Hail thee Saint George

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Tiburia, Oct 2, 2018.

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  1. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    This is a directly-connected sequel to the various storylines from my previous RPs on Pelasgia, including the most recent one, A House Divided. Tune in to see the great events and the everyday reality of the New Pelasgia. ~ Demos

    «Χαῖρε Ἅγιε Γεώργιε, ἱερομάρτυρ δρακοκτόνε!»
    "Hail thee Saint George, dragon-slaying martyr!" - Traditional motto of Pelasgia​


    Propontis, Thracesia
    01/10/2018


    The streets of the Imperial capital found themselves lined with red, blue, and white banners bearing the likeness of Saint George, as the celebrations for the Coronation of the new Emperor extended over the whole week. Many banners were in the form of a square with many triagonal and sharp stripes extending therefrom, in blue and red, and often bearing inscriptions in golden letters. Chief amongst the multitude of these inscriptions was "Hail thee, Saint George!", the unofficial (though commonly used by officials) national motto of Pelasgia, in reference to Pelasgia's favourite national saint. A large horizontal banner bearing the full version of the motto, "Hail thee, Saint George, holy dragon-slaying martyr!" was suspended over the square next to the intersection of Odos Hagiou Georgiou (Saint George Street) and Leophoros Vasileon (Avenue of the Emperors). Behind the square and across from Leophoros Vasileon was the Nikoloudeion Megaron (Nikoloudes Palace), a large neoclassical structure six floors, housing hundreds of rooms. The Nikoloudeion was the seat of the Ministry of the Military, a fact to which the large honour guard in its main courtyard could attest. Behind the sharp ornate black bars of the fencing and the thick bushes which surrounded the complex, stood of company of soldiers of the Pelasgian Ground Forces in the summer uniform of the Army Honour Guard: a dark blue tunic with a golden flechette and red linings, light blue pants with a red stripe, a dark blue kepi, and black leather boots. Often, the uniform was replaced by an olive-green version with a shiny helmet from the 20th century, having been adopted for more practical reasons in the 1920s, but for such an occasion the 19th-century ceremonial uniform was preferred.

    Behind these men lay the entrance to the Megaron itself, a double staircase place under a large engraving of the Imperial Double-Headed Eagle. Inside the building frescos with historic and biblical scenes covered the ceiling, while the walls were decorated in ornate blue and silver, which interchanged with the ochre and white walls, dark red carpets, crystal chandeliers, and golden-coloured statues that filled the halls of the Megaron. Upon entering one would climb another staircase to the main hallway, after leaving their coat, hat and other items to servants in the hall. They would then continue straight to the Grand Hall, with its large windows and curtains, where hundreds of dignitaries from the military and various services had gathered, navigating the space between the countless tables of the room and the main stage were a military orchestra was playing classical music. Such great and known men as the Polemarch of the Empire, Lord Marshal Aristarchos Kavalaris, and the transitional Minister of Defence, Panagiotis Melissanides, conversed, danced and celebrated in evening dress of full-dress uniforms of the No. 1 variety, flanked by wives dressed in the most luxurious of Propontine garments, usually evolutions from the chiton and peplos; for in Pelasgia, men's formal dress seemed to have progressed much more than women's.

    In one of the tables further back, housing the most senior of the junior officers, Colonel Markos Drakopoulos and Colonel Gregorios Zephyropoulos sat down for a drink. The latter was flanked by his wife, Elpinike, and the other was by himself, having been widowed rather early in his marriage.

    "Your brother seems to be rather late, Markos" Elpinike Zephyropoulou (née Demertzi) remarked, teasing her husband's close friend.

    "In the time I have known Markos since the Academy, the otherwise prodigious and exemplary Captain Lambros Drakopoulos of the 1st Fleet has somehow always managed to be late for social events," her husband noted, winking at his friend.

    "Oh I should think his ship is late, for he was dispatched to Pharos," Markos Drakopoulos replied, half-jokingly. "That or his wife is taking her sweet time getting ready again; the joys of a large family!"

    "To their health!" Gregorios remarked leading them all to cheer. "Speaking of health, it seems our beloved Brigadier Iordanis shall have to retire after all. His replacement is rumoured to be Brigadier Demetriades over there" he said, pointing discreetly to tall, light-skinned man with fair features who was sitting a couple of tables across.

    "Another mainlander!" Elpinike remarked, letting her inner Archipelagian free for a second. "At least he is from Therme, not those mountainous holes in Melingia and the Opsikion you two call home."

    "Here comes the aristocratic fisherwoman again," Gregorios remarked. "Anyway, what do you make of him Markos? Have you heard anything about him yet?"

    "Nothing really. Our good friend Triphon would tell you-if he were to ever vacate the WC*-that he was transferred here from Therme on the direct recommendation of Lord Marshal Kavalaris. Not only that, he had a letter of recommendation from General Anaxander Palantis himself."
    *WC: The French reading of the English initials for "water closet" is sometimes used as an elevated euphemism for washroom among the urban classes of Pelasgia. Here it used ironically.

    "The Owl of Melingia and the Eagle of Lycaonia themselves? Sounds like we have quite the prodigy in our midst. I bet you the good Brigadier will have an internet encyclopedia page before the rest of us even get to the Supreme War School."

    At that point their small talk was interrupted by the simultaneous arrival of Lt. Colonel Triphon Platanias and a group of three white-clad naval officers, led by none other than Captain Lambros Drakopoulos of the Destroyer Atromitos. Following a short discussion and exchange of kisses, hugs, and handshakes, the conversation on the recent arrival from Therme resumed, with some notable input from the Captain.

    "I know nothing of your soon-to-be Brigadier, my friends. But I'll be damned if that isn't Commodore Dionysios Brouskokokkinos of the 3rd Fleet. He was an upper year student in my year at the Academy and the most beloved of them all among my class. I'll go pay him a visit and see if I can gleam some knowledge for you lads to gossip a bit more. And they say sailors are like women!"

    ------

    As the sun grew closer to setting, the celebrating crowd of officers and assorted dignitaries and relatives found itself dispersing. That being said, the process of dispersion itself was not concluded without many more toasts, signings of patriotic hymns, and cries of "Hail thee Saint George!". As all others found themselves leaving with their spouses and families, or with very close friends, Colonel Drakopoulos found himself walking alongside his soon-to-be superior, Brigadier Anaxandros Demetriades. The two men both had their hands in their pockets and their kepis firmly on their heads, as the evenings of Pelasgia had started getting cooler. Three golden stars on the shoulders of the Colonel, and a silver star, a grenade, and a sword with its holster on those of the Brigadier glimmered through the lessening light.

    "I would like to ask you a personal question if you don't mind, Colonel" the Brigadier said, pulling his right hand out of his pocket and motioning towards his comrade.

    "By all means, Brigadier-sir." The reply came calmly and almost mechanically.

    "I take it you are a man of the old Pelasgian stock, from one of the most prominent military families of all of the Opsikion. And I am also aware, having read the exploits of your grandfather, that your family rose to prominence through the National Examination System, despite not being of noble status."

    "I am honoured, Brigadier-sir. Indeed, both of those facts are correct."

    "Very well. I take it then that you are a believer in the idea that people should serve the Empire as best as they can, regardless of their status?"

    "Of course, sir! It would be quite short-sighted, if not myopic, to refuse a skilled or gifted man an opportunity to labour for the common good simply because of which stratum he was born into." This reply came with clear excitement, though it was also accompanied with a tint of guarded restraint.

    "Quite right, Colonel; I think we are joined in that respect. But would you not say that some people are more predisposed to certain positions than others? We all have our places, but not everyone can be a footsoldiers, just like not everyone can be a general; if you get my meaning."

    "I should think that nobody thinks otherwise, sir. Though what that predisposition is based on is a point of frequent and great disagreement, at least in my experience."

    "Without wishing to be impertinent, Colonel, I think I have caught wind of your own specific interpretation of this axiom. Not that I disapprove of course."

    "What would that be, sir?"

    "Suffice it to say we have both given Plato's Republic more than one read, and outside the context of Lycaeum Ancient Pelasgian class," the Brigadier replied, putting a glove on his right hand with his left.

    Before the Colonel could respond, the Brigadier extended his hand for a handshake, which was quickly taken by his soon-to-be direct subordinate.

    "It was a great pleasure getting to know you in person before the whole ceremony, Colonel. I shall look forward to talking with you again in the future."

    "The honour was all mine, Brigadier-sir. And likewise."

    The two men saluted each-other and the Brigadier started walking towards his car, where his family had been waiting. After a few steps he stopped and turned.

    "Oh, Colonel."

    "Yes sir?"

    "Some officers who share our literary interests are having a small meeting later this week. I would be quite pleased if you could come. If you would like to, that is."

    "I would be most pleased to, sir. Thank you for the invitation."

    "Make nothing of it, my good man. Oh and please do invite Colonel Zephyropoulos and Lt. Colonel Platanias. I would like to get to know my subordinates a bit better in a setting where we don't have to salute after every sentence. I will have one of my aides send you the details."

    "Of course, sir, I will make sure to tell them. Thank you again."

    The two men exchanged salutes once more, and then went to their cars, ready to return home after a long day of plentiful festivities and little actual work. It had been an exhausting experience for hard-working and lazy folks alike.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
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  2. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    (Please see the new map of the cities and administrative divisions of Pelasgia. You can find it, alongside other maps, on the Pelasgian Empire wiki page. ~Demos)

    Nymphaion, Elimeioton Theme
    13/10/2018


    Nymphaion was a town of sixty or so thousand people located in the fertile but narrow valley that connected the Edessine Peninsula to the lest of Elimeiotis. It stood on the path of the river Histrus, to the east of the coast of the Narrow Sea, at the latitude of Attaleia. Its small and tightly-packed houses, with their small gardens at the back or their small yards behind unassuming metallic fences and stone walls at the front, stood at two or three floors at most outside the central area, where they rose a tad higher to a general average of four or five, and somewhat higher around the main square. The outskirts were consistently lined by small houses of a single floor or a rare two. The architecture of Nymphaion had changed little since the nineteenth century, featuring a mix of neoclassical Pelasgian, traditional Lower Melingian, and imported Germanian elements that resulted in an impressive eclectic style. Though not large in size by any measure, Nymphaion (known as Nevesca to the local Melingians) was noted as the heart of the Melingian Renaissance, a movement of national self-awareness and cultural rebirth in that same century. Over consecutive decades, the wealth of the most prominent artists, businessmen, statesmen and nobles of the Melingians had poured into the town, a townhouse there being considered the emblem of status of any major Melingian family.

    The Lord Mayor of Nymphaion had come to be considered the de facto leader of the Melingians, a large statue of the first such official standing at the centre of the large rectangular park at the heart of the town, the Town Hall being located to its west. It was next to this park that the largest protest in the town's history, including the vast majority of the population of all ages and classes, had taken place, following the execution and dishonour of Lord Mayor Ioan Avdela by the authorities in Propontis, following his arrest in that city for refusing to acknowledge the new Emperor and Constitution, despite his being there for peaceful talks. It had not taken long for the grey and olive drab-clad officers of the Imperial Polytofilaki* to arrive en masse, breaking up the demonstration, first with tear gas and batons, then with flash-bangs and rubber bullets. The clashes left dozens injured and even a couple of dead, but the protest movement was broken. In the fields of Lower Melingia, which the Melingian Lords and their armed bands had abandoned in favour of mountainous Upper Melingia, Politofylakes armed with military-grade weapons patrolled, while the Army kept itself busy with its ever more encroaching blockade of Upper Melingia.
    *The Imperial Polytofilaki (Civil Guard) is the Empire's gendarmerie, a paramilitary police force which has jurisdictions over the Pelasgian countryside and settlements with less than 25,000 inhabitants. The Gendarmes provide riot duties for cities whose Imperial Astynomia (Cities Police) precinct is too small to have a riot unit, while also supporting those whose riot contingents are too small for large demonstrations.

    It is on the fourth floor of a thin and tall apartment building overlooking this central square that Mihai Alexandrescu, Nicolae Diamandi, Zicu Araia, and Darius Ursu found themselves standing around a small table. The four were all young Melingian men who had become enchanted with the idea of Melingian nationalism after leaving their home territory and going to study in the Empire's big cities, where the movement of Pelasgian nationalism was at its peak. Nationalism was still largely a fringe ideology in Melingia, where the old traditional way of life still dominated. Even in the relatively industrialised areas near Attaleia and Nymphaion, the populace still clung to notions of Orthodox religiosity and Imperial loyalty as their identity, being content with the tolerance of ethnic minorities that the Southern Tiburan Empire had shown, provided they abode by the Orthodox faith and recognised the supremacy of the Crown. The Lords of Melingia too held on to that idea, having chosen to barricade themselves in Upper Melingia, hoping to keep their struggle pure by controlling the fortress-like settlements of the large mountain range that cut through central Pelasgia. These men, however, had been to the cities of the Empire. They had seen the rising fire of change; the phoenix, as the Pelasgians liked to portray their 'reborn' nation, would burn all that stood in its way to create itself anew. And that would probably include inconvenient notions of pluralism and tolerance of diversity.


    The Free Legion, as it had styled itself, had tried in vain to alert the dominant lords and elder notables of the Melingian National Council to the fact that Propontis would not grant their aspirations or negotiate; it would crack down and use the revolt as an excuse to settle and assimilate the region. But old men could not be taught new ways. Led by Darius, the group had decided on another approach: if the Melingian leaders would not wake up and seek to free their nation, the people would have to do so. But to be awoken, they would have to be attacked first. It was to this end that the group had gathered in secrecy, amidst the patrols of the Pelasgian gendarmes. A knock on the door interrupted the game the group had been playing to pass time. "It's Ana" Mihai said, standing behind the door. Ana Fieraru entered through the door. She was a woman with a round and strict but good looking phase, of slightly above average height for her sex. Hair bright blue eyes were coupled with brown hair, which had been died blonde, a trend which she had learned while studying medicine at Therme and had since kept. A quick was followed by a stream of words in a half-hashed voice, as she moved away from the door.

    "There's two groups four guards rotating around the streets one road behind those of the square. There's two main checkpoints for cars, one on the avenue that connects to the highway to Attaleia, and another on the one that goes to Diospolis and the highlands. They only have four or so guards each, and they largely check papers of people going around. The smaller roads are blocked by small barriers, but the patrols are the only ones really checking them. The sewers are completely empty, as usual."

    "Weapons?" asked Nicolae, looking at a single bullet which stood on the table.

    "Machine-guns and rifles, nothing cutting edge, mostly old Army surplus. They're probably for show; the officers just have pistols. There's one overseeing each group of four guards."

    "So a total twenty, all armed. The area is not too big, but we can probably get through one of the patrols easily enough. It's rainy so the guards aren't too excited about walking around for long periods anyway."

    "Let's go" said Darius, being followed by the group donwstairs. Mihai continued one floor down, to the janitor's quarters (being the janitor of the building after all), where a makeshift entrance to the sewers had been made. The rest broke off into two groups. One headed for the intersection ahead of one of the main checkpoints, where the main road turned left into the checkpoint, and right into another road, at the point where the local Chamber of Industry was located. The other went through the alleys of the town's centre and then into the sewers and up again, exiting at two buildings behind the checkpoint, where five more members of the Free Legion, Alexandru, Ioan, Gabriel, and Petru, were waiting, arm in hand.

    The first group was led by Darius, and the second by Ana. Darius's group positioned themselves inside the empty municipal theatre, a large and ornate building which lay empty due to restoration works. The theatre overlooked a large square ahead of the checkpoint's turn, with a clear view of the surrounding area. Three other Free Legionnaires were already waiting inside, with their weapons and equipment ready, and some for the new arrivals as well. The second group prepared itself on the other end. Petru, Gabriel, and Nicolae took position within the building that covered the left side of the corner, a green building with a round corner, a large entrance, and pilasters on the exterior of its second floor. The other half, Ioan, Alexandru, and Ana, took position in and around the building across, a white and grey structure which was connected to the corner building through a green iron bridge on the fourth floor. While the two groups waited in hiding, Mihai and two others worked in the sewers, placing a strong explosive device near the manhole and smaller ones near the metallic openings for rainwater around the corner and the nearby part of the main road. After everyhting was in place, the group stood waiting for over an hour, as the guards checked the papers of the few passing citizens who went out following movement restrictions, and the patrols came and went, paying little attention to their actual task. Nymphaion and Lower Melingia were known to be peaceful and they had seen enough pacification during the National Schism to know better than to cause trouble; or so the Pelasgians thought.

    At 18:00, a large column of trucks, led by three armoured vehicles, entered the town and proceeded along the main road. "It looks like Nicolae's lead was right," Zicu said to Darius, the latter motioning in agreement. At that point, an old red car got to the checkpoint before the convoy, being stopped by the guards for a check. It was some random farmer who was running errands, or so they heard. As the convoy neared the checkpoint and begun entering the turn, the old farmer pulled out a pistol and shot the officer who was checking his papers. Almost immediately after, the fire from both sides of the checkpoint sounded, quickly kthree guards and wounding a fourth gravely. Soon after, a large explosion, followed a set of smaller ones rocked the convoy. One of the larger explosions came straight under the weak point of one of the armoured vehicles, killing most of the crew and disabling the vehicle, while another damaged the one behind it considerably. At least three of the trucks laid destroyed with the troops inside wounded, dead, or burned alive. Soon after sniper and machine-gun fire started ripping through the square killing many more as they were still in the trucks or trying to exit them. The two remaining IFVs turned to return fire, firing at the general direction of the theatre with little effect, while the soldiers started pouring out of the trucks, only for many to be gunned down or pinned down. One of the patrols came running to reinforce the blockade and was promptly turned back, after losing half its men.

    The ambush had been a success. As the convoy turned to retreat, one of the IFVs fired a round into the green building, setting its second floor ablaze after striking a gas valve. The resulting explosion would kill Petru and Gabriel. However, the Pelasgian politofylakes had been forced to retreat. Expecting a counter-attack, the rebels retreated back into the sewers and their hideouts, having won the day. The public defeat of the politofylakes had been a great victory, but it was only the first step. The reaction that would follow, and the escalating violence on both sides was the way to the ultimate goal. But even within the Free Legion, only Darius, and perhaps Ana, knew this. The rest were free to celebrate. For now.
     
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  3. Occitania

    Occitania Active Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    British Columbia
    Capital:
    Marsilia
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    Madagascar
    The Director Admiral, Quirze Pañella, of the Occitan Navy is due to inform Pelasgian command that the 2nd squadron of destroyers is needed in Brecosta. It is with the feeling of sadness that the Occitan Navy must leave the shores of this great land.

    The fleet refuels, 2 amphibious transport crafts from the 1st squadron of destroyers joins the second squadron and the fleet is on its way to Brecosta to restore order. The transports, empty, shall be used for a Justosian naval invasion to relieve the Occitans in the interior.
     
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  4. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
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    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Nymphaion, Elimeioton Theme

    General Anaxander Palantis was a man of tall statute, with straight nose that in antiquity had been characteristic of Pelasgian statues, and which was quite prominent among the islanders of the Western Archipelago. His brown eyes and dark brown hair fit well with his skin, which was neither too pale nor too olive, though slightly paler than that of most Pelasgians, owing to the more temperate climate of the mountainous town on his native island of Ophiousa. The General was known among the Pelasgian soldiery as the "Owl of Melingia", partly owing to his House's ancestral standard featuring a fearsome silver owl on a black field, and partly due to his exploits during the National Schism and the Counterterrorist Campaign against Communists in the area a decade ago, when he had made extensive use of nighttime attacks and unorthodox tactics.

    Collected, calculating, sharp, ruthless and disciplined, the General was akin to an owl in character too. These traits had served him well in his years at the Imperial Military Academy at Propontis, and later at the Supreme War School, the faculty of the Academy tasked with training senior officers. Having graduated at the top of his class with a specialisation in the artillery, the General had quickly risen through the ranks, earning the four stars which he currently wore on his shoulders. Soon after, he had gotten the golden grenades of a Corps Commander on the red squares on his uniform's collar, and the Grand Star of the Order of Saint George of Lycaonia, which he wore on his chest, its golden surface contrasting well with the olive green of the uniform.

    The general pointed to spot on the map that was spread on the large table at the centre of the 1st Army 3rd Corps field HQ; the other senior officers of the Corps shifted their gaze there instantly, waiting to hear an explanation.

    "Nymphaion Power Station is located here, around 2km outside the town proper. It provides power to the general area and it is still under the control of the 8th Mechanized Infantry Bde. We can cut power from there, and block media and communications access from the local communications hub in Philippias. Our forces are the only ones with satellite phones in the area, so the rebels will be completely cut off. Brigadier Konstantinidis, how many Field Constables are there in the immediate area?"

    "Around 12,000, sir. We brought in the entire district's forces, save for civilian-equipped units. A couple of thousand riot police and the rest are armed in military gear, sir. With some air support and heavier vehicular support from the Armoured Brigades I am certain we could take the town back within three days at most."

    "That will not be necessary, Brigadier. Withdraw them all at once to Encirclement Line II. We are tasked with pacifying the rebel settlement as soon as possible.There's no point in delaying, all those inside Nymphaion were warned of the dangers of revolt well before they started attacking officers of the Crown. Brigadier Kavasakis, how many units do you have special munitions for?"

    "All of them, sir. We had plenty to begin with, since they're produced Edessa Province, but the 2nd Army 1st Corps gave us some extra just to make sure."

    "Very well. Warrant Officer Tabakis, contact Air Vice-Marshal Periandrou. Tell him to get his units ready with Type-26 Rounds. He wanted a chance to test the Air Forces' latest toys, and now he'll get it."

    -----

    Darius looked out from the windows of the fifth floor of the Municipal Theatre. But a few days before, the Free Legion's ambush there had massacred a convoy of fully armed Field Constables at the city centre, only losing two men of its own by a stray IFV shot. From that point on, tensions between the Pelasgian authorities and the local populace had escalated, culminating in an open revolt against the Imperial authorities after the Constables had shot an elderly man who complained that he was being held for too long at a checkpoint. Nobody was exactly sure what had happened, but it mattered little; the provocateurs of the Free Legion had their excuse, and the ambush had already painted the Imperials as weak. Before long, riots broke out, a Constabulary station was torched, and the authorities were driven out of town, but not before clashes left fourty people dead on both sides. The homes of some ethnic Pelasgians were looted, as was the local synagogue whose members were pro-Pelasgian Karaites, and the Flag of Saint George was taken down from the municipal building.

    And yet, in the days that followed, the Pelasgians did not attack; they did not fight. They blocked off the town and waited. Patrols reported roadblocks being reinforced, but that morning Nicolae's men had found out that the closest line of outposts had been abandoned. Darius had convened a meeting of the Free Legion, and the Provisional Government they dominated, the discuss what the reason of the move was. Dawn had yet to break on the small town which now claimed the status of a Free City, and the various leaders of the new regime begun entering the room one by one. Before the first meaningful words could be said, the sound of jets was heard over the city. Soon after a series of explosions was seen, followed by many more in rapid succession. Darius could not believe his eyes; one of the jets passed over the Threatre Square, dropping a bomb right at its centre, which was full of tents and supplies of the hastily assembled militia and of Melingians who had come to the town for safety. The initial impact killed a few of them and destroyed a small group of tents, but everyone rose after a second thinking it was a dud. Then, at the very same instant, the countless smaller balls the bomb had scattered before its impact exploded wreaking havoc across the square.

    More jets passed, dropping more such bombs, one of the exploding right next to the threatre's facade, sending smoke, fire and shrapnel through the room. All those assembled started running downstairs in panic, heading for the makeshift connection to the sewers that the rebels had made in the previous weeks. Before long, the sound of artillery started filling the air around the city, the ground shaking as every shell impacted. Before long, Darius, Nicolae and Ana had managed to make it to the sewer entrance, unaware of the fate of the rest of the assembled men, who'd been lost in the mayhem of fleeing people and exploding shells.

    "By God, you've been hit!" Ana said. Darius turned and saw a wound on his right shoulder. It started to pain him greatly, though he had not realised it was there before, being too filled with adrenaline from the experience of running for his life.

    "They're using cluster bombs! Cluster bombs! This is an urban area God-damnit! How many people are they going to kill?!"

    "Do they care?" asked a militiaman, who had been guarding the sewer entrance.

    Darius looked at the wound on his hand one more time before turning back to Ana again. She was hanging from the top of the iron ladder leading to the sewers below, with a large backpack on her back.

    "Get out and make sure people learn of this! Nicolae, you try to get as many people into the sewers and out!"

    "It's no good, they've cut off all lines and they're jamming internet signals too. Hell, we don't even have power; thank God there's a generator down here. You'll need a damn satellite phone to reach anyone!"

    "Damnit! Ana, leave! There's no use to us all dying. We'll meet you at Saint Simeon, in Upper Melingia, once we've gotten out, I promise."

    Ana looked at the two men one last time. Within a few months, they had gone from a bunch of foolish young students proclaiming great ideals of independence and self-determination in their little apartment to actually being in a war zone. What fools they had been! She climbed down the stair and run through the sewers' service canal, following the esoteric symbols the Free Legion had used to mark the tunnels' direction and the distance of caches or outposts without being understood by the authorities, if they ever came down there.

    As she run, she could only hear her own footsteps; not those of any small group of guards, nor those of any fleeing civilians. None at all. She got to the first two caches and found them completely deserted. Then she started feeling it; a burning heat, like that of a building in the summer when there's no wind, but a hundred times stronger. Where did it come from? The sound of artillery kept getting stronger. By god, she thought, they're using white phosphorus shells! They're burning the city!

    She could faintly hear the echoes of screams from the corridor behind her, which had led away from the sewer entrance. Then silence. She knew she could no longer get to the outposts within the city: she needed to follow the sewage system to the drain pipes for rainwater near the main road, alongside the river bridge to Philippias. There she could slip away safely. Suddenly, she heard steps again. She turned around, her blue eyes sharply trying to distinguish a form in the dark, oil-lamp lit service corridors under the city. She saw a group of three men dressed in black uniforms, with submachineguns and wearing night-vision goggles. Faintly but surely, the letters "ETA"* could be seen on their vests. Before she could say a word, she heard a second set of steps behind her; as she turned around, a large metal object hit her head and she lost consciousness.
    *ETA is the initials of the Special Security Detachments (Eidika Tmimata Asphaleias), one of special paramilitary forces under the control of the Central State Security Service (YKAK).
     
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  5. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Athens, Greece
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    Propontis
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    Demos
    Upper Melingia, Elimeioton Theme, Pelasgia

    Thick pine forests covered the mountains which separated the Elimeioton Theme from the Pelagision, forming a thick green shroud over the dark brown ground below. Heavy rains had already started pouring onto the Histrian Mountains, the eastern of the two branches of the northern Masis mountain range, alongside the Tanagraians. Soon enough, the peaks of the Histrians would be covered in a coat of white snow, and the plains below would follow. The local fauna had already started preparing for the winter, and the hunters dared less and less to venture into the woods, lest they fall prey to the packs of increasingly ferocious wolves and jackals. Once night fell, the tranquil stillness of the mountain night was broken by two sounds: the howls of wolves and jackals, and the noises of the Gkionis, the large species of scops owl native to Pelasgia.

    Yet, between those two sounds, one could hear the more discreet steps of some animal here and there, and on this specific night, the treading of the most ferocious animal of them all was audible to the learned ear: the humans had entered the forest. A small pack of them, a lochos* as the Pelasgians would say, was making its way through the woods, quietly but surely. If one was close enough, the sounds of a small metal object could clinking could be very faintly made out: a small piece of metal, shaped like the Gkionis, hanged from the wrist of one of the men, where others had rosaries with crosses and glass "eyes" as good luck charms, which were popular among the Empire's inhabitants.
    *A Lochos (Λόχος) is a Pelasgian company-sized unit, the word deriving from a sub-unit of the ancient Phalanx.

    "You think the owl likes your little toy, Makrian?" Private Charalambos Charalambous asked the man next to him "They're awfully loud tonight."

    The Corporal from the isle of Makri took a few moments before replying.

    "If they do, I'm not sure it's a good sign," he said, and carried on bearing his load as silently and quickly as possible up the slope.

    The company stopped around ten minutes later, when it reached a narrow mountain road, which lay between two elevated sections of forest. The men broke up into platoons and quietly took up their positions around a stretch of road between two narrow turns, two platoons positioned on either side of the road, and two more spread out behind and around them to guard the area. As the men dug in, the Makrian turned towards Private Charalambous, with moonlight shining on his uniform's nametag: ELEFTHERIOU.

    "Charalambous, right?" the Makrian said "I take it you're from Kyparissos?"

    "Yeah, I guess having the same first and last names gives it away, eh?" the Private replied with a smile.

    "Funnily enough, your isle's half an hour away by boat, and I've never even visited it. I can see it from my house too."

    "You're from the inland peaks I take it then? I'm from Hagios Andreas, so I'm on the other end of the island anyway," Charalambous replied, before pausing. "Say, you Makrians have a folk story about the Gkionis, no?"

    "Quite the tale," Eleftheriou replied "There's not a Makrian child that hasn't heard it. It's even made it to Chandax and the mainland I hear."

    "What's the story then? I've seen plenty of you with that owl around your arm or your neck. Even seen it around car mirrors."

    Eleftheriou paused for a second. He looked up at the moon with his dark green eyes and then back at the Kyparissian again.

    "It's like the 'evil eye' in the rest of Pelasgia and the Long Sea. The story goes, there were once two brothers. According to where you hear the story, one of the two is Demos, or Giorgos, or Dimitris. The other's always called Antonis (or Adonis in Lyconia), which is shortened to Gkionis. Anyway, one day the two had a very tough fight over a girl or an inheritance or whatever, and the first brother killed Gkionis. However, he loved his brother, so he nearly went mad with grief and begged God to make an owl out of him, so he could grieve his brother's death forever without moving to the afterlife to face him. And so he calls out 'Gkion, Gkion' all the time, as you can hear. Pretty weird if you ask me, but my mother wouldn't let me leave for my army service without a bracelet."

    Charalambous had been listening attentively and took a moment to respond. He let out some air from his nose and a small grin was drawn on his face.

    "Well at least I know why the damn owls are so loud tonight."

    "Why's that?" Eleftheriou asked.

    "We're here to kill some brothers of ours. I guess they're trying to warn us off. Too late for that I guess; this whole country has gone mad since those commie cunt-wipes in Propontis blew up the Emperor."

    Eleftheriou did not respond right away; he opened the small, thick laptop in front of him and looked at a thermal scan of the area. So far, the humans around were the men of the 47th LOK.*
    *LOK (ΛΟΚ) stands for "Lochos Oreinon Katadromon", or "Mountain Raider Company", a Pelasgian Ground Forces spec-ops unit.

    ------

    Domnul Alexandru Negru sat at the back seat of the olive-green Artemis Gaïdaros jeep that stood at the middle of a five vehicle convoy which made its way through the mountainous roads of Upper Melingia, quietly and with its lights turned off. All four men in the vehicle wore surplus camouflage uniforms in the Pelasgian lizard pattern, the two men on the right side of the vehicle holding Type 3 battle rifles which they had gotten from the Loyalists during the National Schism. Three more such jeeps and two pickup trucks were part of the convoy heading from the village of Saint Simeon, whose Domnul (Lord) Negru was, to Kephalovryson, the Kephalochori (chief village) of Upper Melingia.

    "Hard to believe it took this to get us all together," Alexandru said to his second-in-command, his cousin Ioan "Maybe the Lords of Melingia can meet before the Pelasgians burn Kephalovryson next."

    "Half of them probably still think the Emperor will intervene and save them. They live in past centuries, thinking their being Lords matters, as if the Crown has any say anymore."

    "They've never been outside of their small farming villages, which might as well be in the 16th century. I've told them so many times the Emperor's been neutered. Even if he weren't, our link to the Crown died with Avdela. Maybe they'll realise now that those foolish kids got Nymphaion burned and leveled."

    "Those kids weren't so foolish, maybe. They showed us what's coming to the rest of Melingia, and they woke us up no matter how much to wealthier of the Lords wanted to sleep."

    "And they killed thousands in the process. The Pelasgians barely lost a few hundred and they massacred a whole town in return. Many are enraged but others are scared. It's those who have much to lose that are scared, and those are the Lords of Melingia, not the people."

    "The fools. Do you think they'll still try to lead us to a compromise? I heard Lord Jderoiu is secretely negotiating with the Pelasgians."

    "His lands are right next to the plains of Nymphaion. They'll make him stay as long as they need, and then they'll come in for the kill while the fool is still trying to bargain when they're ready," Negru said, angrily tapping the driver's seat, "How long till we reach Kephalovryson?"

    "An hour and a quarter, more or less."

    The Lord annoingly granted. "Why does it always have to be the furthest village from us? Let's hope the damn Pelasgians don't just bomb it. God help they're in a placating mood with the locals after the butchery down at Nymphaion made the whole region hate their guts."

    As he finished his sentence, the convoy slowed down to enter a narrow point between two turns. When the leading vehicle was almost compeltely through the second turn, it halted completely, its advance being blocked by some object.

    "What's taking so long?" Ioan asked the guard in front of him. Just then, a set of explosions ripped through the convoy from both sides, as planted charges exploded. A wave of gunfire followed, breaking through the front windows and killing the driver and guard. The two trucks at the back of the convoy where showered with machine-gun fire, killing most occupants and those coming out, while grenades were thrown in after. In the chaos that followed, as the Melingians tried to fight in the dead of night with no lights but some flashlights, the leading jeep and the one behind the Domnul's were hit by rocket-propelled grenades and automatic fire.

    Ioan and the Domnul exited the jeep as the last few Melingians tried returning fire to the ambushers in the thick, elevated patches of forest on both sides of the road. One by own they were mowed down. Finally, Ioan was shot in the leg and collapsed, letting off grants as his old body fell to the ground.

    "Come on you damn cowards! So much for being subjects of our Emperor! You don'y even dare face us in the open, you damn fratricides!"

    Alexandru Negru tried his best to aim around with his pistol. Suddenly he saw movement in the bushes to his right; he fired once, then twice. Before he could fire again, he felt a pinch in the back of his leg, as he had been stung by a bee; he'd been hit with a dart. As everything around him went black, he could see the camouflaged ambushers exited the bushes and heading his way. It looked like the Pelasgians had already moved through Lord Jderoiu's lands, and they had made it all the way to the highway between Saint Simeon and Kephalovryson. Damn senile old fool Jderoiu, he thought to himself before losing consciousness.
     
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  6. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Propontis, Optimatoi, Pelasgia

    Megaron Kantakouzīnou (aka. Kantakouzīnos Palace) consisted of a large, central marble structure, connected to two smaller wings made of a combination of wood and marble. The main wing, known as the Marble Palace, was built in the Propontine Baroque style, combining elements of Gallo-Germanian baroque and medieval Propontine architecture, a fact which was most pronounced in its windows, doors and pillars. The Marble Palace was the primary working area of the Empire's head of government, the Sakellarios, sometimes translated as Chancellor. The other two wings consisted of the Sakellarios's living quarters, as well as those of the servants on the one hand, and a small chapel alongside the garage and various storage and security areas on the other. A smaller wing had been attached to the Marble Palace and the living quarters with time, serving to house various offices and services associated with the increasingly important independent executive, which had evolved into the primary organ of Imperial governance, the Emperor maintaining a largely ceremonial role over it.

    The three main wings of the Palace converged around a tight but beautiful internal square, where a ceremonial guard detachment stood and dignitaries and guests often arrived. As a whole, the complex was surrounded by a thick but moderately-sized garden and an ornate but tall fence of iron and rock, being guarded on a twenty-four hour basis by the Central State Security Service's Ninth General Directorate. Perhaps the most iconic feature of the Palace were the large tile roofs on all four wings, which extended well beyond their supporting walls in traditional Propontine fashion. Carefully crafted clay figures of dragons, plants and beasts decorated their peaks, sides and corners, while crosses were found on numerous peaks of the buildings. The internal square of the yard was also home to a large statue of Lord Polydōras Kantakouzīnos, who had served as Kanikleios (Lord Keeper of the Imperial Inkstand) to Emperor Manuel VII and had constructed the palace at the height of the original Kantakouzīnos line's power. The statue directly faced towards a marble double-headed eagle which stood prominently over the main entrance of the Marble Palace.

    As he walked towards the building Athanasios Kassandropoulos stood and gazed at the statue for a moment, being between it and the Marble Palace. His calm demeanour did not show any change in his face or stance; and yet inside he could not help but think What vanity of vanities. All of this was once his, and now what has become of the Kantakouzīnoi? My daughter's tutor's family is of more note. He bowed slightly, out of formal respect, and then turned and looked at the eagle. The style seemed a bit antiquated, especially around the heads and feathers, but the overall concept was still the same. Modern Pelasgian renditions of the Imperial symbol were more realistic and classicist, and yet the Eagle could be recognised regardless of style. Some things always change and yet the always stay the same. Kassandropoulos remarked. I guess this is what eternity is like. He walked on, towards the gate, with the honour guard standing at attention and saluting him as he moved into the large marble edifice, it's greyish-white visage seeming as old as time itself, and matching the guards' ceremonial winter uniforms quite well.

    As he entered the palace, he found himself in an ornate world of scarlet velvet and silk, gold, oak wood, and crystal. His presence was announced by one of the servants: "The Right Honourable Minister of National Education, Research and Religious Affairs." The pomp of the palace's interior seemed to be in almost comical contrast with its otherwise laconic exterior. As he was escorted up the stairs by another of the service staff, clad in formal evening dress, he felt as if he had almost descended into another era. Unlike the other Ministers of State, many of whom belonged to the Empire's Aristocracy or the urban Bourgeoisie, Kassandropoulos had the double misfortune of being a commoner and from the provinces. He had managed to rid himself of his accent and dialect in University, but was otherwise an alien to the extreme pomp of Propontis, and the peculiar mix of foreign modernity and indigenous antiquity that dominated the capital in their extremes. If anything, he would have felt more comfortable in the traditionally built living quarters wing, which felt much more homely to him. Alas, the aspiring educational reformer and celebrated academic from the Neapolitikon Theme would have to make do.

    As he entered the spacious office of the Lord Chancellor, he remarked at the large portrait of the Emperor which stood at the wall behind the head of government, only topped by an icon of Christ. The Chancellor sat behind a large wooden desk, his office being covered by bookcases and wooden walls decorated with square patterns. A large chandelier hanged from the ceiling, while the wall behind the chancellor had two large windows taking up a large part of the space between the side walls and the wall section right behind the desk. The large silk curtains of these old in design but recently replaced windows were neatly tied to the edges of the walls, allowing in what sunlight was to be found in the late Autumn of the Pelasgian capital.

    "Please, sit down Mr. Kassandropoulos. It is a pleasure to see you," the Chancellor said pointing towards a chair across the desk. He then went on editing and taking notes on a document before him.

    "The pleasure is all mine, my Authente*," the Minister said, seating down as the door behind him was closed by a servant.
    *Authente (Αὐθέντης/Afthendis) is a word meaning "Lord", the corrupted form "Aphente" (Ἀφέντης/Afendis) being more common in everyday vernacular Pelasgian.

    "Now, what do you think of our new Patriarch, Thanasis*?" asked Chancellor Notaras, putting down his pen.
    *An affectionate/informal version of Athanasios.

    "He is the embodiment of Christian virtue, my Lord. Almost as much as our Noble Sovereign," the Minister said without much excitment.

    "I am sure of that; the Holy Ghost makes no mistakes. And if am right, the Bishops might have made the right choice too," Notaras replied ironically citing the doctrine of the Grand Synod of Bishops being guided by the Holy Spirit.

    "It seems the new Patriarch will be instrumental in allowing us to reform the Church and adapt it to our purposes, my Lord. He might be a Hierarch of the old breed, but he is certainly willing to come to an honourable compromise with the Reformers. Of course, he wouldn't given to all their demands, and would not go all the way even in the ones he accepted, but it's not like we ever wanted those radicals to win anyway."

    "I suppose they've had their usefulness. And now the moderate Reformers will have theirs, for a time," Notaras replied, standing up. "Can I get you some tea? Awfully rude of me to have forgotten, even if it is a bit late."

    "No offence taken my Lord, I am not much of a beverage consumer, as you know. If you have the Lycaonian variety, I shan't be able to resist, though. With some honey, preferably."

    Lord Notaras stood up and walked to a small table near the door, where a large crystal blue teapot with gold parts and colourful painted decorations was flanked by eight small teacups of a similar style, all without a handle, in the traditional Lycaonian fashion, itself adapted from the Urudoah. He poured two cups and brought them with him with a silver and gold tray, alongside two small glass plates with small pieces of balkavas, a traditional sweet mixing Pelasgian pastries with Urudoah sweet-making. After serving his guest, he sat down again, though the conversation had continued while the courtesy was being carried through.

    "Pelasgia is a religious country, Thanasis. It has always been one, and nearly two thousand years of theocracy certainly did not help that. If we want to make our New Pelasgia, we shall have to do it through the Church. To do otherwise would make our changes shallow and temporary. If we change Orthodoxy in our image, we will have achieved a victory not seen since the Iconomachy: a chance to change Pelasgian culture at a level so fundamental we will no longer have to enforce our reforms. They will be the new default. Otherwise, all our work will have been in vain."

    "Of course, my Lord. Only a fool would try to change Pelasgia without changing the Faith. To do that, one would have to root out the Faith, a task that would take centuries and could very well kill the Empire in the process. I for one think this perpetual continuity in the Empire's spiritual world is one of the Empire's greatest strengths. Kadikistani communism might ditch Leninov for a stratocracy, Engellexoid spiritualism and culture may alter, falter and degenerate or even disappear in favour of the beast of unhinged modernity, Azraqi Islam may be supplanted by futurism, and Gallo-Germanian rationalism may run amok and kill the very culture that birthed it, as in Auraria. But through all of that, in one shape or another, Pelasgia remains. The Eagle might change in style, it might change in material, it might even change in the symbols attached to it - but it is always the Eagle."

    "I couldn't have said it better, Thanasis. Now then, tomorrow is your big day. You'll have to consult with the clergy and all of that of course, as per the ceremonial and real role of the Church in education. They did run our schools for two thousand years, after all. But with the new Ecumenical Patriarch in place, and with the Patriarch of Cassandris being well aware of the delicate understandings supporting our country's peace and our balance, I am sure you'll get through all of that. And then you can get to presenting the future of Pelasgian education, the programme that will make the idea of the Empire being home to one and only one Pelasgian nation a reality. Remember, education is for shaping minds first and for creating workers and so forth second. Once you sell the programme to the public and, more importantly, the elites, let me take care of the rest. We have the Legislative Council in our pocket, and, at least for now, the Senate too. The bill will get through with flying colours, whichever way the Hierarchs vote or push towards. If we do this right, we'll have the Church chanting about the virtues of women's higher education."
     
  7. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Makri, Optimatoi, Pelasgia

    The Deme* of Makrī was a coastal district and a municipality in the southerneastern part of the Propontis agglomeration, located on a small cove slightly west of where the Propontis peninsula met the rest of Pelasgia proper. Its tranquil and lush coasts were lined with pine trees and small bushes of all varieties, which reached very close to the beautiful crystalline azure waters of the Marble Sea. By all accounts, the Deme was largely sparsely populated, with a larger concentration of buildings, services, restaurants and hotels near the "Demotic Palace" at what could be called its downtown. Beyond that, villas and houses, in groupings or completely isolated, lined the otherwise undisturbed natural beauty of the locale. Makrī was a window into the past of the peninsula before large-scale urbanisation, quite possibly resembling what Propontis must have looked like when it had first been settled by Pelasgian colonists from Anaktora some 2700 years before. The very name Makrī (in this case as well as that of the homonymous island) meant "far away land", indicating its detachment from the realities of the major cities located around it on all points of the horizon. Of course, it was far from surprising that the privilege of experiencing life in such an Eden was reserved to a select few, namely entrepreneurs, artists, thinkers and generally members of the economic upper stratum who were not, however, nobles or statesmen.
    *Deme (Δῆμος/Dīmos) in this sense refers to a municipal government.

    Among the many notable establishments and buildings lining the quay of the Deme's main settlement, also known as Palaia (or Old) Makrī, were the famed Vyzas Hotel and the Ariadne Restaurant. A bit outside this settlement, however, one would find the Recreation Centre of Officers and NCOs (ΚΑΑΥ) of the Propontis Garrison at Makrī. Driving through the thin road connecting coastal Makrī to the neighbouring Demes, Colonel Markos Drakopoulos found himself turning towards the restricted exit marked "UNIFORMED AND OTHER AUTHORISED PERSONNEL ONLY". Soon enough, the long corridor of pines on either side of the road came to an end, leading to a guarded entrance. After showing his military formality, Markos drove through the checkpoint, manned by MPs in their characteristic white helmets with a blue line and white armbands with the blue inscription «ΑΕΔ». He parked his trusty Pegasus Athanasia and exited, wearing the semi-formal No. 8 uniform, with a green tunic and long pants, a pale green shirt, a black tie and shoes, and a green kepi. Apart from rank markings, decorations and a golden fourragère, the uniform was virtually indistinguishable for all Pelasgian army officers and NCOs, being worn during work or informal leisurely walks and activities.

    Walking into the building, a wide modern structure or marble, glass, metal and cement painted almost exclusively white, the young Colonel came across Colonel Grīgorios Zephyropoulos and Lt. Colonel Tryphо̄n Platanias, who had been waiting for him in the reception area. Platanias' round spectacles shined the moment he saw Markos approaching, while Zephyropoulos obliviously stared at one of the hostesses; Another fight with Elpinikī? Markos wondered. He quickly approached his friends, and the trio made its way into the building proper, passing through a large salon and a series of wide corridors flanked by various rooms overlooking the gardens, the beach or both. Soon enough they entered a wide but cozy room, built in a somewhat minimalist fashion, with white marble surfaces all around and modern furniture which somehow managed to still be quite conservative in its shapes, forms and functions, covering various parts of the enclosed space. The front of the room had windows on two sides, one towards the beach to the front, and one towards the gardens to the west, with an impenetrable surface of concrete and marble covering the other areas, save for some glass on the front third of the ceiling. Immediately, the three were greeted by Brigadier Dīmītriadīs, who was surrounded by a small group of other officers of around his caliber.

    "Hello gentlemen," the Brigadier said, "I am glad you could make it to our little symposium after all."

    "We wouldn't miss it for the world, sir" Markos replied, being the senior-most of the three entering officers.

    "Very well, then. Please, take a sit and let me introduce you."

    The three men were seated in chairs and sofas around a large, circular glass table at the centre of the room. Preliminary introductions were soon over and, as the trio was helped by a group of servants to some light food, the officers were soon left to themselves. A short moment of silence ensued, with Markos not being able to help but to remark at the sheer peacefulness of the sea during the late months of autumn, even as the Pelasgian coastline lost its sunniness in favour of a grayish sky. Apart from some familiar faces, such as that of Colonel Periandrou and Brigadier Mourtzouphlidīs, the three or so others assembled in the room were unknown. Soon enough, Markos and his two companions discovered them to be Brigadier Valentios Nestaniotīs and Lt. Colonel Vasilios Makriadīs - all of them quite clearly commoners who had risen to through the ranks, as their names indicated.

    "Now then, this is the third philosophical discussion of ours that you are attending, is it not?"

    "Yes, sir. It's been an almost weekly occurrence since we met a month ago."

    "I like to get to know my subordinates, Colonel. And it seems, now that I have gotten to know you three, that deeper discussion is appropriate. Tell me, Colonel Drakopoulos, what do you think of the new Education Act?"

    The Colonel paused for a second before replying. His training had always told him of the requirement that military officers be neutral, especially before a superior officer. There was always the risk that he was being evaluated or screened out; he did not wish to displease the officer, his immediate superior, either. And yet, he felt a kind of safety in the confines of the KAAY and of this room. He cleared his throat and replied.

    "If I may be so bold, I think it is an important step in the right direction. It will give all of our children a chance to serve the Empire using their skills regardless of background, which would certainly work towards the common good. And it would instill a sense of mutual nationhood across the Empire, to remind us all of what that common good is and what it is meant to serve."

    "And you, Colonel Zephyropoulos?"

    Zephyropoulos turned abruptly, having momentarily phased out, as the blank stare of his deep green eyes revealed.

    "Well, I quite agree with Colonel Drakopoulos. Unless some subversives, the Socialists for example, manage to inflitrate it, the new education system will be instrumental to the future of the Empire."

    The Brigadier smiled, though the others assembled expressed no clear reaction. His oval-shaped face, with its strict and austere look, its large, somewhat hooked nose and the light blue eyes formed a smile quite more youthful and vigorous than one would expect given the Brigadier's severe expression, which was almost as bleak as the blackness of his think, slicked-back hair.

    "I see in both of your replies the deeper truth which you must both know, being educated and enlightened men: that education is first and foremost a tool to moralise the youth using the 'appropriate myths and stories' so that they might labour for the common good, and live, think and act in a manner that serves the common benefit and the perpetuation of the Polity."

    "Any Pelasgian that has made it through Lyceum and read the Republic knows this, sir. But I wonder where our conversation's deeper aspect lays. With respect."

    "It is time to let you know of the purposes of our little meetings, then. You see, many or most have read this, but very few understand it. Quite often, our leaders are comfortable with using Plato's acceptance of lies and myths as a justification for all they do to maintain their power and the illusions it rests on: democracy, omnipresent religiosity, aristocracy, meritocracy, ideas of rights and so forth. But most forget the goal of this acceptance: it is not meant to benefit the ruler but the ruled; and it meant to do so by perpetuating the Polity, the sole collective body of both a spiritual and corporeal nature capable of bringing to together the living, the dead and the yet-unborn that make up our society and our civilisation."

    The Brigadier paused and stood up. None of the three guests, or the others assembled spoke a word. Dīmītriadīs approached the three men and stood quite close to Drakopoulos, just short of physical contact.

    "I believe, though, that a few of us who recognise and understand this latter part of the rule exist. And I believe that, as such, we ought to meet and to organise. To phalangise, as one could say."

    Drakopoulos was on edge, through his being intrigued overcame his reservations. Thinking for a second, his large black eyes, which stood between his dark black mustache and his rich curly hair stared intensely at the face of the Brigadier. This man is a smart man and a good man. But he is a dangerous man too. he thought.

    "To what end, sir?"

    This question caused another explosion of excitement in the Brigadier's mind, though he merely expressed it by transforming his serious, near predatory expression to a milder one through a smile, his gaze changing not one bit. He placed his hand on the Colonel's shoulder.

    "To no end other than that contained within the rule itself: the benefit of the Polity." Before anyone could reply to his words, he turned around and moved away, his hands behind his backed, and took a few steps before facing the trio again.

    "Now, if you yourselves are interested in such an effort, I will let you into a secret of considerable proportion. In any other case, you must turn around and leave. And in the latter case, you should act and think as if this meeting never took place, and you would do well to wipe all of our recent meetings from your memory, at least in so far as other people are concerned. What do you say?"

    Drakopoulos turned and looked at Zephyropoulos and Platanias from over his shoulder. The two men exchanged a gaze amongst themselves before moving their heads up and down, which traditionally indicated acceptance in Pelasgia (as opposed to moving one's head sideways). The Colonel resumed looking forward and repeated the motion.

    "Very well, then. This meeting is over. But we will meet again in three days' time, at the Chapel of St. Olga of Ivar, at the edge of the peninsula to the west of Makrī. Until then, you must speak of this to no one and you must think well on where your loyalties lie. You may go now. Eis to epanidein*."
    *Eis to epanidein (Εἰς τὸ ἐπανιδείν) is a formal farewell meaning "until we see each other again".
     
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  8. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Makri Peninsula, Optimatoi, Pelasgia

    Thick, grey clouds covered the skies over Optimatoi as the Pelasgian winter had begun to set in. Rain poured from the skies turning the ground brown with its touch, as ever larger waves crashed against the harsh, sharp rocks of the coast of the Marki peninsula. The headlights of single, grey car broke through the half-misty and gloomy surroundings as Colonel Drakopoulos made his way to the Church of Saint Olga of Ivar on the edge of the rocky and inhospitable peninsula, through the small, single-lane and rarely used road. Gazing from his window, he could see the last of the swallows flying away with their scissor-like tails, a symbol of sadness and despair in Pelasgian culture until their return in the spring. After almost an hour of driving with a steep and half-barren rock on the one side and cliff on the other, Drakopoulos finally saw the small chapel.

    It was a quaint little building, roughly square in space, with a small dome rising from the middle of its roof, being topped by a small Pelasgian cross all of whose arms were equal in length. Its white walls and azure shutters and doors contrasted well with the red rooftop, while the stained-glass windows could be seen reflecting light every now and then. As he got closer to the building, the Colonel could clearly tell apart two parked and empty cars, both of them civilian though their plates were missing. He slowly parked his own and exited. Though he looked around, he could see nobody, and made his way to the entrance of the church, which was located right at the edge of the cliff. He stood and thought for a second before entering; he had not told his brother of this. Nor had he told his parents in law, who had become somewhat of a second group of parents to him since his fiancee's death. It was too late to turn around, though. He made the sign of the cross, as was customary when being near a church, and opened the old, wooden door before him by turning the old and chipped-away bronze handle.

    Then, after entering he stopped and gazed. The empty interior of the humble Church, with olden frescoes of saints, in their dark skin and starved look as they were depicted in Orthodox iconography, were so numerous that they formed a crowd in the otherwise deserted chapel. The bronze chandeliers and the ornately carved chairs, which boasted the shape of a double-headed eagle, reflected quaintly in the semi-dark environment as faint but coloured light came through the stained-glass windows. The dome received such light on all sides, with the image of Christ Pantokrator right above him. This was a church like any he'd ever been in, and yet it felt too peculiar in its desertion. It reminded him of the church in his humble rural hometown in the mountainous and rough edges of the Pelagision theme, which he would often visit to find peace when it was otherwise empty.

    Almost mechanically, he put a 2 hyperpyra coin in the wooden slot near the entrance and lit a candle, which he placed in the bronze stand nearby, which was full of sand. He remarked at the fact that four other candles were there, and then moved to kiss the icon of Saint Olga which was in a shroud to the right of the entrance, making the sign of the cross. For a second, he pondered at the four candles, before walking towards the templon. As he approach the elevated stand where the priest would usually hand out the body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine, he stopped after hearing a sound. An elderly priest, dressed in humble white robes walked out. His skin was darkish and his eyes near black, while his long all-grey hair was tied behind his head. His beard was quite long but still trimmed with remarkable care, and his face was thin and ascetic, almost like that of the icons. His sharp nose and his strict eyes gave him the look of a predatory bird, almost.

    "Father," he said "did anyone else come here before me?"

    The priest, merely walked on towards him, extending his hand. After a moment of hesitation, Drakopoulos kissed the ring of priest.

    "Father," he started again before being cut off.

    "There are too many to count, my son. There are always too many."

    Before responding, he heard steps near the back of the Church, behind the laconic marble pillars and the wooden chairs.

    "You seem afraid, my child. Are you afraid of doing wrong* by the Lord?"
    *in Pelasgian the verb ἀμαρτάνειν means both "to sin" and "to err".

    "Yes, father. I believe in a just cause. But I don't know if I can reach it injustly."


    "Saint Olga had a just cause, and she may have done plenty of unjust things. With good faith and intent, and with honest repentance, all can be forgiven. As long as the cause truly is just in the Eyes of the Lord."

    As the priest finished his words, Brigadier Dīmītriadīs, dressed in his winter uniform, approached him. Next two him were to officers, both of them with weapons holstered and their lower faces concealed.

    "Good afternoon Colonel. I see you came."

    "My friends did not, it would seem."

    "They'll be here in due time. First we'll need you to join us first."

    "Join you? And why?"

    "Because you'll be swearing them in, in turn. They'll be your cell. You know what this is about, Colonel. You're a smart man."

    "I know it's for the good of the Empire. But I don't understand all the secrecy."

    "Sometimes, the works of the virtuous have to be kept secret from the wicked. Sometimes the virtuous have to do wicked things. Both require secrecy. It's not easy to make a difference, and attracting attention makes it all the more harder."

    "And what is it that we will be doing, sir?"

    "You know our goals, Colonel. If you want to know our ways, you'll have to be one of us. You're too close to the sun as is. We can;t have you getting any closer without an assurance of your loyalty. Now then, shall we start?"

    A moment of silence lapsed as the two men stared each other in the eye.

    "Yes. Let us."

    The priest approached and revealed an ornamented and gold-clad tome containing the Old and New Testament. A large cross was on its cover, decorated with precious stones. The Colonel placed his hand on the Good Book and repeated the words of the clergyman who stood to his right.

    "I swear, in the name of the Holy, Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity, and on the honour and blood of my fathers and my sons: that I will be a true servant of God and of the Fatherland and of the Pelasgian Race. That I will keep the traditions and ways and laws of the Fatherland, and that I shall alter them only when needed to help and protect my country. That I will labour to the best of my ability only with the benefit of my Nation in mind, and that will be willing to do anything and give anything, including my life, for the cause of its Advancement. That I will neither hesitate in executing the orders of my superiors nor question them or fail in them. That I will keep the secrets of my brothers even if it means my death. That I shall be a true member of the Sacred Band of United Officers whose name I shall speak no more, unless otherwise instructed by my superiors. That I will seek to advance what is best for my Fatherland and my Race, regardless of the wishes of the bare mass or the self-absorbed notables. That I will place myself under God alone, not as a master of all, but as a servant of all. For as our Lord in Heaven died for every man in His flock, I too shall serve every man in that lot which is mine. And since my lot is Pelasgia, I will neither shame nor reduce it, but I shall adorn and honour it. This I swear on my life and my honour and my divine soul. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen."

    The Colonel then made the sign of the cross three times and bowed. The priest blessed him and stood back, as the Brigadier drew his sword. He pointed it right at the chest of Drakopoulos and said:

    "If you ever betray your oath, I will pierce you here."

    "If I ever do, please do so," Drakopoulos replied.

    "Very well, then. You are now a member of the Sacred Band. Soon enough you shall make your own desmī*. You will initiate them as I initiated you."

    *Desmī (δέσμη, meaning "band" or "banch") is akin to "cell" or "group". It is etymologically related to "desmos" which is the word for "Band" in the secret organisation's name.

    "And then?" the Colonel asked.

    "And then you will await my orders. Long live the One and Indivisible Pelasgia," the Brigadier said, raising his hand with his three fingers extended out, forming the Orthodox salute.

    "Long live!" replied Drakopoulos, making the same sign.

    "Here is an icon by which we will know you," the Brigadier said, giving Markos a pennant. On the one side, it bore the Icon of Saint Olga of Ivar. On the other, it bore a Phoenix, an ancient Pelasgian symbol indicative of rebirth and renewal, which also had strong Christian connotations. What ashes the Phoenix would rise out of remained to be seen.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2018
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  9. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Palamas, Makri Island Province, Theme of the Thalassinoi

    Palamas was a quaint town located at the central valley between the two peaks of the island of Makri, in the eastern Archipelago. Rather remarkably for northern Pelasgia, its winters were cold and its forests were lush and full of life, at least compared to the relative aridity that dominated most of the Pelasgian isles. Peaceful and removed, the town seemed to have frozen in a time of greater simplicity and tranquility, the old stone houses that lined its streets having changed very little over centuries, despite the lately added amenities such as power lines and antennae which were visible every now and then. At the peak of the island, one could spot the great houses, often called Towers, of the notable clans that dominated the local farming-based economy and society. They mostly boasted three floors, their middle floor starting at street level where there was a slope, with the bottom floor supporting the building climbing down the slope and the top floor towering overhead. Church bell and clock-towers also protruded from the otherwise indistinguishable sea of stone-grey buildings with dark red roofs, which were interrupted by trees which were as old as the town itself.

    Walking down the narrow streets of the village, one could remark at the large stone squares and the cozy, vine-covered taverns that were bustling of life as the week neared its end. Circles of dancing men and women filled those spaces, while jovial music from traditional instruments, particularly strings, filled the air. Sitting inside the upper floor of his house, near the balcony, Petros Karanikolis found himself humming along the tunes of the celebrating folks down below every now and then, as he savoured traditional tea with honey in a blue glass and cherry-flavoured spoon sweet on an ornate transparent crystal plate, which was decorated with carvings of floral patterns on a grid of triangular shapes. His figure was quite lordly, as he reclined in his soft chair, holding a komboloi of the finest Haydian amber money could buy.

    "These damned Mainlanders would eat the whole world, if they could," he heard a voice say, opening his dark black eyes. His pointy mustache covered the upper path of his mouth as he made an unpleasant expression, though he oval and stoney face always gave off such an expression. His curly hair was neatly trimmed and, combined with his flat nose, reminiscent of an ancient Pelasgian statute, it made him appear like a pencil eraser in a three-piece suit, if one would dare to be so humorous. His conversation partner on the other hand, was a distinctly round man, whose bald head and thick but orthogonal mustache only served to contribute to his resemblance of a caricature of the upper class in some DKKP magazine. Unlike Petros, the speaker in question, Anastasios, was a man who seemed to have given up entirely on the distinctly Tiburian habits of spoon sweets, tea and kombologia in favour of a foreign, westernised-aesthetic, much to Petros's annoyance.

    "You've been away from the island for so long you might as well be a mainlander, Anastasios. Besides, it's not those fools in Propontis that worry me; it's those rowdy peasants here," Petros said, his coarse use of the local dialect contrasting with the artificial katharevousa preferred by Anastasios.

    Petros extended his hand, with his empty glass in it, and a young woman, of fair skin but with distinctly dark hair and eyes took his glass away. Her face was without expression entirely, her mouth being almost as flat in expression as her nose was in its angle, and her eyes as blank as the whiteness of the her dress. Athanasios waited for her to leave the room to get more tea before speaking again.

    "She still hasn't gotten over him?"

    "Women are fools, and daughters of rich men are ever more foolish. She'll forget him in due time; I'll find my Theodora a man of proper stature and then she'll forget all about it. How is your son doing anyway?"

    "The rowdy peasants you spoke of have been giving him trouble. Ever since Lord Notaras got it through his thick skull to do away with the koligion, the koligoi have been asking for more and more simply not to leave and go to the cities. The only ones who're alright with staying are the ones that get lots of land redistribution. Lots from my land and that of the other notables, I'll remind you. But never on the dime of the Dynatoi..."

    "Lord Notaras and his lot want the koligoi to be rowdy and they want them to go the cities. Turning this country from a bread basket into a factory is their whole project. And if they get an excuse to send central government troops and mandatory schooling our way, so much the better for them."

    "But they are Dynatoi for God's sake! Provincial nobles. They're harming their own power base," Athanasios said angrily as Theodora entered the room again with a tray.

    "The Dynatoi, my good Athanasios, are what their name suggests: mighty. They own land when owning land means being mighty, and they now own factories and seats in Parliament since the meaning of might has changed. Being mighty is their family business. They'll sell off their land and get on to more pressing concerns. It's the notables like you and me that will get the short end of the stick. Lord Notaras does plan to take power away from the provinces, but he isn't giving it to the Crown either; he'll just keep it for him and the new urban elites."

    Petros took a sip from his refilled glass and offered his guest another plate of spoon sweet, this time a quince flavour from Nestani.

    "So what can we do? The old gendarmes kept the rubble in line, but these new 'Field Constables' are perfectly comfortable with letting the koligoi get more and more extreme. But if I or my men raise a hand they'll string us up by the highway and turn my estate into one of those new 'rural education institutes' to uplift the goatherds and so forth."

    "One of my men over at Kavos* has been talking about this with the notables of the port city. The merchants are giving them similar trouble over there. They even put up a portrait of Anastasiades and Notaras right under the Emperor in one of their restaurants. That really flared things up. From what I see, we'll have to work with the High Aristocrats and the Loyalists of the People's Party if we want to survive."
    *the port city on Makri near Palamas

    "Those people are neutered. You're telling me they have any real power to do anything? I heard even the Emperor's servants were handpicked by the Nationalists, that's how much of a fief they've made Propontis now."

    "We'll have to find out. They'll try to push for amnesty for the rebel lords of Melingia. If the Field Constables hung them on live television, there won't be a single koligos left in this entire damn country who doesn't want our heads. For our part, we'll need to give them as much funding as we can."

    "Better them than the Nationalists, that's for sure. Let's just hope they can keep their party together. In any case, have you found any suitable replacements for that foolish boy now that he's run off to the mainland with his tail between his legs?"

    "I have some in mind. I'll introduce the one I like the most to Theodora at tomorrow's feast. She's been in 'mourning' long enough, marriage shouldn't wait for women at her age."

    -------
    Pyrgos, Propontis Metropolitan Area, Theme of the Optimatoi

    Gazing from the deck of the passenger liner Zephyros III, Themistoklis could not but remark at the sheer size of the sight he was witnessing. He had seen large cities before, when he had been Sindos with his father, and when he had gotten to Iolcus after leaving Makri. But the sight before him was on another scale: countless rows of buildings of all architectural styles, no less than eight floors high, climbing progressively up the slopes of the twelve great hills of that made up the city, with the great dome of the Hagia Pronoia sticking out at the middle, even so far from the city centre. The port appeared more like a wall than a place were people lived, as the tall, tightly-packed and almost uniformly white buildings of all kinds stood at slightly different heights, inclining as they went deeper inland. Even before reaching the port, the Great Lighthouse of Hagios Simeon and the tower that gave Pyrgos its name could be spotted. "One could really get lost in this city," he said almost without thinking.

    The man next to him, a slightly darker but taller figure laughed. "I've lived here my whole life, and I still haven't even seen half there's to see here. But if you sleep with the wrong woman, her father will still somehow find you and force you marry her."

    The joke had its intended effect, as the pale face of Themistoklis smirked jokingly, his blue eyes regaining a distinct spark.

    "Look at the sea all you like island boy, once we get off here you'll be buried in a concrete fortress for good."

    "How far inland does this city extend?" Themistoklis asked gazing at one of the cruise ships that was filling up with tourists at port.

    "Further than the width of Makri. It truly is a massive sea of concrete, as the philologists always like to remark."

    The two men spent a few moments more remarking at the port of Pyrgos, one with a warm feeling of returning home and another with the stomach-twisting feeling of expectation and awe that many a poor country lad had felt when first entering the Imperial capital. Soon after, the two figures wearing camouflage uniforms of the Pelasgian army walked back into the interior of the civilian liner, preparing to disembark. Around half an hour later, a sea of men in the same uniforms, holding their bags, set foot on dry land at the port, many being greeted by their families who welcomed them back home after they had completed their military service and made it into manhood. Many, but not Themistoklis.

    "Why didn't you ask to be shipped back to Makri, Thimios*?"
    *amicable vernacular version of the Themistoklis

    "There's nothing there for me now. But there's always something for a man in Propontis... or so they say."

    Kostas pondered at the pensive look of his friend for a second before responding.

    "Yeah you're right, I heard of this one orphan from Pergomeni in my neighbourhood; came to Propontis with nothing but a shirt on his back. Saw his grandson's face on the news, making some fancy press statement for the Ministry of Commerce. You can always make a fresh start here."

    "I sure hope so," said Thimios, with a smile on his face.

    "Come on, you'll be eating with me and my fiancee today. Gotta introduce her to the amazing young man who saved my ass from getting grenaded by that idiot Alexandros."
     
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  10. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Great Palace of Propontis, Propontis, Optimatoi

    The Great Palace of Propontis was a building whose history had seen more reconstructions than memory could contain. The original building itself, built in the Imperial Tiburan style, or at least the best imitation thereof possible to in the degenerate age of the late Tiburan and early Propontine Empire, stood on the ruins of the old Megaron of the Archons of Iopolis, the ancient Pelasgian city that had stood in Propontis' place before the reign of Valentian the Great. The Wars of the Icons, the Great Himyari Crusade and the Pelasgian Revolution had each brought with them a reconstruction of the Palace as the Empire reformed symbolically around them, reform meaning rebirth from ashes more often than not. The last major rebuilding had come in the late 19th century, when the Great Earthquake of Propontis had given the modernising Imperial Dynasty an excuse to rebuilding the Grand Palace almost entirely in the neoclassical style. The product of these efforts was a majestic edifice with hundreds of rooms which, with its expansive gardens, took up entire blocks at the heart of the extremely expensive and prestigious Quarter of the Angels in downtown Old Propontis.

    The exterior of the palace largely consisted of expensive and pure white Atthian marble, while the non-marble surfaces of the exterior were painted in the ochre-gold colour that the Pelasgian neo-classical architects seemed to so adore. The marble surfaces were often complemented with gold, blue and red ornamentation to highlight various shapes and details, such as the decorations on top of the pillars that Pelasgian buildings so often sported. The interior of the Palace was largely covered in imperial purple and in purple marble, with gold ornamentation and colourful frescoes and mosaics lining surfaces across the palace, particularly rooftops and floors. Glass ceilings and domes which allowed plentiful light to enter the palace were also present, the biggest such dome being at the centre of the Palace, where the Great Hall including the Throne of Saint George was located, surrounding by a circular colonnade two stories tall. The room had recently been used during the annual ceremony where the Sakellarios* presented the Senate's policy recommendations for the next year to the Emperor in his role as Mesazōn**. On this day however, the Emperor found himself in his quiet personal library.
    *'Chancellor', the Empire's head of government.
    **'Intermediary', the official who acts as one between the Crown and the Senate.


    Sitting at the very centre of the room in a comfortable reading chair with a small table to his side, the Emperor gazed pensively at the floors of bookshelves the covered almost every surface of the study, save for the fresco-decorated roof and the window walls. On the table before him was a copy of Leōn Chalkondylīs' noted work from the 17th century, The Lives and Polities of Sixteen Noteworthy Sovereigns of Southern Tibur. Though he had taken the book from its shelf on the second level earlier that morning, he had not touched it one bit, calmly leaving its attached bookmark on page 357 of Volume II, in the Chapter dealing with Theodore II. News from the Lords of Melingia had preoccupied him from the night before, depriving him of much sleep, to his wife's displeasure. He had thus decided to also take the Eusebius Pergamininus work The People, History and Culture of Melingia and Pelasgian Muntenia, a volume which he had only read once in the past, though rather feverishly, when he had fallen in love with a minor noblewoman from Melingia very early in his adulthood. That book, too, had remained untouched.

    With a slight knock on the door entered the Emperor's most trusted official and perhaps the only man in his service whom he could honestly call a friend: the Lord Privy Seal (Sigilarius or Authentīs Sphragistīs), Xenophōn A. Zirinaios, a nobleman from an old family of landowners near Tanagra, and a retired senior diplomat and statesman who had served as Logothete of the Exterior in four different cabinets and who had been the only man to hold the rank of Magister of the Ambassadors (Magistros tōn Presbeutōn), the highest honourific title in the Pelasgian Diplomatic Corps, in three generations. Zirinaios was a elderly man, an octogenarian almost, who was still remarkably well-preserved for his age, appearing easily ten years younger than his actual age, both due to genetics and to a life which, though far from stressless, was rather comfortable. His thick moustache covered the tip of his upper lip, while the grey hair on his bald hair was neatly cut, such that it was neither too short nor too long. He wore thin metal circular spectacles to assist his vision which had never been particularly strong and, dressed in the formal evening dress that was almost mandatory in the Imperial Palace, never neglected his golden pocket watch, which had been given to his Great Grandfather by the then Emperor for saving his life during an attempted assassination.

    The elderly statesman moved slowly but gracefully towards the Emperor, himself also dressed in evening dress but much younger in both spirit and appearance. The Emperor had a particularly saddened look, one which seemed almost as grim as his hair was dark, and demeanor which was almost as pale as the skin which he had inherited from his Mother. His build was large and masculine, most prominently in his shoulders and his chin, clearly his Father's, though his propensity for tea mixed with honey, a specimen of which was at the table before him, clearly betrayed inheritance of both Parents' traits. He was clad in the insignia the Imperial Order of Saint Valentian the Great, a red, white and purple sash and a platinum star with diamonds, all extracted from the mineral wealth and fine silk of the Empire's central territories. His body stance made it appear as if the decoration chained him, almost as if he had yet to accept it as his, rather than his late Father's.

    "I wanted to remind Your Imperial Majesty that lunch will be served in an hour," the Lord Privy Seal said, his remark being both preceded and followed by a bow.

    "Ah yes. Of course. Thank you, Xenophōn." said Isaakios after a pause.

    "Your Majesty seems pensive," said Zirinaios after a moment of hesitation, a remark that only a man who had known the Sovereign since he had been the boy-Prince called "Antipas" could make, and even then only in private.

    "It is that clear? Or perhaps you are that good at reading me, after so long," the Emperor replied. "Then you might have a guess as to what it is I am pondering on?"

    The Lord Privy Seal looked at the books before the Emperor for a moment before speaking.

    "I would dare to guess, with Majesty's permission, that it had to do with the Rebel Lords of Melingia?"

    The Emperor let out a bitter laugh, almost a cough, for a moment.

    "You would dare to guess right, my good man. What an Emperor I am! Sixteen Lords rebel against soldiers who fight in my name in my name because they oppose my powers being eroded, and I can get neither the Lords nor the soldiers to avoid bloodshed. They are all sworn to do my will, and yet neither one seems to share my view of what my will is."

    The Lord Privy Seal could not think of what to say for a moment. To contradict the Emperor? All that he had said was right. To sooth him? How does one sooth a man bred to rule and deprived of the chance to do so? To agree? What use did the agreement of a mere man have to God's Viceroy on Europe?

    "Does Your Majesty intend to sign the execution order... should the court produce one that is."

    "The court will produce one, as I am sure we both know. Lord Notaras might as well be holding the gavel himself. And as for signing... even my servants are chosen by the Dynatoi* now. Does it appear that We have much choice in this matter?"
    *The Lower Aristocrats, the provincial nobles to whom Lord Notaras and much of the Nationalist leadership belong.

    The Lord Privy Seal measured his words very carefully before speaking next. He had a thought in mind, but its appropriateness was questionable. Before he could reply the Emperor spoke again.

    "I hear the Loyalists are pushing for an amnesty, probably to avoid riling up the peasantry against the notables and to keep up the illusion that their lot still have some power to challenge the National Government. Even my late Father, ever the birther of conspiracies, would know that helping them would do little to serve our needs. Everyone in this country seems determined to take away all power from everyone else, and nobody desires to give any to Us."

    "Is there something Majesty might do to take it then?"

    "Perhaps. Perhaps not. But I think that shipped sailed with the Pyrgos Accords."

    "Your Majesty does have other matters to tend to. Her Majesty is with child, and Your Majesty is still young. With time, perhaps you will agree with me that family life and just living life are more enjoyable than any amount of authority. In my darkest hours of failure, and Lord knows I had plenty in my lengthy career, I always had my Anaxandra and my four younglings to cheer me up."

    "I hope you are right, Lord Zirinaios. For I see much around my in my Realm that I do not like, and I feel powerless to do anything about it, though as a good Christian I should. At least being a family man is half of being a good Christian, as my Grandmother always used to say."

    "Her Imperial Majesty rarely erred, even when I had the fortune of knowing her in my youth. Especially in matters of religion. I believe I had told you that she once considered becoming a nun?"

    Isaakios let out a small laugh. It was these moments that made Xenophon a friend unlike any in the Palace.

    "Yes, yes I believe you have. In any case, it is almost lunchtime, no? Let us go."

    "As Majesty commands."

    The Lord Privy Seal bowed and followed the Emperor outside the room after opening and closing the door for him.
     
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  11. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Exact location classified, central Pelasgia

    The skies were cloudy and the atmosphere foggy as the snow-covered ground spread out in every direction like a vast sea of icing sugar. In the midst of mountainous terrain, between the two massive peaks, lay a quaint valley covered in trees, apart from some clearings. A single, well-maintained and moderately wide highway made its way through several kilometers of the uninhabited woodland stopping abruptly at a large checkpoint signifying the beginning of a Closed District, that is to say, a district under the direct control of the central Government of Pelasgia, and more specifically His Imperial Majesty's Own Chancellery, to which entry was restricted to authorised persons alone. Tall electrocuted fencing and active patrols enforced this prohibition such that not even the wildlife was free to roam in and out of this selected piece of land. Deep within this restricted area was a particular flatland which, save for certain protruding cement structures resembling extremely large manholes, seemed entirely deserted, despite being surrounded by more fencing and guard posts.

    Several hundred meters underground below this location was one of Pelasgia's most closely kept secrets - one of the facilities belonging to the highly secretive 11th General Directorate of the Central State Security Service. This facility was one of many that dotted the Pelasgian Empire, being connected to a vast network that include strategic bombers and other planes constantly circulating in the air and nuclear submarines constantly in patrol at sea. On top of this particular installation, a couple of kilometers away from the main facility, one could find a large transmitter meant to send and receive signals over the horizon. The common man could perhaps become aware of the very surface level existence of this vast system through the occasional broadcasts from such transmitters on a shortwave radio; such transmissions had become a favourite among the deeper parts of the global internet. Their language was largely cryptic, being based on constantly rotating encryption messages that were read out. The opening words and main format, however, remained well known, earning the transmissions their popular name: "Titan, Titan, Titan - do not respond."

    The actual meaning of the words was uncertain, though they were then repeated once more, always accompanied by a number: "Titan One", "Titan Two" and "Titan Three". The last one had been heard during the 1956 Justiza Crisis, and it is widely speculated that "Titan Four" also exists, though it has never been broadcasted - probably for the better if the forums so obsessed with the "Titan Broadcasts" are to be believed. The reality of the "Titan System" (actually called the "Akritas System" in honour of the Empire's medieval frontiersmen) is in fact much more sinister than the forums would ever venture to guess with full confidence. Every moment of every day, a set number of planes and submarines would be making their runs, armed with bombs and missiles carrying all sorts of chemical, biological and other unconventional weapons, to be deployed with ruthless efficiency and speed if ever needed. Originally devised due to the Anti-Kadikistan paranoia in the 1950s, the system only ever reached the stage right before usage when Pelasgo-Kadikistani tensions were at their peak right before the Status Quo Treaty. Rather than allow the system to atrophy, the Pelasgian State had seen fit to expand it. The extent of the programme was such that even the elected members of the Government of Pelasgia were unaware thereof; it was only the high-ranking career bureaucrats of the Chancellery and the General Staff who had a more complete idea of the Akritas System's scale, capabilities and modus operandi.

    From the comfortable safety of their underground bankers, the men of YKAK's 11th General Directorate would, on a daily basis, give out directions to the faraway Pelasgian strategic assets over shortwave radio, never expecting a response to avoid compromising the location of the assets in question. Lieutenant Aristeides Iakovides of the YKAK was amongst the men entrusted with the delicate task of relaying the messages. Tuning into the same familiar wavelength at 7.462 kHz at the same time as every day, Iakovides opened the folder before him and prepared to read out the standard daily orders. The encrypted parts of the message had been obscured by numbers that changed on a daily basis, wholly unintelligible to Iakovides. Only the parts written out in plain old Pelasgian, those that never changed and had no reason to be encrypted, provided some light into what was before him. As always, he breathed a deep sigh and begun reading out.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENT
    AUTHORISED PERSONNEL ONLY
    EYES ONLY - DO NOT ALTER

    YKAK | IX Gen. Directorate

    ORDER SHEET
    24 DECEMBER 2018
    SCHEDULED DAILY BROADCAST I
    FREQUENCY 4
    Start of message

    Titan, Titan, Titan. Do not respond.

    This is Mavri Petra Radio Station*.
    *The station's callsign, literally "Black Rock".

    Titan Two, Titan Two, Titan Two.

    Do not respond.

    Pause.

    Four (4), six (6), alpha (α), one (1), one (1), zero (0), theta (θ).

    Pause.

    Time: 0300 hours.

    Authentication code: gamma four (γ 4).

    Repeat: [Operator must repeat whole message]

    Mavri Petra Radio over and out.

    End of message

    Store message in Special Archive after giving it an ΑΣ*. Follow standard protocol found in Section 4/B of Annex III of the General Manual.
    *Short for Ἀριθμὸς Στοιχείου/Arithmos Stoicheiou or "Element Number", the standard classification number for all Pelasgian government records.

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Aristeides was silently relieved. "Titan Two" meant only a small drill or something of the short was underway, not that great a deviation from "Titan One" normal readiness. If it had been a "Titan Three", then there would be concern. But there was no real reason for heightened readiness, let alone "Titan Four". He repeated the message and then got it an ΑΣ (read: "Alpha Sigma") before moving on to the next message, this time for another plane -specifically, a SIGINT plane- on rotation somewhere further out near the Pelasgian Sovereign Base Areas. Opening the folder he saw a "Titan One". Yet another boring but peaceful day. The day after he could go and meet his family at the planned city within the Closed Area and celebrate Christmas with them - this year it was his partner's turn to handle the transmissions over the short holiday.

     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2018
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  12. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Propontis, Optimatoi Theme

    For a year of such importance in Pelasgian history, 2018 had yet another quirk: a snowy winter in Propontis. Though far from heavy and life-altering, at a mere centimetre or two, the thin sugary sheet that covered the Imperial capital was significant enough to cause excitement among the locals, being such a rare occurence in coastal northern Pelasgia. In this weather, the men of the Imperial Armed Forces and their families, dressed in ornate ceremonial no. 1 winter uniforms, flocked to the Nikoloudeion Megaron (Nikoloudes Palace), the seat of the Ministry of Military Affairs, to celebrate Christmas in the annual ball, an event of such splendour that only the Imperial Coronation Ball earlier in the year surpassed it. Scores of men clad in white, dark blue and grey uniforms with golden and silver linings, with kepis and peaked caps of all styles, made their way around, their chests covered in medals and decorations to an almost comedic degree. Each was flanked by a wife and perhaps some family members dressed in civilian clothes, which still managed to be as formal and impressive, ranging from Western dresses to more traditional Pelasgian and Propontine formal women's wear, with particular reference being warranted to the long gold and pearl earrings that Propontine women were known for.

    Among the assembled crowds, of course, were Colonel Markos Drakopoulos and Colonel Gregorios Zephyropoulos, the latter's wife Elpiniki, and their common friend Lt. Colonel Triphon Platanias, all collectively waiting for Markos' brother, Lambros, a Captain in the Naval Forces, whose family must have been delaying him as always. Sat around a table with a white sheet and various sorts of food, the group exchanged remarks in between sips of wine in a jovial and celebratory atmosphere.

    "If we somehow found a way to combine your coming early to all events and your brother's perpetual lateness, maybe we could create a Drakopoulos who's just on time," Elpiniki joked at Markos.

    "This time around I believe he has good reason: his eldest son is sick, caught a cold on Christmas Eve somehow. He might come but I'm not sure the wife or at least the rest of the kids will be attending," Markos responded.

    "Don't really see the point of bringing kids along," said Platanias who was flanked by his wife Maria, "They seem to be bored stiff and it's not like we want to be babysitting them through this. We had all of Christmas Day for that*."
    *In Pelasgia the day after Christmas is considered to be the "Second Day of Christmas" and it is also a holiday, so social events outside one's home and family take place on the Second Day, with Christmas Day itself being reserved for one's family.

    Turning around Drakopoulos saw Brigadier Dimitriadis, whom he had met during the Coronation event earlier that year in this very same room. The Brigadier seemed to be speaking with some other upper officers, but waved at him, which Drakopoulos returned.

    "Markos," said Colonel Zephyropoulos prompting Markos to turn around, "me and Elpiniki are going to dance. Care to join us?"

    "Well, unless Lt. Colonel Platanias plans to abandon his wife for me, I'm not sure who I'd be dancing with," said Markos prompting some laughter.

    "Well," Platanias' wife responded, "I could swear that girl over there has looked your way a couple of times." She pointed at a woman in a dark blue dress who was standing and talking in a group. For a split second, markos caught her glimpsing in his table's direction.

    "Oh I know the people she's talking to," said Zephyropoulos, "that's Nikolaidis from the signals division alright. Come on, we'll introduce you. It's high time you had some fun that doesn't involve alcohol in this damn balls."

    Markos sighed; he never liked it when his friends tried to force him in that way, though he knew that they were somewhat right to be concerned - it was high time he allowed himself some fun, his fiancee's death had been years ago.

    "Don't worry, I'll watch the things. Me and Katerina hate ball dancing anyway," said Platanias, preempting his only possible objection.

    The trio moved to join the bigger group that the woman was in, beginning with a short greeting between Zephyropoulos and his friend, Nikolaidis, followed by introductions. Elpiniki, working her social magic, managed to place Markos right next to the woman of interest, after introducing them, allowing for some more personal discussion once the group inevitably divided into subgroups of discussion. More importantly, perhaps, the two got a clear image of each other without having to look over their shoulders like spies. Markos had changed little from his usual self, being a relatively pale man but tall and strongly-built man with rich curly hair and a mustache in the style that the Pelasgian officer class liked so much. The only exception was the blue dress uniform of the Imperial Army, with red and gold rank insignia and linings, alongside decorations and decorative patterns that his normal olive-green uniform did not exhibit. The woman was slightly shorter than Markos, which still made her somewhat taller than the average for Pelasgian women. She had long, light-brown and straight hair and light brown eyes, along with pale skin and a somewhat oval face, along with a chin and cheeks that were neither too weak nor too strong. He nose was straight and somewhat small, as was common with coastal northern Pelasgians.

    "You're not from around here, are you Colonel?" said the young woman, whose name was Sophia as Markos had found out from Elpiniki's introduction.

    "Does the last name make it that obvious, Ms. Aslanidou?" Markos responded.

    "That, and your demeanour does not exactly seem very Propontine, if I might say so," said the woman, in a somewhat pithy way.

    "Where would you say I'm from, then Ms.?"

    "Sindos, perhaps? You remind me of a family friend from there."

    "Further to the south, Drabescus. And how about you? Iolcus, I might guess?"

    "Slightly outside the city proper, but yes. How did you know?" respond the woman with a slight smile.

    "I don't give out my tricks that easily, Ms. Aslanidou," he joked back.

    "Perhaps it was just chance," she said in a teasing manner.

    "Perhaps," replied Markos, who noticed the group breaking up to dance. "Would you care to dance?" he added, offering his hand.

    "Of course, it's much better than standing," she responded and took his hand.

    The two joined the countless other dancing couples in the centre of the room, where a 1950s ball dancing song somewhere between a waltz and a tango was being played by the military band of the Supreme Military Command of the Interior and the Archipelago. As the two turned around and exchanged stares, Lt. Colonel Platanias and his wife, who had sat down and were looking on could not help but make a couple of remarks amongst themselves.

    "Maybe Elpiniki and Grigorios managed to bring out the romantic in Markos after all," said the Lt. Colonel.

    "Well they certainly know how to dance, even by Propontine standards," responded his wife; "Pity I much prefer traditional dances over this imported Germanian stuff." Her husband smiled at the last remark.

    A few more dances followed, taking up the better part of an hour. Once the dancing was over, the band switched to playing a slower, more recent Propontine waltz, to entertain the non-dancing guests without necessarily changing the tune of the music. Markos and Sophia decided to head outside.

    "If you don't mind my asking," Markos said, "how come a woman from Iolcus like you is all the way here?"

    "There's plenty of reasons for people from Iolcus to be in the capital Colonel," she said rather aloofly.

    "And how many of those get you to the Christmas Ball of the General Staff?" Markos pressed on.

    "Well, having an uncle who's an upper officer does tend to do that. But really, I just wanted a chance to see the Imperial capital."

    "And what do you think of it now? Any better than Iolcus?" Markos asked

    "Well, I'm not from Iolcus proper per se. My family are from a town slightly outside Iolcus, Perdika if you've ever heard of it. So I'm a bit too impressed by how big it is to have any other input."

    "That's natural. I've been living here for almost a decade now and I'm still not used to it. Drabescus isn't small but at least the roads are in a grid there so I don't get lost." The last comment illicited a laugh.

    "No such problems where I'm from. Perhaps you should pass by some day, if you ever come to our humble corner of Pelasgia."

    "Perhaps. Will you be leaving Propontis soon?"

    "Well, my uncle insists that I stay for the New Year's Ball. My family want me back for Epiphany, but I think I'll stay until New Year's at least. I hear the National Art Gallery is having some fancy exposition on the New Archipelago Movement painters which I really like. Provided I can not get lost on my way there."

    "Let's go together then. I've at least mastered that part of Propontis' road network... though not without a few embarrassing traffic tickets."

    "Let us. My uncle might want me to go to some family dinner on that day, but if not I'll make sure to let you know. If nothing else, we'll meet at the New Year's Ball. You're coming I take it?"

    "Not much of a choice," said Markos point at the insignia on his shoulder.
     
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  13. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Tanagra, Optimatoi

    Located in a fertile plain in the south of the Optimatoi Theme, Tanagra was a city of around a million citizens. Built on the eastern bank of the Satrus river and west of the mountains dividing the Pelagision and Optimatoi Themes, Tanagra had been known since antiquity as a city of pottery, vineyards, farming and general hospitality and tranquility, though it had often also been the site of many battles by armies crossing from Pelasgia proper into Thracesia and Euxenia, as the walls separating its old town from its newer parts attested to. With the construction of the first light industrial factories in the city thanks to its prime location near a large river and its easy access to rail links due to stable and level ground, the growth in population that would propel it to its current size and relative prominence would come along. The establishment of several major army and air bases due to the industrial growth and rail links would only accentuate the town, now city's prominence, with it becoming the de facto centre of first arrival for all young male Pelasgians doing their military service, and for many professional servicemen of the Pelasgian Air Force, Tanagra being one of the Air Force's largest installations in all of Pelasgia, and the first seat of the Imperial Air Cadet Academy.

    As the temperature climbed to just one degree Celsius over the freezing point of water, snow covered most of the countryside near the city. And yet, the runways and open spaces of the Pelasgian Air Forces' Tanagra Air Base remained clean and neat, with dozens of aircraft of all sizes lining them, and a large empty tarmac being flanked by a large reception party. As a military utility plane with Cussian Air Force markings landed on the tarmac, the party seemed to collect itself. Exiting the plane were a group of eight advisors, all of them dressed in the sharp field-gray uniforms of the Cussian army, their peaked caps and ties contrasting with the kepi and neck-collar tunics of the Pelasgians flanking them, the latter being based on Burgundian military uniforms from the turn of the previous century. Soon enough, the Pelasgian officers attached to these advisors would be sporting uniforms based on those of the Cussians, except with Pelasgians markings and olive-green as their colour; if all went well, the entire New Type Army which was to be the model for Pelasgian military reform would be drilled and equipped along Cussian lines. The two groups of officers walked by the assembled recruits of said Army, all in all 10,000 professional soldiers of the First New Type Infantry Division, who were carrying the standard Pelasgian Type 3 Battle Rifles and dressed in all-white winter overalls, with corresponding helmets. To their right were troops of the First Reformed Special Forces Regiment, 2,000 commandos carrying mountaineering gear and the Type 77 Assault Rifle. The New Type Army as a whole included two more Special Forces Units totaling 3,000 men, and two more divisions of soldiers, totaling 20,000 men, raising the Army as a whole to 30,000 troops, or a full Army Corps. This was still quite far from the full Field Army size aimed at, but once training picked up and showed signs of success, the needed troops could be made available (which was an important concern since the New Type Army was made up entirely of professionals and not of conscripts).

    Inspecting the troops who would come under their command, the Cussian Special Warfare Command officers were partly glad to see some men who were not mere peasant farmers or guerillas but trained soldiers; of course they still understood that a lot of work was in order. Once the preliminary inspection was over, the officers headed inside to a large conference room, a bare concrete structure died in white and pastel-green, where both the flags of Beautancus and Pelasgia were hang on the walls. Sitting around a large table were sixteen men, whom one could tell apart by their features rather readily. The Cussians for their part were a degree paler than most of the Pelasgians, save for two of the Pelasgian officers who hailed from Pierrhia and a third who was from the eastern Archipelago; their features were distinctively Teutonic and Nordic, whereas those of the Pelasgians were largely Mediterranean. Even if the men present were "true" Pelasgians for the most part (at least to the degree that one could claim ancestry to the original Pelasgians who had crossed the Long Sea from modern-day Gallo-Germania and conquered the lands of Pelasgia proper so many aeons ago), being chosen thus in order to be completely loyal to the Nationalist cause, they were still more southern in their complexions than the Cussians, for obvious reasons.

    Once everyone was assembled, the leader of the Pelasgians and the commander of the New Type Army in its current form, General Epameinondas Vatatzopoulos, stood up to welcome the Cussians, his pale skin, at least by Pelasgian standards, and dark hair and eyes contrasting with the mostly blond and brown-haired and fair-eyed foreigners before him, though being rather typical for his fellow Pelasgians.

    "I would like to start by welcoming our Cussian friends and colleagues who have traveled such a long way to be here," he said with the help of a translator; "To welcome them into Operation Prometheus, the Imperial Government has seen it fit to honour all those in attendance with commemorative Medals."

    Each of the officers was presented with a medal, bearing an image of Prometheus on a golden coin-like surface suspended from a ribbon in the colours of the Cussian and Pelasgian flags. A label read "Prometheus" in Pelasgian letters carved in a font reminiscent of ancient Pelasgian inscriptions.

    "These Medals symbolise the very goal of Operation Prometheus: to help create bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two countries, all the while aiding in the modernisation and internal security of the Pelasgian state, particularly our military. This morning, our Cussian friends had the chance to review the men of the very first units of the New Type Army. Once fully trained and equipped on Cussian standards, these fine young Pelasgian men will form the professional core of the New First Army, its First Army Corps, which will be a model for the modernisation of the entirety of the Pelasgian Ground Forces. This army will be both our shield against external threats and our sword against traitors from within. After all, the objective of the Operation Prometheus is to protect Pelasgia from our common enemies, be they Communists or other degenerates, and the protection of a state is always twofold: from within and from without. I am sure that in the coming days and months you will get to work, train, sweat and bleed with these men, and they will be a point of pride for both of our great Nations. Until then, much work is to be done. But it all starts today, and it all starts with the elite of the elite: the special forces elements of the New First Army."

    The Cussians seemed content with the General's speech, as indicated by their clapping, though they were disciplined and restrained, as are all military men. Led by Lt. General Werner Miller and Brigadier General Jasper Gale of the Special Warfare Command, both of them seasoned veterans with stern Teutonic faces, the Cussian advisors seemed to be ready to act. Speaking, Lt. General Miller only had one thing mind: that training start as soon as possible, so that the men may be evaluated on the field. The New First Army was not meant to be a regular body of Pelasgian conscripts or even professional soldiers guarding rations and digging out trenches: they were going to all be elite troops, the crown jewel of the Pelasgian military, and the Cussians were determined to make damn sure of it. And with the EKKP rebels still in the mountains of central Pelasgia, they were going to get some hands on-experience to apply their training very soon. Lt. General Miller wanted to make sure they could beat a conventional foe, and Brigadier Gale was equally determined to see to it that they could put down a rebellion of any kind, including those that the Pelasgian military were so infamous for.

    Once these preliminary introductions were down, the advisors of the Central State Security Service (YKAK) entered the room too, led by Major General Christophoros Sartzetakis. Their formal concern was to see to it that YKAK's special forces units (the ETA and ETK) received Cussian training. More importantly, however, their concern was to create a network linking YKAK, Special Forces and professional military leadership to ensure that the Nationalist and anti-Socialist circles continued to dominate Pelasgia and that they actively took the fight to those they deemed their enemies. These circles were to also be connected with their Cussian counterparts, as part of their bilateral cooperation in the fight against their common enemies across Europe. A sort of counter-guerilla operation, which had already been considered theoretically by YKAK but which would only be possible now, with the considerable help of Cussian expertise in guerilla wafrare. The plan, to be considered a sub-plan of the already partly clandestine Operation Prometheus was to received the name Operation Dynamis, and was to only be known to those on both sides directly involved, being out of the knowledge of many even in the upper echelons of Pelasgian civilian power. The ETA and the ETK would, for their part, actively participate in Operation Dynamis, as would YKAK as a whole, having gained experience with the post-Pyrgos Accords suppression of the hardline Pelasgian left. In the years to come, the plan would take much greater, and often much more brutal proportions.
     
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  14. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Propontis, Optimatoi

    Megaron Dousmanou, also known as Dousmanīs Palace, was a large Propontine baroque structure located near the banks of the Chrysopotamos* river that run through Propontis, near the border between the Quarter of the Angels** and the Quarter of the Imperial Mint***. Located between the Bridge of Archangels and St. Stephan's square, the Megaron took up almost an entire block on its own, with hundreds of rooms filling its eight floors and three basement levels. A veritable fortress, the Palace was surrounded on all sides by a tall fence, cameras and guard posts staffed by men of the Special Guards, while the entire area was heavily monitored by Imperial Police. Megaron Dousmanou was, of course, well-known to the Propontine populace, though not always in a positive way; it was the national headquarters of the Central State Security Service (YKAK), Pelasgia's unified internal and external state security, intelligence, espionage, counter-intelligence and secret police force. Apart from the duties taken up by specialised services within Pelasgian law-enforcement and the Pelasgian General Staff, the eleven general directorates of YKAK handled all clandestine works of the Empire, being helped in their wide and complicated tasks by a status of semi-independence from civilian power apart from a vague de jure subordination to the Third Section of His Imperial Majesty's Own Chancellery, itself an unelected and largely unaccountable body.
    *Chrysopotamos (Χρυσοπόταμος) meaning "Golden River" or "Goldwater" is the largest river of Propontis, running through its core from the east to the west and splitting it into the wealthier "Inland" and the poorer "Litoral" regions, and flowing into the Propontine Straits.
    **The Quarter of the Angels is the central government district of Propontis, which houses the Imperial palace, government buildings, foreign embassies and the houses of major families.
    ***The Quarter of the Imperial Mint (also known as Nomismatokopeion) is a wealthy business and financial district of central Pelasgia, across the Chrysopotamos from the Quarter of the Angels, the two being connected by the Bridge of the Archangels.


    Lysandros Paparistotelous was one of the ninety thousand or so employees of YKAK, as indicated by the small golden pin he wore on the lapel of his black suit-jacket, which bore a golden eagle holding a sword and a torch. Passing by the hallways of the old baroque building, which had been built in the early 20th century, he looked through the windows and saw the ceremonial guard of the YKAK IX Section troops changing, their grey overcoats, kepis and bayonets appearing as if pulled out from the 19th century. The windows themselves had been changed and reinforced, and an additional panel of bulletproof glass was located behind the more aesthetically pleasing windowpanes originally installed by the building's makers. Reaching the end of the hallway, Lysandros paused outside the entrance of the wing housing the Second General Directorate's Internal Operations section. The dark blue and black metal doors of the corridor connecting the wing to the main building, framed with bulletproof glass and lights, appeared completely alien to the baroque structure's ornate interior, almost like a perfidious machine which had dug its claws into the flesh of the marble and stone structure.

    A glass panel with a semi-holographic projection of light on it informed Lysandros of where the checkpoint led, though he already knew "Gen. Directorate II, Section III | East Wing 3". Moving forward he scanned his card on the detector next to the checkpoint's entrance, opening the door and going through the first of two glass doors. He scanned his card again and pressed a button, waiting for the guards to confirm his identity. Soon enough, a green light showed that the second door was open and he exited the claustrophobic corridor between the two doors. Passing through the checkpoint, he greeted the men of the Special Guards, in the dark blue uniforms and body armour, and made his way into the operations room. There, countless modern desks lined a room in the classical baroque style; modern metal and glass lights and bulletproof window-panels, alongside screens, wires and computers appeared like parasites or alien organisms hosting themselves into the body of the helpless palace. Lysandros made his way to the desk of the operations chief at the back of the room, inside a smaller secluded area with a door.

    "Good morning, sir," he said, greeting the late-middle aged Brigadier before him, who was dressed in a grey suit and had an identical pin to his own.

    "Good morning, Lysandros," the Brigadier replied, looking up from his computer screen; "Take a seat." As Lysandros complied, he passed him a folder marked as A1, the highest uniform classification rating across all Pelasgian government agencies.

    "The Major General was so impressed by your performance in tracking down the funding of the Melingians that they decided to give you a new job," the Brigadier said pointing at the folder.

    "What's this one about, sir?" Paparistotelous asked raising an eyebrow.

    "Those damn unoiled* pricks have been giving us trouble over Hierosolyma or whatever they call it in the barbaric tongue they speak. The Justosians, to nobody's surprise, have become equally annoying over the matter, finding yet another way to piss the Megaron Kantakouzinou** off. So General Directorate came up with a sweet plan to deal with both and... perhaps anybody else that might become too annoying on the matter."
    *"Unoiled" is a synonym for "unbaptised", being a light pejorative for Jews.
    **Kantakouzinos Palace, the office and formal residence of the Empire's Head of Government, the Sakellarios.


    Paparistotelous leafed through the folder, taking a few minutes to look at the early summary.

    "This isn't strictly speaking... legal. Let alone moral. Something of the sort hasn't been done since the Militarists pulled off Operation Sphyra in '56," Paparistotelous said looking up at the Brigadier.

    "Complicated problems require complicated solutions. Philistaea's a keg that's going to explode sooner or later, and we don't want another round of the Augousto-Septemvriana, not in the current state of European Affairs. So a controlled explosion and a quick repression could send just the right message and do away with any actual agitators before they have a chance to do anything we don't want them doing."

    "Do we have a cost and casualty estimate? Contingency plans? Media coverage? Immediate political reactions?"

    "It's all in there, thanks to the kind help of our friends at the Fifth General Directorate. We don't want the public to feel like we're not in control, but we also don't want this to be a minor accident or too obvious an inside job. It has to be just bad enough to be horrifying and believable without being life-shattering. I'm sure the Senate will find a way to get some national security bills through... or whatever else the Quarter of the Angels has in mind for this plan."

    "You mean this wasn't our original idea?"

    "Well, the specific plan itself is, but they came to us with the general idea and the overall goal. Don't ask me who 'they' is and what the actual goal is, both are well above my pay-grade and asking those sorts of questions tends to be bad for one's health in our line of work. But if I could guess, I'd say it's the Chancellery or even Megaron Kantakouzinou. They really want the Philistian Question dealt with."

    "I should get to work then," Paparistotelous said, standing up with the file in his hand; "Good day to you, sir."

    "And to you Paparistotelous. Keep me up to date."
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
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  15. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Propontis, Optimatoi

    The vast sea of concrete that made up the urban sprawl of Propontis had been continuously growing, usually along a modified grid pattern but at times beyond the capacity of any planning, as urbanisation expanded in the Empire's major coastal cities, particularly since the 1980s. Motorway P6, known to most Propontines as the Iopolitic Road, cut through the sprawl, connecting the various regions of the Propontine metropolis. These include the downtown, the suburbs (in the Old World sense, not the Occidentian sprawl of single-family homes) and the surrounding towns, including industrial parks and the airport. P6 also connected with E2, the National Highway linking Propontis to Selymbria.

    Driving through the sea of concrete by riding on top of a wave of the same material, a lone luxury-version Pegasus Athanasia sedan navigated the endless scores of automobiles covering the Imperial capital's highways, as its residents returned from the winter vacations outside the sprawling metropolis. A humble chauffeur, Vasileios Papadolias, was driving, having learned to focus on the road and keep his ears closed from anything but a direct command or driving direction from his passenger. This skill had served him well, earning him his position as trusted chauffeur for numerous prominent civilian and military leaders, along with the perks that came with such a position, a worthy reward if one were to consider the harsh penalties that a moment's failure or disloyalty would incur.

    From the comfort of the front passenger seat, General Epameinondas Vatatzopoulos, the commander of the New First Army, spoke comfortably to the two passengers in the back seats of the sedan. "So you see," he said as he noticed the diplomatic plates of an Eiffellandian-built luxury car in the lane to his right, "we need to find a way to deal with the whole circus at the Senate House without tanks or illegality. It has to be strictly legal, even if it is to be final." His words were primarily directed at Periandros Eratosthenous, a prominent hardline Nationalist legislator and a leader of a powerful voting bloc in the Legislative Assembly. "Well, there is nothing more permanent than that which is temporary," responded Eratosthenous, quoting a famous Pelasgian aphorism; "First we find a temporary solution to a crisis of our own making, then we make sure the temporary solution sticks around. It worked well enough for the militarists for over two decades, and it certainly worked well enough for the first Tiburan Emperors." The rather cynical remarks of the parliamentarian seemed to resonate well with the other passenger of the car, Major General Christophoros Sartzetakis, the high-level officer of the Central State Security Service attached to the Cussian advisors, who was a leading figure within Operations Prometheus and Dynamis. "I'm sure Mr. Eratosthenous will take care of things on his end. But how about your end?" he asked the General.

    The car turned on the exit marked E52, leading directly to the wealthier district of Pyrgos, the Imperial capital's port. From afar, the lights of ships and countless buildings and street lights could be seen reflecting off of the waters of the Propontine Straights, while the settlement across the straights, on Prinkeponesos could also be seen. Among those lights were some belonging to the warships of the First Fleet, which were standing by the capital to join in the celebrations for the christening of the newborn Diadochos*. "Well, our friend Brigadier Dimitriadis seems to be doing an excellent job of recruiting middle officers and future upper officers to our cause. With this we'll have de facto control over the functional command of the Armed Forces, just like the Militarists, Loyalists and Nationalists had before their respective takeovers. Of course all of this will be for nothing if we get discovered in advance," General Vatatzopoulos said, replying to Sartzetakis' question. "The Third General Directorate is on to some minor details; that little ceremony at Kerameikos** must have scared the big-wigs a bit. But the military blockheads are too resistant to allowing external investigations into the military for their own good. Anyway, they've assigned a new investigator to the case, but he doesn't even know IDEA*** exists. He'll be grasping at ghosts and if he ever gets too close to an actual breakthrough... well, I'm right over him so I'll make sure he doesn't get to it," Sartzetakis said.
    *Meaning "Successor", the title is that of the designated heir apparent of the Empire. It is also accompanied by other titles exlcusive to the de facto 'Crown Prince', such as Grand Despot and Lord of Leuktron.
    **Kerameikos (meaning "of or akin to pottery/tiles") is a hill in the traditional region of the Empire known as Lycaonia, located near Nymphaion; the hill is the site of a prehistoric site of archaeological importance, as well as of several ancient temples of a much later construction, including those built by the earliest Pelasgian settlers and the famed Temple of Athena Parthenos. Neo-Pagans often hold nighttime ceremonies at Kerameikos despite these being formally illegal due to its significance as a sacred site for several Chthonic cultures.
    ***IDEA is the acronym of the Sacred Band of United Officers.


    The car exited the motorway, entering one of the large roads cutting through the grid that formed the road network of Pyrgos, Odos Navarchon (meaning Admirals Street). Stopping at a red light, the car was so close to the docks that those within it could clearly see civilian liners docking at the central section of the port, which was reserved for non-cargo heavy traffic. "There are of course other factors to take into account: the Crown, the Police, the Media, the Church," said Vatatzopoulos; "Factors that cannot be turned to our favour merely by virtue of superior arms." Legislator Eratosthenous nodded his head down, expressing agreement, before speaking. "The Police are mercenaries, and the Field Constables are regime zealots; we'll get both on our side as long as we do things legally and without an armed coup. The Crown is largely neutered, but I'm sure we'll have to get it on our side to avoid any unforeseen developments - my good friends in the Senate and a Privy Council I know of assure me that, in exchange for some de jure returns of power and status concessions, namely absorbing the formal responsibilities of the other two Great Archons, the Crown could be placated to go along with us. That will be instrumental in ensuring that we have strict legality and state continuity on our side. Remember, we don't mean to abolish the current regime by changing the constitution, only by twisting it into inoperativeness and a permanent state of emergency."

    Major General Sartzetakis looked outside his window at a priest who was walking down the street in his black garments, outside a shelter for the homeless and unprivileged. "Nothing is more permanent than that which is temporary indeed," he noted. "And with the Crown you'll have the Church on your side, thanks to the wonders of Caesaropapism. Though from what I hear Brigadier Dimitradis has rather significant connections within the clergy of Pelasgia proper. If we're lucky it will be more than enough for functional control until we can crank out a new generation of Hierarchs who'll be more amenable to our positions. After all, we'll have to entertain a merger of Tiburanism and Pelasgianism to get the milder Loyalists to go along with us. And don't worry about the media - the Fifth General Directorate will simply have to be a bit more zealous in its 'press control' duties. But I'm sure a frank discussion with the owners of the Empire's major papers will suffice; it's a good thing the media in this country is so centralised." As he finished his words, the car stopped by the Zakros, a fine dining establishment and restaurant of high repute in the wealthy Archontokyparissi district of Pyrgos. The door was opened by an attendant, and Legislator Eratosthenous exited having greeted those in the dark-windowed car, needing to attend a dinner hosted by the powerful and bountiful Shipping Magnates' Association. Around thirty minutes later, the car stopped again, this time to drop off Major General Sartzetakis at the house of a family of a close friend his daughter had made in her time at the Imperial University of Propontis who was hosting the Sartzetakis family for dinner that night. Then, the lone automobile continued on its way to General Vatatzopoulos' residence in northern-central Porpontis, as it did on every normal night of the year.
     
  16. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Propontis, Optimatoi

    Ana awoke from a long slumber feeling the cold touch of steel on the chair she was sitting on. How long had she been asleep? How long had it been since her arrest anyway? She had looked at no clock, at no news broadcast, at no calendar, not even at a newspaper since that dark and frightful moment at the sewers below Nymphaion. The only change she had seen was a minor difference in the uniforms of her interrogators: the eagle on the caps had slightly changed, as had the Imperial monograms on the shoulder pads, but she had not pressed the point, trying to speak as little as possible. She tried to move her arms and legs, being surprised to find out that they were not bound this time around. Standing up surprised, she opened her deep, crystal-blue eyes and stared forward.

    "Good day, Ms. Fieraru," said a man sitting across her. He was dressed in the formal, dark greyish-green uniform of the State Security, his shoulder insignia bearing a golden star and a golden grenade: the insignia of a major. His features were distinctly northern Pelasgian: somewhat pale white skin and dark curly hair, a straight nose and a large chin on an oval head, and dark eyes in deep eye-sockets. His expression was stern and professional, and somewhat amicable though in the same way that a salesman, lawyer or banker was friendly. His hands were placed on top of another on the table, and three folders were neatly placed to his right, with his kepi being placed to his left. Turning behind her, she could see a single guard, dressed in similar attire, save for a garrison cap instead of a kepi, and with a somewhat peculiar version of a Type 3 rifle in his arms.

    "Where am I? This isn't the same room as last time. And you don't resemble the other interrogators." Her voice was stern and aggressive, masking insecurity and fear. The figure before her did not depart from his smile, but merely shifted his stance before responding. "I see you are quite observant Ms. Fieraru. We decided that your valuable experiences should be more closely examined, by more skilled personnel. Would you like some tea?" Ana studied the man again. His accent was clearly educated and decidedly Propontine. His manners fit this assessment, as did his talk of tea instead of coffee. "Why did you bring me to Propontis?" she said, testing the man. Her comment only elicited a bigger smile. "You seem concerned Ms. Fieraru. Most people from your part of the Empire would see a trip to the Capital as a blessing. You yourself have lived in Thermi. Perhaps you adopted their dislike of the only city in Pelasgia that's more important than theirs?"

    Ana did not respond at first. The men who had captured her had only questioned her on her actions in Nymphaion up to this point; on the identities of her friends, on the sources of their group's arms. This was the first time anyone was probing into her own history. "I see you asphalites still enjoy reading into other people's lives. Find anything you like?" she responded, using a disparaging term for men of the the State Security. "I did find something interesting, Ms. Fieraru." The major opened one of the folders before him, turned it around and showed her a picture of her with her classmates from the university. "A well-born and raised girl from an affluent family, who's moved to Thermi to study medicine. A quite fair woman, if I might say so; the good gentleman to her right of course, Petros if I remember correctly, seems to agree as their mutual stare would indicate. She has certainly seen the best that the Empire has to offer." The man turns a page a puts another picture before Ana: one of her and the other members of her rebel group in Melingia. "And yet this girl throws it all away. She breaks the young man's heart and leaves the University her family paid a fortune to get her into. She associates with some low-lifes from some remote corner of Elimeiotis. She blows up buildings, kills people, maims people, breaks the law. How does all this happen?"

    Ana was annoyed by the man's account, and she decided to strike right back. "Maybe she didn't just learn about anatomy in Thermi. Maybe she learned that she was not the same as the majority of people in your 'Empire'. Maybe she learned that the Pelasgians aren't the only people who deserve freedom. The eagle on your cap has a Pelasgian Saint on it: Saint George. Whatever happened to the eagle of the Laskarids, if the 'Empire' is all you're loyal to? Maybe she found out the same people who build Universities made of marble firebomb cities full of women and children." The man did not abandon his perpetually annoying smile, but simply turned around the page of the document, and produced two more photos. He picked the first one up and looked at it. "What a poor child. She reminds me of my own daughter you know. Six? Maybe seven? Look what's left of her. You once wanted a child of your own. And yet, your dreams caused other people to lose theirs. How does that feel?" Ana pushed the chair back and stood up, slamming her fists on the table. The guard behind her raised his rifle, but the seated man motioned him away. "I did not kill that girl," she screamed at him. "You did! You and your damn bombs, and your damn planes, and your damn cannons!"

    "If I know that a neighbourhood is dangerous and yet I let my daughter walk through it by herself, who's to blame for any harm that comes to her? Those who harm her must hang, but are they the only ones to blame?" the man said, taking Ana aback. "You knew what would happen to that town when you riled it up. You knew what would happen when you massacred the Politarchs. You knew and yet you did it anyway. Why? Because you wanted to make martyrs out of other people. Not yourselves of course. I cannot blame you entirely; you were blinded by your friend, Darius. Or did you want him to be more than a friend?" Ana raised her hand to slap the man, and this time the guard raised his rifle again but he was not motioned away by the major. "Take a seat, Ms. Fieraru. We merely want to help you." At this point, Ana could not help but let out a sarcastic laugh. "Help me? I've heard how you've helped people. This is Propontis, no? Didn't your colleagues at Velissariou Square use to help people off rooftops and windows when they wouldn't cooperate?"

    "I want to help you understand," said the man placing the last photo before her: a picture of Darius with a man dressed in the uniform of the Pelasgian Loyalists and three golden stars on his shoulders. Ana dropped down to her steel chair again, staring in disbelief. "We are not savages, Ms. Fieraru. We do not beat, we do not kill, we do not rape, we do not intimidate. We merely to help you help yourself and us. Your friend, Darius, was not a common hoodlum like the rest of your lot. Of course you knew this; he behaved too well, he spoke too well, he dressed too well, even while trying otherwise. Perhaps that's why you liked him so much: birds of a feather flock together as they say. But didn't he behave too well, sometimes? Didn't he lead too naturally? Somewhat like, dare I say, a notable?" Ana's silence continued. The man seemed genuinely pleased at this development and pressed on. "If you think back you can remember several instances when he seemed that way. And when it seemed he was getting support that could not otherwise be explained. There's only so much materiel DKKP splinters can give you; some of it has to come from somewhere else. Maybe from the very people you hate. Maybe your friend was less concerned with the Melingians being free of the Pelasgians, than with the Melingians bowing to their notables instead of the Nationalist generals. Who's to blame him? His inheritance depended on it."

    Ana looked up again, this time holding back tears at the same time as she flustered red with anger. "How do you know this? For all I know you're just lying." The man abandoned his friendly smile. He had a stern face, an almost mechanical one. He picked up the second folder from his pile and pushed it her way. She read the cover: FINAL REPORT OF THE EXTRAORDINARY COMMITTEE OF THE SENATE OF THE PELASGIAN EMPIRE ON THE SOUTHERN ELIMEIOTIS EMERGENCY. She momentarily recoiled; the Pelasgian Empire? Elimeiotis instead of the Hiberian Marches? She opened the report: In the name of His Imperial Majesty, Archon Basileus Isaakios I & V Laskaris... Things had clearly changed a lot since her capture. "Oh I know, you haven't looked at a newspaper in ages. But don't worry about semantics. The Empire is always is the Empire. It's the parts in sections V, XII and XIX that would interest you the most," the man said. She turned to the appendix a looked at the sections: V. Leadership links between the Loyalist hardliners and the Rebels; XII. Funding, equipment and other support of the Loyalists to the Rebels; XIX. Use of the so-called 'Melingian National Movement' by the Loyalists to extract concessions in Propontis. "Now you see, Ms. Fieraru: you were the stick to their carrot. Are you still loyal to a man who used you and all those who died in Nymphaion to get concessions for his fellow notables? How many children's lives are land tax privileges worth?"

    By this point Ana could not hold back her tears. She supported her head with one of her hands as she spoke to the man, her voice breaking in between words. "What do you want from me? Why are you telling me all this now?" The man stood up and set the last folder at the centre of the table. "You can help yourself by helping us, Ms. Fieraru. You cannot take back what has happened. But you can make amends; and you can help us punish those who are to blame. Everything you need to know is in here. We will speak again soon. In the meantime, I suggest you carefully study these files. Often, through great pain comes great revelation. 'The hardest road is that which is closest to God's heart,' as the saying goes." The man exited the room, as did the guard, who locked the door behind him. Ana's attention was fixated on the folders before her, a peculiar mix of irresistible anticipation and profound terror at what she would find within. She grabbed the last folder the man had left and started reading intensively.
     
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  17. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Propontis, Optimatoi

    The great hall of the Grand Palace of Propontis was a room of immence historical significance for Pelasgia. Located right at the centre of the Grand Palace, it consisted of a two-floor colonnade which surrounded a large central area under a semi-transparent dome. The colonnade supported a balcony floor which was shorter than the ground level, itself far taller than the average person. The walls around the great hall were red and purple, while the marble pillars and the roofs were white, with some golden and other lightly coloured decorative patterns on the ceiling of the two floors. The marble floor of the great hall was in a chequer pattern, while the ceiling consisted of white, semi-transparent glass supported by large metallic bars. At the end of the great hall away from the main entrance stood the Throne of Saint George, a large ornate golden chair with tyrian purple fabric and the likeness of Saint George placed over the headrest area. The Throne was surrounded by a mantle of tyrian purple fabric, with the Imperial Eagle sewn behind it in golden fabric. Surrounding it were rows of tables with almost formed a circle, up to the point where the chairs nearly turned their backs on the Throne. There, the men of the Pelasgian Privy Council would normally sit to make representations to the reigning Emperor or Empress.

    On this particular day of January, a cold, snowy and unusually harsh day by Propontine standards, the Throne was filled by His Imperial Majesty, Archon Basileus Isaakios I & V Laskaris. The pale man with dark features was dressed in his ceremonial uniform as head of the Imperial navy, with regalia and decorations, particularly the collar of the Sovereign of the Imperial and Military Order of Saint Valentian the Great, ornamenting the already impressive clothing of the Sovereign. To the right of the Sovereign was his trusted aide-de-camp, the Protospatharios or Lord First Sword, who was safely and loyally keeping the Emperor's sabre for him while the latter sat down. To the Emperor's left was the Lord Privy Seal, the elderly statesman and noble Xenophōn A. Zirinaios, who was safeguarding the Emperor's Privy Seal in a box. The room was surrounded by the Varangian Guards and the Pelasgian Guards, who alternated in their ceremonial grey and dark blue uniforms, who stood guard with sabre or bayoneted rifle in hand. On this day, the chairs behind the tables were filled by around thirty-six prominent politicians and statesmen of the Empire, who were not, however, members of the Privy Council. A single chair, belonging to the Lord Privy Seal, the one closest to the Emperor and the only chair with its back partially turned towards him but not directly in front of him, remained empty.

    Once the formalities of paying respects to the Emperor, blessing the participants and so forth were dealt with, the first man to speak was the Lord Privy Seal, who started the meeting. "In the Name of our Most Majestic Sovereign, I would like to thank all those in attendance today. The purpose at hand is one of most profound significance for our country and our nation. It is a matter of the unity thereof, or of the ruinous division which in the not too distant past brought both to the brink of destruction. In His immense Wisdom, His Imperial Majesty has called us here, through the Enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, to resolve the great differences which now divide our country and threaten to return it to the fire of civil unrest and internal warfare. Might I first address the leader of the Nationalist Party and current Lord Chancellor of the Empire, Lord Themistoklis Notaras of Hagios Dimitrios, and ask that he might lay out what, in his view, the reason for this crisis is."

    The Lord Chancellor stood and spoke, after bowing in the direction of the Emperor. "The crisis before which our country finds itself is indeed grave. The arrest of sitting Senators and Legislators is a move which has, in the past, been the cause of civil war and which is certainly not normal, even if provided explicitly for in our Constitution. It is however, a legal measure and a measure which, though extraordinary, is fit to deal with extraordinary circumstances. We have before us the facts submitted for the consideration of His Imperial Majesty and in the name thereof, in the final report of the Senate's Extraordinary Committee on the matter of the recent events in Southern Elimeiotis. It is an undisputed fact that the rebellious lords of that territory waged war against the lawful authorities of the Empire and against our lawful Lord and Sovereign, His Imperial Majesty. It is an undisputed fact that such a move constitutes High Treason, for which the lords and their associates were convicted. It is also an undisputed fact, however, that in the pursuit of these treasonous actions, the traitors in question were assisted by sitting members of the Imperial legislature. Whether the collaborators of these traitors truly aimed to overthrow Divinely Ordained Majesty or merely to pressure the Empire's lawful authorities into granting concessions that would suit their interests to the avoid further rebellions is unknown. But what is known, according to the law, is that whoever aids and abets a traitor is himself a traitor. The same, of course, could be said for the gentlemen who aided the murderous regicides of the EKKP, who still pollute our mountains with their meagre but repugnant presence, in open rebellion against the Throne of Saint George. The Nationalist majority, aided by many true and honest legislators from other parties such as the Social Party, have done what is incumbent upon any loyal Legislative Assembly: they have lifted the immunity of the traitors, that they may prosecuted by the Imperial authorities, as has happened. If the price of punishing treason is a crisis so be it; the Lord shall, in due time, punish all those who revolt against Heaven and its Viceroy on Europe."

    The remarks of the Sakellarios drew considerable ire from the seats of the People's Party and some Social Party delegates, but none dared to speak out of turn or rudely protest in front of the Emperor. In due time, the Lord Privy Seal gave the floor to the leader of the People's Party, Lord Theodosios Rangavaios, a High Aristocrat from one of the Empire's most prominent Loyalist families. "Might I say that the Honourable Lord Chancellor has, in his speech, mixed truth with folly. For, whereas it is an uncontested fact that the Melingian Lords rose with arms in hand, they rose not against the Throne itself but against what they saw as unfair terms being forced on the Throne. The feat of openly revolting against Sovereign Majesty and proclaiming the end thereof without the valid authority to do so, why that rests with some other honourable gentlemen of noble birth, some of whom join us in this chamber on this very day. His Imperial Majesty did of course recognise this in His pardon of the misguided but loyal Rebel Lords. And might I also add that the Senate, which supposedly authored its report in the Name of Sovereign Majesty, did so in a manner not impartial but wholly partisan, as indicated by the considerable protests of almost half the Senators on the Committee, and the narrow margin by which the Report's publication was approved. Heaven might indeed punish traitors, but is dishonest service of Divinely-Ordained Majesty in pursuit of one's own interest not treason?"

    At this point the Lord Privy Seal prepared to pass the floor to the head of the Social Party, Prokopios Triantaphyllopoulos. But as he stood to speak, the sound of metal hitting the ground was heard. All turned and faced the mantle surrounding the Throne and saw that the Lord First Sword knelt before the Emperor with empty hands and that the Emperor himself had stood and was hitting the ground with his sword, still inside its sheath. "Might We say," spoke to Sovereign giving pause to all, "that the spectacle which We have witnessed before Us today is one of disunity and insubordination quite unlike anything previously witnessed by Our eyes. Whereas We called you here before Us, to join hands and peaceably come to an understanding to restore unity and amity to the Realm, you have endeavoured, with words of treason and of punishment, to inject into its bloodstream the most perilous strain of viral hostility and civil strife. We shall have no more talk of treason and of punishment. We shall only have talk of reconciliation and of peace."

    The words of the Emperor took all aback, but in the space granted by them Lord Notaras found a chance to speak again. He was perplexed and uncertain at the Emperor's newfound resolve and assertive conduct, having considered him to have been resigned to the sidelines of politics as a figurehead since the end of the National Schism. To see him in such an active role now was a development far more concerning than any ruckus the Loyalists could raise in the Senate or the media. "Your Imperial Majesty, it is a great shock to me to see the Archon Basileus of the Empire so willing to forgive those who would revolt against Him, and who would fund and incite rebellion against the lawful authorities of the state. How can Your Imperial Majesty speak of peace and reconciliation, when such treason is afoot? Does it not concern Your Imperial Majesty that sitting Senators and Legislators conspired to upend the established legal order of the Empire and to potentially partition it, merely for their own benefit? Imperial magnanimity might have extended to the misguided Rebel Lords themselves, in the spirit of Christmas and in the midst of the joy of the Heir Apparent, but surely even an Emperor must have a point where his magnanimity ends and his vengeful wrath begins. Such mercy would not befit a common brigand, let alone those guilty of High Treason. Otherwise our Penal Codes are unworthy of the paper that they are printed on."

    The Emperor did not respond to Lord Notaras directly, but instead resumed his sitting down and allowed the Lord Privy Seal to speak for him. The elderly statesman stood, the red sash of the Order of Saint George of Lycaonia contrasting well with his black and white evening dress. "Your talk is most impertinent and presumptuous, my Lord Notaras. Not only did you venture so far as to dare and define the bounds of Imperial Magnanimity and to suggest a base understanding of the motives for the exercise thereof, but you also had the audacity to directly question Imperial will and speak of treason and punishment even when His Imperial Majesty forbade you from doing so directly. You even went so far as to demand wrath and punishment from His Imperial Majesty. This attitude is most unbecoming of a spoiled brat in the presence of a school teacher, let alone a loyal noble in the presence of his Sovereign Lord. Of course, this insubordination is but a symptom of the greater disease which has infected our country: disunity and myopic self-interest, the result of nearly four decades of partisan politics, have diverted the gaze of our leaders away from the long-term peace, prosperity and unity of the Realm to the selfish goals and partisan benefit of its faction and its leaders. If the Empire is to survive and thrive, a new paradigm is necessary: one of unity and solidarity in service of the common good."

    At this point Lord Notaras was completely taken aback by the assertiveness of both the Emperor and the Lord Privy Seal. He had not seen such an attitude from the Crown and its officers since the early days of the September Coup that sparked the National Schism, nay since the times of the Reactionary Junta. To this point, he had been the de facto master and governor of all of Pelasgia; how did the constitutional equivalent of the star on top of a Christmas tree have the newfound gull to challenge him directly, and in front of everyone? Before the Lord Chancellor had another chance to speak, the leader of the People's Party rose, bowed and spoke once more. "If it would please His Imperial Majesty, I would like to make it known that I share our Most Majestic Sovereign's conclusion on the matter of national unity and the dysfunctional nature of partisan politics. It is my belief that only a unified force consisting of all those statesmen loyal to the Crown and willing to aid it in advancing the common goal of Pelasgian prosperity and unity could govern Pelasgia. For such a change to occur, those stuck in the old ways and unable to place the common good before their own would have to go."

    Lord Notaras stared in complete and utter disbelief as the leader of the Nationalist majority in the Legislative Assembly, Periandros Eratosthenous, stood, bowed and spoke right after his supposed opponent from the People's Party. "I would dare to say that I speak for the vast majority of legislators in the Legislative Assembly when I say that the need for a non-partisan approach with the National Interest in mind is the only clear solution to the Empire's woes, lest we slide back into the same old circle of disunity and civil strife. I would humbly submit to His Imperial Majesty the proposal that partisan politics be abandoned in favour of a single grand national political coalition with the sole aim of aiding and advising the Crown in the pursuit of the National Interest, as provided for in the Constitution. I am certain that this grand Organisation for the Facilitation of Imperial Rule would have the support of most of the legislators the current Nationalist Party, and the previous remarks of the Honourable Lord Rangavaios lead me to believe that most legislators of the People's Party would do so too."

    After Eratosthenous' remarks, the Lord Privy Seal finally had a chance gave the floor to the leader of the Social Party. "Your Imperial Majesty," said Triantaphyllopoulos, "I am in wholehearted agreement with the sentiments expressed by my esteemed colleagues from the People's Party and the Nationalist Party. Despite all talk of treason and disloyalty, the Social Party is most loyal to the Constitutional Order and has the National Interest deeply at heart. We have shed the disloyal radicals of the party associated with the EKKP in the past, and we have willingly done so again, all in the pursuit of this goal. Therefore, it is only natural that we would support a move to unify the political forces of the nation to meet these ends, provided this is done in a non-partisan, lawful and legitimate fashion, that does not seek to prosecute any one faction but honestly seeks to advance the common interest of all Pelasgians." Notaras was profoundly upset by both his own party's speaker and the one from the Social Party. The Social Party leader seemed to have been too neutered by the Nationalists' own efforts to actually stand up against whatever he saw as the mainstream and establishment-accepted political position, out of fear of another purge, and even if he understood what was going on, he probably felt some secret joy in throwing Notaras under the bus. The words that truly hurt him the most, however, were those of Eratosthenous, the uncompromising and opportunistic Legislative Majority leader of the Nationalists; like a Judas, he had outflanked Notaras and the Nationalist leadership, taking the party majority and base with him and aligning with Notaras' enemies for God knows what gain. This treason had left Notaras bare and naked and completely without any support in the body from which most of his lawful institutional power came; he started to be concerned about what support he had left in the Senate, and whether Eratosthenous had worked to undermine him there too. He could tell all too clearly that this fiasco was too well-organised to be spontaneous. It clearly had to be a plot of some sort against him.

    "Very well then," said the Emperor, rising to speak at last, with all rising with him. "We find that such an Organisation would be optimal for the pursuit of the National Interest and for healing the divide which threatens to completely tear our Nation apart. We would assign the formation of such an Organisation to Our most loyal legislators, Senators and advisors. Therefore, We call upon all those assembled, led by those who proposed the Organisation in the first place, to convene amongst themselves and return to Us in a week's time with detailed proposals for the formation of the Organisation, its makeup and its leadership, as well as its immediate programme. In the meantime, all those against this Organisation would have to stand by it but not attempt to actively undermine the execution of the Sovereign Will of the Nation, expressed through Our Divinely Ordained and Constitutionally Authorised Person. All those chained to the old partisan politics of yesterday, who find themselves unable to look past factional rivalries and their own benefit to pursue that of the Nation as a whole, shall have to abstain from the common enterprise which We have hereby authorised and to therefore retire from the National Commons."

    All bowed before the Emperor as he concluded his speech. Three shouts of "Long live the Emperor!" were heard, in accordance with tradition, and the Varangian and Pelasgian Guards stood in attention as the Sovereign climbed down from the elevated platform of the Throne, followed by the Lord First Sword and the Lord Privy Seal. Notaras bowed with the rest as the Emperor exited the room with his guards, but on the inside he was far too preoccupied with other considerations to care even a little for the spectacle of the Emperor's exit. He had been sidestepped clearly by Head of State and by the representatives of the Legislative Assembly and Senate's dominant factions. Who knew what power he still held in the the bureaucracy and the military? Could he count on the Polemarch? The Eponymous Archon had always been a staunch Loyalist, as this was part of the compromise that led to the Pyrgos Accords. Should he honourably resign and return to his lands near Hagios Dimitrios with his family and household? The questions were many, and they grew like the heads of the hydra. Only one thing was certain: Notaras had entered treacherous and dangerous waters, and his survival, political or otherwise, was not at all guaranteed. He would need the full mastery of his powers to survive. And if he were to win, his victory would have to be total and completely his own: what Theophrastos Sakellaridis had bequeathed him had already started to cramble.
     
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  18. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Diospolis District, Elimeioton Theme

    The distant and pale sun of January rose over the peaks of the Rhestos mountain range, its rays cutting through the cold morning mist of the lifeless and snowy slopes. Endless lines of pines covered in snow formed an endless fence through which the light barely advanced, while what few predators and prey still roamed the frozen mountainside carefully advanced with the break of day. Among these was one predator more fierce than any other and dangerous equally to all that roamed the mountainside forests of the great range that cut between the Elimeioton and Alexandrinon Theme. Indeed, the specific pack of these predators that moved through the tall pines on this frosty day was easily capable of maiming and slaying even the fiercest bear or the smartest wolf-pack. Standing on only two legs and dressed in thick, all-white clothes, these fierce humans, armed to the teeth with steel weapons of all sorts, made their way through the forest. The predators, a hundred and twenty men in all, moved silently, stopping near a clearing midway to the peak. On their shoulders, printed in shades of grey, were square symbols akin to flags, most of them bearing the Pelasgian Banner of Saint George, save for a few bearing the complex geometrical flag of Beautancus.

    "We're ten minutes away," said one of the men, breaking silence. He was a Sergeant, as indicated by the stripes on his shoulder.

    The men behind collected themselves and followed. Silently, far above the group, a small remotely-controlled drone with thermal cameras observed as the white figures advanced in a cold dark field, or at least so it appeared through the thermal imaging. Soon enough the group stopped again, this time near a small settlement a few kilometers closer to the mountain's peak. The durable, stone-built homes stood by one of the few roads that drove through the inhospitable and poor but stunningly beautiful highlands of southern Elimeiotis.

    "Kappa Four," said a voice on the radio, "you're two clicks off from the target area. Your advance has not been detected. Approach with caution."

    "Received Command. Kappa Four out."

    The pack of predators split into smaller groups of ten or twenty, Wings as they said amongst their bizarre lingo, and surrounded the entrances to the settlement. Three wings moved by the main entrance on the Imperial road, and another two by the dirt road at the back of the village. The rest surrounded entrances useful for people on foot, except for two wings which moved into the village proper.

    Dawn had just broken and the villagers had little business getting out of bed in the middle of the winter and amidst and extreme frost warning. The predators found their prey calmly in bed and moved closer. Five wings stayed in reserve outside the village, and five moved in.

    A particular wing, led by two Pelasgians and assisted by a Cussian adviser, found itself approaching the central target of the whole operation. The twenty men found themselves surrounding by the tall stone houses of the locals, a mix of Pelasgians and fully Pelasgised Melingians, which were only accessible through large and exposed stone staircases on their sides, which now stood like islands in the midst of the snow. The small square windows of the buildings were hermetically shut, as were the tightly locked doors. Not to be dissuaded, the men moved up through the tiered sections of the area, which were accessible through a single staircase which alternated between the left and right side of the wall separating each tier. Every now and then, empty merchant's stalls and chairs and tables could be seen, though all these were covered in snow and deserted.

    One of the men leading the detachment, a Pelasgian Lieutenant, motioned the troops forward, pointing to a house on near ground level at the highest tier of the neighbourhood. The men surrounded all sides of the house, even the back, and stuck closely to the walls, flanking its three doors and one lower window closely. Within a split second a command was given, and the doors were broken down. A woman who had just opened her window to empty dirty water from a nearby house on a side-street threw down the pot she was holding when she saw the men. Almost at the same moment, the men threw flashbangs into the target house and entered, shooting anyone and anything that moved.

    A second wing, which had moved behind them, waited in case anyone exited the other houses. Soon enough a few houses opened, but warning shots saw them close their windows again. Two more wings moved into the target location, surrounding the entire area and sweeping into the residences of the badly awoken villagers. Back at the main target house, the white and grey-clad commandos reached the top floor, where a man lay in bed with his wife. The man was of a rather large build, with fair features and deep blue eyes, and was apparently completely naked, though the khaki uniform of an EKKP 'colonel' lay by his bedside. His wife, a woman who was probably his age though she appeared slightly older, awoke; she had similar features and must have been particularly beautiful in her youth.

    The leading commandos, two privates, waited only a second before acting; the man to the left, a tall Leuktran, fired a three-round burst into the woman, painting the white bed-sheets red as her body violently recoiled. The second commando aimed at the now horrified and visibly naked man and advanced, holding his bull-pup Type 33 rifle steadily; four more men following behind him rushed towards the defenceless man. He tried to reach for a gun near his bed, but the blunt impact of a gun-stock on his head ended that attempt. As he struggled on the ground, the Pelasgian Lieutenant and the Cussian advisor approached. The former handed the latter a Pelasgian pistol bearing the emblem of the Mountain Raider Forces (DOK) on its grip.

    "We already know more than this scum could give us thanks to that 'General' we captured during the purges," said the Lieutenant with a thick Pelasgian accent; "But I wanted you to do the honours."

    The Cussian man smiled. He aimed at the head of the struggling EKKP 'officer' and pulled the trigger.

    "I see your men are doing quite well, Lieutenant," he said excitedly; "I'm sure your Captain will be impressed. The Brigadier even more so."
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
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  19. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Dikastika District, Propontis, Optimatoi

    Markos checked his watch carefully for the third time in under five minutes. She's late, he thought. For a moment, he stared outside the glass window of the large neoclassical cafe, out into the snowy and crowded street. He could hardly make out the faces of the people who walked by the cafe in the adjacent sidewalk, let alone any specific person. The Dikastika is such a busy mess, he thought, remarking at how the district housing the Imperial capital's judicial buildings seemed perpetually crowded, even on a Saturday morning. As the sound of the cafe's door opening brought him out of his thoughts, he noticed a figure approaching in the corner of his eye. "Good afternoon," said a female voice, slightly shy and calm at the same time. Markos turned and faced Sophia, who was wearing a wearing an elegant and long grey coat. Her brown eyes were glowing.

    "I'd expect the niece of a general to be more punctual," Markos responded checking his watch one more time.

    Sophia frowned slightly. "Come on, you know how hard it is to get out of the house. He's stricter than my father, it's like I'm back to being a Lycium student."

    Markos looked at her one more time. Her face appeared apologetic but her eyes betrayed a slight excitement. He moved the chair next to him backward, giving her space to sit. "Well, now that you've had your way and transferred to Propontis he can only do so much," he responded. A server came by a left another cup on the table. "I made sure to ask for Iolcus coffee," Markos added.

    Sophia finally allowed a smile and sat down next to him, leaving the server to neatly place her coat on the back of the chair behind her. "I've thought of trying Propontine tea, all my colleagues at the school have it anyway." He response pithy remark on Markos' part. "You seem to care a lot what your colleagues think," he said. Sophia caught the reference right away. "Well, no, not more so than is normal... what makes you say that?"

    "Are we both going to pretend you didn't hide from -was her name Ms. Papanikolaou?- in the Gallery? Can't be seen with an army man," Markos responded. "It's not like that. People where I'm from aren't as... liberal about this as you Propontines. Can't have word reach my uncle...." Sophia paused and looked over her shoulder for a second and then back at Markos. "Propontines, liberal? Heavens, we're not Thermians. You worry too much, this isn't like Perdika were everyone knows everyone and all they talk is gossip. Those colleagues of yours are probably seeing a few men themselves."

    Sophia blushed. Educated unmarried women... with men? In public? What would their fathers think? What about the children's parents? "We have to set an example for the girls at the school," Sophia said, proudly regurgitating the words many a headmaster had given to female teachers. "Well, I didn't realise you were training nuns... that or you decided to hold a cultural exchange with the Aurarians." The blush only grew stronger; Sophia covered her mouth with one hand, smothering a small laugh, and pushed Markos with the other. "Cut it out you! Someone might hear us!" Markos leaned closer to her ear. "I can already hear the Reverend Board Chair: 'I should have known her by those Aurarian Aguila handbags she carried! She will make all our daughters seek other women!'"

    The laugh returned, this time with another push. "Aguila makes perfume you fool!" Markos laughed slightly and looked at her in the eyes. He brushed her hair behind her ear; she was excited but slightly taken aback. Neither too slowly nor too fast, steadily, Markos leaned in for a kiss. She closed her eyes but did not move. A moment later, having kissed her, Markos leaned slightly back, his forehead almost touching hers. She opened her eyes and smiled awkwardly; she clearly had been expecting him to not stop so quickly. "Not here," he said. "Propontis isn't Perdika, but it's not Concorde either. Let's go outside."

    Sophia stood, but momentarily offered some half-hearted resistance. "It's cold outside you know. There's snow in Propontis." Markos calmly left thirty hyperpyra on the table and then turned to help Sophia put on her coat. "So much the better. I get to keep you warm." Markos put on his hat and then took her hand calmly but steadily. He took a step forward; she followed, and the two walked out at a pace slightly faster than the average, joining the endless crowds of the Dikastika district. A few turns into some lesser-walked streets, and the nearby Park of Saints Ambrosius and Dionysius would be before them.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Pyrgos, Propontis Metropolitan Area, Optimatoi

    Kostas couldn't help but sigh deeply one more time. "Stephania, we've been over this!" His words seemed to have little effect as his wife angrily put another dish aside, strongly enough to make noise but softly enough to not actually break the costly object. "And we'll go over it again until you get it through your thick skull!" she responded angrily, looking at the wall in front of her. Kostas took another bite from the food in front of him; spetsophai, traditional Pelasgian beans mixed with various small vegetables and sausage. "Look the man is my friend and I owe him my life. You just want me to throw him out? He has nowhere to go!" Stephania cared very little. "Well, and why does it have to be our problem? There's churches all over Pyrgos. We have to save what little money we have for our child, not spend it on some random islander you met in the army!" Kostas put down his spoon angrily and prepared to respond before he heard a knock on the door. Thimios entered, holding his small hat in his hands.

    "You mind me coming in?" he asked, hesitating to enter. Stephania didn't say a word and kept on washing her dishes. "No, come on right through," responded Kostas trying to calm himself and silently hoping his wife's remark had miraculously escaped his friend's ears. "Well, I thought I ought to let you know... I signed up to be a Field Constable. They'll quarter me at the Academy now, so I won't be able to stay here anymore. But I'd like to thank you none the less." Kostas paused, as did Stephania. "Why... that's great news! I'm sure they could use a man of your build and aim. But are you sure that's what you want to do?" Thimios moved his head down and then up again, indicating agreement. "Yes, well it's the best I can do anyway. Can't go back to farming, never really liked fishing, and I never got into university. So the Field Constables seem like a good choice; besides, I liked it in the army, and it's the same but everyone gets to be an MP."

    Kostas paused for another second, before moving his head and acknowledging his friend's statement. "Well that's good to hear, for sure then. But you should stay for dinner at least... surely they can't take you away tomorrow." Thimios smiled. "Well, no not on a Sunday. I have to report on Monday. I'll have a bit to pack till then." Packing wasn't exactly the right word, seeing that Thimios' worldly possessions roughly fit in a small suitcase. "Good, good, we're glad to hear that," said Kostas; "Right Stephanaki?" Stephania turned and forced a smile, prompted by her husband's use of the affectionate version of her name. "Yes, that's very good to hear Thimios. Can't lose you already." Thimios smiled again and nodded. "Well, thank you both again. I got you a little something. It's not much, but it's the least I can do, given all you've done for me." He placed a bottle of tsikoudia, a traditional alcoholic drink popular in the Archipelago, on the small table next to him, nodded again and then exited the room. Kostas sighed and turned to look at his wife. "Happy now?" She was taken aback for a second, but then regained her composure and faced the wall in front of the sink.
     
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  20. Tiburia

    Tiburia Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2014
    Messages:
    2,347
    Location:
    Athens, Greece
    Capital:
    Propontis
    Nick:
    Demos
    Marmaraic Isles, Theme of the Optimatoi

    Located just next to Propontis and the great island of Prinkeponesos, the Marmaraic Isles -named after their plentiful marble and their use as stopping points for ships ferrying marble through the Propontine straits- were hilly and relatively moderate to small in size. Neither too temperate nor too hot, they were full of pine trees and bushes, but simultaneously rather warm and arid. The only population centres one could find on the islands were ports meant precisely as stops in the Pelasgian marble trade, and perhaps a settlement or two here and there. Other than that, human presence was limited to lone cottages and the occasional monastery or lonely chapel.

    The smallest of the three major islands in the chain, the one closest to the area of Propontis known as Chrysoupolis, was known as Nanos (meaning "dwarf" or "midget"), due to its comparatively small size and its peak resembling a face with a point cap from afar. As the strong wintertime winds of the Propontine Straits flew across the sea and the sky was darkening with clouds, Sakellarios Themistoklis Notaras and the Polemarch, Marshal Aristarchos Kavalaris, found themselves flanked by all sorts of lesser officers and dignitaries on a wooden dais. With their binoculars, the two men watched the drills of the 12th Amphibious Raider Wing (MAK), one of the Pelasgian Army's amphibious special forces units.

    Whereas such drills would usually serve as an occasion for politicians and military officials to congratulate each other, while representatives of the arms industry and the press tripped over each other in displays of patriotism and pride for the latest Pelasgian military technologies, the Lord Chancellor and the Commander in Chief of the Imperial Armed Forces (or at least the person to whom that capacity had been delegated by the Emperor in the Constitution) had much more pressing matters on their hands.

    "I assume you read between the lines of ODAD's little promotion piece in the Propontios Logothetis," said Notaras, mechanically but inatentively following one of the Amphibious Raiders with his binoculars as the commando 'neutralised' one of the men dressed in older Pelasgian gear acting as the 'Opposing Force' of the exercise. Kavalaris monitored that same man for a second more, as if he was evaluating some comment on his movements made by the Chancellor, before responding; "Of course, My Lord Chancellor. It seems Propontis has gone Gold again... and they've taken most of the Bluecoats with them."

    "And the Greencoats for that matter," said Notaras; "It's almost like they're trying to start a political zoo." At that point a group of brand-new Eiffellandian-made fighter jets, belonging to a carrier-based squadron of the First Fleet, flew over the island, dropping bombs on pre-designated sites quite away from the actual troops taking part in the drill, but within visible range. "They can try whatever they want," Kavalaris said; "The question is what we'll do about it."

    Notaras waited a few moments before responding. The MAK commandos advanced further inland, capturing the 'command post' of the 'opposing force', with landing ships of regular troops now moving into the beach behind them. Another group of jets soared above the island, dropping incendiary explosives on another pre-designated area. As he watched the flames burn a second 'opposing force' base to ashes, his eyes focused on the flag of the supposed enemies: green, yellow and red, a mix of the colours of various countries the Empire had tense relations with. "I think you know what such situations call for," Notaras said. "If you still have the guts for it."

    Kavalaris looked at the advancing MAK men planting a Pelasgian flag on a small hill, and then observed as they raised their hands up and down, shouting "Long live the Emperor!" well out of earshot. "All I need is an excuse," he said, allowing himself a brief externalisation of his deep hatred for the Loyalists but for a single moment. Notaras was reassued; he could always rely on the Polemarch to not side with their common foe, when all others were about to jump ship at a moment's notice, or had done so already, in the pit of vipers that was Propontine politics.

    "These Raiders are very impressive, Your Excellency," said the Sakellarios in a louder voice. "How soon can they be available for the Empire's use?" he added, lowering his binoculars. "Thank you, my Lord Chancellor. They're available at a moment's notice, provided the Fatherland's interests are at stake," the Polemarch responded, lowering his own binoculars. The two men had an understanding; the specifics could be worked out later.

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Selymbria, Optimatoi

    Selymbria Army Base was a site of both legend and infamy in Pelasgian military history, and in Pelasgian history in general. Located on a major highway connecting Propontis to the rest of the Empire, the base housed the largest Pelasgian military formation near the capital, rivalled only by the First Fleet Headquarters at Daphne: the First Army First Corps, also known as the "Selymbrian Corps". Surrounded by a tall electrocuted fence on all sides, alongside guard-posts manned by sentries authorised to shoot, and monitored on a constant basis, Selymbria Army Base had, in its long history, seen more uses in combat and political interventions against other Pelasgians than against foreigners. It was indicative of the strict militarism of Pelasgian society that such an assignment was considered among the most prestigious in the Empire, being only awarded to the staunchest of loyalist to whomever was in power.

    At the centre of the base stood a large edifice built in a simplified, laconic version of the traditional Propontine style: stone brick walls, with arches and pillars, a red roof-tiles with ornamented edges and corners at the row closest to the walls of the building. This stone-grey, brick-brown and roof-tile-red complex, coupled with black steel window panels and white transparent or yellow semi-transparent windows, served as the headquarters of the entire base, housing most of the senior officers' offices. It flanked, on three sides, a large empty concrete square, with various white markings painted perfectly on it. On this cloudy but still somewhat warm day, a dais was erected in the square, painted in the blue, red and white colours of the Empire. On the dais stood the Pelasgian officers of the New First Army, their Cussian advisors, and the local Bishop. All around the dais, standing behind the various lines, stood rows of soldiers and Armed Forces Police personnel, all patiently waiting as a flag squadron made its way to the centre of the square, with a marching band playing all the while.

    Suddenly, the marching band stopped, and all stood at attention, with soldiers presenting arms and officers saluting. The flag had made it way to its designated spot, as the flag-bearer stood inside a white circle, and the band begun playing an instrumental version of the famous Pelasgian song "Glory unto our Lord". Originally used a funeral song, being a religious chant adapted into a march, "Glory unto our Lord" had gradually come to be the Empire's co-anthem, being valued for its patriotic lyrics, which joined sacrifice for the Emperor, who personified the Nation, with reverence for the Christian God. As the band played on, the soldiers begun singing the words of the anthem loudly and with discipline, until the music came to an end.

    Then, a command came from speakers placed at all four corners of the square: "Raise honours!" The men raised their hands, with their three first fingers joined together, symbolising the Holy Trinity, in the version of the Orthodox Salute meant for swearing oaths (as opposed to those same three fingers being open, which was the standard salute). Then the local Bishop begun reciting the Pelasgian Military Oath, with soldiers repeating every line loudly.

    In the name of the Holy, Consubstantial and Indivisible Trinity
    I swear that I shall keep allegiance to the Fatherland and the Pelasgian Nation
    and to His Imperial Majesty, the Archon Basileus, who is its personification,
    obedience to the Constitution and the Laws of the State,
    submission to my Superiors;
    that I shall execute their Orders willfully and without objection;
    that I shall defend with loyalty and dedication, until the last drop my blood, the Flags;
    that I shall never abandon them nor be separated from them;
    that I shall precisely follow the Military Laws;
    and that I shall generally behave in a manner befitting the honoured title of Pelasgian Soldier.


    Then followed the three "Zito" (i.e. "Long live") proclamations that everyone Pelasgian knew so well, the third proclamation alternating based on the circumstances:
    "Long live His Imperial Majesty, Emperor!"
    "Long live the Pelasgian Nation!"
    "Long live the Pelasgian Armed Forces!"

    The ceremony was complete; the commanding general, General Epameinondas Vatatzopoulos, gave a speech congratulating the men of what was now formally the New First Army Corps, dressed in a Cussian-style uniform with a peaked cap, but in the Pelasgian military's olive green colour. He thanked them for the service and congratulated them on their hard work; he reminded them of the trials still ahead, and of their responsibility to set the example for the entire Imperial military at a time of reform and modernisation; he thanked the Cussian advisors for their own work; and finally, he proclaimed his pride in working with the recruits of Pelasgia's newest and largest professional ground formation, hoping it would set the basis for an entire Field Army of the same standards. The men, dressed in their Cussian-style uniforms with Pelasgian camouflage and markings, and armed with the Pelasgian army's newly adopted Type 33 Rifle, marched out of the square in formation, with marching bands accompanying their exit, and cheers from the other soldiers assembled around to watch the ceremony. As the soldiers marched, the sounds of their boots slamming on the ground could be heard, owing to the high-step used by the Pelasgians (adopted as a simplified and more practical step than the goose-step originally imported by Germanian military advisors in the 19th century). The New First Army Corps was finally a reality.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2019
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