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A fire in the desert


Elder Statesman
Sep 30, 2014
Athens, Greece
Pelasgian-EF Isphilistines Mandate Border

A sharp ray of light pierced Grigoris' eyes in between the thick branches of the pine trees lining the slope. Dawn broke on the Galantian Mountains, the ragged but not particularly tall mountain range separating Pelasgia and the EF Mandate of the Isphilistines--Philistaea, as the Pelasgians had known their province for centuries, and the Holy Land to Christians around Europe.

Grigoris covered his eyes and continued his patrol. Dispersed around him were half a dozen men, all dressed in the well-known "Lizard" camo of the Pelasgian Army--the Imperial Pelasgian Army, since it had recently regained the crown on its insignia. In truth, Pelasgia had an appetite for regaining a lot of lost things: traditions, laws, flags, nomenclature, a fleet with aircraft carriers in both major seas watering its shores. And, Grigoris thought, why not an old province or two? What had the Goths done with Philistaea--a mostly ethnically Pelasgian and Orthodox Christian land--anyway? Nothing. They had held onto the Holy Land, that blessed patch of terrain, for half a century and more, and they had naught to show for it. Philistaea was as the Pelasgians had left it.

A thunderous noise sounded overhead, overwhelming Grigoris' ears. He looked up and held onto his helmet as the thick pines around him shook like branches in the wind. A helicopter! It was far from an amazing sight, in truth; helicopters always circled over the Pelasgian-Philistaean border, mostly to check for smugglers and illegal immigrants from that stagnant and yet all too similar land. Yet this helicopter was remarkable: not only was it an attack helicopter (and not some surveillance chopper), but it was also armed. More importantly, Grigoris spotted three more such choppers in the vicinity.

"The First Army's flexing its muscle," he remarked out loud.

"I bet the Second Army's doing likewise south of the Mandate," responded Nikos, Grigoris' best friend in the unit, who also hailed from the outskirts of the city of Edessa.

The assembling Imperial host came to Grigoris mind: 149500 men arranged south and west of Philistaea, with thousands of cutting-edge tanks, IFVs, APCs, helicopters, jets, and just about any other kind of materiel supporting them. How many Marines awaited to brave Philistaea's shores? How many paratroopers to cloud its skies? How many submarines, and destroyers, and carrier-bourne aircraft to turn its meager, EF-funded defences to rubble?

The Pelasgians had held more and more large scale drills on the Mandate's border in recent years, as the nations of Europe forgot about the past and focused on real and present concerns: Pannonia, the Tarusan-Remion rivalry, the humanitarian catastrophe in Central Himyar and the border wars in southern Occidentia. And yet, what if this set of drills was different? Grigoris knew it had to be. He sensed it. He could feel it in the way the higher-ups gave orders, always speaking as if they knew more were to come, as they were not letting something on... He could sense in the way his comrades trained and carried out their duties, always on the edge and ready to strike or be struck at... He could even sense it in the way the nature around him felt empty and alert. No birds, he thought. No birds.

His mind instantly shifted to another kind of bird--a big, metal bird, bearing the emblems of the Imperial Pelasgian Air Force and carrying long-range weapons of mass destruction. Back in the barracks they had some nerd from Iolcus--Alexios was his name--who used to tune into the short-wave radio and listen to the by the IPAF's Strategic Command, those eerie and awe-inspriring relics of the previous century. They had gotten more and more recent these last few days. Last night, Alexios claimed he had heard a Titan Three. Titan Two was drills, Titan One was nothing, Titan Four was total war... Titan Three was not good news. Most dismissed it as Alexios' effort at getting a bit of attention; Grigoris wanted to believe them. He recalled Alexios' recounting the whole message by heart.

Titan, Titan, Titan. Do not respond.

This is Mavri Petra Radio Station.

Titan Three, Titan Three, Titan Three.

Do not respond.

Nine (9), one (1), beta (β), one (1), eight (8), two (2), omega (ω), six (6), six(6), omicron (ο), pi (π), four (4), delta (δ).

Time: 0100 hours.

Authentication code: sigma five (σ 5).

Titan, Titan, Titan...

Grigoris wanted to brush it off, but he wasn't sure. Something in his gut told him that it was wrong. He shuddered and looked back down at the terrain, continuing his patrol. If anything was to happen, the grunts like him would only find out when it was practically already underway...
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Elder Statesman
Sep 30, 2014
Athens, Greece
Hierosolyma, Philistaea
Markos hated Hierosolyma. Having been raised in a not particularly religious family, he lacked the reverent enthusiasm most Pelasgians had by the city, which, in his eyes, was akin to the reaction of a child--or a moron--to some shiny object or a large shopping mall. Without this filter, he could see the city for what it really was: a crowded, badly structured, unplanned, dated, and hot (Lord, how hot!) mess. In short, hardly the place worth giving one's life for. Yet orders were orders, and Markos was the one thing Pelasgia had no shortage of, apart from clergymen: an asphalitis. Westernesse had the Feds, Tarusa had the Okhrana, and Pelasgia had the asphalites, the "security men," those belong to His Imperial Majesty's Own Secret Service.
In between the eleventh and twelfth loud chime of some church bell--enhanced by a megaphone for good measure, lest the locals be allowed to rest during the time of Vespers--the side door leading to the garage were Markos had been waiting opened to reveal a trio of men. Two of them, their faces covered, bore surplus Pelasgian AT-47 rifles, the like that had flooded Himyar from one end to the other. The third man had his face exposed and bore no weapon, apart from a pistol hidden somewhere on his person, at least based on what Markos' training and experience had made him assume.
As the man approached, Markos studied his features more closely. Two wide and deeply set black eyes sat between a slender, finely chiseled nose, on an overall sharp oval face. The man's olive skin was the dead giveaway of a working class local Pelasgian; his fiery gaze the characteristic of every zealot the world over; the golden cross hanging around his neck was merely the formal testament to the source of his convictions. Markos did not allow even a single inkling of the contempt that filled him to escape him. If he could have his way, scum of this sort would be done away with, just like the all-too recently suppressed Sacred Union; alas, in these environs, it was he who was most likely to be offed for speaking his mind. And, at any rate, he had orders.
"I see that our friends from the Krypteia have come back," the man said, using the common Pelasgian name for the Imperial Secret Service.
"Don't say that word, Iraklis," Markos answered. "The shipment arrived in the port this morning."
"We've secured it," Iraklis answered nodding and smiling intently.
"Then you'll only need this," Markos said, handing him a file with information on his target. "Remember to destroy it after you're done."
Iraklis studied the file as Markos started to walk away. "A barracks?!" he called out after him.
"Why not?" Markos asked, turning to face the zealot. "Do you pity the Goths and their collaborators?"
"No," Iraklis said. "But it must mean that Propontis has finally gotten serious about this. About us."
Markos sighed. "It's Nymphaion now--at least for now. Just get the job done."
"Oh we will," Iraklis cackled. "It'll be all over the news."
He walked out into the back street. That's the whole point, he thought. Within a few moments, he turned into a few alleys and merged into a large street, disappearing into a crowd before making his way to the car that had been waiting for him.
"The package has been delivered successfully," he said to his colleague, Takis, who had been waiting at the wheel.
"Not a moment too soon," Takis remarked as he started up the car. "We're being smuggled out of Philistaea later tonight."
"Oh?" said Markos, raising an eyebrow. "Is Atlas relying on the local crazies to take care of his work for him?"
Takis exhaled with contempt. "Let's just say that we can trust indigenous activists to awaken the world to the plight of the Philistaean populace and to its longing to rejoin the Empire's fold--one act of madness at a time."
"And what if the world refuses to act?" Markos asked, already knowing the answer. Perhaps he hoped to hear that Nymphaion would give up.
"'The sword will cut the knot,' quoth Cassander the Great," Takis responded in the tone of a professor. "The Central and Eastern Armies are already conducting drills on the border, and the Southern and Western ones are being mobilized for good measure--I read a report that Southern Army tanks were being ferried to the border by train. Yesterday, the reserves were also called in."
Markos wiped the sweat off his brow. This damned city was hot, too hot, even with the car's AC at full blast. And it was about to get much hotter.


Elder Statesman
Sep 30, 2014
Athens, Greece
Governor's Palace, Hierosolyma
11/10/2021 - 12:00 PM
A Christian who had never been to Hierosolyma would be led to believe that it was a peaceful, tranquil place, almost virtually unchanged from the days of the Crusaders, and, perhaps, even those of Christ himself. Such was the idea that all Pelasgians had before setting foot in the city, half-expecting to find it crowded by ancient Hebrews in weird dresses carrying naan bread and olive oil via donkey through narrow streets, under the watchful eye of the Tiburans who had paved those very same streets. The truth, of course, could not be further from this fantasy: Hierosolyma was a city of over a million residents (nearing two and a half million, in fact, if one were to consider its metropolitan area), and not a particularly clean or well-structured one at that.
The holy city of Europe's three largest religions was dirty, noise, crowded, and, quite often, an architectural eyesore. The only thing that had kept the city proper from being completely hideous was that extensive reconstruction that had been undertaken by the Pelasgian authorities following the Avgousto-Septemvriana--the extensive street fighting between Pelasgian security forces and various Zionist insurgents in the early 1950s, that had leveled much of the old city. The suburbs varied between well-structured and chaotic, and the Mandate's authorities, weak and largely careful to avoid raising popular ire, had ignored the uncontrolled sprawl that had gradually surrounded the holiest of cities.
And that was without taking into account all the crazies that Hierosolyma tended to attract... No sooner had Stergios Konstantinides landed in the city to take over as High Commissioner (the Pelasgians had long refused to send a proper "ambassador" to the Mandate), than he had bumped into some of the most spectacular lunatics produced by collective human delusion. His convoy had been assailed on all sides (verbally, but assailed nonetheless) by crowds of black-clad Orthodox Jews denouncing his presence in "their" Holy Land (everyone between the Pelasgians and the furthest tribe of Toyou must have claimed Philistaea as their at some point). Opposite them, the local brand of Pelasgian crazies had made their own presence felt, shouting and cursing as local police forces did their best to keep the two mobs apart. This had been the most memorable ambassadorial reception Konstantinides had ever received and Maria, his wife, had said as much.
It had only been two years since that day, and Konstantinides was surprised that such scenes had not occurred again following the previous day's vote. As he gazed out the window, he found Hierosolyma virtually unchanged: some Pelasgian flags waved here and there, in lieu of the Mandate's ensign; and some black flags (ostensibly raised by whatever local should-be asylum occupants thought that Pelasgian rule was some kind of crime against the Almighty) occasionally doted the skyline; but, overall, Hierosolyma was as loud, hot, polluted, and ugly as ever. Konstantinides himself had changed very little: he was still High Commissioner, though that now meant that he was the de facto governor of Philistaea, rather than the Pelasgian ambassador-in-all-but-name. Given the erstwhile Mandate's economic dependence on Pelasgia and its demographics, that did not seem to different.
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a door opening behind him. The slender figure of an aide emerged, and her deep, green eyes stared into Konstantinides' own.
"Your Excellency. Please come in."
Konstantinides nodded. And crossed into the marble chambers housing his predecessor. The surroundings and the man contrasted fully: on the one hand, the room was elegant, built in the finest of late Propontine neoclassical styles, and fully renovated to boot; on the other hand, the man, one Gregorio Alvarez, former Resident General of the Mandate of the Isphilistines. A native of Solléga and an elder by age, Alvarez was rather tired and quite surrendered to the reality of his situation. He seemed almost relieved to be relieved of his duties--who could blame him? The referendum had been preceded by months of terror attacks, strikes, protests, violence, and the looming threat of Pelasgian military intervention. Bypassing all of that and going straight to the surrender of the territory seemed humane by comparison.
"Your Excellency," Konstantinides said, more of courtesy than obligation.
"Please, call me Gregorio," the other said in somewhat fluent Pelasgian.
"And you may call me Stergios," the High Commissioner answered, returning the man's courtesy. At his host's gesture, Stergios sat down and observed the table separating them: it was empty, save for a stack of papers and two pens.
"Would you like something to drink?" Gregorio answered, remembering his manners. "Tea? Coffee?"
"Tea, please," Stergios said. "With some honey, if possible."
"Of course," Gregorio answered, knowing this to be the habit among Pelasgians. Nodding to his assistant, he paused and stared at the Mandate flag behind him. Gregorio sighed. "Shall we get to it?"
Stergios picked up his pen. "I suppose so. No point in delaying, right?"
Church of Saint Mary of the Mountain, Temple Mount, Hierosolyma
11/10/2021 - 5:00 PM
Roger loved traveling. But a youth of ten, he had seen much of what the world had to offer, going from Occidentia to Toyou and then back again. His mother's high-ranking corporate profession involved a lot of traveling, and he was always glad to tag along. Sometimes, his father would also take him on trips. This was one such time.
Hierosolyma had impressed Roger, for it was different from his native Federation in every possible way. It was supposed to be a very important place--holy to be exact--and the Temple Mount was the holiest site in the whole city! Clasping his dad's hand, Roger merrily strode through the paved courtyard leading to the massive domed building at the peak of the whole city. His father told him it was a Church, though it looked like no Church he had ever seen back home. The bells were familiar alright--the sign of something his father called "vespers"--and the chanting, though unintelligible, was surely ecclesiastical.
Yet the chanting was interrupted by something far less beautiful. Loud chatter and, soon, screaming; Roger turned around and saw a large group of men dressed in black clothes and wearing funny, old-fashioned hats with braids pushing through a crowd. The crowd insulted them angrily, and they insulted the crowd back.
"Dad," Roger asked his father, "what's all this about?"
"We have to go, Roger," his father answered.
Another group of men, all wearing dark green clothes and dressed like soldiers suddenly appeared at the edge of the courtyard.
"Look, dad, soldiers! Can we stay to look?"
"No, Roger! We have to go!"
The shouting got louder and louder, and the men in green moved to separate the two factions of fighting men. Pretty soon, some were thrown to the ground and detained, while others were forcefully pushed back.
"What's this fighting all about, dad?" Roger asked again.
"They both think that this is their land!" his father said.
Roger remembered a song he had learned in school:
This land is your land and this land is my land
From ol' McKay's Rocks to Baldwin n' Whitehall
From fair Elwood City to Bale Verte's waters
This land was made for you and me!
Joyfully, he started singing. Around him, the shouting and grunting got louder and louder; yet the bells and the chanting did not stop either. This was surely a strange land, quite unlike the Federation.


Elder Statesman
Apr 16, 2007
Despite its initial involvement in the mandate, Solléga lost its enthusiasm for both the European Forum and the mandate system in fairly short order after its establishment – recognizing quickly the difficulties posed in the task of nation-building. It vacillated over the decades between more direct intervention and benign neglect, with various lobbies intermittently forcing the hand of the Caudillo and Grand Council towards one path or another; a lingering source of resentment, annoyance, and embarrassment for the Sollégan political elite and military establishment.

Alvarez was, more than anything else, tired. He'd stepped into the role of Resident General nearly two decades prior, in 2002, more for a lack of any other qualified candidates that were willing to accept the position rather than any true yearning for it. Two decades of trying, and slowly failing, to fuse the disparate peoples and groups of Iphilistea into something approaching a coherent whole. He'd come to accept quite a long while ago that the grand experiment of Iphilistea was a failure, perhaps even doomed from the start. A part of him was relieved to finally move on from this. Another part was disappointed, perhaps even a touch bitter.

As Konstantinides took his tea, Alvarez poured himself a small glass of wine. A sweet red, from a rather pleasant vineyard he'd visited once near Amérida. A comfortable mixture of sweet and bitter – bracing, and helpful for the task at hand.

He affixed his signature to the document in short order, hesitating for but a moment afterwards to regard it in a detached, pensive way. Then, his dark eyes shot up to do the same to Konstantinides, and a wearied smile stretched across his lined features.

“You'll have quite a task in front of you, of course,” he began, with the earnestness of a man absolved.

“Though your countrymen make up the majority of the population, you may not necessarily find them as homogenous as it seems at first glance. It's a curious mix of self-segregation and integration, here. Yes, there's Chevra Shalvah and the other Jewish militias – but many Pelasgian and other communities have taken to become dependent on them over the years, too. Their kibbutz's and segregated townships won't take to integration kindly, or easily, especially if the rabbinical courts are on the line.”

He swirled the wine about in his mouth, taking another considered sip.

“I'm afraid my predecessors haven't been the best stewards of this Holy Land,” Alvarez admitted, laughing softly. “In fear of provoking uprising, they've largely been hands-off. The various militia groups were, for a long time, unofficially given free reign to establish their own little power blocs. The haredi Jews, the Zionists, Pelasgian communists, revisionists, what-have-you. Each, too, has their own domestic systems. A hospital for each, a police for each, and so-on, so-forth, each only nominally holding to the laws and regulations of the Mandate. Here, in Hierosolyma–why, this is the poster-child! Our police force is actually at least vaguely respected by the locals. Elsewhere? Not so.

“I pray that you will have better ventures as such. I truly do. But, I fear, that the separation may have been too long. Yes, they voted for reunification–but I'll be blunt and frank with you, sir, I do not think they will like the taste of it so quick.”

The tired old man sat back with that, his gaze naturally drawn towards the windows thereafter – watching the midday sun.

(OOC: just trying to expound on the domestic situation a bit; lemme know if there's a problem with anything. More to come.)