Réti System Guards left and right saluted, as Colonel Dvorak was brought onto the compound in a jeep. The security at the base was tight and even though his face - prominently featuring a number of scars he'd received during the battle for Mazara - was well known amongst the personnel, he still had to identify himself to the security check and even more so had to do his driver. Dvorak wasn't irritated in the slightest. It was on his own orders that soldiers on guard duty at the Caprarian Air Base would have to ask for identification, even if they believed to recognize a high-ranking officer. More than them, Dvorak knew how important security was to the ongoing operations and what advantages could be jeopardized by sloppy behaviour. It wasn't just the threat of a terrorist attack that caused him to be so cautious, it was also the fear of espionage. Neither Eiffelland nor any other power should get a view of what Carentania was hiding at Capraria. The Carentanian base on the island was actually two bases, seperated to provide additional security. It was generally assumed by High Command that, the less people have access to the airfields, the less information could evade their control. On the other side of the fence were the barracks of the occupational forces, the base of the groundtroopers. Dvoraks realm was the air base, Revolutionary Navy Aviation, to be precise. That alone hinted to the fact that the Carentanian air bases weren't just intended to provide air support to the mainland. Navy aviation wasn't exactly specialized on that task. They did have a few squadrons of Kavkas at Capraria and they could fly strafing runs at the mainland alright, but it was an open secret that the bases on both Capraria and Iscla also served to intercept Eiffelländer or Nichtsteiner attempts to gain air superiority over Solaren should it come to war. But that wasn't the main reason for the secrecy. Anyone could guess that Carentania was using these strategic locations to its own advantage and the Workers' Republic wasn't exactly aiming for dominance over all of Solaren. Carentania was content with the positions it already held and the reason for this was hidding in the hangars Colonel Dvorak had come to inspect. "Isn't she beautiful?" a technician saluted the commander with a wide grin. Despite having established a firm command chain when reforming its military in the late 1920s, ending the unsuccesful concept of a militia-army, Carentanian armed forces were often less formal and strict than other militaries. Adressing a superior officer like this may have been unusual, but it wasn't reprimanded by the Colonel. "Indeed a masterwork of technology," the Colonel replied casually, starting to slowly walk around the airplane. There were others like it in the hangar, covered by tarps. This one was only visible because the technician had been working on making it operational. The machines had just arrived on the base and been unloaded and some things had been loosened or removed for the transport to Capraria. The planes were MP-1, a new class of tactical bombers that had just recently entered mass-production after they had been secretely tested against the Fleet of Yujin - with great success. Armed with anti-ship dive bombs, these planes promised a revolutionary leap in naval warfare, rendering convential anti-air defenses aboard surface vessels null and void. Carentania had worked long to make this concept of a "naval interceptor plane" operational and now they had begun positioning squadrons of these bombers in bases along the Long Sea. "You have one week to have all planes ready," the Dvorak reminded the technician. "We want them operational for a manouver." He turned around towards his aide: "I want to talk with the pilots. They need to prepare themselves. I don't want us to be the weak link just because we've just been set up on Capraria." Carentania had all it wanted in Solaren because now it controlled the Long Sea. Four Knights Game "...I'll connect you, Sir." The woman on the other end of the phoneline had a sweet, soothening voice and if it weren't for the fact he was a married man, Lucas Molino would have almost been tempted to ask her for her name before she established the phone line to Torrence. Antonio would probably call me out on this, Lucas thought to himself. He had always thought of his friend Lucas as a womanizer. But Antonelli wasn't here and that was probably for the best. "Gazetta di Torrenza, chief editor Zeoli speaking." "Cesare, this is Lucas speaking. Lucas Molino." "May the Lord strike me down," Cesare Zeoli laughed. A loud, deep, hearty laughter of a man his friends and family knew as an amicable, slightly obese fellow who loved the finer things in life perhaps a little too much. It was a strong contrast to the picture of a grim and embittered fanatic, which the articles his newspaper published would suggest. "What gives me the joy of a cheapskate like you paying for a phonecall to speak to me?" "Nice to hear of you as well. It's been far too long, but the war... you know, it changed so much and with the occupation, it's been so hard to just drive to Torrence and visit you." Cesare moaned audibly, his mood having dropped by a few points just now. "But don't worry, once the Eiffelländer and Carentanians are gone, I'll visit you. We'll eat at that little Bistro at Gabriels Hill, where you met your wife." "It closed down. The Eiffelländer arrested its owner. He had attacked one of their soldiers." "Bastards. They're ruining our country." Lucas formed an obscene gesture with his right hand, damning the foreign soldiers even though Cesare couldn't see him doing that. Then, when having calmed himself a little, he spoke up again: "I admit, I didn't just call you to dwell in old memories, but also not to just vent some anger at the situation in our country right now. I called you, because I am working to change it, to win a future for Solaren." "Now you got me interested." "Do you remember Antonio Antonelli? Colonel Antonelli? I believe he's just the man we need." "That traitor?" Cesare was shocked, but Lucas continued, not irritated by his friends reaction the slightest. "He surrendered to the Carentanians, yes. But not to betray our people. He's still a patriot, he still believes in a Solaren on moral principles. Antonio refused to sacrifice his men for Urban, yes, a tough decision, but one that could prove useful." "What are you ratting on about," Cesare sounded sceptical. "What the foreigners fear the most is the return of Urbanites to power. That is why they are giving any kind of national Solaren party, any kind of moralic political stance such a hard time. Both Eiffelland and Carentania would have loved to control Solaren on their own, but they can't - so they settle for just preventing each other from claiming Solaren, while suppressing anything they perceive as return of Pope Urban. But that's what makes Antonio so interesting. They trust him. They don't believe him an Urbanite, because he surrendered, because Pope Urban wanted his death. We can use him to build a movement that unifies all honest and proud Solareners, that achieves independence for our country yet again, while letting both Carentanians and Eiffelländer think they have won, denying each other rule over this country." "Interesting, but the Gazetta di Torrenza is a supporter of the Faith Alliance. Not my choice, I admit it, but our owners demanded it." "All I ask you is to run an editorial, a commentary, painting Il Colonel in a good light, portraying his surrender as a gesture of fatherly care for his men." "I don't know," Cesare said, not yet convinced. "The Bishop won't like it and Jacobo even less." "Well," Lucas bargained, "do you remember the favor you owe me?"