Collecting the Strays Banja Luka Free Canton of Crotobaltislavonia 13th of July 2019 The recent actions of the regime in Banja Luka had caused much frustration amongst the Kadikistani nomenklatura. More so because they weren't sure whom to blame more, the Slavonian regime for building relations with enemies of the Union or themselves for turning a blind eye to the periphery for too long. Many found it difficult to grasp why the Slavonian leaders would play such a dangerous game. Unable to understand the logic of their actions from a pragmatic and strategic point of view they failed to consider that it was the idea of independence that drove Banja Luka westwards. For many Kadikistani's the Central Committee had been too weak in the first place by not successfully consolidating Crotobaltislavonia during the first modern post-50s crisis. According to conservative Kadikistani thought this allowed the idea of independence to thrive under the warm mantle of genuine Union friendship. The project of friendship and camaraderie amongst equals was rewarded with betrayal, this time not by some external enemy like General Radek, but by the Marxist-Leninovist regime itself. At least from the Kadikistani perspective there was an expectation of gratitude coming from the Free Canton. After all besides the obvious ethnic and historical ties the Kadikistani Union and the Democratic Socialist Republic before it had guarded over their perceived Kadiko-Slavonian relatives like a big brother guards his younger sibling. In doing so they had faced off with the West on several occasions, invested heavily in the Crotobaltislavonian economy, helped build their military and purged the regime, military and state apparatus several times in order to preserve the delicate balance between the formerly dominant Farragoists and the radical Otpor League. It took only several months of neglect for all those interventions, the vast resources, the lives sacrificed and much more hardships to be undone. By the time the eyes of Ivar gazed back onto Germania the Farragoists had lost power, Crotobaltislavonia had made military deals with the ideological rival Serenierre, strengthened ties with historical rivals of the Rurikgrad Pact and not in the least started an alliance with the most irresponsible nation left in Germania, the Grand Duchy of Lars. The latter gaining notoriety by being the first and only nation in the region ever to invite Touzen forces in Gallo-Germania. A traditional response of the Kadikistani Union would be to freeze the financial and economic donations that were being delivered in accordance with the Moravscik Plan. Furthermore All-Union forces currently stationed in Crotobaltislavonia could occupy the industrial areas, tow the heavy equipment back East and show dominance by crippling the treacherous regime economically. Not to mention raising tariffs and reclaiming some military hardware. Politically the country could also be crippled if the Kadikistani forces would storm the jointly build airport, the governmental buildings and take key position in Banja Luka along with the other major cities. If they wanted they would do so along with the Slavonians still loyal to the East. After all 8 months of neglect could not undo the deep bond that war and decades of support had created between the Kadikistani's and a large part of Crotobaltislavonian society. Ivar deemed it better to try a different approach, one that would not threaten to force Banja Luka into the hands of the Union's enemies. The Crotobaltislavonian government was still Marxist-Leninovist in name, but some of its members had become seduced by Western incentives. Dissident members of the government would be surgically removed during the following weeks and replaced with solid pro-Rurikgrad Farragoists. According to Ivar the Farragoist needed to become the dominant power again in the Slavonian political sphere, people who could remain loyal for more than a few weeks. A charm offensive would be launched simultaneously to remind the people of the deep historical ties between the two nations and the joint struggles that they have endured. Besides the two Marxist-Leninovist factions several other political parties had been allowed to establish themselves during the Union's preoccupation with their own internal issues. One of those parties, the Twentish Party, was the most vocal in their opposition to Kadikistani military presence in Crotobaltislavonia and support for a rapprochement with the West. Several of their interventions both in the institutions, on the streets and in the media had caused much anger back in Ivar. They dared make statements that called for a withdrawal of all Kadikistani military personnel from Crotobaltislavonia and an end to the Bilateral Alliance between the two. It was clear that the Twentish Party was a danger for the existence of socialism in Crotobaltislavonia. It was considered only reasonable that they were the first ones needed to be neutralized. 'Cut off the head of the snake and the body will die', as an old Azraqi poverb went. Today the Shlebuchya, the All-Union Directorate of External Intelligence, would target Eduard Frei. The latter was the Chairman of the Twentish Party and an anti-Kadikistani strongman allowed to gain prominence in Slavonian politics. Frei had an apartment in Banja Luka due to his political career, but his roots were in a small rural town near the Gunnish border. He would occasionally escape to the countryside whenever he had the chance, clearing his mind from Banja Luka and its many intrigues. Today was such a day as Banja Luka would be consumed by the 7 Days War Victory March that was also taking place in the capitals of the Rurikgrad Pact member-states. Frei had no interest in celebrating the victory of the Rurikgrad Pact and the Farragoist-Otpor coalition, he didn't want to be anywhere near it. His children already leaving the house several years ago, starting their adult lives, Frei decided to bring his wife along for the trip. Unexpected by the Shlebuchya agents involved in the assassination mission, but without consequence for the mission. The Twentish Party leader usually drove to the small rural village of Mrekt, 11 kilometres south of the Banja Luka city border and today was no different. His home town was too far for a day-trip and Mrekt had the bonus of having a relatively intact forest. All forests closer to Banja Luka were either completely or partially destroyed by one of the many conflicts taking place around the capital the last years, new trees taking their time to grow. Being somewhat of a rally fan he was known to enjoy driving the small dirt-roads at exaggerated speeds. His need for speed being exactly the vice that the Shlebuchya would exploit. Knowing the exact location were Frei and his wife would go, the pattern not being hard to discover, one agent had been hiding in the area since the day before. He waited for Frei to pull over in his SUV and walk deeper into the beautiful forest, holding hands with his wife like young lovers. By the time the Twentish Party power couple had left sight the agent made stealthy approach towards the vehicle and sabotaged the breaks in a manner that would make it look like poor maintenance when they eventually gave out. Several hours later, hoping to get back to the city by nightfall Eduard Frei and his wife re-embarked their SUV and drove off. The wine they had earlier making the Chairman slightly more daring in the turns. Before the couple left the hills the breaks gave out, the SUV tumbled and crashed into a tree. The Shlebuchya agent used some distant high-ground paired with some binoculars to verify the severity of their wounds and left the area. While his wife was no longer moving, the head stuck in the dashboard, Frei was still clinging on to what little life he had left. But it was of no consequence, there was no way he would crawl over ten kilometres for help and the cellphone reception in the area was non-existent. The first name would be removed from the list.