The Chessboard

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Socialist World Republic, Sep 4, 2012.

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  1. Potenza

    Potenza New Member

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    Castling

    December 28
    6:00AM

    Mornings over Potenza tend to be quiet in nature - unless you're in a major city, of course, in which case you'll hear the honking of cars and the screeches of tires. Otherwise, you will hear little but birds, the rustle of grass, and, if you're near the sea or a river, the roll of the water against the ground. If any sounds came, it was from the ground, not from the sky. During the winter there tended to be rain, and at times there were indeed thunderstorms, but those were few and far between. On this morning, however, the skies were clear, with only a few clouds. Those in the vineyards were going out to light the fires that would melt the ice and frost off the crops, those at the Potenzan were going out to check the nets on their boats, and those in the rural villages were getting their shops ready for the day.

    That's when it was heard. A low rumble in the distance, like the sound of many engines. It grew louder and louder, increasing in pitch. Many in the rural areas believed at first that these were automotive engines, though none recognized what make and model it could have been. It was then, as the clouds cleared a bit more, that many saw what it was.

    The sky was dotted with planes, perhaps several dozen. Most of these were cargo planes, belonging to the Royal Air Force, and marked accordingly. They had been launched from their various sites across the Grand Duchy, and were now meeting to continue southward. They flew over the rural areas of the Duchies of Turin and Venosa, and were seen by thousands of Potenzans. They were seen over the capitol of San Salvo, flying southward still. They were seen by Prime Minister Gaetano Merlino, who stood at the window of his bedroom in the prime minister's quarters, twirling a wine glass and grinning to himself as he looked up.

    "To think I have always wanted such power," he whispered to himself, sipping the wine and then finishing it in a few gulps.

    They likewise flew over the palace where Grand Duke Guido III controlled the Grand Duchy. The young Grand Duke stood on the balcony, leaning against his cane and watching the planes as they flew over.

    "Today, I have such power," he whispered to himself.

    The planes continued southward, and as they reached the smaller seas that split the Grand Duchy from Solaren, they split into several groups, breaking apart and going in various directions southward. Finally, they entered the territory of the Potenzan occupying forces, and began to head towards specific landing zones which had been designated to them. The number of planes in each group was in accordance with the nearby population - a sparsely populated area may have only a single plane, while a much more populated area would have several planes.

    The Potenzan pilots, most of them young and having never seen combat (given the peace the Grand Duchy had enjoyed for most of that century), had spent most of their service training for a day like this. In their planes were crates and packages of various sizes, filled with donations given by the Tiburan Catholic Church and other sources, and which were intended for the Solaris populace to use during these tough winter days. The crates had canned food, blankets, winter clothes for various ages, and small amounts of medicine. This was Operation Holy Innocents, named after the feast day it took place on, and intending to maintain positive relations with the Solaris population in light of the possible hostility from Carentanian forces.

    "We're coming close," said the navigator.

    The doors of the cargo plane were opened. The signal was given. The crates were released. All at once, the planes were no longer by themselves in the air. Parachutes opened, and crates were seen dropping down from the sky to the ground below. They landed, for the most part, right in the zones they were required to land in. The planes unloaded everything they had, then, once their cargo hold was empty, the pilots turned the planes around and returned to their bases.

    The operation went off smoother than most military operations, but as with all well laid plans, nothing ever goes perfectly. Some Solaris in the more rural areas believed that the Carentanians were attacking and hid in their homes, preparing for a defense. Eventually their local leaders - who had been informed of the operation - talked them slowly out of the houses, assuring them no attack was taking place. In some areas, Solaris civilians actually started to fight over the crates, and more than a few people were stabbed, and if the Potenzan soldiers nearby had not intervened, a mini-war between two villages might have erupted. One crate landed right on top of a barn that had miraculously survived the war, creating a large hole as it tore right through the roof and landed in the midst of the cows. None were hurt, but it had ruined their breakfast. The farmer complained angrily to the local Potenzan NCO, who nervously explained that he would tell his inferiors, and promised (perhaps foolishly) that the Potenzan government would pay for the damages. Potenzan soldiers couldn't help but notice and chuckle that the ducal seal - painted on all the crates - was now covered in dung.

    By and large, however, the operation went as planned. Soon some Solaris homes had food to last them a few meals, and a blanket or two for their beds. To say the entire northern populace was saved would be an exaggeration (though no doubt Potenzan media would portray it as such), however, in many areas the "appreciation" from His Royal Majesty was most enjoyed.
     
  2. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    Black nights’ tango


    Supplying the remote areas was a problem the Eiffellandians were facing as well. Initially, tractors and sometimes even tanks were used. The usage of tanks for this purpose sometimes led to the same kind of reaction as was sometimes seen in the Potenzan Occupational Zone: People were thinking of a Carentanian invasion with tanks, or people suffering from war traumas frightened up because of the sound of tanks.
    As soon as the Eiffellandians heard about the food droppings by the Potenzan Air Force, they started to prepare such droppings as well. Unfortunately, 28 December was too close, so they went for Epiphany (6 January). Food, clothing, blankets and small presents for the children would be dropped on 6 January, and after then food would be dropped each time at the last day of the month. Hospitals and doctors in remote areas got their medical supplies by helicopter. It was also decided to start a weekly postal service to and from the remote areas by helicopter, whereever possible. A “flying doctors” system with helicopters stationed at hospitals was started as well.

    Although most things went well in the Eiffellandian Occupational Zone, there were some problems. The occupation was not accepted by everyone. Sometimes there were organised demonstrations (which the Eiffellandians allowed, even if the demonstrators demanded the occupying forces to leave), sometimes there were riots in city quarters or refugee camps, or uprisings in remote areas (which the Eiffellandians acted against). Sometimes the reasons behind such a demonstration, riot or uprising were easy to solve (for instance by improving the electricity and water supplies), but sometimes they were not. And of course ideologically driven uprisings were not easy to solve.
    There were still groups that wanted to return to the pre-war status quo in Solaren: A country ruled by and according to the principles of the Solaris Catholic Church. Sometimes those groups turned violent. Additionally, there were the members of the Coalizione Nazionale Operaia that had visited that conference in Capraria a couple of months ago. It was still unclear whether they were planning something, but they were under surveillance by the Staatsschutz, the Eiffellandian Secret Service. Better safe than sorry.


    Tegeata

    This city had not suffered very much from the war. Meanwhile, all damage had been repaired. Because the harbours of Testono and Torrenze hadn’t been rebuilt enough yet, the harbour of Tegeata functioned as Solaren’s mainport to the east. However, on the longer term, Tegeata would loose that function to the harbours of Testono and Torrenze. It could remain important to the industry in Tegeata, maybe also to Southeastern Solaren, but that was all. An additional harbour at the southern coast of Southeastern Solaren could be developed as well, and then the role of Tegeata would become even smaller. OK, these developments would take several years, but it was good to think of it already now and make sure that the people currently working at the harbour of Tegeata could work somewhere else in the future.
    But now Tegeata was a sparkling city that never slept. It was modernised in the sense that all houses were connected to the power grid and the waterworks, that sewers were built in the quarters that lacked sewers up to now, and that the telephone network was extended. Also an underground was planned. Because there were no other harbours at the east coast yet, the harbour of Tegeata thrived. Also the factories of Autobianchi and Moto Guzzi were here, as well as many smaller companies. Furthermore, the city had many pubs, dance halls, theatres and cinemas.


    Testono and Torrenze

    The fightings had been heavy in these cities. Many buildings had been damaged. Meanwhile the débris had been cleared and building activities had started in both cities. It was the intention to keep the old street structure as much as possible. At this moment, the sewers, waterworks and power grids were checked and repaired. The poorest city quarters, that had previously not been connected to the sewers, waterworks and power grid, were now connected to those services. The telephone systems were extended as well. An underground system was under study for both cities, but not built yet. The first priority was to rebuild all the houses that had been destroyed.
    But these reconstruction works meant as well, that large parts of the populations of Torrenze and Testono still lived in refugee camps. Very much was done to keep life bearable in those camps, but still they were refugee camps. The people considered it the fault of the Eiffellandians that they were in this situation. This sometimes led to riots, against which the Eiffellandians had to act with care. Luckily, that didn’t happen often, but it was a point of interest.
     
  3. Potenza

    Potenza New Member

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    Caro-Kann Defense

    Snow had not yet fallen over northern Solaren, though there had been some clusters here and there. In the largest village in northern Solaren, 4th Corps had made their headquarters, first with Maggiore Generale Ronco, and then with Tenente Generale Battisti. A large mansion, somehow untouched by the war, had been made the center, and though Ronco had graciously given up his room to the higher ranking Battisti, both commanders stayed under one roof. The perimeter was guarded by elements of the Folgore's First Brigade, with sections of the roads and trails around the mansion cordoned off from common civilians or unwanted guests. The guard had been increased today, when several more high ranking officers were expected to arrive.

    Battisti sat in his room, and office, sitting in the corner with a table nearby that held a dish with some pieces of chicken. Nano, the general's prized harlequin Great Dane, sat across the room. The general was taking the small bits of chicken and tossing it in an arch across the room, like a baseball, towards the dog. The Great Dane remained sitting down, and once the chicken drew near, opened his maw and snapped, chewing a few times in a happy fashion. Once he was done, the general would throw another. And another. And so the game continued.

    Paco knocked, and after given permission to enter did so.

    "The Eiffelland officers are here," the major reported.

    "Oh good!" Battisti said, grinning as he stood up and walked to the door. "Come, Nano."

    In the dining room of the mansion was a large table where the most powerful men in Solaris would meet and discuss the fate of a still war torn nation. Some would have argued progress was being made, and certainly in many areas there were, but there were developing challenges, brand new challenges, and challenges that may rear their ugly heads if not prepared for. On the large table was a map of Solaren, showcasing the topography and major and minor towns and villages of the country, as well as lines dividing up the territory occupied by Potenza, Eiffelland, and Carentania. Ronco was already present, seated, though he stood up at once when Battisti entered.

    "As you were, Ronco," Battisti replied. He pointed to the floor a few feet from him, snapping his fingers, "Nano! Sit!" The Great Dane obeyed, eying Ronco a moment before turning his brown eyes towards the door, where a group of uniformed men were being led in. Nano was a well trained dog who tended to not mind strange company, though if he perceived a threat to his master, he would turn from a gentle giant to a vicious beast.

    Flanked by Paco and some Folgore escorts, the high command staff of Eiffelland Occupied Solaren. Battisti gave a warm smile and held out his hand towards General Modersohn, saying in English:

    "Good afternoon, General Modersohn. I hope your arrival here was without trouble? By the way, I understand you speak excellent Tiburan?" Switching to his native tongue, Battisti added: "I would like to test it out, if that's all right."

    After some friendly banter, and once all the men were seated, Battisti began to address his Eiffellandian counterparts. Some of the Lieutenant General's staff came in with trays, serving the men some tea and water as Battisti spoke.

    "Now, it is in the interests of the Grand Duchy - and myself - that there be some level of cooperation in Solaren. We have similar issues that we need to address: first, the possibility of a growing insurgency; second, meeting the needs of the local populace; third, the possibility of hostility from our Carentanian friends to the east. I want this to be a kind of...round table discussion, I suppose you could say. So, I open the floor to you all."

    On Battisti's saucer was a little gingerbread cookie that had been added by his staff. Nano, immediately seeing it, lunged forward and snatched the cookie, chewing it happily. Battisti didn't seem the least bit alarmed or angered by that - in fact, gingerbread was Nano's favorite treat, and it had been placed there by his cooking staff on purpose.

    ***

    OOC: Eiffelland - in case you didn't want Modersohn to attend personally, feel free to just change the name in my post.
     
  4. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    General Modersohn was glad that Battisti switched to Tiburan, because he did not know the Eiffellandian equivalent of the rank of Tenente Generale. Was it General-Major? Was it Generalleutnant? Now Battisti solved this problem by switching to Tiburan, and Modersohn could adress him with “Tenente Generale”.

    Buon giorno, Tenente Generale Battisti. Il viaggio passava benissimo, grazie,” he said [1]. “It is fine with us if we continue in Tiburan. All our soldiers learn it before coming to Solaren,” he continued. Then he introduced the members of his staff.

    After Battisti had given his introduction, Modersohn took the floor.

    “First I want to thank you for your hospitality. It is indeed needed that we coordinate our efforts in this country, and therefore, this meeting is important. Like we saw in the past, an unstable Solaren is a threat to the complete region, so it is of utmost importance that we stabilise this country. That is why we are here. You correctly adress the main problems we are facing. Regarding the growing insurgencies, part of that problem could be Carentania. You probably remember that the Carentanians were organising a meeting in Capraria, where they assembled the Coalizione Nazionale Operaia. We have some indications that more was discussed than only assembling a union. Currently the insurgencies only come from supporters of the old regime, but in the future we could see insurgencies from Socialist factions as well. Putting discussions on which system is the best aside, a Socialist revolution will only aggravate the situation in this country, apart from the fact that I don’t want to see that the Solaris go from one tyranny into another tyranny.”

    Modersohn took a sip of his glass of water. The ascetic he was, he had only asked for water and tea without sugar.

    “There is one fourth matter we have to discuss: The SNC. What are we going to do if the constitution they come up with places us for accomplished facts? It is easy to go from a Parliamentary Democracy to a Post-Delegationist or a Socialist system, but the other way round is not so easy.”


    OOC: Translation:
    [1] Good afternoon, Tenente Generale Battisti. The journey went extremely well, thank you.
     
  5. Potenza

    Potenza New Member

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    Battisti had his lips pursed, listening to Modersohn speak, nodding his head on occasion to signify he was still listening. When the Eiffellandian general finished, he gave his feedback:

    "The actions of the Carentanians are a bit disheartening. Obviously the last thing my government wants is a socialist government bordering our country, especially one that might breed insurgent groups into neighboring regions. Obviously, I'm a soldier, my main concern is defense, and defensively, I don't want to be sending my Folgore into downtown San Salvo because some communist rebels want to depose the Grand Duke and set up a consul or whatever in Saint Lucia's name they have as their leader. One plan of action might be a tighter control along the Carentanian-occupied border. Now, I can spare my Folgore to do that while Ronco's division," here Battisti motioned to his inferior, sitting beside him, "continues their excellent job of handling the populace. I don't know how feasible that would be for your forces, but I'm sure you'll be able to come up with something."

    Here Battisti paused temporarily to reach into his jacket, pulling out a small, crumpled sheet of paper. Nano looked eagerly, thinking it was a treat. Battisti noticed the dog's disappointed look when Nano saw it was an inedible piece of paper, and so the general reached back into his jacket, took out a small dog treat, and handed it to the Great Dane, who munched it happily.

    "Before I continue, let me say what I am about to say does not leave this room, and is strictly off the record. Ronco has been in contact with the leaders of the villages and towns up here in the rural north, and he's noticed some are very...well how do I say this elegantly?...hesitant about our presence here. I have here a list of those who seem most hostile, and may prove dangerous soon enough. If there are any actions taken against our forces, or any plots uncovered, they will be the first placed under custody."

    Battisti turned the paper around, sliding it across the table to Modersohn and his staff, so that they could look at it and copy it if they desired.

    "As for the SNC, let me ask something, out of speculation and not necessarily a sign of intent: how feasible would it be to create, or influence the creation of, government bodies contrary to or complimentary to the SNC? Something to present a balance against the Carentanian interests?"
     
  6. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    While listening to Battisti, Modersohn observed how the Tenente Generale treated his dog, and wondered himself again about that special relationship military officers could have with their dogs. Modersohn himself didn’t have a dog, because he wouldn’t be able to give it the attention and love it needed according to him. Some of his officers did have dogs though. He was by far not afraid of dogs, but before he would pet a dog, he would give it the opportunity to investigate him.

    “Thank you for your list. It will be needed to us to find out if the groups in question have connections with similar groups in our zone. Therefore, I will also have to notify our secret service, the Staatsschutz, about this list. Of course they can be trusted,” Modersohn said.

    “Your ideas about a regime developing insurgent groups in its neighbourcountries is exactly the reason why I consider a Carentanian Solaren a threat to the stability of the region. Also we intensified the controls along our borders with the Carentanian Occupational Zone, as well as the controls of ‘our’ coasts and ‘our’ airspace. We already did so before the conference in Capraria took place. Because of that, we have a rough outline of the people in our occupational zone who possibly or certainly attended that conference. Of course they are all under surveillance by the Staatsschutz. They sometimes gather together. Luckily, we managed to infiltrate them. And now I am at a point at which I have to present something that must stay inside this room and off the record: A list of people living in your occupational zone who attended said conference in Capraria. However, we can’t guarantee that this list is complete,” Modersohn continued after having taken a sip of his water glass.

    Meanwhile, the list Battisti had taken out of his pocket had been copied by Modersohn’s staff. Modersohn gave it back to Battisti, together with his list, and another list. Then he continued.

    “I also gave a second list to you. Like in your zone, also we have some groups of people which would rather see us leave,” he said. “That second list contains the groups we know. We can’t guarantee that it is complete. Regarding intelligence, it is more difficult to us to infiltrate into such groups than to you. You are seen less like a foreigner than we are. Therefore, people might be more open to you than to us. Up to now, our infiltrants are mainly people from the old regime whom we confronted with their past. Using the identity of an Eiffellandian follower of the Solaris Catholic Church will take a lot of time.”

    Modersohn took a sip of his water. Then he continued.

    “Regarding the SNC, given the fact that the SNC is an organisation of former Solaris exilants that lived in Carentania before the war, we could argue that it is needed to form a representation of the Solaris in our occupational zones. Another reason for that is that we ourselves want to hear the opinions of the Solaris in our zones. In any case, I think we should indeed form ‘government bodies’, as you call it. The SNC will have to give extremely good reasons for ignoring the opinion of organisations representing large groups of Solaris. The only question is: How to create such ‘government bodies’? We cannot just fill them with people we choose, because then it would be easy to call them our puppets. The only way to give them authority for speaking on behalf of the Solaris would be to have them elected by the Solaris, according to me. What is your opinion on this?”

    Modersohn took another sip of his water. Then he continued.

    “We managed to neutralise the Solaris Catholic Church by the way. It won’t support violent actions against the occupying forces or Solaris cooperating with the occupying forces any more. It won’t become our allies, but the fact that it will act neutrally is already good news according to me.”
     
  7. Potenza

    Potenza New Member

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    As Modersohn slid the list across the table, Nano leaded his big head over the edge (for he was tall enough to do so, even while sitting down!) and sniffed at it curiously. Disregarding this (perhaps as normal), Battisti took the list and looked it over, nodding happily.

    "This is good to know," he said. "This will have to be something we keep as well. Ronco, could you please copy this for me?"

    The inferior general of the 4th Corps complied to his superior's demands, and Battisti sipped his tea - the first time he had since the Eiffellandian had arrived. The lieutenant general started again:

    "Seems to me the easiest way to counteract the power of the SNC is regional leaders. Now I've been thinking for sometime, we already have local leaders around here - mayors in the bigger villages, men who are trusted by their peers in smaller towns - and we can give them some power and authority. A kind of...I don't know...council of elders? One can be easily organized up here in the north, but then again I recognize you have your own situations down south that might require something different. In any case, they'll have mostly ceremonial powers at first, but sometimes a voice can be a lot more dangerous than a bullet or a ballot."

    Battisti cleared his throat suddenly, then continued:

    "As for the Solaris Catholic Church, I have a thinking that the Tiburan Catholics are up to something. They might be trying to push in from San Salvo into the north here. I can't be too certain. But they're definitely trying to keep the Protestants out, and a lot of my men are Protestants, you know - more so than in other units in the army, especially with the Folgore. They may be trying to be a player in the Solaris political environment as well."
     
  8. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    “Of course also we have such local leaders,” Modersohn said. “Also we could form such a council. My compliments for that idea, by the way. It is simple and effective. However, also people without a career in the old regime have to become members of such a council, if that is not already the case. When we’re back in Torrenze, we will form coucils of elders on regional levels and a council of elders on zonal level.”

    Modersohn made some notes about this for later use. He would make sure that all the leaders of the political parties in the Eiffellandian Occupational Zone would become members of the zonal council, especially Conte Stefano di Perugia.

    “On the longer term, elections will be inevitable, but then we have the possibility to prepare them properly,” he continued. Then he thought for a moment.

    “Well, I myself am a Tiburan Catholic, but I favour freedom of religion. Like our King Philipp IV already said it in the 18th century: Jeder soll nach seiner Art selig werden. Loosely translated: Everybody has to choose his own way to Heaven. Do you have the feeling that the Tiburan Catholic Church is trying to outmanoeuvre your men? I ask this, because that would be counterproductive according to me. It would hamper the Potenzan efforts in Northern Solaren. Furthermore, I told that I managed to neutralise the Solaris Catholic Church, but that doesn’t mean that I removed it from the game. The Solaris Catholic Church is still an influential factor. I only managed to make it act neutrally to us. It won’t act neutrally to another religion that tries to outmanoeuvre it,” Modersohn said. “I think that the Tiburan Catholic Church can do a lot of good things in Solaren, but only in cooperation with Protestants and Solaris Catholics.”


    OOC: I took the phrase “Jeder soll nach seiner Art selig werden” from Frederick the Great, King of Prussia between 1740 and 1786, but I changed it a bit. Frederick the Great actually said: “Jeder soll nach seiner Façon selig werden.” So he used the French word Façon instead of the German word Art. I translated Façon into Art. Both words mean “manner” or “way”.
     
  9. Potenza

    Potenza New Member

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    "I wouldn't say they're trying to 'outmaneuver my men,'" Battisti answered, sliding his hand over to give Nano some petting, which the dog happily permitted, "but they might be trying to take advantage of the situation. Really, a lot of that is internal politics in the Grand Duchy. The Cornaro House - oh, forgive me, they're the Protestant ones - are trying to get the Reformed Church to have some presence here, and I know they're not trying to take things over. Believe me the last thing I want is someone from the outside causing trouble that might put more of my men in danger, even if it is from my own countrymen."

    The general suddenly lowered his hand to Nano's lips. The dog opened his mouth and placed his teeth on Battisti's hand, though not in a hard bite. Battisti shook his hand up and down, causing Nano's head to shake as well, and the general made silly little "rarr!" sounds, as if Nano was suddenly getting vicious. It was here that Ronco, the commander of the Scipio's Own division and who had just finished copying the list provided by the Eiffellandians, spoke up:

    "My Scipio's Own, as you might know, sir, have been working with companies and organizations based in Potenza to assist in the reconstruction of northern Solaren. We've managed to get power back in most areas, but we're still working on running water for the more sparsely populated areas. It's no easy task, but we're making sure that hostile elements won't impede it. I'm sure you've struggled with similar experiences to the south."

    "Part of our fear," said Battisti, returning to the conversation as he patted the side of Nano's head, "is, of course, the Carentanians making an end to this, either through spies or through a military attack. Potenzans aren't fond of paying for the same real estate twice, you know."
     
  10. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    Modersohn was a bit surprised when he saw Battisti grabbing Nano’s underjaw. That was something he didn’t dare to do with a dog, and would never allow a dog, either. But then again, Nano was Battisti’s dog, not his own dog.

    “I am glad to hear that, Tenente Generale. I don’t see a problem if the Tiburan Catholic Church and the Reformed Church of Potenza come to Solaren for charity reasons. And of course the result may be some conversions out of free will. I only expect serious problems if the Tiburan Catholic Church and the Reformed Church of Potenza are going to try to actively convert people. As long as that does not happen, I don’t see a problem,” General Modersohn said.

    Contrary to Battisti’s rank, it had been easy to find out Ronco’s rank to the Eiffellandians. It was easy to form the link between Maggiore Generale and General-Major. So they knew that Ronco was lower in rank than Battisti.

    “Of course also we are working hard to rebuild our occupational zone. The same as you do: Power grid, water lines, infrastructure, houses and so on. Although Eiffellandian companies have the supervision, we work with local contractors and workers as much as possible to fight unemployment. And of course we are working on expanding the harbour of San Remo. Indeed, lots of investments, and lots of money from Eiffelland and Franken. Luckily, we don’t have many problems with sabotage,” Modersohn said. “I don’t expect sabotage to become a widespread problem, either. The Solaris see the advantages of what we do, and the Carentanians will happily let us build — they won’t have to build what we have built. But indeed, we have to take into account that they want to take the country. That is something we have to be prepared for. We have to be able to handle massive uprisings, we have to be able to handle many small resistance groups performing hit-and-run actions, and we have to be able to handle a military invasion. But we can’t do everything we like. We can fence off the border, something we already did, and we can put an alarm system on it that reacts as soon as the fence is cut or broken down, something we did as well, but nothing more than that. The only thing we can do, is to thoroughly check the border regions and to make sure that we can react promptly and massively in case of an attack. I myself am prepared to attack the Carentanians if they attack you, but that is a decision I cannot take. That decision will have to be taken by my government, which will have to discuss it with the Germanian League as well. My government has the same opinion as I have, but it is more difficult to convince the Germanian League of the fact that a Carentanian Solaren is against the interests of the Germanian League as well.”

    Modersohn took a sip of his water, and then continued.

    “We can, however, decide about cooperation in other issues occurring in our zones and exchanging intelligence information. Furthermore, it should be possible to ask each other’s assistance when for example somebody commits a terrorist assault in your zone and then flees to our zone, or a group in your zone that supports an assault in our zone.”

    Modersohn looked at his liaison officer with the Staatsschutz, who indicated that that would be feasible.

    “Apart from being prepared for Carentanian plans to take the whole country, we must be prepared for the SNC as well. We already discussed the formation of local councils, but maybe we should also discuss what we should do when the SNC indeed presents a constitution we can’t live with. First Solaris representants from our zones will have to try to discuss it with the SNC, but what if the SNC doesn’t want to change its plans then? Or doesn’t want to change it sufficiently? My government’s idea in that case would be to let the SNC do what it wants in the Carentanian zone, and let us form two separate countries in our zones. What would be your idea?” Modersohn asked.
     
  11. Potenza

    Potenza New Member

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    At the mention of "two separate countries in our zones," Ronco noted that Battisti had to stifle a bit of a smile. There had already been some discussion in the halls of the Potenzan government - specifically the prime minister's office and the Ministry of Defense - of the possibility of creating northern Solaren into a semi-autonomous state. This wasn't the priority of the Grand Duchy, of course, but a pro-Carentanian Solaris government would replace one unstable dictatorship for another - this wasn't what Potenza wanted.

    "Now we truly enter the room of secrets that never leave rooms," Battisti began. "It might interest you, Modersohn, that my government has already drawn up a contingency plan, should the Grand Duchy decide the Solaris government in Torrence is declared an unappreciated successor to Pope Urban. In such a situation, the northern region would be declared an independent region which would be a Potenzan protectorate. Of course, the Grand Duchy has no intentions of annexing the north, but it's important our borders are secured, and we'd rather have a buffer zone between our own nation and any government which might be perceived as hostile. Might I suggest that perhaps, instead of creating two different zones, it be possible to create one single zone? That would of course be decided when division becomes an issue, but it might prove a stronger counter to the pro-Carentanian government - should one pop up. Otherwise, a Solaris divided into three pieces would probably be far less threatening than the one known before."

    Battisti sipped his tea, then continued:

    "I might also suggest to my government that they work with yours to ensure the independence of said independent states. That is, let's say Carentanian gets trigger happy and invades your third of Solaris. As the Grand Duchy has pledged the independence of your third, they would step in, hence the Carentanians would be facing two militaries versus one."
     
  12. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    Modersohn wasn’t surprised that the Potenzan government had similar plans as his own government. Both countries had similar interests in Solaren, although a Carentanian Solaren would be a more acute problem to Potenza than to Eiffelland. The interest of the latter country was to make sure that Carentania would not get the upper hand in the western part of the Long Sea, because on the longer term that would lead to an intervention by Engellex, Danmark and Sarmatia. Eiffelland’s relations with Engellex were icy after Engellex’s annexation of Montelimar (Prince Johann was even known for refusing to talk English to Engellexians and always talking French to them, meaning that the Engellexians continuously learned new French swearing words in his neighbourhood), Danes were considered unpredictable and explosive by the Eiffellandians (although the relations with Danmark were good and Eiffellandians also saw the good hearts of the Danes), and Sarmatians were considered radical mezhists and with that crazy and blind for reason. All in all, not the kind of people that you should give power over an important sea strait to.

    “Well, Battisti, Torrenze is in our occupational zone, so an unappreciated successor to Pope Urban will not reside there, if it is up to us,” Modersohn said without twitching an eyelid. “Also we have our plans ready to take our occupational zone out of the influence of a pro-Carentanian government. In that case, we would do the same as you would do: Turning our occupational zone into a semi-autonomous country. But we have to be careful with the international press if we do so. Such a move can easily be explained as a form of colonisation or even annexation. With such an explanation, it is easy to mobilise the international public opinion. That would be more of a problem to us as Germanics than to you. Because of this, we are also preparing the transition to a democratic system in our zone to show that we let the Solaris themselves determine their lives. We would only remain responsible for the defence and the foreign politics. We have to do it this way, because we can only influence the international public opinion to a certain extent. See the problems Danmark has in Agder and Fey. Their intentions are good, but they continuously fail to influence the international public opinion. In contrast, Engellex, Frescania and the various Agderian and Feyan factions against the Danish King have all the good cards in their hands. As a result, the country with the best intentions is the bad side in this conflict.”

    Modersohn took a sip of his water. Then he continued.

    “We have to prevent that the same happens to us. Trying to defend our zones against a Carentanian power grab is a good argument favouring us, but we must prevent that we can be accused of replacing Urban’s dicatorship with a foreign dictatorship. And we Eiffellandians have to make sure that we cannot be accused too much of turning our zone into a second Eiffelland, an accusation that our implicit protégé Count di Perugia already faced. Summa summarum, we have to act carefully.”

    Modersohn looked around in the room. Then he continued.

    “For turning our two zones into one zone, you are right that such a zone would be a better counter against Carentania, but I see some practical issues, some that can be overcome easily, but one that is not so easy to solve. Whereever the governmental residence of that single zone will be, it will have to govern a large portion of land of which it is separated by a large portion of hostile territory. That is not an easy situation. Therefore, I consider it better to keep our zones separated, also because of what you say about a Solaren divided into three pieces.”
     
  13. Potenza

    Potenza New Member

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    "I'm glad we've had this conversation!" Battisti said, petting Nano a bit, "If you don't have anything else to say, I think we should conclude this meeting. What we've discussed at this point is really a matter for politicians, not soldiers. Come, I'll escort you out."

    Ronco stayed inside, but Battisti escorted Modersohn and his staff, along with some other of the Potenzan commander's staff. As they left the building, some Folgore were nearby, playing on a guitar and singing folk songs. As they saw the officers exit, they immediately went into another song - one in Tiburan, in words that Modersohn no doubt recognized with his knowledge of the language:

    One staff officer jumped right over another staff officer's back
    And another staff officer jumped right over that other staff officer's back
    A third staff officer jumped right over those two staff officers' backs
    And a fourth staff officer jumped right over the other staff officers' backs!

    They were only playing leapfrog
    They were only playing leapfrog
    They were only playing leapfrog
    When one staff officer jumps right over another staff officer's back!


    "They mean no harm," Battisti said to Modersohn, "it's a popular song in the Potenzan military. It comes from the War of Potenzan Unification - Francis I permitted it to make sure his officers stayed humble. If anything, it means they like you."

    However, the Potenzan officer knew this was a slight breach of protocol when it came to foreign officers. He motioned to an NCO, who went over and told the soldiers that the Eiffellandian officers knew Tiburan. The soldiers looked visibly embarrassed, and quickly went to another song.
     
  14. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    “I think we have discussed everything we needed to discuss. Also I am happy that we had this conversation. We have discussed and agreed upon important matters,” Modersohn said. “I want to thank you for your hospitality.”

    Spoken text is always easier to understand than a songtext. The Eiffellandians all knew Tiburan. The meeting had been done in Tiburan, and that had been no problem to the Eiffellandians. But they did not completely understand the song that was sung by the Potenzan soldiers. After Battisti’s explanation, they had the impression that it was not really disastrous that they didn’t understand it.

    “Don’t worry about the song, Battisti. Songs like that are sung in every army, even in the Miroslavan and Sarmatian armies. Furthermore, I don’t think you can be a good officer if you can’t take a joke from time to time,” Modersohn said.

    When they reached the cars that would take the Eiffellandians to the airfield, Modersohn said to Battisti: “Like I said earlier, it was a pleasure to be here, and it was a pleasure to meet you. Hope we see each other soon. Arrivederci.”
     
  15. Socialist World Republic

    Socialist World Republic Well-Known Member

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    Capital:
    Deliverance
    Nick:
    Revy
    The Pawn

    The small dirt track in the middle of the countryside had turned slightly muddy, it rained earlier that morning. A military truck, heading a column of a dozen similiar trucks, was the first vehicle to be headed down this path since weeks. In total, nearly a hundred men were seated on the trucks, soldiers in uniforms and with rifles securely placed between their knees. Only the latter half of the troops were Carentanians, Revolutionary Army in their khaki-uniforms. They were visibly better maintained than the uniforms of the men on the first trucks, which were slightly ragged and showed considerable signs of wear. They were Solaren security forces, working for the Solaren National Congress and the interim government, maintaining order in the wartorn country and enforcing their decisions.

    Sitting on the first truck and commanding the mission was Antonelli, now Captain Antonelli. A de facto demotion he had to bear for now, as he was working more or less as police officer and not as soldier. Solaren had no army for now.

    "Collectivization sounds all nice and good in the newspapers." Antonelli was listening to the words of one of the troopers on his truck as he was discussing politics with another man under Antonellis command. "But I'm from a farm and I tell you what this means: it turns farms into factories. I grew up on the countryside and life there won't be as romantic anymore when farmers become workers like in the city. All this machinery the reds want to introduce to the farms means we won't be working the land with our hands anymore. Solarens peasants will lose touch with their land and just handling some soulless machines."

    The convoi stopped in front of two small houses, located on opposing sides of the dirttrack. Their fields stretched all the way to the horizon and made clear that those were not the homes of poor peasants, even though the buildings seemed less than impressive and the only visible machinery was a tractor that stood idly on the middle of one of the fields. There was no doubt it had been struck by a strafing run during the war and was now nothing more than a rusty wreckage.

    Antonelli himself wasn't fond of this whole collectivization either. "That man is right," he thought to himself and reminded himself that perhaps a child of a farm is better suited to judge the needs of the peasants than some intellectuals in Mazara or Galara. But then again, he had to admit that there was some truth in the words that said Solaren needed to modernize, become an industrial society. Wasn't this the only way they could keep up with the rest of the world? He wasn't sure what to think, but it wasn't important right now. He turned to the men as they jumped off the trucks - and also to himself, he thought, to remind the unit why they were here:

    "Listen up, this mission is not about collectivization or agricultural politics or whatever. This is a mission to find traitors and war profiteers, people who let fellow Solareners starve so they can reap bigger profits. I want you to stick to the protocol and follow your orders strictly. Search both farms for unregistered stockpiles of food. If you find anything, arrest the farmers. I want no injuries, right? Right! Let's go!"

    The Solareners scattered to search all buildings, the Carentanian soldiers sticked to the trucks - they were merely reinforcements in case things went out of hand and present to supervise the actions of the Solaren units deemed unreliable. The Workers' Republic wanted to make sure that there was neither excessive violence, nor insubordination. But these operations were still Solaren operations and ordered by the interim government, not the Carentanian occupation.

    Screams could be heard, people yelling and minutes later, a family was brought out of the building to the left. A little roughly handled and greatly intimidated, but unharmed.

    "There is a considerable stockpile of food in the basement, none of it was reported," one soldier noted calmly.

    "This is to get my family through the troublesome times we face," the father of the family protested, "do you want us to starve? You can't take this away, I made it with my own hands, on my own land!"

    Antonelli sighed and turned towards the man:

    "You are not the only ones who are facing troublesome times. Every little grain you hide away in your home is missing wherever fellow Solareners live who can't grow their own food." But Antonelli wasn't entirely convinced of this himself. This wasn't the greedy war profiteer these kind of people were presented as in the newspapers, he wasn't hiding food to sell it to overblown prices. He was merely a scared father.

    Then a soldier came out of the other farm and waved over Antonelli hectically. "You gotta see this," he said and rushed back through the building, onto the backyard and into a stable. There was blood everywhere, puddles almost to the ankles deep. And carcasses. Everywhere carcasses. Pigs, sheeps, cows, even two horses. They had been slaughtered, but not long ago. Maybe an hour, probably less. Antonelli nearly had to puke, but managed to regain his composure. He had seen war, had tortured for Pope Urban before the war. Death was not an unusual sight for him - but he had a weak spot for animals. A very weak spot.

    "The farmer is nowhere to be found. He must have heard us coming, killed the cattle and ran for the forest to the north."

    Antonelli looked at the man, a grim resolution on his lips. "Find him. And make sure he resists his arrest."
     
  16. Socialist World Republic

    Socialist World Republic Well-Known Member

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    Capital:
    Deliverance
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    Revy
    The Queen

    The lights in the traincar flickered every now and then as the subway jumped a little wherever different segments of the railway had been sloppily welded. Eva was trying to read a book, but in between the noise of the subway, the bothersome lighting and the many passengers in the traincar that kept stumpling over her legs and stopping to excuse themselves - well, let's just say she wasn't able to pay much attention to a book written in a language she was only really speaking since a few months. Truth be told, she was also nervous about the destination of her trip and the fact that, if Frank, her husband, would find out at this point, it would lead to a large fight. It wasn't that big a deal to her, actually, all she was trying was to get a job. Married or not, Eva was still Carentanian at heart and a proper Carentanian woman is not a housemaid, she's a worker.

    She smiled proudly at that thought. Eiffelland was a modern country, that much was undeniable whenever she stepped out onto the streets and watched the electric lighting, the streamlined cars and the dapperly dressed people on the sidewalks. But the women, they could be straight from the middle ages. In a way, and Eva admitted this to herself, she was trying to assert her independence and her identity when she had been writing her job application to the office of a big medical company. Frank wouldn't like it, yes, but once she had the job, he would probably accept it. All Eva had to do was to present him with the facts and assure him this had nothing to do with him. She could already hear him, as he yelled when she had talked about getting a job the last time:

    "What do you mean? Do you think I can't take care of you?"

    He hadn't really understood what it meant for Eva to contribute to the household, financially that is. What it meant for Eva to work, not just for her own family, but for others as well. What it meant for Eva to get out of the house and meet other people at least for once, to not be locked up in the suburban neighbourhood all day long, trying to appease the judgemental neighbours for whom she still was but the stranger, the foreigner... the communist.

    She wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. Eva wasn't going to let these thoughts take hold of her. Frank would have to accept it sooner or later. This life wasn't what she had been raised for, she had seen enough dishwashing and cleaning and taking care of children when her father had died and she had to take care of her little sisters. It wasn't that she intended not to care for her household, not to start a family and all that... she just needed a break every now and then, get out and just do something completely different, focus her mind on something that was not connected to her life in the "Lindenallee". It's funny, she thought, Frank had never asked her how she ended up with the Revolutionary Guards, even though she had told him, some time back then in Solaren, that to be a Guard, one most volunteer - after completing one tour of duty with the regular Army Corps. Back then, in Solaren, they had usually never talked about anything to do with the military, only about their lifes far from that wretched place.

    -

    "Hey, Dusan, how is that piece of scrap you call an APC coming along?"

    Seargant Milosovic was shouting his question with a humorous undertone as he entered the workshop, but so loudly that it made every single one of the technicians twitch a little. A loud metallic sound indicated, that this also counted for one particular individual who had been crouching below a suspended armored vehicle, its wheels entirely removed.

    "Ouch, goddamn," the man cursed. "How come every time you visit me, I end being hurt, Sarge?"

    "How come every time I visit you, I'm the only mechanized unit in the entire Revolutionary Guards Corps that has to walk towards the enemy?"

    The jovial tone in Seargeant Milosevic's voice had slowly faded as he spoke. He had been waiting for too long on the necessary repairs on their vehicle and even though he wouldn't go that far as telling any of the technicians that, he felt that the loss of two of his men earlier that day had to be attributed to lack of an armored and armed vehicle. This war was grinding on his nerves and it showed, but the Seargeant tried to keep his composure.

    "Dusan, you're not saying I'm doing you any harm, are you? Because I never once touched you, you know that. But do you know why I never touched you?"

    The Seargeant was lighting up a cigarette as Dusan was crawling out from under the armored vehicle, throwing him a sassy reply:

    "Is it because you feel so ugly right next to me?"

    "No, my dear, it's because I don't have to."

    Dusan felt a boot push him down as he was about to stand up. Turning around, he saw Eva Slavic towering over him.

    "You lazy piece of shit," she mocked him. "Do you have any idea how humiliating it is to call in the boys from the fucking Army Corps to bring us back to the base? You should have seen them grinning."

    Below her, Dusan raised his hands in surrender, but one of the other technicians finally came to his rescue.

    "Eva, let him go, you'll get his stink on you. And before I forget it, the Lieutenant had been here earlier, looking for you. Something about that Eiffelländer you guys brought along with you."

    "Oh yeah, I heard about you two," Dusan exclaimed, Evas boot still resting on his shoulder. "Barely an hour and the entire base knew about you lovebirds. They say you've been flirting all the way from the frontline to here."

    This caused Evas face to turn a bright shade of red and she forced Dusan flat on the ground with another push of her foot, causing the surrounding soldiers to burst into laughter.

    "Sometimes I forget that you're a woman," Dusan giggled, but Eva cut him short.

    "Shut it, I've already talked to the Lieutenant. The officer from Eiffelland will have to stay with us for a while, because the battles make it hard to evacuate anyone right now. If I'm spending a lot of time with that man, it's because the Lieutenant has ordered me to do so to prevent him from sniffing around and have us keep an eye on him."

    "Speaking of which," Seargeant Milosevic interrupted the snarling Eva, "I think you should head back now. We've had our share of fun with this prank and I'm sure our little boy here will work a little harder on getting our car fixed, won't he?"

    Milosevic threw the technician a stern look. He only replied with a nod.

    -

    The subway came to a halt with a screeching sound. A voice from the loudspeakers exlaimed:

    "This train terminates here. All change please," repeating the initial German message: "Dieser Zug wird sich selbst zerstören. Wir bitten um all ihr Wechselgeld."

    Eva rose from her seat and, amidst a thick crowd of people, flushing out onto the streets. Downtown Starnberg in this part was a chessboard-shaped maze of office buildings, most of them in Art Deco style and towering atop the streets so high, that the roads and sidewalks were covered in shadow all the time. There was a little snow falling from the sky and Evas breath condensed in the air. The meteorologists kept saying that Eiffelland wasn't that much colder than Carentania, both dominated by the mediterranean climate of the Long Sea - but it definitely felt colder. Rationally, Eva knew that there had been winters back home when she had seen snow, when the streets had been freezing, but the only place she could actively remember snow from where their trips to the Haemians. A happy memory.

    Thus, she entered her interview with a smile on her face, greeting the manager who she had sent her application to warmly. He smiled, asked her to take a seat, but then told her with a fatherly authority:

    "Mrs. Seidel, I must admit, I am a little confused by your application. You are... married?"

    "Yes," she replied. "Is that a problem?"

    "Well, not per se. But is a bit, well, unusual. Our secretaries are usually young and in search of love. And more often than not, they find it in our great family here. It's not good for a married woman to work with so many young, succesful and attractive men. It will just worry your husband, and rightly so. I can't imagine your husband is very happy with your application." The man threw Eva an accusing look. "Does he even know you are here?"
     
  17. Potenza

    Potenza New Member

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    The Rook

    The commanding general's headquarters was abuzz with activity. An open attack had been made against Potenzan troops, and four soldiers had been killed. They were all members of the Folgore, which was an even greater affront against the Royal Army, given the Folgore were seen as some of the toughest and best trained soldiers in the Potenzan military. Battisti himself was constantly on the phone, speaking at one point to the prime minister and grand duke themselves, and then a few times to inferior officers scattered throughout northern Solaren. At one point he would pause to read a piece of information written on a paper that an aide had given him. His dog Nano lay beside the desk, seemingly content and happy to be oblivious to the chaos that had suddenly entered his master's world.

    This was what Ferlinghetti had witnessed when he had stopped by to discuss the construction projects still ongoing throughout northern Solaren. The architect, whose eyes had gone redder and whose body had seemed thinner and more frail as time progressed, had received some nervous calls from his employers - and understandably nervous, given that if attacks could be made against the military, they could likewise be made against construction investments across the region. The possibility of a Carentanian attack was one thing...the danger of internal struggles was another. Battisti informed the civilian contractor that the Potenzan military was still operational, and still on duty. He called this, perhaps on a whim, a "slight hiccup" in the Royal Army's duties.

    After the quick discussion (which ended when Battisti was informed he had a personal call from the Minister of Defense), Ferlinghetti went out to the car that was awaiting him - another dark vehicle, bearing the markings of the Mazzio Corporation. Leopoldo Mazzio was still in northern Solaren, overseeing the construction projects he had invested in, making certain that if he left they were in good hands and making progress. He had sent the vehicle to drive Ferlinghetti to the headquarters, and then to corporate head's living quarters while he was in Solaren. Ferlinghetti wasn't sure if he was a guest or a prisoner - there were always two men in the car, both in good suits and both with concealed firearms, and one was always keeping an eye on Ferlinghetti. When they arrived at Mazzio's temporary stay - a somewhat beautiful inn that had survived the war - Ferlinghetti was searched by the two well suited and well armed men who stood outside the front door.

    "Standard procedures," one said, "no offense to you, of course. Mister Mazzio is waiting for you inside, in the lounge. Don't go any where else, or you might get shot."

    Was this a dream? the architect quietly thought to himself. He had still struggled with his lack of sleep, and there were indeed moments where he was unsure if he was at last in slumber, or he was still in this strange world they called Potenzan occupied Solaren. The news of supposed "armed rebellion" and the men darting back and forth in scurries at the headquarters had only exacerbated this feeling. Now, as he entered the inn, which seemed so lovely, so well decorated, and so homely compared to the rest of the nation, the architect truly felt surrounded by the surreal, and he faltered a moment as his legs wobbled.

    "Ferlinghetti," said a familiar voice. A voice that sent a shrill up the architect's neck. It was Mazzio himself. The corporate head and supposed mafia capo was standing in the lounge, near a burning fireplace. he was leaning against the shelf that hung over the fireplace, a painting of the former Pope Urban hanging over it, perhaps the only remnant of the dictator's rule in all the north of the nation. Near the fireplace, sitting in a plush chair, was the woman Ferlinghetti recognized from the car - the redhead believed to be Mazzio's consigiere. She kept an eye and a soft smile on the architect, but said nothing.

    Mazzio noticed Ferlinghetti's eyes go to the painting, and he smiled as he pointed towards it, "Beautiful, isn't it? Apparently they wanted to destroy it, but I told them no. They insisted, so I bought this building and everything inside it. Can't just up and confiscate company property, can they?" The owner of practically all transportation inside the Grand Duchy had a glass of wine nearby, which he now held and sipped, motioning to a chair opposite the woman, "Please, sit. I like to stand when I talk indoors."

    Without hesitation or protest, Ferlinghetti sat in the chair. In fact, he didn't say anything. He was too tired, and he figured that Mazzio would explain why he was summoned. Amazingly enough, the first thing Mazzio did was squint his eyes at Ferlinghetti and ask:

    "By Saint Salvo, man, are you all right?"

    "Not much sleep," Ferlinghetti said, fidgeting with some of his fingers on the chair's arm rest, "I tried some pills, but they..." His voice trailed off.

    "No matter," said Mazzio, waving it off and sipping his wine a bit, "I received your drafts for the train station. They look lovely. But I'd like a location for a diner - you know, somewhere for people to eat on their way from east to west and back again."

    "I tried," said Ferlinghetti, "I apologize, sir...I...I don't know...it was difficult...it was hard trying to figure out where to place it...do I put it on the second floor? No, then they have to walk up to eat, people won't want to do that, business will suffer...maybe I can put it on the first floor, but then I'm limited with space, and I have to sacrifice the space used for other compartments..."

    The woman looked to Mazzio, then back to the architect, who was starting to ramble. She clearly thought he might have just lost his mind.

    "Bother all that," Mazzio cut in, putting the wine glass on the shelf again and taking a chair beside Ferlinghetti, "design it as perfectly as you can. Let your imagination flow. If it needs more space, I'll buy more land. If you need me to buy this entire nation, I'll do it."

    "Perfect," Ferlinghetti muttered. He hated that word. Perfect...nothing was ever perfect. Every time he designed something, there was a flaw. So many of his buildings had gone up in Turin and other cities of Potenza, and he could never even shoot them a passing glance. He always saw the corner he didn't like. He could see the placement of windows he had grown to despise. He could see the patterns that disgusted him, and which he had designed short notice. Nothing was ever perfect. His artistic children were all unwanted bastards to him.

    "Well, nothing's perfect, right?" Mazzio said, scratching his chin as he glanced over to the fire. "Not even people are. I've been told I'm a handsome man, but I'm sure some woman out there in this whole world would find me ugly. In any case, I've enjoyed your initial designs. They show great promise - so much so, I'm increasing your pay."

    Ferlinghetti glanced over, "Pay? Increased?"

    "Yes, I reward creativity," the corporate man said, grinning at the architect, "most artists starve, am I right? Well, I throw meat here and there, and show them someone out there loves him. I have the ability to be a little free with my finances."

    "Well you're a very powerful man," Ferlinghetti remarked. Rather carelessly. In fact, he quickly regretted saying that. He expected Mazzio to grow angry, but instead he laughed a little and began:

    "Powerful? I suppose so. Powerful can be relative. Power is being able to wield strength appropriately. Tell me, Ferlinghetti, are you a religious man?"

    "I suppose so...I don't know...I mean..."

    "Well I believe in God. And you know what I adore the most about Christ? The Passion. I love going through the Stations of the Cross, because it's always a reminder of it. Just think, here was God in the flesh, being beaten and abused by low men. Do you know what could have happened? All it would have taken is one whip too many, one cat call too many, and it could have all ended there. Every single Roman soldier could have been sent to hell to eat his own dung. Every single Jew could have been crucified in his place. The entire world could have been obliterated in the bat of an eye, and started over again. God could have crushed us all like bugs, and he didn't. That is power."

    Mazzio now leaned over a little, peering at the architect with a touch of sinister nature in his eye as he continued:

    "Do you know why I get along so well with those in government? Do you know why royals and MP's alike respect me and let me do what I want to do within reason? It's because they know, if I didn't get my way, I could shut the country down...but I never do that. I could, of course. With one phone call right now, I could end everything. The trains would stay in the stations. The trucks would stay in the garages. The boats would stay in the harbors. In a single night, the Grand Duchy's economy as we know it would cease to exist. But I never do, and I never would. That is power."

    Mazzio looked away again, staring at the fire, smiling with no other touch of emotion, as if he had spoken casually about his family or some other topic. And some other topic Ferlinghetti quickly sought:

    "Are you worried about the attack?"

    "Oh, the explosion? Yes, that is most unfortunate. No, I'm not worried. The attackers, whoever they are, has made a grand mistake attacking the Folgore. They'll quickly learn the errors of their ways. And besides...I have the ability to take care of my own problems, if the Royal Army proves incompetent. I have connections, my friend. If I wanted to, I could buy northern Solaren. But I choose not to do so. For now, Merlino has given us business leaders northern Solaren as a play thing - a kind of whore to treat and handle as we please. And thus far, it's going very well for all of us. Until that changes, I won't stick my neck out any longer than need be."
     
  18. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    Rotterdam, Netherlands
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    Benko gambit


    Torrenze

    Ach du Scheisse. Immer wieder das gleiche Theater,” the soldier said when he saw them coming (Oh no, not that again). A group of about 10 people who yelled slogans against the dancehall the soldier was guarding with three others. It was closing time. The last guests were putting on their coats. There was one religious group who had chosen this moment of the night to protest against one of the dancehalls in Torrenze. Often those protest turned violent, and this soldier had met this group several times. “Jungs, steht auf, wir müssen wieder dran,” he said to his mates (Guys, get up. We have to work again). The soldiers got up and took their guns.

    “OK, where are we gonna go with our two ladies?” a jet fighter pilot asked his mate, a bomber pilot.
    “I know a nice place at the beach. Let’s go there,” the bomber pilot answered.
    “Fine,” the jet fighter pilot said.
    “Do you need a condom?” the bomber pilot asked.
    “Why? Meanwhile I slept with 500 women, including 100 here in Solaren, and I never made one of them pregnant,” the jet fighter pilot said.
    “But what if you get a venereal disease?” the bomber pilot asked.
    “Pah! That’s why we have these new pills,” the jet fighter pilot said.
    “Maybe, but I prefer a condom,” the bomber pilot said. “By the way, 500 women, 100 here in Solaren, how did you do that?”
    “Well, a soldier never knows when it gets him, so then it’s better to take all the fun that you can get. Cheers,” the jet fighter pilot said.
    The two pilots clinked their glasses and took the last gulps. Then they accompanied their ladies for this night to the wardrobe, helped them into their coats and put on their own coats.

    Alto!” one of the soldiers screamed when the protesters came too close according to him. Then he and his mates pointed their guns at the protesters.
    Che cosa vuoi, pagano Eiffellandese? Raccontarci che dobbiamo fare nel nostro paese, almeno tu sei un straniero? Magari un straniero empio? Ritorna al tuo proprio paese in vece di proteggere delle condotte sacrileghe,” one of the protesters said.
    Alto!” the soldier repeated and pointed his gun at the protester. The soldier knew enough Tiburan to understand what the protester just had said (What do you want, you pagan Eiffellandian? Tell us what to do in our own country? Even as a Godless stranger? Go back to your own country instead of protecting blasphemous deeds).
    Nunque fai il robusto con il tuo fucile. Nunque ti conduci valorosamente, ma quanto vali senza il tuo fucile? Lo so già. Niente. Sei un codardo impotente senza il tuo fucile,” the protester said (Now you’re acting sturdily with your gun. Now you’re behaving courageously, but what are you worth without your gun? I already know. Nothing. You’re a useless coward without your gun).
    Che cazzo dici?” somebody shouted in such a way that everybody halted. A man in the uniform of the Eiffellandian Air Force walked past the Eiffellandian soldiers. “I’ll fight with ten of you. Unarmed,” the jet fighter pilot shouted.
    Jo’anne, no, sei matto,” a woman said (Johann, no, you’re crazy).
    Schätzchen, l’onore dell’esercito Eiffellandese è in guoco. Un insulto come questo non può restare impunito,” the jet fighter pilot said (Darling, the honour of the Eiffellandian Armed Forces is at stake, Such an insult cannot remain unpunished). Then he took off his coat and made the movements with which a Taekwondo‑in pays honour to his opponent. When the protesters had decided who would fight this man, the jet fighter pilot did a step backwards with his left leg, bent his right knee about 45 degrees and moved his right fist into a position above his right knee. Then he awaited his opponents.
    Taekwon‑do is an Eastern martial art. Like all martial arts from Toyou and Yujin, it was developed with the situation of one man having to fight several opponents at the same time in mind. The Poomsae even mime the fight of one man against multiple opponents. Taekwon-do was introduced in Eiffelland by the Korean immigrants and became increasingly popular since then. Even the Eiffellandian armed forces currently teach their soldiers some of the basics of this martial art.
    The jet fighter pilot had obtained his fourth dan degree during his last furlough. This was not his first fight for real, but it was his first fight for real against so many opponents. It was tougher than he had expected. The fight took five minutes. The jet fighter pilot defeated all ten Solaris protesters, although not unharmed. He had several bruises and a nose bleed. After the fight, he bowed to show respect to his opponents. Then all the people who had just come out of the dance hall applauded for him. He turned around and grabbed his coat to put it back on.
    The protesters turned around and left the scene, mumbling something that nobody understood. Suddenly one of the soldiers saw how one of the protesters turned around and threw something. The protesters started to run. The soldier heard a scream and decided to go after the protesters. He screamed that the protesters should stop, fired a warning shot and then shot one of the protesters into the leg. The protester fell while the others kept on running. The soldier bent over to the protester and told him that he was under arrest.
    Then a shot was fired. The soldier and the protester looked at the direction where it came from and saw a man with an enormous beard wearing old, worn out and dirty clothes of which the original colours were unrecognisable. The soldier recognised him as the drunk waif who had walked by about an hour ago with a bottle of Miroslavan vodka in his hand and then fallen asleep in a narrow alleyway in the neighbourhood. But now the waif seemed anything but drunk and sleepy. He had a gun in his hand. The soldier was even more baffled when the waif started to talk.
    Ich glaube, wir haben dadrüben unseren kleinen Messerwerfer,” the waif said in fluent German (I think we have our little knife thrower there). The soldier turned around and saw a man lying on the ground. “Er war gerade dabei, Ihnen ein Messer in den Rücken zu werfen,” the waif said (He just wanted to throw a knife into your back). He walked to the knife-thrower, saw that the man was unconscious and took a walkie-talkie to describe the situation and ask for reinforcements. When the soldier heard the waif talking about a knife thrower, he immediately realised that it was a knife that the man had thrown. Given the scream, it had hit somebody.
    “Who are you, and why are you here?” the soldier asked.
    The waif thought for a moment. Then he answered: “Let’s put it this way. We both have the same employer: The Eiffellandian state. But now pay attention. What happened here, is a state matter. That man at your feet, I have to take him with me.”
    “But why? What’s going on here?” the soldier asked. At that moment, the air was filled with the sound of sirens. An ambulance speeded towards the dancehall, and a Mercedes with sirens turned into the street where they were standing and drove towards them.
    Wissen Sie, wer dieser Flieger ist, der die Protester herausgefordert und besiegt hat? Und nachher von diesem kleinen Messerwerfer hier ein Messer in den Rücken geworfen gekriegt hat? Das ist Prinz Johann,” the waif said (Do you know who this pilot is, who challenged and defeated the protesters? And got a knife thrown into his back by this little knife thrower here afterwards? That is Prince Johann).
     
  19. Socialist World Republic

    Socialist World Republic Well-Known Member

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    Capital:
    Deliverance
    Nick:
    Revy
    The Knight

    The room was mostly lit by candlelight, even though electricity was available in this part of Solaren. It was a matter of ambiente and would perhaps have striked visitors as more oddly, if this hadn't been a restaurant. Guino's was a relatively popular pizza joint in downtown Mazara, which, however, didn't mean too much. Most people were too poor to afford regular dinners outside of home. Additionally, food rationing applied to meals in restaurants as well. Most of the time, visitors to Guino's were Carentanian soldiers, especially the officers. Major Erjavec in particular had taken a liking to this place.

    Guino himself was a member of the Coalizione Nazionale Operaia, the National Labour Coalition, and he was very outspoken about his support for Solarens first free and largest labor union. On top of every table, for example, lay leaflets advocating the goal of Socialism and membership in the CNO to support it. The Major was passing the time by skimming through the pamphlets, waiting for his visitor to arrive.

    "Is the CNO for wage-laborers only?" it read in a row of questions, all answered in a fashion that suggested joining the union: "No! Even many landowners and shopkeepers suffer from the same exploitation as the working class. Big business and foreign companies will throw the Solaren people into poverty, if the future Solaren becomes a capitalist economy. The CNO fights against this expropriation by the capital. We have organizations for landowners and small independent shopkeepers as well, presenting a strong united front through cooperation instead of competition."

    At the sight of a young woman in the khaki-colored uniform of the Revolutionary Army the Major put the leaflet back on the table again. She was a Seargeant and headed straight for the Major. Erjavec had been waiting for her and rose from his chair to greet the woman. She saluted him.

    "Seargeant Novak at your service."

    "At ease," the Major said dismissively and offered his subordinate a firm handshake. "Please sit down and be my guest." She obliged and he returned to his seat.

    "Feel free to order whatever you want, Seargeant. As said, be my guest. And since we will be working together so closely, you're welcome to call me Marko, as long as no other soldiers are around." He leaned back, visibly relaxed by the casual athmosphere and waved Guino, the storeowner, over to order food. "May I ask for your first name? Only if you're comfortable with my less authoritarian approach, of course. I'm sure it may take you some time to get used to how we operate in Intelligence."

    "Of course, I'm Lisa. Seargeant Lisa Novak."

    "Lisa, do you know what's the difference between Solaren, Eiffelland, Potenza and Carentania?" He smiled deviously as he said that. Lisa shook her head. The Major continued to explain: "We know how to make Pizza. The Potenzans know how to make Pizza. The Solaren know how to make Pizza. The Eiffelländer don't. Carentanian historians may rant about slavic invasions and the medieval migrations all they want, it's the land that shapes a people and Haemia is right in what they call the Pizza-belt for a reason. Eiffelland is Germanic. In the long run, we will always have a closer, deeper connection to the Solaren people than the Eiffelländer ever could, simply because of this dish."

    "Albeit," he laughed a little while they both placed orders, "They put the cheese below the vegetables over here."

    "Just like my mother did," Seargeant Lisa Novak interrupted the Majors story. "And she's from Zidani, about as Carentanian as you can get."

    "Maybe our people are even more alike then than I thought, at least in regards to cuisine," the Major said, still visibly entertained by his anecdote. "But let's talk about your job. You're probably not aware how long I had bothered my superiors for a secretary and I'm really glad to finally have your support here. Since you'll be working closely with me, I will introduce you to all our operations right away - you'll have access to confidential information anyways and I feel there is more damage to be done by misunderstandings if you miss some details, rather than by introducing you to state secrets. You're deemed reliable, else you wouldn't have been assigned to RAI.

    Our task here is twofold. Firstly, we have to curb reactionary violence, supply our units on the ground with valuable information about rebels and threats stemming from the population. Secondly, we have to do whatever is necessary to ensure the future of Solaren is one that is amicable to the Carentanian people and to support the success of social revolution within these lands. To that end, we have spread agents throughout the Solaren country involved with various political factions and we will utilize their abilities to either strengthen or weaken the influence of certain groups, so that the outcome of the first elections will be in our favour."

    Seargeant Novak interrupted him, slight unease in her voice: "Are you sure you want to talk about these things in public?"

    "Oh, don't worry," Major Erjavec dismissed her doubts, pointing, one after another, to the three other men in the room. "Over there, the people in the work-overalls that's Seargeant Mlakar and Captain Vidmar, both Revolutionary Army Intelligence like us, here to guard me. The man in the suit in the right-hand corner is RAI as well, Lieutenant Potočnik. He's here for his own entertainment, though."

    "Now, where was I?" The Major contemplated for a few seconds, before proceeding: "One of your first tasks will to help me organize the removal of Count Stefano di Perugia and, in the process, weaken the influence of the Social-Liberals. If we can make it seem like the conservatives were involved his an assassination, we additionally gain the necessary pretext to act against the Neo-Urbanites and remove them from the elections. The murder of a highly influental political leader may also break the stalemate in the Solaren National Congress. All in all, if we pull this stunt succesfully, we'll have a solution to many problems that currently plague our efforts in this country. The entire operation is condoned by the higher-ups in the Commissariates and High Command."

    "Wow," the Seargeant said, visibly taken aback. "I had expected something less...dramatic. Still, won't this actually help the Social-Liberals and make them more popular by gving them a martyr for their cause?"

    "That is a very good question and a very valid objection," the Major said, again grinning diabolically. "Unless, of course, we ruin his good name beforehand."

    He took the suitcase that had been standing right next to his chair unconspiciously the entire time. Erjavec opened it and took out a folder, a large "classified" stamp on its top like with most of his documents.

    "Your very first job working for me is to get this to our contact in Torrence, name and adress are specified on the first page. No one else is to see the contents on the way to him. And be careful, our colleagues back home had to work very hard to make these pictures seem realistic."
     
  20. Eiffelland

    Eiffelland Well-Known Member

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    Queen’s Indian Defence


    Perugia

    In a dictatorship, promotions are not only based on people’s merits, but also, and maybe even primarily, on people’s loyalty to the dictator or the ideology where the dictatorship is based on. Therefore, the best way to be successful in your career is to show that you are more loyal than the others. That can be done by showing more loyalty than the others, but also by questioning the loyalty of the others. Especially the loyalty of the other candidates for the higher position. Gossip has always been part of life in the higher circles of dictatorships, be it absolute monarchies, communist dictatorships or mehzist dictatorships. Even in a country like Carentania, where the ideology plays such an important role that nobody can make a career without showing to be loyal to the ideology. Gossip and dirty tricks. Gossip to question one’s ideology, dirty tricks to fabricate “proof” of someone’s disloyalty.
    That was one of the reasons why Count Stefano di Perugia stayed out of politics in the old regime. He had always sticked to his lands. And agricultural science. Other landowners were involved in governing the country when they did not have to pay attention to their lands. Di Perugia did not. He kept his knowledge on agriculture up‑to‑date, tried to improve the techniques he had inherited from his father and those he read in magazines on agricultural science, and sometimes invented new agricultural techniques himself. He had never dared to publish them. He wanted to remain low‑profile in the days of the old regime. He had already seen how even people who were extremely loyal to the regime disappeared from on day to another, because they became the victim of gossip or a dirty trick instigated by someone who aspired for the same higher position as they did, or simply wanted more influence.
    And so Di Perugia kept his inventions for himself, and managed to considerably increase his harvests without exhausting his lands. Not even his family knew how much extra money he had earned because of that, although his son would get a grasp of that from now on. Every wealthy Solaris had foreign bank accounts, with considerable sums of money. They were officially all loyal followers of the Solaris Catholic Church, but unofficially they knew that the economy was doomed under Pope Urban. So they put large parts of their money on foreign bank accounts to make sure that they did not loose their value. Di Perugia did so as well, and considerably more than other landowners did.
    It was not fear for death that kept Di Perugia out of politics during the old regime. It was the fact that it would be useless if he would die as an opponent of the regime in those days. Now the situation was different. Now he had the chance to build a new Solaren. Of course now it would also be safe to publish his inventions. And his son would base his MSc. thesis on Di Perugia’s last invention: A new irrigation technique.

    But he hadn’t forgotten that discussion he had had with that Eiffellandian diplomat, Claus Schiel.

    That was a couple of months ago. Schiel had told him how the Eiffellandians would fund the PSL. But he had also told something else.
    “Don’t think that the time of dirty tricks disappeared with the old regime. Old habits die slowly, and sometimes they never die. Furthermore, the Carentanians are masters in dirty tricks. I can’t imagine what they will think of to discredit you, but you can be sure that they will either have or think up something to majorly discredit you. And that will take you out of the race until your reputation has been cleared. Make sure that someone capable can replace you in that case. Surround you with capable people anyway, and give them the opportunity to make themselves known as well,” Schiel had said.
    Di Perugia could not know at all with what he could be discredited anyway. The only person he had ever slept with was his wife. Everything he had done in his life could be justified. But Schiel insisted: “There are also other reasons why you could fall out of the race. First of all, the country is not so stable that we can rule out an assault. Furthermore, despite the fact that you are healthy and not really old, you can become ill. You have to make sure that the PSL has a plan B.”

    Di Perugia had followed Schiel’s advice. He had made sure that the PSL would not collapse if he would disappear from the stage. He gave room to other people in the PSL to make themselves known, he created room for discussions between all party members, he made sure that the promotion of the PSL was not only focused on himself but also on the ideas of the party.
    Unfortunately, it was more difficult than expected to make the message more important than the person. The PSL would certainly take a blow if Di Perugia would become the victim of a scandal. So if that would happen, he would have to be quick with clearing his reputation. He had already made sure that his lawyers had prepared everything to start a libel suit when needed.
     

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