The Engellachian Shuffle

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Fiannia, May 18, 2019.

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  1. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Lodge of Legislators in Vesper,
    Capital of the West Engell Republic

    “That’s it, the nay’s have it, the motion for Midterm Elections has FAILED!” a Republican gavel holder declared before slamming that gavel angrily over and over until the wooden handle cracked. Supporters of the bill were either groaning in lament or rising to their feet to begin shouting at the stone faced Republicans, who remained sitting in their unofficial uniforms of black suit and tie. Metropolitan Police however reached them first, shoving the mostly old Republican men down harshly to the ground to be arrested.

    Madame Veronica North, the socialist opposition leader, simply made a run for the exit towards the press, where Vesper 24 reporter Nicole Furroughs stood front and center as North had instructed. “This is the second time the southerners have interfered in our democratic process,” Veronica calmly relayed, “Prime Minister Edwin Grafton is a Cusso-SoCR Stooge who intends to prostitute Engellachia to the South!”.

    Questions and reactions from other reporters began to ring out, but Veronica pressed on: “And with the help of the Vesper Metropolitan Attorneys Office, Vesper Police will be pursuing a warrant for the Prime Minister’s arrest to be executed the moment his plane returns from his traitorous trip to the South!”

    Then, as precisely bribed to do so, the Metro Police Chief arrived in scene of the camera to tower over her and the press. “Mister Grafton has waged war upon our proud city -” he barked through a thick North Thaumantic accent, “If or when he attempts to re-enter the city he will, we hope, be brought in to custody peacefully!”

    Questions rang out for Madame North, but she was already eyeing an exit. “I am heading east to Sylvania immediately, if Mister Grafton thinks he can go south to Welmonton and sell our Republic out to the Engellexian Pound, he has another thing coming - the might of Engellachians and Sylvanians standing together in social democratic solidarity!”

    With police chaperones in tow the politician practically ran to the door containing private hallways. Once inside she was embraced and kissed deeply with the tongue of Felix Ilchester, her primary co-conspirator in this and the previous year’s catastrophe.

    “Grafton ought not leave Beautancus alive, but if Steinvasser can’t deliver him the final round of poison, I have Heydendahl’s word he will deliver him to us personally!” Ilchester said with villainous exuberance. Together they walked hand in hand, laughing and cursing the Republicans, Cussians, and praising Grafton’s stupidity of deploying the military across the world for some ridiculous exercises while they plotted their takeover with the metropolitan police.

    Far away on the other side of the continent, Grafton was coughing out a lung in the presence of the leaders of Beautancus, SoCR, and Clarenthia while Ilchester and North were crossing the border of Vesper and Sylvania in a luxury SUV.
     
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  2. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Greenhouse at the Manor of Hubert Hogan,
    Bearskull Junction, State of Engellachia - WER


    "You want to whip and tongue that sucker and make a scion," Hubert Hogan whispered to three of his Grandchildren, a small knife in hand, "Then look here, I merge the tongues - see how they fit together like a puzzle now? That was branches from two different trees, that I tie together now, and I've grafted the green maple with the red; what do you youngsters think of that?" the mining oligarch asked.

    "Doesn't it hurt the tree, Opa?" the youngest at 4 years old , Henry answered with a question. The others, a boy and girl of 7 and 10 respectively, crossed their arms. "What do you think Hube?" Hogan asked his seven year old namesake. "Who cares?" the younger Hubert replied. "And what do you think Helen?" the Grandfather said, handing the knife over to the youngest boy.

    "Father says growing is pain, and that change can be difficult . ." Helen answered, deeply staring at the grafted tree branches. That moment a secretary nearly as ancient as Hogan busted through into the greenhouse, "Apologies sir, I know I'm never to interrupt family time, but it's the Doctor - you know the one. He demands to speak with you immediately!"

    The lady secretary pressed a home phone into Hubert's gloved hands, mouthing apologies in silence. Hogan brought the phone to his ear and immediately heard the whizzes, clicks, and rings of levels upon levels of the Cussian wizard's espionage machinery. No one else in the world, not the children or the secretary, could hear what Doctor Cypreau was saying to Hubert. "I see, I see, Doc" Hubert Replied, "Aren't you getting awfully tired of these politicians and their daytime soap operas? Hell, just a minute Doc."

    Hubert pulled the phone from his mouth and motioned to his secretary, "Who wants lunch? Mrs. Soboleva can treat y'all and teach you how to dress Zakuski, huh?". The two boys cheered, meat and bread - just the idea, had their mouths watering after a morning of being ordered around by their Grandfather. Helen stood still, staring yet deeper at her Grandfather now, "I'm not hungry, Opa. Are you unwell, or why are you talking to a doctor?"

    "Why Lady Helen, he thinks Engellachia is sick. Take the phone and tell him what you think!" Hubert encouraged. Helen, a blonde string bean of a child, stepped forward as her brothers ran away. "Hello? Mister Doctor? Yes, Engellachia is sick, oh so sick truly. But I met a man I want to marry last week who Grandpa says can make us better . . Oh, you don't know who that is? Mister Heiden, or is it Heyden?"

    Hubert ruffled the girls hair and pointed her to Mrs. Soboleva who was holding the door open for her; she nodded and ran to join her siblings. Hubert Hogan raised the phone back to his own ear and mouth, "I'm passing the puck, or I guess for you folks: I'm throwing the ball to Heydendahl."

    "Uh-huh, well - sometimes you have to lose some money to gain some money. I've lost a lot of money, Doc, but I'm not going to lose it all. I'm putting my money behind this kid with the Private Military Companies, I'm telling you it's providence and pure Thaumanticana - Rydell in the flesh for Engellachians. Attach all of your bugs and safeguards to him, I don't care, just don't get in his way - he can fix this little problem with the politicians yet!"
     
  3. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    On Broken Roads North,
    Upper Engellachia Near Pohjanma


    "Sonn'a bitch, Jaylon!" Clint screamed before skidding out and to the side off poorly paved roads. Their truck failed and kept from mounting the road again, and troops behind them advanced to lay down planks or offer advice on how to lay the difficult path north between Engellachia and Pohjanmaa. Orders months late instructed them to cover the melting paths north to the border, hoping to save energy and supply expenditures as the artillery division shuttered irresponsibly along a dangerous frontier.
     
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  4. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Disadvantaged at Sea,

    Bad to worse then infighting and disarray was the daily grind of a West Engell, Combined Armed Forces service member. That there was never enough food for all was not on purpose, it was off budget, that their ships lagged and lurched behind their Thaumantic allies wasn't by design - it was simply reality.

    Marsha McCormick sucked on a spot of rye bread as Cussian Jets flew by, bitter and sweet. Spitting out a chunk of sand or rock in the bread, Marsha crossed her arms and leaned back in her beleaguered Temptest fighter jet.

    "Wolverine?" she heard suddenly over the radio. "Wolverine-1, communications online, we have orders to fly Freedom of Navigation into Justosian Naval perimeters!"
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  5. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Fort Klarawood, Vestefjor State

    *beepbeep*

    Hank Aldwyth immediately regretted making his mark on that digital non-disclosure agreement, a hundred page tome purposely packed on to some iBone Smartpad with a hundred men and women behind him complaining that he did not need to “make a career” out of signing his bloody name. The West Engell Combined Forces soldiers he shared the damp smelling room with each wore different eras of uniforms or personally bought equipment, with holes in caps and jackets from moths or “AWOL Soldiers” as some liked to joke.

    Foreign allies of the Thaumantic Domain, particularly Beautancus, were infusing billions into the Engellachian military to finally bring them into the 20th or in the case of a few select Thaumantic Guard Brigades the 21st Century or beyond. The potential of new uniforms, rifles, and tech were exciting enough for any young soldier - but the greatest selling point for all of the re-enlistments taking place was the salary of real Engellexic Pounds instead of the worthless inflated Engellmarks that could barely buy a square of rye bread on a days work. If only they could pass a new Vocational Aptitude Battery at a level greater than a special needs case, and achieve a much higher than average score on the traditional physical battery they would have the opportunity to be paid and invest in their future months earlier than the rest of the poor directionless country.

    “What’s the catch, eh?” an Upper Engellachian named Corporal Roberts dared to ask aloud. A grisly Sergeant Major that resembled a bear man came barreling over to get in the Corporal’s face: “The catch is that once feckless volunteers and mercenaries like the lot of you join my Guard, the only way out is through exemplary completion of your contract or through the damn cremation chimney! Now sign your life over or bugger off back to your trailer park!”

    Roberts’ eyes widened for a moment before shrinking down into the emotionless state of a Combined Armed Force robot before scribbling his name into the device and getting back in line as if the exchange had never happened at all. Hank was now regretting his decision for the second time before being punched in the back from behind to move forward to fitting rooms containing the prized uniforms that they excitedly packed into new ruck sack systems and duffle bags. Outside new helicopters were flying overhead, and light armored vehicles from South Engell factories were humming about without screeches or clouds of exhaust as they were accustomed to. Some were letting out cheers, praising Orton and Heydendahl, while a few were trying and failing to cover their tears.

    Hank however still felt a deep trepidation as a the strangest sight yet came running by in formation: 30 or more Loagoans singing cadence in their native tongue while clapping or beating their chests. Around the corner and in the barracks he was assigned to he encountered a female lieutenant flying a miniature drone indoors with a crowd he would join gathered around with mouths agape.

    “The hell is that for?” Hank asked in shock. The Lieutenant laughed and threw him the remote, “This is just for shits and giggles, but imagine a few thousand of these things strapped with C4 buzzing towards Pohjanmaa! Or the Two Kingdoms! What a rush, eh?” She said. Hank caught the remote and proceeded to test its capabilities, fun indeed, but was she serious?

    “We are all going to be in the Lyndon Palmer UAV Combat Brigade. You must have tested well Aldwyth. We won’t all be flying drones, heck most fly themselves or the Southerners will take remote control, most of us will be training on communications warfare systems - real high speed shit, so I hope we can trust you?”

    Everyone was looking at Hank now but he was still fixated on maneuvering the drone, “Huh? Oh, of course . . I’m the modern Thaumantican as much as any of you!” Hank defended.

    “That sounds like something a mole would say, Aldwyth . .” The lieutenant replied emptily in the CAF way, but then in a moment she was bursting in to laughter again and punching him in the shoulder, almost knocking the remote to the ground. “What a rush, eh?” Hank sighed.
     
  6. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Eisgarten, Engellachia

    Summer would soon grimly abandon the West Engell Republic, stretched out from the heights of Scania cresting the Tavastian Sea, down to the frigid northern corridor where the Implarian and Thaumantic oceans meet. Military preparations for a probing operation against Post-Delegationist Pohjanmaa would once again elude those Engellachians diabolically committed to Republican supremacy in the North.

    Dictator Heydendahl, who lacked this fixation and many other expansionist desires, settled into a large comfortable chair in his personal study where much of the Occidents historical works stacked tightly beside an ever growing library of Old World histories. To his right on a small table rested tens or nearly a hundred paper dispatches were resting beside a hot coffee which he tested the temperature of carefully.

    Outside the confines of his home he could subject himself to the manifold technologies of his Mercenary Company and the Thaumantic Domain, but his knowledge of their misuse and dangers to himself and his children inspired a policy of minimal permission of modern communications technology.

    The first dispatch hailed from Vesper reading: “MBS-Socialist Party and Pioneer Party form ‘Engell Defense League’, appoint Forrester County Sheriff ‘Alton Franklin Pike’ to lead drive demanding annual elections take place as scheduled in December.”

    Heydendahl raised his eyebrows at the name, this was one of the Sheriffs who claimed he would arrest the Dictator if he stepped foot in his County. The union of these wayward parties was not a shock however, the writing was on the wall that a coalition would form to oppose the Neo-Republican Movement that had exploited the power vacuum left by Felix Ilchester, a Pioneer man with a balance of power agreement with the Socialists.

    Karl would not pursue a campaign for President, the new role would be even more symbolic and toothless than in the previous sham government. Through public and private machinations Heydendahl had solidified a seat at an exclusive table of oligarchs who rarely stepped into the public eye unless only to play at some diversionary game with people’s lives. He was playing that public game now, an exhilarating rush of power over several million people and a nation at the spearhead of starting a world war.

    The other oligarchs would advise he stand down from the dictatorship, the safest choice for Karl and his family. Thaumantic Alignment has been accelerated by the war effort as a mandate to keep troops well paid and secure beside Domain allies, whereas in peacetime the currency switch and military finagling should have taken years of paper pushing and brow beating. The powers availed by war empowered Karl, his dictatorship, and the Thaumantic Alignment Committee the coverage to begin laying the foundations for permanent rule.

    Karl chucked the dispatch into the bin, whispering the name “Alton Pike” before taking up the next blurb: “TCS has lost contact with Agent SR-GU-19. Permission to terminate requested.”

    Surprised he spit the Himyarica brew coffee out of his mouth on to the dispatch. “Sheryl-Lynn Rydell, Gunnland, 2019?” he confirmed aloud to himself after deductive reasoning. This Thaumantic Civil Service advised he meet with her, but never explained she was one of their robotic agents. Karl promised himself then never to allow his children to go to an Engellachian University, nor Thaumantic, nor anywhere he could guess the TCS was trapping recruits for their robotic reprogramming operation. Wiping the liquid off as best he could, Karl placed that dispatch off to dry. He would not sign off on such an order, for Ms. Rydell or MacLeod perhaps by now was still a ticket out of the Domain should the Heydendahl’s lose favor among Engellkind.

    The third and final of the immediate priority dispatches was from the war itself: “General Kentigern Hayes to conduct full assault on Burgundian center, claims can achieve certain victory despite equipment and number disadvantage. Complains lack of First Republic Forces, and that Treatyfolk will ‘fumble the Oyster’.”

    Karl agreed with a nod, he had invested his own safety in meeting with officials in Ouistreham face to face - lending credence to the West Engell Republic’s military, economic, and political commitments to the city of Ouistreham. NoCR and SoCR were AWOL quite as Hayes bemoaned, but mum was still the word on why Underwood and her northern counterpart had not levied and sallied forth. His response would be to activate TCS Agent ‘CB-NE-19’, one Karl had actual knowledge of from its initiation.

    Much depended on this scrambled egg brained agent’s success, if it could rally the First Republic to the war and deliver the Domain a victory then Karl could consider crushing the Engell Defense League before the scheduled elections and cling on to power. If the war was lost then it and the other agents might fall into EDL hands, or worse to the hands of the Cussians. Karl had inherited Sheryl-Lynn apparently, an intriguing placement from his predecessor Felix Ilchester. “Engellachian Royalty at the center of the Tiburan Empire, why she could be Duchess of the Trailer Parks!” Karl joked to himself with a smirk.

    Ilchester had created so many rabbit holes to venture down and lose ones self in, another was the cyber warfare department that was just beyond his purview at the moment. These technicians boasted that they could create stay behind networks in the event of invasion or collapse, and Heydendahl had done a mix of the two to take the mantle of power. His smile left him then, he would need to flex what control he had of the TCS to determine the strength of Ilchester’s stay behind network.

    “Perhaps Alton Pike is the vector?” Karl mused before shaking himself back to his study and standing to move and file his replies.
     
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  7. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Midnight Streets of Vesper

    Neither tall nor short, fat or skinny, Thaumantic Civil Service agent Melvin Roach slipped out of the back door or ‘Bye-Bye-Baldwin’s’, an extravagant den of the Vesper nightlife that displayed in song, dance, and private room everything Westernesse has to offer.

    Sticking to his routine the agent methodically removed a pipe from his pouch and struck a match to light a rare but precious blend of indoor hydroponically grown marijuana from here in the northern city if extra legal vice. With his brown hair and shabby suit, Roach crept about the active midnight streets until reaching a trolly headed for the port district.

    Instead of entering the small cab, where pairs of young lovers bounced off of each other with every bump without stopping to apologize, Agent Roach clung to the outside to enjoy the still yet unfrozen open air while the season still permitted. Per usual, none took notice when he jumped with a quiet trot off of the trolley to the next round of his nightly check-ins.

    “I got one sir, an invitation!” A young dockworker declared to Roach. “Does that mean I’m off the hook?”

    “Nope.” Roach dismissed easily before taking the invitation with one hand and patting the boy on the head with the other, “Perhaps I may visit you less, or never again at all, but you’re not off the hook from us until you’re ashes.”

    With this invitation to a suburban shooting club on the next day tucked away in his breast pocket, Roach turned away from the young man who had personally discovered the human trafficking ring in Vesper last year and had nearly brought the continent to war. His commodity was notoriety among radical circles for being at the center of the conflict if only by accident, and to the Civil Service as a blabbermouth worth squeezing for contacts he reluctantly made with Socialists and the Ultra-Kinist scene.

    After another two rounds with wayward souls, Melvin Roach bunked down in a flop house still taking Engellmarks under the table illegally despite the Vesper wide mandate to convert all marks into Thaumantic Pounds. An uneventful and dreamless sleep welcomed him in for six hours until the house manager began clanging on two pans to wake up or incur further rents.

    Beside men and women of varying classes that had crashed beside him for a few hours after an evening and early morning of weekend amusement, Roach tended to shaving his face with an over priced one time use razor sold by the flop house owner, and treated himself further to a breakfast sandwich consisting of days old fish and egg.

    A twenty minute stroll and a 5 Thaumantican Pounds offered up to a darling young lady at the train station placed Melvin on board and in the North West “Holiday Line” with a final destination of Blossom Lake, an aptly named vacation getaway for Vesplander and until recently Sylvanian alike.

    The season for summer celebration was coming to an end, meaning lodging and diversion prices were in decline as the town made its regular transition into winter fishing, sport, and indoor entertainment. Excited families of the lower classes took full advantage, and packed the train with Roach in matching shirts bearing the name and district of their Mutual Benefit Societies that yielded yet a further discount for booking in large groups. Agent Roach sat next to one such group that bothered him only once to ask who he was and what he was planning to do at Blossom Lake.

    “BINGO with my dear widow mother.” Melvin had replied dryly, to which he was offered condolences and luck in the game before rightfully ignored for the remainder of the trip.

    At Blossom Lake proper less public transportation availed near anonymous group travel, but Melvin was not about to sit in a taxi with a prying driver who might remember how he looked and where and when he went. Instead Melvin rented a bicycle a block away from the train station and pedaled up and down hills beside other tourists until reaching the outskirts of town where the cracks of gunfire could be heard long before he could see the grand log wood lodge.

    Two broad shouldered guards, one Melvin recognized as a retired Vesper Metro cop, stood in his way to the entrance. Melvin produced the ticket the young longshoreman had given him, which the retired cop took without wracking his feeble brain where he recognized the unremarkable ticket holder from, permitting entry with a token “brunch will be served soon” before slamming the door behind Melvin once within.

    The heads and bodies of hundreds of animals lined the floors, walls, and ceilings with birds of prey. Generations of faithful taxidermists contributed to an animal kingdom that even Melvin Roach had to stop for a moment to observe in amazement before being shaken back to humanity by the deep booming voice of Sheriff Alton Franklin Pike, a shotgun folded back and over his shoulder walking in with other serious looking Engellachians in tactical clothing or traditional shooting garb.

    Melvin sat down in a row of seats next to several other eavesdropping and gawking men and women excited to hear the controversial Sheriff speak. Pike handed his shotgun off to a compatriot in tactical gear, he wore the Heydendahl Defense Solutions logo on his polo shirt but Melvin suspected Heydendahl was no more in the know of this gathering than the general public. Pike then stared out at the crowd, passing easily over Agent Roach without a second look, before accepting a round of Engellachian Hunters Liqueur and toasting to “All Engellkind”. Others joined in while Melvin, a true Thaumantican, stood with the rest but said nothing before returning to his chair with arms crossed, a speech he guessed was soon in store.
     
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  8. Fiannia

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    Alton Pike gave the nod for a technician to flip a switch that would kill all incoming and outgoing signals in and just outside the Shooting Club Lodge, a small yet highly illegal precaution that would be followed up with personnel being screened upon exiting for recording devices meticulously.

    “Sons and Daughters of Engellkind are lying dead in the mud, rendered to unrecognizable ground meat by shrapnel, all while being led by mixed company of Otherkind!” Alton Pike began by tearing apart an invisible shred of raw meat before making an ‘O’ with his left hand to designate the Other, all non-Engell’s.

    “Karl Heydendahl, a descendant of kiniving Ostmarkian Mercenaries who betrayed us time and time again going back to the revolutionary siege of Charleroi, down to the righteous Great War where his Grandfather surrendered Eisgarten to the Pohjan for coin and title!”

    The intimate audience seated and standing before Pike booed, sneered, and cursed the Heydendahl name. Alton shook his head as if in disbelief, “And worse are these indignities I am told from my brothers in arms, that the Cussian Imperialist amalgamation is bursting at the seams with red skinned savages, Azraqi slavers, and whole platoons of indistinguishable mutts that our First Republic progenitors call ‘Thaumanticans’ in order to dress up and ease our concerns before the imminent extinction of Engellkind!”

    Alton Pike was turning red now, with his associates on either side grinding their teeth and squeezing their rifles or shotguns tighter with every word uttered. “WE NEED TO BRING OUR HUSBANDS AND WIVES HOME!” a woman from the crowd shouted, a welcome interruption for many who clapped or voiced their concurrence.

    “Ma’am, you do not know it, but you are more correct than you even know!” Alton offered her and the crowd, who grew silent to follow what exactly he meant. “Our dear brother General Hilliard is training a Division of Elite Troops at Fort Klarawood to join the war at home, our true home, on the Ancestral Islands of Engellex!”

    Some clapped him on, but most hung on to his next words closely, this room of Ultra-Kinist radicals with either lineage or kin like fascination with the history and ideas of the early twentieth century civil war between all Engellkind. Despite their joy to share company with fellow Kinists, their skepticism withdrew them to memories of massacre of the last such machination to make common cause with Old Engellex in the North, and common enemy with their Southern cousins.

    “But before our warriors in blue and grey, blood bearers of the wolf within, can make their strike - it is up to us to win back the government of this land from the Other, and labor just as hard to wake the wolf within the island of the progenitors!” Alton Pike said, growling through his final words before marching through the standing party to shake hands and offer answers to questions and offers of service.

    “When must we kill him?” a former legislator asked, without specifying who he meant. Pike knew it was the Dictator, Karl Heydendahl, “His image is already dead and broken,” Alton soothed, “an international slave trader, failed diplomat, and alas - a self proclaimed dictator - he will have the sense to walk away, true to his form as a mercenary. No one is paying him enough to stay that is worth the trouble of a bullet or knife to the back.”

    “This DET, division of elite troops, have you seen them yourself?” a retired officer then asked. “We all will soon enough, General Hilliard will be inviting us to observe a field exercise on their path to proving their worth for the League of Tyrants!” Pike blasted with great confidence, “I need you though brother, I need all of you to follow my leadership voluntarily so that we do not let the crescendo of conflict and crisis go to waste!”

    Pike then passed over a man in a shabby suit, his arms crossed and appearing disinterested with the whole charade, but was once more enthralled to see the woman who had shouted about bringing the warriors home. “What is your name, ma’am?” Alton asked the woman with a child no taller than her hips.

    “Mrs. Whitesmith, well -“ she answered before trailing off into tears, “Mr. Whitesmith is here in my arms,” she said quite hysterically with a military grade urn of ashes held close to the heart, “if he could rise from the ashes he would fight for Engellkind again and again and again.”

    “But my dear Mrs. Whitesmith, he has!” Pike reminded by pointing to her small son who looked up at him with wide eyes. “Our ancestors live on through us, and the desire to match their deeds stir our souls to great action!”

    The brown haired man in the average suit then approached Pike from the corner of his eye, but just as soon slipped around another volunteer for the campaign and out the door. Pike kept his peripheral vision active to throw glances at the man who casually ordered a rye-runner soda for the road, allowed security to screen him for electronics for which he had none, and then quietly took a token invitation for their next group meeting in Vesper proper in a matter of days.
     
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  9. Fiannia

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    Clean yet far from modern, Melvin Roach slunk back into the blue vinyl seating of the “Holiday Haley” train back to Vesper, his nostrils filling with the fresh air from the countryside that poured through open windows. “I saw you there.” a female voice struck over the steady and predictable wind and bump of Haley who hurdled faithfully back to the Metro. Melvin continued to stare out the window in ignorance, a tried and true method to be left alone.

    “You sir, you with the wretched suit, I saw you at the Shooting Club!” she said again louder while slamming herself down across from Melvin Roach. She wore a white sleeveless blouse, light blue pants, and kept her light brown hair up and off her shoulders for mobility.

    “And what?” Melvin dismissed, shaken only for a short moment by the woman’s striking beauty, “Target practice and brunch, I recommend you try the Kadiki Potato Salad.”

    The woman was biting her lip now and squeezing down one eye, “You didn’t eat, and you certainly didn’t shoot, in fact we have never seen you before.”

    Melvin shook his head in disbelief, “Well I’m not a celebrity, so what have I done to gain you as a fan, Miss? . .”

    The woman broke out in an endearing smile, “Miss Roe, but that’s a fake name, what alias might you carry?”

    “I don’t have to tell you, but it’s Roach.”

    “Good alias, it fits with your personality and garb!” Miss Roe jabbed. Melvin smiled for the first time in perhaps a year, drinking in the smile she returned like water in a desert death march.

    “Well anyways, I can trace my roots to the Revolution, my Great Grandmother was a nurse in the Kinist Rebellion and married my Great Grandfather who was injured as a wire runner, and two of my Grand Uncles died in the Great Northern War.” Miss Roe recounted, a typical introduction for Engellachians: listing familial participation historical events, “What deeds do the Roach Kin claim?”.

    “They never told, and I never asked” Melvin replied with some melancholy, “If everyone died or was maimed in some grand war we wouldn’t have a country would we?”.

    Miss Roe shrugged her bare shoulders but kept her eyes locked with his, “I believe we wouldn’t have a country if they didn’t! And if you would disagree, why may I ask were you attending an Engell Defense League meeting?”


    Melvin stared out the window once more defensively, “I was there for the potato salad and instead all I received was an angsty patriotic speech. I’m still hungry by the way, so if you don’t mind I’ll be getting off at the next stop for a spot of McBonaficius or something convenient” Melvin grumbled as he tipped his hat and climbed to his feet.

    “Well met, Mister Roach. We’ll be seeing you again in Vesper I trust, so try to eat next time and be ready to share some efforts for the cause!”

    Melvin continued away without so much as a nod. These Kinists were turning out to be more taxing on his conscious than the mafia or anarchists combined. Miss Roe was stunningly beautiful, confident and engaging, but she was an overt Kinist and if there was one thing Melvin knew it was not to become ensnared with one of these clannish and conspiring people lest you planned to make eight children with one or be murdered and never found in some nameless holler.

    Agent Roach ate as he said he would, quite paranoid to his surroundings now, and shuffled his feet back on to the next train going south after a few hours of waiting. ‘Holiday Hank’, a brother to Haley in all ways save for green paint instead of blue, on which no one bothered him as he pretended to sleep all the way ‘home’.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
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  10. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    A normal week of rounds to Agent Roach’s check-in itinerary commenced as soon as he returned to Vesper. The phone at ‘Bye-Bye Baldwin’s’ was as always void of any incoming or outgoing messages. The club owner, Vadim Lubadov attempted to offer him a dancer for the night, but Melvin ignored the bribe and exited the establishment only taking note of the singer on stage who commanded a strange voice and dancers wrapped in wolves pelts. He would have to ask about her tomorrow, this redhead with a voice that made the patrons writhe and move in circles as if dancing before a fire for her ancient witchcraft.

    Melvin proceeded outside and recuperated with the necessary routine of hydroponic marijuana, and a hanging trolly ride to the east side to sit in on an anarchist book club meeting. These he could often catch a nap during, as they were repetitive for at least an hour until some inane disagreement concerning the necessity or lack of enforced building codes or when a child has the agency to make decisions independent of their parents erupted. This evening it was a homosexual man and a straight man coming to fisticuffs over whether or not private communities should or could bar homosexuals from their covenant compounds.

    As he stood up and left with the regular crowd, a diverse mix of disheveled like himself or particularly trendy, Melvin could not help but looking forward to sitting in on the Kinists again. Producing the invitation from his pocket again for the fourth or fifth time today he cursed himself, the glowing yellow eyes of a wolf stared back at him as encircled by an address to a private cigar club that he had never heard of in his years of navigating every corner of the metropolis, or so he thought.

    A tight minibus was the best route there, many stops, yet with everyone packed like sardines together uncomfortably there were few words ever exchanged besides apologies or excuse me’s. His only interaction was with an elderly grandmother with sacks of potatoes and various vegetables for her children and grandchildren, who smelled the marijuana on Roach and stared disapprovingly at him for five hard stops until he offered to help her out of the bus with her garden goods.

    “Straighten yourself out, sonny” she made sure to advice after offering thanks, “You might possess manners, but you dress and smell like a stray!”

    Roach pursed his lips and nodded in the affirmative, too much time spent pretending to be a street drifter was turning him into one. Instead of re-entering the minibus he waived it on and checked himself into a motel to wash up, comb his hair, and iron out his suit to somewhat upgrade the degradation he had depressed down to. He would be late for his next encounter, but these political meetings tended to be so self-consumed that a late show rarely distracted from organizers blowing off hot air at each other.

    A taxi would be necessary so as not to be too late, and little to his surprise the taxi driver had not heard of this little cigar club either. “Wolfthistle?” the cabbie repeated, “Do you mean Dragon’s Tale, the Cussian club off of Confederate’s Av?”

    “No sir, it’s meant to be on the corner of Rydell Boulevard and Charlotte’s Way” Melvin said aloud before coughing on the connection made in his mind for the first time now that he told it to someone.

    “Oh, really?” the cabby balked, “that entire district has been abandoned since Engellpox, or uhm Unforgettable or some such catastrophe, the one where they bombed us to kill their own?”

    “I know the one” Melvin agreed with a sigh, a final utterance before a ten minute ride in total silence. The radio, which the driver cranked up to “this eery wolf bitch” offered some pause to the Agent, it was the voice of the singer from the club and the same song again: “My Pack is With You” the DJ clarified, “by this new singer from Last Mass, Vestefjor! She’s mating contemporary pop mixing with turn of the century instrumentals, hell I might run with the wolves if it means a night with her!”

    The cab driver screeched to a halt at the corner of Rydell and Charlotte as instructed, taking the Thaumantic Pounds offered up gleefully but hasty to speed away from the abandoned district as soon as possible. At two large black doors with golden handles a familiar pair of guards, a large man Melvin recognized now, and the retired cop accepted his invitation ticket with not so much as a word.

    Before Roach could proceed in he could hear a hot rod scream and screech to a halt right where the cab had vacated, and out it sauntered the red haired singer and another unidentifiable man wearing grey cargo pants and a blue polo. The two walked past Melvin like he was invisible, neither offering token or comment to the guards who pushed him in after them.

    Inside the parlor was dark, smoky, and as pretentious as Melvin would have expected such a Kinist den to be with family crests, portraits, and old battle flags covering the walls that new and old Kinists from the last meeting clung to. Miss Roe was on him like predator to prey immediately, pulling him in for a hug and kissing his neck.

    “I knew you would make it, I brought you some crab salad if you’re hungry again this time my darling little Roach.”

    Melvin raised his eyebrows to the ceiling and stood reaching at his lipstick marked neck mouth agape. “Why thank you, I am hungry actually!” he admitted sheepishly.

    “Well sit down and eat, I think my father would like to speak with you. I’m Alma by the way, Alma Pike!”

    “Nag’s Head and off again!” Agent Roach swore under his breath, he has not been tasked with researching any of these people beyond what he overheard or was told directly by handlers, an attractive daughter belonging to the Kinist Cult leader as it was shaping up had not been in his minimal background instructions.

    Accepting a goblet of barberry hooch, as strong as the crab salad was delicious so that when Sheriff Alton Pike put a hand on Melvin’s shoulder from behind, Melvin actually had some spirit to be sucked out of him in surprise. “What are your intentions Mister Roach, and don’t give me the salad bit you tried to feed my lovely daughter . .” Pike said with cigar smoke hanging between the their eyes.

    “I’m here to find find my pack, my kin” Melvin began, presenting it as truth while struggling to know himself if it was a lie, “if you are here to lead, them I am here to follow.”

    “We will see, wipe the mayo off your chin son, and try not to be so damn weird tonight, engage a little bit!” Pike ordered firmly, but not angrily.
     
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  11. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Surrounded by those devoted to the Kinist cause, or perhaps just a cult of personality, Alton Pike once more motioned to cut telecom sin and out. Different now however was that what few fixtures lit the dark room were blacked out to focus on one much brighter light that illuminated a large round table being carried over by four men that may have been as as the West Engell Republic itself.

    “We all know that our ancestors are rooted in our very bone marrow,” Alton Pike began, “and that their energy courses through our very veins . . But what the State Atheists, Christ-followers, and Otherkind do not want you to know is that they still live on within our souls, and can and should be awoken to be called upon!”

    A tornado of whispers spun in the room, dismissive or terrified but reacting energetically all the same. Alton was ready for this, steadying with them with his hands, and being the only one in the literal spotlight everyone was soon to follow. “Our enemies have killed to prevent us from unlocking this power that belongs to Engellkind. Through the Dark Ages of a Christian Engellex, to the tyranny of atheism and disbelief, down to the Kinist Rebellion where Charlotte began to commune with the First Engells and Marpesians waiting for the right vessel!”

    The red haired woman joined Pike’s left flank now, and his daughter Alma on his left. “Tonight we do not dare commune with those who ran with wolves, none of us are ready I fear, but Madame Fiona has practiced in the art and science of ancestor awakening and can show us through our dear Alma.”

    More whispers erupted again, “You can leave if Otherkind’s brainwashing has made sheep of you, go ahead, this is neither a prison or a cult - it is your right as a Free Engell to move about as you choose!” Alton reminded, but no one was making a budge, all felt supernaturally glued and affixed to where they stood when this ordeal began.

    Alma began to undress methodically rather than sensually like she was preparing for a medical exam, a slender and enticing figure that was already activating something within many of the male spectators. Alton, her father, looked on without any emotion at all. Laying back on the cold table her skin broke out with goose flesh, a pale palette for Madame Fiona who immediately began painting her with naked flesh with lines and patterns of a blue pasty substance.

    “You are witnessing Engellkind’s oldest ritual,” Alton Pike mused, “every motion sacred and deliberate, the paint adhering to ancient recipe” he alluded, a hallucinogenic recipe to be precise, heated and absorbed by the vessel’s bare skin. Alma was moving a bit now, speaking a bit in garbles of what none could determine was their language, something older, or absolute nonsense. Madame Fiona was speaking this same language too but louder and clearer now, either guiding Alma or guiding someone or something out of her.

    “That is Engellisc, yes, the tongue stirs our ancestors in words our ancestors can hear.” Alton instructed, a teacher to enchanted students. “They are nearly ready . .”

    Alma began to writhe and scream, rattling naked on the table before Fiona could throw a wolfskin over her and join a stone cup to her lips which he drank desperately as if near death from dehydration; the liquid red, deer’s blood fermented with more hallucinogens and alcohol. She then began to heave for breath, sitting up on the table with the wolf pelt clung above her breasts and a terror in her eyes that horrified her audience nearly as much as she displayed.

    She spoke then clearly in that ancient tongue, mystifying most, but clear for translation from Madame Fiona: “Who are you all, Others? My kin shall come for me and tear your flesh down to the bones and scatter them through the ancient forests where wolves still run!”

    Alton stepped in a bit to interject, “We are of your kind from many children passed!”

    The character that had taken hold of Alma squinted and shook her head, “Our children do not speak to us anymore, they have lost their way. Did you wake me for rape, or just to ask play games with a dead woman?”

    “You have been summoned for orders,” Alton said, to which his daughters possessor held one hand to her ear to listen. “I command you as a leader of our Kin to stir those like you trapped within our flesh, young and old as your spirit is, to rise within our Kind so we may once more embody your strength and knowledge.”

    Alma lowered both hands and let the wolfskin slip, “I can do this task, but I warn you now they will not run with weak wolves. Be prepared to fight and kill Others and those who claim to be our Kind, for they will seek to kill you - kill us when they discover we can run through this forest between life and death!”

    The whispers returned, but Alma or whomever was on them immediately “QUIET!” she screamed, “I hear most of you already without speaking and smell the fear rotting within weak flesh! Wake us again to a stronger audience!” she commanded before slamming herself back down hard to the table that thumped and shook from the strike.

    Alton rushed to his daughter, showing emotion now to cover her again and hold her close as she shivered from a chilling freeze that only she felt. “We meet again in a weeks time at Fort Klarawood, the invitations will be given at the door as always . .” Madame Fiona told her shocked audience.
     
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  12. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Reports in and orders to monitor out, that and a handsome wad of cash Melvin Roach suspected came from criminal asset seizures based on the condition of the notes. In some ways he would miss the tactile pleasure of counting them out he imagined, yet not imagining what blood or semen stained hands had touched them when Vesper went digital next year would be a relief.

    The entire digital scheme would never work, especially here where so many depended on a black market vice or ‘career’. Melvin likewise suspected this may be by design, perhaps spending time on the lunatic fringe with political extremists had rubbed off him, but he had also begun to believe in financial conspiracies and schemes - the battered money he collected from a Post Office Box on the east side without explanation was just one instance of a scheme.

    “Robots do not ask questions” Melvin reminded himself under his breath before shoving the envelopes of cash and orders unread to his pocket per protocol. It was raining outside lightly, a cool spritz after a morning of hazy fog that made him thankful public transportation rackets still dominated the capital and that he rarely needed to drive through the mess - or worse the frozen snowdrift hell that would be rolling in soon enough.

    “Your next engagement with the Kinists must be armed. KH will be present at Fort Klarawood for the parade, attempt on life possible.” Melvin read from the first order, understanding immediately that KH was the Dictator Karl Heydendahl. From what Melvin understood the leader’s travel schedule was erratic, far flung, and difficult to predict. He had traveled to Gunnland, then Ouistreham as besieged by Burgundians all without public notice. Whether or not Heydendahl would actually be at Klarawood was debatable to Melvin’s approximation of the Dictator.

    “Bye-Bye Baldwin’s, Progresotology Center, and all other errands are re-assigned until after Klarawood engagement. Your time and resources are now dedicated to the EDL engagement and research.” Agent Roach read to his shock, he had wanted to attend the next Progresstologist sessions where their little cult leader, Val Zebulon Renfield, or VZR, had promised to unlock a hidden chapter of his yet unfinished book: “Beyond Europe, Beyond Humanity: Progresstology”. The title had changed several times certainly, yet Renfield and his cult were as committed to the future as the Kinists were to the past and would have served as a palette cleanser after the Pike family’s perplexing ritual.

    Now his only dilemma was whether to buy a pistol, or go to the library to read up on the Kinist Rebellion more. He chose acquiring the pistol first, Vesper Metro librarians were impossible to fire so they could be overly nosy and strict with stringent rules. As he roamed he noted “My Pack is With You” on the radios and idle whistles of young people, Madame Fiona’s eery time was rolling through the city like the morning fog.

    The price of Sylvanian firearms had skyrocketed, “Breckenridge doesn’t think we are shooting the right folks these days, so if you want something cheap I recommend a homegrown .38 Special!” the gun-shop owner on Lathcombe Street said.

    “That’ll do, how much?” Melvin asked.

    “150 Thaumantic, that’s a discounted price, or 800 Engellmarks . . Not worth the same here anymore, but they’re still trading it in Upper Engellachia for another year!” the shopkeeper informed.

    “Pounds it is,” Melvin said without hesitation, slamming the filthy notes down with a blood stained bill on top, “and say, would you know where a man could get a decent suit around here?”

    “Pritchard’s Tailor on Pinebelt Circle, and tell old Pritchard he’ll need to buy up some of these Sylvanian rounds before they fly off the shelves!”

    Roach inspected the pistol for a moment, it was a piece of trash but it would do. Heydendahl would probably have snipers and a platoon of private military contractors surrounding him in plain sight. The shop owner was already turning up the radio, not the wolf woman but the West Engell Wildman: Dale Emerick.

    “Careful bud, that guy’s a cult leader!” Melvin joked with a wry smile. Something was changing in him since meeting Alma and monitoring her father’s movement. When he made it outside, loaded up the handgun in the street, he then walked with a spring in his step in contrast with his previous floating shuffle.
     
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  13. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Perfectly assembled on a flat massive pitch in crisp black uniforms the First Thaumantican Guard Division stood at attention, silently waiting for Dictator Heydendahl’s speech, preceded first by military band renditions of the new League of Four Nation’s Hymn, the West Engell Revolutionary Medley, and taps introduced by a State Atheist instructor who asked all assembled to reflect on the protection and production of their short lives and the lives of others as they remembered the deceased from Operation Domain of Democracy.

    The Dictator was late by a few minutes, not that it made much of a difference with 15 minutes of music, but eventually Heydendahl, his entire family, and a small army of his own private contractors rolled up behind the sitting area designated for family and veteran attendants. Karl’s blue suit and red tie seemed to shine or glisten more than all the rest as if it were a suit of armor shined thrice over. The eyes of the soldiers could not help but follow while their bodies stayed steady like stone monuments.

    Karl went through the first row of attendees shaking hands, stopping for a long moment to look deep into the eyes and intentions of Sheriff Alton Pike who sat next to General Hilliard, the leader who would go on to introduce the Dictator to all present as the “primary enabler for Engellachia’s finest fighting force ever activated”. The Dictator smiled and motioned for those clapping to stop so he could take the podium and begin to speak. Each brigade called their troops to attention and a serviced salute, each shouting the Division Motto: “ALWAYS ON GUARD!”

    Karl and General Hilliard returned their salute, then sent the troops to a position of ease for Heydendahl to speak: “Warriors of the Thaumantican Guard: when I stood up to bring order to this nation and align the West Engell Republic with our Domain Allies in the League of Four Nations, I was confronted with a rude awakening that the Combined Armed Forces were being asked to defend Engellachia with weapons and equipment that their Grandfathers use in the Great Northern War.”

    “I met here at Fort Klarawood asking him not what he could do for me, but rather what I could do for him - and he told me that given the right resources he could find and train up a division that would make the Domain proud, and could make the world tremble. And as I look out at you now with the finest rifles, armored vehicles, drones buzzing overhead, and strong dedicated warriors to operate them I know that I can tuck my children in at night with greater confidence that men and women like you will be guarding the Thaumantic Domain from enemies both foreign . . Both foreign and within.”

    “You are an elite warrior band of volunteers. Plenty around the world are pressed into uniforms, and many volunteer to do their basic duty, but thousands of you had something deeper burning within as I do that tells us: don’t just do the bare minimum to get through a contract, we want to peak the highest mountains of human achievement - and when we get there, we ask why we aren’t flying, and when we are flying we ask why aren’t we flying to the stars?”

    “Unbeknownst to you I’ve had my contractors on the ground acting as Op-For during your inaugural exercise, Operation Foxhound Fury, and I’ve been reading daily reports from General Hilliard who has illustrated for me with proof from my own men that the First Thaumantican Guard Division is capable of engaging and defeating any army or enemy within the Thaumantic rim or beyond! I believe that, I truly do!”

    Heydendahl peered our at the troops as a formation of air cavalry helicopters coasted over them from behind, floating over them quite high for a few moments before dispersing only to be followed by smaller then larger drone displays, and finally a formation of jets with streams of blue white and gold exhaust emanating from their tails.

    “Let me hear the ‘Lyndon Palmer Treatyfolk Brigade of UAV and Aviation!” Karl called out, receiving a mighty “RIDE THE LIGHTNING!” as their Brigade motto. “Let me hear the Norman Baird Indigene Pathfinder Brigade!”, their motto came back as “CURRAHEE, FOLLOW ME!”. “Now let me hear the the Earl Harrow Engellexian Seabee Engineer Brigade!”, and their response: “BUZZ! BUZZ! BOOM!”. “Finally I want to hear the Wilbur Rydell Engellachian Brigade of Armor!”, their motto blaring louder from the home country hero: “RUSH! RUSH! KILL!”

    Karl began clapping along with the assembled families, veterans, and Domain allies invited to view the special division for the first time. “And one last thing before General Hilliard and I ride out to inspect this mighty mass; I am making an oath to you here and now my warriors, I will be there with you on the morning, day, or evening of your first real battle as a Division! We Engellachians lead from the front, so General Hilliard call our troops to attention and let’s roll!”

    “ALWAYS ON GUARD!” Twelve thousand troops replied.
     
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  14. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    “Uncle Jay has given the Combined Armed Forces three of his children,” Alma Pike informed Melvin, “That’s Jill and Jeb walking toward us now from the Pioneer Brigade.”

    “And what about the third?” Melvin asked.

    “Jay Junior is recovering in hospital in Hammersmith, Burgundian bomb during a patrol through Ouistreham, he will never walk again the doctors say.” She said before running out to hug her cousins and peck a kiss upon their necks. The two were in high spirits, energized by their accomplishments and the chance to see kinfolk.

    “Your Papa sends his love and pride in the two of you,” Alton Pike offered his niece and nephew, clearly not sharing the same excitement for the event as anyone else, “too much work to do on the homestead to prepare for winter, he hopes you both understand.”

    “Of course Uncle Al,” Cousin Jillian replied with an out of place salute which Sheriff Pike returned, again, out of protocol. General Wesley Hilliard and Dictator Heydendahl were then in the periphery shaking the hands of soldiers, veterans and their family members.

    Melvin watched the Kinist clan narrowing their eyes at Heydendahl and slipped his hand down to unbutton his dark green jacket to ease access to his concealed pistol. A hand was then on his shoulder, and the round shape of another pistol pressed into his back, “What’chya doin’ there bud?” a man’s voice said through a Sylvanian accent.

    “Meeting with friends and family, you?” Agent Roach replied, turning his neck slowly to see a Heydendahl Defense Solutions contractor holding his life delicately by the shoulder and muzzle to the spine. “Eh, I just work here. So ya sure you’re not up to any funny business with that peashooter?” the Sylvanian Mercenary inquired quietly, Heydendahl and Hilliard roaming ever closer.

    “I’d pay closer attention to that Sheriff over there, he’s got a warrant for your boss’s arrest up in Clayton County” Melvin said, pointing at the Pike family as they arranged themselves to meet Heydendahl and Hilliard face to face.

    “Alright then, let’s you and I walk on over there together and meet the big H with your friends, eh?” the Mercenary suggested before physically ordering with a push forward with the pistol.

    General Hilliard walked deliberately in front of the Dictator, bumping his hand slightly to reach Sheriff Pike, he too offering Alton an unexplained salute. Karl’s eyes were darting between the two men inquisitively as he shook the hand he intended to meet.

    “Herr Heydendahl, this is Sheriff Alton Pike - he has been confidant and advisor for me for many years, but none so important than the last by helping to get out the recruitment drive for the Guard throughout the Kinist Community!” Hilliard said with obvious gratitude.

    Karl stepped past Alton and shook hands with his niece and nephew first, thanking them for their “blood, sweat, and tears for the Thaumantican cause” before taking up Alma Pike’s hand and kissing it. Alma blushed and allowed the Dictator to control her hand up and into a dancing swirl with her body turning about once for Karl to see.

    “And who are you my dear lady?” Karl inquired loudly for all, mainly Alton, to hear. The Sheriff was approaching, taller and stronger in stature than Karl or anyone else present. “My daughter Alma, Mister Heydendahl, and I think you know who I am already!” Alton growled.

    “Alma Pike?” Karl repeated without breaking eye contact with the young woman, “Engellachian gold you are, my dear, I hope we can meet again” he said, kissing her hand again before releasing it and finally turning to her eyes bulging father.

    “Nice speech Heyd, can’t wait to hear one from you behind bars!” Alton nearly shouted, causing a circle of onlookers to form - camera phones being produced everywhere and pushing starting to begin to jockey closer for an angle of sight. The mercenaries were forming a circle around the two and pressing our to clear space, eyeing each and every soldier and civilian for the firearms they were legally allowed to carry there, it was a moment of terror and pandemonium for all.

    “I know who you are Sheriff Pike,” Heydendahl said with a heightened voice, “You want to be President Pike, don’t you, the Engell Defense League Candidate?”

    “That’s right, and you would be the unelected Otherkind Dictator who enriches himself with the trade of Engellkind’s flesh and blood!” Alton replied, still shouting.

    “This country was a den for pedophiles and corruption under of the law enforcement of sheriffs and commissioners like you, Mister Pike. I took on leadership to end that chaos, and align it with our Thaumantic Allies!” Karl shouted back, “And you know what else? Next I’ll fight and beat your kind at the ballot box this January!”

    Those not recording with their phones broke out into whispers and sidebar discussion. This topic of the Dictator’s stay in power or the timing of the next elections had been a hotly contested and speculative debate for supporters and detractors from Heydendahl and the Thaumantic Alignment Committee.

    The two men forced themselves to shake hands for an uncomfortable length of time and intensity, Pike the stronger so he pulled Karl close when he had the chance to whisper: “I will rip the flesh from your bones and scatter them from the forest where the wolves still run.”

    “Get fucked, Pike!” Karl whispered back before pushing off to smile and wave, leaving Pike behind grimacing in an angry stew.
     
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  15. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    The Moose’s Kilt (Pub)
    Vesper, WER


    Peanut shells scattered the ground of the ‘Moose’s Kilt’, swept from time to time by young busboy’s and girls who also cleared tables for a sizable monetary tip. Designed in the classic “Engellachian Lodge” style, this pub served as a cozy getaway from the much more spartan and brutal Lodge of Legislators where verbal violence often led to physical in recent months and years.

    Here there were no televisions or music systems, and cellphones were to be locked away individually in pods at the door. Live music greeted entrants, a Bearskull Junction fusion band consisting of Sylvanian Bluegrass, and Outlaw Country influences. One male and one female singer alternated or supported each other from tune to tune, performing without a sound system and relying on volunteers to join in the traditional pub songs they knew to add to the volume.

    Aisling Derring, the Foreign Officer for Engellachia, retreated here quite often to escape both the technology and pace of Vesper outside. An unspoken agreement held that all were equal here, and the barkeep Earl was fully prepared to speak up and remind those who tried to bring class, race, or position up in debate. Earl poured Miss Derring, a divorcee who practically lived here in the evenings since her divorce, a black currant and cider fusion and placed it before her without her asking.

    Aisling had her arms crossed and sat ruminating over the manifold diplomatic failures and fiascos of the day. She was turning as red as her hair, some due to the alcohol bringing color to her pale face, but more due a rising pressures from within and without to answer for “Operation Domain of Democracy”.

    She had the ear of Dictator Heydendahl, and met with him via video conference daily personally before opening the conference to other advisors. Karl Heydendahl had expected to get rich quickly from the chaos, and rich he has become, but he had also grown personally invested in the responsibility of the Engellachian nation in no small part due to Aisling’s encouragement. She had given him the push to run for President legitimately, and she had given him direction to open channels to Gunnland, Ostmark, and Serenierre despite few yielded developments.

    Each had confided in each other, Aisling as a survivor from the previous administration, and Karl as the head of this one, that the only ways out for either of them would be by their death or the death of many others. Their last video conference with Alignment Committee members included pictures of Burgundian bodies stacked and burning, as well as the pile up of Engellachian bodies waiting for transport home or to Dulwich for individual cremation services.

    Aisling put the pint of cider to her red lips and sipped, ignoring the cheers from the end of another pub song about “small nations”, “liberty”, and the “duty of All Engellkind to see them free”. It was these types of pre-programmed traditional tropes that would always undermine an extended indecisive conflict for the Engellachians overseas. That “We are defending Neustrian Independence” had hardly begun to catch on as a foreign policy scheme at home when their operation in Ouistreham was asked to move on, its remnants burned up in hellfire days later.

    She sat alone stewing over the Cussian leadership, and the Engellexian lack there of, and cursed Heydendahl himself for not taking more action despite how greatly he had already overstepped his lane and station in life prior to the bombing in Vesper by Engellex that was facilitated by Beautancus. Aisling had been part of the Ilchester administration as a much lesser assistant to the Foreign Officer, taking advantage of the age and incompetence of her predecessor to maneuver his exit and the divorce of her husband who actually fired off those damning communiques that brought down the whole administration.

    Arms crossed and lips pursed tightly like a lock, Foreign Officer Derring returned to this secure pose where few men ever dared bother her. Perhaps one would, but she had her eyes ready to pierce through their soul unless they had something immediately helpful or interesting to offer her. She was known to sleep with some certainly, male or female, but she typically selected and hunted them after sufficient drink rather than the other way around. A female soldier from the new Thaumantican Guard had taken a seat at the other side of the pub, likewise taking a cider and fishing for cigarettes in her shoulder pocket.

    If not approached by anyone herself, Aisling would kill this drink and approach that young soldier in a few minutes, but for now she reached for her own cigarettes and lighter to somehow ease the tension everyone in the Heydendahl administration was suffering from. No amount of warm Engellachian openness ever seemed to invite suitors to the cold icy reach, as perhaps none believed they were even capable of being anything other than loyal Engellkind.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  16. Beautancus

    Beautancus Timeout

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    Embassy of the Confederated Republic of Beautancus
    Vesper, WER



    The climate in Vesper had never suited Charles Pollock. Born and raised in far muggier climes, kissed by the gifts of the Sun in and even and gentle fashion, the Cussian Ambassador to Engellachia couldn't help but view his assignment here as something of an exile. Rumors held that Pollock often went so far as to openly, publicly, voice that sentiment.

    That had far less to do with the actual, real prestige that came from such a posting - as the West Engell stock had risen sharply in Welmonton in recent months - and everything to do with the spoiled petulance of the man himself.

    Pollock also failed to grasp the deeper undercurrents and subtleties that actually defined the Cusso-Engellachian relationship, despite his supposed pedigree as "a man of the Craft." While the administrative style the Ambassador affected would normally leave nothing to be desired, it seemed that he consistently failed to engage with the current Engellachian regime, or even many of the traditionally far more important oligarchs. What company Pollock did keep, far more regularly than he ought to have, left quite some bit to be desired.

    "And so, Ambassador, I have been dispatched from on-high to deliver this missive to your hands, personally." Everard (first name "Agent") smiled as he did, a sweeping gesture that seemed more apt to snatch something than to give.

    Staring, almost blankly, at the envelope now in his hands, Pollock cocked his head to once side, a queer expression creeping over his face. "I still don't understand why Endymion wouldn't send someone from the SFS. Or why it wouldn't be someone from SSB, if not the Foreign Service. If I weren't in the post I'm in now, I wouldn't have the faintest idea what the Special Classification Service even was."

    Everard proferred a clipped smile in response, more a sneer than anything. The disgusting, fat, slob of a traitor still hadn't the slightest inkling of just how serious this visit was. "With respect Ambassador, I think you should worry more with the contents of that envelope than the function of the SCS."

    "The audacity!" Pollock scoffed, almost drawing an outright laugh from the wetworks specialist across the desk from him. With a double-chinned sneer of his own now, the Ambassador snatched a stilleto-like letter opener from his desk and slid it 'neath the fold. The degree of difficulty the fat man had sawing that little bit of paper open did make Everard laugh. Pollock seemed as if he might voice his outrage at this obvious breech in etiquette, but his eyes were already caught by the contents of the letter.

    The envelope slid free from porky fingers, an insult to the rings of Masonic fraternity they bore, weak hands shaking from the stress Pollock was being overcome by. "I'm being relieved of my post!?" The former Ambassador's voice cracked high, his eyes thrown wide.

    "I'm afraid that's not all Sir. If you'll continue to the end." Everard stood, smoothing the folds free from the immaculately tailored dark, Cussian, gray suit required for his work.

    Eyes racing over the letter now, head moving with every word and line, Pollock silently mouthed out the critical words. "...and having been found guilt of treason in absentia, orders for your immediate termination have been dispatched. You have brought this on yourself." The gold-leafed seals preferred by the most ancient and prestigious offices of the Confederated Republic confirmed the authenticity of the letters contents for Pollock immediately, the twin marks of the SSB and SCS - and a proper coat of arms that he'd never seen before. A brazen ouroboros encircling a Black Sun.

    The true horror of these developments finally dawning on him, Pollock looked back to Everard, eyes wide and mouth hanging open stupidly. The Agent had expected the fat man to jump, cringe - or at least react somehow - when he saw the suppressed pistol now leveled at his face. None of that, Pollock had merely frozen in place, down to the same bewildered expression.

    "These are the wages of treason." Everard lovingly squeezed the trigger, the suppressed report of his pistol still incredibly loud within the enclosed confines of the fomer Ambassador's office. Rocking sharply with the impact of the bullet, the back of Pollock's head exploded - a gout of dark red, purple and pinkish-gray obscuring an expensive painting on the wall behind him. The momentum of the bullet carried him the rest of the way over.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  17. Beautancus

    Beautancus Timeout

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    The Moose’s Kilt (Pub)
    Vesper, WER




    There had, for a time in the previous year, been more intelligence assets and active intelligence operations in the West Engell Republic than in any other nation in the Western Hemisphere.

    The rise to power of the Engellachian Dictator and the housecleaning that came with him had negated the necessity of many of those activities, as the election of President Trumm in the Implarian States had lead to a reevaluation of priorities and reallocation of assets and resources southward. Engellachia had not been altogether denuded of its Cussian presence though, with those assets that had remained in place and those operations that were still unfolding becoming more vital than they already had been.

    Of those assets remaining in the WER, Ox Dulles was among the most effective, arguably the most. First selected for SSB "activities far-afield" in the early 1990s, he'd quickly attracted the attention of Service higher ups. His exploits eventually brought him before "the Man Behind the Curtain" himself, and was easily on of Cypreau's favored "bird dogs" by the end of the decade.

    This had been the highest aspiration Dulles had been able to imagine at the time, as it had been and remained for so many others. That there could even be a layer of mystery and secrecy beyond the reach of Dr. Cypreau had seemed utterly preposterous, but proved to be the case all the same. Of all the places around the world that his various and sundry assignments had seen him visit, that obscene truth was no more evident or pertinent than Engellachia.

    The secret histories and occulted hierarchies at the true heart of the Engellexic, Engellkin and Thaumantic societies (in as much as one could draw an easy distinction between any of them anymore) defined so much of the business of high custom and state in Vesper in these fallen days. So much in fact, that one could scarcely navigate the morass without first being initiated into many of those higher mysteries, as Dulles himself had been for a few years now.

    All told, he still hadn't decided how he felt about the things he'd learned in that time. So much of it seemed nothing so much as a sort of hypocritical Fictionalism and pageantry - until it wasn't. Though not wired so loosely, by whatever quirk, Dulles understood why so many lost their minds, completely and immediately, when it wasn't.

    I really fucking hope it doesn't turn out like that tonight, Dulles grumbled to himself while taking in the sight of the Engellachian Foreign Officer. Absent mindedly busting a peanut free and munching it back, the the veteran spook resolved himself finally. Taking a last, fortifying pull from his beer, he stood and checked to make sure his suit hadn't wrinkled to the point of being unpresentable while he'd dithered. Satisfied, he strode on.

    Being neither coy nor making any attempt to hide his direct approach of Derring, he simply met her eyes and smiled warmly. Removing his hat with one hand and extending the other, he began. "Evening ma'am, you'll be Ms. Derring, correct?"

    Moving on quickly before she got the wrong idea or raised an alarm otherwise, "I am Executive Officer Dulles, SSB. May I join you ma'am? I'm afraid I have a few rather serious items to discuss."

    Accepting the invitation for himself, Dulles sat, placing his hat on the corner of the chair beside and sure to keep both hands visible while doing it. Turning his attention back to the West Engell woman fully again, "I'm sorry to say that I must begin by informing you that my country's ambassador to Vesper will be, or has by now, killed himself. Sordid affair, shamefully undisciplined man."
     
  18. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    “I dare say that Mister Pollock’s new assignment fits him like a suit,” Aisling jested from within a white dress blouse and a green skirt, “though I do not envy the job and shall endeavor to keep my own”.

    Closing her legs and arms back together, Ms. Derring stared at the Agent closely, concerned a bit, but curious as well. These sorts of visits, be they from the Cussian SSB or Engellachian TCS, were growing too common for comfort to the point she was now considering spending more evenings shuttered alone rather than surrounded by spook and cultist vultures.

    “Say, did you think to check under his desk?” Aisling offered, “You never know in this city what you’ll find besides pen and paper beneath a desk, why you must know given your occupation, but I always check for whores . .” She said as a matter of fact before killing her cider off and pounding it down on the coaster.

    Earl the barkeep sauntered over with an Engellachian Sunrise, pineapple juice and vodka, exchanging the empty glass without her order. This was the last drink he would serve to the woman with such a man in her presence, Earl noted to himself as he eyed the two again from afar.

    The band was taking a break after a rowdy rendition of an original ballad, “A Peck Under A Pine”, and soon sought volunteers to come up on stage to sing a song of their choice. Aisling put her fingers to her mouth and whistled loud like a falling artillery round which fell on Officer Dulles when Aisling pointed at the man with all eyes on the two: “THIS MAN HAS A VOICE TO DIE FOR,” Ms. Derring shouted in a rough accent, “PLAY WHATEVER HE ASKS OR YOU’LL DIE FOR IT!”.

    The pub goers laughed heartily but their attention was piqued, “What’ll it be then?” the male singer asked.
     
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  19. Beautancus

    Beautancus Timeout

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    Dulles laughed aloud, raising his hands in a display of overdone mock-surrender. It's not like she's getting away from me. Leaning in very close to Derring now, smelling of cologne and rich smoke, "There are those parts of us that yet remain unseen."

    Brain racing as he feet carried him towards the stage, it came to him only at the bottom step. Grinning genially, and knowing the answer before asking - "You boys know 'Cocaine Blues,' by chance?"

    Most of the band grinned back, the front man nodded enthusiastically but didn't quite know what to make of the situation yet. "Relax pal, just make me look good and you might get a record deal. No sweat, and I shit you not."

    It was clear enough a Cussian song - one of the better known at that -making a few things explicitly clear, and even more implicitly. Engellachian Country, and the Sylvanian well from which it had been dipped, tended towards soulful and even traditional, whereas the Cussian sort tended to be more energetic and darkly humorous. If nothing else, nobody could ever be surprised that the ascendant Engellkin were unashamed of what and who they were, or how they got there.

    Spinning it up on a nod from the Cussian and count from the frontman, and no more than a few beats it was clear to the band that this was far from the first time their impromptu vocalist had done this. The Moose's Kilt seemed to know a rare show when it got one too, and were coming undone by the time Dulles got to "...they overtook me down in Estado Vaquero..."

    The little crowd caught him right too, feeding into and pushing the rhythm of the number along with every bit of the energy the singing spook had ever tasted. Thinking ahead, Dulles made very sure not to be looking in Derring's direction when it came time to sing "...I can't forget the day I shot that bad bitch down!"

    Clapping the last of it out with genuine laughter, "...now tip more o' back that good whiskey, but leave the cocaine to me!" The applause from the Moose's Kilt crowd, being what it was, still told a tale of its own - that Dulles would never breath a word of for the rest of his days.

    The frontman clapped him on the back and extended a cautious hand to shake. "How was that big fella?"

    Dulles took the hand and drew him close for the shake. "Make sure you leave your info with the man behind the bar, you're going places kid." A smile, wink and wave to the local Vesper drunks, and the man from the SSB was back off the stage and headed for Derring again.

    "So, Aisling - I feel like I ought to call you that now that you've heard my shower singing voice - we were saying? Oh yes, the end of the world as we know it. And you'll do fine." He sparked a cigarette to life, one of those £75 a pack deals wrapped in gold leaf that smelled like pipe tobacco and freebased cocaine, and blew a few rings up over their heads.

    He left the pack open before them, gesturing to the West Engell woman that she was free to have one or not. "Will you allow me a stiffer drink than beer, I have to admit to always preferring liquor."



     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
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  20. Fiannia

    Fiannia Administrator

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    Derring took the man's laced cigarette carefully, then beckoned for the barkeep to fill an order. "My handsome Cussian beau would like . ." Aisling began, gazing slowly back to Agent Dulles playfully "a few fingers of that Gunnish Whiskey, eh?". If she was about to die or come under his complete control, Aisling wanted to have some fun and exercise her feminine and libertine prowess a bit first.

    "You know, Engellachains have a lot of ideas, some would say too many, but never idle minds at least . ." Aisling said before reaching a hand out to the Agent's arm, "nor idle hands."

    "So if you are here to put me to work, my dear, then let's not waste too much time while our boys and girls spend this great night dying in the Burger's meat grinder." She maintained a genuine concern for the uniformed men and women of the Domain, and it was not with any sarcasm that she raised their sacrifice as a reason to move things along. Aisling had spent much of the day haranguing ambassadors from other nations for failing to report on the hellfire in Ouistreham, and had only come here to the pub to unwind.
     
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