December 14, 2010 DOVRE, City-Under-the-Mountain Once a Ranger, always a Ranger, the saying went. "Strike Hard" was the motto of the Army Ranger Battalion, the unit that Neil Clark had been part of before transferring out to Intelligence, where he'd kept it with him. Literally speaking, since the man had taken a tattoo of the Ranger sigil in his left biceps after being accepted into the unit. And boy, did a fighter such as the IF-23 strike hard, especially when carrying it's weight's full worth in cluster bombs. Clark recalled seeing a CAF one - designated I/AF-109 "Dragon" in Cornavia - in action during the "other branches of service" course prospective Military Intelligence members got during their training. Still, this wasn't his game. Major Clark's world had been men with automatic weapons deep in the forest, stalking their target to strike hard and unseen or to allow brothers-in-arms to do that. And now his world was the cloak-and-dagger game of secrets and deceit. He was happy that he'd brought Lieutenant Ashford along for the ride. Terry Ashford had joined Military Intelligence from Air Force and served as a cryptographer-communications expert-security specialist-driver and whatever else Neil Clark happened to need at the embassy. Though the man had been mission crew during most of his time within the Air Force, Ashford had a tendency to become all giddy about anything related to fighter aircraft, including this gig. Then again, it figured. If you were a regular guy, the chances were that you'd joined Air Force to become a pilot. Clearly Lieutenant Ashford hadn't realized that ambition of his, though being that he seemed satisfied with his current lot Clark guessed that the whole 'international man of mystery' thing served as a good replacement. Owing to his Secret security clearance, Major Clark had previously read about the underground city of Dovre, but this was the first time the head of Military Intelligence in country got to visit in person. Suffice to say, he was impressed by what he saw. The underground facility was by the very least an equal to the Commonwealth's own facilities of Continuity of Commonwealth Government, meant to ensure the survival of civil and military command structures even in the event of a nuclear attack. Such facilities were centered at the General Staff in Langdon, and at Fort Weather, and Clark had seen both first-hand. In any case, Skycommander Viereskog certainly had something to be proud of. Viereskog's opening up at the control tower came as a little surprise to him. As it turned out, in a recent confidential cable from Southport-on-Sea his superior Colonel Brendan Carter had specifically requested that the Major work to ascertain where exactly Oelar stood with the recent emergence of the so-called Imperium from isolation. Even amidst international intrigue and the possibility of looming armed conflict, the fact that his work seemed to do itself for him once more. As he took one of the dossiers, passing it to Lieutenant Ashford who promptly proceeded to place it inside an attaché case he was carrying, he gave a brief glance at his Franconian counterpart. He had little doubt as to his suspicion that the woman would also be at least reporting to a counterpart agency in Nürnberg, and knowing how the game-plan went, Neil Clark hoped that he'd manage to get some facetime with the Skycommander without the Franconian hag within a listening distance. Alas, it seemed just as likely that Viereskog was playing both sides. The man openly chastising Altvir and the rest was an interesting thing to note. In a certain level, Major Clark envied the man for being able to say such things. Though Cornavians enjoyed freedoms many times above those of the average Oelarian, he could have never imagined being completely open about what he felt about Joanne Wainwright and the rest, at least in a situation other than at an officers' club following a few pints and a glass of whiskey. "My lips are sealed, as are undoubtedly those of the ones above me", Major Clark replied to Vierskog, and barely managed to cover his surprise for the frankness of the man's words. Viereskog bringing this up with a mere Major was a surprise, even if the said Major headed the Department of Military Intelligence in all of Oelar. "As to your inquiry", Clark paused for a moment, wondering how much he exactly could disclose when the Franconian woman was around, "Yes, we've been keeping an eye on your Eastern neighbor for quite some time, so your proposition does not come as a surprise."