NATION

PASSWORD

Over by Winter (CLOSED)

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Zaambate Te Ahaa
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Over by Winter (CLOSED)

Postby Zaambate Te Ahaa » Mon Apr 11, 2022 9:19 pm

Nãgungire was a small village in the south of Zaambate Té Aháà, fewer than 40 permanent residents living there, and typically it was very quiet. It was nestled in the middle of an expanse of jungle, almost like a cul de sac with only one road going out. At the village gate was a checkpoint, with two armed guards sitting in the back of a pickup truck, and further down that road was the Temple of Vodan, and another military checkpoint with considerably more soldiers, that could not be passed easily. Further up the road from that is a small river that loops around a hill that the locals call Forget-Me-Not for the abundance of the flower there, but our current story does not venture that far. It began long ago, in a way, when revolution broke out in the 90's, and it represents the final embers of that bitter conflict where brother slew others, our present tale.

Officially, the war ended back in February, when the rebels finally captured the royal palace, and thus the capital, Sânkot'. The last of Nkolé, who is dead and of little consequence, was the last in the line that mattered among the Höhenzollern-Xuigebo Dynasty, which had been in place since the 1940's and now the House Takani presented patriarch Drazhaan Kelbon as their successor. He had led in the rebel faction, and had resided in Sânkot' since its capture and from there oversaw the final defeat of the old regime in all of its bastions, save their one at the Temple of Vodan. The Aháàng people are exceedingly religious and superstitious, and the priests at that temple were also loyalists, along with the 53 soldiers of the old regime that had taken up residence there, and the presence of the priests and their shouting of curses kept the new regimes soldiers firmly at bay.

Though the soldiers in the temple were foiled many times, they were thoroughly dug in, and as all assembled, old and new regime, were members of the Temple of Greater Unity, they all knew that no bullets could fly within the temple and that therefor the siege would last until the last of their food ran out. And yet, Drazhaan had vowed to forgo his coronation until the siege had ended, vowing it would be before winter came in. And so shadows met in the deep hallways of Sânkot', and they decided that something needed to be done sooner than that, but that what needed to be done would be controversial. They had heard word of Kestrel, the premier military service in Asucki that had come to renown in many lands, and they knew that though foreign bullets in a Unity Temple would be decried at length by the public, that they needed their problem to be solved in a manner that Kestrel could best provide, and that the scapegoat in their deal was Dede Anur.


Dede Anur had booked his AirBnB well in advance to the Kestrel operatives' arrival in Nãgungire in a quaint cottage that was on the outskirts of the village, and he expected it to be exceptionally peaceful. He felt he needed such retreat, having the weight of a coming skirmish upon his shoulders, but Dede came to misfortune on the day he arrived to find that the local farmers guild associates had taken the liberty of clearing a 'landing pad' next to the 'abandoned shack', and that they worked to maintain it for Kestrel's arrival daily, from early dawn until late evening. The coming and going of soldiers in and out of the village was an hourly occurrence though Dede didnt understan at all why, and the villagers were a lively and kind, but noisy folk, and jogged a foot trail that passed Dede's window early in the morning.

Dede yawned into his coffee from the village kettle that they had assembled earlier that day as he watched the sun come up. He palmed the briefcase at his side; the moment of Kestrel's arrival was close at hand, and so the anxiety in Dede's throat grew for himself, for the soldiers, and for his family back home who would come to be hurt by Dede's dealings with foreign sellswords. And yet the weather was growing more brisk as the cooling rains of fall threatened the sky, and the intervention was overdue. He heard a truck pulling in through the village gate, and knew it was the transport for the operatives who soon would arrive. Travel was always a pain in Aháà, due to its uniquely frustrating geography, and so a landing pad had to be cleared and regularly kept up, as said, for the sake of convenience for the foreigners. And yet in a week or so, the jungle would claim all that land again, and it would be as though Kestrel had never once been there.

But yet, here they came. Dede's chest and mind raced one another as he heard the whirring of helicopter blades coming near. He held the money agreed upon as a down payment firmly in his hands, and he muttered a soft prayer. He rehearsed what he would say to them when they arrived, he prayed once more, and then he resigned himself to waiting.

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Asucki
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Asucki » Wed Apr 13, 2022 11:45 am

Kestrel Military Contracting’s primary complex was located just outside the outskirts of Novaera, situated on prime coastal real estate. The nation’s low coastline allowed for amphibious landing trainings and the flat terrain made for a smooth and gentle runway. This runway was quite large, easily capable of launching bomber aircraft if necessary.

The tarmac was dotted with small groups of soldiers chatting amongst themselves. Some small planes took off from the runway behind them. Two black transport helicopters rested on landing pads next to the hangars. The ground crew was fueling them and doing final checks before the flight into Zaambate Té Aháà.

A whistle blew in the distance and the chatter on the tarmac stopped. The smaller groups merged into a large one, which was then formed into a row of Kestrels standing shoulder to shoulder. Andrei Kerivić approached the line, twirling a whistle around his finger by its attatched lanyard.

“Mornin’, gentlemen,” he said, facing the newly created row. A series of various responses emerged, variations on “good morning.” Things were pretty relaxed in Kestrel, at least during the downtimes between operations. After the greetings were over and everyone had quieted back down, Kerivić spoke again. “We all know the mission, correct?”

One of the Kestrels in the line responded. “Yes, boss. Take out the rebels. Minimum force. Clear things up before it gets cold. We’ve all read the briefing.” Such a casual and almost mocking response was nothing new to the Kestrel leadership. Rank and command structure existed within Kestrel solely as a necessary tool for getting a job done and done well. Outside of missions, everyone was given an equal degree of authority and respect.

“Right. Good. We’re outta here in fifteen minutes. Get your equipment on the choppers.”

At this, the line broke, and the soldiers jogged over towards the main building near the tarmac to pick up their gear. Their equipment was stashed in duffel bags which had been packed the night before and piled up just inside the door. All of the bags contained a rifle, half a dozen loaded magazines, and a first-aid kit. The members of the reconnaisance squad had packed maps, navigation devices, and the base materials to create a ghillie suit.

They made short work of the pile. After everything had been packed, they took their seats.




“We’ve entered the client’s airspace. Landing in ten,” came the voice of the pilot of the leading helicopter on the Kestrels’ headsets. Andrei Kerivić was inside this leading helicopter. He was discussing the mission with his men, and giving them half-joking reminders to behave themselves.

“Remember, they ain’t gonna be throwing us a parade. They’re not thrilled about throwing our foreign rifles at their trouble. Keep things on the down-low and hopefully we shouldn’t have any problems.”

The pilot's voice came back over the radio. “Place looks like a deathtrap to me. Can’t see nothing but trees. I was told that they prepared a clearing for us to land, but I’m not seeing anything yet.”

Kervic responded. “I see what you’re sayin’. Forest looks pretty dense from up here. I’d be shocked if it doesn’t take a couple passes to find this clearing.”

A soldier chimed in. “Well, try not to crash. Since the mission hasn’t officially started yet, if we lose the bird it’s coming out of our checkbooks.” This got a small laugh out of the soldiers. After a few extra passes over the forest, the pilot was eventually able to locate the landing zone in the village of Nãgungire, and he began the process of touching down. The helicopter landed, the force of its rotors blowing loose leaves and light brush into the air.

“We’re here. Everybody off,” the pilot said, eager to leave the thick brush behind in favor of the clear airspace over the treeline. The bags of equipment were hastily unloaded and piled outside of the doors. This first helicopter was for transporting the soldiers, so the bags were the only cargo. Kerivić, now on solid ground gave the pilot a kind of half-salute-half-wave, indicating that everyone was off. The pilot nodded and returned his vehicle to the skies once more. The other helicopter which had followed closely behind for the duration of the trip landed shortly after.

This secondary helicopter was loaded with the heavier equipment that the team could have possibly required. The soldiers unloaded several crates of weaponry and ammunition. Another crate contained heavy tactical gear and ballistic shields for an entry team. These crates were unloaded. The second helicopter stood by on the landing area to accept the first part of the payment.

Kerivić walked over to where Dede Anur was standing, flanked by a Kestrel on each side. His mouth curled into a small smile as he reached out his hand in greeting.

“Lieutenant Andrei Kerivić, at your service, sir.”
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Zaambate Te Ahaa
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Over by Winter (CLOSED)

Postby Zaambate Te Ahaa » Thu Apr 14, 2022 10:13 am

"G.I. Drop is in, we're about to start moving periahables into the store. Shall we distribute smokes?" Spoke Makabe, the driver of the truck, into the truck radio. It was code, of course, and one that Makabe did not enjoy the necessity of, and so he spoke it with a sneer as he waited back for confirmation from commander Konstantin over at the forward camp. At the forward camp, Konstantin was much more cheerful of the news, albeit slightly less when he remembered the code.

"Negative, Makabe. I'm fiending for nicotine, and I gave my last Basic Light to Espe, and she smoked it without me. I want them at the soonest convenience." And with that, the transmission was ended. Though all in the tent knew the code, Konstantin still felt the need to clarify that it was indeed true, and that he was indeed still miffed at Espe. He stepped out of the tent then for fresh air, and to await the arrival of Kestrel. He looked, squinting into the doorway of the temple as the temples vanguard changed their shifts, silent sentinals barring his soldiers entry. "Silly bastards," he muttered. "Your treasonous number is up, and you don't even know it." The changing of the guard completed, and Konstantin saluted them, with a knowing smile. One of the guards flipped him off, and so Konstantin, laughing, turned his attention to the road to Nãgungire.


Back at Nãgungire, reaching the village center,where everyone apparent was assembled, it would appear to the foreigners that all 40 villagers lived in a sum total of 6 buildings, as that was all that stood in the village, but this was in fact incorrect. All 40 or so villagers actually lived in only one of the six buildings, and the other five were for specific yet varied purposes. They were long, squat buildings, built in the way that their ancestors had done so; short cielings of cylindrical or circular buildings with a triple reinforced skeleton inside, with wooden windows, and a garden of flowers and prayer flag hanging from each such window, and foliage replaced almost entirely paint as the means with which each building was decorated. It may have seemed an odd architectural choice, but it preserved much of the buildings' integrity in the event of tropical storms or earthquakes, the most recent of the latter having been two weeks ago. Asprimitive as they looked, exteriors of primarily wood and thatch, much of the insides were shockingly modernized, with (sparce) concrete and technology that improved their quality of life (The Storehouse and Water Filtration Facility, which was one building, for example, was fully equipped for the preservation and proper storing at length of food and the safe filtration of water.)

The village center was characterized today by the bonfire, preparing several kettles of hot beverage and a table of the remnants of breakfast left out (which was typical). What was atypical was that over the coffee man's whistling, the roar of a truck like a covered wagon springing to life, and plainly, that Dede Anur wore a suit and tie, as everyone else assembled was either a villager in leathers and furs, or a soldier in fatigues. As Andrei approached him, he mad a gesture of blessing, palm facing outwards and fingers curved as though he were miming a wave. A man at his side, a young soldier, approached ahead of Dede with a salute, and smiled to Andrei; Jan here had the honor of diplomacy today, because he was the only man of the more than 40 assembled a Nãgungire who spoke English, aside from the Kestrel operatives. Dede spoke, and Jan translated.

"Faxala hòna," Jan began in his native tongue, as the phrase was sacred, and taboo to translate into any language. "*Um bõ?", he continued, forgetting to translate. "Welcome to humble Nãgungire, in county Djare, friends. Dede asks, were the winds your guide, and the trees the negotiable? I pray twice; once that you will allow me the honor to introduce Dede Anur, of the 18th Order of the Recruiters' Guild rare will it be that you meet an Aháàng of such standing. Secondly, that you will forgive us, as Dede, and mostthat you will meet today are ignorant of your language, and so I will accompany you for the brighter day of your journey. I am Jan Huuk, in my 8th year of combat for the Mfusi-Nkolé."

"As it turns, misfortune has become your fortune." Jan continued to translate. "In the days since last we spoke, Dr. Tatanogaki's primary assistant passed in her sleep of blissful elder age, and her body has since been prepared for burial in the infirmary." Jan pointed to one of the buildings, the tallest one with two stories but still less than 20 feet at the roof, which was surrounded on all sides by either a very large and peculiar garden, or a miniature farm. This place was also a sweat den, and a brewery, as many of the symbols on the outer walls suggested. "But as the people of Nãgungire are buried at the Temple of Vodan, her services have been long delayed, and it seems to be that anyone, nor matter their persuasion, who cleared the path to the temple would win the hearts of at least this minor collection of Aháà."

Indeed, the looks they got from the villagers themselves were less hostile than they were told to expect. Their gazes (and gaze they did, filled with curiosity) were more neutral, examining. The older men were more displeased, but all others were more concerned with burying their dear medicine woman than with the foreigners with guns. "If you wish to get settled, they have prepared extra kàfi this morning, and the last of breakfast is still warm." Jan smiled as he offered, but then his face turned grim. "Or else, if you are resolved and urgent, we can help you load your things onto thd bumper, and I can brief you on the drive there. No matter your choice, you will find with Mr. Anur here the promised dinaro." As if on cue, Dede stepped forth and bowed his head, holding the brief case with the agreed upon down payment out for Andrei to receive.

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Asucki
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Postby Asucki » Thu Apr 14, 2022 3:22 pm

Andrei waited for Jan to finish translating all of Dede Anur’s words before giving his response. He first turned towards Jan. “Greetings, Jan Huuk of the Mfusi-Nkolé.” His speech became very slow and deliberate upon reaching a foreign word, as he was doing his best to pronounce everything correctly so as to avoid potentially offending his client. He turned to Dede to speak under the assumption that Jan would translate his words. As he began speaking, one of the Kestrels at his side took the briefcase from Dede’s hands with a respectful nod and walked back in the direction of the helicopter. “It’s an honor to meet you. The winds did indeed guide us well, though I must doubt that our pilots would call the trees ‘negotiable.’ But we’re here, and that’s what’s important. I give you my condolences on behalf of Kestrel for the loss of Dr. Tatanogaki’s assistant. She was obviously a very well-respected woman.”

With the pleasantries out of the way, Andrei’s diplomatic facade slipped as he got down to business. His face hardened as he morphed from businessman and diplomat back to soldier. “It’d be best if we can get on the road as soon as possible. We’ll need time to get intel from your men and to gather our own. The more planning time we have, the cleaner this’ll all be.”

He paused and turned his head to look behind him as the Kestrel with the briefcase returned, now empty-handed. He continued. “However,” he said, the word drawn out and emphasized as he glanced at the two soldiers now at his side, “I’m not going to deny my men a nice warm breakfast. So here’s what we’ll do – the recon squad and I will take off with you to meet your commanders and begin some preliminary planning and recon. The rest will stay back and enjoy your hospitality and then join up with us later. Plus, we’ll draw less of the rebels’ attention if we arrive in smaller groups.”

The glances and glares of the villagers were not left unmatched. As Andrei laid out his plan, his men returned the inspecting gazes of the villagers with a similar level of interest. Asucki was a fairly multicultural society, but even the most foreign of cultures had been assimilated to some degree. This was different, much more “raw,” unfiltered through the lenses of western society.

Asuckians were generally a tolerant people, although they could certainly be distrustful of foreigners in their homeland. The soldiers could see in the eyes of the elders that this attitude was shared, at least among some in the village. The soldiers’ interest in the villagers was akin to the interest the villagers held in them. Curiosity, perhaps, was universal.

The village buildings were another object of curiousity. Most of the mercs were Novaeran, having spent most of their lives in the questionably safe city’s concrete jungles. Needless to say, the buildings strange shapes and designs were completely foreign to them. Even the few rural dwellers among them had never seen anything comparable to a house painted with plants.

After Andrei had finished his spiel to Jan and Dede, he took one of the soldiers at his side into a huddle. The man was large and intimidating, specially chosen before the mission as an escort to Kerivić to ensure that the money transfer went smoothly. “Keep an eye on our guys for me until the groups join up,” he whispered, “I don’t need anybody getting rowdy and causing a scene.” His whispering was plenty loud enough to be heard by Jan and Dede, he wasn’t concerned with them overhearing. He just didn’t want any complaints from his men about needing babysitting.
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Zaambate Te Ahaa
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Over by Winter (CLOSED)

Postby Zaambate Te Ahaa » Fri Apr 15, 2022 6:51 am

Diligently, Jan translated back to Dede, and both men took a pleased countenance. Then, Dede spoke, and Jan again in turn. "Very good, friends. We both offer you our gratitude, and wish you to know that many others do as well. Now then, allow me to get Mr. Anur situated in the Bumper, and I and my comrades will be back to aid you with your gear." Jan nodded, and motioned to the truck (dubbed a Bumper because it was one of the few vehicles that could traverse the worst of Aháà's conditions, but it was still going to be a bumpy ride) and walked with Dede to get situated, before he and two other soldiers, the driver, Makabe, and a passanger by the name of Ioru, moved to help he recon team situate as well. Makabe was displeased, and grateful he hadn't a language in common as far as he knew, and worked silently and with little acknowledgement to anyone from Kestrel.

Dede's heart was racing, and he regretted that last coffee as he tried to deep breath his way into believing he was now on his way to a combat zone. Sure, he had achieved almost all he had hoped to in life, but at the end of the day he was a clerk, and the notion of being anywhere near a gun set him to fretting. Being in as close to proximity as he was in the back of the covered truck to the Kestrel agents, Dede feared he might die, though Jan hardly took notice. He was just glad this nonsense was coming to an end. "Konstantin may kiss you when we arrive, I warn you now. We have been camped outside the temple since February, and I wonder if my son has had any grandsons in my time gone."

"We have been there so long," Ioru shouted in Spanish from the front through the window to the back. "We have developed our own economy, with a currency respected by the Merchant's Guild. Soon, we will be signing a constitution." Jan translated for Ioru as well, laughing all the while. Makabe was silent. The road to Vodan was a mix of the two, vocal and horrible all the while. The Bumper, true to its name, bumped and thudded along the unpaved trail, and hydroplaned safely across the vast swaths of water left by the rains more than 24 hours before. The winds picked up, knocking leaves about as the storm's tail end reminded them, at 100% humidity, that it was not yet too late for a final hurrah.

When the bumper finally pulled up to the checkpoint at Vodan, they rolled their way into a scene out of M.A.S.H. as soldiers busied themselves about a city of tents. If anyone knew what was actually in the truck, no one acknowledged it, but the truck pulled up to the back of the food tent, and parked there, behind it. A zipper opened up a back doorway, and two armed soldiers held it open as Ioru (neutral), Jan (relieved), and Dede (nauseated) helped them situate into the tent. There, waiting for them with a gleeful grin was Hero Konstantin ben Yadir, eyebrows grayed and features warm, and notably lighter skinned than any of the Aháàng they had yet seen (though, coming into the camp, all the tones of Aháà would presently be seen), dressed in his finest suit and velvet red cape.

"I was worried Dede sent you to the wrong damn island. Welcome to Aháà, gentlemen, it is an absolute pleasure to have you hear today. We've been here so long, village doctors have started dropping of age before anyone's been killed by bullets." Konstantin spoke in plain English as he pulled them around a table, normally used for cutting food but currently displaying a map, of a two story circular building with a basement, and multiple chambers. This, of course, was the Temple of Vodan. There was an X over what was the main doorway, and all the windows were similarly labeled, but another X was labeled in the basement. Konstantin pointed to this final X with some degree of pleasure.

"We found the supply line they were using to smuggle in food and water. It was an underground tunnel, and they had commandos running the line for them until they got sloppy and left us a bread crumb. Now those killers are dead or in custody, and it is that you have a potential back door, but it is just as likely that either they, in their panic, have destroyed it, or are guarding it heavily." He raised his head, smiled again, and cleared his throat. "I'm very sorry, friend. What I mean to say is, 'hello', and 'how are you?' I am Konstantin ben Yadir. I'm the one in charge of the outfit here, and believe me when I say you haven't come at all too soon."



Back in Nãgungire, it was an endearing little catastrophe as the villagers attempted to interact with the Kestrels who came for food. Only one elder was friendly and engaging, and he could not stop laughing when the Kestrels approached, for he delighted in telling them that outsiders to the village often called him "Coffee Joe", and that this one pun was all he knew of the English language. He would have been able to tell them about half of that in Spanish, but for the most part he rattled in his native tongue regardless of whether or not whoever he told the joke found it funny. The children, by now, were allowed out to play, and they mostly passed around a ball or arranged sticks into a game in the ground, but others of them went to the joint Community Center and Schoolhouse, and played there for fear of Kestrel. Among the villagers, outsiders treating their home as a curiosity were an easily ignorable fact of life, but for some of the youngest among them this waz thwir first time seeing a white person.

The soldiers at Nãgungire's check point paid them no mind; they couldn't wait for Kestrel to leave, and as they saw a handful of villagers moving to assist the Kestrels with breakfast, they scoffed and turned their heads. Breakfast largely consisted of buttered and battered fish, with small, grapelike fruits on the side, though some eggs were also left over, and a loaf of bread was divided up. One of the women rushed to the storehouse and water treatment facility and brought more bread, and a child behind her came quickly with citrons in tow as an offering. The soldiers at the checkpoint were the only two openly hostile, and Coffee Joe had already gotten on to speaking of the woman who had passed. "She treated my grandfather as a boy," he said in Maxatanga, the indigenous language. "They said she learned medicine from a forestling, and that she learned immortality from them, too. Mamã Felata, I am told did not die of age, but was bored and willed death herself." Anyone who spoke Spanish would be able to hear similar rumors from the chattier villagers, and of their eager to share woes, and especially about the storms. The wind picked up again, and the sky rumbled in quiet agreemen about the nature of its storms. Coffee Joe wondered if he felt a drop of rain.
Last edited by Zaambate Te Ahaa on Fri Apr 15, 2022 6:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Asucki
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Asucki » Tue Apr 19, 2022 4:07 pm

The poor conditions and bumpy ride wasn’t foreign to those riding in the Bumper. Owing to the nation’s thick spring mud, poor road infrastructure, and heavy forests, the condition in their Asuckian homeland were somewhat comparable to those they currently faced. Normally they’d simply walk to get around in such poor conditions, but that wasn’t an option with all the gear they were carrying.

Everyone in that Bumper knew that they were the government’s last choice. Even if they hadn’t been briefed as such prior to leaving home, Dede Anur’s discomfort with the whole matter was clear as day. More importantly, however, the soldiers that they met up to this point had seemed pleased with Kestrel’s arrival. “After all,” Andrei thought, “they’re the ones with guns at our backs.”

Upon the group’s arrival, everybody’s attention went to Konstantin. It didn’t take an expert to realize that he was extremely out of place here, perhaps even more so than the Kestrels themselves. If his light skin and extravagant outfit didn’t reveal this, his casual usage of English certainly did. He carried himself like a soldier and cut right to the chase, was something Andrei and the recon team respected.

He chuckled and smiled as Konstantin paused in the middle of his briefing to introduce himself and greet the team. Unlike the smiled offered to Dede Anur as a business pleasantry, this one was genuine. Meeting what Andrei assumed to be a fellow mercenary of some variety pleased him greatly, and the man’s charisma made it hard to frown at him.

“Pleasure to be here, commander. From what we heard on the ride over here, your boys have definitely been sitting around a while waiting and hoping for something to happen. Let’s see what we can do about that.” At this, he paused and took a look over the map. “Tricky situation. I’ve got recon with me, but if we send them down to check on the tunnel’s condition, we risk alerting the rebels and making our recon worthless and our job harder. If we send ‘em in blind, we run the risk of getting caught in a chokepoint.”

“I don’t think we should avoid the tunnel entirely, though. It’s too juicy of a target to completely overlook. We might be able to use it as bait to draw the rebs out and keep them honest. I’m not particularly familiar with their attitudes and how we can get in their heads, but if you know somethin’ feel free to share.”

He continued. “For now, I’ll send my recon to get an idea of the area. Not that I don’t trust your maps and intel, but it’s easier if we’ve all actually seen the place. The plan is to get a good picture of the situation, figure out how to use the tunnel to our advantage, and then make an entry, preferably fast and clean. The meat and potatoes of the Kestrel team’s still back in the village having themselves a nice breakfast. There’s quite a few ex-SWAT guys among them, so we have a solid entry team.”

He finally began wrapping up his spiel. “Ultimately though, your boss is signing the checks, so if you had another plan in mind, I’ll consider it. Any intel you’ve got on patrols and troops movements will be very helpful to figure everything out.”




Back at the village, the rest of the Kestrels were having a good time. Most of the villagers were friendly enough, and were providing the men with food. This was more than enough to convince the Kestrels that they were worth helping. Although the village elders were not as hospitable as the laymen, the soldiers simply kept their distance and stuck with the more agreeable villagers.

They quickly went through the provided fish, bread, and eggs, although the strange fruits were treated tentatively. Barring the foreign fruits, the breakfast was actually quite familiar to the Asuckians. Some dares and challenges eventually resulted in all of the soldiers trying the fruits, leaving the breakfast ultimately as a success.

Though the villagers acted friendly, the men were aware that not all felt this way. They saw the schoolchildren look at them in confusion and even fear. The checkpoint guards’ bad attitude was also not left unnoticed. Most were generally understanding of their point of view and dropped the matter. The younger and more hot-headed members among them were discouraged from any misbehavior by glares from their “babysitter.”

Coffee Joe’s antics were greatly appreciated as a break from the mission. One of the soldiers spoke a bit of Spanish, and provided his comrades with a rough translation of Joe’s rant whenever he switched to the language. He also translated the village gossip surrounding the death of the doctor, giving the men a better picture of her status.
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Zaambate Te Ahaa
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Postby Zaambate Te Ahaa » Wed Apr 20, 2022 7:05 am

Konstantin rolled a few thoughts around his mouth as he collected his relevant information. "They number arouns 80, with 50 regulars and approximately 27 members of the Temple's Vanguard willing to aid them. Fewer unarmed civilians than that, but not by much, and most of the civilians are living in a camp made in here..." He directed Andrei's attention to the map of the basement, which was divided into a few rooms. His finger swirled around the main chamber, which the underground tunnel leads into, as well as a staircase. Semi-circular rooms surround it, labeled as 'washing common', 'food store', and 'brewery'. "Its usually guarded by about 5 men who loiter the tunnel in 2 hour shifts."

"Three members of the temple guard came out with their hands up a few days back. One of them took a bullet in the back from their comrades, but the other two have been very helpful for figuring out guards and routines. The guards at the front door only send two outside the door at a time, but as it turns there's 15 of them waiting in ambush behind the door, and they operate in three hour shifts. This, of course, is all accurate assuming they haven't panicked and switched it up since their brothers defected." Konstantin moved his hand around in a wave, thinking more. "They claim the main floor has been redone, the pews and altars rearranged to make barricades and booby traps, and the second floor likely has a sniper's nest among other things they couldn't be ver accurate about. They say they weren't allowed up there."

"As for their mindset, even I can tell you the cocky heathens are bored." His lips tensed with the ennui of having to explain what he found to be a humiliating gesture. "Two weeks ago they kicked a ball down the temple steps to see if we'd kick it back. Yesterday some boys came halfway down the steps of the temple with a chess board. I fired a round into the air and told my men if they come back to aim for their center of mass. Aside from the guard shifts, as I have explained, unless, agan, the defectors have shaken them greatly, apparently in their monotony they've fallen out of soldierly routine."

"The terrain of the temple is no gentle matter. It sits on a small hill, giving them the high ground, which is why we had to bring you around back. Coming up the sides of the temple are likely to be unguarded, but steep and slicked with mud. Other entryways aside from the tunnel and the front door are the windows along this steep hillside, and unfortunately no way else short of punching a hole in the roof as far as I'm aware." He paused, thoughtfully. "I wouldn't mind, but the locals might take umbrage. But, yes. That is all I have for you presently, and I hope it counts, friend. If you want, the truck out back can take you around the hill, to where we found the tunnel, or I can lead you out and we can inspect the front face of this pretty place."



Back at the village, once the soldiers settled in to the hospitality, most everyone was at ease. Whether this was due to the friendliness of the situation or their own grim undertaking is anyone's guess, but one by one the villagers would disappear for a moment, and when they reappearedthey would be wearing clothing of a single solid color (some white, some black, others green or red or blue) with their hair covered by a shawl of a matching color. The elders, who had sat firmly in front of the barrack like dormitory, now dispersed into three teams of two. Two of them headed to the community center, two to the food store, and two to the morgue.

The children filed a procession back to the living area, the elders following behind them with arms full of wooden fetishes and figures and poles with faces carved into them, and all returned in either white, black, or rainbow (the only exception to the solid colors rule, it seemed), and the two men at the store house returned with two large, locked metal carts, each man looking burdened by the weight of dragging it. These two, along with 'Joe' (née, Tafuna, if anyone asks), would be handling the cooking at the funeral, he explained in broken Spanish. Voices turned to whispers as the atmosphere began to change. "Soon, they take Mamã to the here," he motioned with his hands. "She sees the village for the last time, and then we all walk with her to Vodan." The two elders who walked into the morgue did not yet return, but four much younger men, one with a musket and all of them with swords, did, making a beeline for the checkpoint.

"They know the temple isn't clear yet." One of the guards stated as he calmly retrieved his pistol, and the other one rested his hand on the machete at his own side. "Faxala hòna, mfusi. The road is still closed until the temple has been liberated. This is the second time this week I've told you-"

"And now I tell you we are cursed." One of the young men spat out. None of them stopped until they were six feet from tbe booth, and could now see the firearm drawn. "Tenagati and Mari are doing the best they can to pray for her peace, but Mamã Felata's spirit rebels against her body and becomes restless." Most of Nãgungire was modernesque inside the buildings, and they had most of the technology they needed to function comfortably. The morgue, however, was not among those areas, as burials tended to happen the day after a passing, and so now the curse of decomposition was upon them and the young men knew this to be a very bad omen. Any longer, and she may reanimate. Or worse, whatever worse could be. "She waits no more, or a kind spirit may turn against us. Already it has been far too long."

"I agree," said the soldier with the pistol. "I share your concerns, and I beg mercy from the gods for this, but I must stop you. She has waited long, but she is a patient woman and she will be patient less than a day more. I pray for you and her, and your family, too."

"I pray for yours." The leader of the small troop nodded, strangely formally. He then drew his sword, and his friend lowered the musket, and the soldier took aim with his pistol as his friend readied the blade. "The procession begins soon, by Tenagati's orders. In the mean time, we will help you to remove this obstacle."

"No obstacle, friend," the soldier replied calmly. "I do not stand in your way for disrespect or hatred of your loved ones. If you go to Vodan, the enemies will gun you down, and then who will bury Felata?" The stances were tense, but voices calm and respectful, as though this was the same sort of business engagement Andrei had done with Dede. A woman in black approached, taking one of the young men by the shoulders and asking him to stop, but all gathered stood firmly there at the gate. No one budged, or made any sudden moves.

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Asucki
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Posts: 159
Founded: Mar 21, 2020
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Asucki » Sun Apr 24, 2022 12:45 pm

Andrei nodded along silently as Konstantin gave him the information he had on the rebels. When Konstantin wrapped up, he moved over to get a good look at the map of the temple’s interior. The piece of paper stretched out on the table meant life or death for his men, and success or failure for his mission. Lost in thought, he pulled a small folding pocketknife from his side pocket and began repeatedly flipping it open and back closed again. Members of his recon team joined him at the table, quickly becoming lost in a wave of internal plans and ideas as well.

After a couple minutes of silent thought, Andrei flipped his knife closed and tucked it back into his pocket. He began to speak. “Your boss wasn’t lyin’ when he said they were dug in like a tick. This one’ll take a little ingenuity. I’m very interested in these hillside windows.” He pointed out their rough location on the map. “The hill itself is doubtless gonna be a problem, but if we can climb our way up, the windows seem to be the least heavily-guarded entry point.”

One of the recon Kestrels standing behind him jumped into the conversation at Andrei’s pause. “I agree, but there’s still an issue. If we’ve got an occupied nest on the second floor, we’ll be cheap targets trying to get up.”

Andrei crossed his arms and slowly shook his head. “Hadn’t thoughtta that.” He turned from his comrade back to Konstantin. “How good’s your intel on that nest? If we go the window route, it’s gonna hurt unless we take it out first.” He gestured towards the five men behind him. “Recon team should be able to take ‘im out if they have enough time and can find a good position in the surrounding forest.” He grabbed the shoulder of the Kestrel who had previously came up next to him to study the map. “Burt here was an LE sniper, so we’ve got the right skills onboard. One of the best on the force for nearly a decade.”

At Andrei’s slightly mocking praise, Robert Haell, the referenced Kestrel, rolled his eyes and tilted his head up in exasperation. Andrei either missed the gesture or chose to ignore it. He continued. “Regardless, I think it’d be a smart idea to tour the entryway of your beautiful temple. Sounds like goin’ through the front would be a step away from suicide, but I think I’ve devised a plot since comin’ here.”

“We’re gonna play the fool. We’re gonna walk up to that door, act like some cheapo grunts more concerned with making cash and playing soldier than getting a job done right, and make like we’re somehow lobotomized enough to try a full frontal assault on a fortified building.” He loudly put his hands down on the table to emphasize his points as he came to them. “The recon team’s too important to the mission for this, but I’ll rope the assault guys into this once they get back from their little village vacation. Kestrels are somma the best contractors you can buy,” he said, partially out of basic business-mindedness and partially out of respect for the comrades behind him, “but the rebs don’t know that.”

“At risk of offending, I’m gonna take a wild guess and assume that the government of ZTA,” he explained, using an acronym as he had already given up on attempting to pronounce the client country’s name, “doesn’t exactly have unlimited cash to throw around. And I’d be willing to bet that the rebels inside that temple (at this, he pointed outside of the tent towards the general direction of the Temple of Vodan) are aware of this. Then it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination if the gov hired, say, a bunch of unorganized and incompetent fools, in order to save a couple bucks.” A wide grin appeared on his face, as well as a twinkle in his eye. “And we’re the most competent incompetent fools on the market.”




The changing attitudes of the villagers was felt subconsciously by the assault team. Postures slouched, hands once kept close to a hip-holstered weapon were allowed to dangle, and eyes that darted back and forth in discomfort focused on the spectacle that the villagers offered. Some nodded quietly and respectfully as the brilliant display of color and culture passed by them. Others remained still and silent, unsure of the response expected of them and afraid of offending. Regardless of their physical responses, all of them enjoyed the procession. The color and energy was a welcome change from the often drab Novaera or the quiet and serene Asuckian countryside. Some could hardly believe that it was supposed to be the early parts of a funeral.

Unfortunately, the period of relative relaxation did not last long. The tenseness held at the beginning of their escapade returned with the escalating argument between the soldiers. While nobody made any serious moves for a weapon (after all, they weren’t there to be the police or get involved in conflicts unrelated to the one in the temple), hands remained tense, ready, and close to holstered sidearms, as if the soldiers were preparing for a high-noon duel in a Spaghetti Western.
Last edited by Asucki on Sun Apr 24, 2022 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Zaambate Te Ahaa
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Posts: 89
Founded: Feb 16, 2022
Ex-Nation

Postby Zaambate Te Ahaa » Sun May 01, 2022 3:12 pm

"Only as reliable as the human mind is likely to change." Konstantin cursed himself for using the roundabout idioms that his subordinates so cherished. "Members of the Vanguard were never allowed onto the second floor, but the defectors say they saw sniper rifles, and I've had a few of the boys tell me they see his gun glint in the sun when they look at the temple just right. Its likely there is a sniper, and all signs would point to him being vigilant, too." He listened with patience and a grin, the perpetual presence of which he had also picked up from the Aháàng. As Andrei had suspected, Konstantin was born in Istanbul, and grew up between there and Cairo. He was half Aháàng, on his mother's side, and his father was a wealthy Turkish business man. Konstantin's first time in Aháà was when the rebels (now the government) promised him some very comfortable golden years to demonstrate his loyalty to his mother's blood, and they spared no expense in proving it.

"Affluent they are not, and the case is these goons believe we have even less than we do. I enjoy your line of thinking, and think a tour of the temple's face is in due order. Make sure your head is up and your chest is out; the Temple of Greater Unity has forbidden us to storm it, but they know that sending any bullets our way would put our self preservation above the will of the Temple. They're not so suicidal." Konstantin walked around the table, flourishing his cape, and he led them out through the flap into the front of the kitchen area. This was currently empty, but the next door would take them out into what was affectionately being referred to as Tent Town.

Very small lean to's and tents dotted the landscape as far as the eye could see, but most everyone was outside. All the vehicles had been arranged into a blockade around the entryways to the town, and how far their tires had sank into the mud was a testament to how long they'd been parked. It was going to be such an effort to get them out. Most of the men were around various campfires and grills, cards in hand and liesure at mind. They all wore their swords and spears, and most their sidearms on them as well, but the only men carrying rifles were those set around the perimeter, in the jungle a little ways and with a nest or four up in the trees, and a group of eight men who were currently lounging at the bottom of the steps to the temple. Many looked on Andrei and his team as they came into the sea of casual attitude, and jokes went off in the native tongue more than anything else, but they were not without an ill glare from the sidelines. Upset, especially, were the sentinals at the bottom of the steps.

They gave Kestrel a wide berth, but none took their eyes off of them. Two remained at the foot of the temple, and as Konstantin acknowledged them they returned their gaze upwards, to the temple proper. It was at the top of a hill, atop a long set of stone stairs, and at the very top sat a domelike structure, its roof shingled by shields and its doorway guarded by two men, standing at attention. Konstantin waved to them, but they did not regard him. He saluted, and then chuckled, and turned to Andrei. "You see, friend warrior? They wait as ducks, complicit in their own slaughter by their own complacency." He waved a hand dismissively. Briefly, faintly, from a small, 1x1 hole in between a set of shields on the second floor, there was a glint of light.



Back at Nãgungire, the situation deescalated as quickly as it had arisen. Their stances broad and weapons drawn, this was still a form of diplomacy. It was always fair to allow your opponent to size you up before either party committed to violent action, as often it was found that, given time for thought, rarely did it come to violence, and it didn't today. The small militia decided they may be able to overpower the guards, but that at least one of them were likely to die in the process, i not most of them, and so one let a woman lead him away, and the rest bowed out respectfully. It was as though no one had drawn any arms.

"Very restless. This is the third time." Kafi Joe explained in shattered Spanish. "They fear mamã is angry, and may become an evil spirit." He nodded with some wise urgency that was lost in his broken speech, but the rest of the villagers were too busy gathering and preparing to notice the altercation. Just as quickly as it had started, all the village had quieted from the momentary lapse in peace, and now the elders were marching, in six of them in two lines, and they disappeared into the morgue.

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Asucki
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 159
Founded: Mar 21, 2020
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Asucki » Sat Jun 25, 2022 7:03 am

Once the basic idea of the plan had been conveyed to Konstantin and all were in understanding, Andrei followed him out of the tent, flanked by his team. Konstantin’s acceptance of the plan and revelation that the rebels expected small numbers were a relief. The leader had been very concerned with getting into the temple, but it was his hope that his deceitful plan could be used as a wedge in the door.

Throughout their tour of the premises, Andrei and his recon team put the plan into action. It began subtly; one soldier would intentionally handle his firearm awkwardly, someone would stumble a bit over a nonexistent bump in the terrain, things like that.

Andrei furthered his explanation of the plan to Konstantin as they walked, always keeping his face forward to appear as if he wasn’t conversing to any unsavory characters who might’ve been watching.“Gotta start off slow so we don’t make it too obvious. Like I said, the recon crew’s role is too valuable for them to participate in our little game here for any longer than this tour, but they should be able to disappear into the masses once the rest of the team gets back from the village.”

The group continued until they had reached the steps of the temple. Konstantin waved to the guards and spoke to Andrei about their complacency, to which he gave a small laugh and a nod of the head. Following Konstantin’s example, he greeted the temple guard with a carefully careless wave. ”Well, this’ll be fun if nothing else” thought Andrei as he looked forward to his team’s arrival.


Relieved at the peaceful outcome of the standoff, the Kestrels removed their hands from their sides and relaxed themselves. Now, they used their hands to share gestures of bewilderment with one another. How could a situation escalate and deescalate so quickly, and with so few consequences? Regardless, everyone had made it out alright and the mercenaries didn’t have to make a decision about getting involved, so they were content even in the face of their confusion.

Although the conflict had been resolved, the men felt continually less comfortable with being in the village. Clearing the temple was obviously a critical issue for these people, and the mercenaries feared further and more violent interactions the longer it remained under rebel control. After a short debate amongst themselves, the Spanish-speaking Kestrel gave Joe a brief goodbye and headed off together into the forest.
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