The Sun Made of Water

Discussion in 'The World Stage' started by Gunnland, Nov 1, 2010.

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  1. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    November 30, Knýtlingsfort

    A nerd, this was the first thought that crossed Koch’s mind when she realized Gregor Samsonson confused her for a Kryobaijani agent instead of a Franconian. He reminded her a bit of the absent-minded nevertheless clever and well-meaning nerds of her grammar school and university classes. Fair enough, there were some Franconian communists afficinados in Derjiste, who were taken care of by her Kryobaijan-stationed comrades, the senior LND agent was quite sure. To win Stoker’s sympathy she very politely pointed out his misunderstanding. “While I’m actually from your southern neighbour country, I’d like to assure you that my employer will generously help with your unpaid campaign debts and even provide some additional seed-financing, so to say. Furthermore, we are prepared for offering a mutually benefitting compromise deal with you and your movement, Gregor Samsonson. ‘Politics’, as one Franconian statesman – I believe it was the father of modern Franken Graf Montgelas – once said, ‘is the art of the possible.’ We do know that only have the best intentions for this beautiful region and we want to help you with it. In return we’d like you to help us achieving our aspirations for your country’s future. Trust me, it will be both exciting and profitable.”

    Judging from what the intelligence dossiers told her, Ella Koch surmised Stoker would be inclined to accept the deal. Compared to the Stoker two decades ago, this older incarnation was a little more mollified and – most importantly – more down to earth. If Stoker didn’t play nice and overdid things with his revolutionary games, there would be ways to dispose of him, Koch pondered.

    December 2, Nürnberg

    The writ re-claiming the Margraviate of Oberschlesien as part of the crown prince’s title was wrapped up just in time for the release of the weekly issue of the kingdom’s gazette, which published all newly enacted pieces of legislation. As soon as the writ popped up on the electronic internet version of the gazette, the blogosphere and internet communities of Franken buzzed and busily speculated over the Kingdom’s involvement in Oelar.

    Since it was a matter which concerned the Crown, i.e. the Sovereign and his government, it was the Prince Regent himself, who addressed the lower chamber of the Landtag, the Abgeordnetenhaus, with an explanation for the step. Hardly surprising to the government bench the opposition led by the social democrats remained skeptical and announced they would scrutinize the development of the situation closely. If things turned out ugly for Franken, “we will hold Graf Solms accountable”, the SDP chief whip declared. Following the parliamentary address, Prinzregent Jakob immediately retired to the Königsburg. In the afternoon the Royal Household's press secretary catered to the curious journalists.
     
  2. Confederal Republics

    Confederal Republics New Member

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    November 30, 2010

    SOUTHPORT-ON-SEA

    "A different name, same old friendly service", John Preston grunted, reminiscing a cynical jape thrown a few months back by Public Security Wing's Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Pierce in some meeting. As usual, the politicians had a far too idealistic view on things, at least if what the chap next to him in the elevator was saying would turn out to be true. He needed to run this through the corresponding Oelar working group over at the parent Ministry, and through his teammates in the Intelligence Service in itself, not to mention Chief of Station Colton Standish.

    Batavians screwing around in our backyard like it's still the damn Cold War, Preston thought to himself. If this was true, combined with earlier rumors of internal discord within the new Batavian security establishment it wouldn't exactly inspire trust for the Batavians within the intelligence community, and the chances were the Batavian ambassador in Southport-on-Sea would get an informal call to dine over at Blue Fountain. Considering the thought that he was being fed false intel, Preston noted that you'd have had to be a complete dumbass to assume that it'd even make any difference. But with Altvir seemingly in the EDF camp and Stoker a debaucherous socialist, even false intel might only strengthen existing beliefs. The question was whether Gunnr's associate was a person of necessity or convenience.

    "Being as it is, you know what we want and vice versa", John Preston replied with a curt nod, "And I'm going to have a chat with my superiors on what you have here."

    With no further need to continue their exchange, Preston restarted the elevator with the fireman's key, bidding farewell to the Campanile contact once the elevator hit the bottom floor. The Commonwealth Intelligence Service desk officer made his exit out of the building, entering an unmarked executive sedan waiting in the parking lot. Inside, he opened his laptop to put out flash messages back to Claridge House, to Jennifer Keane from the External Affairs Oelar Working Group and his CIS Oelar Desk deputy Peter Manning, even as his driver made a snarky comment over the manner with which John Preston had dressed for the meet.

    During the same day, an aide from the Ministry of External Affairs called the Batavian embassy in Southport-on-Sea asking for the Batavian ambassador and whoever the hell it was again that the Vepo used as the resident diplomatic cover officer these days to come dine at the Blue Fountain Restaurant with the Charles Landry, the Operations Directorate's Ranking Desk Officer for Batavië on matters of "police and security service cooperation concerning the Northern Council". John Preston had already ditched the peacoat and the fedora in favor of a more generic business suit in preparation of joining him as a surprise guest after his boss, the head of Operations Directorate, had managed to convince Landry to give some of his precious time to this business.

    YUNGDRUNG GUTSAK

    "Eleven...thirteen....twenty-five...sixty-seven....twelve....forty-one...twenty-one..."

    As the monotone female voice in the shortwave radio recited the seemingly nonsensical list of numbers, a man in a nondescript apartment in one of the more well-off parts of Yungdrung Gutsak sat before his kitchen table and made sure to write down each and every one of those numbers. When the broadcast finally ended, he reached into an opened lock box on his table to take out and unfold an A4 piece of paper containing numbers and corresponding letters and other signs, and begun to write down corresponding letters next to the numbers. However, the equally nonsensical list of letters that resulted only started making sense when the man opened another paper - this one containing the key of an one-time pad - and used it to decrypt the message:

    Upon realizing that "Flashbird" was the code for his operational activation under direct orders Darren Hendley, or so the name in his Cornavian passport said, made a mental note towards a total change in his plans for the rest of the day. Claridge House sent Cornavian non-official cover operatives abroad regular status updates steganographically encrypted within online images at certain news sites, but operational orders were transmitted with one-time pad encryption out of so-called numbers stations operated by the Joint Electronic Intelligence Center within Cornavian territory. This time, Hendley had first been messaged by such an online image notifying him of the message in question.

    An usual measure for Southport-on-Sea to take, because when the numbers stations went active, they usually did so at times previously communicated with the recipient agents. An extraordinary transmission was the NOC version of a diplomatic flash cable, so something was definitely up. And Hendley relished the change, for during the past months in Oelar he'd been mainly occupied with using his cover as a freelance journalist for Cornavian newspapers to forment ties with local contacts alongside a couple of other Cornavian expats he'd pretended to befriend upon arriving in country. Of course, the said expats were also CIS NOCs, a fact perfectly known to Hendley when he'd made contact. Though the Intelligence Service ran with a relatively large budget for an agency of its size, it still didn't have the resources of big actors like the Oikawans, and such a cell structure was used only in NOC-hosting countries of greatest importance to the Commonwealth in the way of clandestine operations, and even then alongside isolated officers.

    Alas, his career as a NOC field officer for the Intelligence Service had been a lot duller than the fantasies he'd held of wooing beautiful blondes wearing black tie and driving a sports car when he'd signed up with the CIS five years ago, fresh out of university. The only part closed to that was that he had an available firearm, not that it made him a lot safer since regular NOC officers only went in armed if it was assessed that the security situation in the country was decidedly bad enough to warrant such measures, and he didn't like the thought of having to try out his double-tap on a live person instead of a practice target. The Operations Directorate had worked that into his cover by way of fabricated death threats coming in from unspecified locals.

    Still, negative sides such as being used by notoriously compartmentalization-minded spymasters, the likely disavowal in the event that he screwed up and the fact that he had to lie to more or less everybody he met while on the job put aside, Darren Hendley liked his job. Sure as hell it beat working in a random cubicle in one of those glass-and-steel towers in Southport-on-Sea and Whitehaven and driving home on a station wagon to a dull shoebox apartment to an unremarkable wife and a pair of annoying children. And he was sure that at least in some level it was being relevant in protecting his homeland's freedom.

    Within the span of a minute, Hendley had shredded and burned both the used encryption key and the paper he'd used to decrypt it and stashed the lockbox with its contents, and was in a jeep on his way to Sally's Restaurant. He knew the place fairly well, having been there a couple of times in the past. A thought occurred to him that it happened to be near the Franconian embassy. Probably another reason why Standish had elected to send up an NOC instead of one of his diplomatic cover officers, especially considering how much of a hot potato the Halb-something guy was.
     
  3. Batavië

    Batavië New Member

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    Blue Fountain
    Southport-on-Sea, Cornavia


    Ambassador Alex Witte and Vepo Branch Commander Joop Peers (officially a foreign ministry senior analyst) arrived at the Blue Fountain with typical Batavian punctuality. Arriving first, Witte took the opportunity to choose a table in a corner by the window. A bit of discretion might be needed. This was no social call, whatever it was. Peers ordered a bottle of white wine, Radilan 1997, his favourite vintage. They chatted a bit until the two Cornavians finally walked in. They stood and shook hands, wore fake smiles and briefly discussed the terrible weather. Ambassador Witte began after the wine was served and Charles Landry was able to try it.

    'While it is always good to see you and maintain our good contacts, I must say that I was rather surprised when my secretary informed me about this sudden dinner. Is it serious? My colleague, Meneer Peers, is also usually not invited to such occassions. It is somewhat outside of his...field. But perhaps we can be of help.'

    They spoke in German as Witte was still struggling with English. Joop Peers was nearly fluent only because of his focus on Cornavia. He didn't let the Cornavians know that, of course. Landry and his mysterious friend did not likely speak Dutch.

    While waiting for Landry to explain everything, Joop Peers briefly looked out the window where, across the street, their black Suionian car waited in silence.
     
  4. Confederal Republics

    Confederal Republics New Member

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    SOUTHPORT-ON-SEA

    "Gentlemen, I'd like to thank you for being in attendance on such a short notice. Mr. Preston here is a good friend of mine from Claridge House", Landry said in Dutch and Dutch a faint smile at the Batavians while Preston settled for a not. Charles Landry's German came off with a terribly private-school Cornavian accent, and being that he'd worked under diplomatic cover during his time in the country it had actually been suited to maintenance of that particular role. He added, "Though I have some skill in Dutch, it would indeed be best to maintain German for the convenience of Mr. Preston."

    Landry lowered his voice, reminding himself that even while speaking in foreign languages it would be for the best to avoid drawing excess attention, being that it was a public place and all. Blue Fountain had been an ironic meeting spot to pick because, while a high-class restaurant could be an expectable place to see a foreign ambassador, it was also its high-class status that made it a target of interest. You might get paparazzis lingering about to see with whom the recently divorced tabloid celebrity went out to meet, pundits seeing who the leading politicians went out to dine with or stockmarket hotshots looking out for tips on the stock market. Or, indeed, foreign spies. That counter-surveillance team he'd requested from Security Service and the wide berth he'd asked restaurant staff to keep from them unless necessary would come in handy.

    Landry took a sip of the wine and thought about how to approach it, remarking himself that it'd been way too long since he'd actually been in the field. Ten years, in fact, since he'd transferred out of the position of a CIS Chief of Station in Batavië to take up a position at Fort Liberty training new officers for the service, before transferring back to OPDIR four years ago to take over the Batavian Desk. Unfortunately, pen-and-paperclip rivalries and battles with the parent Ministry were not quite exactly the same thing as encounters with foreign agents. Then again, the same set of loose moral standards you needed in the labyrinth of Cornavian bureucracy served one well in the labyrinth of intelligence-gathering as well.

    "I will be direct", Landry replied, switching to German that carried a less notable but still existing accent, "First, I must express my apologies on a misdirection carried out on my part, being that the Northern Council relates to the matters of this conference superficially at best. Mr. Preston here works at the Ministry of External Affairs in relation to affairs concerning our Southern neighbor Oelar, and this meeting occurs at his specific request."

    Charles Landry nodded at John Preston, who took over. The chief of the OPDIR Batavian Desk felt a sting of jealousy over the seemingly perfect German spoken by his Oelarian Desk counterpart.

    "Mr. ambassador, Mr. Peers, Cabinet is currently occupied with following the situation to our Southern neighbor country, seeing that it has become something of an international hotbed lately, and Claridge House is just interested in knowing what, if any stake your government has up there", Preston begun, "After all, being that this is a new decade and all, we're all friends in the North."

    The Batavians probably missed it, but as another trainee of the Cold War-era CIS Landry noticed the undertone that Preston had going, which wasn't all that surprising given the way with which the latter had conducted himself at Claridge House. Not that Landry could blame the man for his suspicions. One of the things that his own Batavian Desk had been following up was the restructuring of the country's security establishment, and quite many in Claridge House and Cabinet Hall hadn't been too impressed.

    Charles Landry was wondering if Preston had given away too much, but the chief of the Oelar Desk had been in the game as long as Landry himself so he decided to trust on his counterpart's judgement. Besides, if the intelligence apparently coming in from Gunnr held true, it would serve to rattle the Vepo's cage a little.
     
  5. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    ErAn, Franken, ArEn
    Every way of a man [is] right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2)

    Via the highly encrypted black network the Prince Regent received the most recent update on the situation in Oelar. If a country was of particular interest to Franken, it wasn’t unusual for Prinzregent Jakob to demand a separate dossier. While he didn’t have as close and personal connections to the northern giant as Robert Beaumont and Graf Peter Solms, Jakob von Franken was a thorough man, who wanted to keep tabs on relevant developments. Especially if your whole family was about to travel there soon.

     
  6. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    November 30, 2010

    The two best restaurants serving Tagzig fare (not exactly fine dining) were The Spot and Sally. During the 1970s especially a culinary debate over which pub was the best had been politicized. Every progressive leftist in Yungdrung Gutsak preferred a leg of lamb or barley stew at the Spot; you could not find a traditionalist conservative that did not prefer the identical meal at Sally's. During the Cold War, the tensions on either side of the Skiringssal neighborhood street were palpable; it was no coincidence that the embassy of Franken sat near Sally's, and the Batavians built theirs next to The Spot. But now international allegiances were not so clear.

    Hendley may have noted two prominent leftist intellectuals, F. J. Gutkind and A. J. Sýmeon, having a pint of Mimir abbey ale in the window of The Spot beneath an old red ISRA banner, 1990s-vintage, and portraits of G. S. Stoker and Aleksandr Vinokourov. The Left displayed its totems proudly beside photographs of soccer teams and local celebrities.

    Nowadays the Campanile, the Oelarian intelligence network that reported to the Lord Provost of the Capitollium (the university administrator) no longer leaned to the subversive left. Jens Yvosson Halvbefaren would have none of that. On a given night, Sally's might be 50/50 Campanile informants. Tonight, with Halvbefaren in the backroom, it may have been 80/20.

    Counterespionage was not difficult in a small city, a medium-sized town even, like Yungdrung Gutsak. Fierce agnatic ties were helpful, so that Halvbefaren's Campanile was staffed with members of his own Gunn clan.

    So when Darren Hendley walked in and remarked to himself how strikingly gorgeous the hostess of Sally's was, he was looking at Gretchen Seaumasdatter Gunn, Halvbefaren's twenty-something cousin once-removed. And it was her job as a Campanile informant to suspect he was the expected Cornavian. But not Clark or Standish...

    She led him around a maze of tables, past the bar and up an iron spiral staircase, through crowds of men who had not removed their coats playing cards. Figuring the Cornavian NOC field officer got the hint that these men were neither cold nor in a particularly cardplaying mood, she did not ask for his sidearm.

    In the several minutes it took to lead him back through the warrens of Sally's, Halvbefaren looked through his thin file. NAME: HENDLEY, DARREN. A black-and-white photograph. A standard report suggesting it might not be his real name. Great work, boys. But the Campanile had limited resources. You could only run so much cocaine over the Franconian border.

    "Lord Provost, your guest."

    Darren Hendley. Not Colton Standish or Neil Clark. Was Hendley special, or had the Cornavians decided not to bite? The Oelarian spymaster leaned back, looking at Hendley, wondering which it was.

    "Mr. Hendley!" his voice boomed like a man on his own turf, "I must confess I expected your colleagues, Major Clark or Mr. Standish. As you will know I am not a professional, but a mere professor philosophy and bastard son of the late Lord Margrave Gunn, Yvo Feargusson, the half-brother of the current Lord Margrave Gunn, Paul Yvosson, and the nephew of the current Lord Rigpa."

    Halvbefaren opened a manila folder on the little café table.

    "My proposition is straightforward. They..." He jerked a thumb in the direction of the Franconian embassy. "...want to make an alliance of the socialist Stoker and the progressive Alvitr, our rival clan, and make one of them the next rigpa. This is our first election in fifty years, son, and when you are out of power in Oelar you are out for a long, long time."

    Halvbefaren pushed the folder across the table.

    "A report by R. G. Geijer, who took Foreign Minister Alvitr, the sister of would-be rigpa Isleifur Christian Hjovarthursson, to Franken. Behind closed doors they agreed to sign a partnership for stability with the EDF. There are links to soundbytes and photographs of the documents. This is the first step towards absorbing Oelar into the EDF."

    Halvbefaren saw Gretchen Seumasdatter coming with a tray behind Hendley.

    "To do that they will have to get past me, so they need a coalition with the socialists. My friend Matteus in Knytlingsfort says the Franconian LND has gotten to Stoker, the man who wants to bring us into Kryobaijan's orbit..."

    Gretchen interjected: "Lord Provost, sorry to interrupt. Your supper is ready. It's your favorite."

    "Thank you, Gretchen, dear." At Sally's, you ate what was being made that night. Lamb chops with mint jelly. Mashed potatoes. Yellow turnips. And a peculiar Tagzig meat pudding made from pluck, oatmeal, and suet cooked in an intestinal casing. If Hendley didn't like it it could be washed down with the pint of Mimir Abbey Ale set in front of him and the ten-dram of Oelarian whisky.

    "Let's eat. But first, the matter is win the elections we can in this city for the electoral council that will eventually elect the Rigpa. The most winnable is in the Hólar district. Mr. Standish will need to employ his talents. A friend of mine, V. V. Perseifur, will stand. Coincidentally he is in Southport with my cousin Feargus Ulfsson Gunnr right now."

    Jens Yvosson Halvbefaren had that very day ordered the restaurant swept for bugs. To their credit, the Franconians had made valiant efforts to the extent one could see neatly-drilled near-microscopic holes in the brick walls. No matter, just by looking out their windows the Franconian LND and Batavian Vepo could probably make good guesses about what was going on inside.
     
  7. Confederal Republics

    Confederal Republics New Member

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    November 30, 2010

    Within the Commonwealth Intelligence Service's community of non-official cover operatives, it was an oft-repeated maxim that the best of the Cornavian intelligence community got to be NOCs. The second-best became those working under diplomatic cover at Cornavian embassies and consulates, and finally the rest ended up being deskbound at Claridge House. Of course, more than a few people said that the role of the people who delivered technical and open-source intelligence to the Service was as important as that of those working in the field the old-fashioned way, but those in the service's exclusive NOC community tended to dismiss them as the jealous ones. Open-source intelligence and technical means amounted to a lot in modern times, but ultimately you needed a man in the field to tell you how things went.

    Darren Hendley reminded himself of this as he sat across the table from Halvbefaren, and a thought slipped to the mind of the 32-year old intelligence agent that maybe he happened to be out of his league here. The Lord Provost was of a different creed than the contacts he'd worked with during his tenure in the country. Indeed, a figure of his level would have under normal circumstances been contacted by Standish or some other diplomatic cover officer at the embassy.

    He'd noted with a concealed amount of unnerviness the amount of rather unsociable fellows that seemed to give off the message of being there for a purpose other than dining or socialization when the rather attractive woman had showed him from the public portion of the restaurant. Then again, Hendley remarked, someone so concerned with security would also be concerned with keeping unwanted parties from hearing what was about to transpire.

    "Lord Provost, the Second Public Relations Attaché sends his regards and apologies for not attending", Darren Hendley said after the obligatory introductions had been said and done, and he'd seated himself to the other side of the table, "You're correct in pointing his absence out, considering that under normal circumstances he'd have come personally. Alas, these are not normal circumstances. Mr. Standish has a saying, 'In Oelar, even the walls have ears'".

    The statement probably was more true than Hendley realized at the time.

    "To put it plainly, I'm one of those people the Oelar Station sends out for those occasions that could go beyond the usual line of work for a diplomatic officer, or that could draw unnecessary attention. This was one of such occasions in the opinion of Mr. Standish", Hendley said as he took the presented manila folder from the table and briefly went through it before placing it into his satchel bag, "You're here, and any observer regardless of intent will have seen me enter. And since you have knowledge of my identity and what Mr. Standish and Major Clark actually do at the embassy..."

    Hendley's eyes briefly moved to the other folder on the table.

    "...it's not a stretch to assume that especially that last bit of information will be known to anyone running a substantial operation here. Hence the presence of a poor bloody non-official such as myself, pardon the term."

    A throwback to his two-year voluntary establishment with the Commonwealth Army, being that the informal nickname for all manner of infantry went as P.B.I - Poor Bloody Infantry. For some reason his thoughts of that time on what could ensue if he actually found himself in war as an infantryman occurred to him, and seemed particularly fit considering his present position.

    "Lord Provost, on behalf of Mr. Standish and Southport-on-Sea can assure you that owing to Oelar's position, the Intelligence Service's resourced to effect aid in this matter, provided of course that Southport-on-Sea also gets its due. Though, since Standish likes to know what he's working with I need to ask this: Assuming that it transpires that the worst comes to pass and the election of the Rigpa does not in entirety go in your favor, what kind of a course of action would be taken?"
     
  8. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore. (Psalm 132:11&12)

    December 4

    “Everything has fallen in place thus far”, the LND Director for Central Europe concluded his input on Oelar, “But we shouldn’t underestimate the persistence of the Cornavians and the Batavians. With a Rigpa ruling thirty years on average they will be very likely to do everything to spoil our game.” He saw nods indicating appproval by the ranking participants of the Reichssicherheitsrat gathering.

    Since Graf Solms was not able to attend the meeting, Robert Beaumont was the senior government minister present. Nonetheless, the looming divorce from his estranged wife was keeping the Foreign Minister somewhat distracted. The sneering reports in the yellow press weren’t helping to lighten his mood. “Herr Minister,” Prinzregent Jakob formally adressed Beaumont, “I’d like to hear your opinion.” The Foreign Minister looked up from his small notebook. “Your royal highness, gentlemen, I fully agree to the director’s assessment of the situation. We need to weave a sufficiently tight net to capture both the Alvitrs and Stoker. Furthermore, we need to evaluate whether there’s a way to ‘social-democratisize’ the latter one. If he turns out to be too heavily ideologicalized, it will be a pity and making things more difficult. Or should I say more challenging?”

    Eventually the Reichssicherheitsrat agreed to recommend the increase in intelligence activity in Oelar. In particular this meant the LND was to dispatch another five-men-strong team specialised on electronic reconnaissance and counter-intelligence. To reward and recognise Ella Koch’s performance they would be directly assigned to her, who was directly reporting to the embassy’s chief of security Valerian Poller.

    Later the same evening, almost night, Beaumont was lying next to his young Aren girlfriend, said Aren earl’s daughter, in a comfy appartment somewhere in Nürnberg. While she was playfully petting her lover’s hair, the Foreign Minister was mulling over whether to accompany ‘his’ royals to Oelar or not. The post-graduate student of international management didn’t take long to recognise her boyfriend’s pondering and asked a typically female question. “What are you thinking about, dear?” Typically male Robert Beaumont brushed off her concern. “Nothing at all.” On the one hand, he had some doubts whether he would do himself a favour if he visited Oelar, as it was there where he and Steffi shared their happiest time of their now miserable marriage. On the other hand, through Oelar he met his friend and political mentor Ministerpresident Graf Solms. Without him Beaumont would have ended his career as a mere ambassador. Moreover, with the power-struggle in Oelar his involvement there would be critical. Except for the earl himself there was no other member of government with so much personal insight in the northern neighbour, the bridge between Scania and Germania.

    A few kilometres away from the unimpressive appartment complex Prinzregent Jakob was browsing his private bible. Whether his sentiment was driven by mere vanity, he didn’t know, but Jakob von Franken considered the so-called royal psalms (a term coined by a Franconian scholar) particularly comforting and inspiring. This evening he was quietly meditating Psalm 132. In His infinite wisdom the Lord had decided to return the ancient and honourable Margraviate of Oberschlesnitz to its rightful owners, the House of Knýtling.
     
  9. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    1962

    Surtr moves from the south / with the scathe of branches:
    there shines from his sword / the sun of Gods of the Slain. - Völuspá

    Voices in the darkness of the Freehold. The first belongs to the LIII Rigpa, Thorklakur Feargusson Gunn, two years into his long reign.

    "Leave me in peace, I am praying, son."

    "I am sorry, Lord Rigpa. There is a matter calling for your attention..."

    In 1960 upon his ascension to the Rigpadom, Thorlakur Feargusson Gunn terminated the Frankenstein Project, an attempt deep beneath the mountains of Dovre to bring the remnants of Franken's atomic weaponry experiments back to life. During the Great War that had ended little more than a decade earlier, Franken chose to locate important parts of its nascent atomics program in Olmolungring because of its natural mountainous defenses and the proximity of some of Europe's leading theoretical physicists at the Capitollium. The Gravplass puppet regime was more than compliant. When the war ended and Gravplass died under mysterious circumstances and the pro-Franconian party was ousted by Ludvig Karlsson Skjolden, he encouraged a secret society of Capitollium students to track down the physicists' compound and compile all the information possible about the Franconian atomics program. They regularly met at the Campanile; this was the birth of modern Oelarian intelligence network and the Frankenstein Project. Skjolden ignored sensitive Franconian demands to shut down Project Frankenstein, which was only ended, supposedly, when Gunn came to power.

    "...We have discovered that Skycommander Aethur has maintained elements of the Frankenstein Project at the Dovre site under the aegis of "Project Sunwater"."

    There was a long pause in the darkness before the meditative Rigpa spoke.

    "First: Tomas Ragnarsson and the entire Aethur family are to be banished from the Christian realms of Europe from this day forward, by my decree. Second: Inform Sigvarthur Sigvarthursson Eir that he will be elevated to skycommand of Aircommand Oelar. Third: Lord Eir will make contact with the Franconians, who I will permit to observe the removal of all sensitive materials from the Dovre site, as they have been requesting for ten years, in exchange for helping us with that goddamned aeroplane Eir wants so bad. Is that all clear?"

    The decrees would win Thorlakur Feargusson Gunn some respect in the diplomatic circles of Franken, but also solidify support for his reign among the Eirs, who had a long military tradition. The young Lord Eir, desperately desired to see 'his' IF-19 Wanderer design*, an advanced fighter jet with a bizarre delta-wing and canard design, be put into production. Not something the Oelarians could afford, but the Franconians might pay a high price for postwar nonproliferation. And more, if they were assured Oelarian sorties would protect their submarines trolling deep off the eastern Batavian coast and in the Gulf of Erlangen near Kryobaijan. Franken would send their best diplomats to Oelar, beginning a strange tradition.

    "But my lord, we could have the power of the Franconians. These atoms, their power is one degree below the stars. None would be safe."

    A mounting violence seemed to come from the deep darkness.

    "No, we cannot. A great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of the waters; and the name of the star is called Wormwood; and a third of the waters became wormwood; and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter... but the LORD said, 'I, Jesus, am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.'** So we must choose between the Doom of Babylon and the Doom of Heaven, the star Christ or the star Wormwood. As the true heir to David, I know who we must choose, even if the entire age has gone mad. So get behind me, Satan. It is time for me to pray."

    *The allusion here is to Sweden's Saab Viggen fighter design, designed with American aid as part of a secret deal, finalized in 1962.
    **Apocalypse 8:10-11, 22:16
     
  10. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death. Proverbs 8:2

    1962

    The non-flagged and unmarked motorcade consisting of several four by fours manufactured by Fränkische Motorenwerke – FMW – had made it through the muddy roads that led to the Dovre site without any delay. Quickly after they had stopped in front of their more or less willing Oelarian hosts, the doors flung open and twelve people left the cars. The roughnecks, whose coats’ bulges betrayed their weaponry, were the Franconian military men’s, scientists’ and diplomats’ bodyguards. Indeed, the double-decree by the Rigpa that expelled the Aethur family from Oelar and allowed the destruction of the nuclear material had been received as a mixed blessing in Nürnberg. Nevertheless, after summing up the pro’s and con’s, Nürnberg had approved the deal.

    The delegation leader was the young and promising Friedrich von Faber-Castell, who happened to be the heir apparent to Franken’s most important and eminent Catholic aristocratic house, the Faber-Castell. The Erbprinz, who was only two years shy of his 30th birthday, had already been selected to serve as the Consul-General to Oelar, as the quasi deputy ambassador. Despite his average size of 1.79m and build, red-haired and freckled Friedrich von Faber-Castell could be charming and imposing – provided he wanted. Sometimes the young lord would indulge in bouts of outright arrogance courtesy to his temper. His father wanted Friedrich to learn to tame his feelings and therefore convinced him to join the diplomatic service. The stressful classes and demanding exams did away with a lot of the prince's anger. The rest would only go away while he got older and wiser, Friedrich's father hoped and prayed.

    Trying to show a polite smile, he smartly saluted the new Sky Commander Sigvarthur Sigvarthursson Eir, who obviously attempted to display a similar kind of politeness. “Sky Commander Lord Eir, it’s a pleasure to meet you at last“, he began, “My name is Erbprinz Friedrich von Faber-Castell, I’m a Vortragender Legationsrat with the Foreign Office of Franken. My job is to represent His Majesty’s Government at this event. Last but not least, I have power of attorney to negotiate the details of your compensation. These gentlemen, -“, the Erbprinz introduced Eir to the rest of the delegation, “- are all ranking members of the Königliche Luftwaffe, who also coordinates our nuclear program.” Faber-Castell stroked his reddish goatee, whose colour’s impression was even emphasized by the dark environment of the surrounding mountain range.
     
  11. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 5, 2010

    GUNNRSUND

    "I don't know. All Halvbefaren could tell me was that he met with the Cornavians to draw up a contingency plan if the Franconians or Kryobaijanis get too much influence."

    In fact, Rikarthur Gregorssson Geijer was talking about Lord Provost Halvbefaren's meeting with Hendley. What actually happened was that Jens Yvosson told Hendley that if 'worst' amounted to a Franconian or Kryobaijani takeover, an election puppet leader like U. V. Gravplass that sparked the Great War, then the Campanile would swiftly and capably shut down the country to prevent this outcome, an instant coup d'etat. If 'worst' meant a Alvitr/Stoker or Stoker/Alvitr coalition nonetheless sworn to preserve Oelarian sovereignty, less lethal means would be necessary. But none of the men in the little house overlooking the sea in Gunnrsund knew that, of course.

    It was a little stone house built onto a rocky outcrop that jutted into the waves of the Gunnrsund (as the bay was also known) that formerly was home to Fr. Matteus. The gathering in the Gunn clan stronghold was a coincidence of fate. Rikarthur Gregorsson Geijer was virtually in hiding after the brutal rape of Foreign Minister Alvitr. Quite un-at-home in Gunnrsund, Sigvarthur Sigvarthursson Eir was returning from Mimir Abbey where he had spent the last week in solitary prayer mourning his son. Gregor Samsonsson Stoker had taken the first helicopter trip of his life from Knytlingsfort to bring Lord Eir the some-days-old news of his election as Reeve; Stoker and Eir would return by helicopter to Yungdrung Gutsak in the morning and then take the train back down the mountains to Knytlingsfort.

    Stoker nodded calmly. Geijer did not share his political ideals, but he was an old friend. "Well, Rick, you can consider me warned. I wish we heard more from Kryobaijan, especially now that our cause has four elections we need to win in Yungdrung Gutsak." He didn't like Geijer's politics, but he wasn't a young man anymore. He had no fighting poems left in him. There had to be a peace left to win, after all.

    Eir had been silent. No man should have to bury his son. Especially a man like him, who had buried the sword almost forty years ago. Halvbefaren doesn't understand. I know what the next war would be like. So he gave up the Skycommand, advising it be left vacant until another crisis surfaced, and built a mining conglomerate from the ground up. Only for my son to die by the sword. It seemed inevitable in Oelar during his lifetime.

    Leaning back in an armchair next to a table with an idly smoking pipe, like incense, he spoke a muffled voice because his mouth was half covered by a hand that perpetually scratched his gray moustache.

    "Lord Halvbefaren is not a stupid man... by any means... a man of perpetually wounded pride, perhaps... blinding pride". Not unlike Friedrich von Faber-Castell, actually. Back in the present, he he squinted his eyes to mark his incredulity. "...What do you say, contingency? A contingency plan of civil war! A civil war whose outcome has a Batavian contingency plan... a Cornavian contingency plan a Franconian... an intersectionalist? Tell me he understands the consequences... of his actions. Tell me he understands contingency... I don't believe this."

    He looked over at Stoker.

    "We have made our peace and let twenty-year-old bygones be forgotten, Gregor Samsonsson. Under the circumstances... you were elected under extenuating circumstances... I was not, as you know, a factor." He paused, remembering his son Terje Sigvarthursson holding a 1962 picture of his father in that handsome white uniform of the Skycommander standing beside a Franconian Luftwaffe officer. Did he pick up the sword to impress me? Am I to blame? He looked back at Stoker as if out of a dream. "I am the only real margrave. I have spent my whole life trying to keep the Franconians out... the communists out... I am still a major fucking contingency for you to worry about if you sell this country out."

    He smiled broadly, a smile that raised his moustache at both end and revealed generous dimples. A winning smile for a businessman. "Of course, we all know it won't come to that. One thing the Franconians don't like is bad business. If only some of our countrymen would learn what they did sixty years ago."

    They drank to that, Geijer only slightly hesitantly.
     
  12. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    Holy Saturday, 1979

    DOVRE

    "Tomorrow, auxiliaries, regardless of whether you go on to advanced studies at the Capitollium or not, you will join the ranks of the Einherjar or the Aircommand. You will become sworn defenders of the Guardian Rigpa, of this Christian realm, and of the ancient values of the forgotten civilization of the West. The Academy has trained you well over the years. Remember that. You are its first modern class to do the full thirteen years. Be proud of that. It has been an honor to be your teacher." Ljón Hugosson Strauß spoke fluently and confidently, because all thirteenth-year lectures were in his native language, German. "When it comes time to test your mettle, remember the task before you, what Plato said about those destined to guard the guardians. You will do us honor."

    Three hundred some odd young men in crisp white military uniforms stood up and clapped for their philosophy teacher. Strauß was beloved, a Franconian refugee who was uncompromising in his vitriol against the degenerate Western democracies in their honorless post-Enlightenment stupor, and equally scathing in his warnings against the great threats that were growing in the East, communism and the darker threat lurking deeper in Touyou.

    As the applause died down and the cadets too their seats one after another, a tall cocksure twenty-year-old with the reputation of a budding fighter ace a nameplate that read 'A. R. VIERESKOG 13' remained standing. He was loud enough for the entire auditorium to hear, and even broke eye contact with Strauß and looked around his comrades even while he asked his question, in Latin (the compulsory language of instruction before the ninth-year courses taught Philosophy and Aerospace Engineering in German). "Ljón Hugosson, what then of the Sword Brothers, what are they for? And what about Soren Michaelsson Gravplass, who taught none but God can separate the sheep from the goats, the true Christians from the so-called Christians? Where does Plato leave G. R. R. Sarkon? And what the Holy Church teaches...?"

    Strauß narrowed his eyes. It was a good thing young Viereskog was projected to be the class flying ace, because he would barely scrape by in Philosophy.
     
  13. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 11, 2010

    YUNGDRUNG GUTSAK

    It was unfortunate that Lord Alvitr was the clan lord destined to live his life in Yungdrung Gutsak, because he was such an intensely private, even timid man. His wife practically had to drag Hjovarthur Einarsson to his seventieth birthday party that summer, a festive gala at which his ambitious children, Isleifur Christian and Margarethe, were the centers of attention at usual.

    Usually he spent the cold Oelarian winters at his summer home in the south of Belmont. Good thing I am not there this winter! he mused. He shuddered at the thought. But political considerations kept him in town. He moved his rook to 'castle' the king, and looked up at Zebulon of Karlljón, the bishop, the world-renowned spiritual adviser and philosopher, his friend and frequent chess-playing partner. Kind, wise old Zeb looked tired from all the headaches over homosexuality being caused by the Archbishop of Paris. What has gotten into the people of that country?

    "You know, Zeb, I worry about my son Chris..." He was really worrying about Belmont, also, but the two were somehow linked in his mind. "...that Stoker is a good poet, you know, but hungry for power. I would not be surprised if he has his eyes on becoming rigpa." It had been widely rumored, of course, but Alvitr pretended not to have heard the rumors. "And Chris, well you know Chris has always been a good student and a good kid - you remember him when he went to the seminary...! But there is too much ambition in him."

    Zebulon of Karlljón growled in a voice accustomed to being listened to.

    "To be sure, Hjova. To be sure. But does Chris have enough ambition to cut a deal with Gregor Samsonsson? Does Gregor Samsonsson have enough ambition to cut a deal with Derjiste, or with Erlangen? Younger men, even in forties, still have learning left in them. They don't remember the last time a rigpa was elected... they have no idea how it works, trying to run circles around each other. Let us wait and see, Hjova. It may turn out for the best. Thorlakur has not even summoned the thirteen yet, or spoken to the matter. We must listen to the Rigpa and the Council of Lords, this is the only way to teach them to listen."

    His hand thumbing the king's crown, Hjovarthur stuttered, blinking nervously, "I wonder why the Lord Rigpa h-hasn't h-handpicked my son or H-Halvbefaren to succeed h-him."

    Zebulon shrugged. "As important as who is chosen is how they are chosen - freely, in accordance with the Doom. You see, what if Stoker thought the deck was stacked against him, if he had no chance to win, or thought his friends were manipulating him. Not that I trust that new Swordbrother vicar I was forced to install..."

    Both players had developed formidable defenses, moving cautiously with sure moves that made for a long game.

    As it happened, Lord Alvitr had overlooked a fatal blunder committed some moves ago. "Hm. I always thought Rick Gregorsson Geijer was a nice man, at least."

    DERJISTE

    A few days earlier.

    Fr. Matteus did not know how well his plan synced with the sentiments off the two chess players in Lord Alvitr's Skiringssal apartments. Nor how well it had been playing out in Derjiste. Out of earshot of the two ladies, Robert Petursson Viereskog was pressing the Kryobaijanis hard to support leftist candidates in the Yungdrung Gutsak elections as well as increase their political involvement with the new intersectionalist provincial government in Knytlingsfort. It was a rare case in which the Intersectionalists and the Sarconist-Right (although Viereskog kept his own politics to himself, he was following the directives of Matteus and Halvbefaren to save his own skin) had convergent interests. If the Left could win enough elections, a moderate intersectionalist (although Stoker was a bizarre kind of intersectionalist) might rule Oelar for the next thirty years. If they didn't, the Sarconists hoped, the victories of the farther-left over the moderate modernizers of the Alvitrs' clique would spook timid moderates like Lord Bishop Zebulon and Lord Alvitr to throw their lot in with Lord Provost Halvbefaren and form a moderately progressive government under a fairly conservative rigpa, little different from the last fifty years of Gunn rule.

    So, to answer Zebulon's implicit question - Were the conservatives manipulating Stoker? - much would impinge on whether the gambit paid off.

    Some days later, not far from Alvitr's building in Skiringssal, A. J. Sýmeon and F. J. Gutkind were trying to convince the two other leading leftist candidates, the progressive-leaning S. J. Hvít and the more traditionally socialist M. G. Strang to appear at the first official public rally of the Intersectionalist League of Oelar.
     
  14. Mergogne

    Mergogne Active Member

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    December 6th, 2010
    Offices of the Intersectionalist Party of Kryobaijan, People's 9th Arsenal
    Waterfront District, Derjiste
    State of Orstark
    Kryobaijan


    Nodishenko, Alvitr, Viereskog, Gunn, and the gaggle of IPK officials made their way through the nondescript hallways of the Party Offices. The halls were bathed in a pale green light, emanating from the emerald-shaded banker's lamps in the countless offices by which the group passed. Portraits of great Intersectionalist and Socialist thinkers lined the corridor walls, save for a few empty spots – conspicuously free of dust – where former Communist Party officials who were deemed "too recent" or "too reactionary" had their likenesses removed. The group soon arrived in building's library, and took their seats at a massive oak table before a roaring brick fireplace. Surrounded by bookcase after bookcase of Leftist thought, the delegations launched into their discussion. Nodishenko, who sat at the head of the table, started with a general introduction.

    "Again, I'd like to welcome you all to Derjiste, Kryobaijan's Jewel on the Water. If you will permit me to be blunt, I think there is no better place in all Sarmatia or Europe for Kryobaijani-Oelarian bilateral relations to be strengthened, than right here in this very building. So much history in the 9th Arsenal, my friends."

    Nodishenko cracked an oily smile as he nodded his head wistfully. The flock of IPK apparatchiks nodded in unison with the foreign minister, their IPK armbands slipping up and down their biceps as they enthusiastically bobbed their heads. After pensively stroking his sharp chin for a moment, Nodishenko continued.

    "In addition, allow me preface this meeting by expressing our... excitement at the election of Gregor Samsonsson Stoker to the Revialty of Knýtlingsfort. I was informed just before you arrived, and I really could not be more thrilled. Please convey our sincerest congratulations to him upon your return, if you get the chance. In any case, I have a prepared an agenda for this afternoon and this evening, including discussions of free trade agreements, cultural exchanges, investment opportunities, and joint regional security arrangements. In each of these folders you will find information and proposals vis-à-vis our countries' respective prospects for cooperation. My colleagues and I will be referencing several of the plans and data presented in these documents throughout the meetings. Please feel free to annotate them as you like, as they are yours to keep, of course."

    Nodishenko took a pile of leather presentation folders from beneath his chair and started distributing them to the Oelarian guests. Just as he handed the last folder to the seemingly distant Alvitr, the doors to the library opened and a rattling cart of refreshments was pushed into the room by an impeccably dressed caterer. The long cart was laden with traditional Kryobaijani rolls of doughy slezinka hleb, pots of smetana cream, silver samovars of tea and coffee, and countless other fine examples of the regional cuisine. Nodishenko chuckled and addressed the guests again.

    "Of course, just when we were about to get started. I apologize – you have to understand that the kitchen is what truly runs things around here."

    After a bout of perfunctory laughter, the IPK political officers all got up to help themselves to some food and drink, and they were soon joined by the Oelarians. For the time being, everyone milled about the refreshment cart, chatting idly. Nodishenko was approached by Viereskog, who sipped a cup of coffee.

    "Thank you very much for the warm welcome, Director. While we have a moment now, I wanted to ask you a brief question. Just as we were sitting down, I noticed a very interesting-looking volume on the roots of leftism in Olmolungring; I think it was just in that bookshelf over there. Would you mind if we went over and took a quick look at it? I'm sure it has a fascinating story to tell."

    The Director of Foreign Affairs nodded as his eyes followed Viereskog's pointing finger to an isolated corner of the library. Vadim Nodishenko would never have reached the lofty status that he had won in the Revolutionary Council were he anything but constantly perceptive of subtle human behavior. As a master diplomat, his arena was indeed that of the unspoken. Still nodding, he turned and addressed the rest of the assembled diplomats and officials.

    "Excuse me everyone, whenever you are all finished with your refreshments, please feel free to get started without us. Robert Petursson and I were just going to take a quick look at some exquisite literature in the library archives. There was an original copy of Valentin Nimurvich's book on the roots of leftism in Olmolungring that we thought he would find very interesting, and I wanted to get a hold of it before the archives closed in a few minutes. We shouldn't be that long."

    Alvitr and Gunn exchanged quick glances, surprised by Viereskog's sudden, uncharacteristic interest in academic political literature. Nodishenko gestured to two members seated at the table, who the Oelarians now realized were not IPK party agents.

    "Nikita Sarkarin," Nodishenko said as he motioned to a young, overweight man eating some slezinka hleb, "is the Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Revolutionary Council, and is more than qualified to lead the discussion until we return."

    The second man who Nodishenko signaled to was not named, but instead simply rose from the table and followed Viereskog and the Director off into the labyrinth of tomes, far away from the table and the roaring fireplace. As soon as the trio was properly concealed in the corner of the library, behind many bookcases, Nodishenko addressed his Oelarian friend.

    "Robert Petursson Viereskog, perhaps that book...the one on leftism in Olmolungring...is one that is not yet written?"

    Nodishenko arched an eyebrow, smiled a petroleum grin, and nodded towards third man who had followed them into the forest of books.

    "This is Dr. Kirill Stanislavich, of the Federal Intelligence Service. What can we do for you?"

    Viereskog returned the smile, and launched into his pitch.
     
  15. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 6, 2010

    DERJISTE


    Uncharacteristic of him, thought Foreign Minister Alvitr, because the graduate-school dropout usually pretended to know everything. She was reticent and, to be honest, just wanted to go home. Svava hovered over her protectively with instinctive womanly concern. And, they had another crisis on their hands. News had just broken that Belmont had unleashed a massive aerial assault upon Coronado. It seemed far away, but a major war in Gallogermania at the time of the impending succession crisis. Not good. She was discretely sent an email from her PDA to the Franconians and Cornavians near a window where she was watching the settling darkness.

    Alvitr, meanwhile, was Sarkarin was not all too well-informed about the Belmont situation, although the boyishly fat diplomat seemed to be enjoying his pastry supremely, and was at least sure Coronado "didn't do it". Oh, really? You don't say!

    A folder of facile statements of national friendship that S. P. Gunn had slaved over back in Oelar lay more or less forgotten. Alvitr handed Sarkarin the official state invitation to the Rigpa's 80th birthday gala. Sarkarin's eyes lit up.

    "Will they have those vínarterta?" He asked, referring to the prune fruitcakes considered a Yungdrung Gutsak specialty.

    Was he serious, or was he just playing dumb?

    Back in the stacks, R. P. Viereskog (the acting skycommander's nephew) wordlessly handed Stanislavich several folders and dossiers marked "ISRA" and one marked "ILO".

    "With Stoker's election, the old Intersectionalist-Sarkonist Revolutionary Authority will transition to power in Knytlingsfort and the province along the Franconian border. Intersectionalist State Reform Authority, they will call it, I think. But it will be absorbed nationally under the aegis of the Intersectionalist League of Oelar. A. J. Sýmeon will be the national chairman of the ILO, it has been decided. He is requesting IPK liasons, political advisors, bascially whatever you guys need to do to start a political party from the ground up. If the ILO-backed candidates win in all four farthings of Yungdrung Gutsak next week - some of them like Strang are already doing really well - Stoker could be elected the next rigpa, and Oelar will be under leftist rule for the next thirty or fifty years."
     
  16. Großlausitz

    Großlausitz New Member

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    December 7 – Early morning

    Foreign Minister Alvitr’s message happened to pop up in Franken just minutes after Robert Beaumont had turned off his smartphone and computer to go to bed to catch his seven hours of sleep. As provided by the government’s communication protocols a copy was automatically forwarded to the Lagezentrum (situation room) in the Foreign Office, whose routine job was to supervise the the current zones of interest of Franken. The situation room’s chief didn’t deem the message sufficiently important to alert the Minister at night.

    Thus it was Beaumont himself, who answered his colleague’s e-mail a few hours later around 7:45am.

     
  17. Confederal Republics

    Confederal Republics New Member

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    December 7, 2010

    "Now, I recognize that we're under the same Minister, and that in matters of intelligence you and Major Clark are both my equals, but...."

    The Ambassador of the Commonwealth of Cornavia into Oelar stopped to draw in smoke from his cigarette, and Colton Standish did the same.

    The Intelligence Service Chief of Station for Oelar had never really learned to give up smoking, even though nowadays the Commonwealth government had made every effort to encourage officers in all services to quit the habit. Luckily, neither had Ambassador Donald Reynolds, meaning that the inner yard of the main embassy building - the only place in the grounds where one could smoke according to the Commonwealth anti-smoking regulations and avoid hazards such as directional microphones and other surveillance instruments - had become a regular spot for the two to discuss sensitive issues. Alas, Major Neil Clark did not share the habit, but considering how common smoking was within the Armed Forces it had been a necessity for him to get used to.

    "...but", Ambassador Reynolds ended his retort, "I don't like the extent to which West Wing's now intervening with matters in the purview of the Diplomatic Service."

    West Wing, Standish knew, referred to the West Wing of Claridge House which housed the headquarters of the Commonwealth Intelligence Service.

    Were they asking for too much? For organizations in a country straddled with interagency rivalries between all sorts of government structures, the Diplomatic Service and the Commonwealth Intelligence Service had always enjoyed a relatively warm relationship, so the Ambassador's reaction caught his eye. But then again, Ambassador Donald Reynolds had always been far too principled a man. Maybe he disliked the fact that the Commonwealth was positioning itself so close to a dubious reactionary candidate like Halfbefaeren.

    "Heh", Standish said, then shook off the ashes from the cigarette into an ashtray in front of the two men, "What we call espionage is what you call diplomatic liaison work. At the end of the day we're talking about and doing the same thing."

    "Alas, true. So, what is it that Lewis and Preston require of me this time?"

    "Given what you've undoubtedly read of the reports sent by Officer Hendley, well, suffice to say that it's all hands on deck for this one. Southport-on-Sea's prepared to stay the course. Everyone's still remembering how the things were for the past 60 years with the IRB on our doorstep, and no one wants a return to that so this is now the single most important operation of the Intelligence Service.", Colton Standish replied, and again drew in. He puffed out a large cloud of smoke, then watched it flow upwards and dissipate into thin air. Every time he compiled raw intel gathered by diplomatic cover agents, actual diplomats and NOCs into material that could be sent into Southport-on-Sea, a copy went out to the Ambassador. Unless, of course, the matters being dealt with were on a strictly compartmentalized basis. Therefore, the Ambassador was aware of what went on between the Intelligence Service and Halvbefaren. And indeed, Southport-on-Sea was prepared to go all the way.

    "I've put my diplomatic covers non-officials to work in using their contacts now to influence the locals, because with the Rigpa's election closing and closing we're sure as hell going to need them, and the Ops Directorate considers Oelar important enough to warrant an additional secondment of specialists to the embassy, purely in a capacity of covert campaigning, of course", the Chief of Station continued. "Mr. Ambassador, the Intelligence Service needs your and your diplomats' full cooperation and access to your own contacts here given how critical this phase is for Cornavian national interest."

    "We know where the military stands", added Major Clark, "But I managed to convince Colonel Heller to allow me to act as the local guide to a team of senior officers from the Air Force Section who are coming in to observe those Oelarian drills Fenner was notified about. There's a chance I will be able to get a more of a feel of the situation then."
     
  18. Mergogne

    Mergogne Active Member

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  19. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 14, 2010

    YUNGDRUNG GUTSAK


    "This is important, Christian..." "I am reading, Margo. Please. Please?"

    Not looking up from his book, Isleifur Christian heard his sister coming. Except for being reserved and intensely private, Lord Hjovarthur Einarsson Alvitr's two children were often called polar opposites. Margarethe was ambitious, impulsive, outspoken, "political". Isleifur Christian was warm, shy, and passive. There were those who said (in the popular Tagzig expression) that Mariann Eriksdatter, his wife, 'brought home the barley'. Mariann was around the corner in the kitchen, chopping up a butternut squash for a soup.

    Margarethe sat opposite him in their father's apartment (he was playing chess again with the bishop in the solarium) and pretended to read her book - it was rare they were all in Yungdrung Gutsak together, but these were rare times. After a few minutes she found it irresistible to start speaking what was on her mind.

    "Chris, do you know what I heard? Sýmeon and Stoker got forty million thaler from Kryobaijan to run their little outfit. Forty million! They're out to paint the town red, pouring money into all manner of public works projects and stamping ISRA on this, ILO on that. The Cornavians are going nuts! It's now looking like Phil Gutkind will give V. V. Perseifur a run in Hólar. You're going to have trade unionists win in Hólar!"

    Trade unionists. Margarethe liked to believe that these leftists weren't the 'real progressives'. In fact, Isleifur Christian had decided her politics were awfully like the ILO folks, except of course that she was an Alvitr, and his sister, which required either cognitive dissonance or believing that Stoker, Strang, Hvít, Sýmeon, and Gutkind were somehow socialists of a burly misogynist variety. "Painting the town red means getting drunk and raising Cain, sister."

    Margo tried her best to look surprised, although she knew he would be dismissive. "Be nice, Chris," she heard Mariann call. Mariann had complained he was much snarkier around his family, which was true.

    "What are you doing, Chris? Stoker is going to buy this goddamned country with Kryobaijani money and then what? Or worse, Halvbefaren is going to take over and nothing will change. Women will still die in childbirth. Children will run around with dirty faces. Men will have nothing to look forward to but a life of cutting barley, herding sheep, and drinking their meager pay in taverns... And with all this, the farthing council elections are Thursday!"

    She tended to get histrionic when imagining the Oelarian poor, who, to be fair, were distinctly poorer than the "poor" in Franken or Cornavia. Chris smiled at her placidly. You were not supposed to play politics to become rigpa. He would have a few words with Jakob von Franken before the council convened, to be sure, but there was more to life than squabbling for power. This is the way politics worked in other countries, working people up to believe public issues were more important than they actually were.

    "I'm not running for council, dear..." He paused and hit such a perfect pitch that anyone else might have missed the sarcasm. "...aren't you, though?"

    The silence that followed was punctuated by a loud, almost deafening blast. One of Oelar's new Darkcloud fighters had broken the sound barrier high above Yungdrung Gutsak. It was Christian's turn to look visibly perturbed. The damned Aircommand thought they ran the country... Couldn't a man read in peace?
     
  20. Gunnland

    Gunnland FTR

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    December 14, 2010

    DOVRE, City-Under-the-Mountain

    He was forty-one years old, thirty-one spent in the Aircommand which began when he was officially enrolled at the Dovre Academy at age seven, a member of the first graduating class, a Gunn by birth in an establishment dominated by the Eir clan, and now acting Skycommander (formally the rank was vacant, out of respect for Lord Eir - Sigvarthur Sigvarthursson Eir had resigned the Skycommand just before he graduated the Academy), but still he had not learned to keep his mouth shut.

    Alasdair Robertsson Viereskog checked his watch as two IF-23s, with three red dots on the fuselage and "AO" on their tails, came racing by the observation tower at the Dovre site. He smirked at Major Neil Clark, standing at his right. A lot of Cornavian money went into these puppies, huh, Neil? But the Cornavians had gotten the expertise and secrecy of Aircommand Oelar and it's craft production facilities. Then he turned to smirk at Oberst Petra Dohrmann. I bet you wish the Königliche Luftwaffe held on to these facilities, huh? Actually, Dohrmann was just thinking how impossible it would be for Franken to operate the Dovre site the way Aircommand Oelar did. There were billions of thaler from the Eirs' mining conglomerate and substantial historic foreign investment in R&D, and then the apparent fact that the Aircommand operated independent of anyone except the Rigpa himself.

    The opportunities to tour Dovre, a network of tunnels and bunkers dotting a valley between Yungdrung Gutsak and Knytlingsfort, were few, even for the Franconians and Cornavians who kept the research there going. Getting there was via a secret railway switch in a tunnel designed by the Franconians during the Great War. The site itself was stretched over several hundred acres, low buildings in thick forests, runways covered with fake shrubbery, hangars built into cliff faces, and subterranean fuel deposits. When they were not in the little subway cars that connected most of the major underground sites, the visitors were taken around in the tracked all-terrain vehicles ubiquitous on the snowy, hilly terrain. Viereskog was an enthusiastic tour guide, proud of the little city he had spent most of his life in. While he was magnanimous, there was no mistaking a tinge of arrogance.

    "The most advanced interceptor fighter custom-built for boreal conditions... The pilots of tomorrow enter the Academy at age seven... Still one of the best design teams in Europe..."

    Clark and Dohrmann followed him through rows of well disciplined cadets - the older ones spoke German exclusively - in white uniforms. These were not the unwashed peasants of Olmolungring, but the small cadre of knights shared by Lord Eir and the Rigpa. These knights that kept a perpetual peace between their three benefactors, the Rigpa at Yungdrung Gutsak, the Eirs at Knytlingsfort, and the Franconians. And, increasingly of late, the Cornavians. In terms of modern efficiency and strategic importance, next to the Aircommand, the Campanile were a bunch of amateur drugrunners, the Einherjar looked like thugs, the Swordbrothers seemed to be lunatic priests.

    When they were comfortably seated in the observation tower, Viereskog began spilling his guts, as always. "It is a matter of time, Major Clark, Frau Oberst Dohrmann, that the Skycommander gets a seat on the Great Council. It was that way during the Great War. And here we go, a succession crisis, some saber-rattling from our deranged cousins up north, Meridian Europe on the brink of international war. The poets can't seriously believe they can run this goddamned country once the going gets tough!"

    His colleagues were taken aback, slightly. They knew Viereskog was a loose cannon by reputation, but it was easy to underestimate just how autonomous the acting Skycommander was. A modern military outside of the context of the modern state was a dangerous thing.

    "Speaking of which, Prime Minister Roerich has asked if we could draw up a trilateral response plan in the event of an attack by the Drakun Imperium against Olmolungring, Cornavia, or Franken. I know that Foreign Minister Alvitr hasn't gotten around to working out mutual defense treaties - Seriously she has her head up her ass some days, I think! - but in the event that our three nations were to decide to cooperate militarily, some plans will need to be drawn. I know you didn't expect this from us today, but here you go..."

    He gave two folders marked "AO/CAF/KLF [TOP SECRET]" to the two liaisons, Clark and Dohrmann.

    "...obviously treat those as top secret."

    Two more IF-23 Darkclouds came whooshing low by the big plate-glass window of a building built into one of the cliffs.
     

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