say this was the only group of intruders, or the guards wouldn’t try taking her out themselves if they found her, alone and unarmed and unguarded as she was.

“Got shot… Three times,” Leigh said, shutting the door while the gunshots continued more sporadically from within the other room, taking a deep breath and moving to follow after Ioanna. “All for your sake, too. Someone that I don’t even know,” he added before a brief pause. “But, uhh… Some people think we do know each other.”

“I mean, we do now, so I guess them saying that has made it right. Self-fulfilling prophecy.” Ioanna said, waving for Leigh to follow after her, starting to walk down the hallway. “I remember the quickest way out, but we can talk on the way anyways. Firstly, your name, should have asked earlier, but my priorities were not dying and that ranks above basic etiquette.”

“Leigh. Leigh Hyland…” the man stated, walking next to Ioanna. “As I was headed here, there were a couple of mages waiting on the road. Full robes and everything. Hardly got a look at their faces, they were no one I saw around here. They said something about me and you and said that you were working with the Union to undermine the competition for the throne. I… Fought them off but not without the loss of my coworker, and sped here as fast as possible.”

“I see. Well, I don’t recognise the name, so I’d bet whoever I’m dealing with has some form of psychic… Precognitive. If I were you, I’d be leaving the country at this point. You saved my life most likely, so the least I can do if you want to leave is help you do so. If you want to stay around…” Ioanna shrugged, the motion out of place for how she looked. “Well, you saved my life, so you’ll always have a room on the Sizova estate if you want it. Who’d you attend here with? Might give a clue as to who I’m deal with.”

“I don’t have much to head back to, you know… Everything I’ve built up is over here - I’m from Boldport, back in the Union, the city that’s at the edge of the world. A lonely place to be,” pointed out Leigh. “I was invited here by someone I worked for in the past… Galina Bezrukova. Another one of the big players for the crown, I suppose.”

“Hm.” Ioanna said, seemingly pondering the matter. “Wouldn’t put it past them to have someone like that on the payroll, my face would be recognisable enough, but you…” Ioanna shook her head. “That’s a puzzle to be solved later. If you’re staying over here, I suppose you’re with me, given you saved my life and all, and that you’re more than likely more crucial than I am to figuring this mystery out.”

“I don’t know what part I play in this… But I do want to get to the bottom of it for, well… My friend that died in the earlier ambush. I don’t know anything about the two attackers - just that one of them is called Albina. And that according to them, you’re working with the Union through me to undermine the others. Not that that’s close to the truth… Before now, I wasn’t doing any better or worse than your average contractor,” Leigh said with a sigh.

“See, and that ‘average contractor’ is our starting point.” Ioanna said, a wide smirk on her face like that of a cat that had just found dinner. “If they’re running off of a psychic, it won’t be so easy as words in the mind, no, they’d be vague impressions, faces, symbols. I’m the Princess of House Sizova, a leading candidate for Tsarina… Easily recognisable. You? You’re an average contractor, a… Nobody, if you’ll excuse the wording, but politically you are. So how did they determine it was you?” She fell silent for a moment, the sound of her steps muffled by carpet on tile, before she continued. “If, of course, it isn’t simply to smear my good name, but then why bother with acting on it? No, this… This is a mystery, and I do relish a challenge to my intelligence at times.”

“I hardly have an idea. The politics of the court is usually above my paygrade. I had an invitation… I went to attend the event, and I stopped when I saw a couple of cloaked figures on the road. Everything they told me, everything they said… I have no idea what led them to think it. I only know that it doesn’t match my own experiences,” Leigh explained. “They expected me to know what they were talking about, but really… I was confused.”

“Ideas are what I’m here for.” Ioanna said. “But we can talk about all that later, when we’re on safer ground. I apologise in advance, since, well, I’m going to need to interrogate you on your life as a whole, and have my people run background checks to verify all your previous service and make sure this isn’t an extremely elaborate operation run by someone else. Can never be too careful, and a background record would help to identify anyone who’d pick you out as a target.”

“As if the very real bullet wounds aren’t proof enough,” Leigh scoffed before pausing briefly. “I suppose your paranoia is justified, though, considering… Your central place in all this. With that being said, I don’t think I have enemies in the court… Or I didn’t think I did before today, really. Most of what I’ve done is enforce the will of the nobility on the peasant population and the merchant class.”

“It’s not enemies, it’s everyone who knows who you are.” Ioanna explained. “If it’s a psychic, it won’t be names, it’ll be faces, so it’s about who’d be able to connect that vision to your face and thus you. I might be completely wrong, but it’s the only idea I have so far. And you said it yourself, you’re an average contractor, unless you did something unbelievably stupid you wouldn’t be a blip on the court’s radar. Another thing that leads me to the psychic theory.”

“The most notable thing I’ve done in this country is get invited to this event by Lady Bezrukova,” admitted Leigh, scratching his head. “Aside from, I suppose, helping in dealing with a rather large peasant revolt on their lands that won me the favor of Lady Galina and her house in the first place. Even then… I wasn’t a leader or anything. Just someone that did the job effectively.”

“Like I said, nothing that screams ‘enemy’, so either you really got unlucky, or psychic prophecy.” Ioanna said. “Not much else that I can say until I’ve given you a proper grilling of your life story and had people look it over, just in case there’s something you forgot or there’s a bit more to you weren’t privy to.”

“I could just ask the one that invited me here for help instead, you know,” Leigh pointed out. “And I doubt you’re going to find too many answers that way. Fact of the matter is… If you want the list of who I’ve worked for, then well, it will just end up going down as ‘most of them.’ As I said, I never had a side in court politics. Clients are clients. I’ve done things for most of them one way or another.”

“You could, but really, how much help are they going to give you?” Ioanna said. “My neck’s on the line here too, I have just as much to lose as you do. You worked for ‘most of them’, but there’s still a great deal I can do with that. The more you tell me, the more I can help. And if you’re worried about the bottom line of money, well, your performance here was a very good advert for your capabilities, so I’d happily take you into my service if you’re willing.”

“I suppose I’ve just never saved someone before and been repaid with an interrogation. It’s an odd payment,” Leigh pointed out. “Even if your offer is tempting.”

“I’m a generous patron in rewards, don’t worry about that, the interrogation is for both our sakes, the more I know about you, the more I can help narrow down the responsible party.” Ioanna said. “Although I should likely have mentioned it later. I suppose the assassination attempt unsettled me. It’s not every day one is quite so close to success. If you want money, I have that. I cannot give titles just yet, but that will come in time. Otherwise… Most things are things I can deliver, given enough time.”

“If I wanted to do away with you, I would have done it as soon as we entered the hallway and used the chaos in the main room to slip out unnoticed. There’s few better times. And yet, I’m still at the center of a mystery with you, and the fact that you’re so much smaller means I would feel bad doing it. Just a little - but my instinct is simply to pick you up. Not to vanquish you for some other client,” Leigh said, chuckling slightly. “I suppose money is a good enough motivator for most people, and I also suppose I can’t complain about the offer of it. But given your status and your captivating looks, yourself would be a better reward… Perhaps a request out of my league, but you know the saying. Shoot for the moon. Land on the stars.”

“Or crash down to earth, but I can respect the ambition.” Ioanna laughed. “I suppose arrangements could be made, a one-off as payment for services rendered if you’re willing to accept that.”

Leigh stopped, pausing and thinking it over for a silent moment, the gunshots in the background having stopped although the slight ambience of the energetic crowd in the other room could still be heard as they walked the hallway, ornate stone making up both the floor and the walls around them. “Suppose that is overly ambitious. Perhaps I should have shot lower and asked for a harem instead.”

“After me, a harem won’t be enough for you.” Ioanna smirked. “If there’s a second time depends on if it’s worth the risk of the scandal or not, so do try to impress.”

“I’m sure you know that sure things are a more attractive prospect to most people than risks,” pointed out Leigh. “Ask someone to take a thousand dollars for sure or have a fifty fifty chance of getting two thousand and most of them will take the thousand. And perhaps unlike you… I’m used to being alone. Or at least, used to keeping to myself and doing my job. I’d like to think I can see the more rational choice.”

“You’re not the one who’ll lose their shot at being Tsarina for being caught, you’d probably end up becoming a minor celebrity or something.” Ioanna said. “The risk is all on my end, so don’t worry yourself about that. Besides, as long as neither of us do something unbelievably stupid, it’ll be fine anyways. There’s just always that little bit of risk.”

Leigh just chuckled at that. “The risk on my end is that of choosing something fleeting over a clear reward. As I said… You may be better, but I’d like to say I’m able to make rational decisions.”

“It might not be fleeting though…” Ioanna said. “Depends if you want to take that shot at the moon or not, although I could always give you a harem as a consolation prize if you miss.”

“Suppose it is a fair enough offer. Then again, presumably… You do need to get with a real partner down the line eventually, which doesn’t benefit me - assuming you do become Tsarina,” Leigh stated. “Why do you care? Are you the one with desires now?”

“I care about fairness.” Ioanna said. “You saved my life instead of just… Standing by, letting me get taken to who knows where and my body thrown into a vat of acid or whatever. The very bare minimum I can do is give something in return of equal risk. And I might not become Tsarina, and if I do, well, I’ll make sure I can find a place for you and a way.”

“Fair enough,” Leigh conceded. “Then I guess it’s a deal. I’ll accept your interrogation… And we’ll get to the bottom of just what’s happening. I have the feeling we have little choice in the matter - somehow, we’re already tied together.”

“Self-fulfilling prophecy, it seems.” Ioanna said. “The worst kind, and we don’t even know what they’ll do next now their first attempts have failed.”
Last edited by William Slim Wed Dec 14 1970 10:35 pm, edited 35 times in total.

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Postby Durmatagno » Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:15 am


Collaborative post by Forest State and Durmatagno

October 25th, 2025
Clemensen Suburb, Soren, Valrik Liberation Government Territory

As they awaited their next assignment, there wasn’t too much to do other than sit and wait for the time to pass. That was after, of course, they had secured an SUV that was able to fit all six of them, getting the engine running through hotwiring and then taking the SUV to a bit of a safer location, another one of the parks of the suburbs which wasn’t quite as in the middle of the battlefield the other one had eben. Of course, action could kick off again at any point, but for now… Things were relatively calm.

Which left Oriane with little to do other than contemplate their next engagement and browse the net. She did have her phone with her, after all, like the rest of the soldiers around here. Getting a connection, though… That depended on just where they were at the moment. She was able to get one right now. She hadn’t been able to do the same earlier, probably because some of the towers had been taken out by the air strikes from above or the rest of the combat, probably unintentionally. They weren’t high value targets enough to go after on their own, but when the attacks didn’t hit the mark… It tended to have effects on the civilian infrastructure.

The bombed out buildings deeper in downtown were a testament to that. Some of them had been attacked by the Comet II fighters that streaked overhead now and then because they had enemy targets within them. Others were simply in the line of fire and were the ones that were hit when attacks fell off target from their intended locations. The Valriki Air Force wasn’t the most skilled, after all. There was a good reason, other than costs, that the Union had sold the Valriki government the older Comet II fighter other than just its lower costs - it was not only more affordable, but it was easier to fly than some of the more modern options too. Even if its systems weren’t quite as automated.

She quickly found herself browsing AndeGate, one of the oldest websites on the Andegardian internet and one that was known to have little censorship… The kind of place where you could follow conflicts like this one as they happened. Or at least, you could try to follow them. It wasn’t always accurate. There wasn’t censorship keeping anyone from talking about the conflict, but on the other hand, there were plenty of shills and just some people with inaccurate information - and others spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Or FUD, as the people in the internet circles she associated with would say.

The Valriki Civil War wasn’t the most important thing on the minds of many of the citizens of the Union, but it was interesting enough to catch the attention of the internet, at least.

As she scrolled on her phone, Oriane could see all of it… Accurate info, inaccurate info, things that were likely distributed by dedicated shills. Most wouldn’t know what to believe, or at least most people not in the know wouldn’t, but that didn’t describe her. She could sift through what was right and what wasn’t easier because she was on the ground in the middle of the action in the latest battle.

She looked up from sitting next to the front left wheel of the SUV, though, when her second in command approached. “Drue,” she said in greeting, waving slightly. “Based on the reports, the offensive isn’t going too badly for our allies… They’re Valriki, of course, so some mishaps are to be expected.”

“I expected nothing less from the VNA,” Drue said simply, standing there next to her, surveying the park around them where they were currently resting and waiting. “I thought you might be interested in knowing the results from the rest of the unit. Beta Squadron has succeeded in their goal of assisting Valriki infantry and armor in taking the airport, while Gamma Squadron accompanied motor infantry towards the main rail station in the city which is also a source of reinforcements for the VLG. From what I was informed… They’re currently involved in a battle in the grounds around that station and advancing on the building itself.”

“It would be disappointing if we weren’t making progress,” said Oriane. “I did read on the internet that there’s a battle at the train station. Guess they’re mixed in with that one. Seems like we’re the only one that was sent to handle an objective without any support from the regular military…”

“Because we were striking the underbelly of the other side. Their artillery. But, the next mission might not be that way unless it’s under a similar premise. Government units are pressing into the city from multiple sides… Last I heard, the armor we showed up with was part of a spearhead moving downtown while the motor infantry regiments are making their way through the outskirts… Places like the airport and the rail station that Beta and Gamma are at.”

“Support would be nice,” Oriane said before pausing, turning her phone off and putting it back in her pocket to save the battery. “But I’m prepared to go with or without it. How’s the battle in the air, if you heard? We have to worry about anything from what front?”

“The VLG lost a number of planes on the ground,” Drue said, shaking his head. “We have air superiority for now and no big moves from other cities have come, in terms of air support… Most we have to worry about is helicopters from the outskirts.”

“Still a bitch to deal with, though,” Oriane raised an eyebrow at the prospect of fighting with enemy helicopters. “Those rockets do more to infantry than they do to vehicles.”

“Fair point. Then again, they do have to reach us first.”

Oriane stood up, stretching, at which point her second in command noticed something. “You have a lightning tattoo on your wrist, I’ve noticed,” Drue pointed out, specifically gesturing to it for the first time since they’d met. She hadn’t hid it… But it was on the underside of her right wrist, so it wasn’t really something that was visible unless she was moving the right way.

Of course, it was more significant than just being an interesting tattoo design. It had its roots in Andegardian religion - or the Union’s brand of Andegardian paganism, at least. It was a symbol of the god Kharios, representing chaos and disorder… As well as freedom and self reliance. A controversial figure within the list of the popular gods and goddesses of the country, it was odd to see someone with such a tattoo in an officer position in the military. After all, chaos and disorder were an antithesis to the role that Oriane had to serve as a leader.

“Oh, that? Yeah… That is a Kharite tattoo,” Oriane said, turning her wrist over and showing it to Drue. “I guess you’re going to say something about it being odd that someone like me would have one.”

“Can’t say it doesn’t strike me that way,” replied Drue, shrugging slightly. “How did a lover of chaos end up in the spot you’re in now? Leading a unit according to a bunch of specific rules?”

“Well, first off… I’ve never been one to stick to the rules exactly. Second, I would say that our unit is a force for chaos, in its own way. Maybe not internally, but as far as the chaos we sow on the enemy…” Oriane started, before withdrawing her wrist and shrugging. “I’m aware of the contradiction, though. Truthfully, I didn’t ask for this position in the first place. I made it here because they said I was the best one for it. My following Kharios is from way before that.”

A shadowy fox…
“You have any particular reason? I mean, it suits you. I’m not all that surprised. Just surprised because of the position and all,” Drue said, leaning against the SUV as Oriane started organizing her gear once again, getting ready for when they received their next call to action.

“Guess you already know I didn’t have the greatest path. Grew up in Sundport, y’know? Right on the border with the Ostgren territory and around plenty of spillover from the barbarians within it,” Oriane said, closing her eyes as she thought back to the past - simpler times, but they weren’t necessarily better times. She really wasn’t from a good place, after all. “One time, I happened to be deep in Ostgren. Around Skarvik, actually. Doing some stuff that I shouldn’t have been doing, but I needed…”

She paused, letting her voice trail off. “Well, it’s a long story. Let’s just say I was up to some stuff in Skarvik and I almost died. But you know what? I survived, and as I was lying there on the ground, fading in and out of consciousness, I saw this shadow. Not a human shadow or anything like that… A spirit of sorts. It looked like a fox.”

“A symbol of Kharios - and trickery, which plays into his… Realm, so to speak,” Drue pointed out easily.

“Exactly. I don’t believe in very many things, you know. Even this, I guess you could say, I think of it as a job and not some great higher calling or whatever,” Oriane started, before she paused. “But I think that I didn’t die back there for a reason, at least. I still don’t know exactly why, maybe I’ll figure it out-”

One of the radios came to life with their latest orders as Oriane was still speaking.


-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [LT. COL REGIA THOMSON] - “Hello again, Alpha Squadron. Your next objective has been decided. In the Clemensen suburb of the city, there’s a shopping center which has been occupied by a significant amount of VLG forces… A mall, actually. The Valriki military has the place surrounded but has been unable to breach the defenses so far. Your goal is to break open the enemy defense and allow the main Valriki force to seize the place once and for all. This will take away a place being used as a base by the VLG and aid in the overall advance into downtown Soren, which is further down the same main avenue that the mall is off of. Surely, your unit is skilled enough to get this one done…”

-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [SGT MAJ. ORIANE BEAULIEU] - “You don’t have to have any doubts about our performance. We’ll get the job done, rest assured.”

-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [LT. COL REGIA THOMSON] - “Great. I’ll send the location data to your datalink. Get there as soon as possible, and the Army officers on the ground will give you any needed updates on the situation.”

-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [SGT MAJ. ORIANE BEAULIEU] - “Affirmative… Hail the Republic.”

-] - [EFCOM] - [207TH STG] - [LT. COL REGIA THOMSON] - “Hail the Republic!”

She turned to the rest of the unit, waving in the air with her rifle to get their attention once again. “Well, I’m sure you all could hear that, but we’re headed back into the action. Everyone, time to get into the SUV again. Drue, you’re the one driving us to Clemensen. You should have the location info on your datalink.”

“Aye,” Drue said, walking around and opening the driver’s side door of the grey SUV, climbing inside and waiting for the others to get moving. They once again had a job to do, and while it was a dangerous one, it was better than sitting around forever.

Ivy rubbed her neck as she stood up from where she’d been sitting, leaning against the SUV. She climbed in and yawned, she hated all the waiting, but at least now they’d be moving towards their target. Ava for her part had never left the SUV, instead stretching out inside and enjoying a little quiet. Gwen had spent her rearranging her gear to be slightly more comfortable. It didn’t take her long to get seated, though with six adults, many of them on the larger side without their equipment, it was still cramped. She disliked it, but it wasn’t as bad as it could be, so who was she to complain. Besides, it was their only transport.

The Clemensen suburb was far enough away to make it mildly annoying to have to drive there, but not too long of a trip that it was out of their range. They didn’t have to pass through any active battles to get there either, which was… Nice, to say the least, considering they had a close call earlier with a patrol of the enemy. As they drove, Drue put some ambient noise on by turning on the radio, seeing what the locals were thinking about this conflict using one of the local news channels.

“The imperialist forces of the Valriki National Accord and their Union backers aim to not just destroy your country, but your entire way of life as you know it… They’ve already taken the name of your people, with their false ‘Union of Andegard,’ and they want to replace your old gods with their new pantheon and their false traditions! You know what I say to that? Andegard should be for the Andegardians, and they should take their Almarksish and Costenzan traditions back to Almark and back to Costenza! They’ve replaced your statues, taken over your temples, and now they’re here in the great nation of Valrik aiming to spread their corruption as we stand as the last line of defense of the TRUE Andegardian way of life. We will continue to fight in Soren, we will fight in Hala, we will fight in Starstrop…”

The radio host continued going on, and Drue turned the volume up slightly, noting the patriotic music playing in the background. Valrik was nothing if not a state with a fervent identity, although it was perhaps somewhat deceiving to say that this was a place that had a distinct history stretching back forever. Fact of the matter was, the borders of the country had only been established by the Union’s ventures into the Northwest Sea area way back in the day. Where the territory of Ostgren ended, the nation of Valrik began - and it was only that way because the Union had denied the challenge of taming the lands east of Ostgren for pragmatic reasons.

“I suppose it’s not entirely wrong…” Drue remarked, pausing while continuing to drive through the suburbs, which were in surprisingly good condition still for the middle of a major battle. “But I don’t believe the VNA is quite cooperative enough to fall in line that way…”

“Probably not, but crazy things happen when people have their backs to the wall.”

Ava added as she scratched her head. She wasn’t sure why they were listening to this drivel in the first place, but it hadn’t been her that had turned on the radio. Gwen kept her eyes on the road, they had a job to do, and she didn’t really care about the politics behind this and that. Ivy bit her lip as she considered what was being said, and then shrugged.

“Doubt most people care about corruption this, or any of that. Most of ‘em just want the bombing to be over, got this guy trying to rile them up in the hope that they can survive. Most people are just keeping their heads down, when the bullets and bombs stop, they’ll sort out a new normal with what’s left.”

“The sentiments that’d make this nation turn into a terrorist den had to come from somewhere,” pointed out Gunnar. “Not that I care too much about all of it one way or the other as far as old gods or new gods go but there’s a reason we’re here in the first place… Too many people trying to liberate Ostgren.”

“I said most, even just a small fraction of the population organized in terrorist cells can do serious damage, and be annoying. Rooting them out is also a problem, they know how to go to ground. Takes time to stamp out a movement like that, and it’s never easy.”

They continued driving on, heading closer to Clemensen, before the point where the shopping center actually came into view. However, heading into the parking lot directly probably wasn’t the safest route given the fact that it had been turned into an outpost with enemy soldiers overlooking the general area - the gathering point for the Valriki military seemed to be the parking garage on the opposite side of the main lot, rather than the one adjacent to the mall, and as they approached down the avenue, Drue turned the vehicle off that road and entered the garage.

The VNA forces were already waiting for them, of course. “This is it…” Drue said, shutting the door as the rest of the unit exited the SUV, Oriane looking down and adjusting her rifle slightly as she did so.

The soldiers from the VNA were less organized, standing around on the first floor of the parking garage without a clear objective as the mall loomed across the lot from them, machine guns and snipers inevitably watching the space. The garage provided cover from that, at least. Inside the garage, there were also a couple of armored fighting vehicles. But with the ATGMs active, they couldn’t use them just yet. “So the special forces are here…” said one of the Valriki officers as the Union forces climbed out.

“Something like that,” Oriane said, making the walk up to the other group. “I suppose your offensive has stalled since we don’t see you out there.”

“The VLG has… Superior firepower in this area. Can’t do much against machine guns, snipers, and ATGMs,” the officer remarked. “Presumably, you’ll find an alternate way into the complex.”

“Yeah, I intend on creeping around and entering through the other garage,” Oriane replied, shifting on her heels while she thought of the options at hand. “Unless someone else has a better idea on dealing with this?”

“Mmm...not really no. Have a few ideas, but they’re all either slow, or way more risky, just going in the back is probably best.”

Ivy said after a few moments of thought. Given most modern buildings had metal supports in the walls, between the three people here with abilities, they could probably pull down the wall given some time for Ivy to grow vines, or branches to anchor and pull with. It’d take too long and leave them exposed without friendly suppressing fire, and even then, given they had firepower to stop the vehicles, way too risky.

“The most ideal plan is probably going out through the back, going around, moving across the lot outside of the firing cone of the machine guns, and reaching the other side of the shopping center and moving for the parking garage,” said Oriane, pausing briefly to make sure it was the route she wanted to take. “So we’ll go with that. I suppose some quick covering fire before pulling back into the garage again would distract the opposition while we’re in the open. Our armor is more distinctive than your uniforms, after all.”

“That can be set up,” the Valriki officer said, and Oriane gestured back to her own group as she started walking for the other side of the parking garage.

“Let’s fucking do this, then. I’m assuming there’s another exit on the other side connecting to the parking lot itself. We’ll use that one to get out. And we’ll walk down the edge of the parking lot till we’re across,” she said, as Drue and Gunnar turned to follow after her closely.

Ivy, Gwen, and Ava all fell in line behind Oriane, none of them having current complaints to raise about the plan. Ivy adjusted her rifle as they walked, but otherwise the three remained silent. Right now was not the time for idle chatter, and it was only becoming less ideal as they got closer.

Oriane was in the front of the group… As the leader. Not the kind of position she wanted to be in right now when the current situation meant it was the most likely one to get shot, but she rolled with it anyway as they reached the entrance and slipped out, putting themselves in the parking lot… Around the same time the Valriki forces moved out of the garage in decent enough number to distract the VLG forces on the other side. The gunfight began between the two, which gave a limited window for Alpha Squadron to move up.

She lowered her head and pushed forwards, the others behind her, moving near the very edge of the lot to try to avoid being in the range of the weapons placed in and on the other building across from them. After this brief sprint across the lot, they found themselves in the spot they were looking for… In front of a department store on the other side, with the parking garage on the VLG occupied end a few buildings down from them.

“Alright, let’s move,” Oriane said, waving forwards and gesturing for the group as a whole to follow her in that direction. “We might run into… Opposition in there. Well, we’re going to run into that in there anyway, but I mean we might run into it right away. We’ll have to be careful.”

“Are we looking for a specific first target, or just strike where the opportunity presents itself?”

Ivy whispered, as a newcomer to the group she didn’t exactly know how they preferred to handle things.

“We don’t have a target list or anything like that,” Oriane informed as she slowed down when they were getting close to the entrance of the other parking garage, waiting for the group to stack up behind her. “We might see something in there and we might not, if we do see something, we just have to get them before they get us… Simple, really.”

She did have a simplistic view of combat much of the time, but that wasn’t to say she wasn’t intelligent. She just… Had some ideas about when it was good to apply that and when it was better to rely on base instincts and raw aggression to get through a battle. She considered breaching a place like this to be a task that benefited from the latter more than spending a long time planning. After all, plans could easily go out the window once they were inside that place.

“Alright, just making sure.”

Ivy said with a nod, quietly flipping the safety on her gun off. She reached into the small pouch at her side, and tucked a few vine seeds into her glove, easier to access when in a rush, though not by much. She didn’t know if she’d need them, but vines were surprisingly tough, and while they wouldn’t really stop bullets till they were really thick, they’d stop foot traffic if they needed it.

“Time to move,” Oriane ordered, turning around the corner and entering the first floor of the garage… Her head was on a swivel and she quickly scanned the area as Drue came from behind her and also took a look around, and they could see there were about three identifiable hostiles on this level. Some of the armored vehicles they had been told about were there, but they weren’t running at the moment. For now, anyway.

She knew what she had to do… She lined up the rifle sight with her eye once again, her burst that was targeted at the nearest of the three soldiers doing the mark and hitting the opponent in the chest, dropping him, while Drue slid next to one of the pillars at the front of the entrance and aimed for a second, hitting the mark about just as accurately and taking down a second figure. Their element of stealth was gone as the rest of them showed up, though, the loud sounds of gunfire echoing through the garage and giving away that there was now a fight starting up, and they still had at least one other enemy on this floor. Maybe more throughout the structure. Probably more since there were only three on floor one, not even a full squad.

Ivy took a position behind another pillar, and fired at the last of the visible soldiers. Her burst was accurate, dropping the poor bastard quickly. She scanned for any signs of movement as Ava and Gwen rushed to their own sources of cover. Even if there had only been three here now, it wouldn’t stay that way forever. Ivy spoke quickly.

The interior of the enemy garage.
“When needed, I can block up a path or entrance with vines thick enough to take some time to destroy, let me know if you have anywhere you want them in particular.”

“I think we should keep on the offensive,” said Oriane, pausing as she walked further into the garage to survey the scene. “Either way, this area is clear, also gives us a little time to look at the opposition’s equipment. Because I have some theories about that,” she added, stopping and kneeling next to the soldier she had shot and looking at the man’s rifle.

“Looks like a copy of a Karonian model… Like I expected and like what’s been reported, but… I don’t see any stamps or whatever identifying it. Nothing telling it apart from a local copy from some independent factory,” she said, setting the rifle back down on the ground. “Rest of the equipment is just as plain except for the VLG patches.”

Ivy shook her head as she poked one of the downed soldiers with her foot, making sure he was truly dead. Nothing they had on them was much use at the moment, only if they got desperate for supplies. She kept her eyes scanning the room while Ava and Gwen caught up, moving cautiously so as not to cluster the group too tightly together.

The advantage of being in a parking garage, however, was the fact that they could hear the movements above them echoing around. More footsteps, the sound of engines turning on. “At least one vehicle,” Drue reported. Though, one vehicle could be dangerous for them given that they didn’t have any anti-tank weapons in their unit. Not officially, anyway. Some of their abilities were useful for combatting vehicles.

“Take cover positions across the garage,” Oriane ordered, giving a gesture as she spoke. “Let’s not make it too easy for them to pin us down in one spot.”

Ivy, Ava, and Gwen all moved as instructed, getting good and settled in. Ava for her part, took a little extra time to try and meld into the darker corners, maybe free herself up a bit to pick off the right target. Who knows, all she knew was that she had to try, she wasn’t much use in an open firefight compared to choosing her targets carefully.

There were five more footsteps coming down from the next level above them, and from the sounds of it, the engine of the vehicle was following in that way too. It didn’t sound too heavy in terms of firepower… But it was definitely a tracked vehicle and not a lighter wheeled one. The rumble of it against the ground was familiar to anyone that had spent time around such vehicles in the past.

“I’ll attempt to push the turret off course when it shows itself, assuming it has one…” Oriane said, looking between the others as she took her own spot besides a small economy car. “Drue will work on disabling it through metal control and cutting up the internals with it. The rest of you can focus on infantry.”

They didn’t have to wait too long to get their shot at the other side - those infantry began to come into view not too much longer after, making their way down the ramp and starting to emerge… But they wouldn’t have the first shot, considering they weren’t the dug in side.

Ivy sighted in on one in the back, and squeezed the trigger. Her spray cut low, raking the concrete in front of the soldier feet. Gwen went high, dropping some debris on their heads but not coming close to hitting. Ava’s single shot from her heavier rifle though, it caught her target in the face, and dug a hole into the ramp behind him, she doubted he was alive. If he was, he’d be dead soon, or spend the rest of his life drinking out of a straw. She’d put her money on dead.

The two leading members of the squad couldn’t focus on the infantry for now - they had the task of handling the vehicle, a standard infantry fighting vehicle with tracks and, on top, a turret. It was as the vehicle was coming down the ramp and showing itself to them that Oriane reached out, shutting out the surroundings a bit and focusing simply on her connection with the psychic realm… On strengthening the bond. And then, she exerted a powerful telekinetic pressure on the turret, keeping it where it was, not letting it move to seek the targets as she also depressed it as far as it would go.

The rest was on the second in command, Drue, who emerged from behind a car to feel in a similar way, searching for the correct target, before zeroing in on the signature of the metal that made up the vehicle and going past the surface, sensing the internals and working to disrupt them… It could cause major problems to mess with the electrics system and that was what Drue did, tearing the thin cables and also striking the fuel line psychically, leaving it broken and ensuring the thing wouldn’t be going anywhere in a few moments.

“That should be enough to disable it…” Drue called out to the others. “But the guns may still be live.”

“Still got the infantry to worry about,” growled Gunnar, who was standing near the center of the garage behind one of the support pylons and stepped out from the side to take aim at the infantry again, shooting for the first time during this engagement and hitting one of the VLG soldiers with three shots in a quick burst. Three to go, at least as far as infantry went, excluding anyone that was inside the vehicle.

Despite their bad tactic of walking right into the trap of the Alpha Squadron, though, they weren’t going to go down entirely without a fight. The VLG side started shooting back - each of them fired bursts, though they weren’t the most accurate shooters. Only one of the shots from each of the bursts would actually end up on target, but fortunately for Oriane, the bullet missed as she ducked back behind the car she had been close to, the round instead going through the window and shattering it while on the other hand, Gunnar was actually hit but simply felt a slight knockback as the round deflected off the chest armor. They tended to be outnumbered and under fire - there was a good reason their unit had been given this heavier armor and not standard infantry equipment.

Gwen shifted away from where a bullet had burrowed it’s way next to her, before sighting in again and squeezing the trigger. A similar burst from Ivy could be heard, alongside the distinct crack of Ava’s MR-4. Gwen’s burst was much closer in on her target, but still didn’t actually catch anything. Ivy though dropped her own target with a cluster to the chest. Ava caught her pick in the gut, he was probably going to be alive for at most a few more minutes, but he wasn’t going to be shooting back anytime soon.

Oriane moved again, running from behind the car she was at currently to another one that was across the aisle, popping up after she did so to reach out and throw the last of the soldiers back - she was successful in this, she managed to knock the rifle out of the soldier’s hands, but Drue was the one to take aim to finish the job. Her second in command didn’t miss, the three round burst riddling the soldier on the ground.

“Looks like that one is a chick… But she’s VLG, still had to die all the same,” Drue remarked, as the infantry squad was finished off almost completely. They still had one concern, however. “But… The crew are still in that vehicle and I believe the guns can be moved around manually, even without the electrical system.”

“We get it open and kill them, or lock them in and let the soldier outside handle it? If we wanna lock em in, I can tie that thing up with thick vines. Personally, probably best to just kill em.”

Ivy offered as she went around double checking that everyone visible was dead, careful to stay out of the line of sight for the turret. The only one she didn’t bother checking was the one that was missing most of his lower jaw and neck. There was basically no way he was alive.

“Have to be able to get it open in the first place and not get hit with the machine gun in the process… Can still be moved by crew I believe, even if the electrical system is out,” Drue pointed out. “And, I don’t know if the hatch opens right up…”

Ivy nodded and pulled out a few of the vine seeds she’d put in her glove. Throwing them, she concentrated as they hit the top of the thing, sprouting into rapidly thickening vines that coiled around the turret. She forced fronds down inside the barrels, but was mostly content to lock everything up with the thick vines. It took slightly less time than she had estimated, maybe these were better seeds than she thought. Either way the turret was unlikely to move, and even if it fired, the barrel was blocked up by thick vines that would foul it.

“Shouldn't be able to turn now, and the hatch should be bound up. Doubt anyone inside can get free without outside help, though nothing is impossible.”

“Not entirely sure about leaving it here like this but I guess it’s better than getting slowed down,” said Oriane, nodding towards Ivy and starting to walk out from her cover to lead the group deeper into the parking garage, starting to ascend to the second out of the three floors. “And you know, outside help isn’t out of the question with what we’re dealing with. They have a lot more numbers prowling around this place than we do. Before our support comes out and attacks them in the open, anyway.”

“True, but the vines serve no obstacle for us. If you want to wait a bit more, I can try and get the vines to wrench the hatch open. Vines can crack through anything given time to grow. I could also get them to just try and bind up the people inside, and start feeding on them the way they might a tree or wall.”

“And spend more time letting them mobilize on their terms instead of ours?” questioned Gunnar, and Oriane considered the options before she shook her head, continuing up the ramp to the second level.

“Leave it. I suppose the location will have to be marked for an anti-tank team when the main force shows up. Until then, we’ll keep moving and keep speed on our side,” Oriane said, continuing in silence until they were actually approaching the second of the floors. She stopped, taking a look around from the front of the entrance to that floor, before she waved for the others to come up further.

“Don’t think there’s any hostiles on this level… Haven’t heard anything from up here since the last group that came from up there,” she reported. “With that being said… Worth taking a look around anyway to see if there’s anything amiss.”

The main thing to take note of was how many vehicles were actually here. There did seem to be some, but they were more on the lighter side, nothing too heavy, a couple of the IFVs like they had been attacked by earlier as well as a few trucks lined up. “Not too impressive of a capture, not anything to laugh at either,” Drue said, walking up behind Oriane. “There’s no sounds from the third floor either and I don’t think there have been… I guess we just have to check it for more inventory before we head into the mall itself.”

“Right,” Oriane said, moving on and heading back to the ramp, continuing up to the third level this time. She was careful for an ambush as she emerged at the top but she was sure that there wasn’t anything there based on what she was seeing and based on the sound, and she took a look around for the inventory and gave a slight nod to the others. “Nothing on this level. Other than civilian cars. But no time to look through all those and see if there’s anything interesting or valuable.”

She gestured towards the small doorway at the edge of the garage, leading to the mall itself. “Let’s get moving and head for the next objective… Have to make our way through the rest of the place and clear out the department store blocking the advance.”

“Mmm, I’m surprised they didn’t bother blocking up this entrance back here. Seems like a huge vulnerability.”

Ava commented as she stopped behind Oriane, looking at the doorway. It wa one thing to be poorly trained rabble, it was another thing to be stupid, and leaving this only lightly guarded screamed stupid. Though maybe they had never planned to hunker down here. It was unclear which, but Ava knew that it didn’t really matter, they were here now and had to be uprooted.

“They had the place under guard with one IFV on standby and a couple others sitting around… Think the assumption was if something got past that, doing something to the door isn’t going to do shit,” Oriane said, testing the doorway and pushing it open, moving her way through and inviting the others in behind her. They were now standing in the middle of the place they had actually come for - the mall. They were on the third story, on one of the long walkways with shops on one side, all closed for now, and an open space that gave them a view of the ground below on the other.

Within this place, there were more angles they could be attacked from and more danger overall. And yet, it was where their other main objectives were.

“Let’s get it…” she said, turning slightly to look back to the others after taking in the view. “It’s a close combat hellhole in here but fuck it, this is the one place we might come away with some thousand dollar clothes as loot…”
Last edited by Durmatagno on Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough. - Maurice Maeterlinck

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. - Washington Irving

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Forest State
Posts: 4359
Founded: Aug 23, 2016
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Forest State » Mon Jul 27, 2020 2:12 am


October 25th, 2025
Downtown Soren, Valrik Liberation Government Territory

As the battle over Soren raged, engines hummed rather quietly… At least, from the sealed interior of the speeding aircraft, it seemed pretty quiet. If it wasn’t for the situation it would have been possible to get some sleep while on this aircraft, but the impending jump down to the surface was enough to keep everyone awake and on the edge of their seat - besides, they were the kind of unit that was beyond things such as sleeping on the job. As the Valriki Liberation Government and the Valriki National Accord battled it out on the ground, the Union’s latest advancement was getting ready to take part in a role that even the Elite Forces Command section elsewhere hadn’t been informed of.

Though, perhaps that was natural. The EFCOM forces were under the jurisdiction of the Army. The soldiers on hand in the back of this aircraft, on the other hand, were part of the Navy Aerospace Forces… The most cutting edge forces of that subdivision, with some of the most cutting edge technology that the branch as a whole had. From their full body armor with its hard coverings and intimidating helmet with glowing red eyes and advanced targeting systems on the interior, to the jump-packs on their back and the fact that they were soon to deploy from the stratosphere over downtown Soren, striking from long range and acting as a proof of concept to show that the Union could hit anywhere.

Of course, this was just a demonstration of sorts. A test of the concept. Deploying from the stratosphere was impressive but was hardly the main goal of the program - eventually, these soldiers were supposedly to fight in space. Now, however, they were showing their abilities right here, still within the atmosphere, and gathering the data that was required by the researchers to make the final adjustment for the project.

Valrik just happened to be the perfect proving ground for such endeavours, considering the Union’s pre existing involvement and the current offensive their VNA allies were staging against the city of Soren.

“Each one of you is wearing tens of thousands of dollars of equipment,” stated the leader of the unit, with a dark smile while they waited in the back of the transport to hit their jump point. A respected NCO, Ueli Lang had the ancestry of someone from the older mountain tribes of Almark, and the rough around the edges appearance to match… But in the service of the Union, Lang was certainly making his ancestors proud. As the leader of the first squad in this detachment, Lang had shown an utter fearlessness during training drops.

Now, the officer was smiling and joking minutes before they were about to engage in the real thing. It wasn’t that they were unconfident… They wouldn’t have made it as far as this if they were, but there was perhaps a feeling from most of the others that something wouldn’t go according to plan. Plans didn’t survive contact, after all. But just how much they were shaken up depended on the battle.

“So know that the Navy is going to be upset if you die. Try to avoid it, or at least, die somewhere that we can bring your gear back with us,” Ueli concluded, drawing a couple of chuckles from some of the others.

“As if,” said one of the others, the squad’s marksman. “I think I’m more likely to drag yours back.”

“Oh? And here I thought I would make it out.”

The experimental special force of the Navy Aerospace Forces.
The marksman just chuckled as he pulled his helmet on and locked it, allowing it to seal as they further approached the drop point. “Your reckless streak throws that into question.”

Ueli pulled on his own helmet, hearing the hiss as it sealed to the rest of the Type 19 experimental body armor. “I think I’m just reckless enough.”

The color of the light changed to tell them to get into position - it was yellow. When it was actually time to jump, it would turn to green… And so, the jump troopers lined up according to the correct jumping order they had been instructed, standing in front of the metal door and waiting for it to lower and allow them out.

The objective once they were on the ground was rather simple. They were set to attack the Valriki Liberation Government in the middle of their territory in the city, but they had a side objective… Once they were on the ground, they would only be a short distance from one of the most well known terrorist bases according to reports from military intelligence. If they could defeat the unit here and then move on quickly and enter the base before their opponent expected it…

They had a good chance of landing the kind of ‘big game’ that brought promotions and shifted the tides of the conflict. At least, the part of the conflict that spilled over into Union territory as guerilla forces hid in Valrik and went across the border to carry out their attacks.

The light turned green and a distinct sound of rushing wind was present as the door lowered itself… Now was the time. “Time to live forever,” Ueli said, throwing himself out of the vehicle first as the others followed, the rushing of the wind now hitting against their hard armor and the softer more exposed parts of the uniform as they began their rapid descent. Still, the descent was almost shockingly slow, because of the height they were coming from.

They’d have to speed the descent up, of course, unless they wanted to be prone to getting hit with small arms and anti aircraft fire once they were at a lower altitude… For now, they were plenty high up, and the altitude gave a very different look of the conflict on the ground. It was cliche, but it looked peaceful all the way up here. Ueli knew well, though, that the details would become much sharper and clear once they were closer to their destination.

“Thrusters…” Ueli spoke into the helmet microphone, and their descent rate skyrocketed as they activated the jump jets fixed to their back, keeping them active in flight mode rather than just triggering a quick burst to use to get into the air.

The ground was getting closer. And the details of the battle became clearer. In the background, behind them, two larger objects fell from the sky after having been dropped by some of the other planes in the formation. The M52 Dragoon IFV was light enough to be dropped from an aircraft, and it would be the heaviest support they could afford for this quick raid. The aim was that after they smashed the rebel front at the financial district, other forces would be able to pull up and support them.

Ueli, however, was ready to work with either outcome; support, or no support from the outside. “Landing positions!”

Each of them slammed down to their feet on the asphalt, breaking it in many places as they landed in their targeted destination, the middle of the road. They weren’t alone, either. Two more squads were accompanying them and landed safely, the vehicles still drifting down at a slower rate. However, they had dropped into an active battle area. They couldn’t exactly relax after hitting the ground like this. No, this just meant the fight was beginning as the entrenched forces further down the road at the entrance to the financial district, sitting behind a barricade, signaled that an enemy from above was here.

“Follow the plan!” one of the other NCOs shouted… Right. They already had a plan for if they landed in the right positions, and they had. Ueli shook off the brief haze that came with landing and taking in the entire situation, and moved up to lead the first squad forward, while the second squad followed behind. The third had a different assignment altogether. Not long after they had landed behind the other two, they activated their jump jets right away and went out of sight, presumably taking up spots on the tops of some of the nearby buildings of about six or seven stories… They weren’t in the financial district proper yet, with its skyscrapers, but they were close. The third squad was taking advantage of the terrain to help them with their own goal - as hunters and killers who were assigned to take out the enemy leadership.

“The union is here!” one of the opposition soldiers shouted, running into a building to gather the rest of his unit, probably. He was maybe lucky to have run into one of the buildings, one that appeared to be the remnants of a bank - the structure was only loosely held together and it looked like a hazard to those inside, having been damaged in the earlier fighting. Probably by one of the F-61 Comet II air strikes that seemed to happen so frequently right around here.

The Navy soldiers didn’t have to be told twice once Ueli announced the weapons were free. “Put these rebels down…” Ueli commanded, as the line of guns in their smaller but more drilled formation lit up the air with smoke and flashes. The smell of gunfire… It was present in the air right now, heavily. Not that any of them would notice it. Their helmets were designed to filter toxins, including things that were just in the surrounding air.

For many of the VLG forces that weren’t hidden behind a barricade, the battle rifles of the Navy forces did more damage than they expected - it was no typical AR like what the Valrik National Accord’s soldiers had. As the squad continued firing, the two Dragoons rolled up from their landing spot also and joined in, their autocannons blowing away cover and sending bodies flying from the scene as each shell hit.

This was bad for the VLG’s morale, of course. Out of the twenty or so that ended up in the middle of the street as the drop forces showed up, half the unit was dead. The other half of the unit? They decided it would be better to run away with their lives. “Don’t pursue… Other threats in the area,” Ueli waved his own squad to slow down and not try to run and gun the enemy unit down.

Things did fall silent for a moment. It was the sound of Dragoon engines running in the background and not much else, but it wouldn’t remain that way forever as the two squads pushed ahead with the pair of IFVs behind them, keeping proper spacing to avoid being taken out by an RPG or an ATGM since they were on these cramped city streets.

“They had us training in the woods and now they send us in the middle of a city like this one…” one of Ueli’s comrades said as they moved at a pace that was steady enough but still slow enough to recognize threats.

“Don’t like the feeling of it-”

“Ambush!” one of the others pointed out, and it turned out there were more militia forces, these ones not located behind barricades but rather hiding out in a couple of alleyways and behind the cars at a dealership lot, where they were now quickly bursting out from and attempting to hit the Navy soldiers with a surprise from closer range.

However, between the heavier armor worn by the Navy’s squads and the poor shooting from the untrained Valriki forces, the sudden flurry of fire didn’t actually have an effect. What did have an effect, however, was the pair of gun trucks that came around the corner at about the same time the ambush started. More accurately, pickups with machine guns mounted to the back.

The attention of both sides was on them as they came around the corner, slammed the brakes, and began open firing, the gunshots hitting one of the Navy soldiers and penetrating even the tough armor… They had taken their first casualty of the battle.

“Target the technicals-” Ueli had started to say, but things were suddenly… More aggressive. There were mortar rounds coming down now, sending chunks of the pavement into the air with each strike and filling the battlefield with a layer of dust that cut down on their visibility.

“That’s the second casualty…” one of the others said. Great. They had managed to take two losses from this sudden ambush.

“Call in the fighter on standby, will you?” said Ueli - they had some help of their own in this if the other side was going to use vehicles. Namely, they had an F/A-24 strike fighter waiting and orbiting the battlefield in case they needed assistance. Now was the time to call it in, and that was what the radioman began to do.

“Requesting support… We are facing two enemy vehicles and possible mortars and we need close air support…” Ueli tuned out the voice and focused on other things. In firing back, as the third squad moved in the background to complete their flanking move and both of the Dragoons surged to provide additional cover.

The Navy held the line, however - by the time the smoke was clearing on the engagement, the infantry force on the other side was running away after taking thirteen losses. They could ambush, sure, but they didn’t have the skill to get kills in an individual battle. Only one where they had the support of technicals and artillery. But the second wave hadn’t been cleared completely…

In the moments after the infantry part of the ambush routed, the F/A-24 they had called in streaked overhead and dropped something, presumably a laser guided bomb, which hit the mark perfectly and caused a fireball to climb over the roofs of the buildings on one of the next streets over from their current one. It was quite the sight… Both the mortar truck that had been hidden on that street burning now that it had been detected and destroyed by the strike fighter, and the visual of the fighter pulling up after the run and soaring away from view again.

Around the same time, one of the gun trucks was heavily damaged as the IFVs turned all their guns on it and opened fired. It was now that the third squad was finally moving into action, touching down after using their jump jets to carry them from the rooftop down… They had caught the enemy headquarters about to attempt running, but they caught up with them petty quick. The sounds of gunfire once again filled the air, and another enemy unit had went down as the third squad fired before they were prepared to counter it.

“Make sure to ask for heavy weapons next time,” one of the soldiers around Ueli said. “Can’t lean on the Air Force for everything.”

“Noted… And yes, we did learn our lesson about not bringing it,” said Ueli, as the Dragoons rolled forward, bellowing smoke and firing on the remaining gun trucks unil both of them were certainly destroyed, their crews killed in the process.

“Thirteen more enemy dead…” said another one of the Navy soldiers.

“Clear,” said the leader of the second squad, approaching the car dealership to check it out and ensure another ambush wasn’t going to come from that way. Of course, they had done a good enough job taking out whoever hadn’t fled from the field of battle.

They had succeeded in their goal in clearing out the entrance to the financial district, and now they would be able to advance further and continue tracking down the hideout that allegedly belonged to the Free Andegard Organization, at least according to military intelligence reports. They weren’t always correct, but they were what they had now.

And through breaking the front and embarking on the raid ahead, they would get closer to getting to the bottom of the case that was a large part of why the Union was here in the first place.

“The FAO’s launched enough goddamn attacks on our land… Let’s give ‘em a bloody nose on theirs,” said Ueli, gesturing forward as the second squad finished with looking through the car dealership for traces of the enemy, of which there were none.

Now, all three squads and their accompanying M52 Dragoons embarked on the next stage of their fight.
i'm the bad guy... duh.

for: the anime right
anti: people who step on snek

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Founded: Oct 10, 2011

Postby Durmatagno » Sat Aug 01, 2020 9:05 am


Collaborative post by Forest State and Durmatagno

October 25th, 2025
Clemensen Shopping Center, Soren, Valrik Liberation Government Territory

“Any of you scared of heights?”

The question came from the front of the group, specifically Oriane Beaulieu as she made her way down the long walkway with the rest of the squad, on the third level of the main mall building. They were in fact quite high up at the moment, giving them a good view of everything below. They could see where there was battle damage, where soldiers or vehicles had moved through the place and left a trail, and most of all they could see quite clearly the effects of no one being around here.

Where there had once been busy stands and shops along the main walkways through the building, outside of the actual stores, such places had now been abandoned and the real shops were either equally empty or were closed down with metal shutters covering their storefronts. However, they did know that the place wasn’t empty. Because the 4th Liberators Brigade of the Valriki Liberation Government was set up here, and they still had to clear them out.

Was just a matter of when they actually ran into them, and right now, it was eerily silent. Almost peaceful, but to say that this place in the middle of a warzone was truly peaceful was speaking too soon.

“A little…”

Gwen admitted as she walked with the rest of the group, keeping her eyes peeled for signs of movement, ears listening for the clack of boots orguns. It was only a little, and compared to combat, it was nothing, but she’d always had it, couldn’t be helped. Everyone had their phobias. Ivy suppressed a chuckle, she’d seen some phobias before, her last commander had had arachnophobia something fierce. Only time Ivy had ever even seen him break a sweat from fear or worry.

“Just wait until there’s shooting again… One way to forget it,” Oriane remarked. Fact of the matter was, if they ended up in a fight again, there was a good chance they would be at a higher altitude for better or worse. Unless they ran into opposition in any of these upper level shops, which they couldn’t rule out entirely, even if there was a lack of noises such as footsteps coming from the area surrounding them.

“It’s not too bad, but I would like to distract myself, yes.”

Gwen said quietly. It was somewhat embarrassing to her to have fear like that while part of a group like this, but it couldn’t be helped. Ava shook her head, not in disapproval but more because they should really be avoiding talking at all, but it was the team leader that started it, so who was she to say anything.

Oriane held a hand up to stop when they had reached a certain point, picking up her own rifle slightly more as she looked ahead. “Y’know, this store looks like someone’s been through it,” she said after stopping. And it did have some things that were distinctly off. Things that had been thrown onto the ground outside, presumably moved from the inside of the store, and dirt around the entrance… Possibly from boots. It was hard to say exactly if that was the cause.

She looked up at the facade to see what it gave away about the nature of the place. Electronics store. Some chain that had multiple locations around Valrik. Nothing too out of the ordinary on that front, but the scene outside was far from being ordinary. And it was hard to say why it was like this.

“Could be looters,” pointed out Drue, stopping next to Oriane. “The city was already in a state of emergency before the VLG moved in… Well, they could have moved in even before that, actually.”

“Could be,” Oriane stated, not exactly happy with the conclusion. “Could be,” she added. “Emphasis on the first part.”

“Want to search it then?”

Ivy said, keeping her rifle ready. Ava kept her eyes on the area around them, making sure no one snuck up on them while Gwen readied her rifle as well. A shootout now would probably hem them in here as it drew soldiers, but equally it could be empty. Ivy didn’t much like the idea of not checking it, she didn’t want someone coming up behind them, but she wasn’t in charge, and equally it could be nothing anymore.

“Better safe than sorry,” Oriane made the decision quickly, waving in the direction of the open entrance to the storefront. “It just takes a smaller team really, which of you are going?”

“I’m pretty quiet, I can slink around and see what’s in there.”

Ava offered. Of everyone besides Gunnar, she was probably the best at avoiding attention. If they were going to do it quiet, the best pair was probably her and Gunnar, at least for scouting. If an actual fight broke out there was no keeping that quiet.

Oriane nodded, stepping out of the way to allow Ava to move. “You and Drue, head inside. The rest of us will watch the perimeter… And we’re right here to back you up if anything kicks off once you’re inside.”

“Aye,” said Drue, moving to head behind Ava into the store.

Of course, the store itself was large but not in the best condition, with displays knocked over and some items removed, some things seemed to have been messed with in general but it was hard to put a finger on exactly how they differed from the original setups. The lighting within the place wasn’t exactly great either, some of the lights were on but others had been knocked out already, further obscuring whatever was inside… Whether there was anything in there or not.

But there was movement in the place… Not entirely visible because of the lighting, but deeper into the store there was indeed moving around. Possibly someone getting into position… Was hard to get an actual look at a uniform from this far out, but whatever was in there was dark clad. Maybe VLG-affiliated, maybe not. The uniforms of the bulk of the VLG’s forces were olive or camouflage, after all.


Ava said, raising her rifle towards the shadow. Not knowing what the target was, be it a looter or a soldier, she wasn’t going to take chances. She signaled to Drue when and where she spotted the movement, and moved to take cover behind a pillar. Her rifle was bolt action after all, suppressing fire, if needed, wasn’t what she did.

Drue didn’t say anything, moving behind one of the lower displays and kneeling down behind it, avoiding being seen by anyone looking in that direction and only raising up enough to see over the top of the display case. It seemed that in regular days, it would have been a camera display case. Actually still had most of the merchandise inside, although the glass was shattered on one side.

“Yeah… I can hear the footsteps. But fuck if I know where they’re coming from other than over there,” Drue replied eventually.

‘Over there’ seemed to be a corner of the store with a more unique setup, with communications equipment or at least a similarly advanced setup built up around some of the former display cases and plastic tables unfolded to add to the available space, each of them also housing laptops in addition to the more complicated mess of wires that could only be a part of communications due to their complexity and number. But, by the time they had gotten a good look at it, anyone actually over on that side of the building had already moved for safer ground.

“How do you want to approach? Take opposite angles, go in on the same side, or?”

Ava wasn’t ranking here, Drue was, Drue got to make the decision. She didn’t think whoever was over there could slip out, but they needed to be sure. Hell, it could possibly be an animal for all they knew, though that was...unlikely. Still, Ava wanted to move cautiously.

“Depends… We don’t exactly know where they are. Or how many are there. So we both take the left side… I think that’s the direction the sound was moving in,” Drue said in response - it was better to be a single group and not split up if they did run into more opposition than they expected.

Ava nodded, checked her rifle, and signaled when she was ready to move. She’d follow Drue carefully, there were only two of them, and the possible enemy was staying put. If they had cover, they’d be coming up against said cover. At least her rifle was good at punching through things like that, even if it was slow compared to the rifles of the rest of the team.

There was movement from the other side too, apparently… Movement in response to the sudden burst from behind cover of the two Alpha Squadron members, to the left. The other side was headed in the opposite direction from behind one of the displays, putting them on path to reach the destination first, but the two Union soldiers were quicker in their rush, pulling ahead in addition to getting the first real good look at the other side…

They didn’t seem like any VLG soldiers they had run into before but it was hard to put a finger on exactly what they were, with their black uniforms not quite being fatigues. No, it was tighter, not quite form fitting but almost, and they seemed to have padded armor built right into the design. They had helmets, and they enclosed most of the head except for the mouth, with visors covering the majority of their faces. Beneath those dark visors, discerning their actual identity was impossible thanks to the smoke colored tint.

Whatever they were, though, came second to dealing with them in the moment. Drue fired off a spray of five rounds towards the closest of them, only one of these rounds actually hitting the mark, but it didn’t even seem to do too much to the body armor… It was quite tough body armor. Unlike what the rest of the opposition forces wore, which had been shredded with one or two regular gunshots.

Ava had to slow to use her rifle, targeting the one Drue had already shot to try and punch through the possible damaged armor. She felt a tinge of satisfaction at the sight of blood, but the man was still up and moving. That armor was definitely tougher. She pulled herself behind a display, knowing the rest of the team could intercept them if they tried to leave the store, catching them in a crossfire.

The rest of the team didn’t exactly wait to move into action, though - Oriane could see the fight happening from her position at the entrance, and now that the opponent had moved from cover, she was in position to assist… From the front of the store, she fired off a three round burst in the direction of the other soldier, hitting twice for her effort, her two shots to the torso hurting her enemy enough to stop the second soldier in his tracks and send him falling backwards… Probably out of the fight. It was too hard to judge things like that while the battle was still ongoing.

“Rest of the squad,” she started, pointing aggressively into the opening of the store. “Situation’s changed, you see anything in there that isn’t ours, you fire.”

Ivy raised her rifle, and sighted in on the left leg of the soldier still standing, not wanting to deal with punching through that heavier armor, and fired a three round burst. All three rounds found their mark, caring little as they tore through the soldier's leg, bringing him down to the ground with a heavy thud.

“Both targets down, we want to check if either are still alive or just not risk it and finish them?”

Gwen asked as she kept her rifle trained on the first of the two fallen soldiers.

“Figure it out after the room is clear,” Drue said. Based on the large setup here, it was hard to believe there were only two hostiles in the entire place. No, they’d run into two, but during the adrenaline filled fighting it wouldn’t have been out of the question for others to slip away. “There’s movement coming from the area with the comms setup, more unknowns…”

But these ones were more aggressive, apparently. Two figures. One of them running to take cover behind one of the displays that the previous two had used, and the other one vaulting over one of the plastic tables to charge towards Drue in the open… Who didn’t actually have a melee weapon unlike Oriane. Still, it wasn’t impossible to just shoot someone before they were within a dangerous range, which was what Drue tried to do by laying down another five rounds.

“万岁!” the latest attacker had been shouting, the first possible indication of who they were actually up against here, but the bullets did their job this time unlike before… Before the man could actually reach Drue with a knife drawn, he’d collapse on the ground, bleeding out from the two spots where the tough body armor had been penetrated.

“There’s still at least one more!” Drue reminded the others, shifting his attention quickly without showing too many signs of being fazed by the sudden encounter and near stabbing, even though it had practically come out of nowhere. “Keep your backs covered at all times till the place is clear!”

Gwen moved her rifle and let loose a three round burst at the one behind cover. She didn’t know if she’d hit, or even get through the cover and the armor, but pinning him down was probably well worth it at the very least. Her rounds punched through the metal display, an unusually tight cluster letting one or two of them through, but were easily stopped by the guys armor on the other side.

“You’ve got grenades… This would be a time to use them,” Drue said, looking to the side to Ava. He didn’t exactly have the best angle himself, after all. He’d have to throw over the display, which might throw things off.

“Right, throwing.”

Ava pulled the pin, aimed, and threw, the lever springing free. Her aim was off though, and the grenade clipped the side of the display and bounced off. Rolling away into uselessness, before detonating. She cursed to herself as she moved back behind cover. She preferred her rifle, but grenades were always useful.

The grenade didn’t do too much other than send a shockwave through the store, but Drue felt it nonetheless. Still, it didn’t do anything to solve their immediate problem, which was the last of the soldiers that they had sighted. They’d have to come up with another solution quickly - but something came to Drue’s mind. “I can probably get rid of the cover… It seems like it’s made of metal. But since I have to focus on that…” he paused for a moment, moving behind one of the pillars to think. “You’re going to have to make quick work of finishing off our enemy over there.”

Ava nodded.

“I am a good shot, even if my throwing arm is crap.”

Ava brought her rifle up, ready to take the shot as soon as Drue cleared the display. She’d go for the soldier’s arm. A capture would be useful, and even her rifle had trouble piercing the thicker armor, so this would make it easier on her.

Drue reached out through the psychic realm, aiming to tear down the cover that was being used by the last soldier, but it was hard… Making the connection in here. Perhaps because of the tension of the situation. Using psychic abilities wasn’t instant, after all. It required messing with forces that were higher than someone was normally, and… Sometimes that just didn’t work. Drue cursed quietly, feeling the connection rebuffed, his mind shot back into this realm entirely. “Actually… Scratch that. Not working in here…”

“I can try and punch through the cover and wound him enough to capture. My rifle packs a good punch, and the armor is thinner on their arms and legs.”

Ava offered, rifle still ready incase the soldier showed himself for some stupid reason.

The reply was rather simple and to the point. “If you can do it, then do it.”

Ava nodded, sighted in, and fired, cycling the bolt even after the heavier round punched through the display cabinet. She didn’t know how effective it was on the man behind, so she stopped to listen. She knew she hit, she was a good shot, but whether it was enough, or had made it through his armor was a different question.

There seemed to be the sound of something hitting the ground, indicating she had actually hit the mark this time and they had taken out that last opponent. “Clear… Possibly,” Drue said, moving from behind the pillar to further investigate, waiting and moving around the corner when there was no more noise. “Down, but not dead…”

However, that didn’t last for too long as Drue expended one more round, firing through the face shield of the soldier on the ground, deciding not to take the risk with getting attacked by someone they thought was down. “Now I believe the room is clear.”

Gwen moved forward to check the two that had made a dash for the exit, and had been cut down by Oriane and Ivy. If either was alive they could finish them or capture them, though she had her doubts. There was a lot of blood, and a lot of vital organs in the torso to get damaged.

They didn’t seem to still be alive, however. Which left the group to figure out on their own what they had just found, considering the setup of equipment and the like was still there… Probably still functioning for that matter. “Squad,” Oriane said, walking into the store. “We’ll investigate before moving on.”

Gwen used her knife to slash the throats of the two downed up here, just to be safe, while Ava and Ivy moved further in, towards the equipment in question. Ava checked her ammo count while Ivy continued forward, curious as to what these four had been up to.

Oriane stopped when she was in front of the tables that had been set up, looking at the screens and seeing foreign language text on them, as Drue spoke up.

“So, the enemy in question was Sinan,” he stated, walking back over towards one of the downed bodies and looking at it closely. “The uniform has the patches of the Fourth Liberators Brigade, but there’s no unit in the VLG with advanced body armor like that. Also, the VLG is just about homogenous. It’s not an army with non-Andegardian foreign fighters… Or locals that aren’t of an Andegardian background. Based on the unmasked appearance of these soldiers and the earlier battle cry…”

Drue bent down and stood back up straight again, holding up the removed helmet of one of their former enemies. “I can only assume that they’re from the Sina DR,” Drue concluded. Which was… Concerning. It was far to the east of here and not directly involved in the affairs of the Valriki conflict, yes, but it was also a rival superpower. Perhaps the one that deserved the title of rival more than any of the others. Their policy in their own sphere of the world was aggressive - they didn’t make any false claims about that part of the world not being their realm. But this…

This was different from the things that happened out east, because this was a case of Sinan agents operating with an enemy of the Union in the Union’s own backyard.

“We wanna pack this stuff up for any possible intel, or what?”

Ivy asked. It’d take time, they could always leave it for someone else, but if there were Sinan agents getting involved, anything that could be pulled from their equipment could be vital. Could also be useless, but just knowing they were here was good intel, knowing what they were doing exactly would be better though.

“Pack all of this up? We can’t even carry this much stuff and we don’t know what’s on the perimeter once we’re on the outside again. The regulars will have to get it once they move in from the outside,” Oriane said, before she knelt down to try and see if she could get anything out of any of the computers. However, the menus weren’t exactly something she could get through, as they were written in Sinan and she also wasn’t familiar with the operating system.

“I can’t get any intel off this thing personally… If anyone else wants to try before we move out again, be my guest. Otherwise, I’m telling command about it and then getting back on track.”

Gwen moved forward, figuring she might as well take at it before they moved out. Wasn’t her specialty, but she was fairly smart, and there was no real harm to trying. She tapped at the screens, curious what she could find. Not anything as it turned out, so she stepped back with a shrug, ready to move when ordered.

“We’ll have to leave it for military intelligence,” said Oriane, backing up and waving for the others to follow her as she started out of the store. “The department store is still the main objective right now. Let’s get there.”

“I believe the computers back there were sending information back to somewhere, and they’re most likely connected to an array outdoors,” said Gunnar, the technology expert of the unit. “But I can’t give much more detail than that. I don’t read Sinan, so it’s just a guess without accessing their computers.”

“Hopefully they can figure out what that information was, and where it was going.”

Ivy said as her, Ava, and Gwen all got back into formation behind Oriane. None of them read Sinan, and it seemed none of them were going to get anything from the equipment themselves, but it still piqued Ivy’s curiosity. She doubted they’d get told much if anything about any intel pulled from them though, so that was one curious desire that would never be sated. Probably.

“Whether they find anything on there or not, you all might have been in the middle of something that’s going to be on the news soon enough,” said Oriane, walking in the front of the group as they continued down the walkway they had originally been using. “Not that any of us are going to get credit. Will be something like ‘Union special forces discover Sinan outpost in Valrik.’ Not like they would show our faces.”

“You sound upset at that fact,” Drue mentioned, walking on the other side of Oriane.

“Maybe. I’m surprised you’re not the one that’s more upset by it. You know, military background and such.”

It simply drew a chuckle from Drue. “Because this isn’t the time to look for fame and fortune. This is just an accomplishment to go on the list. Something to convince others with when that time does come.”

“I simply envy those who get credit for it when they actually do something right,” Oriane shrugged eventually, continuing to lead the group. “But this squadron of reprobates scares people, damn it.”

Ivy chuckled at the last comment, but didn’t add any commentary for now. Ava shook her head while Gwen just focused on, well, not thinking about high up they were. Mostly by thinking about a song as they walked, though she kept at the ready. She bit her lip a little to bite back her own laugh though, even if she was mostly tuning out the idle chatter.

There was some evidence through the rest of the mall that there had been combat here, but they would run into no more actual opponents as they made their approach on the department store they were looking for - Stacy’s. It was an international chain, but they probably regretted opening up in Valrik by now considering how things were right now in Soren, where they had built one of their largest locations in the area in this specific mall which was now turned into a battlezone.

“That’s the store,” Oriane identified. “But this side of it at least looks like a ghost town. Then again, this place generally does until it doesn't.”

She waved them forward to keep going as she picked up her own pace, the wide entrance to the store seemingly not having anyone in or around it. There were certainly enemies in this place, though. They just couldn’t see them yet, but they had been able to see them perfectly fine from the outside of the building when they first came in.

Ava hung a bit further back with Gwen while Ivy moved forward. Gwen needed to be available to treat injuries, and Ava was a marksman anyway. Ivy on the other had was perfectly fine being closer to the enemy. She checked her ammo count quickly, before bringing her rifle up to bear. There was likely a good number in this store, and she doubted they hadn’t heard the fight earlier, though it was possible. Big place, plenty of walls to muffle the gunshots and grenade.

As they walked into the store, though, they ended up… In the middle of clothes. A lot of clothes. Not really the kind of place one imagined the typical battlefield to be, and it was pretty different from some of the places they had trained before. This wasn’t the green hedgerows of some field, but an environment that had similar ambush potential and yet it was in the middle of… Well, perhaps the most civilian environment imaginable.

It was a somewhat strange feeling for Oriane. Being in the kind of place which was usually just a place for shopping, but having a mission like the one they had right now.

“What do you think? You want me to buy you a dress?” Drue mused, looking to the side at Ava - a half sarcastic remark, of course, considering the current state of the store. The VLG had already looted some of it, meaning some of the more expensive clothes and the jewelry was already gone.

“Maybe a skirt, don’t want to hide these legs too much.”

Ava responded, pointing at one that was sickeningly yellow, she didn’t really want that one, but it drew the eye in it’s horribleness. She didn’t really wear the things often, but some of the sets here were nice enough for even her. Gwen looked around and rolled her eyes, but a smile was on her face. Ivy chuckled quietly, glad to see there was at least some sense of humor to the group, combat either squashed it or turned it to the gallows after all.

“Remind me to have a look around for that once the VLG here’s dead, then,” stated Drue, while Oriane kept her eyes trained forward. Fact of the matter was, based on what they had seen outside, most of the forces they’d spotted were located near the front of the store. Specifically, around the windows overlooking the parking lot and the area around it.

Ivy shook her head and scanned the area in front of them. If they got ambushed here, they probably wouldn’t be able to hold off a swarm of VLG troops without some injury. Thankfully if they were all clustered up watching the area across from them, some well placed grenades could clear a good number of them. Tht put a smile on Ivy’s face.

“Contacts… Up ahead,” Oriane said once they had gotten further into the building and reached the spot where the VLG’s forces had fortified themselves and were mostly turned around and overlooking the parking lot. She gave a gesture to her unit, having them move to the side next to one of the clothes displays and get out of the main walkway, to help decide how to deal with the six or so infantry that were immediately visible as they approached. “I counted six. Not including the ones manning the heavy machine guns and the ATGM down there. We have some options on how to take this one…”

Ivy could see a few possible options, but was curious what Oriane had in mind. Whatever they did, it’d needed to be quick, a prolonged firefight could turn ugly really fast. Gwen and Ava both glanced at each other, wondering what Oriane had in mind. Ivy for her part was beginning to trust her new commander to at least make good decisions, though beyond that it was still in the air to her.

“Alright…” muttered Oriane, coming to a decision on what they were going to roll with. She spoke quickly, not intent on spending too much time hanging around here. “Drue, Ivy, Ava, you’re going to move back into the aisle and fire directly at the other side, Gunnar, you’re going to cloak and go around to the flank, and Gwen, you’re going to suppress those heavy machine guns and make sure the crews don’t get ideas about spinning them around towards us. You’re not aiming to hit… Gunnar can handle that after closing in behind them. Understood? Then let’s get to it right away.”

Gwen nodded and swapped her magazines, if she was suppressing the fifteen or so shots she had left wasn’t going to cut it. Gwen would wait for the trio to open fire before she started suppressing, give them an element of surprise. Ava and Ivy both did as directed, picking different targets. Ivy of course used her preferred three round burst, while Ava just aimed for center mass. Most anything she hit would go down with her rifle, barring particularly heavy armor. Ivy’s rounds found her target, but Ava’s shot went wide, pinging off the sides of the aisle. She cursed, she rarely missed and she was always frustrated when she did. Gwen opened fire once she was in position to start suppressing, knowing she couldn’t keep it up for long.

Drue didn’t exactly have to be told twice to move out into the aisle like Oriane said and to fire, finishing off the magazine and filling one of the VLG soldiers with a multitude of bullets before the guerilla could turn around and realize the ambush… They had gotten a couple of easy kills but it would probably be harder from here out - even if the suppression was keeping the machine gunners from having freedom of movement, as moving too much here would just get them hit. Oriane moved to join those that were in the aisle, choosing to lead from the front. She fired her own burst of five rounds, dropping a third member of the VLG out of the six infantry they had spotted, this time hitting her enemy just as he was spinning around.

Gunnar, on the other hand, was working on stealth. He focused on his ability and hid himself from the world, the invisible ‘cloak’ going over his body, and then began to lurk forward once it had been done. He was going for the heavy weapons, the machine gunners first and then the ATGM post… Wasn’t like the ATGM could hurt them while they were inside the building. Upon reaching a closer distance, he took a few gunshots and watched one of the machine gunners collapse as the others didn’t even notice it had happened yet thanks to not seeing the foe that had appeared in the shadows for them.

Gwen kept up her suppression on the gunners, hoping the rest of the team had her back. Ava sighted in again and let a round loose on one of the three still standing. This time she caught him square in the surprised face, leaving a much less pretty body behind. Ivy fired again, catching her own target low in the gut, but he still went down, maybe she caught his spine. Whatever, that only left one target still standing in front of them, and two more of them to shoot.

The one soldier that was left fired back at least, but the quick burst of gunfire wasn’t on target to hit just about anything as it sailed past the group of special forces. The machine gunners and the ATGM operators were in a tough position where they didn’t exactly have much room to work, as they were boxed in by enemies and couldn’t set up in a way that would let them fire on their enemy. However, they didn’t flee as deserters but rather remained on the battlefield looking on and waiting for a chance to step into things.

Oriane had tricks up her sleeve other than her shooting, however. She extended her hand, forcing psychic energy outwards as she aimed to throw the lone soldier backwards… And up through the window. She was successful, of course, a loud crash sounding off as the man was ejected from the building, Oriane’s telekinesis coming in handy once again in this tight situation they had found themselves mixed up in. Which left just the soldiers behind the heavier weapons… But they hadn’t exactly identified the threat of Gunnar yet, which left them open to more shots ringing out and another member of the machine gun group dropping after a deadly finish by Gunnar. The cloaking ability did have significant advantages on the battlefield.

Gwen kept her suppression going, this would be the last she could do before she reloaded, and silently hoped Oriane and the others would help finish off the gunners, as she’d be vulnerable while she reloaded. Ivy and Ava both looked to Oriane for a second, waiting for the quick affirmation to open fire on the crews or be ready for possible reinforcements.

There were two more soldiers manning the guns… But one of them quickly found himself on the end of a burst of bullets from Drue and Oriane took aim at the other one, though she didn’t actually hit the mark. “Damn it…” she muttered, but Gunnar was there at the least. The last gunshots came from Gunnar while he was still cloaked, executing the last opponent.

“Clear,” Gunnar announced, uncloaking. They had done a good job in clearing the area for their allies who would soon make the push into this shopping center, but there was another battlefront they had yet to reach… The rooftop.

“Right here is clear, yeah,” said Oriane, starting to walk over to examine the weapons. “They still have some heavy stuff on the roof we need to take out, and we don’t know if this place is completely clear yet. Big store. I suppose you all aren’t too lazy to patrol and make sure there’s nothing hiding around corners waiting for us before we move to the last floor.”

Gwen reloaded her rifle, dropping the empty clip to the floor.

“Gonna need to find some ammo soon, that burned through a lot.”

Ivy checked her ammo count, six rounds left in this one. She reloaded, dropping that clip to the ground. Six rounds wasn’t enough to care about at the moment. Ava was down to three rounds left before she’d have to reload, but that was three shots. Both of them signaled they were ready to go looking while Ava let her gun cool for a few moments, looking down at the dead crews below her.

“We’ll break to make it easier to clear the rest of the floor,” Oriane stated, looking towards her unit and waiting to see who would end up with who, not issuing a specific order in that regard. “Two with me and… The rest as a separate group. Drue will lead. As for myself, I’m ready when the rest of you are.”

Ivy and Gwen moved to accompany Oriane, while Ava moved to group up with Drue. She wasn’t the best at clearing rooms compared to the burst fire, but she could still help. Right now though, all three of them were ready to move as soon as the order was given, though they still kept eyes and ears peeled to keep an eye on everything else. If there were anyone else on this floor, they might give themselves away on accident, if not...well, they’d finish the roof soon enough.

“I guess these are the groups, then,” Oriane said, looking over the units as Ivy and Gwen joined her and Gunnar also moved to stand besides Drue. She gave a gesture in the direction she was going to take her own group. “We’ll head through this half of the floor, the one that’s dealing with clothes. And the other half, the one with appliances and other random stuff… The other group can take that one. Move out as soon as you’re ready.”

And with that, Oriane followed her own order and started off once again, leading the way through the half-looted section of this floor that was filled basically entirely with clothes and other similar goods… Accessories and stuff could be found here, too, but there wasn’t much time right now for looting of their own. That could come later, but as it stood, they had no idea if there were more enemy soldiers on this floor or not. Oriane didn’t intend to find out through getting ambushed.

She considered where she would attempt to encamp at if she was in the position of the enemy… Or whether she would even encamp at all in such a situation. “The area over there… Near the front of the building and the windows. I imagine that’s the fastest route between the other side and the battle that just happened. Meaning if anyone is coming to respond…”

“They’d come through there.”

Ivy finished the thought, at least in part out of habit. Her voice was quiet as she finished it. She kept her rifle ready and moved with Oriane. Gwen hung back a little more, ready to pull either to safety if they got shot, but mostly ready to just shoot whatever idiot showed their face. She was glad to have a full clip again, she never liked suppressive fire, but she was the worst shot of the lot, so she was the best choice for it.

“We can lay an ambush of our own before the other side shows up… Assuming I’m right,” Oriane said, kneeling down next to one of the racks of clothes, which did a decent job of covering whoever was behind it well enough from someone coming down the aisle. “But…” she added, her voice lowering. “We’ll have to listen.”

They indeed had to listen, because hidden like this, sound would probably be the first indication of whether something was coming or not. “So… Get hidden and listen.”

Gwen and Ivy both took different positions, that way even if they were figured out the other two would still have the drop on them. Ivy listened closely, while Gwen kept her breathing steady, and calm. They were ready, this was far from the worst situation any of them had ever seen, in fact it was pretty good for their side.

It seemed the assumption was correct that there were more soldiers coming from this side to check out the battle that had just happened, probably aiming to reinforce the other side - they were late for that, however, for the other side had already been defeated in the first firefight on this floor. Now, it was just a matter of mopping up the groups like these that were left…

The main indication was footsteps, heading towards them rapidly, and the sound of voices where the local accent definitely gave away the affiliation of the faction… “Move on my signal,” Oriane said, still knelt down and listening to the sound now that it had made itself audible.

But she didn’t give a signal… Not yet. They would be more effective if they could take on this group in a way that would disorient them, and that was fully what she intended to do. Even if it was risky waiting… And waiting… And then, when the footsteps were close to them, on the aisle in front of where they were hidden, she gave a quick wave of the hand forward and moved around the corner herself, her finger quick on the trigger to empty the last four rounds she had.

They hit the mark, of course, catching one of the guerillas by surprise with a tight burst of gunfire to the chest, knocking that fighter back in the process, but she was still out after the one burst… So she moved to the side and moved her hand to reach for the magazine and start changing it, in a fluid motion as she weaved behind the cover once again as fast as she had originally made the move to get out from in front of it.

Ivy moved quickly, raising up from behind her cover to unleash a burst into the chest of one of the five remaining enemies. She moved back into cover even as Gwen was doing the same thing as her. Her own shots met their mark, catching her target in a trail from the gut to the sternum. Three rounds, from both of them, all of them finding their mark, leaving three more bodies on the floor. And three left standing.

It was a desperate close ranged battle now, but it was hard to argue the forces of the Valriki Liberation Government were prepared to face the elite of the Union, whose status was denoted even in their appearance, with their thicker protection and more exotic equipment design. Regardless, though… They had to try something other than rolling over and dying.

One of the soldiers targeted Oriane in specific, her hearing disoriented as the gunshots rang out almost right in front of her, but it was hard to judge things in terms of aim from a distance this short against a target that was on the move… That was probably her saving grace, as the bullets went over her shoulder, but there were still two other enemy soldiers that hadn’t yet fired and she hadn’t yet evaded.

The second took aim at Ivy, a flash lighting up the enclosed area once again as another three rounds flew towards their target, this time striking unlike some of the more inaccurate Valriki soldiers and also doing better at actually penetrating the armor plating which had stopped attacks previously in this very battle. Considering much of the ammunition used by the VLG was taken from government stores which had originally been provided by the Union, however, it was no wonder at least one burst of shots would get through during this battle.

The last soldier in the group that was still standing, though, had the idea of taking aim for the same target, the one that was right ahead… And from close quarters, the attack wouldn’t miss, another series of bullets penetrating as the soldier hip fired at the first thing that was in sight, which happened to be Ivy… They generally didn’t have the best aim in the VLG, but even the worst luck seemed to reverse sometimes.

Ivy collapsed to the ground even as Gwen pumped another burst into one of the ones that had gotten her.

“Shit! Injury!”

She called to Orianne even as she tried to press herself back into cover. Until the last two were dealt with, she couldn’t do anything to help Ivy, if she was even saveable. That would take a medical chec, and they needed time for this.

Oriane stepped up and took a swing with her gladius, a weapon that she didn’t get a chance to use every day… But she trained in it nonetheless and sometimes, that training was useful. This was one of those times, it seemed, as she struck her target successfully and did some damage to the right leg of the enemy soldier… But that wasn’t a killing blow and still left them at a disadvantage numbers wise.

“I can handle myself up here,” she barked back to Gwen. “Fall back and do your thing as medic.”


Gwen moved quickly to get to Ivy’s side, pulling the soldier further behind coover before getting to work. She had a medic bag after all, first was to try stabilize her. That was relatively easy, Gwen was pretty sure she could do that blind folded. A morphine shot, and epinephrine would come once the wounds were properly bandaged. There was too much fighting, and too much unknown in the mall behind them to properly pull Ivy out. So she needed to get Ivy moving.

Oriane, on the other hand, was in a more intense situation… A couple soldiers against one, both of them with their sights set on her. She lunged, knowing they would soon fire on her position, and she was correct, with another burst of gunfire ringing outside of her field of view… She did feel one round bouncing off her shoulder pad, however, which told her to keep it moving and not relax. A reminder of how close she was to the same fate as Ivy.

The second soldier sent a fairly accurate burst at her but she’d managed to duck in time to not get hit by it as she moved to get behind the next rack of clothes for cover while she thought of an idea to get rid of both of them in this close quarters fight they’d ended up in. Well, not so much of an idea. More of an instinct that she accepted, and rolled with as soon as it came into her head.

Namely, she sheathed her gladius and reached for one of her grenades, opting to drop it rather than throwing it as she was pursued. It would still have the effect she was hoping for… Only thing that remained to be seen was if her opponents navigated out the way in time. And whether she could get out of the way in time… She pushed herself to the limit speed wise and then dove for added measure, doing whatever she could to keep herself out the blast zone, before…


It was disorienting to say the least, but she was still alive, and she didn’t feel shrapnel in her body. She was shaken but not stirred, but the same couldn’t be said about one of the other soldiers, who hadn’t been able to get out of the radius in time. She was sure the soldier was dead, but… She didn’t have a track on the other one.


So she’d lost this battle of positioning, she realized as her head spun. The other soldier that had survived was coming from behind her, and she was in a compromising position on the ground, even if she did try to push herself up as fast as possible. The next burst of gunfire nearly hit her in the back, but it seemed she’d pushed herself to her feet fast enough, getting ahead in time to hear the shots bury themselves in the ground instead.

Her turn. The first thing she did was spin, disregarding cover for now and valuing a quick attack that wouldn’t give her opponent a chance to go for her again. Holding the rifle in a single hand for the sake of speed, she sprayed and prayed with five rounds… And was satisfied as she watched them stop her enemy in his tracks, his body stiffening before collapsing, rifle dropping to the ground too with a distinct clatter. In the end, it had been a battle of speed and accuracy, and she had been both quicker and more accurate.

Not that she wanted to take her chances on something like this again, though. It very well could have gone a different way.

“Clear,” Oriane said, looking over the area one more time to be sure before starting back to Ivy and Gwen.

Gwen injected Ivy and waited. It only took a short time for Ivy’s eyes to flutter open. Her breathing was rough and shallow, but Gwen heard no liquid. No sign of a conconcussion, and the bleeding was stopped. It was bad, Ivy would be down for a bit, but she wasn’t going to bleed out or suffocate.

“Got her stable and awake, she could probably push the roof with us, but she’ll be moving slow, and even a slight hit just to the armor could knock her out again. She can move if she’s careful, but I’d recommend she stay here till I can get the armor off her and get a better look.”

“And how are we supposed to take the roof like that?” questioned Oriane, standing there with her arms folded as she lingered and looked over the scene, letting out a slight sigh. “Recoilless rifles, possibly more machine guns, more infantry for sure… And probably braced for an attack after hearing the combat happening on this level. A hard fight. Harder when someone’s a liability.”

“Can’t do much about it, the bullets got through her armor. Nothing vital was hit, she isn’t going to bleed out, but she’s in rough shape. She can fight, I’d hold her at the back where she’d be the least direct target, and let her either pick at enemies, or use those plants of hers. If there was a vital hit, or it impeded her ability to actually move and shoot, I’d just be straight ordering her to stay here till the area is secure. As it stands, she can still move and fight, so it’s up to you.”

“Thing is, I don’t know if we can seize the rooftop in this state,” pointed out Oriane, pacing for a moment before she stopped, allowing herself to take in the silence as her ears rang slightly from the earlier action. “So…”

She drummed her fingers against her chest armor for a moment, an absentminded action. “I can ask if command has the resources to blow the rooftop instead of us seizing it. That’s not in the plan, though, and I know they’re not going to be the happiest to get the request in the first place…”

“My recommendation as the medic? Ivy here can still fight and probably use her powers. She-”

“I can probably use some vines from inside to take the recoilless rifles out of commission, just leaving the foot troops, if I have a good spotter to guide the vines from outside.”

Ivy said, her voice wasn’t weak, she looked up at Oriane.

“But an airstrike or strafing run of some kind would be more reliable.”

“Still have to deal with however many infantry are up there. That’s the larger threat, being honest…” said Oriane, pausing. “And being able to fight isn’t worth much if you’re going to get knocked down the first time you get hit. Just going to end up being a liability someone else has to cover if you go down… Which isn’t that unlikely. I’ll call the others and tell them to start evacuating… Air strike can be called on the rooftop. It’s the one place in this damned building that they can probably hit reliably from the air, anyway.”

“Yes ma’am.”

Gwen said as she moved to help Ivy to her feet. Mission wasn’t going as planned, but when did plans ever survive contact with the enemy?

“You know as well as I do that injuries almost always happen.”

Gwen made sure Ivy was steady before packing up her kit. This wasn’t ideal, but at least the target location was cleared enough for a plan B to work in the first place. There’d been much, much worse in ehr time as a medic than this. At least Ivy was still mobile, and they didn’t need to evac her.

“I’m not the one that sets the objectives, and it doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it,” said Oriane, shortly after speaking into the communications line to inform the other section of the squad of the decision and the need to… Pull back. Preferably to the outside of the building, but if they didn’t get that far, they would still be far safer just being on the lower levels. The place was large enough to not get knocked down entirely by an air strike, even if it did collapse the roof in on itself, which was their objective.

“And you should just be happy that you’re not the one who has to explain to the Lieutenant Colonel,” Oriane added, a sharp tone in her voice. “I mean, we’re outfitted like this for a reason. To be able to deal with threats like this one without having to do the thing that the regular troops would do and just call an airstrike in on it because we couldn’t seize the objective…”

“Oh believe me I am glad, but nothing ever goes according to plan. We got pretty damn far before any injury, and none of use are dead. Especially after the unexpected Sinan encounter. The brass is always pissed about something, but they’ll have another target for us soon enough.”

“Fair enough…” Oriane said, making her way in the direction that they had originally come, fully prepared in the event that they ran into more opposition on the way out. Given the turn of luck, she wouldn’t put it past happening. And so, it would seemingly end like this… Their first day of involvement in the battle for Soren, with mixed success. A few objectives seized, and a tactical retreat.

Good… But somehow not good enough, to Oriane. She had the feeling, though, that they would be right back out there soon enough.
When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough. - Maurice Maeterlinck

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. - Washington Irving

It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. - Confucius

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Lunas Legion
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Posts: 30124
Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Lunas Legion » Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:33 pm


Collaborative post by Forest State and Lunas Legion

November 1st, 2025
The Skies Above Uthuez, Koninkrijk Vaanderland

It wasn’t hard to find others in Nycala that would do a job for the right amount of profit… Especially when that job had to do with fighting someone else’s war. Perhaps it was dishonorable, but with all the conflicts that happened in this world, it made sense that mercenary was a lucrative profession. It was also a growing one over recent years, specifically ever since the Continental War. Maybe it was because contractors had played a large role in the post-war efforts of many of the nations involved, and the skirmishes internal and external that came with that turbulent time, or maybe it was because of the increased presence of corporate private militaries and street assassins in the big cities such as Delos and Byelgorod, or maybe it wa some mix of factors.

Whatever the case, mercenaries were part of ‘the scene’ now so to speak, and they weren’t going away anytime soon…

And over the skies of the Kingdom of Vaanderland, their jet engines roared and their dark-camouflaged planes streaked over treetops and residential suburban houses. Mercenaries becoming more common meant that it was easier to create an upstart company. Enough people buying into the idea and enough investors willing to put some money into it was all it took, though that wasn’t to say it was easy, because just that step was enough to trip up most people.

Vlada Krasnova was not most people and Krasnov Air Security was not most companies - as the name suggested, they focused entirely on the air, where there were less contracts going around in general and where the clients were more picky. The missions were often more intense. There weren’t contracts for things such as base security and escorting convoys, but rather ones for interdiction and combat air patrol, for ground strikes against armored columns and hunter-killer missions against enemy fighters rumored to be operating in a certain area.

The high stakes stuff. But again, Vlada Krasnova was not most people, and the Vanderoian businesswoman was not to be deterred by the fact that this route was riskier. These planes, streaking through the sky near the airbase at Uthuez, wearing their dark grey and black training livery, belonged to her company… And she had a solid vision on where they were going to go with this in the future.

It was important to consider first things first, though. Because the current contract, the one they were working on right now… Was not all that prestigious of one. That was to say, it wasn’t a combat contract. It still had plenty of importance on its own, and their opposition in this training exercise were a decently experienced air force in their own right.

That was to say, their young company was meeting the Royal Vaanderland Air Force in mock combat in the skies above Uthuez, and the ‘combat’ section was about to start. If they pulled off a result they were looking for here… Word would spread. It’d be a big deal for the company. And there were bragging rights. Definitely bragging rights.

It was around the time for the opposition to actually show themselves, though in this case, the fight wasn’t being fought with the same weapons they would use in the field normally, but with simulated ones. They each had four missiles in addition to the simulated guns, but they wouldn’t actually be leaving the missile rack when they shot.


-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “HEIRESS”] - [FLT. LEAD ARINKA KRASNOVA] - “Opposition contacts are closing in… About sixty nautical miles out. Second flight, form up, echelon right. Everyone else… Just make sure to keep your heads up and not get left behind.”

-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “WASTELAND”] - [FLT LEAD ASHLEY BRYEN] - “Roger that, second flight form up to my right.”

-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “UBAONER”] - [ADISA WESTE] - “Moving, you fine on my right Avril?”

-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “ARROW”] - [AVRIL MANUEL] - “Yeah, moving.”

-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “THUNDERHEAD”] - [ELIS NANKOVA] - “Moving to take the tip then.”

The incoming tangos matched them in number - though, it was considered a better fighter that the enemy had. While the MC-21 Paladin was an aircraft produced in Bellamar and aimed at some of the nations of the world who needed firepower for cheap, the Jag-24 used by the opposition side from the relatively close by nation of Almark was recognized as one of the fighters that could keep up with even high level competition from nations such as the Union of Andegard, or Sina. It wasn’t a pushover, and they had two groups of four of them headed right at them.

It was a near mirror of their own formation, but that was kind of the point. For the forces to test each other out, or rather, for the hired mercenaries to use their skills to test out the younger Vaanderlandic pilots and see if they were up to par when there was actual pressure. It was hard to tell without putting them in live combat, but since that didn’t happen on demand… Exercises like this were the next best thing, and companies like KAS provided them.

Arinka only pushed forward on her throttle and started to gain altitude to set up longer ranged attacks as she looked to the side at her radar panel and saw the symbols confirmed as the hostiles they were looking for, her heart rate only hardly picking up as she prepared for the simulated fight between the two sides. Fact of the matter was, she had pushed herself harder in solo training… So whatever moves she had to pull off here? They would surely be easier by comparison. The rest of her flight was behind her - but she didn’t know so much about their own mental states when it came to this kind of thing. She wasn’t an expert on psychology, but rather one on flying and getting kills…

Ashley was, well, saying relaxed wouldn’t cover how at ease he felt from being able to fly one of the rare missions when his life wasn’t potentially on the line from nothing more than simple dumb luck. Of all of the two flights, he was the most experienced by a wide margin in terms of hours flown in combat.

Something like this, well, he might as well have gone for a walk for how easy it felt. It didn’t even feel like a proper job to him, not really.

It was a completely different story in Avril’s plane as sweaty hands brought her plane up, eyes darting frantically over her cockpit’s assembly of screens and the incoming radar symbols. She wasn’t that experienced, but everyone had to start somewhere, didn’t they? She just didn’t want to let the company down.

The other two pilots fell somewhere in between those two extremes, Adisa tensed and silent, focused but most certainly not relaxed, while Elis calmly looked over her instruments, mentally counting down until she should gain altitude to attack at range.

The other side was already doing this, of course - and Arinka’s flight, offset to the right, was following her in that lead… The more mysterious flight of the two mercenary ones that were participating in the exercise here today. Not because of their leader. Everyone knew Arinka, sure… She was the daughter of the company founder, after all. It was hard not to know her after spending any amount of time around the company. However, the company she kept was more mysterious than that… Others who didn’t talk as much or were from stranger backgrounds.

They seemed capable enough, however.

It was Arinka’s flight that broke off first, the Jag-24s closest to that one being pulled off with it as it veered to the right, separating the fight a bit into one that was between the two distinct groups of fighters instead of one large melee of everyone involved. That did put more pressure on each group individually, however… There wasn’t room for backup just yet.


-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “HEIRESS”] - [FLT. LEAD ARINKA KRASNOVA] - “I’m taking their second flight with my own… The rest of you won’t be able to call on us for backup, but we’ll keep them off your back.”

-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “WASTELAND”] - [FLT LEAD ASHLEY BRYEN] - “Roger, happy hunting. We can handle this lot ourselves. Pick your targets, fire once in range.”

Ashley didn’t wait for or need acknowledgement as he looked at his radar screen as he brought his plane up to a higher altitude, just waiting until they crossed the mentally set line where he knew he should bother hunting for a lock on an enemy plane, the rest of his flight following him up one by one in a diagonal line behind him.

The other side, however, was shooting from deeper… And if this was a real fight, they would be able to do it. It was a more expensive Almarkian engineered aircraft after all, with foreign missiles which were almost as large as the plane itself and altered the airflow under the fuselage quite a bit. Not that it mattered much from this range. They were aiming to end the fight before it became a dogfight, not after the fact - and their armament was one to do just that.

For the first flight, their radar warning receivers would beep as the simulated missiles gave them a very real threat warning, indicating the shots fired by the other side… It was all digital, sure, but every detail was there in this exercise, including ammunition and the time it would take for the missile to hit. They could still try to avoid it normally, but the technology being used for the exercise was quite advanced and accurate to life.

“Incoming, break.” Ashley said and their formation splintered away from the path of the simulated missiles, but the threat warning didn’t evaporate, the small red indicator still blinking away furiously as flares spewed out behind his plane, seeing a trail of red-orange flares spill out of Elis’ plane from how far away it was.

The indicator stubbornly refused to admit defeat, however, and so he pulled his aircraft up sharply, gaining more altitude as he brought his plane back around in a turn, the red light finally ceasing to blink at him.

They’d missed their first salvo, now it was time to get in closer.

A brief look at his own radar showed that although he and Elis had been forced to break formation to evade their missile locks, both Adisa and Avril had been able to reform alongside one another.

“Coming into range, hunting for locks.” Adisa said as her plane drifted away from Avril’s, both of them hunting for missile locks to retaliate while Elis and Ashley closed in from further back. Adisa didn’t get a lock, but Avril did, a simulated ‘missile’ being digitally subtracted from her plane’s inventory, silently watching the missile to see if it hit or not. She couldn’t use visual indicators for if the missile hit, but it seemed to be on target from what she could tell.

The tech was able to tell them, however, whether or not it had hit the mark. There was a brief flash on the HUD that displayed the fact in easy to see text right in the middle, before it returned to normal… The other opposition fighters were on the move to regroup, of course, the two that had been targeted pulling away to wait for a chance to loop back around but the third fighter that had been unaccounted for taking this as a chance to fire from shorter range, going after Avril and seemingly getting off an accurate shot based on the sudden sound of the radar warning receiver.

“Oh, you fucker.” Avril swore to herself, quickly dumping chaff behind her plane as she turned into a dive, the virtual ‘missile’ seemingly overshooting her plane from how the warning indicator stopped. Now Ashley and Elis had gotten back into range, however, both hunting for missile locks on the remaining three enemy planes as Adisa flew in closer, still hunting for a lock and Avril brought her plane back around, heading back towards the fight.

Two more virtual missiles shot away from their planes, both Ashley and Elis having achieved locks on the remaining enemies, Avril again failing to but Ashley’s missed, the missile tracking screen simply blanking its display of the virtual missile while Elis’ blinked with a hit indicator. Two down, two left.

But the two were coming right at them. Perhaps a rookie mistake, but then again, the pilots they were dealing with here were less experienced. They swung around hard, approaching head on and looking for chances to fire again, but that wasn’t an automatic given within these close quarters - still, both of them avoided the overshoot… And even though their armament wasn’t the best from this range, they took their aim and fired again to cause the warning systems to light up once more. It was Elis and Adisa specifically that they were going for, specifically, though they wouldn't get a chance to add any more attacks into the mix as they overshot the mercenary formation with a close pass…

Adisa cursed as she swung her plane around to chase after the overshooting enemies, her warning light indicator blinking out as she did so, having evaded the missile fired at her while Elis turned her own plane into a dive, evading the missile launched her way.

“Bring yourselves around.” Ashley said, turning his own plane to maneuver to follow after the remaining enemy fighters. “Let’s end this.”

Four versus two was not good odds for their opponents, especially not at closer ranges where their smaller but more agile fighters would have the edge. Adisa had already brought her plane around and began to hunt for a missile lock on the remaining enemies as they flew away, hoping her streak of poor luck didn’t hold while Ashley did the same, Avril’s plane falling in just behind the pair of them and waiting.

Adisa let out a muffled whoop in her cockpit as she finally achieved a missile lock for the first time in the exercise and loosed a missile, watching her HUD as she continued to chase after the remaining two planes, grinning as the HUD indicated a kill. Just one to go at this point as Elis’ plane began to catch up to them. Hopefully the other flight was doing as well as they’d been.

But the air force of Vaanderland didn’t exactly want to go down without accomplishing anything, and the last fighter did a quick turn into the enemy before going with a more risky move, expending both remaining missiles in the attempt to hit something - they were fired pitbull rather than going active radar midway through their flight, effectively meaning they’d be locked onto the first thing the seeker picked up on its own as the pilot turned to peel away quickly. One of them wasn’t heading towards anything and would have simply sailed into the blue sky if this was a real fight. On the other hand, the second one actually tracked and the indicators showed that it was after Adisa specifically.

Adisa turned away from the missile, banking downwards into a dive and more focused on evasion than attempting to score the last kill for herself, figuring that a victory without loss would be better than anything else she could provide as she levelled her plane out sharply, the missile having overshot her.

“I’d be tempted to say we should play with the food and switch to cannons, but the other flight might need us.” Ashley said, starting to look for a lock on the sole remaining enemy, Elis and Avril lining their planes up alongside him in an aerial firing squad as they also sought missile locks. The remaining plane didn’t have much of a chance; of the three planes, both Ashley and Elis achieved missile locks on and they fired almost simultaneously, a few seconds passing before the HUDs blinked indicating hits, the last enemy plane ‘downed’.

“Good job, now let’s go see how Arinka’s lot have fared.” Ashley said, turning his plane in the direction Arinka’s flight had broken off earlier, Elis and Avril turning alongside him, Adisa dropping in at the back behind them.

The battle between the other flights was mostly over at this phase also… Although the only ones that were actually left standing at this point were Arinka and one of the opposing Jag-24 pilots, both of them having dropped to a lower altitude to pursue each other and to evade incoming attacks with the help of the terran to block lines of sight. With that being said, going that low to the ground was always a risk… But in a way, it was more exhilarating. It was possible, after all, to see the terrain up close from that level.

But it was Arinka that was able to get the better angle in the end. Specifically, able to get into a position where her opponent was crossing in front of her plane, at which point she knew what she had to do and pressed on the trigger button, her HUD flashing the hit indicator to show that she’d done what she was trying to do. The other fighter continued on… But the pilot knew that he’d been defeated, and the pilot turned to head back to the origin airbase of the Vaanderlandic squadron.

The mercenaries had done pretty well for a bunch of upstarts.


-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “HEIRESS”] - [FLT. LEAD ARINKA KRASNOVA] - “Took slightly longer than I would have liked on my end but that was a good fought battle… Sent the actual air force packing.”

-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “WASTELAND”] - [FLT LEAD ASHLEY BRYEN] - “Doesn’t matter how long it takes if the job gets done. My flight’s turning back towards base, I’m assuming the air force knocked the rest of yours out one for one based on that they’re not here?”

-] - [KAS] - [MC-21 PALADIN “HEIRESS”] - [FLT. LEAD ARINKA KRASNOVA] - “They headed back after that, yeah… And I’ll get going that way myself. Supposedly, there’s something for us to find out on the ground.”

Fortunately, they weren’t far away from the airbase they had taken off from - the landing was rather quick and easy, the place was actually larger than some of the airfields they had taken off from before in less professional contexts. Instead of a dirt runway they actually had a well lit one that passed all the safety standards this time, which was always nice. Something that actual soldiers could take for granted from time to time.

After they touched down and taxied their way to the apron outside of the hangars, where their planes would eventually be returned by the ground crews, they had a chance to step out of the cockpits and stretch a bit before they would find out about this thing that Arinka had mentioned.

“So, after getting this news mid flight, I suppose I’m the only one that knows about it so far,” Arinka said, shaking out her red hair a bit and letting it extend back to its full shoulder length as she took off her helmet, taking deep breaths from the exertion of the previous dogfight, which… Had involved high G forces to say the least. “Insider’s privilege, you could say.”

“I prefer not getting news mid-dogfight, so I’ll pass on being told earlier.” Ashley grunted, peeling off his helmet as the rest of his squadron one by one jogged over to where they were assembling just outside the hangars. “What is it?”

“Higher tier work, supposedly,” Arinka said as she folded her arms and leaned against the body of her plane, watching and waiting to see just when they would get this announcement formally - she suspected right away based on what she had been told earlier. “I guess I should just say… Well, I don’t know all the details, but expect the vacation in Vaanderland to wrap up. There’s more serious shit to handle. But it pays more when it’s serious.”

“That could be a lot of stuff.” Ashley said, crossing his arms. “I’ll wait and see what we actually get in terms of details, because could be great, could be horrific.”

The other three said nothing, just looking at each other before Adisa shrugged and turned away. She figured she’d improvise when she got there, while Avril looked worried. But… She’d done fine in this little exercise, so she shouldn’t drag everyone else down, hopefully.

“Eh… Things finally getting serious,” said RUslan Ignatiev, the imposing third member of the second flight who may or may not have ties to the Vanderoian crime scene - it was hard to tell either way, but there were multiple reasons to at least suspect it.

“Hey, it’s more money,” said the last member, Tatiana Palzin. And as an Almarkian, she was actually closer to home on this assignment than she was when they were based in the Union, specifically in the megacity of Delos, which served as their main base of operations. While the group had indeed been founded in the Tsardom, the Union being the capital of world commerce made things… Easier for the business they were involved in.

Arinka looked forward as her mother, Vlada, approached from the hangars, lowering her phone which she was holding in her hand and looking over the group of pilots assembled in front of her. “I’d like to say good job on the recent victory, but there’s more important things to get to than training. New contract. It came in recently, and after looking it over, there’s no question about whether it’s worth accepting or not… The new assignment is going to take you all to the dark continent. To Kharsad. The land of both magic… And curses.”

She paused, letting that sink in as she settled her eyes back on the flight leaders. “There’s an ongoing crisis there that you may have heard of or may not have. Regardless, it doesn’t matter if you’ve heard of it or not because you will now be living the situation in Kharsad for yourself,” Vlada continued. “As of now, you are the Fifth Tactical Fighter Squadron of the Inorian Trade League and its defense forces… The details of just what that means will be explained on your way there from the municipal airport across town, where there’s a chartered flight on the ground and waiting. Understood?”

“Yeah.” Elis said, speaking up as Adisa and Avril nodded along, Ashley hesitating for a second before shrugging and nodding once. Wasn’t like they’d all be easy contracts, even if he did want to retire, and preferably sooner rather than later in this line of work. Less chance of dying that way.
Last edited by Lunas Legion on Sat Aug 08, 2020 2:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Last edited by William Slim Wed Dec 14 1970 10:35 pm, edited 35 times in total.

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Postby Durmatagno » Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:48 am


Collaborative post by Forest State and Durmatagno

October 26th, 2025
Clemensen Shopping Center, Soren, Valrik Liberation Government Territory

Night had fallen, and the first day of the battle for Soren had been completed… Not that there wasn’t a struggle, but it was being reported as a victory so far for the side that was aligned with the Union, the Valriki National Accord. They hadn’t taken the city entirely, but they’d made progress with their Union support and their own armored push, and the shopping center was one of the locations that had fallen by the end of the day. The help of the Elite Forces Command had, of course, been helpful to the VNA’s forces in taking the place. Once the heavy weapons had been removed, it was a matter of a more winnable infantry battle to seize control.

Now, they just had to wait to see where their next orders or assignment would take them. For now, though, Alpha Squadron found itself setting up camp within the damaged husk of the building they had been fighting in earlier, all of the floors now cleared of the enemy by the VNA and their soldiers. A makeshift camp, sure, set up as the clock passed midnight and things wound down around the city, but a camp regardless… One with sleeping bags and tents that had been taken from one of the stores in this shopping center. As well as a small TV with an antenna and a cord that was plugged into a wall outlet. It would help if they had a way to stay informed on things before the next day began.

“This is where we’ll stop,” Oriane said, stopping as she reached the place and starting to unlock and take off her armor, leaving it on the ground now that they were no longer in combat. They all knew how to sleep in it, of course… But it was heavy and the upper torso armor was made from hard metal, not exactly the most comfortable for sleep. They’d just have to trust another fight didn’t suddenly break out. “I expect further orders from Regia in the morning.”

Ivy for her part already had her armor off, once pulled from combat Gwen had gotten her out of it and properly patched up. The painkillers she was on weren’t too strong, so there was a constant ache, but she had on fresh bandages, and was up and moving well enough. Gwen dropped her helmet to the floor, not really all that concerned for it. Once free of her torso armor, she stretched, and felt much better, she wished there was a proper shower, but she’d make do with whatever was available. Ava for her part put her armor down gently, and stacked together neatly. Mostly a habit to conserve space, but all three of them were glad to be free of their gear for now.

Oriane herself was silent as she walked over and turned on the TV, adjusting the antenna until the static changed to an actual picture, albeit one that wasn’t entirely clear and was breaking up now and then. But they could see well enough to figure out what they were watching. She was turned to one of the local news channels, where the screen was displaying a podium with the flags of the Valrik Liberation Government draped besides it, a charismatic looking blonde woman standing behind said podium in front of a microphone, apparently in the middle of some speech which was being broadcast live by the local news. Although, it seemed to be a broadcast from the VLG capital city, Starstrop, rather than right here in war-torn Soren.

“Asa Longren… Prime Minister of the VLG. You know, the actual ‘government’ arm of this group that calls itself a government,” Oriane said, sitting down on the ground and staring into the screen, tuning her ears to focus on the local dialect. “A hell of a motivator to not lose much internally from the results in the field… Makes me wonder what you all think of her.”

“Skilled and intelligent to maintain power and order while up against such bad odds. A bit blinded by ambition, or perhaps her faith to accept that they will lose. With her mind, she’ll be a thorn in our side even after her death. A force to be reckoned with as much as the best generals, just taking out her military leaders won’t be enough to collapse the war. She’s got the charisma to keep her quote ‘true believers’ rallied, and fighting long after most armies would rout, and the people will be just as bad. Going to be a long campaign to extinguish the fire’s she’s lighting, even once the war itself is over.”

Ivy said after a few minutes. The civilian and political leadership of a country was as important to a war effort as the military leadership. With her in charge, Ivy believed that this was going to be a bloody conflict with zealots throwing themselves into the meat grinder just for the chance to spit in the face of their hated enemy. The zealots wouldn’t be placated, and pressing too hard would make more from the moderates, exactly what the zealots wanted. To secure the region fully could take decades of work, long after any organized military and government had collapsed.

“She is perhaps a bigger obstacle than their officers, and assassinating her could just make her a martyr.”

“Well, we could knock the whole house of cards down if the top leaders authorized full force… You know, cruise missile strikes, bringing the Air Force into it for real, that kind of thing. But they’re too focused on keeping all those assets tied up for other things,” complained Oriane, before pausing. “And I suppose being too deep into Valrik doesn’t look good for either election candidate.”

“Frustrating, if we brought our full force to bear, they wouldn’t last long, then it’d just be remnants and terrorists to squash. Instead they limit us to few resources, and let the locals do most of the fighting. Suppose they both don’t want the popularity hit, but I imagine a swift victory would be more popular than this slow grind.”

“You both forget that one of them hates the concept of the Union as it is and plans to take it apart,” Gunnar mentioned, of course referring to the most controversial Consul candidate of the campaign season, Galen Reilly. “Says he’s a man of the people and would rather get us out of wars and civil unrest… As if we didn’t get where we are today ‘cause of war. And that he’ll smash the megafirms… Just so the wealth can leave the country. And on the subject of Ostgren…”

Gunnar’s voice trailed when referring to the territory for a moment. “Well, that place is pretty valuable too. And Reilly would let it walk because they don’t want to be here, or something. Along with every resource that’s there. And its population…”

“Well, yes,” Oriane stated. “I can’t exactly consider anyone in this unit who votes for Reilly to be a true member, given… The situation.”

“I doubt many in the military would, giving up so much they, their families, and so forth have fought and bled for. There’s always some, those that look at the face of war and piss themselves, but not most.”

Ivy said as she got a deck of cards out and started idly shuffling them. It was something she liked to do even if she wasn’t using them, kept her hands busy. Ava shook her head.

“More than you might think, there are plenty who march to war and hate it once they have. I do think more than not would oppose him, but there’s no telling how many of each exist.”

“Hmmm…” muttered Oriane, considering the coming election before her eyes shifted back to the TV where the enemy leader was speaking to the press.

“We’ll throw everything we have at them,” Longren said to the cameras, her face confident despite the loss her forces had taken on the opening day of the Soren battle. Her suit, additionally, was perfectly pressed and seemed to fit her style to a T… She was just the kind of person that had a natural presence on camera. “We’ll strike in their land, we’ll pull out things that they haven’t seen yet, we’ll use everything to turn back the results up until this point… I believe the designation has been thrown around before, but it’s about time to officially declare this as a holy war, to let it be known to the outsiders that their empire ends at the border - even if Valriki citizens from the VNA collaborate with them. This is a war for the protection and honor of the old gods… The Restorative Crusade to put them back in their rightful position in our nation.”

“So, we can expect things to get tougher now that it’s officially a holy war,” Oriane added, pointing to the screen.

“Yep, can also probably expect martyrs to start showing up, rile up their allies by giving their lives for the holy war in some spectacular fashion. The zealots can’t, and won’t be placated, we have to crush them fast or it’ll sprout new rebellions. We won’t be allowed to, but we should. Maybe kill her and make it look like it was the SNP, redirect their zealous fury.”

“And get ready to run into demons and the like on the battlefield, I suppose…” Oriane said. “It’s not exactly impossible to bring them to this realm, even if the people around here aren’t as connected in that way as the people down south.”

The broadcast seemed to end as Longren declared the holy war, with the screen fading to a generic background and a distorted version of the VLG anthem playing - mainly distorted because of the bad signal they were getting using this antenna. It played enough for them to get the point from the broadcast, though. They knew their job was going to be harder than it had been when they first came here.

“But,” she added. “If it’s any consolation, I don’t think they can quite summon like the Noveyrans or the Khafrans, for example.”

“I’ve never particularly wanted to face a demon, but if we’re going to have to start, I should probably brush up on them…”

Ivy sighed, her magic, her gift, was strong. Not very flexible, but strong. She had a connection to the green and growing things, from the harmless lilly to deadly nightshade. Demons however were something she’d only ever had to think about in theory, but fighting needed magic.

“Still, I doubt they can bring enough to bear to stop this campaign, just slow it down, though I wouldn’t be surprised if we got called to deal with them every time they crop up.”

Oriane reached and turned the TV off now that they knew the most important thing, which was the enemy’s future plans. Not that they knew all of it, but it would help them with mentally getting ready for what their next assignments would probably be. Wouldn’t be too surprising if they were on a more defensive mission for a bit, responding to the VLG’s increased attacks when they happened.

For now, though, they had time for a bit of rest after the intense events of earlier in the day, which they were all taking in different ways… Oriane, she was, well, kind of restless. Because really, she hadn’t been able to relax and indulge herself much since coming here, thanks to the busy nature of their assignment. “Well, if this were an ideal world… There would be pretty girls here,” she said, stretching as she looked down at her phone. There was no real mistake about which way she swung, she did have somewhat of a reputation as… A notorious playboy to the people that knew her.

Not that she had been able to express that side very much as of recent, with the missions here and such. “But we’re not in an ideal world, we’re in Valrik.”

“There’s always a pretty girl around if you look, just they aren’t in here, they’re out there.”

Ivy said with a gesture towards the nearest exit. There were plenty of people out there still, hiding, fighting, fleeing.

“Yeah but it’s pretty much middle of the night soon in the middle of an active warzone, not exactly the same thing as heading out and finding someone in the Delos nightlife,” pointed out Oriane. “Don’t even know if half the clubs and such are open given the… Circumstances.”

“Some will be, there’s always a bar, pub, or club open, whether to serve the soldiers or help the people here forget. Might be hiding itself, but I’d bet there’s a few open.”

“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt too much to head out, even if it’s late…” Oriane said with a slight sigh - kind of annoyed that she had to head out in the first place rather than being able to stay in. She had already put in quite a lot of work after all, and during a fairly recent time span.

While on the other hand, one of the other members of the group spoke up. “I believe there’s pretty girls here,” stated Drue, glancing to Ava. “Speaking of…” he added, going for his things and pulling out something, a black miniskirt which was from one of the clothing stores, apparently. “I actually did grab this for you from the department store, like I said. Didn’t get a chance to mention it until now.”

“Aww, I bet it’ll look good on me, even if it’s a bit smaller than I prefer.”

“Hey, any girl out this late is bound to be pretty, the ugly ones don’t have a reason to wander around after dark.”

Oriane stood up, throwing her rifle over her shoulder too, although she didn’t reach for her armor again - she wasn’t putting that back on just yet, not with how heavy it was. “Eh… Fine, we’ll head out. Guess the rest of you will just have to watch the lovebirds and be jealous.”

Drue simply chuckled, looking back towards Ava. “You can put it on, y’know.”

“I will, I will.”

Ivy stretched carefully and got to her feet, she wasn’t one to sit around and watch others. If she was going to do something, it’d be heading out or playing a round of cards. Not...whatever this was.

Oriane too, was of course a bit too hot blooded to just sit around doing nothing while others enjoyed themselves - for better or worse, she was the type to jump into the middle of things, even if right now that meant heading out into the night where they had little idea what the situation would actually be. Granted, they weren’t too likely to run into their enemies, considering the VNA’s advance in this area and how they had mostly pushed them out of this suburb.

“Have fun,” she said, waving to Gwen and Gunnar, the two that didn’t exactly fit into any of the things going on right now… But she wasn’t going to get stuck with them, she was sure of that.

Gwen was silent, not very happy that the girl with the recent injury was going to go wander around, but she did nothing to stop it. This time. Instead she did her best to relax, closing her eyes and hoping tomorrow would be a little less stressful, for her at least.

Gunnar offered a shrug and a wave back, leaving the four of them left there as Oriane and Ivy went off, which was slightly awkward considering the tension between half the group that was actually remaining. “So… I guess we’re the third wheels,” Gunnar mentioned, looking towards Gwen.

“For now, usually I’d go drag someone back for Orianne, but the new girl deserves a shot to talk with the commander about shit that isn’t the war, or fighting.”

“It’s Beaulieu… Brave of you to think she’s going to do any talking and not run off on her own the first time she spots a skirt,” pointed out Gunnar. “As for you, I don’t suppose you’d rather get out of here for somewhere else instead of third wheeling?”

“Was going to try to sleep, but finding something else to do sounds better.”

So… It seemed like the group would get split into another pair, meaning they probably wouldn’t be together as a unit again until some time the next morning - it was already past midnight, after all. But that was fine, probably. They weren’t expecting the latest instructions from their Lieutenant Colonel just yet, and there was a lot left to do for the upper brass before they went on the offensive again. There were findings to be had about the Sinan outpost that had been discovered in VLG territory, they had to see just how the enemy was stepping up their effort, and reports had to come in from allies and other fronts to give insight on what the next move should be.

For now, they had a well deserved chance to simply relax.
When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough. - Maurice Maeterlinck

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. - Washington Irving

It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. - Confucius

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Forest State
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Capitalist Paradise

Postby Forest State » Mon Aug 10, 2020 10:42 am


October 29th, 2025
Kajmar, Holy Empire of Noveryas

Black ground extended for miles and miles… In fact, the entire continent of Kharsad was like this. The southern edge of the world, opposite of the continent of Andegard on the northern edge. And yet, despite being located here at the other edge of everything, Kharsad didn’t have the marks of an area that was for all intents and purposes the south pole. The cold, the snow, the ice… Wasn’t present, instead replaced by black soil and sharp rocks, fire and brimstone raining from the sky in cycles and lightning often occupying the stormclouds that were frequent.

A hellscape, by most definitions. Still, it was habitable, because the current state of these lands was not exactly natural - one could say it was the results of a war in heaven, a conflict between spirits and gods themselves in realms beyond the human one that the world of Nycala was in the middle of. That wasn’t to say that the place was uninhabited, because it still was, by billions of people in fact. Across this dark continent, a living had been carved out by a great many peoples. Sprawling cities, active ports, and towering temples were sights that were common to life here.

And with this life that had survived a war of the heavens, and a curse on the land below which blackened the ground and caused the firestorms that the continent was perhaps known for by outsiders… There were several differences. Differences from Sina and its eastern allies, which were a seemingly looming threat off in the immediate distance. Differences from the Andegardian realm, too, as well as the middle of the world, Oseria, the place where the great empires that had settled in much of the world, Andegard included, were from. It was more wild, and maybe, closer to the deities that were worshipped here, that had lost in the clash for the world but still remained as the patrons of the land.

They said that Kharsad was the place where magic was still alive more than any other region of the world, and they said that the people here were more in tune with the psychic realms than the people anywhere else. One of the main seats of this connection was in the holy city of Kajmar, a place where the skies were clear, which was a major difference from most of the other parts of the region. The city was a sprawling metropolis and it was modern, yes, but it had a distinct look to it that was… Definitely elven. Even beyond the fact that it was distinctly an elven city in an elven empire, the design of it stood out even from a human perspective.

Massive highways cut through the city and marked the main lanes of travel, but it was unlike the cramped conditions of Delos, the largest city in the Union, or the megacities of the western coast of Sina, where the urban locales blended together to create one massive megalopolis that had altered the environment entirely. The city of Kajmar was a blend of the old and the new, with plenty of cars populating the highway but green spaces filling the areas to the left and the right of them on either side of the highway, the balance between nature and the artificial maintained through careful design. Further beyond the green, buildings of white rose into the clouds, their designs sleek and their exteriors kept… Cleaner than most cities. Even on these buildings, on balconies and rooftops and such, there were plants and trees, an appeasement to the gods and goddesses of this land.

While much of the rest of the world had fully embraced the rise of industrialization and technology without a care, the inhabitants of the Holy Empire of Noveryas were a bit more discerning with their actions. The capital city and the nation in general were designed more with religion in mind, and at the center of the capital, one of the most notable structures in the Empire as a whole rested in the middle of a ring of forest, a grand avenue leading into it - a great white dome of precious stone and valuable metals, representing the mortal home of the chief deity of the elven pantheon…

It was in honor of Raelthar, who was both the metal god in the pantheon and supposedly the one to have created the world in the first place, and the events that were taking place here today were large enough to warrant having them in the very house of the most important of the elven gods.

For today, there was a new ruler coming into power, for better or worse. The preparations had been made already. The line of succession was certain, the candidate having been prepared for her entire life for what was about to happen now. And the streets of the city were flooded with people hoping to get some look at all of it, and practically everyone who wasn’t on the street was watching on television. It took a lot to capture the attention fully of a nation like this one, but this event was enough for that.

Lady Arys Gelakir, of the House Lyronas
The massive doors to the temple were pushed open by multiple people on either side, and the heiress was now standing closer than she had ever been to realizing her fate.

“Now entering the temple, praised be her name, the defender of elvenkind in Kharsad and beyond these shores, the exalted, the divinely conceived, the astral princess, the most humble, the most gracious, the redeemer, the High Lady of the Blades, she who comes to bring a sword, she who holds the keys to life but also death, the most merciful, the favored, the chosen of the divine pantheon…” one of the military officers standing near the entrance read out, his voice projected to the entire crowd that was gathered outside, and his uniform an immaculate red and black dress one rather than the more functional uniforms used in the field. “Lady Arys Gelakir, of the House of Lyronas!”

Her expression didn’t change as her name was announced along with all of her titles. It didn’t mean much to her. That wasn’t to say she didn’t think a lot of herself, but in her own mind she was just herself, and that wouldn’t change whether or not she had all of these titles. But she did have them and she was about to ascend to the throne, so she… Wasn’t annoyed by the formality.

The inside of the temple was even more formal, with everything laid out perfectly according to the traditions for this kind of thing - because really, nothing was new here except for the set of people that were carrying it out this time. This practice went back hundreds of years, the only thing that was changing with this time being the person that was being appointed the Queen of the elves. Many nations had moved past the time when rulership came directly from gods and kings… But the people of Noveryas still exalted her, her own ‘demigod’ origin story only adding to this.

Was it a true origin story? Well… It was actually hard to prove one way or the other. It wasn’t as if her supposed father from the realm of the gods was just sitting around to answer the question for anyone that was curious about it. She, however, believed it. She was of the belief that if it wasn’t true, her efforts to this point would have failed. But that didn’t happen, and now she was walking down the aisle here, with her crown at the end of it. A crown that she would soon have placed upon her head.

The crowd within the temple knelt as she passed, but she didn’t pay too much mind to that either. She had gotten used to it over the past months when they began to treat her different, knowing that her ascension to the throne was imminent. It didn’t change her state of mind - it was dangerous to assume that people had the best in mind for you just because they treated you better on the surface level… She still knew who she trusted, who she intended to ‘move on from’ as Queen, and who she was keeping an eye on.

Arys Lyronas was young to become the monarch of such a large and powerful nation, but she was sure as hell not unprepared for her new duty.

“All rise,” she said simply, once she was at the end of the aisle, the crown now sitting there in front of her on its white marble pedestal. The crowd obeyed, and the room was silent except for the shuffling sound of people standing up and brushing off their clothes, for a moment before the priest in front of her began to speak. Specifically, a priest of Raelthar, and one of the highest ranking available.

“We gather here today to mark the ascension of a new monarch,” the priest started, overlooking the crowd. “A new page in the book for our nation. All of you already know that Lady Lyronas’ father, Odrakel, was a wise and gracious ruler. During his reign, our nation improved in many ways and our greater connection with the spiritual realm was maintained. However, his reign was also one of conflict. Thirty years ago, King Odrakel oversaw our nation’s efforts in the Continental War, where we forged an alliance of necessity with the Sinans to aid in fighting for the people of this continent against foreign aggressors from Oseria. Today, the world appears to be on track towards another war…”

It was an ominous way to begin a speech, but there was nothing actually inaccurate about what the priest was saying. The world tension right now was indeed high. “Our former ally, the Sina Democratic Republic, encroaches more on the Kharsad continent every day through predatory diplomacy and tough posturing against smaller and weaker nations. Our historical rival, the Oserians, still maintain colonies on this continent. Indeed, not every Kharsadi citizen lives in a free nation, and not every elven person lives under the watchful protection of our monarchy and our ecclesiarchy. The Republic of Angloria, a nation which has committed terrible sins against ours, currently holds some of our rightful land through the illegitimate puppet Dominion of Beldair, a reminder of their ill-gotten gains from the war… The situation cannot remain like this forever. World tensions are on the rise for good reason, and the sins of the past will eventually be righted.”

The priest paused, his point beginning to come into focus. “As Lady Lyronas takes the throne, she will inherit a challenge that her father didn’t have - leading the Holy Empire to recover from these losses and rise stronger, proving on the international stage that the people of Kharsad will not be pushed around or dominated by foreign powers. She inherits a number of rivals, from the Sinans to the northerners, but her divine birth will aid her in handling the unique challenges that lie in front of her. It is my honor to crown her today, to mark the passing of these duties to the new Queen that will lead us into the future…”

Now, it was the turn of Arys to speak. Specifically, her time to speak a vow that she had already practiced numerous times, one that she knew by heart by now… Except, it wasn’t practice right now. It was reality, and she was a step away from what she had been raised for.

“I, Arys Gelakir of the House of Lyronas, swear upon myself and upon my clan, and on our standing before the gods, that I will lead the nation with wisdom and valor… That I will protect our people, at home and abroad, and preserve the values of the elven race. May Raelthar guide my way - and may my rule be blessed by the light of the pantheon,” Arys spoke clearly, her voice not shaking or wavering as she looked up at the priest.

The events at the coronation.
The priest picked the crown up… And Arys waited as it was placed on her head, unflinching as she had already practiced this. The priest was going to step aside, and he did a few moments later, and she walked around the other side of the pedestal and then continued down the main aisle once again to stand at the front of the room, where there was an elevated platform already waiting for her - each step had been practiced and choreographed already.

“I am proud to become your new Queen… But there are many things in this nation and this region that won’t be right until I can get to work and fix them. Originally, there was a large feast scheduled to take place to celebrate my coronation. I told my staff, however, that we would have none of that. I can’t simply relax until these problems are solved,” she began, addressing the crowd. “The Anglorians still hold territory captured in the war thirty years ago, which was previously controlled by us for hundreds of years prior. To the south, barbarism rules and civilization has fallen. In some nations, regular civilians find it impossible to go outside without fearing for their lives as political instability rules the day and criminals replace the state. Some of these lawless zones are responsible for the production of contraband which finds its way into our nation and international destinations worldwide. Hard drugs, firearms which will end up in the hands of criminals and terrorists, and dangerous chemical and biological weapons used on battlefields that the media doesn’t reach.”

She paused, letting her words sink in. “Other areas are dominated by religious extremists and cults which oppress everyone unlike themselves. In these locales, the rule of the state has been repelled by these independent actors, who cannot be trusted to govern themselves… In some cities, people starve while powerful military figures sell off food donations from other nations for a profit. This is all happening in our own backyard, our own region. Perhaps worst of all, the Inorian Trade League which arose from rebellious merchants in our own empire thirty years ago still maintains a hold on lands important to our religion, even allowing humans to rule in these jurisdictions over our sacred land. They are a bandit state, operating not as a government but as a collection of business clans seeking a profit and personal power and prestige for themselves. They still maintain the savage human practice of slavery, which was outlawed by our own nation long ago. Furthermore, they raid our lands for their slaves, carrying off our citizens to never be seen by their loved ones and families again…”

Her voice rose as she continued, and her veneer of calm broke only slightly as the crowd was able to tell just how into the speech she was. She… Genuinely believed that what she was saying was true. That they really did need to tame the lands around them, and that it was the most important goal.

“I declare a new war, on this day. A Righteous War which will push to the south and put the barbarian lands there under new administration for their own good, to end the practices that have afflicted them for decades… While there are greater problems on the horizon to be dealt with, I believe this cannot happen without watching our own backyard and dealing with the problems there. I have already spoken with the leadership of the Grand Kingdom of Khafra. As another regional power, their forces will also be involved in this Righteous War and the peacekeeping effort afterwards. Together, both of our nations will bring civilization back to the southern gulf… Whether they desire it or not,” she concluded.

There was, of course, applause. Because this was one hell of a way to introduce a new reign. A bold way. It could destabilize the entire country if she has misjudged on their ability to actually civilize the mess that was to their south.

But it wasn’t like she was the first leader to overestimate their own strength… Perhaps just the latest.

Regardless, this Righteous War wouldn’t be easy. And as world tensions raised in other places, the Kharsad continent was now about to get set on fire too - for better or worse.
i'm the bad guy... duh.

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Lunas Legion
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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Lunas Legion » Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:19 pm


Collaborative post by Forest State and Lunas Legion

October 25th, 2025
White Palace, Byelgorod, Tsardom of Vanderoia

Right now, Praskoviya Maksimova was possibly the most powerful woman in Vanderoia - it was a huge realm, of course, one of the largest in the world. A lot of people lived here. A lot of them were powerful, too. The state was a feudal one, after all. There were lords and ladies all across the country, which had never moved ahead with the times when other nations around it moved for a more democratic approach. And yet, out of all of them, Praskoviya Maksimova was the one that perhaps stood out the most.

Not because she was a noble, but because she was the one person above them right now, the Premier of the country dating back to the last government… The one that was now gone and waiting to be replaced. They hadn’t foreseen the death of the monarch. Nor had they foreseen the rise to power of that monarch’s Premier as the one guiding the transition process forwards. She fit the role pretty well, though. A stern Army veteran was the person that was needed to make sure such a transition happened without problems.

After all, they did have their enemies. Both in their own region and further abroad, such as the Sina Democratic Republic. Any civil conflict that came from this would certainly be exploited…

“Everyone is aware by now that the initial stage of the conclave was interrupted by a violent incident which resulted in the attackers being killed. Unfortunately, they were killed before they could be interrogated on their hiring and what their affiliation is. It’s safe to say from what we were able to find, however, that the attack was carried out by forces specifically hired to do so. Who hired them remains unknown. It could be an external factor or it could be an internal one,” Maksimova said, from the front of the chamber where the royal houses and their delegations were gathered, herself standing at the center of it and speaking to them from there. Normally, this was a place for meetings of the court to be held. Today, she was the sole one speaking.

“Regardless, the process must go on,” Maksimova continued. “I have made the order for heightened security from the military during the next phase. The Central Directorate of Intelligence has been assigned to further investigate the original incident to test if there are any findings that were missed initially. For now, though, we will continue as originally planned. As is tradition, the candidates shall head north of the city. There, their martial prowess and training shall be tested in the first phase of the conclave proper.”

Ioanna hadn’t been exactly sure to what to expect. That everything was to continue as planned was… Far from ideal, in her eyes, given from what Leigh had said she had been the primary target of the attack, so having to be in a location at a given time and date that would give her assailants time to formulate another plot was… Far from comforting. Especially given that she wasn’t sure how much in the way of connections the plotters could have to the CDI or the military.

Equally, she couldn’t just… Not go, or ask that things be changed. The first would be giving up her ambitions for the throne, the second would be interpreted as cowardice and weakness, and would be doing the same effectively.

No, there would very much be another plot coming. Direct assassination again, perhaps. Maybe a sabotage against her during the testing. Their objective was to not let her achieve the throne, after all, so sabotage would be less effective, but also potentially easier to achieve. For now, she simply would have to watch, and be more wary than she was usually in court.

“Also per tradition, the journey to the north is set to happen via train,” continued Maksimova, speaking as the murmurs from the various members of the main houses began to quiet down. “This train will leave in the evening. If there are any questions or concerns from any of the involved delegations, speak them now. Otherwise… All delegations will be expected to be present to retain their spot in the conclave.”

Ioanna said nothing, her mind instead grinding away. They always went by train, and so that would be the obvious target; she’d have an assigned carriage for her delegation. She’d need to have it swept for bugs and bombs, just in case it wasn’t properly swept beforehand. And if they missed the train, well… She’d need to get the exact time they were leaving, and arrive early so that her security had time to properly search everything.

It might’ve been a good idea to inform the Premier of her suspicious, but she didn’t have anything solid beyond Leigh and what he’d heard, and, if she was being honest, she was not entirely sure she could trust the Premier. Paranoia, perhaps, but when one was dealing with an unknown cabal, well. Perhaps a bit of paranoia was warranted.

With no one else saying something at the question, Maksimova chose to end the meeting. “With that, this meeting will be adjourned,” she stated, leaving the delegations to stand up and choose their next moves.

“I assume we’re going about this a specific way given what happened earlier,” said Yelena Zhurova - notable for being the highest ranking member of Ioanna’s guard… And plenty physically imposing herself, capable of dealing with many problems without even calling in the others. However, she hadn’t been right there when the first attack happened. It was still… Kind of a sore spot for her, a stain on her record which was otherwise flawless. “As there’s no way to avoid ending up in the same place as everyone else. On the way there, as well as once we arrive at the lodge in the north.”

“We know they’re coming now.” Ioanna said, nodding. “More importantly, they know exactly where we’ll be going, and since we know they know that, we can make… Preparations. I don’t know how reliable the military or the CID can be considered; for all we know, our shadowy friends might have insiders. The obvious method will be to hit us on the train. Either a bomb in the carriage, assuming every delegation has one, or, the riskier option, is one on the tracks detonated under ours. We can sweep for the former, the latter… Well, not much we can do, but it’s much riskier. We can turn this back on them if we play our cards right.”

“The timetable is tight on this one. The train is set to leave this evening, which doesn’t leave that much time to check completely and make sure nothing is amiss. However… I do believe that any opposition may not go for something so bold as to attack the train itself. Especially knowing that we’ll be on guard,” said Yelena, pausing and placing a hand on her chin. “The lodge may be the more dangerous location, given we’ll be there for some days and we’ll be mixing with the others… And it’s easy for someone on security to slack off during that time span at least once.”

“And we’d let our guard down after a few days of nothing.” Ioanna nodded. “It’s worth checking the train over, just to make sure, but equally they tried obvious last time. This time I’d expect something more subtle. Poison, perhaps, or if not a lethal one then one sufficient enough to be harmful to my chances in the conclave. The same objective is achieved either way.”

Yelena considered this, nodding. “I’ll inform the rest of the staff to carry out the check on the train in the little time that we have right now. As for who is actually in the delegation, I suppose I have one last question to ask. Do you intend to bring the Andegardski mercenary from before onto the next stages of the conclave?”

“I’ll ask if he wants to come. I’m not 100% sure I trust him quite yet, but equally, he is the only reason I made it out alive during the first attack. If he wanted me dead he’d have done it then, so at worst it’s a long-con.” Ioanna said. “He’s also the only source on the plotters we actually have for now, so best to keep him close. If nothing else, he’s a loose end they may want to tie up.”

“I’m simply not sure about the idea of including a foreigner in the delegation given everything that’s happening… Both because of what could happen and because of what other houses and electors could think about it. I feel that the connection between the two of you will already be spoken about by the other major houses,” Yelena replied. “But if you feel it’s for the best…”

“It’s less I think it’s for the best, more that I think worse will happen from leaving him behind.” Ioanna said. “I can understand your misgivings, but if I leave him behind, chances are our mysterious plotters will either have him killed, or perhaps worse, they’ll offer him his own life if he kills me while we’re absent. He, other than yourself of course, is one of the few people I can say with certainty that likely aren’t part of the plotters. The more people around me I can say that of, the better.”

“Fair enough, then,” Yelena said after a long pause, accepting the answer with a slight sigh. “I hope the decision is for the best, then. Regardless, I’ll head to begin the search of the train… And in the meantime, you should get yourself away from the common areas with the rest of the delegations. Given the recent events, that’s only putting yourself in more danger than you have to.”

“Of course.” Ioanna nodded. “I’ve got no intention of exposing myself to danger, so I’ll get myself somewhere relatively safe. Well, hopefully safe. Can never be too certain about that.”

Later in the day, of course, it was time for the train to leave - it wasn’t exactly a steam engine, but it was indeed a locomotive from the early modern period of rail travel in the country, a traditional design with carriages that were furnished luxuriously, fit for royalty in the most literal sense. Because this one train, despite the inherent danger in that, would be carrying the contenders for the throne to the next location where they would demonstrate their skills in front of the people that mattered most in all this, aside from themselves - the electors.

Nothing had happened so far, as the sun started to set on the horizon and the train pulled out of the White Palace station in Byelgorod, headed towards a location that was not within any city but rather the mountains that sat to the north of the capital, some distance away. But, that could still change at any time. Yelena, of course, was in the carriage that hosted the delegation of House Sizov, and their candidate Ioanna.

But after some minutes of things going normally without anything to report, she walked back to her liege with something to inform her of. “I was told that we have a visitor that would like to speak with you,” she said, lingering for a moment. “Another one of the great house members, actually… Or should I say, another candidate.”

“Let her in, then. It wouldn’t do to be rude.” Ioanna said from where she was sitting in an armchair, looking out the window of the carriage. Offending another great house would be a… Very bad idea, to say the least, especially this early on in the selection process. She already had a shadowy cabal out for her head, she didn’t need a great house as well on top of that.

Yelena nodded silently, moving back to the doorway at the other side of the carriage before she opened it up, revealing the one who was standing on the other side - it was indeed one of the other contenders, specifically Galina Bezrukova. An… Interesting person to show up at this moment. One couldn’t be entirely certain she wasn’t connected to what had happened before, but her persona didn’t really show that, considering she put off a warm and friendly aura most of the time and continued that trend right now with a smile as soon as the door was opened and a wave to her counterpart from House Sizov.

“Ioanna! How are you doing right now? Are you well?” she asked as she walked inside, her heels clicking quietly against the ground as she walked down the main aisle of the rail carriage. She was as much herself as ever, but what that actually said was… Hard to determine.

“Well enough, Galina, given the rather… Harrowing experiences. Not something I’m entirely used to.” Ioanna said, smiling slightly at Galina. It never hurt to put on appearances, and really, it came as easy as breathing to her. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company, if anything in particular? And do have a seat, wouldn’t do to keep you standing up.”

“Just some news that I thought I would report to you. After all, I do hope that you aren’t blaming me and my camp for what happened after the initial arrival. Me, and my house, we were just as surprised by it. And we have our own people looking into it still. With that being said… It doesn’t look like too many facts about that incident will ever see the light of day,” Galina said after she took a seat, her voice softening - her family could do appearances, too, of course. That was important for business. And they were pretty big in business. It was reflected even in their house philosophy, strength through commerce. “But, our findings have revealed something that may be of interest to the others in this race. A meeting between House Komalov and a foreign party.”

“Oh?” Ioanna said, leaning forwards slightly. Enough to indicate interest, but not quite enough to seem overly eager about the information. “I don’t suppose you were lucky enough to determine the origin of said foreign party in particular? If you’re willing to share, of course.” She couldn’t say if the information was true or not, of course, but one learned to take everything with a healthy dose of suspicion in court.

“A meeting between Nikola Komalov, the candidate for their run at the throne, and the largest shipbuilding company in the Naganese Empire… I’m talking about Anzai Heavy Industries, of course. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. One of the largest businesses in the empire and they’ve even built some of the ships for our own Navy, I believe. But, it’s also said that AHI has extensive contacts outside of just the business world. You don’t get that big in a country with such a cutthroat business world without having them, you know? You have to be able to intimidate someone here, cause a little incident in a third world country there…” Galina said, pausing as she explained herself. “I’m just saying. If some foreign party wanted to mess with things with the conclave, AHI has the resources. And, their CFO had a meeting with Nikola Komalov two days ago.”

“Which raises two, no, three questions then.” Ioanna mused. “One, what did Nikola give them? Two, what are they going to do? And three, what can be done about it?” The first two were largely irrelevant; difficult to guess. The third was the important one; what she could do to prepare.

“I can’t say the specifics of the deal… Or if there even was a deal. Mainly because I just know that the meeting happened, not what was said during it. However, I can be certain about the fact that it happened,” Galina said. “The flight numbers don’t lie, after all, and I instructed my team to gather photographic evidence. As for what they can do and what could be done… I’m not so sure about that. But perhaps it’s something to look into? The electors are wary of picking a foreign puppet whether said puppet is responsible for the actions before or not.”

“I’ll see what my own people can find out. Anything more… Firm to use.” Ioanna said, nodding slightly. One less candidate out of the game was always a good move to make, but then she also had to consider why Galina was telling her this in the first place, why not someone else? Maybe it was simply she was better positioned to act on the information than Galina was, or she wanted her and the Komalov’s pointed at one another. No, this was something she would have to think over carefully. The great game was afoot in full now, after all.

“There are ways to find out about these things,” Galina said with a slight chuckle, cocking her head to the side. “For one, magic. But finding a reliable and trustworthy mage with the skill to determine things such as these is a challenge, of course… And it can backfire…”

“A large amount of variables, one would say, for searching for such a piece of information.” Ioanna said, frowning slightly. “And there are other, less… Occult means of determining such things. One uses the best means at one’s disposal, after all.”

“They say that a fae is one of the best at intrigue,” stated Galina, with a slight shrug. “Of course, we’re far from the places where one would find such beings… But if you did want to go down that route of finding out through magic, I could probably help. I intend to use that strategy myself, after all.”

“Bold of you.” Ioanna said. “And if you are going to do that anyways, well, your assistance would certainly be appreciated.” She didn’t entirely trust Galina; she was, after all, a rival candidate. But she wouldn’t have said all this to her unless it didn’t matter to her strategy, and having a piece of information like that on a third party, well, that could be most useful. The field would gradually be whittled down, and there was no guarantee that Galina would make it as far as she did, and if that was the case, well, alliance was then a possibility.

“Then I’ll update you when I get word back from the colonies about finding such a fae that can be of assistance…” said Galina, pausing before she leaned in and kissed her counterpart on the cheek - typical of her, probably… Was always hard to determine her intents but she seemed to be the type that liked to keep others on their toes, which she and her family were generally good at doing with their mannerisms. “So, if you don’t have anything else, I suppose I should be off…”

“I don’t.” Ioanna said, slightly confused by Galina’s kiss but not showing it. It didn’t mean anything, after all. “Not that’s of major relevance, at the very least.”

Galina smiled and stood up, though she paused before she could turn and leave. “Oh, and one more thing… You’ve managed to snatch Leigh out of my hands, haven’t you?”

“I didn’t know you knew him.” Ioanna said. “Or, at the very least, it slipped my mind, I think he may have mentioned he worked on a contract for you one time.

“I’m the one that brought him to the conclave in the first place, dummy,” Galina said with a chuckle. “Buuuut… Yes. We originally met each other because Leigh was one of the ones to aid my family in handling a revolt. I suppose he’s a part of your camp now, given the affair between the two of you. I mean, I’m sure you want to keep your lovers close and all during these hard times…”

“No hard feeling about all that, I hope?” Ioanna said, smiling even as inside she couldn’t help but wonder how Galina had gotten her hands on that particular piece of information. Irritating, yes, but not something that would completely obliterate her chances if it got out. “And you would too, I’m sure. One needs all the friends one can get, these days, the more loyal the better.”

“Is this the new way that House Sizov secures the loyalty of its allies?” laughed Galina, her friendly tone contrasting with the words that were perhaps insulting depending on how one chose to look at them. “Fair enough, I guess.”

“One uses all the means at one’s disposal.” Ioanna shrugged dismissively. She wasn’t about to rise to such petty insults, not here and now. “But do be careful, Galina. My instincts say that the group, whoever they were, that attacked the party might try something again here. Not sure who they’re after, of course, but… Well, best to be careful. We’re all in one place again, after all. And I’m not sure what the procedure is if all of us candidates die.”

“I’m still on guard, yes… Because really, it could be anyone behind it. It could even be you and your family,” Galina said with another one of her signature chuckles, turning back towards the door she had entered through. “Well, I guess I should get going… Best of luck in your future plans.”

“You too.” Ioanna said, turning her attention back to the window. She wasn’t quite sure if she’d been gotten the better of there or not. It was hard to tell, sometimes. But it was just one battle regardless. The war, well, that was still ongoing, and yet to have a victor determined.
Last edited by William Slim Wed Dec 14 1970 10:35 pm, edited 35 times in total.

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Forest State
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Founded: Aug 23, 2016
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Forest State » Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:45 pm


Collaborative post by Forest State and Lunas Legion

November 4th, 2025
Newport, Newport Capital Region, Union of Andegard

It was a typical day in Newport - business was happening as usual within the walls of the many neoclassical buildings that dotted the landscape of the capital district, while some of the more fancy glass structures rose into the sky in the distance, mainly from the downtown skyline and the residential areas where apartments towered over the rest of the landscape. The government was working on the typical things the government worked on - but there was more to think about these days. After all, the Consul election was only about a week away.

And that gave Damia Law a lot to think about. Because as the election date came closer, a lot of the duties of preserving the nation throughout it fell on her own shoulders… This wasn’t a case of a regular election where things would persist regardless of who won. It was a matter of whether or not the nation would be split, and which path it would take in the future…

Which made it her business, as the one that was appointed to act outside of the will of the Senate. As the Imperator who was supposed to stand strong in times like these - even if it caused civil war. Her position was around perhaps specifically in things like this, where civil war was on the table. She didn’t intend to back away from it.

But… As the election between Marcus Dominus and Galen Reilly approached, she wasn’t sure exactly what she could do. Or what she should do. Both sides had their momentum… But one of the sides practically guaranteed conflict win or lose. She knew well that if they saw the upstart Reilly elected… The nation would no longer appear the same as it had in the past. And it wouldn’t change in a good way, her and her faction believed, even if Reilly’s supporters believed differently. On the other hand, if Reilly lost…

Well, she had to believe that a civil war was on the cards. Especially if the results were close. If they were disputed. Doing nothing wouldn’t help in terms of avoiding a conflict. In fact, a conflict was likely already guaranteed, and if that was the case… Perhaps acting first was the right move.

Damia picked her phone up. She could at least begin planning that, before the date of the election… There was going to be conflict either way. She could move into position to strike first, on behalf of the Dominus administration. Sure, they would be the ones starting the conflict. But in a civil war, things were never fair.

“I need you at my villa as soon as you can make it…” she said, pausing as she stared out the second floor window, looking at the skyline that was off in the distance. A reminder of what was at stake, in a way. “Important business. Not pleasure.”

“It never is, with you. I’ll be there.” The voice on the other end of the phone was curt and to the point, but that was what one wanted when you sent out a phone call like that. No pleasantries, just what needed to be said.

It wasn’t a drive Flavia wasn’t used to making, when you were the head of the Frumentarii, most secretive part of the Ministerium Intelligentia which barely even answered to that organisation in the first place you ended up meeting with the Imperator in more informal circumstances than most others would ever dream of. Still, she made it in good time as she drove out of Newport, the low roar of her car’s engine rising as she approached the villa before cutting out as she pulled up in the driveway, quickly climbing out and making her way up towards the door with quick steps.

She wasn’t someone who wasted time when she was on the clock. And this time, well, she felt she most certainly was.

The door opened, and Damia was standing there just as expected - although, she was less formal than she was in public life, her black hair hanging unkempt instead of carefully arranged, her attire consisting of a black tee shirt and a pair of shorts rather than anything substantial. She wasn’t exactly the formal type when the situation didn’t call for it, after all… She was more of a functional type of person, not preferring things that didn’t have a clear purpose in accomplishing the goal. There was a reason she was Imperator and not some Magister or Senator.

“You can come inside,” she said, stepping back into the villa, which was as large as one would expect from someone of her position. She lived alone, though, keeping neither roommates or slaves in this large place. Perhaps out of paranoia. Perhaps because it was a retreat from the busy political world where it was possible to enjoy the silence.

Flavia stepped inside, briefly scuffing her shoes before slipping them off as she shut the door, following Damia inside. “What’d make you summon me ASAP, and with a week before the election no less? I assume they’re connected, unless there’s some foreign crisis that exploded without so much as a cinder beforehand.” Flavia asked, reaching up and scratching at her neck. She needed to know what she was here for first, after all, before she could set her mind to handling whatever it was.

“There is a foreign crisis - new queen rising to the throne in Noveryas and coming out with a more aggressive stance than anyone thought. They’re about to face off with the Anglorians at sea for the fate of the Beldair territory… But that’s not the reason I called you here, exactly,” said Damia, walking further into the villa. “I called you here because I believe making the first move is necessary given the current situation around the election… In fact, I believe it’s the only move.”

“And that move is?” Flavia asked, curious, following slightly behind Damia. “If you wanted me to meddle, well, I’m good, but there’s only a week left and I don’t think I can rig an entire nationwide election in a week with no prior preparations or planning for it. So I’m assuming you have something more subtle planned, then.”

“Well…” Damia started, her voice trailing off as she stopped in the middle of the room. “I believe our nation has many parallels with the Costenzan Empire. Of course, you can see where the aspects of the political system are shared, as well as parts of the culture… Your very name, even. Also, the history. Underdog nations that have risen to become the dominant powers of their time - but, both nations also have a history of civil war. Perhaps the best move here is… To learn from history and not allow the other side to initiate the civil war first. Maybe the Costenzan Empire would have lasted longer if it had followed that plan back when it was still surviving.”

She paused. “I intend on working with the current administration to push through legislature criminalizing Reilly and his party for their policies which advocate for splitting the Empire. You already know the argument, of course - that it’s not worth it to hold this barbarian territory of Ostgren, because of the different culture and the different language and the different gods. That it would be better to work with this territory as its own independent nation rather than spend further resources on holding it and attempting to pacify it to our own ends. However… This obviously has more downsides than Reilly would let onto. I intend to criminalize the Ostgren independence movement and move the 1st and 5th Legios into the Newport and Delos area to carry out the enforcement of this… While putting the rest of the military on alert that the decision almost certainly will create a war in Ostgren.”

Flavia let out a low whistle. “Bold, Damia. Bold. I thought you were going to try and stop the civil war, but… With only a week to go before the election and everything currently in play, the assumption that a civil war is inevitable is… Not unreasonable.” And from that assumption, it was far better to start it on one’s own terms than to let the enemy do so. “You would start a civil war while the enemy is unprepared, catch them off guard and destroy them or at the very least weaken them in a decapitation strike.”

Flavia nodded approvingly. “I can work with this as a plan. And where is the place of me and mine in it? You wouldn’t summon me here just to tell me your plan while leaving out the Imperator’s poisoned knife, would you?”

“You and your forces are responsible for quite a lot. In fact, I would say this operation warrants expanding the forces under your command to suit the current situation… You may draw from the Ministerium Intelligentia, the armed forces, and the private contractor ranks. But as for the work itself… You’ll have a hands on role with dealing with Reilly and the Popular Unionist Party. Specifically, dealing with the leadership. Making sure that who we want to have captured is captured and who we want dead is dead,” Damia replied.

“Getting down and dirty I see. You’ll need to give me a list of whom should meet what fate, and which of the capture targets should be killed if capture becomes impossible because of unforeseen circumstances.” Flavia said, rubbing her chin. “Do you have a D-Day and an H-Hour for all this, assuming we’re all going to be moving at once in unison? I’ll need to pick my teams, assign targets and then let their leaders plan accordingly. I assume you’d prefer for me to handle Reilly’s fate personally, yes? Just to make sure.”

“Preferably…” Damia said after a pause, nodding. “And no, I don’t have all the details yet. But this would take place just before election night. Strike when the enemy is focused on that. As for the lists and such… I’ll get that to you. But I suppose I felt it was fitting to tell you first. Before drafting the entire plan and giving it to the people that need to know.”

“It’s appreciated.” Flavia said, smiling slightly. “Most of the opposition will likely be gathered together on election night, so that will be the main target. Not sure where exactly that will be, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find out. A list of the most… Reliable units of the armed forces would be appreciated, I have my own list of contractors and a separate one for the Ministerium, but given I’ll be dealing with the lower ranks I don’t need some sympathiser blowing this operation in advance. A week makes vetting them… More difficult than I would like. Other than that, well...” Flavia stretched her arms out above her head, rolling her shoulders eagerly. “Not every day you have to plan what some might consider a purge.”

“The 1st and the 5th are known as some of the most loyal and reliable, which is why I’ve included them in the plans for the most sensitive tasks. The situation will be plenty intense, however, so it’s… Hard to predict what will happen. I’ve planned for the 5th to be deployed to Delos because riots should be expected in the city - the largest in the country, as they break out in other parts of the country also… Ostgren, primarily, but also cities in the Union proper,” Damia said, lingering for a moment. “I’ll see about having the most likely units to rebel, mainly the ones based in Ostgren, moved to the border with Valrik or Karonia. Out of action, at least when the plan is first initiated.”

“I won’t need that many soldiers, these are just politicians and their bodyguards after all.” Flavia said. “So their reassignment shouldn’t interfere with any other operations. I’ll use them for capture targets, and the more reliable of my contractors for kill targets. Political assassinations with an upcoming election shouldn’t make them raise too many eyebrows, after all.”

“The larger concern is what happens with the military in regards to the riots and uprisings that can be expected from the supporters of the defeated side - after all, Reilly has managed to gather a bit of momentum, especially considering some of his other policies which was seen as being in favor of the people… Breaking up the largest firms in the country which have gathered their fair share of enemies, for one. In a way, you could make the argument that Reilly is the politician of the people, which is unfortunate for our own administration, and that the main problem is that his party is the one of the wrong people, that is to say, the barbarians in Ostgren. We didn’t fight the wars of the interior to conquer these barbarian lands simply to release them because of the civil conflicts that come with their integration,” Damia spoke. “If there could be a compromise on that one issue, I suppose a civil war wouldn’t be needed. But we’re already past that point.”

“Long past.” Flavia nodded in agreement. “But just because we win this civil war doesn’t mean the root causes have gone away. You’ll need plans to ensure that those are dealt with, so there’s not another one a few decades down the line with the same reasons behind it, just different people leading the charge. Just like the Costenzans, if I remember my history correctly.”

“I believe we’re already at that point given our own civil war in the past - we can only hope to do better in the future than we did after the initial one in our own country…” Damia admitted, letting out a slight sigh. It seemed that due to the circumstances, she would end up in this position perhaps longer than she had expected. Which she considered both a good and a bad thing. It was a rewarding job, but it was also stressful for obvious reasons.

“I should also inform you that a new Congress of Oseria is scheduled for after the election date,” Damia stated further. It had, of course, been a long time since such a meeting had been held… Such a meeting was primarily between the Union and its Oserian allies from the Continental War, but that had been thirty years in the past. There wasn’t even a formal alliance these days, now that things had changed for many of the nations. “It was scheduled in advance, before it became clear that there would be a conflict in our own country, of course. But there are many things to talk about. Not the least of which is countering the threat of the Sinans and the Noveyrans - powers which are now active again… And dangerous. And in the case of the Sinans, operating in our own backyard through their ties which have been uncovered with the Valrik Liberation Government.”

“Great, foreign politics on top of our own domestic situation to handle.” Flavia said, rolling her eyes but smiling jokingly. “And so you’ll be attending that, obviously. You can’t exactly not attend, even with our nation in conflict. I assume you either want me to remain here in your absence, and make sure things don’t fall apart, or to accompany you to it then?”

Damia was slow in giving her reply, but she eventually did speak. “I would prefer if you were present,” stated Damia, scratching her head. “Especially knowing the recent activity in enemy operations, it would… Make me more comfortable.”

“Then I’ll accompany you to it, of course.” Flavia said, bowing her head slightly. “Some basic counter-espionage would be… Light relief, by comparison to my normal role.”

“It’s not a light duty,” Damia reminded her. “As I said, Sina has grown more active - perhaps operating the closest to us since the Continental War with their outposts in Valrik. I don’t know what would happen at an event like this… But I do half expect one thing or another.”

“It’s light compared to paperwork.” Flavia said, smiling. “It’s been a while since I was last properly out in the field like that, but you know I don’t take such things lightly. I’m not sure exactly what they’ll try, but I have a few potential ideas. I’ll have them narrowed down by the time we depart. Now, unless there’s anything else in particular, or you just want the pleasure of my company for a bit longer…”

The statement seemed awkward to Damia, who stuttered slightly with her reply, folding her arms. “Eh? Why do you have to phrase it like that?”

“Phrase it like what?” Flavia said, still smiling. “Has all the politics started you making read into things too much?”

“Perhaps,” Damia replied quickly, her voice turning more stable in a quick moment after she had originally stuttered. “But I didn’t really think of you as the type of person to throw things out pointlessly. I see it worth reading into what you say…”

“Maybe I just throw the occasional thing out pointlessly to catch you out.” Flavia said, her smile changing into a satisfied smirk. “Or maybe I don’t. But really, unless there is anything else you need or want, I should probably be going.”

“Er… I won’t stop you,” Damia nodded, scratching her head awkwardly again - maybe because she just wasn’t so used to social interactions like these, being more used to the harsh nature of Andegardian politics. “I did give you a lot to handle after all.”

“I mean, handling a lot of things is just my job.” Flavia shrugged, turning away. “I wouldn’t have it if I couldn’t handle it. I’ll see you… Probably after I’ve done all my work for this little operation of yours, unless the gods decide to throw another crisis at us in short order, of course, or something else I’m urgently needed for comes up.” Flavia added, starting to make her way out of the villa, back towards her car. It wasn’t a long drive back to her penthouse, but depending on how the traffic was, well, that might not be fun at this hour.
i'm the bad guy... duh.

for: the anime right
anti: people who step on snek


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