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GATE: and so the Iron Pact Fought (a GATE: and thus the JSDF Fought fic)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Aaron Fox, Oct 10, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: OP and STORY Prelude Chapter
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Alright boys and girls, here's a major project I've been working on. Those from SB, SV, and Frozen in Carbonite will know this one, as it's oddly somewhat popular... which is personally surprising but goes to show how good you can be with a lot of practice and throwing metaphorical darts at the wall.

    Now, those from AH.com, SV, and SB would notice that this has a timeline based upon the 'Nightmare!Versailles' horror-show (links to the three sites this monstrosity of a treaty here). Basically this treaty was one of genocide, and the world rightly said 'fuck that' and pretty much screwed France and Britain over for it... among other things. The fic was also influenced by the GATE Fanfic ... and so the Soviets Conquered, which has a second GATE show up on a nearby hill and out comes Alt!1960s Soviets. Full chapters will have the tag STORY in their threadmark while posts with information about some aspect of the fic will have INFORMATIONAL in their threadmark.

    Now without further ado, let's begin...

    (____________________________________________________)
    [​IMG]
    A ‘GATE: and thus the JSDF Fought There’/Iron Pact Timeline fic
    __________
    I must thank those at the Alternate History dot com forums for the idea of the Iron Pact timeline, even though I can no longer visit the forums due to my expulsion. I must also thank the author of the fic ‘and so the Soviets Conquered’ for giving me the idea for this fic in the first place. Without them, things would probably be different for everyone involved.
    ___________​
    Prelude: The Berlin Incident

    My time in the Great War of Resistance had changed me so completely. If you asked before the War about the Jews, I would tell you that I venomously hate them at the very least. Now after the War? I can honestly say that the Jews are probably the most resourceful people I've ever met and more than willing to throw their lives into the fight if need be... and if they cannot fight, they will do whatever they can to help those that do... and now I say let them make Germany their second Israel, as I can trust them with my life. War changes one's perception, and for me, it is probably the change for the better. This book isn't just about me in that conflict and the battles that I fought; this is a book about the men and women -of all creeds and nationalities- that I served with and led into battle. For me, this is the memoirs of those who have died under my command and those who no longer have a voice to tell their stories...
    -Excerpt of the First Paragraph of "My Struggle: The Memoirs of the Great War of Resistance (Mein Kampf: Die Memoiren des Großen Widerstandskrieg)"
    By Adolf Hitler, still the best seller of war memoirs next to All Quiet on the Western Front and The Dawn of the Dragon and the Tiger
    Berlin, Imperial Germany; March 8th, 2017 (T +3 days after the Portal opened)


    “… as you can see behind me, the devastation to the historical border between Old and New Berlin is catastrophic…”

    “… Iron Pact forces have forced out the Roman-esque army back through the mysterious gate-like portal. Scientists across the Free World have requested immediate access to the portal, stating that it presents an unheard-of breakthrough of quantum mechanics…”

    “… as the discovery of bodies slows to a trickle, the Berlin Police Department has stated that there are at least three hundred persons unaccounted for. Experts in Roman History agree that they may have been taken to the other side of the portal…”

    “… in a public announcement today, Premier Putin has stated that despite the current tensions between the Comintern and the Iron Pact, the Comintern denounces the recent invasion by the Roman-esque invaders and the now-public kidnapping of at least three hundred nationals and is willing to work alongside Iron Alliance to return these nationals back to their homes…”

    Kaiserin Sophia slumped into her chair as the news droned on, exhausted. The meetings with the various parties within the Reichstag had been immensely draining on her already taxed stamina... and now she must meet with the various leaders of the Iron Pact and their military ministers via Telecom... a meeting that she didn't want to in her depleted condition. Few people know about the trials, tribulations, and shear weight of being a royal... and the only people who can even relate to it is probably the US Presidents after the mid-1850s and the few surviving monarchs in the world.

    Soon enough one of the Telecom technicians told her that she was on. The screens showed not only her counterparts in the US, Poland, and Japan but also the defense ministers.

    "Sorry about making you take the meeting now Kasierin," Japanese Defense Minister Gouda thoroughly apologized, "and I'm sorry about our current disorganization. The Portal Invasion has caught everyone off-guard and we're still working on getting properly organized. Even our most... imaginative... think tanks couldn't think of such a situation until recently." Gouda is a very interesting character, despite his slight inferiority complex and... intricacies... he was scary intelligent, a trait that let him be part of a decade of administrations. His public face is basically the most honorable and polite man in politics, but behind closed doors he's a manga and anime fanatic. Then again, even the best should have their intricacies, even with a man that survived the Pakistani Revolution back in 1987.

    "I have to agree with Defense Minister Gouda," American Secretary of War Mattis sighed, "The guys in the Planning Division told me that they were just starting to cook up scenarios for this sort of thing within the last month or so, and we all know it takes a better part of a year to have at least a proper scenario and what can be done about it." Mattis was the man behind the 'details on the ground' for the intervention in Saudi Arabia after the Wahabists overthrew the government there in 1993. Using the Baghdad Confederation -an oddity within the Middle East, as it is one of the few nations there that have multiple ethnic groups that are at least civil with each other, with the joint state of Israel-Jordan and the ancient nation of Persia being the others that one can remember off the top of their head- as a launching point. His tactics and strategies made him a war hero, and his assessment of making the two holy cities of Islam into international cities similar to the Vatican backed by the power of the UN Peacekeepers was a small stroke of genius even if it caused a lot of headaches for a better part of two decades by quite a few sub-divisions of Islam.

    "While I find all this talk about our current situation somewhat entertaining, we're probably missing the bigger picture here," Polish President Andrzej Duda retorted sharply, "The current projections of kidnapped nationals is already one and a half times what we've told the media. This includes a hundred Soviets... which complicates things. Premier Putin has asked if he can send some of the First Spetznaz Guard with our forces to 'ensure that any recovery of Soviet Nationals has them back home as soon as possible'." Andrzej's party had been elected thanks to the heightened tensions between the Comintern and the Iron Pact back early last decade and the fact that the Fifth Republic that de Gaulle set up finally failed in 2005 when the military dissolved the government after the election caused the Second Revanchism Party -Deuxième parti du revanchisme- to effectively control the civilian government despite all countermeasures. It took five years for the French Military to retake control and is still picking up the pieces as the remnants of the DPR has gone to ground and kept on using guerrilla warfare... leading to a situation worse than Britain's The Troubles period from 1926 to 1943.

    "If I know Vladimir well enough, his Spetznaz Guard is going to be taking notes on our equipment. The man is an old spymaster and is an opportunist," Chief of the Military General Staff Fredrick Neumann stated, "However, we can't deny him that right either. Ignoring or denying the Soviets from having some members of his government as attaches for returning Soviet Nationals back home would increase tensions, probably to the point of war. However, this represents an opportunity not seen since the death of Stalin. If we accept Vladimir's request, we can lessen the high tensions that already exist. The last thing we need is the India/Pakistan situation exploding to war or the situation in Africa triggering a world war. We should allow everyone who had nationals kidnapped have at least a few platoons of their elite units if they can spare them to keep tensions low." Fredrick Neumann is from a low-ranking Junker family, and is probably one of the best Chiefs of the Military General Staff that the Kaiserreich ever had. His cousin -one Gerhard Neumann- had made temporary headlines back in 1985 -that year was a slow one for the news networks in the Kaiserreich- by marrying a common American woman... who was an above average electrical draftswoman. That bit of media frenzy was a headache for her father, Fredrick the Seventh.

    "I have to agree with you Mr. Neumann," President Hillary Clinton answered, "While I'm not the one to trust Putin, this could work entirely in our favor. With tensions as they are, this is probably the best way to lessen them while keeping accurate data on our more advanced systems safe. Given that the enemy is in the Middle Ages from a technological standpoint, sending our best units would be foolish at best." Hillary Clinton is perhaps the cleanest 'smooth operator' in US politics. Her ability to navigate in US politics made being Secretary of State easy by comparison. Her political savvy is probably in the same general ballpark as Bismarck... just without the micromanaging fetish that he gained as his mental ability deteriorated.

    Sophia smirked, bounding ideas always works, it worked for her grandfather Wilhelm the Second during the Großen Widerstandskrieg, it will work for her now. "The core problem with any plan we can come up with is that we lack any and all information on what is on the other side, what the political and economic systems are, and how exactly their military is structured. Our interrogators have only made slow progress so far with those that we've captured, and they've been resisting our attempts to parse out intelligence," Sophia complained, "It doesn't help that it will take time for us to assemble the needed forces to carry out any operation on the other side. My best guess would be at least a month before we can send initial recon elements to the region on the other side of the portal, with another two months before we can actually send something more than that."

    "Sadly, you're right Kaiserin Sophia," Mattis sighed in frustration, "and with the fact that these invaders are Roman-esque, it might be a month or three that the nationals don't have thanks to the sad reality. It's not like we can plot a command center and build a base and logistics train from scratch like some video game." Everyone mentally snickered at the reference to the Command and Conquer series.

    "We all understand that Mattis," Sophia replied, "But most of us here have fickle constituents to consider. Constituents that would likely force the issue whether we like it or not..."
    _______________
    Other Side of the Portal; April 8th, 2017 (T+ 1 month)


    Oberstleutnant Karl Neumann frowned as he observed the landscape from the hatch of the Panzerbefehlswagen 2000 Auf Emil. So far, it has been going incredibly smoothly. The field drone airstrip was already setup, allowing the round-the-clock drone missions with incredible ease… and so far, the rest of the Aufklärungsabteilung had been having it easy… at least to the point that the various surveyors and scientists can easily do their work.

    “Oberstleutnant, you better get down below… Hauptmann Neumann wants you right away,” one of Karl’s lieutenants said as she asked loudly. Hauptmann Neumann is a brilliant man from Gerhard’s branch of the Neumann family, great with machines and electronics and thus when he joined the military he was assigned to the drone corps… which landed him here in the First Army’s 7th Aufklärungsabteilung. The only reason that High Command was reluctant with sending him here was his condition… a condition that was the result of the life-saving surgery utilizing then-experimental cybernetics technology back in 2005 thanks to an anti-German terror bombing during the Frisby Family Reunion in Huston.

    “Alright Leutnant, I’ll be right down,” Karl replied, “Did Aaron said anything about why by chance?” The Leutnant simply nodded and said, “He said you’ll only believe it when you see it.” It was a short walk towards the command deck… but Karl frowned at the sight of half the command crew gawking at Hauptmann Neumann’s station.

    “Aaron, you’ve asked for me?” Karl asked politely as he ducked through the door.

    “Ah, yes cousin,” Hauptmann Neumann answered with a slight casual flare, “I was looking through the data from the drones in Sector 20 when I saw another Portal.” That got Karl’s attention almost immediately. Another Portal is a surprise in of itself, but Karl knew that underpinning that Aaron had, it always told that there was something more to it than whatever had been said.

    “Another Portal?!?” Karl exclaimed in surprise, “How far out is it and has anything come through it?” Karl was genuinely surprised at this information, given that the data the scientists had produced indicated that the most likely proposition being that there is only one Portal link active at any one time. Having a second one just blew that right out of the water.

    “Yeah,” Aaron answered, “and that isn’t the only thing. I’m seeing Japanese recon units… but not our Japan either given the style and designs of their equipment are completely different. From what my sensors are telling me, they’re using ICE instead of fuel cells from the heat signature, they’re not using intelli-wear based combat armor nor combat exoskeletons… everything that the sensors tell me is that they’re not our Japan, and the Empire has paid them a visit.” Karl frowned, from the looks of it -and telling from Aaron’s body language- the ‘other Japan’ had also sent a scouting unit forward before their own main force arrives, meaning that they too have been attacked by the local empire.

    “… as we don’t have fucking enough on our plate already,” Karl complained, “Now we’re not just dealing with a medieval Rome, but also an alternate Japan. Command is so going to like this.” Karl shook his head as he said the last line in a worried but sarcastic tone. “Alright, get that data transferred to Command and keep an eye on them. We don’t want them to decide that we’re trouble and attack us.” Aaron simply nodded as he sent the instructions to the computer via MMI.

    “Cousin… we all have enough on our plate already,” Aaron sighed sadly as he continued his work.
    _
    Point Gate; September 8th, 2015 – 16:25


    “So… medieval Romans pour out of this thing, it takes a better part of a week to dislodge them and clear them out, found out that a good hundred nationals -mostly American and Japanese- have been taken as slaves, and our governments are barely stopping themselves from squabbling over this ‘Gate’,” Lieutenant Lloyd Richards -of the United States Marine Corps- complained as he lowered his binoculars, “… and I see a bloody UAV that we certainly didn’t deploy out there. What else is this place going to throw at us? Flute busting Prussians?” Lloyd wasn’t having the best day, given that this campaign started poorly. The JSDF had already fought off a scout vanguard the moment that they got to this side of the Gate, and given what the forward scouts have seen, there is a decent sized -some 5,000 strong- garrison force a few miles from the Gate.

    “I’m not surprised,” answered Imakawa Sato, “Everything with the Gate has overturned what we thought was real and not. I mean fantasy creatures and medieval Romans coming out of a gate like structure that could appear from nowhere? We’ve been rewriting what is real and what isn’t for a while now… although the UAVs flying around is a new one.” Imakawa quickly brought his binoculars up and saw the drone in question. “Damn, that thing is impressive. Looks like it’s a bigger, nastier version of those Predator drones you Americans love so much.”

    “That’s the problem… no one has anything resembling that thing right now, let alone something that can be used without satellites,” Lloyd complained, “We’re dealing with another modern-era group here and they’re willing to send drones over here for recon.” Imakawa frowned at this. “So, that begs the question, whose is it? Can’t make out any identification markings from this distance.”

    “I really don’t know Lieutenant… I really don’t know…” was all that Imakawa replied back.
     
  2. Threadmarks: STORY Chapter 1
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Chapter One: Operation Breakthrough

    Welcome to Cologne, Kameraden! Today you begin the greatest moment of your life!
    -A paraphrased introduction of a common speech made by Officers of the German Army during the Siege of Cologne during the Great War of Resistance and again during the Second World War
    In front of the Portal, Berlin side; June 8th, 2017 (T+ 3 Months) – 12:40 Berlin Time


    It had been three months since the invaders had attacked the capital of one of the most successful nations in the history of mankind. It had been three months of preparation since it was decided to go onto the other side and bring those who were responsible to justice. … and now it was considered time to begin the campaign.

    Even three months couldn’t heal the damage that the invaders inflicted upon the two portions of Berlin and yet, despite the ongoing reconstruction, thousands of citizens around the world assembled to see the soldiers of the First Army, Second Crops off to the lands on the other side of the Portal. Military personnel and equipment moved into spearhead formation, as the Aufklärungsabteilung on the other side had encountered elements of what appeared to be the forward vanguard of the enemy’s army.

    1st Lieutenant Jeffery George ‘Old Reliable’ Patton simply sighed as he sat in the command position in his tank, a Panzer VIII Auf E Tiger III named Rommel’s Glory, as he scanned his surroundings through the numerous digital sights that he had available to him. The Tiger III’s 5-man crew -a driver, an electronics warfare specialist, a gunner, a loader, and a commander- were already chomping at the bit for justice. It was one thing to attack representatives of the Iron Pact, it was another to try sacking one of the Pact’s capitals and killed thousands in the process alongside taking four hundred and fifty people as slaves.

    “Attention all units, move out!”

    “Driver, crank it!” Patton ordered, “Gunner, prepare for anti-infantry combat!” The replies via the tank’s internal network resounded as the spearhead started to move forward at speed. The one thing that the crew noticed is that going through the Portal was like going through a tunnel, and at flank speed the travel time was incredibly short. Ten minutes short.

    That was when the Rommel’s Glory exited the other side of the Portal, and the BATNET went absolutely nuts.

    “All units, all units this is Eagle Six! Enemy vanguard inbound! Prepare for combat!” Patton’s eyes widened considerably as he recognized the voice, it was the voice of General Sigfried Forsythe… the Hero of Imamabad. To have him here is surprising to say the least.

    “Understood!” Patton stated into the BATNET, “Gunner! Target, infantry; distance 1.2 clicks! 1 o’clock!”

    “ON THE WAY!” Balthasar Schmidt replied as he pressed the fire peddle. The 12.8cm main gun roared as the HEP round ripped through the air and detonated three seconds later in the middle of an enemy vanguard unit, turning the formation into fine paste and debris. The nearby formations went into a panic as they saw their fellows become a fine mist and shrapnel.

    That was when surprise raked the BATNET.

    “This is Charlie Six-Six! Charlie Four-One just bit it! Unknown projectile!”

    “Driver, haul it. Evasive!” Patton ordered as he switched his controls to use the 12.7mm HMG CROWS, “Gunner, full release on the coax.” Soon enough the 12.7mm coaxial opened up as the loader made sure that the HEP round was rammed into the main gun, followed shortly with the roof-mounted HMG. The sound of the venerable M2A4 HMGs reverberated through the tank, sending half an inch of hot lead down range and simply pasting anyone they hit.

    The enemy was dying in lots; it wasn’t combat, it was outright slaughter. … and the enemy’s commander doesn’t know it yet… which is bad given that it is outright policy of the Iron Pact to not have a war turn into a genocide unless all other options were exhausted. So far, no conflict had come to that but some of the interventions got damn close like the Indian-Pakistani Wars that got Forsythe so famous.

    “Sir, I think I see the bastard that got Charlie Four-One Eel-Tee,” Michel Reynolds, the EWO, remarked, “11 o’clock, 800 meters.”

    “Alright, Bathasar, take him out before he decides to make havoc,” Patton ordered, firing the roof M2 at another grouping of soldiers… before seeing the man readying for another attack, “Bathasar, do it now! He’s…

    Bathasar immediately swiveled the turret and opened up with the coaxial before sending a HEP round for good measure. Unlike the other soldiers, his body had a glimmer that quickly dimmed in the withering fire, leaving the body itself mostly intact. The crew quickly made a mental note to get intelligence to pick up the body later as the slaughter continued.

    The ‘battle’ -if you wanted to call it that- lasted for another half-an-hour before the enemy started to retreat. That was when the radio came to life with orders.

    “This is Eagle Six… they’re retreating. Fallback to the Portal and prepare for further orders,” General Forsythe ordered over the radio. Patton ordered the driver to pull back… and the rest of the crew to prepare for a field break…

    Holy Empire of Alnus Legion Camp, near Remus Hill; the next day


    Legate Titus Camilius Mactator frowned as the remnants of his vanguard returned bloody and shaken. From the vanguard’s accounts, the enemy at Remus Hill -and likely Alnus Hill as well- has magic far beyond all but the most capable of battle mages or spirit wielders and has somehow been able to deploy said magic in mass. That… scared Titus. It wasn’t the fear that is uncertainty before combat. It was a more primal -barbaric!- fear, a fear unbecoming of one of the Holy Empire’s soldiers.

    “Legate Mactator,” the messenger said as he kneeled before his Legate, “I’ve brought a message from Legate Tertius Granius Montanus, it reads: the legions assigned to the Holy Hill of Alnus is proceeding on schedule, they will be at the camp near Alnus by mid-day.” Tertius is probably one of the more competent Legates within the Holy Empire of Alnus with two Triumphs to his credit and his insistence on having his men ranked on merit instead of familial ties. Tetius’s primary supporter is Prince Diabo Aburius Draco, the crafty middle child of the current emperor… and a man with a complexity fetish for all of his plans.

    “That’s good Messenger, now tell Tertius that things are going to plan and to prepare to go into the next phase,” Titus ordered, “If the Imperial City is to survive, then the plan must succeed.” Titus simply looked into the distance in reflection as the messenger wrote down the reply. Given that the XXIII Legion came back all but annihilated after discovering the second Gate on Remus Hill -one of the seven hills of the Holy Land of Alnus- caution and deception is the mentality of the day. The Messenger stayed so that Tertius would know which sort of plan is to be implemented, given that Titus is the lead Legate for this campaign.

    Titus quickly returned to the map and frowned, the enemy was only a sixth of his own forces, but underestimation of the enemy had gotten ten Imperial Legions and his vanguard annihilated. As such, he had to think with a level head. Proper earthworks wouldn’t be setup less than a night after the first battle, even with experienced geomancers it would take days to set up a camp. As such, they’re on open ground and thus vulnerable. Even with magic, you can only sustain a defense for so long before one’s stamina runs out… however the ‘iron elephants’ complicates things.

    The vanguard proved that a daylight assault was impossible, as they fought at a greater range… and given the unknown variables, a night assault might be a phyrric victory at best… a complete washout at worst. Even with their fantastical military prowess, it is incredibly unlikely that they can eliminate the auxiliary legions enough that the remnants simply go home. Half of the legions are out on the frontiers, expanding the empire and to withdraw then is to destroy whatever gains that have been made. The legions that were sent through the Gates comprised a quarter of the Empire’s strength, leaving only new recruits and the remnants of battered legions training the new recruits for the legions they will found.

    That meant that if the enemy was able to get into the Empire proper, then things get ugly, fast.

    That left the fact that he was caught between a rock and a hard place. The axillary legions are simply here to whittle down the enemies from the two Gates, hopefully for long enough for the Empire to rearm and start switching out some legions from the frontier back home to fight these new foes. Yet… they aren’t likely enough to do much given the information he had.

    “Messenger,” Titus quickly said, causing the lowly messenger to look up, “Tell Tertius that we must assume that the best-case scenario is that all but a third of the axillary legions will be annihilated and most of them will turn to banditry. We must prepare to implement a scorched earth policy between the Holy Hills and the border of Italica Province to ensure that it is protected from the enemy and the eventual bandits. I recommend that he send his recognoscere auxiliaries to get a better picture of the enemy at Alnus.” The messenger quickly wrote it all down and sealed the scroll. “Now go, use our fastest horse if you have to.” The messenger ran as fast as he could towards the stables and left the camp on his horse.

    With Titus now alone with commanders, a new line of thought started. His vanguard couldn’t get the information he needed to plan a proper assault. Most of his -and those of the auxiliary legions- men aren’t capable of recognoscere duties for the simplest reason of the lack of light-footedness -both in fleet of movement and the ability to quietly move through the lands- and willingness to simply observe. That problem limited not only Titus’s options, but also Tertius’s.

    “Legate Titus,” Marcellus Gabinius Trebellius, one of Titus’s more problem-solving centric commanders, “The only recongnoscere auxiliary we have would be our Warrior Bunny century… and thanks to our idiot Prince Zorzal El Caesar, it’s a good probability that they could defect to the enemy.” Titus simply slumped his shoulders. Zorzal was probably the largest idiot within the Imperial Family, and it was only because of Emperor Molt hearing about Zorzal’s plan for the Bunny Kingdom that stopped the extermination of the Warrior Bunnies. That made any Warrior Bunny auxiliary of suspect due to that.

    “It is something we have to do Marcellus,” Titus frowned, “If we don’t send them out, then we will get slaughtered. It’s one of those situations where we don’t have a decent choice of gaining a true victory… only partial victories or worse. Go tell Ilthrule that he and his Cohort are to prepare to recongnoscere the enemy and bring back intelligence on the enemy…”
    Portal Patrol Zone Dora-4; June 9th, 2017 – 8:32 PM Local Time


    For Unteroffizer Daniël Steenkamp and his patrol, the twilight is a nerve-wrecking time. The interface between daylight and nightfall always caused some sort of identification problems in the expanses of Africa. Between the heat differentials, lighting that is too bright for low-light vision aids but too dark for vision aids at other lighting intensities, and intelligent enemies, the twilight can be the most dangerous time for a patrol. Yet it must be done… and why various drones are used to ensure that any patrol during this time is as effective as possible.

    “Unteroffizer, contacts! Looks like infantry, 2 o’clock! Distance, 400 meters!” a gefreiter by the name of Sebastian Hanekom exclaimed, “If I have to hazard a guess, looks like reconnaissance troops!”

    Daniël frowned as he took his binoculars and looked into the distance, and sure enough there was several humanoid shapes in the distance. From what had can be discerned, they weren’t entirely human either, given that they look like they have rabbit ears on the top of their heads. Not that surprising given the shear absurdity of the current campaign in general. “Weapons safe, we don’t know a shit about the full situation on this side of the Portal. For all we know these unknowns are pilgrims to visit a holy site in the area,” Daniël ordered, “The local population don’t get information as fast as we do, so assume nothing until we ascertain it. Gefreite Lombard, Louw, Morkel, and Van Zyl, move up and get them ready for transport to base. If they’re civilians, we’ve just saved their asses. If they’re enemy troops, we’ve got more prisoners of war for MFI to build a picture with.”

    The four Afrikaners -two women and two men- quickly dismounted and moved at a brisk pace towards the unknowns, not knowing what will happen next but prepared for practically anything…

    5 Miles from Remus Hill, about the same time


    Azibal frowned as the two men and two women in odd armor marched briskly towards her and her contubernium from their iron mounts. Ilthule had been specifically ordered to have the entire cohort to leave their uniforms and most of their equipment behind so Azibal’s contubernium can use the excuse of being pilgrims to the Seven Holy Hills as a cover. It also helped that most of the contuberium haven’t made their Pilgrimage of Baʿal Ḥammon yet, furthering the deception.

    Yet, Azibal was practically shaking as the four humans -well they did look like humans, their armor made it incredibly hard to discern more especially so at this distance- walked towards her contuberium at a brisk pace. Azibal quickly signaled the contubernium to halt as she ran through the scenarios in her mind using what little information had been gathered… and all of them were bad to say the least.

    The foreigners soon stopped at about 85 feet from the contubernium, their stances clearly on alert. Azibal frowned, wondering if the scenarios in her head would come to pass… when one of them spoke. “Attention!” the foreigner yelled in the most atrocious Sedarian that Azibal heard of, “You are in an active combat zone! State your intentions!”

    That got Azibal off guard. “We’re pilgrims on our Pilgrimage of Ba’al Hammon!” Azibal answered back, “My friend and I were escorting some of our people who haven’t been on their pilgrimage yet!” Azibal prayed to all the gods she knew that they would fall for it. If they didn’t… they would probably be killed right on the spot.

    One of the other foreigners took their free hand and put it against the right side of its head and acted like if it was talking to someone. It took a few minutes -and some heated debate- for a decision to be made. “Alright, you’ll be escorted to a secure area in our field quarters until the current situation is sufficiently solved,” the being ordered in it’s bad Sedarian, “Now you and your group will follow us to our vehicles. Any and all arms will be surrendered for the duration of your stay. This is non-negotiable. Am I making myself clear?”

    Azibal frowned, she knew that this was an excellent chance to gain information but at the cost of being able to fight back. This is probably her only chance to get the information that the Empire needed to fight these invaders. So, she reluctantly agreed.

    Fort Portal Field HQ, Thirty-Five minutes later


    General Forsythe sighed as the eight locals entered his personal tent. Their bodies were more like something out of erotica than simply humans with rabbit features. It didn’t help that they were very protective of their ‘assets’ as well, thanks to the reaction that a simple pat on the back incurred (poor Hans… he got smacked rather hard for that).

    Still -Forsythe reasoned with himself- despite all the situation so far, the information these locals could carry would make a little easier at the very least… even if it’s out of date. Then again, this would be the perfect opportunity to gauge possible reactions to culture and other non-military aspects to the Iron Pact; as after this battle recon teams must be deployed to chart the roads and investigate the local’s economic and political structures, investigations that would be hindered if the non-military aspects were too abrasive or too intimidating.

    “Hauptmann Neumann and MPs have escorted Unteroffizer Steenkamp, his team, and eight locals. Any further orders sir?” Hauptmann Neumann said at attention.

    “Hauptmann Neumann, please stay with me please,” Forsythe ordered, “Underoffizer Steenkamp, you and your team will wait outside and prepare for an oral debriefing. The MPs are to stay outside.” Forsythe knew he was taking a chance with the locals, for all he knew they might be some sort of super-human assassins that have rabbit features… but that is a chance he had to take. To reduce the obvious tension in the tent, Forsythe had everyone but Hauptmann Neumann to wait outside the tent.

    “Understood sir,” Hauptmann Neumann replied, “Alright you lot! You heard the General! Move out!” The MPs and Underoffizer Steenkamp’s squad quickly hauled their butts out of the tent, leaving General Forsythe and Hauptmann Neumann alone with the locals.

    “I’m sorry for any butchering of your language,” Forsythe said in a heavily accented Sedarian, “but we’ve only discovered your language three months ago and we’re still trying to make proper adjustments of our translations.” The locals understood the general well enough to get what he was saying, understanding that even their kind couldn’t translate and speak Sedarian properly for a better part of a year, and that was with Sedarian educators helping in hammering out the kinks.

    “It is fine... Legate Forsythe,” the lead local said, butchering Forsythe a bit given the differences between Germanic and Romantic language families, “My name is Azibal and my people are known as the Warrior Bunnies. My partner and I were escorting our six younger hutch-mates to visit the Holy Hills of Alnus for their pilgrimage of Ba’al Hammon.” Azibal noted that Forsythe rose an eyebrow on Ba’al Hammon. “We had heard that bandits on the roads to the Holy Hills were particularly bad this year, so we prepared for the worst. The incense we’ve brought costs a fortune and is required for several ceremonies that can only be carried out on the Holy Hills.”

    “Ah,” Forsythe nodded in understanding, “I’m sorry that we’ve interrupted your pilgrimage… because, as you can see, we’re at war with one of the local powers.” The eight Warrior Bunnies sighed at that bit of information, like if this was a common occurrence. “I see that this sort of news isn’t uncommon here Ms. Azibal.”

    “It isn’t,” Azibal answered, “The Holy Empire of Alnus tends to wage war across not only the continent but also the seas to forever expand their empire. Our people were conquered barely a decade and a half ago in a brutal war of conquest. Our people were almost exterminated by the forces of Prince Zorzal El Caesar, if it wasn’t for his father Emperor Augustus leaving a few of his trusted men in Zorzal’s army with explicit orders to ensure that is army was to subjugate our lands… there wouldn’t be much left of our species.”

    Forsythe frowned as he and Hauptmann Neumann put the names of Zorzal El Caesar and Augustus in the back of their minds for future reference. “I would take it that the Holy Empire of Alnus is rather expansive?” Hauptmann Neumann asked politely.

    “It is,” Azibal said as she answered Hauptmann Neumann’s question, “The Holy Empire of Alnus dominates the entire continent and has set its sights across the oceans to other lands. I’ve heard that before the Empire set its sights on our lands, they tried to invade a continent across the western ocean despite the dangers. All they got was a simple foothold on a mountainous island off the coast of the other continent by the end of it. The species there aren’t the sort to be trifled with, especially with their religion-all-but-in-name on friendship of all things.” Hauptmann Neumann and General Forsythe digested the information that Azibal was telling them. If someone on the other side of this ‘western ocean’ can fight off the Empire, then it might be a good ally -or group of allies- in the future.

    That was when Hauptmann Neumann and Forsythe recognized the sound of the 17cm heavy howitzers, a sound that scared several years off the assembled locals.

    “What is happening?” Forsythe asked as he grabbed his radio.

    “Enemy attack! We’re looking at an attacking force some 500 thousand strong! The artillery batteries are getting fire missions non-stop and the barrages aren’t stopping them! Even the star shells aren’t having an effect!”

    “Understood, sound the alarm and prepare for combat,” Forsythe ordered, “Hauptmann Neumann, you and the MPs are to get going and get these locals to the bunker and keep them there!” Hauptmann Neumann simply replied ‘Jawohl’ and quickly got the MPs together and escorted the locals out…
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  3. Threadmarks: STORY Chapter 2
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Chapter 2: Calm before the Storm

    Sedaria, Capital of the Holy Empire of Alnus – Senate Chambers; 2457939.5 of the Ancestral Calendar or 5th of Quintilis of the Year 6729 of the Reformation Calendar


    Emperor Malt Sol Augustus shook his head as the entire Senate went up in arms as Legates Titus and Tertis debriefed everyone on the events of Holy Province of Alnus. The second half of the assembled auxiliary legions foolishly deciding to simply go ahead and attack at twilight and getting outright butchered by weapons that outstripped the Empire’s by numerous orders of magnitude while -despite having better guile and intelligence- the first half was annihilated in three encounters with the second enemy, with the third attempt being a literal textbook night assault with similar weapons that butchered the second group.

    For Emperor Augustus, this was a mere formality as he already had been debriefed. While no one knew it, these two enemies had rocked him to his core. The shear military strength that was described by the legates was mind numbingly impressive. Literal orders of magnitude more than all but the most powerful of combat mages like Cato El Altestan and Grand Magus Tiberius Nasennius Calpurnianus. All the while being capable of smiting legions from beyond visual range. While he had used the enemy as a way to ensure that the Holy Empire of Alnus wouldn’t be taken by its various vassals, elector states, and tributaries… it didn’t douse his fears.

    “… and that concludes our report on the invaders,” Tertis said with finality, “At this time we believe that the crisis the Empire faces is the greatest one and outstrips any crisis that our ancestors have faced. Legate Titus and I have already ceased the initiative and stripped the towns and villages along the roads to Italica of anything of value and have escorted the citizens to villages on the border. All of the forts on the border of the Holy Province of Alnus have been alerted to the fact that the enemy might start moving forward in the days ahead.” The senate was in an uproar. The towns and villages on the roads towards the Seven Hills of Alnus were a major supplier of tax income for the Empire via the pilgrimages that all walks of life take at least once in their lives. That would take a massive chunk out of the tax income of the empire, thus relying more heavily on the tributes that have breed immense resentment towards the ruling state of Sedaria. Not only that, four legions that the Empire can ill afford were completely lost to these new enemies.

    Now with the fact that the quickly assembled forces of the various kingdoms, duchies, and principalities annihilated by these new enemies, the prospects of turning this around is grim. Soon a senator waved to have his piece.

    “Titus, you said that one of the few combat mages went with your vanguard towards Remus Hill. From what the few remnants of that vanguard said, he was able to destroy one of the invader’s ‘iron elephants’,” one of the hawkish senators stated, “That means these invaders can be fought and killed!” Senator Marquess Casel simply frowned at that fallacious statement. How are the combat mages -rare as they are- going to get into range when the enemy can simply kill them at a distance despite their shields? This is on top of how the Empire is going to convince the Council of Colleges and its Grand Magus to side with the Empire when Malt’s predecessor tried to weaken their political power… which almost ignited a civil war. Casel quickly waved to challenge the hawkish senator’s statement.

    “Senator Marcus Cantilius Tasius,” Marquess Casel said as he began his rebuttal, “can you tell the Senate on how you are to accomplish the herculean task of persuading the Council of Colleges and its Grand Magus to side with us when the history between the Empire and the Council of Colleges is rife with the Empire trying to screw the Council over? How are you going to get the mages into range where they can use their mystical arts to defeat the enemy?” Many senators were in awe of Senator Marquess Casel rebuttal’s opening barrage. Marcus Cantilius Tasius is one of the major leaders of the ‘warhawk’ faction. He had previously served thirty years as an Imperial Legion Legate and fought numerous campaigns. In his experience, there is no such thing as an invincible enemy. Marcus represented the more fanatical portion of the faction, where fanaticism was more abundant than sense. While Marcus held great power within the warhawk faction, it was Cicero La Moltose that commanded the faction. Cicero is well known for his analytical mind, his own impressive combat and leadership record, his truthfulness, and cool head.

    Marcus Cantilius Tasius stood there, shocked that someone would give him facts that were also questions. Marcus’s hands quickly became fists as anger smoldered within him. Marcus was about to give his rebuttal when his superior Cicero La Moltose put his hand on Marcus’s shoulders. “Senator Casel has got you by the throat Tasius,” Cicero whispered, “you better stop while you’re ahead or he’ll tear your ass off in the debates.” Tasius was now fuming in rage, as even his fellow faction leader was holding back instead of going to the fight. But then again, there is a good reason that Cicero the Yielder was the primary leader of the faction and not Tasius himself. “Wait for Casel and his faction to make a mistake before we strike. What we need here is a plan, not words.”

    The rest of the session went on with fruitless debate between the numerous factions within the Senate, trying to make a compromise for action against the new enemies that the Holy Empire has made…
    The Imperial Chambers, the Imperial Palace; a few hours later


    Emperor Malt Sol Augustus snickered a little in front of his ‘advisor’ Count Marcus at the ineptitude that the Senate got itself into. The ploy that he had for the Senate was working almost perfectly. The Senate’s many factions are still bickering about on what to do -thus weakening their prestige- with little effort on his part. It was almost too easy!

    “Sir, with the Senate currently in disarray, what are we going to do about the enemies on the Holy Hills of Alnus and Remus?” Marcus asked, as it was his duty to effectively question every action Malt takes and every policy that he implements, “Given the few experiences we’ve had with these new enemies, the forts aren’t going to hold them off for long if they decide to break out.” Malt had to give it to Marcus, he always asked the hard questions and thus why he was advisor and not anyone else. Anyone who went for the job didn’t ask those sorts of questions outright, Marcus did. If his scheming is the price to pay for that sort of intelligence and spine, then so be it.

    “Of course,” Malt answered in fake reignition, “If we can’t fight against an enemy that is orders of magnitude more capable than us militarily, then we must use the strategies that the ancestral Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus used against the forces of the Hannibal Barca. We must ensure that their supply lines are disrupted outside of the Gates, that their forces are bogged down in needless skirmishes. Attack them where they are weak to weaken where they are strong. Ensure that our forces never go for a pitched battle that would certainly annihilate our forces outright.” The Fabian Stratagems had become the go-to method for the Empire against forces stronger than what it’s military can handle, and its repertoire both from the times of Sadera’s ancestors to the present day is as extensive as its use. It only failed once however, but then again Equestria is an oddball among the nations on this world.

    “If the Fabian Stratagems fail to weaken the enemy?” Marcus asked flatly. Marcus isn’t an idiot. The Fabian Stratagems have failed once, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that they can fail again. Given that there is so little information on these enemies and their mentality, if the Fabian Stratagems fail then it might be disastrous for the empire. Given Marcus’s position within the Empire, if he didn’t die in the fighting first he would be one of the first to be executed after the conquest.

    “Then, and only then, we make peace,” Malt answered, “It is foolish to simply waste time and resources to keep throwing men to fight an enemy that the Empire can’t fight. We both know that we can’t convince the Council of Colleges to fight with us, given that the current and previous Grand Magus are avowed neutrals and most of the mages and practitioners of the mystic arts are more interested in finding the secrets of the universe than fighting.” Malt might be a warhawk, but unlike the clear majority of them he knew when to fold. Then there is the fact that he had taken illegal action against both enemies, the Senate will have his head and force him to abdicate and force an Imperial Election among his remaining heirs. While Zorzal El Caesar would be the one that can be easily controlled but he is just as likely to ignore all advice if his ego is charged enough which is more common than not thanks to Zorzal’s slave Tyuule, who has him by his dick. Diabo Aburius Draco would be useless for the Senate as he couldn’t be controlled. That left the youngest daughter, Piña Co Lada, as the likely prospect as she had a strong sense of common sense with an incredibly uncanny intelligence… yet the problem with her is that she is far too honorable and thus unsuited for Senatorial politics.

    That was when the doors into the Imperial Chambers flew open, showing Piña Co Lada and a duo of her Pretorian Guard. The Knights of the Rose is a cohort-sized force of mounted infantry and knights, and she had been clamoring to gain experience in the field of battle. She probably heard from her own sources about Alnus and Remus Hills being taken by a new enemy of the empire. This represents an opportunity in Malt’s mind, as he could get multiple birds with one stone; not only he could give Piña some much-needed combat experience, but he can force her to bend her honor far more than she would otherwise. A comprehensive plan quickly formed in Malt’s mind as Piña told him off…
    The Business Estate of Marquess Casel, around the same time


    Senator Marquess Casel sat as the numerous servants maneuvered through the crowded business hall of the minor estate just outside Sedaria. The entirety of the Senatorial and Electoral classes had these incredibly small estates for various political purposes, particularly to have a somewhat private location to relax between after a day in the Senate during a session -which usually last a month- and do closed door politicking. It is in estates like these that some of the greatest reforms and compromises were made, where fanatics within the myriad of factions that make up the complex politics of the Senate can’t interfere.

    Casel had convened the ‘Dove’ faction’s -which included senators from other factions like the Mercantiles and the Liberals- leadership to his estate for one purpose, to get a foundation for a compromise. That isn’t the only problem either, as Casel’s spies had heard rumors that the legions sent through the two Gates have turned captives -over 450 of them- into illegal slaves. While the Legates that would have done the deed would likely be dead alongside practically the entire legion, the rumor had indicated that Malt had some hand in the process. But this information was only rumor and nothing solid.

    “Senator Casel,” Senator Placus Albatius Carius spoke, “I have talked to my fellows within the Mercantiles and the situation isn’t good.” Casel’s face was mired by a frown by that statement, as a bad situation within the Mercantiles is a particularly bad thing to hear. “The Mercantile leadership had a meeting, and most of the faction vowed to stay neutral as war and peace is too costly for them both in political and economic currency in their minds, and said majority are going to abstain from anything that our faction and the warhawks would come up with.” Now that is catastrophic, the Mercantiles are a powerful faction within the Senate since they effectively formed a core component within the Imperial economy. Since the peace has gotten them far richer than the war with the Warrior Bunnies, they had sided with the Dove faction frequently. To have them effectively back out of both the Warhawks and the Doves is unprecedented, and only signaled for bad times ahead. Given that the ‘Infrastructure’ faction -so named due to their fetish-all-but-in-name for infrastructure projects (particularly highways, ports, waterways, and the postal service), a fetish that, while strange, is a better one to have as it always improved economic productivity in one way or another- is closely aligned with the Mercantiles, that means their support with the Doves would vanish as well… leaving the Doves and the Warhawks with very few friends in general.

    “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” exclaimed Senator Proculus Sergius Constantius in a harsh tone, “Their support is the key to many of our compromises! If they’ve backed out, that means things are going to be outright impossible to create a compromise.” Everyone then started to feel a headache to come on. “… and that means things won’t get done and the Senate’s prestige takes a massive hit.” Everyone in the room shook their heads as the reality of the situation settled in.

    “Everyone feels the same way as you do Senator Constantius,” Senator Carius sighed in agreement, “and with the fact that it is clear Emperor Malt is up to something, I fear that right now we’re going to have problems in the future.” Everyone agreed with that statement without reservation. Even then, nothing known is known about these new enemies. All the information given was how destructive their incredibly long-ranged weapons are. Nothing about their culture, in-depth methods of warfare, their language, their understanding of the universe… and that presented a problem.

    That was when everything was interrupted by a runner -a warrior bunny by the name of Amotmilqart- that is the favorite of Constantius.

    “I think we’re going to have a problem solve itself,” Constantius foxily -almost kitsune-like- smiled as he read the message, “One of my informants within the Order of the Roses has been told that the Order in its entirety have been given a mission by the Emperor himself. That mission, to gain intelligence on the new enemies of the Empire.” Everyone in the room wasn’t that surprised at the Emperor sending someone out, but what surprised everyone is the fact that he was sending his daughter Piña Co Lada and her order to do it. For the most part the Order of the Roses had been basically a bunch of ceremonial knights that occasionally went out to settle disputes or support garrisoned legions against bandits. She is well known to be able to keep a cool head in negotiations and forge a fair deal for everyone. Her combat prowess is lackluster at best, but then again, her Order hadn’t been in combat all that much.

    “Now that is interesting,” Casel smiled mischievously, “I think the Gods are throwing a bone our way ladies and gentlemen.” The senators in the room couldn’t agree more…
    Alpine Judal Province, Judal Mining County; 9th of Quintilis of the Year 6729


    The Judal Mining County is one of the most important mining-focused areas in the core of the Holy Empire of Alnus. Not only does it produce 20% of the Empire’s coal, it also produced significant percentages of copper, tin, iron, lead, asbestos, talc, gold, silver, and various stones. All of these are used for a variety of economic and military applications.

    The Judal Mining County is also one of the largest consumers of slave labor. Over a quarter of the Empire’s slaves work here, mostly in the mines or in the terraced fields that supply the county with food. As a slave-heavy province in the Empire, the garrison was double-strength compared to most of the empire just in case a slave revolt happened, which is rare but occasionally happens.

    Kirishima Hiroki is one of 425 slaves that were bought in a slave auction three months ago. Hiroki had gotten to know 419 others during the time he -quite literally- slaved away in the mines. Most of them were from, much to his surprise, a world much like his own but vastly different. That was when he met one Viktor Reznov.

    Viktor Reznov had told Hiroki that he was captured during his yearly trip to Berlin to take part in the celebrations, as his great grandfather took part in what his world knew as the ‘Great War of Resistance’, a war that was spurred by the British and French levying horrific terms for Versailles. Viktor would tell Hiroki about the stories of men that would have become monsters in his history become genuine heroes in Viktor’s. How Hitler and his motley crew of Germans, Jews, Poles, and more made daring raids and epic gambles to stem the tide of the British and French soldiers. How Kaiser Wilhelm the Second -later known as ‘Wilhelm the Flawed’- found his inner Prussian Spirit and led Germany to survival before backing down and installing his son Fredrick the Seventh as Kaiser. How the German Askari did the impossible and stopped the Sikhs cold at the Siege of Cologne.

    It was thanks to Viktor that Hiroki had lived this long in the mines… and Viktor had a plan. He had distilled this plan into a series of simple steps and it spread through the camps like the whispering wind. Most of the slaves here were simply processed conquests sold to make an extra bit of money and thus they had no loyalty to the slave owners and had an immense thirst for freedom. Viktor and his small group of planners knew how fast a modern military can move when there isn’t a logistical base for their operations and had planned for this moment.

    Given Viktor’s knowledge of the Iron Pact’s doctrine, he knew that the plan had to be implemented today as the recon flights would start coming out in force while everything else was ready. From there, it would be easy for the Iron Pact to send an air mobile company or two to secure and extract the slaves in the slave slums. All that must happen now is the ‘signal’… and that is where Sergei would come in. Sergei is a large -if you consider being slightly over two meters simply large- man and he had a voice that could carry for miles. It is that voice that would be the initiator for the revolt.

    One of the key parts of the plan is to keep the illusion that things are normal, to lull the overseers into a sense of false security. That is why for the last few weeks Viktor had rotated the lead singer for the ‘signal’, to make it a normalcy. What the overseers didn’t know is the fact that Sergei is going to be the lead singer, and that would signal the revolt.

    Ey ukhnyem!” Sergei began, “Ey ukhnyem! Yeshtsho razik, yeshtsho da ras!” Hiroki had to admit, the Song of the Volga Boatmen is an ingenious idea. Given the history behind the shanty, it would be easily mistaken for something sung by slaves; a perception that has been cultivated and exploited for the Plan. The overseers simply shrugged off their unsettling shivers up their spine and simply let their guard down, ignoring the more observant part of their minds screaming that something’s up.

    For four minutes, the song went, and at the end, Viktor and his partners howled “Now comrades! Time to retake our freedom! Time for Step 1!” while the slaves replied with “Ascend from the Darkness!” The entire mine became a scene of pure pandemonium as slaves slaughtered their overseers with little remorse, with a handful of overseers simply getting knocked out and dragged out of the mines for their leniency. The ‘leniency’ being enough harm simply let them have a way out when the Empire comes down like a hammer from god. Outside the mines, giant slingshots were being set up and carefully prepared bottles of lamp oil were being brought out into the open and shot across the slums into guard towers located all over the compound, engulfing whatever they touched in flame. The slaves poured out of the slums, killing any slave overseer or owner they could grab that perpetuated the sordid conditions that they had to live in. The handful of overseers and owners that tried to treat the slaves with some decency were quickly rounded up, knocked out, and tied up.

    That was when Hiroki found a spyglass lying on the ground and decided to look at the sky, hoping that they still had time before the slaves would reveal the message painted onto the roofs of the slums. That was when Hiroki saw an aircraft that looked like it was straight out of World War 2. At the altitude its at, the aircraft would be only a dot in the sky and thus requiring the aid of the spyglass. “Viktor!” Hiroki exclaimed as he ran towards Viktor, “I spotted a plane coming in!” Viktor quickly finished off the bodyguard that he was brutalizing and took the spyglass out of Hiroki’s hand and looked for himself.

    “They’re early!” Viktor exclaimed as he pulled a male Equestrian to his side, “Golden Flash, get word to the slums, tell them that we must go forward with signaling the sky now!” The Equestrian simply nodded and moved at speeds that would make an Olympian green with jealousy. The only hope for escape now lied on Golden Flash to get to the slums in time…
    Low-Intensity Recon Flight 008, 3,000 meters above Sea Level – 250 kilometers North, North West of Fort Portal; Ten Minutes Later


    Leutnant Brötzmann looked at the camera screens of the modernized model of the ancient Folke-Wulf Uhu observation plane with surprise. Her copilot, Kadett Hecher, was already going through the aircraft’s computers to make a match with what he was seeing. For about 100 kilometers around the hills that the Iron Pact’s beachhead was located there was only abandoned villages and stripped fields. That changed when they got to the edge of the shield mountain range that surrounded three corners of area known as the ‘Holy Hills of Alnus’, and that is when valuable intel opportunities started to show up like clockwork.

    Imperial forts, major towns and cities, and more became the focus in the recon flight, and thus gave basic intelligence for the major operations to come. Yet what the two pilots were seeing were far from the ordinary.

    “I got a match on the computer Leutnant,” Hecher answered, “It’s old Spetznaz code for airlift evacuation for 650 people.” Brötzmann was confused with that answer. “Didn’t high command state that a retired Spetznaz officer was among the missing?” Brötzmann thought for a moment, trying to remember the intelligence that was given before this flight.

    “Don’t quite remember, but this definitively merits investigation. Get General Forsythe on the horn and send the data through,” Brötzmann ordered, “We’ll go and orbit the area to show them we’ve seen the signal.”

    “FIRF-008 to Base, FIRF-008 to Base; we’ve got a signal indicating a need for helicopter extraction for 650 people. Please advise,” Hecher said over the radio.

    “Base to FIRF-008, say again?”

    “FIRF-008 to Base, we’ve got a signal indicating a need for helicopter extraction for 650 people. The signal is a bit rough, but it looks like an older Spetznaz signal,” Hecher answered, “Computer confirms it with a 95% probability.”

    “Base to FIRF-008, understood. Luftaufklärungstruppe is being sent to confirm and defend.”

    “FIRF-008 to Base, can confirm Luftaufklärungstruppe will be in transit to confirm. Request permission to orbit the area to ensure signaler has confirmation of possible evac?” Hecher asked.

    “Base to FIRF-008, request for orbit granted. ETA on Luftaufklärungstruppe with initial wave of transports, seven-fiver mikes.”

    “FIRF-008 to Base; understood, going into orbit pattern, going to 1,500 meters,” Hecher replied, “Once the Luftaufklärungstruppe lands we’ll return to mission.” Soon the radio was cut off and Hecher sighed.

    “Going into orbit pattern and lowering altitude,” Brötzmann said, “Today is simply one of those ‘starts wonderful, then goes weird’ days.” Brötzmann was not alone in that line of thought as he put in the new course into the flight computer. “Set the camera into standby mode Hecher. Better we save the hard drive space for intelligence right now, not some gore fest.”

    Hecher simply agreed…
    A large park-like area, 75 minutes later


    For the last 75 minutes the various local slaves looked at the Uhu-looking aircraft with apt curiosity, as they never saw anything like it before. The slaves that were brought from Viktor’s reality quickly cheered in joy and excitement as they now knew that they were saved as they recognize the aircraft as a Folke-Wulf 320 twin-boomed turbo-prop COIN recon aircraft. The few slaves from Hikori’s reality simply sat there, puzzled at the sight. Viktor had long given the spyglass to Hikori and told him to keep a watch for the helicopters that would come soon.

    When Hikori looked through the spyglass for the twelfth time in the last hour, he saw helicopters with the oddest rotor configuration alongside more conventional models. “Viktor! I see helicopters coming in!” Hikori exclaimed, “Looks like a bunch of attack helicopters with some transports…”

    “See my friends? I told you we all get out of here!” Viktor said with joy as the first helicopter unloaded six soldiers in uniforms that Hiroki couldn’t recognize, “Now we must prepare for our trip to freedom.” The enslaved masses simply cheered as freedom is at hand.

    “I assume that you’re the leader of this slave rebellion?” the lead soldier asked Viktor.

    “I am,” Viktor said, “I’m Viktor Reznov, former captain of the 1st Spetznaz Brigade.” The soldiers gasped in surprise. “I’ve got 415 multinationals from our world, 10 multinationals from a world like ours, and 225 enslaved persons from across this world needing extraction and medical attention.”

    The soldiers looked around and saw the 650 people who are anxious to escape from their servitude. That was when the lead soldier spoke into his helmet. After a short conversation, the soldier quickly spoke the good news. “Alright listen up!” the officer said in Saderian, “My name is Đỗ Hoàng Long, rank Captain. For those not from my world, I work for an alliance of nations known as the Iron Pact and my superior officer General Forsythe has agreed to grant you political and economic asylum. Larger metal birds will be landing here shortly. You will follow every instruction that the crews of these metal birds give you. We have to move fast and efficiently if we are to get out of here by day’s end.” Then Đỗ Hoàng Long switched to English. “Everyone else, follow procedure and we’ll get you all out of this hellhole in a timely manner. Now, group up into groups of 55 and we’ll get started once the first helicopters set down!”

    That was when Hiroki heard an odd and distinctive rotor noise as helicopters with the oddest rotor configuration maneuvered to land. The helicopters in question are Chinook sized helicopters and looked like they had seats for 55 people. There was a gunner with what looked like a futurized heavy machinegun at the rear door while two gunners looked out the side doors with more futurized heavy machineguns on door mounts. That is when a crewmember came out and said in English and Saderian, “I want two columns of people coming from the rear. You are not to enter from the sides or you will get obliterated by the blades. Once we’re full, we’ll lift off and head to our base of operations on Remus Hill. This will be a seventy-five-minute journey. Once there, you will exit through the rear in an orderly fashion. From there you will be processed by doctors for any injuries and diseases and by book keepers to track everyone. First group, move in!”

    Thus, began the long process of a heliborne evacuation.
    Fort Portal, Barracks Section; July 10th, 2017


    “Feeling alright Azibal?” Centurion Neumann asked in Saderian as the duo walked through the slowly evolving streets of the fort, “You’re a bit jumpy as of late.” Azibal had felt unease ever since things started to slow down around the fortification that is ‘Fort Portal’. The Empire’s Legions are required to maintain their incredibly stoic disposition as emotion in battle is a weakness that can be easily exploited. Yet the ‘Iron Pact’ and its legions were quite open with their emotions, and that usually ended with attempted rape for her and her fellow Warrior Bunnies. The Empire’s Legions punish those who attempted -the Divines forbid if committed- rape of another legion member -be genuine legionaries, and thus citizens, or the auxiliaries- with crucifixion and stoning.

    “I’m… a little hungry,” Azibal lied slightly… before her stomach decided to butt in, “when is dinner?” Centurion Neumann simply raised his eyebrow. Another thing that made Azibal feel uneasy is the fact that Centurion Neumann is immensely different to anyone she has ever met. If she had to sum it up in one phrase, it would be ‘a walking contradiction’. While he prefers to be quiet and somewhat anti-social, he can be in the center of attention of moderate spans of time. He might not understand emotions, yet he can sense them rather easily. Then there is this feeling with him, a feeling that only the former Elector and Count Reginald Formal and his daughter -now Elector and Countess- Myui could produce. A feeling of calm and ease that is virtually unexplainable. Unlike those two, however, Centurion Neumann’s ability can reach further than the two nobles… and this scared Azibal to her core.

    “Ah,” Centurion Neumann answered in Saderian as he looked at the device he called a ‘Wrist Computer’, “we’re a bit late for dinner, aren’t we?” Azibal simply nodded with a sigh. “Well then, off to the canteen!” The only good thing being paired with Centurion Neumann was the fact that he understood what she meant when she said dinner during what the Iron Pact called ‘lunch’. With a good tug, Centurion Neumann led Azibal towards the ‘canteen’.

    The structure that the ‘canteen’ resided in is a sturdy but quickly-erected structure. From what Azibal could understand, this is a prebuilt or ‘prefabricated’ building and it is used by temporary forts called ‘firebases’ across their world. Once inside, she noted the vast array of incredible smells that captivated her nose. Azibal quickly became flabbergasted at both the vast quantity and quality of the foods arrayed before her. Slabs of beef, pork, seafood, and poultry that had to come from animals at least twice the size of those in the Empire, with species that she never had heard or seen before to boot.

    In the face of such wonderful foods, Azibal decided to try a little of everything. When she saw Centurion Neumann putting giant helpings of beef -called ‘sirloin steak’- with large helpings of mashed ‘potatoes’ -which had been explained to her as a starchy plant that grew underground and can be planted pretty much everywhere- and two large corn cobs, she simply balked in disbelief.

    “Centurion Neumann,” Azibal asked, “Isn’t that a bit much?” She still couldn’t believe what she was seeing at that moment. “I mean is that your daily allowance?” Azibal couldn’t keep her eyes off the massive serving of food.

    “Not really,” Centurion Neumann answered, “this is actually a bit light for me.” Azibal could barely keep her tray from falling onto the floor. “Then again, I have a higher calorie intake than the average person anyway thanks to my implants.” Azibal shivered at the comment, she had accidentally walked into Centurion Neumann’s room when he was servicing his limbs. To say that there was hysteria on her part would be an understatement. Azibal simply nodded as they went towards the drink counter.

    The array of drinks was simply astounding. What looked like beer flowed rather freely alongside more exotic drinks. What surprised Azibal was the fact that he went for a drink called ‘gourmet soda’, specifically of the ‘orange cream’ variety. Azibal raised an eyebrow at the oddity, as many of the soldiers were drinking large mugs of beer.

    “So, Centurion Neumann,” Azibal began, “Why aren’t you drinking the beer like the rest of your legion-mates?” Centurion Neumann raised an eyebrow in return at that question like if it was a stupid question.

    “Because Frau Azibal,” Centurion Neumann answered, “I’m equipped with augmentations that can cause a lot of damage… and the last time that I was anything remotely considered ‘hammered’ is when my parents got me into the hospital for a cranial scan. The aftermath of which caused everyone to agree that I really shouldn’t drink.” Azibal saw Centurion Neumann visibly shiver at a few memories. “Despite being a ‘heavyweight’, if I get drunk property generally gets damaged in the process. The last time I seriously drank was back when I was twenty, caused a lot of property damage because someone forced me into a drinking contest.”

    “Ah,” Azibal replied solemnly, “That’s… insightful.” Azibal knew of species of demi-humans that can be unstable with alcohol, with some more than others. Centurion Neumann appeared to be of the nastier end of this instability. That was when a loud exclamation came from behind her.

    “Hauptmann Neumann!” exclaimed the man with very dark skin with a hearty laugh, “It has been too long!” The man in question is probably the tallest that Azibal has ever encountered -Azibal estimated him to be a good six and a half feet tall- and made the most trained and exercise-happy legionary look like they only did the bare minimum. The uniform that the man -and his compatriots- wore is the standard casual uniform -fatigues Centurion Neumann called them- but the symbol on the side was completely different from the rest of the legion here on Remus Hill.

    “Wait, Gerhardus Van Schalkwyk, is that you?” Centurion Neumann asked in his native tongue, “By God it is you!” Centurion Neumann quickly set his tray down and hugged the man. That was when Gerhardus saw Azibal.

    “You haven’t changed a bit Hauptmann!” Gerhardus exclaimed as he laughed yet again, “Still escorting the cute ones! Those ears of hers are so damn adorable that I just want to pet them all day! … and I see that you’ve got an ‘Aaron sized’ serving already to go.” Azibal tilted her head a little at the shear absurdity of the situation. Normally those of the darker skin tones are treated somewhat poorly, particularly due to the nations that they’ve come form were rather formidable opponents a few centuries prior. Yet here Centurion Neumann and ‘Gerhardus’ are chatting with each other like old friends.

    “Ah, you know me Gerhardus,” Centurion Neumann replied, “My luck can be schizophrenic as fuck. It’s always these assignments where you have to help me get everyone else’s asses out of the fire. Oh, Gerhardus, this is Azibal. She’s a local called a ‘Warrior Bunny’, and don’t let the name full you, she’s damn good in close quarters combat.” That was when Centurion Neumann switched back to Sedarian. “Azibal, this is Gerhardus Van Schalkwyk, Huptmann of the 10th Armored Infantry Company of the 5th Afrika Corps… better known as Lottow-Vorbeck’s Own. He and I served together on and off for five years. The only unaugmented person that I know that can rival my strength.”

    “Nice to meet you Azibal,” Gerhardus said Sedarian in a very thick accent as he extended his hand, “Few people can get Hauptmann Neumann here a good workout in close quarters ever since he was taken in by Big Boss back in Boot Camp.” Azibal shook Gerhardus’s hands as she rose her eyebrow at the words ‘Big Boss’, the way it was spoken indicated that this was a person of significance.

    “Now cut it Gerhardus,” Centurion Neumann laughed, “I simply impressed him during Boot. Nothing more, nothing less. Now, get some chow and let’s get a table...”
    Dining Area, Canteen


    “… and then Aaron comes in and does a textbook perfect rendition of CQC that I’ve ever seen on the White Hat militant, knocking him out. The President of the Baghdad Confederation had been saved and we all went home with all limbs intact,” Gerhardus said as he ended the story, “She even gave Aaron here a sweet kiss on the cheeks when we got back to Baghdad! Half the platoon was jealous of him for weeks after that!” Azibal simply sat there, slowly eating her meal in awe as she listened to Gerhardus’s story during a mission in the Baghdad Confederation.

    “Eh, once Big Boss heard of me doing that,” Aaron shrugged, “he immediately asked me to spar with him. A good five minutes later, he tells me that I was actually good.” Gerhardus and Azibal were rapt with attention at this. “Then he says, ‘Damn son, you’ve gotten damn good.’ Afterwards I got more training from him. It’s like he was training me to replace him or something.” Gerhardus simply sat there in awe, his mouth gaping open.

    “Aaron, you are one lucky son of a bitch!” Gerhardus exclaimed as he playfully punched Aaron’s cybernetic shoulder, “Big Boss has been looking for someone to carry the torch for years if the rumor mill is any indication.” Azibal eyes widened at the implications. “It looks like that old war hound has finally found his successor… and from a Junker family no less. You must have impressed him if he thought you were worthy becoming the next Boss.”

    “Um… can someone explain this ‘Big Boss’ person?” Azibal asked intently, “From what I’ve been hearing, ‘Big Boss’ is a pretty big deal.” Azibal began taking mental notes as she was still gathering intelligence, if only to tell the Empire how screwed it is at this point.

    “Boss can be something of a title back on our world,” Aaron began to explain, “In the context of the special forces, the Boss title is for those who are the cream of the crop -the best of the best of the best as it were- of special forces operatives. Boss in that context stated showing up in the early 1950s when a Chinese woman by the name of Zhong Nuan expanded the foundations of modern special operations. People within the Special Forces community started to call her ‘Boss’, and her fighting style -CQC- started to become widely taught within the special forces across the Iron Pact with the Comintern learning by shear osmosis. She became The Boss after she found a successor in the current Boss, Big Boss. Last I’ve heard she died peacefully in her home of old age back in the late ‘80s. Big Boss is an American, and he is a legend before he took The Boss’s mantle.” Aaron mentally frowned, as he remembered what Big Boss had said to him a few months ago. Whether he likes it or not, Aaron was going to be the next Boss. Big Boss is simply waiting until Aaron was more ‘seasoned’ before making him Boss.

    “Yeah, and Big Boss is the sort of man you want as your friend, but not as your enemy,” Gerhardus continued, “My father worked with him once a long time ago in Afghanistan where he worked with Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance against the Taliban. For much of his time in Afghanistan, it was essentially him, his team, and a handful of Northern Alliance’s Shbh operators against an army of tens of thousands with what little support the Northern Alliance could scrounge up. The operations he took changed the course of history, allowing the Persian-styled government to make a stand against the fundamentalists. It was his campaign there that made him a true legend and become Big Boss.” Gerhardus is something of a fanboy of Big Boss’s, and it showed with his exited summary of how Big Boss became a legend.

    “He sounds like a great warrior then,” Azibal said in awe, “Even Queen Tyuule could match what you’ve told… if it is true.” Aaron and Gerhardus slightly rose their eyebrows at Azibal’s comment and its underlying tone of suspicion. Then again, Big Boss’s exploits are always something of ‘that has to be an exaggeration’ territory when told. That is usually the point where those who think it’s an exaggeration get reminded that truth can be stranger than fiction.

    “It’s true alright,” Aaron answered, “I’ve been through a few of his ops before being transferred to the Aufklärungsabteilung to reduce the chances of me burning out. The few ops with Big Boss I had pretty much solidified his legendary exploits.” Gerhardus simply sat there, looking at Aaron with a stunned look on his face. “Now, we should change the subject before I blow your minds some more. So, how’s home Gerhardus?”

    “Eh, nothing much Aaron. The South Africans are still being idiots across the border after the most powerful Afrikaner tribes seized power and started antagonizing everyone. Had to wake up in the middle of the night a few times because the South African military passed the border chasing Boers and anyone that didn’t agree with via pogroms,” Gerhardus answered, “Outside of that, things in the African Federation have been rather quiet. Sadly, Helena died almost a year ago, poor thing.” That got Aaron uneasy. He remembered Helena the rabbit. Cutest little rabbit anyone ever saw. It’s soft, dusty tan fur and slightly droopy ears would make anyone simply want to sit down and pet the rabbit for hours on end. She also had the cutest bunny smile that would simply melt your heart.

    “Damn, she lived a good life, didn’t she?” Aaron answered solomly, “Sorry that she died. Best damn rabbit that anyone could ask for.” Azibal became incredibly confused, as the two soldiers showed sadness about a pet rabbit dying.

    “Eh, she helped us stay relatively sane… that’s all I can ask for,” Gerhardus replied, “… and now that you mentioned her. Azibal has the same ears and fur color as Helena.” Aaron looked at Azibal for a moment, taking that moment to compute what Gerhardus was saying… before it literally slapped him in the face.

    “Well I’ll be,” Aaron said in surprise, “You’re right Gerhardus. She does have Helena’s ears and fur coloration.” Azibal’s confusion deepened to complete bafflement as the two continued on their train of thought.

    “What is going on?” Azibal asked in confusion and fear, “Why are you looking at me like that?” That was when Gerhardus took out a smart phone and went into the photo-app, getting a good picture of Helena the Rabbit.

    “This is Helena,” Gerhardus answered, “She helped me go through life in Southeast Africa as a young adult. Also helped Aaron here too when his father was transferred to Southeast Africa.” Azibal looked at the picture of the rabbit in question, and she simply sat there, her brain trying to compute what she was seeing. Here was a large rabbit that would be her in genuine rabbit form. Then there was this feeling of adorableness as she kept looking at the image.

    “Hauptmann Neumann to General Forsythe’s Office; Hauptmann Neumann to General Forsythe’s Office.”

    “Um, can you keep an eye on Azibal for a short bit? General Forsythe wants me, and it’ll take too long to simply drop her off at her assigned quarters,” Aaron asked.

    “Just give her quarters and I’ll make sure she gets there,” Gerhardus replied. Aaron quickly transferred the location to Gerhardus’s own wrist computer before running out of the canteen. “So, tell me about yourself…”
     
  4. Threadmarks: STORY Chapter 3
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Chapter 3: March unto the Unknown

    3rd Recon Platoon, ~150km into the Special Region; July 15th, 2017 – Early Morning


    “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Corporal Abigail Ramirez cursed while complaining as she fiddled with the ELINT set on the LAV-MEWSS, “I’m getting company level chatter here! A full datanet from the sound of it.” That got everyone in the LAV-MEWSS -including Abigail’s commanding officer 2nd Lieutenant Robert Flores and the overall platoon commander 1st Lieutenant Youji Itami- into something of a muted uproar. The US had sent a pair of vehicles -consisting of one LAV-MEWSS and a M3A3 Cav Bradley with an element of Calvary Scouts- with each JSDF recon platoon due to the sightings of the unknown drones and aircraft in the Special Region. Now, as the platoon got its bearings, the ELINT system’s passive receivers started to pick up immense amounts of traffic. That prompted the raising of the MEWSS mast, and that was when things got even more interesting.

    “Can you make anything out?” 2nd Lieutenant Robert Flores asked, “Or at least a bearing so we can avoid them?” Robert Flores didn’t want to stumble upon them unexpectedly and cause an incident, especially with all the unknowns that are in play.

    “I barely have a bearing of North-Northeast right now. If I must guess, it might be a company HQ element given the amount of traffic,” Abigail answered as she continued to fiddle with the ELINT set, “Damn these guys are good. Their ESEC is impressive, can’t get much outside of the presence of the signals, their encrypted traffic, and the direction of the biggest source.” That worried everyone else that was in the compartment. The ELINT equipment is some of the best that the US can come up with, and with it not being able to do much, it meant that it could get messy.

    “Alright then,” Itami said in English, “All we have to do is keep our distance and things would go…” That was when Itami was interrupted.

    “The source is moving! Looks like they’re going westward, away from us,” Abigail exclaimed, “Can’t get a good read on its speed either. Looks like they’ve stopped just like us and looked to get their bearings.” That got everyone on edge for a moment before relaxing a bit. At least the signal simply moving westward and not towards them.

    “Alright then,” Itami sighed, “We’ll head to the outskirts of this ‘Coda Village’ and start our recon in earnest. Hopefully we’ll never see what that source consists of.” Everyone couldn’t fault the laid-back 1st Lieutenant for saying that. The unknowns just have far too many variables to reliably guess at what they would do when in contact. For all 3rd Recon Platoon knows, they might be Nazis… and thus requiring a wide berth.

    “We can’t pin everything on hope Itami,” Robert replied, “Given what has happened so far, we don’t know what will happen.” With that, the 3rd Recon Platoon prepared to set off for Coda Village…
    Coda Village Northwestern Outskirts, Company Command Vehicle Scout’s Honor; July 15th, 2017 - 14:20 Hours


    “Hauptmann, we’re on the outskirts of Coda Village,” Leutnant Hannah Küttner stated, “1st Squad is ready to move in with you.” The rules of engagement were rather strict in this instance. Any village encountered must have the platoon -or in this case company- commander move in with a squad to initiate contact before the rest of the platoon would move in. For Huptmann Aaron Thomas Fredrick Neumann, this was the first town that had people in it. Thanks to the intelligence provided by Azibal and her group combined with aerial reconnaissance, Coda Village is the best location in Aaron’s company’s sector to start going ‘in depth’ on the local industries, politics, and economies. So far, the other platoons have been making great time and made inroads to the local populous… but haven’t encountered the alternate Japanese soldiers yet.

    “Alright then, pop the hatch, I’m doing the RoE’s procedures,” Huptmann Aaron Neumann ordered, “As much as I hate this RoE, can’t say that I don’t argue with the reasoning though…” The last time this sort of RoE was done was back during the 1930s and 1940s during the initial stages of what would become known as the Africa Commonwealth Project. The Africa Commonwealth Project was something developed out of the MittleAfrika plans developed prior to WW1. The general idea behind MittleAfrika was simple: build the nations within German-held Africa into respectable countries and then give them the choice to move towards the future with their own two hands, be an ally and trading partner with Germany, or become part of a German Commonwealth. While the idea was initially scrapped because of the Treaty of Damnation, it gained new life after the Great War of Resistance… and with American money. Now Africa is the posterchild of non-exploitive colonial policy, as the African Federation isn’t practicing some form of genocide every metaphorical ten minutes.

    “Understood Hauptmann,” Leutnant Küttner replied, “The rest of the platoon is on hot standby.” As Aaron exited the command vehicle, the others went back to their stations, launching a small drone to keep an eye on the situation…
    Coda Village, Northern End; 14:25 Hours


    “Looks like everyone is staying indoors,” Feldwebel Reinhard Steiner complained over the radio, “That’s unusual to say the least.” Aaron simply sat there, slightly worried about that statement. Given the technological state of the ‘Holy Empire of Alnus’, the flow of information would be horrifically slow -i.e usually taking weeks to months normally, with significant information usually taking days at best- by the standards of the Iron Pact. Then again, the Iron Pact have the miracles provided by technologies like fiber-optic internet, radio communications, and self-powered vehicles using hydrogen or -if the infrastructure isn’t good enough- gasoline engines.

    “Probably someone on one of the farms saw us and hauled ass on his horse and stated that someone was coming,” Aaron answered, “Given that we’ve pretty much shattered the local garrisons in the fight for our little hill, banditry has likely risen sharply. Better to simply give the more combat experienced bandits what they want than die needlessly as barely-trained peasant levies.” History is rife with villages that did that, and often caused more problems than it solved in the long run. Still, given that using things like spears, swords, bows, and other implements of war of the medieval warfare required a lot of training to utilize properly and the fact that medieval peasant levies weren’t the best thing in the world, it is somewhat understandable.

    “Sir, I’m picking up light radio chatter. Barely encrypted. Looks like that radio signal source we detected while getting updates from the rest of the company showed up,” Leutnant Küttner updated over the radio, “Given what little intelligence we’ve got from the drones, the engines would probably be heard well before they saw the vehicles.” Aaron mentally cursed. Just what the company needed, complications. To be more specific, complications from the alternate Japanese military.

    That was when several villagers started looking at the bushes that the squad were hiding in, almost outright saying ‘you can come out now, we know you’re there!’.

    “Alright, we’ve been had,” Aaron said, “Disengage combat fractal pattern and fall in, we’ve got a village to understand.” Soon enough, the 10-man plus one squad commanded the intelliwear-based uniforms to switch from combat forest fractal to a less camouflaging non-fractal forest cammo scheme and walked out of the bushes.

    “Elder!” one of the children exclaimed in Saderian as she ran down the earthen street, “We’ve got more men in green on the north side.” Aaron balked at that bit of information, had the unknowns decided to visit this village as well? That was when another child practically pulled Aaron by the hand across the village…
    Town Center, near the Town Hall


    Aaron frowned as he was practically dragged by the locals towards the town center, barely having time to put his OICW on safety so nothing would set it off. As Aaron was dragged through town, he noticed that the locals were in awe of his comrades, be their weapons or their uniforms. It took a few minutes, but Aaron and his squad were at the center of town… and right in front of the Alternate Japanese… with what looked like Alternate Americans.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Aaron muttered to himself… and that was when the situation became wrong. Aaron -and apparently his opposite- noticed an unnatural tension in the air. A tension that would quickly spark conflict if either side wasn’t too careful. Aaron heard his opposite muttering the same exact thing under his breath… which didn’t come as a surprise. You got command rank not because of how badass or heroic you are, you got command rank for keeping a cool head no matter what the situation.

    Things got hectic when one of the Alternate Americans saw Aaron’s patch and became overtly hostile.

    “Damn it Itami! We’re dealing with Nazis!” the Alternate American exclaimed in English as he unholstered his rifle, “I fucking hate it when I win the bet!” The rest of Aaron’s squad soon got their rifles into ready position while the Alternate Japanese/American platoon’s leader did a facepalm as he tried to defuse the situation with his platoon-mates.

    “Just great,” Aaron mumbled to himself as he did the hand signal for lowering weapons, “Just what we needed… if I had known that being part of the 7th Panzer Division would set off that sort of reaction, then I would have left the patches at Fort Portal.”

    “Sir, you know protocol,” Reinhard said flatly as he moved to drag Aaron out of the line of fire, “Get to cover.” Aaron simply rolled his eyes as he stared down the agitated Alternate Japanese/Americans as he tried to defuse the situation on his side, not even once moving his hand to his OICW.

    “Who is the leader of your Platoon?” Aaron asked in English.
    ____
    Itami started to break out in a cold sweat as his mind raced. Private Richards had started a standoff just because the squad in front of him had 7th Panzer Division patches. While what appeared to be the leader had tried to get his squad to lower their weapons, one of them spouted something about protocol and cover in German. That was when the leader gave Itami’s squad the most intense stare he ever witnessed -like if death itself was behind those eyes- and asked who the platoon leader was.

    “Everyone, stand down,” Itami ordered flatly, giving his platoon-mates his uncharacteristic stare to stomp out any disobedience, before he answered the man’s question, “I am the platoon leader and name is Youji Itami, 1st Lieutenant of the Japanese Self Defense Force. May I ask who you are and where do you come from?” Itami’s JSDF platoon-mates lowered their weapons but kept them in the standby position just in case things devolved into a straight-out shoot-out. Most of the Americans slowly followed suit… but two of them still had their weapons drawn.

    “My name is Aaron Thomas Neumann, Hauptmann of her Majesty, Sophia of the House of Hohenzollern, Kaiserin of Germany,” the man answered, “… and sorry if I’m rude for asking but what is a Nazi? From the tone it sounds almost derogatory.” Itami noticed that the situation could still escalate as the stare abided, if only little by little. Private Richards -the man behind the standoff- was clearly already in a panicked state… and Itami couldn’t blame him. That stare took him back to the day he wanted to permanently forget.

    “Sorry about Private Richards,” Itami respectably apologized, “I don’t know what got into him… but then again it must have been that weird tension in the air.” Hauptmann Neumann simply nodded in acceptance as the situation was defused.

    “Now that you’ve mentioned it,” Hauptmann Neumann commented, “There was this weird tension in the air the moment we neared the village and only now it has mysteriously vanished. Only a few places could do that, but that’s always at a handful of atrocities during the Great War of Resistance.” That was when Aaron turned to his squad. “Alright, give the signal for the rest of the command platoon.” With a simple ‘jawohl’, one of the squad spoke into her mic.

    “Damn Itami,” Flores exclaimed in awe, “I thought we would have started shooting before you could talk everyone down like that. Didn’t know that you had it in you.” Itami sighed at that comment, it’s like no one thinks of him other than a laid-back and lazy otaku. “… also, is your luck this bad? I mean what are the chances that they would pick the very same village as us, let alone a confrontation?”

    “Pretty damn low,” Itami answered in English, “Then again, so far everything indicates that they’re anything but through. Still, at least we’re not turned into paste.” Flores raised an eyebrow at the last comment.

    “Can you run that by me again?” Flores asked flatly, “Turned into paste? Really?” Itami looked at Flores like if he was stupid, insane, or both. Itami frowned as it became obvious that Flores rolled snake-eyes on all his observance checks.

    “Take a look at their armor,” Itami answered, “The movements are a bit too like the various exoskeleton experiments to be simply training. Given that the shape and overall aesthetics of the weaponry, their weapons are harder hitting while probably having the same rate of fire as ours.” Flores simply frowned at that. “They have a lot more firepower than we have… and most of ours is attached to our vehicles.”

    “Crushed I can get,” Flores replied, “but paste… that’s a bit much don’t you think?”

    “Better to overestimate someone than underestimate them,” Itami answered, “Given that they’re equipped with what looks like armored plate style combat exoskeletons, they probably have better armaments than us.” Flores raised an eyebrow to that. “We are barely equipped with interceptor plates as it is… and I for one don’t want to get needlessly killed.”
    Coda Village Town Hall meeting chambers, a few minutes later


    “… and these maps are accurate up to 400km away from what the locals call ‘the Holy Hills of Alnus’,” Aaron explained as he gave the copies to Itami, “From what we’ve gathered from the eight locals who were on their pilgrimage, we’re probably looking at a continent roughly the size of North America. We’re roughly right smack in the middle of that continent.” Itami nodded as he looked at the given maps, noting their extreme detail.

    “These would be rather useful in the long run,” Itami commented, “This is far better than simply aimlessly running around hopping that the directions of the locals are somewhat accurate.” Itami mentally sighed as his job of exploration just got a whole lot easier, so much so that he can go back to his hobby faster.

    “If 3rd Platoon is like I remember them,” Aaron smirked, “they should be near or in the village nestled in the nearby forest by now. They’ve always been a wee bit more enthusiastic about their duties… much like the old Aufklärungsjäger in the Great War of Resistance and World War 2.” That was when the head village elder noticed the location of the village in question and decided to shed some light on the matter.

    “Wait, you’re heading off to the Fae Elven village?” the Elder inquisitively asked in Saderian, “They’ve been the village’s major local trading partner for generations. We usually trade our excess foodstuffs, ironworking, and manufactured goods from the cities for their woodcraft, bows, meat, alchemy, and silks. Allowed us to be rather well-off than most…” Aaron and Itami looked at each other for a moment. Fairy elves? The word ‘Seriously?’ popped into the minds of the two officers as the Elder described the two villages’ relationship.

    “That’s… good to know,” Aaron commented in Saderian, “Thanks for that information Elder.” That was when Aaron heard an excited yelp from one of Itami’s compatriots, talking about ‘busty epitome of beauty Elves’ or some such… much to the dismay of his colleges.

    “Alright then,” Itami said as he made up his mind, “That village would be next on our places to go.” Aaron nodded in agreement. “Old Man! Get everyone ready! We’re going to the village the Elder mentioned.” Itami hoped that he would get some accurate information on the economic dynamics of the Empire, and thus get more time with his hobbies.

    “So, how about we go in as a convoy?” Aaron requested, “Given that other Aufklärungsabteilung companies have been encountering some of the nastier local fauna, it would be recommended that we have safety in numbers.” Itami simply shrugged, as he couldn’t fault for the Hauptmann’s suggestion. The JSDF and USMC haven’t found anything dangerous with the local fauna, but it didn’t mean that there wasn’t something dangerous lurking in the shadows.

    “Itami, are you seriously suggesting that we go out with them?” Flores asked, “I mean, we know very little about them as it is!” Flores wasn’t wrong on that, but he wasn’t 100% right either. Then again, learning -along with trust- is generally a two-way street.

    “I know that Flores,” Itami answered, “Problem is that the only way in getting to know them is to at least spend some time with them at the very least. Better do it before any of our superiors decide to do something stupid like forbid contact with them.” Itami, Aaron thought to himself, is a strange officer. He acts like Erwin Rommel’s ‘lazy genius’, yet quite a few of his actions simply indicate that he has literally no will to do more than be ‘good enough’. “So, we’re going with them. Hopefully we can get to the village before nightfall and spend the night.”

    “I hope to God that you know what you are doing Itami,” Flores complained, “If this bites us in the ass, I’m blaming you for it.” Neither Aaron or Itami couldn’t fault Flores though…
    On the Highway towards the Elven Village, 3rd Recon Platoon Recon Command Vehicle (BDX10 Command); 17:20 Hours


    “Well, they’re a bit of an odd bunch, aren’t they?” Takeo Kurata asked to no one in particular as the radio sounded with strange music, “They are dead serious in the professionalism department but then this sort of thing happens.” Itami wasn’t going to really argue much on the oddities of Hauptmann Neumann and his unit. They’re human, and thus they can be anything really.

    “If I remember right,” Sargent Major Souichirou Kuwahara started, “most of the music they’ve been putting on are old military marches… but I don’t know what this one is exactly. Then again my understanding of German military marches is… lackluster at best.” Itami simply sighed as the convoy moved forward.

    “Wait…” Private Richards muttered -forced to be with Itami for his actions in Coda Village- softly, “I remember hearing this march. If I’m not mistaken, that’s Alter Jägermarsch.” Everyone in the vehicle looked at Richards like he grew a second head. “What? My grandma Erika was from Germany, and she had a few records with old German marches and music.”

    That was when the music quickly cut off.

    “Break, break, break. 3rd Platoon to Company Command, 3rd Platoon to Company Command; have encountered hostile local fauna at Walddorf. Walddorf completely annihilated. We’ve only managed to evacuate 95 survivors of about a population of 180. Send message to all commands: hostile fauna confirmed. Data will follow.”

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Itami sighed as he took in the message, “Alright, get me the Hauptmann.” Takeo quickly handed over the radio mic to Itami. “Lieutenant to Hauptmann, what’s the plan?”

    “Hauptmann to Lieutenant, we’re stopping right here to rally with 3rd Platoon, we’ll take on the civilians before retreating to Coda Village. Their ETA is five minutes. Better send a FLASH to your command immediately,” Hauptmann Neumann ordered through the radio, “This is certainly going to be mess when this is all over.” Itami simply sighed in sadness, he knew a few politicians who are more than willing to use any fallout from this as an excuse to further their political goals… on both sides of the isle.

    “Understood Hauptmann,” Itami responded before looking at Takeo, “Alright we’ll pull to the side and wait for Hauptmann’s 3rd Platoon to meet us with the survivors. Hopefully we can get back to Coda Village and work out a plan there.” Itami didn’t like it but civilians had to be taken care of… and there might be casualties in the evacuation, and the HQ platoon is better equipped to handle them…
    Thirty Minutes ago, Elven Walddorf; 3rd Recon Platoon


    Leunant Silvester Häring smiled as the locals greeted them with open arms. The platoon had made great time to get to this village, and the village -although a bit skittish at first- accepted them with open arms. The village chief -one Hodor Marceau- and his elder advisors had explained some of the village’s economy. Some coinage was exchanged, samples of the local fauna and products acquired, and yet another language for the linguists to learn. Everything was going smoothly…

    That was when the word ALARM showed up on his HUD. Häring quickly sent a mental command to his system, showing the situation with Squad Dora.

    “Leunant! We’ve got hostile local flying mega fauna trying to kill us as it moves towards the village! Evacuate everyone at once!”

    Häring’s blood turned to ice at that statement. If the area had mega fauna willing to attack settlements…

    “Hodor Marceau!” Häring exclaimed in Saderan, “I must talk with you immediately!” Hodor quickly looked towards Häring as he ran towards him. “My fourth squad just got attacked by flying mega fauna and it’s heading towards the village!”

    What?” Hodor asked, “Can you give a description of this?” Häring was understanding, as evacuating a village is no simple task and thus not to be done on a whim.

    “I can do one better,” Häring answered, “I’m sending battlefield telemetry to my datapad right now.” The datapad soon showed live footage of Squad Dora -led by Feldwebel Hans Hitler- trying to not die against the monster in question.

    Marceau’s eyes widened to -if it weren’t for the current situation- comedic proportions. “ALARM!” Marceau exclaimed in Saderan, “ALARM! A great fire dragon is heading towards our village!” The elves simply stared at Marceau for a moment… before dropping whatever they were doing and going towards their homes, doing physical achievements that simply put Olympian athletes to shame. “Elder Ertzwald, gather the warriors together! We must slow the fire dragon before it gets too close to the village!” The elder in question quickly moved to gather whatever warriors he could.

    “Jäger! Steiner! Everyone is to be combat ready in five! We’re making a fighting withdrawal towards the Hauptman! Smalls; get that SHORAD ready, we might need it!” Häring ordered, “I want civilians that can’t evacuate in the IFVs! We’ll ride them if we have to!” With exclamations of ‘Jawohl Leunant’, the rest of the platoon went to work. “Feldwebel Hitler, make a combat retreat to the village. Once here, prepare to take on civilians… I don’t care if you have to tank-ride the IFV, just make it happen…”
    ~10km north of Walddorf


    “Understood Leunant!” Feldwebel Hans Hitler responded as he ran for his life, the reversing IFV firing it’s 3cm autocannon at the flying monster, “Gefreiter Rottmann, we are leaving!” Sounds of automatic rifle fire echoed through the forest. "Damn our luck! Our IFVs aren’t equipped with MRM systems!”

    Soon a recoilless rifle made an echo throughout the forest, sending its payload into a tree near the dragon in question, sending tree splinters all over the place as the HEAT-MP round detonated. The dragon noticed this and started to back off a bit, leading to some cheers.

    “Reload that Raketenpanzerbüchse!” Hans bellowed over the radio, “Make your next shot count!” The two soldiers quickly did a textbook running reload of the 10.5cm recoilless Raketenpanzerbüchse 92. Few soldiers could do such a thing as reloading the weapon is rather hard while on the run… but the two women are excellent multitaskers.

    “Raketenpanzerbüchse loaded!” Gefreiter Höger exclaimed. Soon her platoon-mate fired the weapon, taking out the left rear claw of the dragon by sheer luck. The two went into overdrive and vacated their spot, barely missing a fiery demise.

    “Feldwebel Hitler! Contacts, behind!” exclaimed Rottmann over the radio, “GUOS drone has about twenty contacts coming up from behind.” And soon enough, the data from the GUOS drone was fed into Hans’s Cross-Com feed… showing locals -probably militia- with various compound bows. That was when one of them stopped and drew his arrow, whispered a few words, and loosed the arrow at the dragon, causing immense destruction as it barely missed its mark.

    “They’re giving us cover!” Hans exclaimed, “Double time it to the village and see to the evacuation!” And with that, the entire platoon went into overdrive, maintaining a top speed of 30km/h as they went…
    Walddorf, five minutes later


    The village is in complete chaos. Entire families took whatever heirlooms and vital supplies they could and loaded them into the various travois and wagons. Draft animals were readied while every elf was making sure that everything was accounted for. So far, the ‘reaction’ body of warriors -some 60 in all- have helped Häring by relieving Dora squad… but could only delay the dragon for a few minutes. The rest of the warriors -including the village chieftain, Hodor- had finished their preparations.

    “Alright, I want a small contingent of warriors to help escort our people out of the forest, I’ll lead the rest to distract the dragon as long as possible,” Hodor ordered, “My contingent will try to keep the dragon occupied for as long as possible. Everyone else must make to Coda village at best speed.” Everyone else knew what Hodor was ordering, at best this is a suicide mission… but this was also the only way to ensure that the villagers will be able to escape unscathed.

    “I understand Mr. Marceau,” Centurion Häring stated as about faced and turned to his subordinates, “You’ve heard the man, let’s get this convoy moving!” With that, the convoy of elven refugees -including Hodor’s daughter Tuka and wife Umillia- swiftly left the village… leaving Hodor and 59 warriors behind… waiting for the Dragon to come again.

    Hodor turned around and simply stood there, mummering numerous chants in his preparations to fight against the Fire Dragon. The calling of spirits isn’t something to take lightly, as it always drains one’s mana pool. It is extremely draining to call upon numerous -or powerful or in the rare case both- spirits at once. This is one of those times that such actions are necessary.

    “Chieftain,” a warrior exclaimed as she dashed into the village, “It’s coming this way.” Hodor simply frowned at that information before quickening his chanting. That was when he saw a blot of red in the sky, and quickly drew his bow before chanting special magics into the arrow. Others that can do so did the same… and barely seconds later, they all let loose. Normally, a steel-tipped arrow is useless against a Great Fire Dragon’s scales… but that didn’t pertain to arrows imbued with the power of numerous spirits.

    The arrow penetrated the outer skin of the dragon, but it didn’t do much besides making it angry.

    Hodor quickly maneuvered to another location as he started the enchantment chain again… and that was when Hodor heard the screams

    The warriors that positioned themselves closer to the dragon began to burn. Horrifying screams filled the forest as the owners of the voices burned. Hodor quickly steeled himself as he let loose another arrow, this time hitting it in the right eye. Hodor smiled as the giant beast backed off, but it quickly got over its shock as it unleashed more of its flaming payload, all but four others.

    That was when Hodor’s day went for the weird, as unknown silhouettes started appearing out of nowhere. They looked like humans, but the armor and weapons were something that Hodor have never seen before. They had chain-link armor with limited armor plates while the helmet is adorned with horns and wings. The weapons, on the other hand, are different than the usual fare. The shields looked like nothing Hodor had seen before, their swords were incredibly large compared to what seemed to be practical, and their crossbows were simply gigantic compared to the common ones across the Empire.

    “Lauf schnell, Elfen. Wir werden die Linie gegen diesen Drachen halten, “the ethereal being spoke in a language that Hodor couldn’t even begin to understand, “Festhalten Sie Männer! Festhalten! Lasst uns diesem Biest zeigen, wie der Deutsche Orden kämpft!” The being quickly pointed in the direction of the evacuated villagers. “Es ist jetzt an der Zeit sicherzustellen, dass diejenigen, die sich nicht schützen können, vor dieser schrecklichen Bestie gerettet werden! Zu den unnachgiebigen Kampfkameraden!”

    Hodor couldn’t believe what was happening… spirits -hundreds of them- attempting to hold the line against one of the deadliest beasts in the world… and they were succeeding. Something like this is unprecedented! Even in the time of legend, something like this never happened; even in the great epics of the various races on this Earth.

    “Brother,” Theodas began, “what should we do?” Hodor looked at Theodas, his mind still trying to process what is happening. “Brother!” Theodas started to shake Hodor, trying to get Hodor out of his apparent shock.

    “Oh, right,” Hodor replied as he got out of his shock, “I think they want us to get to our families… and I think that is a good idea…” The remaining four looked at Hodor like if he was insane. Physical manifestations of spirits are extremely rare, to see hundreds of them at once -and going towards a fight no less- had never happened before in recorded history. However, not doing so meant that they had to fight a Great Fire Dragon.

    “…” Theodas replied wordlessly, his brain still trying to work out if Hodor was insane or not.

    “Well, it is either going to our families or… getting killed by the Great Fire Dragon,” Dalyor sarcastically answered, “I choose going to our families.” Everyone couldn’t really argue with what Dalyor was saying and agreed to simply get out while things were going in a positive direction…
    Somewhere in Italica Province; Nightfall


    The small band of brigands cheered and smiled as they split the spoils of the lone trader they ambushed. All and all, this was an excellent haul for a lone trader. So far, the band have been sweeping through the province, increasing their reputation among the denizens of the criminal world.

    “Ah another fine load of spoils!” Nonus Vassenius Pennus -the band’s defacto second-in-command- laughed aloud, “Now this is the fight we live for! No more being killed from beyond eyesight! No more explosive spells shattering our formations! Everything is up close and personal!” The seven others couldn’t help but agree. They all had been at the battle of the Holy Hill of Alnus and the horrors that were inflicted there. Even Duran -one of the most capable generals in the known world- couldn’t win against the forces that had taken the hill. While the vast majority of the survivors dispersed to their homelands, Nonus was one of the handful that decided that they couldn’t go home… and turned to banditry.

    “At this rate, we can gather enough men to overthrow the local lord!” Spurius Horatius Decianus bragged, “To think of it, from brigand to lord! This is too easy!” Spurius started to laugh… until he quickly went silent. The air was deathly still before the head fell off the man’s shoulders. The brigands began to panic as they searched for the attacker… before going face to face with an unknown warrior. The warrior only wore chest-plate for armor, but his clothing was outlandishly colored to the point that it was like the warrior wanted to stand out. The warrior is armed with the largest sword that they had ever seen, over six and third feet long… and a smaller and more sensible shorter sword as a backup. All while being bathed in an ethereal glow.

    The warrior simply scoffed as he gored another of the band. “Du bist es nicht wert, mit meiner zweihändigen Klinge zu sterben! In meinem Leben habe ich in vielen Schlachten um Geld, Prestige und Ruhm gekämpft. Doch du hast die Armeen verlassen, denen du gedient hast, und wurden Briganten!” the warrior stated, “Du wirst von meiner Klinge getötet werden wie die tollwütigen Hunde, die du bist! Du hast dein Land, deinen Herrn und deine Familien blamiert! Bete zu deinen heidnischen Göttern um Vergebung, denn ich werde nicht!” It was then Servius Modius Disertus did the foolish thing and charged, becoming nearly bisected for his troubles.

    Like a demon from the netherworld, the warrior made his way through the rest of the band, ruthlessly killing any that he could reach. A trail of blood, death, and mangled bodies went for a dozen or so feet before the last brigand -a young child named Reeve Heimart- laid on the ground literally pissing himself.

    “Please! Let me live!” Reeve begged as he continued to piss himself, “I’ll do anything you ask! Please, I beg…” It was then that a giant halberd turned the begging brigand into a pile of gore.

    “You are so selfish!” Rory the Reaper complained with a chuckle, “Those brigands were for the All Father! Now you’re going to be their replacement!” With that, Roy crossed the distance and gave the warrior the soles of her platform shoes before twirling around her halberd. The warrior simply shrugged it off, signaling Rory that this wasn’t a human opponent despite his appearance.

    The warrior quickly bunny hopped backward and began to analyze the situation. The supposedly teen girl before him is far stronger than she looked, and that made the warrior smile. One of those he was his objective have come into the open, making the rest of his mission much easier… only complicated that she was going to attempt to kill him. He quickly raised his zweihändgen in a blocking position as the halberd came down towards him. The weapon -much to Rory’s surprise- blocked her halberd.

    Rory’s blood began to freeze as the warrior took one of his hands and went behind his back to grab something… before revealing a weapon that Rory has never seen before; it had a trigger like a crossbow, but everything else was different. The warrior quickly pointed the end of the weapon towards Rory’s torso before pulling the trigger. A small explosion was heard, and Rory felt a sharp and horrific pain in her gut. Rory’s regeneration started kicking in as she broke off. The warrior threw the weapon onto the ground and charged with his zweihändgen.

    Rory was barely able to avoid the first swipe before she went to stab the warrior. The stab did hit its mark… but the warrior chuckled as Rory sat there in bewilderment as her halberd phased through the warrior. “Du musst ein unaufmerksamer Tölpel sein, um anzunehmen, was dein Gegner ist, kleine Dame,” the warrior chuckled, “Ich habe dir nur erlaubt, mich mit deiner zweihändigen Hellebarde zu erstechen, um zu einer Erkenntnis zu kommen. Ich habe eine Nachricht an deinen Meister, sowohl mündlich als auch schriftlich.” The warrior quickly produced a scroll with a complex seal.

    Rory quickly regained her composure and sulked for a moment. This warrior had the audacity to call her a little lady and yet he was carrying two messages. “What is this message that you want to tell Emoly?” Rory asked in the warrior’s language.

    Now you speak German!” the warrior spat, “Tell your Gods that their time has ended, for the Old One has returned! … and the Old One is righteously pissed at what has happened since being stabbed in the back and left for dead!” As soon he gave the messages, he vanished without a trace. Rory could only stand there, as her very soul shakes with fear. Emoly had told her about The Old One… how that Hardy led the other divines to overthrow the Old One because of her ideals. That divine conflict is how Hardy was able to control the Gate… although not as effectively as the Old One.

    Rory could sense that the Divines are now in a state of disarray as this information has filtered up to them through her. Emoly now had new orders for her: find the men in green and assess them…
    Coda Village; July 16th, 2017 – 08:40 Hours


    “Alright, is everyone ready?” Itami asked in Saderan as the village elder took a gander at the assembled convoy. The convoy’s structure is somewhat odd in Itami’s view, but he couldn’t blame the overall structure. Normally the structure of a convoy is a single column with armed mixed with the transports. What the Iron Pact has done is something vastly different as it resembled more like a naval convoy than a land one. The two SHORADs would flank the center of the convoy alongside with the platoon of recon IFVs. The command vehicle would be at the center while the two IFVs nestled themselves in the front and rear of the convoy. Itami’s platoon took up positions near vital points of the convoy to cover any holes in the defenses.

    “Yes, Centurion Itami,” the Village Elder answered. The Village Elder -along with the two nobles that governed the ‘county’ that the village resided- quickly went to action when Itami and Hauptmann Neumann returned to the village with elven refugees in tow. Once it was explained what had happened, they quickly ordered everyone to prepare their wagons as they were going to leave in the morning unless the Great Fire Dragon showed up first.

    That was when they heard a scream and a horse baying madly. Itami and his squad quickly moved to the front of the convoy and saw a little girl lying on the ground and Hauptmann Neumann simply standing there in front of the seemingly out of control horse.

    “Now settle down Missy!” Hauptmann Neumann exclaimed, trying to calm down the horse, “I know you’re scared but this isn’t the time for you to lash out like this!” The horse rose up, seemingly going to stomp the Hauptmann into dust, but horse simply stomped the ground. “Now calm down and we’ll fix this. Now give me the hoof that is bothering you.” The horse, reluctantly, raised it’s rear-left hoof and the Hauptmann took a gander and found the problem.

    “What’s the problem?” Itami asked politely in English.

    “Something got this mare in a riled state,” Hauptmann Neumann replied, “Accidentally threw the girl off her perch on the wagon. Most likely suffering a concussion at this point.” Itami quickly ordered Mari Kurokawa to check and stabilize the girl while another girl kneeled next to the local in question. “… and I’ve found the problem. Hey, Charles, give me the medical plyers will ya?” The man -likely American- handed over a pair of plyers and got a nasty rock out of the hoof. Everyone -including the locals- winced when they saw the rock.

    “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” Flores exclaimed, “A simple rock caused a horse to get into a riled-up state?”

    “Well, it is the equivalent of a rock splinter in the space between your toes,” Hautpmann Neumann explained, “but yeah. Then again, I’ve lived with horses on my family’s estate for decades… and gave me a leg up in my SpecOps training.” Flores then began to bang his head against a house lightly at his moment of stupidity. “Then again, if you aren’t around horses all that much, then you’ll never know the subtleties of horse care.”

    “So… is the horse ready to go?” Itami asked.

    “I’ll have to tell the owners to keep an eye on it and it’ll slow us down a little, but yeah she’s ready,” Hauptmann answered.

    “The little girl is stable Itami,” Mari Kurokawa reported, “She’ll have to be in the command vehicle to heal but there isn’t any lasting damage. Very light concussion.” Itami sighed in understanding.

    “Alright,” Itami said, “tell her parents that she’ll be with us for the time being. Now let’s see that this convoy starts moving.” With that, everyone got to their vehicles as the soldier on the back of the front IFV started waving his signal flags.

    “Attention! Move out!” came Hauptmann Neumann’s voice in Saderian. Itami knew that this was going to be a very long trip.
    Italica Province, Scout’s Honor Command Center; July 18th, 2017 – 12:10 Hours


    Aaron simply stared at the holographic data-plot that sat at the center of the command center, trying to think of the next move. So far, the beast that had hounded everyone hadn’t showed up… not even on radar -thank 4th Platoon’s SHORAD operator being quick enough to get his radar to track the beast, and thus get its signature- for the last day. That got Aaron worried, as that indicates that the beast is far smarter than it looks.

    “Attention all units! All stop!”

    Aaron quickly grabbed the radio mic. “What’s the situation?” Aaron asked with a commanding tone. The last thing he wanted is the forces of the Holy Empire of Alnus attacking the convoy.

    “We’ve sighted a little girl in a goth loli costume and a teenage boy in armor… and a massive murder of crows. They’re walking towards us sir.”

    “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Aaron sighed, “Alright Scout’s Honor is going to head to the lead alongside with Itami’s command car and assess the situation with the lead vehicles.” Situations like this have to have a high level of delicate handling and given that the possibility of the mysterious tension in Coda Village happening again, virtually a requirement now. “Driver; leave our position in the convoy and move up to the front. We’re going to meet these exotically dressed unknowns.”

    The driver simply nodded as he split left from the center of the convoy and moved towards the front.

    It only took the two command vehicles a minute or two for the vehicles to get to the front of the convoy, but as the two vehicles stopped, the locals started coming out in droves and called the two oracles.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Aaron complained with a sigh…
    __________

    Leo of Rodes, Apostle of Cefulla, the Goddess of Governance, Law, Order, and Bureaucracy, frowned at his predicament. He was told by Cefulla to work with Rory Mercury, Apostle of Emoly, the God of War, Judgement, Theft, and Madness, to gauge how much of a divine fuckup that Hardy did by opening two Gates. More specifically, meeting up with the forces that gave the Empire and its client states such devastating defeats with what amounts to a rounding error in terms of fatalities. Hardy had been -according to Cefulla- cursing up a storm after she discovered that she only got the locals who died and not anyone from either the forces on Alnus and Remus Hills.

    That scared the Divines something fierce, as this information suggested that something is backing both on a divine level.

    So, the last few days had been essentially meeting up with Rory and wandering around, trying to find these ‘Men in Green’… and lo and behold they stumble upon them, with villagers from two villages… specifically a human village with the legendary mage Cato and one of the few Fae Elf villages in the Empire proper.

    Leo was surprised that the Men in Green simply stood there flabbergasted as the villagers ran towards Rory and himself, trying to gain favor to the divines via the Apostles themselves. Didn’t they have their own divines and apostles?

    “Oh, great Oracles,” one of the elderly villagers proclaimed, “we are sorry that we haven’t done our daily prayers! We’ve been on the run from the Great Flame Dragon for the last day and haven’t find the time or the place to peaceably pray.” Leo and Rory’s eyes widened to their widest, there were no Great Dragons -let alone something as destructive as the Great Flame Dragon- out of hibernation… and awakening such beasts would be problematic both in the mortal and divine realms. There are specific laws for the beasts and awakening a Great Dragon on purpose is punishable by death… if the dragon in question didn’t kill the idiot in the first place.

    “The Divines understand your situation, but we aren’t here for you,” Rory stated, “We are here to judge the Men in Green.” The villagers’ eyebrows rose in alarm. Rarely the divines sent their apostles to judge people… which gave shocking implications on what the Men in Green are. “Although the early awakening of a Great Flame Dragon is… problematic, it won’t disturb our duties.” That was when two of the Men in Green politely interrupted Rory.

    “Sorry to interrupt,” the taller Man in Green solemnly stated in Saderian with a thick accent, “but you have us at a disadvantage. My name is Aaron Neumann, Hauptmann of Her Majesty Sophia the First of Germany, and this is Leutnant Youji Itami of the Japanese Self Defense Force. We’ve been escorting this convoy of villagers in their quest to escape the possibility of being eaten by a Great Flame Dragon.” Leo sensed truth in these words… but his senses were getting fuzzy around this ‘Hauptmann’ and ‘Leutnant’. A cursory look at Rory ensured that Leo knew that Rory was having the same problem as well… which didn’t bode well.

    “My name is Rory Mercury, Apostle of Emoly,” Rory began.

    “… and my name is Leo of Rodes, Apostle of Cefulla, Goddess of Law and Governance,” Leo continued, “Our Gods have saw fit to see what you are capable of… although the early awakening of the Great Flame Dragon is an unexpected shift in the flows of fate.” The ‘Leutnant’ raised an eyebrow at the mention of fate, and Rory simply licked her lips. Leo mentally sighed as Rory got hot and bothered with the foreigner… the shenanigans that will ensue will be embarrassing as it is funny. Especially since Rory refuses to shapeshift to her proper body. Leo only recently became a demi-god a decade ago and he was still getting used to the shapeshifting aspects. Then again, not a whole lot of beings knew of the shapeshifting abilities of an apostle…

    “Ah,” the ‘Hauptmann’ replied, “Well then, you’ll have to hitch a ride in the command vehicles, everything else is sadly filled to capacity right now.” Leo raised an eyebrow at that statement. In such a scenario, the convoy would leave unneeded articles behind to ensure that the convoy moves ahead of the Great Fire Dragon… until it started to hinder the escort’s ability to maneuver. Then that is the point where people get left behind. Yet… these ‘Men in Green’ are allowing them to ride with them to the point that their fellows are forced to hang onto their wagons. Very unusual…

    “We can’t ignore your hospitality,” Leo stated -the Men in Green raised their eyebrows at the mention of hospitality- in an almost regal tone, “it’ll be an immense dishonor even for us Apostles to spit at your hospitality.”

    “Ah, then hospitality is truly sacred here,” the ‘Hauptmann’ stated while the ‘Leunant’ gave a smile, “Alright, Itami I think Rory wants to go with you. I’ll take Leo here… and hopefully this little stop hasn’t caused us any trouble yet.” That was when the ‘Hauptmann’ heard something in his helmet and started talking in his native language before switching back to Saderian. “Well, we better start hoofing it then. The villagers are getting a bit restless with this stop. Given what Hans told us about the Great Flame Dragon, I wouldn’t blame them. Alight, sorry to cut any prayer sessions short but we’ve got to move out!” The various villagers quickly ended their prayers and went back to their wagons.

    Leo and Rory followed their respective Man in Green into their wagons… and onto an unknown path.
    Italica Province, the Scarred Lands; That Evening


    The convoy had stopped for the night, and Leo couldn’t imagine that something with this much uncertainty in the background having an immensely festive atmosphere. Right now, a group of ‘Finns’ and ‘Germans’ -led by a woman named Viivi Nieminen- were playing something called ‘polkas’ with their instruments -which consisted of string and wind instruments that Leo never seen before and some crazy instrument that utilizes air and has keys on both ends of the air bag- to calm the villagers down.

    … and the craziest thing? They were succeeding beyond all expectations.

    On kauniina muistona Karjalan maa, mutta vieläkin syömmestä soinnahtaa,” Viivi began, “kun soittajan sormista kuulla saa, Säkkijärven polkkaa!” As the song continued, Leo just couldn’t help but start tapping his foot… as the song was practically begging to be danced to. It was like fear and paranoia was simply melting away like ice under the hot summer sun… and in this situation, keeping fear and paranoia from getting out of hand is paramount. With something like a Great Fire Dragon on the prowl, not having a cool head will have most -if not all- within the convoy die the moment said dragon shows up due to poor sleep, poor eating habits, and the like.

    “Ah,” a voice behind Leo commented, “feeling the beat of the polka?” Leo couldn’t help but practically jump out of his armor as the owner of the voice -whom Leo recognized as Centurion Neumann- caught him off guard. It was like he simply slipped behind him! Leo had never encountered someone who can walk so silently. Not even the elves of the Weyto mountain range could compare to how silent footed Hauptmann Neumann was…

    “I… uh…” Leo muttered as his mind tried to make since of what just happened.

    “Oh,” Centurion Neumann sighed, “I accidentally snuck up on you, didn’t I? Eh, it happens to everyone and… it appears that I have forgotten to put the keys on a belt loop. Sorry about that.” While Leo couldn’t sparse what the Hauptmann was thinking, he could take a gander at the body language as a reference… and what the body language was telling him was this isn’t the first time that this sort of thing happened.

    “… you did Hauptmann,” Leo answered, “and to answer your question, yes I was feeling the beat of the music that’s playing.” Hauptmann Neumann simply chuckled a little at the response.

    “Polkas are interesting things Leo,” Centurion Neumann stated, “While folk music of their own accord, they tend to simply be begging to be danced to. I should know, I’ve sung plenty of Oktoberfest songs to last eight lifetimes.” Leo couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment that the Hauptmann had.

    “… and this ‘Oktoberfest’ is?” Leo asked politely.

    “Probably the biggest holiday that humanity has ever created,” Centurion Neumann responded, “Originally started out as a wedding anniversary between nobles but grew into a two-week long party of entertainment and food. Two weeks where everything but essential services are shut down and everyone not on shift celebrates. Throughout its history, Oktoberfest has only been canceled a handful of times with most of those cancelations because of war.” Leo couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Yes, there are numerous holidays and festivals that are recognized across the empire, but nothing that lasted for two straight weeks.


    “That is… too fantastical to believe!” Leo exclaimed in his disbelief, “Even the Divines of the Empire allow for such a festival, and for good reason.” Centurion Neumann simply chuckled a little.

    “It is possible when you’ve got an agricultural sector as sophisticated as ours,” Centurion Neuman answered, “Your capabilities in agriculture require most of your population in the fields, working their asses off for little payoff… we simply have the technology and understanding to reduce that number to barely a single percent of our population. Given what we’ve seen so far, it is probably something everyone would discover in a few centuries without help.” Leo couldn’t believe what he was hearing… but he could understand the sentiment somewhat.

    “So…” Leo started, “Why aren’t you enjoying the festivities with everyone else?” It was uncommon to have people that aren’t at least willing to be with large groups of people, and those that can’t tend to live very short and brutal lives.

    “I’m currently at my limit Leo,” Centurion Neumann answered back, “I can be at the center of a party with the best of them, but I can only withstand the sheer number of stimuli for so long before I get a sensory overload. Even with all my cybernetic implants, I’m still limited by my biological limitations… more specifically my brain in this instance.” Leo simply sighed, he had met such people over the years… and they’re simply great and gentle people. Yet… Leo could sense that Centurion Neumann’s hands were bathed in blood… something that always raised red flags… Leo hoped that these were simply false positives and not something more sinister…
    Artyom, Russia (north of Vladivostok, Russia) – GATE Earth; July 19th, 2017 – 07:20 Hours


    Russia, unbeknownst to the world, is on the verge of civil war. As Putin and his party kept using increasingly brutal methods to keep the populous in control, the more resentment of Putin and his comrades get built up. With the Ruble being locked out of the world financial markets and all Russian-owned assets ceased (and at gunpoint if needed), the economic situation had deteriorated to the point that it was worse than the days of the Tzars.

    Therefore, Astafyev Mili Olegovich -former investigative reporter that got blacklisted by Putin- was risking his neck for his Chinese Second Department handler, Han Bo, for information on the current political situation within Russia. What Mili had discovered, via rumor, that the situation near Vladivostok is deteriorating rapidly. The army garrison there had been rumored to defect to the local Communist Party of Russia… and that rumor is probably the scariest of all given how little restraint that Putin’s Russia has shown to put down descent.

    That is why Mili dragged Demenok Marfa Ilyinishna -another blacklisted investigative reporter- and Protasov Gerasim Vadimovichinto -a private investigator- into this. Why? It was mostly a gut feeling about the rumors. If Mili was alone and he got killed in the chaos, then the rest of the planet would be in the dark about what is happening. This way, he can ensure that at least one person can get to the handler and tell the world what is happening… and plan for it.

    “So Mili, those rumors led you here?” Demenok asked, “Anything specific about those rumors that you want to tell us because this is not exactly like you.” Demeok and Gerasim were a bit worried about Mili. If he was caught and tortured, then the rest of Han Bo’s information ring would be compromised… which could get a good portion of the other rings compromised as well. To see Mili act a bit out of character shook them to their core.

    “It is because of what the rumors are saying,” Mili answered flatly as he produced a folder, “In the outskirts of Vladivostok there is an old Soviet era military RnD facility that has been abandoned for decades after a mysterious accident.” Demenok and Gerasim nodded as Mili began to explain himself, the Soviet era was riddled with military RnD facilities utilizing the esoteric and outright exotic to bring down their enemies… and occasionally they would suffer a mysterious accident that forces the facility to shut down. “From what I can scrounge up, the facility used to be a RnD site for some sort of teleportation technology. The facility suffered an accident that killed around a dozen people, and the facility was quickly decommissioned and stripped of anything of value. The scientists and their assistants were quickly shipped to a quantum mechanics Naukograd that would later serve as their prison, and the facility has been laying there, rotting away…”

    “Until recently,” Gerasim completed, “Something about that facility has gotten you spooked then.”

    “Yes,” Mili replied, “A few weeks ago, before the entire thing that has been happening with Japan and the ‘Special Region’,” Mili finger-quoted ‘Special Region’ for the obvious political maneuvering to minimize the possibility of a UN operation, “a contact of mine started hearing rumors about this facility being used by the Communists as a depot of some kind. He couldn’t get much closer, so I came over and investigated myself.” Demenok and Gerasim looked over the literal hard evidence that Mili presented with an inquiring curiosity. Mili -as well as the various information rings across Russia- had to use physical media as it was far easier to dispose of than its electronic counterpart. Some acid and fire and you remove any evidence of wrongdoing tracing back to you. “When I got there, my contact stated that he saw a massive increase in activity to and from the complex…”

    “… and that has you scared,” Demenok finished as he looked through the files, “Skimming through what you’ve collected, I can see why. A lot of this equipment is mil-spec and then some. I can see fuck tons of modern Kornet and Khrizantema launchers alongside other heavy equipment.” Demenok then took a closer look at photos that were under the label ‘Unknown Equipment’. “Then there are these mysterious trucks with unknown cargo. The shape of these things is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Have you gotten any information about these?”

    “No,” Mili sighed as he answered, “those have been completely hush-hush ever since I started seeing them. Hell, I’ve seen larger trucks with what looks like massive container trailers coming in and out of the facility at night. Couldn’t track where they went but this sort of activity should be rather obvious…” Gerasim gasped in realization as she went over a few odd additions to the facility.

    “It might be because to the outside world, there isn’t such activity!” Gerasim exclaimed, “A lot of the area is die-hard Communist, so the government couldn’t get accurate intelligence even if it wanted to. These towers have been set up recently and probably camouflaged the activity, so it can’t be picked up easily via satellite or aerial recon...” That was when realization kicked in.

    “You mean that…” Mili began.

    “… that we’re dealing with some sort of wide-area electromagnetic camouflage that can fool most electronic and optical sensors?” Demenok finished.

    “Well, sounds fantastical,” Gerasim answered, “but the pieces fit. Such things have been postulated in science fiction… but to see it in operation in reality is a wholly different matter.” Mili and Demenok couldn’t really argue with Gerasim’s line of logic… if anything, this made things even more disconcerting.

    “How are we going to explain all of this to the rest of the world?” Demenok asked… but Mili and Gerasim simply left the question hanging…
     
  5. Threadmarks: STORY Chapter 4
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Chapter 4: Consequences of the Unknown

    The Scarred Lands, Italica Province – SHORAD Air Sweeper; July 19th, 2017 – 14:50 Hours


    “Witch Hunter to BATNET, no contacts on scope. Continuing radar sweep.”

    Colonel Abigail Simmons frowned as she looked at her radar screen. So far, the Fire Dragon hadn’t showed up yet… but then again, the situation is still a little fluid, and no one really knows the capabilities of a Fire Dragon to get a good idea of what to do. Thus, the enormous amounts of tedium and undiluted paranoia. Given that 3cm APFSDS ammunition didn’t do much, Simmons didn’t believe the few HVAPFSDS belts of 5.5cm rounds would do much either.

    “Man, how long is it going to be before the civies feel safe enough to move on?” complained the SHORAD’s driver -one George Kennedy- as he drove the vehicle, “I mean we’ve been at this for a day and a half now…” Simmons couldn’t blame him for complaining, as the unit isn’t equipped for this sort of work.

    “Oh, man up Kennedy,” Simmons complained back as she kept an eye on the radar scope, “We’ll probably start doing these sorts of jobs until the railroad gets to operational capacity.” Despite the prevalence of cargo-zeppelins and transport aircraft, railroads are still the linchpin of any modern logistical effort given that trains can haul loads in the scale of container ships.

    “This is Scout’s Honor to all units; the village chief just talked to me and after today we’re going to be splitting off.”

    “Thank God,” Kennedy muttered, “I don’t think my body suffered this badly since the attempted coup in Yugoslavia a few years back. I’m going to have cramps for days after this.” Simmons couldn’t blame him. This sort of long-distance escort for days at a time is just asking for trouble in terms of bodily matters.

    “Well, at least we’ll be back at base,” Simmons replied, “Given what we’ve been through, we’ll probably need a full inspection back to the depot. We probably got junk and debris in the drivetrain that the…” Simmons was quickly broken out of her line of thought when her radar scope beeped angrily at her. “All units, this is Air Sweeper. Got two contacts, 2:30. Distance, 16 hundred! Looks like a small one and… you’ve got to be shitting me! The big bastard found us!”
    3rd Recon Light Attack Vehicle


    “… The big bastard found us!”

    Everyone in the vehicle felt their blood turn to ice at the statement. Now they had to face something that the locals consider something as close to an ‘Act of God’ as you could get without the local divines literally intervening. That was when Private Richards was heard assembling his Javelin launcher.

    “What the fuck are you doing Richards?” Rokuda Koichi exclaimed as he maneuvered the fifty-cal around towards the dragon in question.

    “Saving all of our fucking lives, that’s what,” Richards spat back as he continued assembling the weapon, “Better idea than using a Panzerfaust 3 against it, given its reported maneuverability.” Koichi simply scoffed at that comment as he readied the API belt. Why the Americans decided to go around with their newest ATGM, Koichi would never know.

    Richards -as the LAV bounced around like a pin ball- carefully assembled the Javelin ATGM system, making sure that everything was perfect, as he felt in his gut that he had one and only one shot with the Javelin… and any failure would mean death.

    “Itami, take your platoon and get out of here. With your kit you’re at a severe disadvantage against this thing.”
    Scout’s Honor Command Center


    “Hauptmann Neumann, I’m not going to simply escape and leave you to die,” Itami answered over the radio, “Now shut up and let’s kill this beast!” Aaron simply stayed silent for a fleeting moment, digesting what Itami stated… before making a smirk.

    “Well, well, well… you’ll go far Itami. You’ll go far,” Aaron muttered to himself.

    “Hauptmann?” a Leunant Gregory Reynolds asked as the vehicle maneuvered sharply.

    “It appears that we’re going to have to do the impossible,” Aaron answered, “All units, add the JSDF units into the combat scenario… their ‘toon lead is rather insistent. Let’s show them where the Iron grows.” The look in Aaron’s eyes was almost paranormal as he stared at the representation of the Fire Dragon, figuring a way to slay the beast…

    Everyone in the cabin simply stared at Aaron for a moment. Few soldiers ever uttered the phrase “Let’s show them where the Iron grows”, and the few instances that they were uttered were during hopeless situations and in all but five instances of uttering the phrase, the unit was rendered combat inoperative. However, this is Hauptmann Aaron Thomas Wolfgang Neumann, someone that Big Boss saw potential to become a legend in his own right… and that got the crew mutedly optimistic.

    “If I have to go out on foot to ensure the safety of these civilians,” Aaron flatly stated as he grabbed his rifle, “Then so be it. We are not here for glory or for medals. We are here to ensure the safety of these civilians. Now, you have your orders, move out.”

    “Jawhol, Hauptmann,” Gregory answered. The company command vehicle’s 3cm autocannon opened up, sending API rounds down range.
    M68 RCV Jäger’s Triumph, a few minutes later


    The recon variant IFV bounced around as it maneuvered violently across the badlands that became the battlefield. 5.5cm autocannon did diddly squat against ‘Fire Dragon’, and the missiles that the company had were specialist models not MRMs... which made taking the beast out hard to accomplish at best.

    “We’re switching to HVAP belts.”

    “We better switch as well, better than simply wasting HE rounds,” the Jäger’s Triumph’s E-War officer - Viivi Nieminen- suggested before she spoke into the BATNET, “Has anyone gotten a good scan on it yet?” The Iron Pact has always painstakingly given their recon vehicles special sensors to give preliminary data on a target. Sure, using it means everyone and their brother that has a passive sensor suite knows you’re there, but it is the most useful tool one could have. Especially useful in getting rough estimates on things like what sort of armor an unidentified AFV has. Not as good as getting the AFV in question but useful information none the less.

    “No… the materials are making our sensors spit out nonsense… and we don’t have MRMs to guarantee overkill.”

    “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Leutnant Hinrich Heilmeier complained as he selected the HVAP bins, “Everyone is getting the same thing as us: Fucking Squat!” That sort of situation is as rare as it is dangerous. Without even partial -but useful- information, things get complicated rather quickly. That meant things like laser range finders might be screwed with via anti-range countermeasures or the engagement is entirely in the enemy’s favor and the crew doesn’t even know it.

    Streaks of HVAP rounds went down range, most of them missing their target while the few that did making davits in the target’s thick hide.

    “How the fuck is thing armored enough to take HVAP rounds? Those things go through 15 centimeters of RHA like a hot knife through butter!” Hinrich complained loudly, “Does anyone have a method to kill this thing yet?”

    “This is 3rd Recon Platoon’s LAV, our resident American is readying his Javelin launcher. We need a few more seconds before he’s ready to take the shot.”

    Hinrich frowned at the reply. The ATGMs that the Aufklärungsabteilung brought with them weren’t maneuverable enough to hit the beast at this distance. At this distance, an ATGM wouldn’t be able to maneuver properly… so what is the alternate American thinking?
    3rd Recon Platoon LAV


    “… and there, all ready to go,” Richards panted as he completed the checks for the Javelin, “Koichi, get out of my way!” Rokuda Koichi quickly dismounted from the fifty-cal. as Richards shimmied his way up with the bulky Javelin launcher.

    The LCLU quickly picked up the Fire Dragon while Richards switched to direct-fire mode. It only took little more than a second for the LCLU to lock onto the Fire Dragon… and with the pull of the trigger, the Javelin left the tube in a small cloud of exhaust.

    The propulsion system quickly kicked in a moment later, quickly accelerating the missile towards the target… dead center. The Fire Dragon -at the time of launch- was only 500 meters away, leading the missile to quickly close the distance. The tandem warhead quickly detonated.

    A lance of superplastic metal pierced right through the incredibly tough scales of the Great Fire Dragon, piercing what experts in the Empire would call a ‘fire sac’. Due to the nature of these organs, a fire sac -let alone the numerous sacs in a Great Fire Dragon’s body- is literally filled with volatile gases that would ignite with a powerful enough ignition source… something that the HEAT warhead kindly provided. The large primary fire sac exploded violently, causing the other primary fire sac to explode… and sending the dragon’s entrails all over the battlefield.

    “Um… that was different,” Koichi stated in surprise, “You would think that a fire-breathing dragon would evolved to not have that happen.” Richards simply stood in the gunner’s position, gawking at the destruction that he had wrought.

    “… all units… round up the civies and prepare for funeral detail… Also, can someone get in the NBC gear and get some samples.”
    Moscow, USSR – The Kremlin, Iron Pact Earth; July 19th, 2017 – 20:30 Hours Moscow Time


    While the Parliament of Soviets -the successor to the Soviet Congress- is where the various representatives debate and vote on policy while the Premier and the Soviet Cabinet held executive power. Both, in theory, have more power than the Kremlin… but -in reality- it is the Kremlin that equaled the representative side of the Soviet government in terms of political influence.

    The reason being? Grigory Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze, a very close associate of Joseph Stalin and a man who lead the USSR based on Stalin’s precepts. While ‘Stalinism’ never took hold, Grigory would force the USSR into a war against the Iron Pact in 1945. This war was largely unpopular with the Soviet populous… and would lead Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov and numerous other political and military officers to pull a coup in 1948, as the Iron Pact’s forces neared Moscow itself. While the Soviet Union would surrender -and getting a scalding but fair peace treaty in the process- unconditionally, the war would go on for another four years against France, the Commune of India (aka the maniac of the Comintern), and a scattering of British Union forces across Africa. All ending with the atomic bombing of Durgapur and Bengaluru.

    Now, one of the exotic experiments near Vladivostok -based on the theories and studies released by scientists in the Iron Pact- had made a startling success… and discovered an abandoned version of the facility on the other side. Investigation of the world on the other side was rather swift, as they met up with the local Communists… and that is why this meeting is taking place.

    “This is going to cause just as many headaches as successes isn’t it?” Premier Vladimir Putin complained as he rubbed his temples, “So… what is the status of our allies on the other side?” The large stacks of tablets and files stretched across the center of the conference table are filled with numerous data entries and analysis documents, detailing the situation on the other side of the wormhole. Stacks so high that the various Kremlin staff could barely see each other.

    “Premier,” the Head of the KGB -one Gribkov Damir Danilovich- answered, “Your… alternative self has made it defacto impossible to ascertain the full situation via radio, internet, and TV channels… and what little we’ve gained is from Communist sympathizers from the intelligence rings maintained by their Chinese intelligence services.” Smirnitskaya Mashenka Larionovna -Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union and one of the more outspoken champions of what is known as the ‘Gardening’ ideology of Communism- mumbled in anger about the situation there. “So far the Communist Party and its allies are simply scattered across Russia with very little in terms of military capability. So far, they’ve convinced the garrison of their Vladivostok to side with them along with a handful of other companies… but that isn’t enough against your alternate double’s forces. We’ve been supplying and training them in our modern armaments, but with some of our more eccentric tech training has been a little slow.”

    “That means alternative Putin is going to force a civil war for the sake of power,” Larionovna complained venomously, “I don’t know if it’s a part of some great stratagem or he is just that stupid...” Everyone else simply agreed as the situation was pretty much that bad. A powder keg on a scale like Europe before World War 1, and the alternative Putin is throwing sparks everywhere and it was only pure and unadulterated luck that the sparks didn’t ignite the incredibly short fuse… yet.

    “From what we’ve gathered, he’s just that stupid,” Danilovich answered, “He and his fellows are too greedy and blind to the situation around them to think otherwise. From what little we’ve gathered, they’re too busy trying to relive their nostalgia of the glory days than keep Russia as a great power.” Everyone groaned at that information. The worst sort of leader in charge is a nostalgic one who is willing to try to ‘recreate’ his nostalgia.

    The reply to the answer was a simple one: the age-old head meeting desk. Repeatedly. Out of the assembly of 14 officials, ministers, and leaders, just over half of them were doing this one action. One minister -the head of Health and Education- took out a large bottle of vodka and started drinking it right out of the bottle, complaining along the lines of ‘this is far too much for my sane brain to handle sober’. The rest were still having their brains rebooting from the implications of what had been said.

    This went on for a few minutes.

    It was then that Ivanova Syuzanna Valerievna broke the silence. “So, we’re dealing with a former KGB operative who managed to Konstantinovich his way into power, and is completely and utterly drunk on nostalgia while completely willing to destroy Russia to keep that nostalgia?” Syuzanna summed up, “Well… that’s very… Russian… of him.” That was when everyone looked at each other in bewilderment… and started to chuckle. The chuckles soon became laughter as the ironic black humor became apparent… which lasted for a few seconds before things calmed down.

    From then on, it was slaving over the reports and working out effective and flexible plans of action…
    Boston, Massachusetts – Pact Earth; April 16th, 2013 – 02:55 Hours


    I… didn’t expect the anti-Pact extremists to be so subtle in their operations after the Patriots Day bombing. Hiding in the shadows and trying to make their best move. I was simply in Boston to meet with family on his mother’s side before going to the big Frisbey Reunion on the Neumann estate just outside of Great Falls on one of the Buttes.

    Then the bombing happened. Twelve bombs -eight smaller IEDs with four propane bombs- exploded to make a message. That message? The dissolution of the Iron Pact, the breakup of the Kaiserreich and other Iron Pact nations, and to be completely subvariant to their ideals and the nations that support them.

    Boston -and much of the Iron Pact- didn’t take this too well.

    So, just out of Sturmtroppen School with a shiny ‘Prince of the Trench’ badge, I joined the manhunt… for this isn’t business… it was personal. My family suffered because of such men. The 2005 Frisbey-Neumann Family Reunion happened in Huston killed 5, injured 20, and forced me to live via my cybernetics. While other events -particularly the attempted assassination in 2010 during my graduation ceremony in Great Falls, Montana- upped my cybernetics percentage to more than half. Now a lot of people are going to go through what I’ve had when they first get their cybernetics.

    That brings to the current situation… with the terrorists doing their one big stupid: capturing me.

    The terrorists had managed to knock me out -which is really hard to accomplish, even without training from Big Boss being taken into account- and drag me into their hideout. Still, they weren’t complete idiots given that they were able to bind me in such a way that they would know faster than I can reliably pull a Houdini.

    “What do we do with the Junker?” one of the terrorists asked, “He’s probably chipped and probably in the Heer.” The other terrorists snickered as they pondered on their next move.

    “We’ll torture him,” what sounded like the ringleader answered, “then hang him on a streetlamp form his entrails to leave a message.” That got me sweating bullets, these guys are torturing with intent to kill… which is wholly different than torture for information.

    “Hey, Churchill, how’s our ‘guest’?” the first terrorist asked.

    “Locked down tight,” ‘Churchill’ answered, “he hasn’t made a move to escape yet, but Jack here is ready to beat him into submission when he does.” The man in the right side of my vision activated the cattle prod and shocked me once just to make a point.

    “Aright then,” the ‘ringleader’ chuckled, “Get out the video equipment, we’re going to tape this thing and release it over the internet. Our… benefactors… want this as brutal and terror inducing as possible.” That got my attention, as this wasn’t a homebrew job but part of a far larger scheme.

    “Do you want to stop them here and now?” asked a mysterious voice that I never heard before, and from the looks of my babysitters, they didn’t hear the voice. Maybe it’s my brain short-circuiting again, it wouldn’t be the first time that a bunch of words were ‘heard’ when in reality it is simply the few ‘bugs’ that still plague the MMI.

    Mentally, I simply sighed. There is no way out for me in this instance, and the only endpoint is my untimely demise.

    “Your will is strong, yet you are still able to understand the consequences of actions,” the voice said, “If you want to stop them, the you must acknowledge your abilities as a Spirit Walker. Go forth, young one, and send them to damnation.

    “Uh, boss, the Junker’s eyes just turned blood red!” ‘Churchill’ screamed as he and ‘Jack’ backed away, “and… things are getting freaky here!” Everyone else stopped what they were doing and saw the developing situation… and felt dread.

    “Kill him now!” the ringleader exclaimed, “Kill him now or we’re fucking done for!” It seemed that the ringleader knew what was happening and was trying to take preventative steps.

    That was when I had the urge to speak. “Trusted with the name of God, ye are guilty,” I said as my voice was joined with a dozen others, speaking in at least two different languages, “You have disturbed a sacred day of remembrance, you have desecrated land made sacred with the blood of innocents. For such acts, the pits of hell await you.”

    Then… everything went black.
    En Route to Fort Gate, Scout’s Honor – Falmart; July 20th, 2017 – 09:20 Hours


    “Sir?” Gregory asked as he worked his hardest to wake Aaron up, “Are you having that flashback again?” Aaron shook the sleep out of his eyes as he was shaken awake. The trip to the JSDF/Alternate American base had been incredibly boring. Other than the signal intercepts and the occasional detection of unidentified fauna, the trip was boring. Add the lack of sleep because of the Fire Dragon, my ‘history’, and the fact that I have a higher need for sleep… this was bound to happen.

    “Yeah,” Aaron answered, “Just some bad memories again.” This wasn’t the first time that this sort of thing that happened and won’t be the last. “So, how long until we get to their fort?” The rest of the company had already headed towards Fort Portal with the refugees that decided to go with the Iron Pact instead of the JSDF/Alternate American coalition. General Forsythe had given orders to hand over the after-action reports and combat footage to the aforementioned coalition to build positive relations. Relations that wouldn’t be used for combative action.

    “ETA five minutes sir,” Gregory answered as the vehicle rumbled over the Roman highway, “Itami has been complaining about you not responding for a while now.” Given the situation -at least once reported to General Forsythe- at the time, a personal delivery of the combat data would likely help in JSDF/Alternate America-Iron Pact relations in the long run. Despite most Iron Pact militaries having about 10% of their populations in the military (mostly due to the 1:15 tooth-tail ratio and the stable-unstable political environment), a genuine war isn’t in the Iron Pact’s best interests given the situation in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and South America.

    “Alright, tell Itami that I’m up,” Aaron ordered, “… and someone get me some Orange Cream soda.” And with that, the crew fell into routine. With a quick scrounging in the mini-fridge, Gregory passed a Henry Winehard’s Orange Cream Soda while Aaron’s message was sent. With a quick twist of his augmented hands, the cap popped open, allowing Aaron’s nirvana to be consumed. “Let’s hope everything goes as smoothly as possible…”
    Fort Gate, Lt. General Kouichirou Hazama’s Office; 09:35 Hours


    Lt. General Kouichirou Hazama could not help but try to stem the building headache as he rubbed his temples. Lieutenant Itami must have the most schizophrenic luck of all the men and women in the JSDF right now. Lieutenant Akira Yanagida -only in the room to have another set of JSDF eyes and ears for this bout of insanity- only stood, awestruck, at the incredible situation that the joint US/JSDF coalition had landed themselves in.

    “Let me get this straight,” Lt. General Christina Smith -of the US Marines- and co-commander of the coalition said in review, “Your name is Aaron Thomas Neumann, rank of Captain in the Imperial German Army, and due to a series of events… decided to hand over raw combat footage and ‘written’ after-action reports of the event in question?” Christina couldn’t believe what she was hearing, the drone that was sighted a little over three months ago was one from Imperial Germany and Itami -for all his vices and insecurities- managed to not cause a diplomatic incident during first contact.

    “Pretty much ma’am,” Aaron answered politely, “As ordered by General Forsythe, I am giving your personnel access to original combat footage and the after-action reports as a show of good faith between our forces.” Aaron mentally rolled his eyes as the situation developed, things must be less interesting because from the sound of the two generals in front of him, this sounded like something straight out of fiction.

    “So… where’s the footage?” Yanagida asked politely, trying to see the “Hauptmann’s” angle.

    “Being compiled, compressed, and downloaded as we speak,” Aaron answered, “Although my crew’s efforts are slightly hindered at trying to convert the video files into something that would work on your equipment. Thankfully the written reports are in PDF format, allowing for easy sharing.” Aaron looked at Yanagida suspiciously, as the prodding became apparent.

    “Ah,” Hazama and Christina nodded, understanding the situation. File compatibility can be a serious issue if not handled properly. Things like file corruption, footage not playing, and can become problems rather quickly if you ignore any file compatibility issues.

    “What is General Forsythe going to do in the near future, in case we need to prepare for anything,” Sampson Williams -the CIA attaché- asked politely. Aaron noted that she was more truthful than Yanagida for a start.

    “Well… he’ll probably request an attaché or diplomat and an entourage to be assigned to your base of operations… and due to the situation with the Fire Dragon, he’ll likely request that Itami and his platoon be available for an inquiry in a few months,” Aaron answered, “Civilians have died, and the reasons why have to be answered in a way that can be consumed by the general public.” Aaron noted the sighs on Hazama’s and Christina’s faces… they too are likely to have received similar messages from their own governments as well.

    “Your forewarning is greatly appreciated,” Hazama replied, “We’ve been told about an inquiry is being readied for the ugly business with the ‘Fire Dragon’ in three months.” Christina sighed as she looked at the communique, pinching her nose in disgust and pain. “I would like to extend our wishes for you and select individuals from your company to participate in our inquiry as well.” Hazama mentally cursed at the situation he was in. Shimabukuro Shina is notorious within even the most left-leaning circles of the JSDF as the largest anti-JSDF asshole in the Diet. She had been working for years to effectively disband the JSDF, and the biggest case just landed in her lap. With the weakening of Prime Minister Abe’s political influence after the release of the US IC-Steele Dossier, the JSDF is in a precarious position as its political capital became strained to the breaking point.

    “I hope I can attend that,” Aaron stated with a hint of happiness, “Even if it means using quite a bit of pull I have in the government to arrange it.” Everyone in the room smiled as things looked like they won’t go into the shitter…
    Fort Gate Rifle Range; 09:40 Hours


    “Too front-heavy for my tastes, but it’ll do,” Gerhard Steiner commented as he played around with the Type 64 battle rifle before chambering in a round. Gerhard Steiner had decided to put a few idiotic JSDF soldiers their place on the rifle range after a rather crude comment about Germans and their inaccuracy.

    “Clear the range!” the range master ordered over the PA. Dozens of technicians scurried off the rifle range while Gerhard fiddled with the iron sights of the Type 64. The Type 64 would be considered an outdated weapon by military forces within the Iron Pact. Conventional configuration small arms were phased out in the late 1960s for being too cumbersome to wield in most expected environs while copper casings were phased out in the late 1970s by polymer cases. The only reason that the weapons that the Iron Pact brought with them aren’t using the old polymer cases is because the weapons were converted to caseless ammunition back in the early ‘90s. To hold one was an interesting experience for Gerhard to say the least.

    As soon as the technicians were off the range, Gerhard opened fire. The first 3-round burst went wide of the original target. Gerhard frowned as he miscalculated the weapon’s center of gravity/recoil interaction. Quickly shifting his forward hand, Gerhard quickly started dominating the range with quick, effective, and accurate 3-round bursts. Everyone on the range looked at Gerhard with awe as he loaded a second mag into the weapon and set the sights for longer-ranged targets.

    “You’ve got to be shitting me!” an American stated in awe, “He’s getting an 85% hit rate against combat targets at 300 meters.” That sort of accuracy at combat ranges is impossible with the range setup. The best that had been achieved was about 70%... or so the board showed.

    The board now started tracking Gerhard and his accuracy in the 500-meter range… and everyone was gob smacked at how accurate Gerhard was. While the hit rate was lower -about 65%-, it was still far better than what anyone on-base could achieve.

    By the time Gerhard was done with the 500-meter targets, Aaron showed up.

    “Steiner, did they say something about your accuracy?” Aaron asked with a light-hearted chuckle. Gerhard Steiner is notorious about his accuracy… and everyone would become gob smacked when he proved them wrong.

    “Ah, Hauptmann,” Gerhard started out with a slight tinge of embarrassment in his voice, “… what a surprise…” Aaron simply sighed a little, now knowing what is going on.

    “Has Unteroffizer Steiner been giving you trouble?” Aaron asked politely. Most of the JSDF and the alternate Americans simply stood there in amazement. It was almost a minute before Aaron spoke again, “I take your silence as a yes. Steiner, what did I tell you about that trigger of yours?”

    “… get a better handle on it sir,” Gerhard answered meekly as Steiner’s comrades facepalmed at the sight, as Steiner was acting like a child being reprimanded. Everyone else, on the other hand, went deeper into the realms of being flabbergasted.

    “We’ll continue this discussion when we’re back in the CV,” Aaron commanded, “So, did Steiner do anything unbecoming when he was showing off?” That was when the range master shook off his shock and spoke up.

    “Other than saying “Don’t speak of the Hauptmann like that!” and “Don’t compare us to them if you don’t want to wake up in the hospital three days later”, no,” Range Master Yanagimoto Miyoshi answered, “Then gave us a major humbling in the process… with a weapon he didn’t know how to operate outside the common elements.” Aaron frowned slightly, few things could rile up Steiner like that and if he said the comparison line… then someone decided to equate him to the Nationale Reaktionspartei (NRP for short). The Steiner family has harbored an intense hatred of the NRP for decades. Ever since they tried to kill Ferdinand Steiner and his entire family -along with key figures like Adolf Hitler and several others- to ‘make a point’ back in the late 1930s/early 1940s, it’s pretty much a blood feud between the ideology and the rest of the Steiner family. To be called something similar is an incredible insult to the government and the families that really suffered during those days.

    “Sorry about that,” Aaron apologized, “The Steiners have always been a bit touchy if they get equated to the NRP. The bad blood between them is pretty bad, and for good reason.” The JSDF and alternate American soldiers looked at Aaron and started asking for that reason. “Well, from what Itami and his platoon told us, the Nationale Reaktionspartei is basically our Nazis. Hyper-reactionary, hyper-racist, that sort of thing. The Nationale Reaktionspartei started to carry out assassinations on key political figures when things were settling down in the late 1930s. When the Bundespolizei connected the dots, the party was given a Royal Ban with much of its leadership and the fanatical portion of the membership arrested, tried, and jailed or executed. Pretty nasty times back then, lots of good men and women died for pretty much a power trip.”

    The various alternate Americans and JSDF soldiers were genuinely surprised, and decided to not to pry further, as Aaron was speaking in a ‘this is a touchy subject’ tone. Still, this got their interests perked and started asking about Aaron’s world… but Aaron stated that he had to start moving to get back to Fort Portal before nightfall…
    The White House, Oval Office; Washington DC – GATE Earth; July 20th, 2017 – 16:20 Hours


    President Mattis sighed and frowned at what little information of this ‘Iron Pact’ graced his desk. The unknown drone that was sighted a few months back was -in actually one of the Iron Pact’s ‘short-range dirt strip’ drones… which is different than the drones that the USAF has in its inventory as they generally are flown off concrete airstrips. Despite their size, from what little data was gathered, they had -comparatively- high mobility and speed, apparently a full electronic warfare suite of all things, and the skin had laser refraction properties making use of laser rangefinders that much harder.

    Now, the Hauptmann stated that this is simply the last rendition of the previous drone generation… which is pretty worrying to say the least.

    “So…what has the analysts pry from the combat footage and after-action reports so far?” Mattis asked politely. If conflict erupted between the Iron Pact and the US/Japanese coalition, then whatever they can gather would be much appreciated.

    “Not much without detailed technical and design schematics I’m afraid,” the CIA director said solemnly with a frown, “We keep hitting acronyms that we simply don’t have a reference to. We know what a HVAP means but the exact details are murky while we keep getting acronyms that we have very little contextual information on like ‘MRM’. We know that it is most likely some sort of missile given that they referenced their ATGM and SAM launchers… but we’ve got nothing more than that.” Mattis understood the director’s situation. Lack of information is a devastating problem in combat… as it can cause entire divisions to pretty much get mauled.

    “Anything about their infantry?” Mattis asked the CIA director. The CIA director frowned as he rummaged through his reports.

    “We’ve got one and only one instance on their infantry capabilities,” the CIA director answered, “… and sir, I’ve been in the CIA for over three decades and this… this simply blows everything I knew out of the water.” That was when the man started a video. “This was captured by soldiers on the rifle range at Fort Gate. Someone called one Gerhard Steiner…” Everyone else raised an eyebrow at the name. “-don’t look at me sir- a Nazi, insulted Hauptmann Neumann with words I will never repeat, and finally insulted Steiner’s soldiery ability. What you’re about to see is Steiner using a weapon that he didn’t know to even exist before now, using ammunition he considered somewhat primitive, and simply making a showing of range accuracy that just puts all of us to shame.”

    Everyone in the room watched the video with apt attention, their jaws threatening to quite literally unhinge and fall to the floor. The rifle range had special drones to simulate combat movement in a gunfight, and Steiner was simply getting an accuracy rate of about 85% at 300 meters. With iron sights. To have that sort of accuracy in such conditions with the barest of weapon sights speaks a lot about their infantry capabilities. Given that each target was taken down with a burst, that indicated the possibility that the Iron Pact focused on making the grouping as accurate as possible to maximize lethality…

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” General George Hammond stated as he looked on in bewilderment, “That’s probably the most impressive rifle handling I’ve ever seen.” The rest of the generals and officers of the US military and Intelligence Community murmured in agreement at the sight of the video. That was when a courier barged his way into the Oval Office.

    “Sir, the Chinese ambassador has just forwarded us this on orders from Beijing!” the courier stated as he labored to regain his breath while the Secret Service officers closed the door he barged in through, “It’s the latest intelligence that they’ve gained out of Vladivostok.” The courier quickly opened the large high-security briefcase and started handing out over-stuffed folders. The assembled quietly looked through the folders, their faces becoming bewildered then to pure unadulterated dread.

    “You said that the Chinese Ambassador was ordered to pass this along?” Mattis asked as politely as he could as he continued to process his folder’s contents.

    “Yes sir, he even gave me the orders signed by the Xi Jinping himself,” the courier answered as he passed the orders -one in simplified mandarin and the other in plain English- to Mattis.

    “Did the ambassador say anything about this?” Mattis interrogated, as the courier started sweating bullets.

    “He only said that this changes everything,” the courier answered, “… and he was quite pale when he gave me the briefcase.”

    Fuck me!” General Williams cursed loudly, “How the fuck can the Communists get this sort of equipment? Some of the stuff I’m seeing is straight from a Mil-Scifi novel!” Williams wasn’t that far out of line with his comments, as some of the files showed technologies straight out of scifi. The biggest surprise and worry are the aptly codenamed ‘Mirage Generators’ had fooled everyone to the situation at the abandoned Soviet-era research facility.

    “Could it be that the Iron Pact has something to do with this?” the CIA director asked aloud, “What little we knew of that facility before it shut down back in the late ‘70s was that it was focused on teleportation research in response to conspiracy theories about the Philadelphia experiments.” The Philadelphia experiments were simple: to find a method to quickly degauss ships. Instead of taking over a day to degauss a ship, the plan was to have it only take hours, and if it can be done with sailors on the ship safely, all the better. The experiments discovered methods to cut down degaussing time, but not enough to justify the expense of the whole endeavor. Given that the Iron Pact understands the scientific principles of how the Gate functions… they’re probably the ones to easily replicate it.

    “Didn’t,” General Abernathy began as he dug through the files, “Hauptmann Neumann state that his government is willing to have someone to facilitate communications between the coalition force we have on the other side of the Gate and theirs?” Everyone quickly noticed where this line of thought was going. “They might know something about this.” Everyone in the room looked at Abernathy like he grew a second head. “… it’s better than doing nothing, right?”

    Everyone in the room couldn’t help but agree…
     
  6. Biigoh

    Biigoh Moderator

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    I hate to be that guy... but the phasing stuff and "old ones" just had me going lol wat... as my suspension of disbelief couldn't take the story seriously.

    Sorry...
     
  7. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    That reminds me... I really have to get all the informationals transferred over. The entire Old One (singular) 'arc' is a response to the problem that has shown up in later canon (i.e. shown in the manga and light novel): as long as Gods like Hardy are running around willy nilly, the JSDF and other moderners can't do very much in terms of change other than giving the Empire a massive humbling.

    Given that war is politics by other means...
     
  8. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL Terms and Translations
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Terms and Translations

    • Aufklärungsabteilung: Lit. Reconnaissance Detachment; usually a battalion sized unit of the Germans during WW2 for the explicit role of providing reconnaissance capability to their attached units.
    • Panzerbefehlswagen: Lit. Armored Command Vehicle; basically any command tank or (armored) command post vehicle. Post WW2 for this universe however, these vehicles are usually purpose built to be built off of modified APCs with the explicit purpose of being armored command post vehicle.
    • Luftaufklärungstruppe: Lit. Air Reconnaissance Infantry; Air-mobile light infantry specializing in reconnaissance duties. First used in desperation in WW2, these units would be vital in the wars in Cambodian War (aka, this timeline's Vietnam).
     
  9. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL A Taste of what is outside the Borders of the Empire and Differences and Similarities in Fiction between GATE!Earth/Our!Earth and the Iron Pact
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Now for what is outside the Holy Empire of Alnus (the Empire of this fic) and the differences between GATE!Earth's animation and Iron Pact!Earth's animation:

    Well this Equestria isn't genuine ponies but [digs out animorphisim chart] around 55% pony and 45% human (this ratio tends to apply to the rest of the species in Equestria unless you're a minotaur, which is closer to 60/40 ratio) and are generally within the same broad range of physic as humans. Equestrian 'Dragnewts' (that's what the Empire calls Equestrian dragons since they're sapient) run the bloody gambit of 'small human side' to 'oh momma that's large' depending on little things like diet, parents, genes, and sub-species; abilities of said 'dragnewts' heavily depends on the mental state, rearing (which includes how an egg was hatched, and be a world of difference), and species of the dragnewt in question.

    For GATE!Earth's (and thus our own) and Pact!Earth's differences in entertainment:

    GATE!Earth's MLP exists much like our own, but if there is any major difference between GATE!Earth and Pact!Earth is the fiction and the accepting it as a facet of every day life. Due to various factors (including a Kaiser-backed endowment of the Arts and Disney not dominating the animation industry), animation within the Iron Pact universe is far more easily accepted by adults as the Animation Age Ghetto never really appeared or appeared for a while until it collapsed (sociologists aren't really sure, as the line was rather blurred). Before animation became commonplace, some of the best animation pieces were, essentially, psudo-documentaries or animated versions of books like The Dawn of the Dragon and the Tiger and My Struggle: The Memoirs of the Great War of Resistance. Fantasia in this universe became what Walt (mostly) wanted it to be and became popular across the planet, even though it only came up every five years instead of every year like Walt wanted.

    However, this isn't all sunshine and daisies for animation as the cost paradox reared it's ugly head, shows can't run long enough to give an adequate RoI (unless you're Disney and it's various sub-studios, then you've got the Disney Empire backing you up). There were attempts to deregulate animation by repealing the 'Anti-Commercialization Law' by pro-business lawmakers, but these attempts failed miserably. MLP Gen 1 (in this universe a joint US-German production set in a fantasy kingdom with similarities with GATE!Earth's MLP Gen 1 and our timeline's MLP Gen 1) and G1 Transformers used a combination of excellent writing, extremely effective animation, amazing character development, being an epic for all ages, and using merchandising as a supplementary income than the goal in of itself to prosper. This would lead to other animation studios to follow suit. While it's not as bad as the deregulation that GATE!Earth or our Earth had, it can be rather annoying at times. Like GATE! and our Earth, animation did ebb and flow in quality and shows like Gen 4 MLP and Disney's Gargoyles would become the benchmarks of quality entertainment other than Ducktales (which is more faithful to the comics in the Iron Pact timeline, and yes, it has that earworm of a theme song) and The Real Ghostbusters TV series (which didn't have as much executive meddling as GATE! or our version did, and would have other ripple effects that didn't happen in our/Gate's timeline)...

    So yeah, things are going to be interesting once the cultural exchange between the two Earths start rolling.
     
  10. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL Social-Political Hierarchy of the Holy Empire of Alnus
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Now for the Holy Empire of Alnus's hierarchy:

    At the very top of the entire political and social hierarchy of the Empire is the seat of Emperor/Empress. He is the final arbiter of the nation and he can rule as he sees fit... but within reason of what amounts to a Constitution. The Emperor/Empress is also beholden to the laws and statures of the Empire, and this is why in canon GATE the senators were appalled when Piña told them that Malt had enslaved numerous Japanese citizens before openly -through both diplomatic and public channels- declaring war against them. This is actually a major law that has very few punishments. This stemmed from an abused tradition that was used to boost manpower during the early years of the Holy Empire of Alnus. The abuse was so bad that it was quickly made into law (or the Empire would have far too many enemies to fight and near-constant slave revolts)... causing quite a few major clans to suffer immense depopulation issues, along with three Emperors' heads.

    If -say- a Legate broke this law, then said Legate would be stripped of his/her rank, his/her lands, and his/her capital for simply a dozen captives illegally made into slaves. If it goes more than that? There is the aforementioned stripping of rank, lands, and capital with the Legate in question becoming a slave. If in the hundreds? Execution. Malt, in the case in canon, would be forced to abdicate by the Senate immediately -unless during times of crisis, in which there are provisions to allow him to stay for a maximum of six months- and his designated heir to the throne will be barred from the Imperial Election (which means Zorzal would be barred from making his case and being a runner for Emperor) that would follow in the following months, with the empty seat being filled by the Dictator until the election -which in of itself would take about three days with the occasional election taking up to two weeks, but getting everyone ready can take months- is completed. This is in addition to the punishment of the law in question. So... in the case of this fanfic, Malt is going to loose a lot of political power due to various 'association amendments' -to get around the issue of having the law politicized by various factions by establishing 'degrees of association', which get less and less punishing as you go further from the 'first degree'- to the law and will be forced to abdicate.

    Now the Emperor is the Head of State and, in legal theory, is the man who rules all of the Holy Empire of Alnus but in reality the political situation is more like a mix of Republic era Rome, the days of the Byzantine Empire, and the Holy Roman Empire. The Emperor is the one at the top of the tax chain. In addition to a budget that he and the Senate must jointly agree on (and if there is no budget for more than three weeks at the start of each year, then the last confirmed budget will be used, a law that was put into place due to the legendary budget fights between Emperor Maximus Vagnius Mucianus and the Senate of his time... which nearly caused the Empire to fall due to the lack of funds), he directs what has been jokingly called the 'Tax Legions' -the literal legions of tax collectors, census takers, appraisers, and other tax-related officers that go around the empire and make sure that taxes are done as efficiently and fairly as humanly possible- by many to work their unappreciated work. The 'Tax Legion' is responsible of compiling all the owed taxes (peasants don't owe much in terms of taxes while the upper class of the Empire pay a lot in taxes, with the more stubborn upper class being outright tortured to pay up and branded for future reference), the number of people within a province, the values of the land, the productivity of the land, produce statistics of mortality rates, and the like. The taxes that are collect are then recorded, compiled, and invoiced before calculating the amount of tax money via applying a percentage (roughly 25%) to the total taxes collected. This centralized taxing system proved to be less of a headache as tax revolts were less frequent, which meant more taxes collected overall.

    The Emperor has the ability to raise four Imperial legions during times of peace and up to a dozen in times of war. He also has a lot of say in ordering around the non-Imperial legions (whose limit is basically 'how much free manpower' and 'how much do we have in the budget'), and the only reason that the laws on giving the Senate reasons for the use of Legion [insert roman numeral here] being sent to [insert location here] are largely understated is because it usually causes more headaches and work for the Senate, which makes it harder for them to actually make laws due to the constant interruptions. Now each legion garrisoned in the empire takes care of any large-scale banditry that the local nobility -be of the Senatorial class or genuine lords and ladies- wouldn't be able to handle with their militias. This -effectively- kept banditry down overall and became a second line of defense against various revolts. If the legion is stationed at the frontier provinces, then their job now includes blunting any invasions from the non-tributary states, which have become non-existent these days. Legions stationed in the Tributary States of the Empire are there to keep the tributary states in line and make sure that none try to break off or miss a payment (these legions work closely with the Tax Legions, given this job) alongside being essentially a tripwire for non-tributary states attacking the Empire's tributary states.

    Now, as you would expect, rising the legions required to enforce all of this not only costs a pretty penny but also is manpower intensive and incredibly stressful. That is why a rotation system has been instituted for the various legions to minimize legionary/auxiliary wear and maximize logistics efficiency. When a legion rotation happens, the replacement legion meets up with the legion that is going to be replaced at their main fort. The tired and weak legion then accepts the orders to return to a logistics point -during times of war- or what is considered 'core' territory within the Empire -during times of peace- while the fresh legion accepts the transfer of post. Once at a logistics point or within a 'core' territory, the tired legion begins the long process of releasing those who have done their service, replacing supplies and armaments, and training new recruits. It is this system that keeps the legions the best trained GATE!World. Problem is the loss of institutional knowledge when someone can easily wipe out the legions comes along and fights the Empire.

    The Empire's navy isn't much to talk home about, as it is similar to most pre-industrial navies, particularly pre-Renaissance. Which means they're basically part-time merchants to keep costs low and retain the institutional knowledge of building, supplying, and training crews for ships. Despite the dangers of the waters in GATE!World, this navy is good enough to attempt an invasion on the continent Equestria is on while being able to keep up with the merchant shipping of the various colonies and naval tributary states the Empire has.
    ________

    The next layer down in the hierarchy is the nobility, which consists of the Senatorial Class, the Electoral Class, and the Lords and Ladies. Not only do they make up many of the Legates and officer corps within the Empire, they also are a major income in taxes due to their immense estates. Despite the Gracchi Brothers not existing here, many of their reforms were instituted within the Empire thus placing strict restrictions on how much land a citizen or noble can hold. The punishment for breaking these restrictions tended to be a fine that is based off of the value of the land, how much land, and how long the land was illegally owned. So a noble or citizen that had effectively swindled the populous out of a lot of land for years would be ruinously fined while those who only gone over the limit somewhat for a short while (discounting what amounts to rounding errors and terrain like lakes, rivers, and other large bodies of water) are forced to pay a significant -but not ruinous- fine.

    The job of the nobility is to be the top of the local government (be the entire province or just the local village(s)). They are required by their station via law to ensure that a local copy of the imperial paperwork is filed and cataloged, that they are able to raise a legion of professional soldiers at times of peace and keep peasant levies trained and armed in case of war, enforce the laws instituted by the Senate and by the courts, and ensure that things run smoothly.

    The Senatorial Class consists of 600 clans and make up of the Senate much like Rome with anyone within these families able to run for Senator. In addition to being part of the Senate, they consist of the vast majority of the top leadership of the provinces with each clan being responsible for a non-Electoral province. Generally they have at least a member of their clans be consul and much like in Rome they're the leaders of the Senate.

    The Electoral class are separate from the Senatorial Class but carry many of the duties and this class is made up of 150 clans and when a Imperial Election is called, the heads of each clan -or the head's designated heir- is sent to the capital to elect a new emperor. These clans make up the top leadership of the core or 'electoral' provinces and make up of a council to advise the Emperor, usually electing one of their own to be the Emperor's adviser(s).

    The Lords and Ladies make up the bulk of the nobility and run many of the day-to-day operations that the nobility is required by law and stature to do. It should be noted that many of the low-level lords and ladies are presiders of various city/town/village councils and thus have a pulse on the local issues.
    ________

    The middle layer of the Empire's social, political, and economic hierarchical cake is the Patricians, which is made up mostly of semi-autocratic merchants and incredibly well-off merchants. They are the second largest source of tax income that the Empire has and are significant in keeping every village supplied with food and other goods that require materials that aren't likely to be available locally (even if money is made on the side) while selling luxuries to those of the Patricians and nobility. When war outstrips the legions ability to keep logistically solvent, the Empire effectively conscripts as many of the Patricians as they can without ruining the internal logistics network.

    This group is a powerful political force due to many of them being extremely rich citizens.
    ________

    The third to last layer of the hierarchical cake is the Citizens, which make up a significant fraction of the population. They provide about 5/8ths of the military manpower of the Empire and are third place in terms of tax income. This layer represents the votingpopulous, as to become a full-fledged citizen you must serve in the legions for at least five years, with the highest elected political offices available to those not of the Electoral or Senatorial classes requiring a full 25 years. This is perhaps one of the more expansive classes of the Empire, as a significant fraction of the Patricians are the richest of the Citizens.

    It isn't unheard of to have one of the Consuls be from this group, particularly after the Plebeian Reforms (which not only created the Plebeian Forums that many cities rely on for local governance, but also the town and village councils too), and are noted to have some of the best mobility within the hierarchy.
    ________

    The second to last layer of the hierarchical cake is the Peasants, which consists of the non-voting population. They provide the remaining 3/8ths of military manpower within the empire and much of the economic activity by harvesting crops, mining metals, doing smith work, working small-scale smelters, harvesting wood, among many more activities. While not as well off as the Citizen or Patricians, they aren't impoverished or unnecessarily oppressed. They produce very little in terms of tax revenue compared to the rest of the hierarchy but have impressive numbers to make up for it.

    Like every other class outside of slaves, the peasants are guaranteed to have an education (which is mostly funded by the province government) and this is due to the fact that a basic education improves the productivity of every activity in general.
    ________

    Now we hit the bottom of the hierarchical cake, which is made up of slaves. While the vast majority of these are war captives that became slaves after a long process, they provide incredibly cheap labor for the Empire. Most of the slaves rarely gain an education more than basic language skills and counting, at least outside any previous education. Now there are laws to limit the oppression and brutality forced upon slaves, but these laws are bent till they nearly break.

    When comparing their size between the classes, the slave class is comparable in size to the peasant class.
     
  11. Threadmarks: Iron Pact Infantry Equipment Part 1
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Now for the infantry equipment:

    Anyway, the standard infantry armor that the Iron Pact is using in this campaign is the Kampf gepanzertes Infanterie-Exoskelett (shortened to KgIE) 1 Ausf. Emil. On the surface it looks like your standard '20 minutes into the future Future Soldier system'. Under the KgIE 1 Ausf. E's surface reveals a rather sophisticated combat system. The core of the system is the combat exoskeleton which houses the graphene battery pack (which powers the exoskeleton and the Future Soldier system and can last up to eight hours in high-demand mode with 10 hours in low-demand mode), the various motors to move the exoskeleton around, and the specially designed framework to recreate the distributed weight pattern that knights' plate armor used. On top of this framework, there is a flexible biopolymer (a bio-plastic that is made from certain types of algae and moss combined with resins made from oils of sunflowers and other plants) liner to help protect the soldier from fragmentation. On top of this biopolymer liner is the 'Intelligent Clothing' or more commonly referred to as 'intelliware' body armor which is a mix of hardened composite plates with articulation and a Kevlar-carbon nanotube based intelliware 'suit'. The advantage of using intelliware clothing is the fact that it can shift colors, allowing the user to pick their favorite color... or in the case of the Iron Pact's logistics corps only have to have two (standard intelliware suits and intelliware parkas) types of camouflaged uniforms instead of a few dozen as you can simply command the uniform to switch to the proper cammo scheme.

    The KgIE 1 system also has what those in GATE/our timeline call a 'Future Soldier/Warrior' system built-in. Now the armor can support a more sophisticated system which has various situational awareness enhancements (like what amounts to an Hyper-Reality Visor precursor), but the Iron Pact for this campaign has opted to use a slimmed down version which doesn't make the soldier look like a faceless mook and not leave highly expensive equipment behind if a retreat is needed to be carried out. It's similar to the Future Soldier system displayed in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon series. Like the goals in Real Life and the system used in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon series, it can connect to any system that utilizes the software and has the proper connections. This allows any soldier to share data and improve situational awareness for the whole unit. This can also connect to various tablets used by recon teams and infantry-grade (i.e. quad rotors, mini-scout drones called GUOS, various infantry-portable remote sentry guns, a MG equipped tread-motive assault drone) drone users.

    Nightvision and infrared imaging systems can be easily snapped onto the helmet while retaining the HUD of the Future Soldier system and the standard infantry radio. There is also a variant of the helmet specifically designed for lightly contaminated NBC environments but in doctrine the Iron Pact doesn't send bog-standard infantry into NBC contaminated areas, but those equipped with power armor are sent into such conditions. Variants of this armor tend to be for specific duties with abilities and systems coming and going due to the system's modular nature. This includes what amounts to be Gen 1 thermoptic camouflage (which has many downsides including inability to activate when moving more than a brisk walk, a lot more visible in high-dust/snow powder/moderate-to-severe rain conditions, requires a larger battery pack to operate, limits how bulky the armor can get) and enhanced E-War packages usually used by SpecOps units.
    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now what the Iron Pact is packing for small arms is somewhat advanced than what GATE/our timeline has to offer as they're all caseless with a handful of pistols using polymer cases instead of brass. Like our/GATE universe, they use intermediate rounds for their standard rifle and in this case the caliber used is the 4.7x45mm caseless round which has a muzzle velocity of 1,200 meters per second with the 4 gram FMJ round (meaning that, if I've done my math right, has 2,880 joules of kinetic energy which is about 1.6 times of a 5.56x45mm NATO using a FMJ round of a similar weight). The round retains it's energy slightly better than the 5.56x45mm NATO but the effective range for the round fired from a non-DMR barrel is the same (~300 meters). The current rifle round is caseless variant of the 6.8x52mm round which has a muzzle velocity of 1,000 meters per second and a 8 gram FMJ round (which, if I've done my math right, leads to a kinetic energy of 5,000 joules or almost 1.5 times of a 10g FMJ 7.62 NATO round). Weapons using the round are rarely used due to the weight and bulk of the ammunition, but recon infantry, occasional special operations teams, and sniper teams use weapons utilizing this ammunition.


    The assault rifle is a common staple of the Iron Pact's armories since the early 1940s when the need for something between the rifle (the Gewehr 36 -basically a modified G43 in our timeline- being picked by the US, Imperial Germany, Republic of China, and Imperial Japan, with each nation clambering the weapon for their standard rifle ammunition at the time) and the submachine gun due to lessons learned in the mid 1930s during the era of history known as the 'Pygmy Wars'. During these conflicts, statistics state that past 300 meters standard soldiers rarely get a kill. This led to the development of the world's first mass produced assault rifle. The weapon was widely adapted by the German Army in 1942, using the lessons learned from the Great War of Resistance as the reason but retained the G36. The US and Japanese were slow to adopt this weapon however, mostly due to the fact that the 'rifle mafia' was rife within the two's army and marine forces... until World War 2 started in the mid 1940s when the capabilities of the weapon became widely valued in the jungles, mountains, and islands of Asia and in the dense urban settings of the cities of Europe.


    The Sturmgewehr (lit. Assault Rifle) Model 1942 (or StG-42 for short) used the 7.92x33 Kurz round, a round that was picked as it is simply a cut down version of the 7.92 Mauser round and thus didn't need as much retooling of the assembly lines. The weapon became widely successful in the conflict, solidifying the idea of an intermediate round being the standard one. As the Cold War started, the Iron Pact realized that the need for ammo and magazines that can be shared between the various nations is required, this would end up creating the STANAG of this universe and adopting the Chinese 5.8x40mm round as the standard intermediate round and the 7.92 Mauser as the standard rifle round across the Iron Pact. The 5.8x40mm would be later replaced by the 4.7x45mm caseless round while the 7.92 Mauser would be replaced by the 6.8x52mm caseless round in the mid 1980s.


    The various optics of the Iron Pact are similar to the Helgahn optics in Killzone Shadowfall and those used by NATO-aligned countries today. Outside the standard vertical and angled grips, the weapon is able to use the Under-barrel Grenade Launcher (UGL) Model 2/Improved (UGL-2/I for short), which utilizes a 45mm grenade system similar to the proposed Metal Storm grenade system to replace the M203 under-barreled grenade launcher. As long as there are Picatinny rails, the UGL-2/I can be used. This system is lighter, less bulky (given that you get 3 grenades per tube), and incredibly reliable. The previous system used the same 50mm grenade that various riverines and many vehicles use in their AGLs.


    The assault rifle being used in this campaign is the Sturmgewehr (or Assault Rifle in the US) Model 1992 (or StG/AR-92 for short). The StG92 or AR-92 comes with a 12 inch (or 30.48cm) 'Carbine' (which has the Kruz or 'k' designation at the end, so it would be StG92k), 16 inch (or 40.64cm) 'Standard', or 20 inch (or 50.8cm) DMR barrel (which has the Schütze (lit. Marksman) or 'S' at the end, so it would be StG92S). The barrels change with minimal effort in the field and the weapons themselves are incredibly reliable. It is fairly light thanks to it's biopolymer and titanium alloy construction with a very controllable recoil. It fires 700-900 rounds a minute in automatic fire with 60 rounds a minute in semi-auto. The STANAG Rifle or 'STANAG-R' standard magazine has a 32 rounds capacity and standard STANAG-R casket magazines holding 56 rounds. The SAW variant of the StG92 can use a 100 or 200 round drum magazine or a simple caseless link adapter. There is a rare OICW version using 'smart' 30mm grenades instead of 45 or 50mm units and is only successful in battle and didn't win the hearts of the majority of the soldiers using them.


    The battle rifle being used in this campaign is the Kampfgewehr (lit Battle Rifle) Model 1990 (or KG90 or R-90 for short) which uses the 6.8x52mm caseless round. It's carbine barrel is 16 inch (or 40.64cm), the standard barrel is 20 inch (or 50.8cm) and the sniper barrel is 24 inches (or 60.96cm). It can accurately kill enemies at 900 meters away with the sniper barrel but it is more common to engage enemies with this weapon at 600 meters. It has an automatic rate of fire of 400 rounds per minute and a semi-automatic rate of fire of 60 rounds a minute. Standard STANAG-B magazines hold 24 rounds with the occasional casket magazine holding 30 rounds.


    While rarely used, many soldiers within the Iron Pact swear by their pistols, which there are two within the Iron Pact's armory; both of which use a telescopic polymer case instead of being caseless and are only effective up to 50 meters. The most common is the 10x25mm P89 which has a 600m/s muzzle velocity with a 8 gram round (meaning that, if the math is done right, means the round has 1,440 joules of kinetic energy) and uses a 14 round magazine. Despite the mass adoption of caseless ammunition, the P89 became a reliable staple of Iron Pact armaments and the ammo is a regular occurrence with SMGs and PDWs. The second pistol is the M1987 10.5x38mm (or '.413 Magnum') 'Auto-Magnum' which has 700m/s with a 10 gram projectile (which, if the math is done right, means it has 2,450 joules of kinetic energy) and a 8 round magazine, which is an American design that has been in competition with the 10x25mm round. While the M1987 is considered unwieldy by most, due to it's excessive recoil and heavy weight, some would rather have it by their side..


    The MP80 is the standard SMG/PDW of the Iron Pact, and uses the 10x25mm round and is similar to the P90 in design. 50 round standard magazines, has a 900 RPM fire rate, and effective up to 150 meters thanks to it's 10.4 inch (or 26.416cm) barrel. Extremely compact and the standard equipment for vehicle crews of all types including aircraft.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
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    SAW (AR variant):
    [​IMG]
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    Battle Rifle:
    [​IMG]
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    Standard Pistol:
    [​IMG]
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    'Auto Magnum' Pistol:
    [​IMG]
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    PDW/SMG:
    [​IMG]
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    Grenade launcher, but on a more modern platform:
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL Politics on GATE!Earth Side
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    GATE!Earth Politics:

    So, you might be wondering what is on GATE side of things? Well, I'm going to say 1) buckle up and 2) you might hate me for this but given the situation in Real Life... it is sadly better than what could happen:

    Let's start with the GATE US first, because that's going to have a major departure from the norm. GATE!US isn't led by a Donald epxy nor a Hillary epxy. In this case it's pretty much Mattis... due to the fact that the US military and intelligence services -with the Supreme Court signing off on this- having to implement plans under Scenario Hot Under Collar Cyclone, which is the name of a worst-case scenario where a major political party is effectively seditious (or outright treasonous) and has control of the elected portions of the government. The worst-case scenario plan for Hot Under Collar Cyclone is pretty complex, and mostly still classified in 2017 but what little that has been declassified simply has the Supreme court in it's entirety signing every major checkpoint as the situation continued. The UC IC had gathered a lot of intelligence that 1) the 2016 elections was going to be an electioneering job on a scale unheard of in all of history and 2) major movers and shakers of the GOP are seditious. Now outside of the worst-case scenario, all the GOP had to do to not get thrown in jail/executed in mass was simply agree to allow the Supreme Court to disenvow the candidate Donald Trump from running in the elections when the compiled dossier was put into the intelligence committees in August (basic line of thought here is that Trump -and much of his staff- violated several clauses for candidacy for President). The GOP answered in line of the worst-case scenario and decided to make it a partisan matter, much to the horror of the Democrats.

    So, in November, everything was ready to implement the worst-case scenario plan for Hot Under Collar Cyclone. The Supreme Court -with extreme reluctance- signed on the line of no return and the US military and IC went into action. The elections were suspended and a surprisingly lightly redacted version of the Steele-IC dossier was published at gunpoint by the news media. The US military picked Mattis to lead the interm government and pretty much put Trump and the vast majority of the GOP under arrest for sedition and high treason. As you would expect, Pro-Trump enclaves flared up in insurgency but were quickly and brutally put down within two months. The world was understandably shocked by this, but the surprises didn't end there as Mattis instituted even harsher sanctions against Russia and got the rest of the world -including North Korea of all nations!- to hop aboard. Russia is now in major financial trouble by the end of the year, which only worsened as the sanctions were iron clad. Still, Putin and his marry band is still in charge, but for how long isn't for certain.
    ____
    For GATE Japan, the situation is a bit odd as the Abe epxy now found himself with a 'hung government' in 2016... as the Steele-US IC dossier had implicated the current right-wing government with indirectly supporting Russia for their own gains. While investigations cleared of Abe and friends from the general mess, a lot of the key seats that Abe had relied on now found themselves empty. It didn't help that the Japanese Emperor had gone on national television to voice his disapproval with Abe's party as they courted treason. While the key seats would be filled by less radical members of Abe's party and radical liberals, Abe wasn't able to enforce his political will as much as he used to. This got the more Imperialist-like factions of the JSDF giving murmurs of disapproval with the situation, leading to the situation where they'll be pawns later.

    Thankfully, the vast majority of the JSDF sent to the 'Special Region' -aka Falmart, aka the Holy Empire of Alnus- are of the liberal/non-Imperialist side of things. This makes it easier for Abe to not get Mattis breathing down his neck for whatever happens in the Special Region, as Abe is literally walking on a very thin tightrope politically.
    ____
    GATE Russia is... undergoing the early phases to revolution in 2017. Despite Putin's best efforts, the Russian economy became worse than during Yeltsin's reign thanks to the sanctions... which is saying something. So far Putin and friends had been unsuccessful in clamping down on descent, with citizens protesting before being gunned down by the infamous OMON or 'Black Barretts'... and that has them getting desperate as they foresee that Russia will be locked out of the world economy in a similar fashion to the fictional nation of Zaftra in the Front Mission series, which in Left Alive is undergoing a civil war.
    ____
    GATE China is currently focusing on keeping North Korea in line and trying to control the immense amounts of refugees coming from Russia as the situation within the country deteriorates further... although the Chinese intelligence service has been helping the US by feeding information from the various refugees and asylum seekers... which are then correlated with what few US intelligence assets within Russia has dug up.

    ____
    GATE!EU is, as mentioned, becoming a heavily armed camp. With Edrogan quickly stating his allegiance to Russia in the winter of 2016 when the Steele-US IC dossier outted him as a Russian ally, the EU quite literally kicked Turkey out of the EU. Now I'll go into further detail with notable individual nations within the EU later but safe to say if you want someone to be the personification of the EU right now, the Black Ops 1 character Daniel Clarke (aka 'even though I'm a deadman, I'm not going to die quietly and thus extremely well prepared for such an occasion') is the best fit despite being a deadman in-game. Crackdowns on those from the Middle East refugees are rampant as well, as they are generally scene as a possible 5th column. Like any sane nation-state -or collection of such- they are also worried that the Gate will appear in Berlin or Paris.
    __
    GATE!Germany is quickly shedding a lot of it's pacifistic views given the threat of the situation in Russia boiling over and causing problems. For the military, money is no object right now and everything is being overhauled while new production is put on higher priority. Not only that, Germany has been cracking down on anyone from Russia or the refugees from the Middle East. Russians for obvious reasons and the Middle East refugees because of the possibility of them becoming a 5th Column threat. Then there is the Nazi crackdown to end all Nazi crackdowns, thanks to the Steele-US IC dossier. Numerous groups were simply annihilated in this crackdown, with many more going to ground in the aftermath. Many groups had their leaderships tried for treason then executed.

    Then there is the massive jump in popularity for the Hohenzollern family to retake their place as the royal family of Germany... which isn't causing much trouble other than the added paperwork from the increased volume of petitions.
    __
    GATE!Britain is in a bit of a mess. With the current leading coalition having been implicated in treasonous acts -with some members being outright treasonous!- thanks to the Steele-US IC dossier, Queen Elizabeth the Second had her hand forced and dissolved Parliament. After the immense crackdown that followed and quite a few hangings and investigations, Parliament had new elections after six months of preliminary investigations and crackdowns. Parliament is at it's most vulnerable position ever since it's conception. One bad move and the people would consider having Queen Elisabeth and her advisers and bureaucrats to run the nation instead of them... and currently a left-wing coalition is walking on a very thin tightrope politically.

    It doesn't help that MI5 is having it's hands full with trying to play wack-a-mole with Russian-backed secessionist movements.
    __
    GATE!France is slightly on fire. No, quite literally it's slightly on fire. With Le Pen and company outright stated to be traitors, the French people have taken to the streets in support/against the right-wing groups in France. Fortunately the French government was able to keep order but politically France is still metaphorically on fire as internal security units go through with a massive crackdown on right-wing groups in general.

    Militarily, the French army is moving a vast majority of it's forces to Poland to help secure the border and strong armed -along with Britain and Germany- NATO into doing an intervention in Ukraine to minimize Russia's avenues of approach into Europe...
    __
    GATE!South Korea is also in a bit of an upheaval as the reigning government has been implicated with being buddy-buddy with Russia... although in this case it's less for power and money and more guarantees that North Korea wouldn't decide that [insert day here] would be a good day to invade South Korea. Despite the political upheaval, the South Korean military is on the highest military alert, just in case things go pear-shaped in a similar manor to Wargame Red Dragon's Busan Pocket scenario.
    __
    GATE!Vietnam is like everyone else in Southeast Asia at this point, but even more so. It has cut all ties with Russia and yet isn't trusting of China who they assume would take the situation into their favor...
    __
    GATE!Turkey is... on fire. No, it's quite literally on fire as Edrogan's announcement of being an ally of Russia caused civil unrest in the eastern part of the country and is quickly veering towards civil war. With the US quickly taking their nukes and turned their base into a fortress, the situation continues to deteriorate in 2017.

    Hell, Edrogan has been forced out of Istanbul for christ's sake! The major reason that Istanbul hasn't been changed back to Constantinople is the fact that the anti-Edrogan forces would go Ataturk if anyone was serious about it.
    _____
    Also, the current reactions:

    I'll give the reaction first. The EU (outside of Turkey) in this case is taking a 'wait and see' approach alongside South Korea and US aligned nations in Asia, waiting what happens next (be Russia or the Gate). Europe at this point is acting and looking like a giant armed camp with guns pointed in Russia's (for obvious reasons) and Turkey's (because Edrogan is being an idiot and is starting to work with Russia) direction. Germany, France, and a whole slew of European Nations not only used the Steele-US IC dossier to purge their governments of Russian pasties/pawns, and in Britain the various nationalistic groups got slapped with treason charges and were dissolved... with quite a few leaders literally getting the noose with the Queen watching with her best 'you fucked up' face.
     
  13. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL Religions of Falmart and Beyond Part 1 (out of God Knows How Many)
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Now for the Religions of Falmart Part 1 out of... god knows how many:

    Ok, the first informational on the religions of Falmart... starting with Equestria and the Holy Empire of Alnus. Now religions in Falmart is a bit different than you are used to thanks to the fact that the gods do exist and do interventions either via their agents or in the rare occasion that they do it themselves. The realm that all pantheons reside in has is non-linear temporal, or a fancy name of being essentially a less demon-ridden form of the Warp from Warhammer 40k where time is fluid to say the least. Time in this realm can be mere instants or -in the rare case- up to weeks in the mortal realm. Also, please note that for the purposes of this fic, most of the Gods in the Holy Empire of Alnus will be named via name generator...
    ___________
    Now, I'll start on Equestria because it's far more simple than the pantheon of the Holy Empire of Alnus.

    Now, compared to the various religions we've seen in history, the Equestrian religion is vastly different than what you're used to. The 'gods' here are a genuine family here, with all the dynamics thereof. The 'divine couple' consists of Amber Faust and Duke Starlight. They're something of a mix of fertility, knowledge, magic, friendship, justice, among other gods... if that makes sense. They generally have a gardener/rule-via-not-ruling thing going on and thus rarely directly influence events and mostly simply push things in the right direction. The rare occasion that they came down to the mortal plane is usually to fight things that their children and their subjects can't fight against. Usually this is 'empowered' -as in 'empowered' by their god(s)- armies of nations that want to conquer Equestria. Generally, if the couple comes down from upstairs in this manor, the nation and god(s) suffer horrifically for it.

    The Caribou Empire is probably the most famous example, as they tried to pull a 'Fall of Equestria' two millennia back. When the Caribou pantheon empowered the armies of the Caribou Empire after their mortal armies got smashed by the Solar and Lunar Guards and the Royal Sisters Celestia and Luna, well the retribution was swift, hard, and far-reaching. The vast majority of the Caribou pantheon was exterminated -with the few that survived being against the entire thing in the first place and got locked up in the Caribou section of Tartus for their troubles-, their armies having the very life sucked out of them (thus leaving only a handful of garrisons in the homeland left), and their capital being on the receiving end of a 'Wrath of God' level retribution when the dynasty of the time refused surrender.

    Yeah, when Gods go to war against a pantheon and their mortal followers, it usually has horrific consequences on the mortals involved.

    The relationship between Faust and Starlight and the mortals is one of children. The two -and their children, outside Discord's 'gone mad with grief' episode a few millennia back- consider the Equestrians their own -if mortal- children. If you fuck with the Equestrians -or anyone they consider friends- then that'll only ensure that they'll fuck with you. Fucking over Equestrians and their allies/friends is harder than you first realize, as the continent that Equestria is on is the Falmart equivalent of Australia (and this is coming from various sapient species living on a planet that is considered a death world to us, and this aspect is one of the major reasons why the Holy Empire of Alnus's invasion of Equestria failed), the continent's nations tend to be Renaissance level with what amounts to mostly cottage industry with some heavy industry (partially thanks to Equestrian magic users being less constrained compared to their Holy Empire of Alnus counterparts, partially because Equestrian gods oh-so-enthusiastically promote investigating the universe's workings), and the Equestrian military being essentially a Prussian military mixed with a rather American mindset of 'results over tradition'.

    Now Faust and Starlight have three children: Celestia Li Sunriser -Goddess of the Sun, Law and Order, and Education-, Luna Lunamoon -Goddess of the Moon, Knowledge, Magic, and the Arts-, and Discord Surprise -God of Change, Laughter, Pranks, Jokes, and Chaos. Celestia and Luna are rather well known to the world over and rule over Equestria as immortal diarchs (although, over the centuries, they did have a lot of lovers and quite a few -essentially mortal+- demi-god children who -and their descendants- make a significant minority of the nobles in Equestria). Discord only has returned to the public contentiousness after his reformation a good half-decade ago, and has been slowly returning to his old 'god of laughter, pranks, jokes, and change' personality... although he has been known to prank -as we say- for the 'lols'. After his reformation, he has brought more harmony to Equestria through his antics like the city of Neyington... which was known as the most depressed city in Equestria. When Discord was done with making everyone laugh at his jokes, pranks, or sudden changes to the scenery, the city became far less depressing and better for it.

    Now Celestia and Luna are part of the diarchy of Equestria, which means they're saddled with a lot of the day-to-day activities of ruling in addition of being gods. This leaves Discord, Candace, and Twilight (alongside her friends) in solving problems that are between 'things mortals can solve' and 'call in the heavy divine artillery'.

    Now, Candace -Goddess of Love- and Twilight Sparkle -Goddess of Magic and Friendship- are the closest equivalent of Apostles in the eyes of the Empire, but they're closer to being 'adopted' children of Faust and Starlight -and thus full on goddesses- than Apostles. Compared to the millennia that Celestia and Luna have under their belts and the teachings of their parents, they only have scant decades of mortal life in addition to no more than two decades -at most!- of being a divine. Due to their inexperience, they can make mistakes in carrying out their duties butsimilar things happen to Apostles who ascend into godhood. As the youngest goddesses in the Equestrian 'divine family', they don't have much to their credit and thus constantly underestimated... which costs manyof Apostle-level antagonists' lives as they tend to forget that they aredealing with divines who simply reside on the mortal plane.
    _____
    The Holy Empire of Alnus has a main pantheon with veritable armies of minor gods in what is effectively sub-pantheons that come from the untold numbers of Apostles that they chosen over the years alongside the various pantheons they've ruthlessly conquered in the Empire's conquests. These gods and goddesses have a main temple where an Apostle is chosen every millennia and serves as the direct link to the God/Goddess they worship. In addition to these temples, many within the Empire have shrines within their homes and businesses to pay respects to the various gods (and quite a few of these gods encourage it).

    This main pantheon consists of:
    • Osteus, God of Kings and Lightning, King of the Pantheon; current Apostle is Tamil of Yordare
    • Hardy, Goddess of the Underworld and the Underground, Ruler of the Underworld and the Underground; current Apostle is Giselle of Imimor
    • Emroy, God/Goddess -Emroy is a herm... yeah even the locals can't figure out what pronoun to call hir so shi decided to go with either- of War, Judgement, Thievery, and Maddness; current Apostle is Rory Mercury
    • Cefulla, Goddess of Governance, Law, Order, and Bureaucracy and considers government institutions and the buildings that house them to be her temples (although occasionally a genuine temple is built as an addition to said buildings); current Apostle is Leo of Rodes
    • Uwlene, Goddess of Health, Science, and Magic and considers institutions of learning, magic, and health to be her temples (like Cefulla, genuine temples occasionally get built as additions to said buildings); current Apostle is Potitus Cluntius Auspex
    • Qusdall, God of the Protection, Agriculture, and Home, while temples to him do exist, he is far more happy having shrines near the Hearth and alongside scarecrows in the fields; current Apostle is Aishe Clarke
    • Ytarr, God of Family, Sex, and Fertility, one half of the only 'divine couple' that the pantheon has and they don't care for temples (although they do occasionally get built) and is known to turn men who favor him into well endowed beacons of virility; current Apostle is Baikaru of Edon
    • Yhena, Goddess of Family, Sex, and Fertility, second half of the only 'divine couple' of the pantheon and is known to turn women who favor her into beacons of fertility and child-rearing (which is a wee bit different than we usually assume, as in the Holy Empire women have to be able to fight off rapists and home invaders); current Apostle is Mireli Pope, wife of Baikaru of Edon
    • Qelena, Goddess of Commerce, Taxes, Trade, and the Military, she endorses trade and commerce alongside a healthy respect for the military and taxes, and is known to ruin anyone that tries to skimps out on paying their dues or -in the case of business (including banks) and tax people- screwing someone via their dues; current Apostle is Placidia Furia, a former tax-woman
    Underneath these nine gods is various gods from ascended Apostles or gods that the pantheon had conquered alongside the Empire's conquests. For you see, as long as a pantheon is independent, the people who worship them are independent as they will screw anyone who tries over, so in effect each war can easily become a religious war on top of a secular one. The Holy Empire of Alnus has conquered it's continent thanks in part to their pantheon's lust for conquest and forcing anyone that doesn't follow their rules and eating out of their unmentionables.

    For the ascended Apostles, where they is a little complex as position can change quickly. Even the theologians of the Empire can get a bit dizzy in trying to keep track of it all. They also span across various aspects -with some of the more powerful ones having multiple aspects!- causing some to overlap in some way or fashion... and their names can be all over the place with names like Ra and Morgan le Fae being worshiped alongside Apollo and Mercury.
     
  14. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL Snippet of Iron Pact Earth Technology and Politics
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    So, since people had asked what the situation is on Iron Pact!Earth, I’m going to reveal a little and how in some ways it is more peaceful and in others it’s a worse powder keg than our/GATE!Earth.

    Now to start this informational, we’ll start with the overall technology of the Iron Pact because that’s a pointed question that has some consequences in reactions for both sides.

    Now the world where the Iron Pact resides is quite similar to our own, even if it is simply more advanced in some areas due to the various circumstances. For example, the Iron Pact is very advanced in terms of hydrogen fuel cells compared to our/GATE!Earth, this is partially because hydrogen fuel cells were discovered quite a bit earlier in the Iron Pact timeline due to the Kaiser Wilhelm Foundation of the Sciences and Arts basically pouring money into the idea… and this is a common thread among many technologies thanks to the fact that there was a very rich organization who simply poured money into the sciences because the original chair -Kaiser Wilhelm the Second (aka the Flawed)- being a humanist technophile.

    This has many perks to say the least. Nuclear fission being in its 6th generation and digital computers being a generation ahead thanks to their earlier adoption in the late 1940s/early 1950s, as an example. Most of the consistent energy consumption on Iron Pact!Earth is managed by fission plants across the world with a very impeccable safety record (Chernobyl didn’t happen due to the USSR’s more measured nuclear expansion process -and thus having an adequate cadre of trained staff to man all their plants- and Three Mile Island’s #5 experimental reactor -which was inside a triple reinforced reactor building- had its fuel rods slightly fuse together -thanks to an air bubble- but the inner reactor casing held, allowing the reactor to be salvaged from the incident) with natural gas, hydroelectric, geothermal, and other renewables able to pick up any variable electrical consumption as needed.

    Coal -for the most part- has been relegated to keeping the coal-fired steam locomotives running, being converted to synthetic oil, being used as Graphene/Diamond feedstock, or pretty much sitting in their veins as part of a strategic resource reserve. Oil is still very important, as it’s myriad of uses are extremely useful. While oil may not simply dominate the world economy as it used to, petrochemicals are still a vital component of the world economy (the versatility of the family of chemical compounds is still practically unmatched). You are just as likely to see petrochemical plastics showing up as biopolymer-based plastics (basically specific plant resins -be trees, flowers, or other plants- mixed with specific algae types, and is one of the African Commonwealth’s major exports), with certain fields -particularly in construction- being dominated by biopolymer plastics.

    Fusion -much like it is in our/GATE!Earth- is somewhat mimetic due to the fact that it’s not advancing as much as people wanted it to and promising projects failed disastrously as some undiscovered variable ruined it for everyone. Although, the large mount of resources put into this has put electro-motive systems at a far higher level than ours/GATE!Earth’s (and it’s only comparatively slower because the Cold War ended on our/GATE!Earth).

    In addition to these, Zeppelin technology has been rather prolific, especially after being proven to be rather capable cargo transports during the Great War of Resistance. What little of the Zeppelin fleet Imperial Germany was able to scrounge up were converted in a ‘short-range’ configuration of L-59 and were able to help alleviate the logistical burden of the Great War of Resistance. Hundreds of thousands -to millions- of tons of supplies -be ammunition, food, parts, or medicine- would have exacerbated the initial train traffic jam during the prelude and initial days of the Great War of Resistance in Germany.

    One thing that the Iron Pact is noticeably more advanced in -compared to our/GATE!Earth- is robotics and cybernetics. This is partially due to Wilhelm the Second’s push for robotics to not only help alleviate Germany’s bloodletting during the Great War of Resistance but also to give cripples and those missing limbs a chance at life. Hauptmann Aaron Neumann is a posterboy of cybernetics due to the fact that if it weren’t for the -then- experimental cybernetics that were used, he would have been dead.

    While Wilhelm the Flawed would never see the fruits of his financial labors (as he died helping the defense of Koenigsburg in the early days of World War 2), it is this heavy investment in robotics that birthed the first Gepanzerte Kampfläufer (Armored Fighting Walker), the quad-legged ‘Läufer V1’. While the Imperial German military didn’t accept it -outside a few alpine 'test' regiments- due to its unreliability, uselessness on flat ground, limited combat time, and extreme costs in manufacture and maintenance, it would be China and Japan that would further the concept due to the majority of the environs they fought in preclude traditional AFVs, environs like jungles, terrain simply filled with hills, the terraces, mountainous regions, among others. The ‘GKL’ concept would evolve as time went on.
    ___

    Now this also has a bad side, and that is thanks in part to the political situation on Iron Pact!Earth. There are technological fields that are actually restricted as a whole by the various governments of not only the two major power blocks (which are the Iron Pact and the Comintern) but the various smaller nations outside those power blocks. One of these fields is the field is gene-engineering.

    Iron Pact!Earth (even the verifiablely insane Commune of India does this) has the field on panopticon levels of watch, and for good reason thanks to a bunch of idiots from the British Union on an uninhabited island off the coast of England. What those idiots managed to do with somewhat older equipment and techniques was create a strain of anthrax that is all but impossible to get rid of by conventional (i.e. non-nanotech/radiological) means, sure the people who cooked this up died when their containment failed but they proved that it could be done.

    Next time, it is sanely reasoned, that the world won’t be so lucky.

    ________
    Now the political situation is basically a Cold War between the Iron Pact and the Comintern. Depending on which ‘front’, you’ll either have something akin to ‘playful banter across the border’ or ‘hope to whatever god(s) you worship that the other is not going to do something crazy today!’. Yeah, the situation is that bipolar… and thus dangerous.
    __

    The Iron Pact was forged out of the fires of the Great War of Resistance, originally by the US, Imperial Germany, and (Old Men, a summary being essentially "Everything that the Imperialists aren't", yes they have some expansionist aims but from what I can tell it's more mercantile than conquest) Imperial Japan. The alliance soon extended to China (which managed to get its shit together during and after the Great War of Resistance, having two powerful colonial empires willing to carve up a European nation sort of puts new emphasis on getting one’s shit together), Vietnam (which gained its independence in 1923 with the help of Imperial Japan), and Poland (Wilhelm the Second once stated that ‘my ancestors must be spinning in their graves as we are fighting with the Poles with genuine gusto!’), Brazil, along others during the inter-war years from 1925 to 1945. The Iron Pact after WW2 would become something of a mix of NATO and the economic union part of the European Union, and it is this immense trade that got the word far richer than it would have been.

    In the aftermath of the Great War of Resistance, the Soviet Union came to be -initially led by a Neo-Leninist (aka the 'Gardening' school of Socialism) but later led by a Georgian who was friends with Stalin in the mid 1930s... who then started World War 2 in 1945 and got deposed in 1948 when his own cabinet killed him as Iron Pact forces neared Moscow- while much of the former British and French empires contracted. The salt in the wound in Britain's case isn't discovering that Churchill and friends pulled a coup on the House of Windsor but the fact that India was successful in violently gaining it's independence. With the death of various non-violent independence leaders in 1921 (including one Mahatma Gandhi), the independence movement in India became an outright armed rebellion. The Rajah was quickly disposed and an interim democratic republic was instituted until a complete constitution was written. Sadly, this democratic republic government would fall to a new brand of communism, causing the creation of an Indian communist state. What would be known as Pakistan would break off of India shortly after as a multi-ethnic state due to shear necessity as those who didn't want to be part of the new communist state migrated in mass.

    While the USSR would only have a bout of expansionism during the Second World War, the Commune of India is the equivalent of a slightly schizophrenic Mao's China in this timeline and is considered somewhat bipolar at a minimum in terms of geopolitics. The early stages of the ongoing Cold War had been mostly the Commune of India throwing its depleted weight around while the Soviets either facepalm or facedesk at their actions, mumbling about why they have to work with the crazies. Later they went for a more subversive methodology. Commune of India’s attempts to remake certain former British/French colonial states in their own image has caused no end of grief for everyone to say the least. It isn’t uncommon for UN or Iron Pact forces to become under fire from Commune of India aligned groups in northern and southern Africa or across the Saudi peninsula.

    Much of the British and French's African holdings were sold -quite cheaply I might add- to the United States who then jointly administered them with Imperial Germany (using the ‘a dollar of prevention is better than spending thousands in cleanup’ argument). It was this joint administration that started an evolution of the original 'MittleAfrika' plan, slowly creating the African Commonwealth... and it is various discoveries from the African Commonwealth that things like modern bio-polymers are a thing. The African Commonwealth is actually a major player on solar and bio-polymer development in the grand scheme of things… better than our/GATE!Earth where it’s pretty much a mess to say the least.

    Terrorism is even more horrific -and sadly a more regular occurance- than on our/GATE!Earth. Numerous groups -many of them hailing from nations like Britain and France, holding certain political ideologies like the Dixiecrats/Neo-Confederates or Tribalism (basically Nationalism, but taken into a tribal extent), and certain religions like Wahhabi- have become not only incredibly brutal as a rule, but regularly commit ISIS-grade atrocities (or worse, like the remnants of the British Union trying to cook up what amounts to be super anthrax using 'modern' techniques and equipment during the early 1990s or the (Wahhabist) Palestinian Liberation Front's chemical bombings of Jerusalem's Jewish and Christian quarters in 1974 which killed thousands) on a regular basis. It has gotten to the point that entire swathes of the Middle East and Africa had become 'Government-less Zones' where -outside the areas that UN peacekeepers control- there is no law and order.
     
  15. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL Iron Pact Infantry Doctrine Part 1
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    The Iron Pact military doctrine is built upon the lessons learned in the Great War of Resistance and World War 2. Originally the various nations within the Iron Pact tended to keep developing their own doctrines in the immediate aftermath, but as time went on, the various nations started to utilize elements from other nations' doctrines to plug in any gaps in capability. Eventually this made the various Iron Pact nations to have their doctrines become the equivalent of mutts. However, by the start of World War 2, the doctrines still had major focuses. To put it into something easily digestible for those who aren't military geeks, I'll use the four land doctrines from Hearts of Iron IV to keep this as short and informational as possible:
    • Mobile Warfare
    • Superior Firepower
    • Grand Plan
    • Mass Assault
    This is only to keep it simple and short and not be some complex "Holy Shit, I'm a Military Nut" triad on military doctrine. Now for the most part most nations in the Iron Pact have a sort of triumvirate or 'aspect triangle' going on between Mobile Warfare, Superior Firepower, and Grand Plan with each nation having a focus or focuses towards one aspect. Imperial Germany's focus was in ‘Mobile Warfare’ because, well, Germans and their desire to fight and maneuver. Imperial Japan focuses more on the ‘Grand Plan’ aspect given that even the Old Men during those days had a slight ‘Grand Plan’ fetish (at least, what I can see). The US’s focus is SUPERIOR FIREPOWER, because the US’s idea of war essentially is summed up as ‘fuck you and the grid you are standing in’ and ‘bullets are cheaper than men’. China is the oddball in the Iron Pact as it leverages elements of Mass Assault with Superior Firepower… as it leverages China’s massive population and its eventual massive industrial capacity if that makes sense.

    Now infantry squads in the Iron Pact is heavily built upon a German foundation. The basic ‘line’ infantry squad for Imperial Germany is actually quite similar to those the Nazis used in our/GATE!Earth’s timeline… but that shouldn’t be as surprising as it would first appear as these came from the same ‘parent’ as it were. While practically everyone else would use ‘Auto Rifles’ as part of their line infantry squads, Imperial Germany would begin the practice of having ‘All Ze Machineguns’... which isn’t surprising because, well, Imperial Germany had a lot of fetishes when it came to procurement and machine guns were one of them (then again, Imperial Germany was the first adopter of the modern machine gun for frontline use out of any European nation and had a tendency to stuff as many of them as possible into their units). This allowed Imperial German line infantry units to have greater firepower than they would otherwise.

    The Iron Pact’s modern infantry doctrine is heavily built upon Imperial German and American infantry doctrines. Like both the US and German infantry doctrines, they are heavily mechanized/motorized… and in this case motorized means APCs and Mechanized is IFVs. The modern infantry squad is built upon the ‘mission tactics’ of Germany, and 10 men is considered an optimal number between flexibility, firepower, and sustainability.

    As such, the infantry squad’s firepower was upped significantly. In the Southeast Asia Intervention -basically Iron Pact’s Vietnam across much of Southeast Asia- it was discovered that the line infantry needed more firepower to fight against a wider variety of threats, this the dispersion of Carl Gustov style Recoilless Rifles/Rocket Launchers. This allowed Iron Pact infantry squads to counter a variety of targets in the field.

    Squad leader (usually Sergeant 1st Class or equivalent): 1x bullpup 4.7x45mm Caseless Assault Rifle with 45mm Metal Storm style grenade launcher (each tube holds 3 rounds), 4x 45mm grenade launcher tube-clips, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (shortened to CET) OR

    1x bullpup 4.7x45mm/30mm OCIW style assault rifle (30mm being grenades), 2x 5-round 30mm 'smart' grenade magazines, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (CET)
    __
    Squad XO (usually a Sergeant Major or equivalent): 1x bullpup 4.7x45mm Caseless Assault Rifle with 45mm Metal Storm style grenade launcher (each tube holds 3 rounds), 4x 45mm grenade launcher tube-clips, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (shortened to CET) OR

    1x bullpup 4.7x45mm/30mm OCIW style assault rifle (30mm being grenades), 2x 5-round 30mm 'smart' grenade magazines, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (CET)
    __
    4x Riflemen (usually privates or equivalent rank) each armed with: 1x bullpup 4.7x45mm Caseless Assault Rifle with 45mm Metal Storm style grenade launcher (each tube holds 3 rounds), 4x 45mm grenade launcher tube-clips, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (shortened to CET), note riflemen can also carry up to 4x LMG/SAW drums, 2x extra MANPAD tubes, or 6x recoilless rifle rounds as needed, doctrine dictates that 2 have extra drums and 2 have extra rockets/MANPADs available for extended combat periods when dismounted
    __
    2x Specialist Weapon Operators (usually capable Private 1st class/Sergeants or equivalent rank) each armed with: 1x bullpup 4.7x45mm Caseless Assault Rifle with 45mm Metal Storm style grenade launcher (each tube holds 3 rounds), 6x 45mm grenade launcher tube-clips, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 6x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 6x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (shortened to CET) OR

    1x bullpup 4.7x45mm/30mm OCIW style assault rifle (30mm being grenades), 4x 5-round 30mm 'smart' grenade magazines, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (CET) OR

    1x bullpup 4.7x45mm caseless assault rifle, 1x Multi-Role Carl Gustav M3E1-style 10.5cm Rocket Launcher, 10x 10.5cm HEDP OR 10.5cm HEAT-MP OR 10.5cm HE OR 10.5cm Thermobolic OR a mixture of all four warheads as combat dictates, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (CET) OR

    1x bullpup 4.7x45mm caseless assault rifle, 1x 7cm FIM-80H ‘Stinger’ MANPAD, 4x 7cm FIM-80H Tubes, 6x 32-round 4.7x45mm STANMAG-R magazines, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (CET)
    __
    2x MG Gunners (usually Private 1st Class/Sergeants or equivalent rank) each armed with: 1x bullpup 4.7x45mm Caseless LMG/SAW, 7x 100-round OR 5x 200-round 4.7x45mm drums, 3x Stielhandgranate Model 1980 (considered Concussion without the fragmentation liner, considered fragmentation with liner) Grenades, 3x M72 Fragmentation grenades, 1x 10x25mm polymer cased pistol, 3x 12-round 10x25mm magazines, and a Combat Entrenching Tool (CET)

    All squads utilize an IFV or APC as transport, fire support (usually with a 50mm AGL, a M2 series HMG, a 2cm autocannon, or a 3cm autocannon), and holder for extra ammunition and battery packs.
    Now as you can see a ‘line’ infantry squad has a lot of firepower at its disposal and for practically every sort of situation. Doctrine for the infantry squad is flexible, as not every situation requires the entire squad to stay together or split off into 5-man fire teams, and is done under the squad’s discretion. The most common ‘stances’ are staying together as a unit to focus as much firepower as humanly possible or splitting off into two 5-man fire teams who need to flank a position or other objective obstacle. Both of these ‘stances’ are very effective in various situations yet aren’t the only ones. Other stances include pairing off to clear room by room in a building, create irregular sized fire teams to maximize surprise against a target, among others.

    It is a key aspect in Iron Pact infantry doctrine to have support available at all times, be the APC/IFV they came in or armored/air/artillery. Without these support options, infantry assaults become far too costly in terms of manpower and (later) material -as World War 2 revealed and the Southeast Asia Intervention solidified- and it is advised to retreat to some support or a squad with support. Thus the phrase ‘if you see an Iron Pact squad, whatever is supporting them is not going to be far behind’.
     
  16. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL Ghost Mechanics
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Now onto a more detailed look into the mechanics of ghosts!

    Now, across all three (and a whole lot more) universes the rules and ‘laws’ -in the scientific sense- are the same, with very little deviation from them outside of certain circumstances (like, say, some idiot tapping into the Celestial Plane to start Armageddon… yeah, that had happened a few times across the multiverse).

    Now for our/GATE!Earth, anyone who looks into ghosts and their kin tend to be considered a bit eccentric at best, outright insane at worst. With Falmart and Iron Pact!Earth though, it is considered less psudo-scientific and more science fact -well in the case of Falmart Greco-Roman!Science and not modern science but you get the idea- with groups being made to cartail any ghostly activity.

    For the most part the MOs of these ghosts is generally finding closure or settling non-violent business in the land of the living. It isn’t uncommon for those with survivors guilt to have the ones that they sufferers of survivors guilt to have those that they are guilty over talk them out of suicide… and yes, that has happened quite a few times strangely enough. For every majority, there is a minority, and ghosts aren’t any different. Now there are ghosts that want to settle scores in the land of the living, and quite often by any means in their disposal. The good thing is that those who can talk to ghosts can also fight ghosts, and the various groups that the nations across Iron Pact!Earth have various technologies and techniques specifically designed to neutralize them. Historically -across all untold numbers of universes- this means that shamans/shawomen and other people who work with spirits were chosen based on their ability to talk to ghosts.

    Now, Falmart has the Apostles to do most of the work when it pertains to ghosts although those with the ability to interact with ghosts are around, they’re rare as hell. This is partially due to the fact that the Empire is the sort of place that isn’t conductive to someone who can interact with ghosts survive all that long (they tend to be physically and mentally more fragile than their more normal kin) and partially due to the fact that every cemetery in the Empire and its tributary states are restructured to ensure that they are extremely hardened against necromancy. Still, if there has been enough emotionally significant death, then a ghost could come into being. Even on great battlefields they rarely go above a hundred or so. There hasn’t been a battlefield where thousands of ghosts dwell. Now, there are those who who have the ability to interact with ghosts -and are not Apostles- that have worked to utilize ghosts for good or ill, but the Gods tend to ensure that any attempts don't go anywhere...

    In Iron Pact!Earth… it’s a different story. While mankind had only a literal handful of people capable of seeing and interacting with ghosts in the modern era, the technology to see and interact with ghosts started to show up in the 1960s to counter supposed Soviet and Commune of India's psychic programs. Kaiser Frederick would found the Advanced Sciences and Investigations Division… better known as Wolfenstein.

    Now… the alternative name might raise eyebrows with you Wolfenstein fans, but it’s not that Wolfenstein. It is actually named after a castle from Fläming Heath hill range folklore that got named after a minor free lord (closest thing that pretty much everyone else has is ‘baron’) with the last name of Wolfenstein. Baron Wolfenstein was part of the Northern Crusades with his Teutonic brethren, but he was less interested in spreading the faith and more interested in studying -and recording- local fables and things and beings of magic. According to legend, Baron Wolfenstein’s studies initially got him a little flak from his Teutonic brethren but quickly changed their tune when, according to legend, he managed to defeat an entire army of undead raised by, and again according to legend, a mad local warlock with only knowledge and some skill in the magical arts. The Teutons decided to allow Wolfenstein to continue on his collection and studies of what was considered unholy, to find weaknesses and methods of easily countering or containing them. Some of these studies, again according to legend, were later sent to the Vatican and helped serve as the foundation for improved purification and exorcism rituals. Eventually, according to legend, this castle was destroyed only after quite some time after Baron Wolfenstein’s death during one of the wars that took place during the tail end of the Northern Crusades.

    While the original founders of Wolfenstein wouldn’t believe in these legends, it would be the mysterious solutions for paranormal activity that started showing up in the mid-to-late 1970s to lead to some believing that those legends have grains of truth in them. Eventually this led to the discovery that ghosts do exist… and more often than not they simply want to tie up dangling threads -i.e unfinished business- in the land of the living with a few actually helping Wolfenstein (including one Gustave Eiffel -who ‘dabbled’ into the paranormal when not making significant strides in whatever field he was in at the time- of all people… I’m being serious here).

    Wolfenstein’s paranormal division generally ensures that paranormal things don’t go out of control… and more often than not they are called in to contain and/or remove ‘psi-memories’. A Psi-memory is basically a literal memory -usually an extremely emotional event- left by someone who died. These can be objects, spaces in locations like rooms, or rarely an entire building and must be dealt with properly. Almost all of these psi-memories can be easily removed and put into replacement anchors before being put into containment… but there are those that can be only contained on-site… which can solve some problems if the containment has to be replaced or the anchor has to be visible or maintained.

    If drawn into a psi-memory, you literally relive the memory(ies) that the anchor is connected to. These range from simply reliving the last living moments to entire battles going by before you reach the end of the memory. Wolfenstein has developed numerous technologies to carefully extract some poor sap that has inadvertently -or is simply unlucky enough- to find a psi-memory and get it to engage in playback. It isn’t uncommon for people who don’t find proper help to quickly commit suicide because of engaging in playback with a particularly nasty memory.
     
  17. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL A Snippet of the Iron Pact's Vehicular Arsenal
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Well, something to pass the time while I keep hammering out the last part of the next chapter...
    (_________________________)
    Now, the Iron Pact has a system of 'grades' similar to the USSR's CAT A/B/C system but instead of three there are two: Frontline (self-explanatory) and National Guard/Militia (depending on whom you ask, also self-explanatory). In this fic, the units deployed are mostly using Militia/National Guard grade gear, partially due to the fact that they're cheaper and partially because they're expendable compared to Frontline equipment. In addition, much of the Iron Pact's equipment is standardized and modular, allowing for numerous variants of the same chassis -with those that can't be plug-and-play being simply modified variants of the basic chassis- and simplify logistics.
    ___
    The primary means of frontline troop transport is the Infantry Fighting Vehicle (aka the IFV) or in German Schützenpanzer (aka the SPz), given their armament and effective armor (with add-on packs to further the armor's effectiveness) for most threats that they'll face. If it can't be dealt with infantry but it's not a target for an MBT, then it's usually taken care of with the IFV. The current IFV that the Iron Pact is using is the venerable M68A5 (or the SPz 68 Ausf. Emil), armed with a 3cm autocannon with 12.7mm coaxial in an unmanned turret and a quad-tube ATGM (in this case the Anti-Panzer Lenkflugkörper 1965/1992 or APLf 65/92, basically the bastard child of a Spike ER-II, a Spike NLOS, and a TOW 2 and it's lineage is from a bastard child between a TOW 1 and a Cobra ATGM)/MRM (Multi-Role Missile, think ADATS and you're pretty much on point) launcher on the side with some units fitting a GEN1 RWS/CROWS system armed with a 5cm automatic grenade launcher or a 12.7mm HMG. This is on top of able of carrying a 10-man squad, which hurts it's ATGM reload capacity. You'll be seeing a bit of that launcher however, as it has been fitted to quite a few vehicle types overall. It's armor is effective against 2.3cm autocannon rounds from the front and sides with ERA and Appliqué composite armor packages available on demand at the vehicle depot. The top speed is a rather impressive 45km/h off-road (utilizing a Hybrid Electric Drive powered by a hydrogen fuel cell) on a tracked vehicle that weighs about 35 tons without the armor packages. The A5 has modern sensor, computer, and data-link systems although at admittedly reduced effectiveness due to the age of the chassis and it's power grid.

    The chassis is also the basis for numerous other systems including a SHORAD, an ATGM carrier/tank destroyer (basically a 12.7mm HMG with four quad-ATGM packs), and a heavy towed weapons hauler (usually used for towed 17cm howitzers), among others.

    If the Iron Pact and the US/Japanese coalition come to blows (really not going to happen), then the Japanese Type 87 ARV and the US M2/M3 Bradley series of IFVs aren't going to have the best time of their lives. Sure, they can penetrate the M68A5 from all sides, but the M68 will have the awareness advantage.
    __
    While the line infantry fight from IFVs, the motorized infantry fight from APCs, and this is where the Iron Pact's equivalent of the M113 comes in. The M60A5 APC is the latest of a very long line of M60 APCs, with models first coming about in 1960, replacing the WW2 era M47 series of APCs (the equivalent of the M75 APC in our timeline). It masses 15 tons, has armor capable of stopping 15mm HMGs and artillery splinters in all directions (although armor packages can increase this to 2.3cm on the front and sides, it negates the amphibious capabilities of the vehicle), and is armed with either a 12.7mm HMG or 5cm AGL either in a manned or a GEN1 RWS/CROWS mount. It can carry a full 10-man squad with ease. In doctrine, APCs and the troops they haul are not to be in pitched frontline combat due to experiences during World War 2 and the various conflicts across the planet during the Early Cold War period. Now the M60A5 APC is quite capable of moving at 55km/h at top speed off-road but can only go 20km/h at best when fording shallow/moderate depth rivers and shorelines, with the maneuverability of a brick.

    Like the M113, the M60A5 has numerous variants to it's name including armored scout cav, ACAV, mortar carrier (using a manual 12cm mortar in this case, although automatic variations of the mortar do exist), NBC Recon, light engineering vehicle, and more.

    Now only Japan has anything equivalent to this on the US/Japanese coalition side of things, and that's the Type 73 APC. Japan also is using the Type 93 APCs and the US has field their equivalent in the Stryker system in addition to the Type 73... giving the US/Japanese coalition far more options even though all considering they're just equal.
    __
    The Light Tank is something that the US has always (and a good portion of the Western World) had problems with, particularly the fact that they kept trying to stuff a 105mm -or now 120mm!- tank cannon into a chassis that can be air-transportable. Given the US's hefty restriction that is the C-130, any and all projects simply fizzled. The Iron Pact has their own light tank, the M63 series. Between having something more capable than the C-130 for air-transport and not going for a full-sized tank gun as it's principle anti-tank armament, the M63 series (current variant being the A4) became a staple of Iron Pact airborne units. The M63 series is armed with a HE/HEAT/Beehive 'fuck infantry' spewing 9cm cannon with a coaxial 12.7mm HMG, with the main anti-tank option being the APLf 65/92 quad-tube ATGM launcher with manned and RWS options for the 5cm AGL or 12.7mm HMG. In terms of armor, it only has 15mm HMG protection in the front and sides, with field armor packs making forcing it to stay on the ground.

    There are very few variants with this system oddly enough, but then again most of the roles it would have fit had already been allotted to other chassis.

    Given that the only equivalent on the US/Japanese coalition side is the Stryker AGS... well... it's no contest as the AGS is more of an assault gun than a light tank.
    __
    [​IMG]

    The Iron Pact's MBT is a beast compared to what Japan has decided to take with them to Falmart. The M72A5 "Patton IV"/Panzer VIII Ausf. Emil "Tiger III" is the Iron Pact's last variant of the Iron Pact's first-gen MBTs. It is armed with a modified 12.8cm KwK 72 L/50 main gun (originally a naval gun that got rejected and then rebuilt as a super-heavy AA gun) as it's principle armament with a coaxial 12.7mm HMG and a 12.7mm HMG CROWS/RWS on the roof. It's clad in composite armor (with hard and soft-kill ADS options), making it hard to damage with HEAT ordinance. It has a top speed of 75km/h (comparable with the M1 Abrams) utilizing a hydrogen fuel cell. The main gun can shoot an APFSDS round at 2,500 meters per second (or 2.5km/s) at a rate of about every five seconds if you allow the semi-auto reloader to reload it's magazine. In addition to this, it has a crew of five, with the fifth crew member being the man operating the electronic warfare systems.

    This is also the basis for numerous systems including the 17cm howitzer SPG, a heavy SPSAM (Self-Propelled SAM) launcher, and the Städtisches Kampffahrzeug (lit. Urban Combat Vehicle) which is essentially a Russian Terminator on steroids using a 5.5cm autocannon and numerous missile launchers for all sorts of warheads including thermobolic.

    Against the JSDF's Type 74 MBTs, this thing will eat them for breakfast as the Type 74's armor is comparatively paper. The M1A2 Abrams on the other hand is somewhat superior given modern rounds and that the M1A2 weights almost twice as much as the M72A5, with most of that weight going into the armor and the gun... while maintaining it's lightning-quick speed.
    __
    Armored cars have always been a thing for the Iron Pact, high speed and mobility, decent firepower, and high autonomy paired with excellent reconnaissance equipment like radios made them incredibly useful for reconnaissance work. Especially when paired with the humble yet game-changing Jerry Can (you wouldn't believe how game-changing a simple liquid container that can be easily mass produced and made it laughably easy to refuel vehicles with little waste while be durable enough for military work can be).

    The Iron Pact has a variety of armored cars to choose from, and the ones that the Iron Pact are using in the Falmart campaign are direct descendants of those used in WW2, particularly the successful US and Imperial German armored cars. These vehicles are split between Light Armored Reconnaissance Cars (Leichter Panzerspähwagen -or LPsW for short- in German) -made up of mostly 4-wheeled (or Rad in German parlance) with lighter 6-wheeled vehicles being included- and Heavy Armored Reconnaissance Cars (Schwerer Panzerspähwagen -or SPsW for short- in German) -made up mostly of heavier 6-wheeled and all 8-wheeled vehicles- and all have all-terrain tires and all wheel drive as standard. The LPsWs tend to have extensive range and speed while lacking in terms of armor and armament (usually only armored enough to stop 15mm HMG rounds and armed with a 12.7mm HMG or a 5cm AGL) while SPsWs tend to have the extensive range of the LPsWs but at a slower speed with better armor and armament (usually armored against 2cm autocannon and armed with a 3cm autocannon).

    The LPsW62 Ausf. F is the primary light armored recon car in the Falmart campaign. Capable of hauling three personnel in addition to the crew of two, the closest thing that the US/JSDF Coalition has is the humble Humvee/L-ATV, just with HMG-grade armor. The Humvee/L-ATV has more armament options their Iron Pact counterparts, which would surprise the Iron Pact a lot.

    The SPsW63 Ausf. F is the primary heavy armored recon car of the Iron Pact in the Fallmart campaign. In addition to it's heavy armament (a 3cm autocannon and 12.7mm machineguns), it can be equipped with a thermo-optic camouflage system. However, utilizing this stealth system drains a lot of power and moving it will disrupt the camouflage. In addition, this can't stop someone with IIR sensors from finding the vehicle. The US/JSDF coalition have no real equivalent to this vehicle that isn't a straight up IFV.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  18. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Ok, everything I've done so far is here and ready... so now I can work on the snippets...
    (______)
    The Celestial Realm


    It is so good to be back again! For eons I’ve been forced out of my post as Celestial Caretaker (a post that I was originally shanghaied into via my own inquisitive mind) of the planet below. Damn Hardy and her band of hooligans! Still, I wouldn’t have met all sorts of interesting beings on the other side of the Celestia Porta if I was able to wrestle back control.

    Seeing Confucius hammer out reconciling the ancient ancestral religions of China in the various timelines while allowing it to be flexible enough to allow other religions to be applied was an irresistible pleasure. Even when he accidentally ascended (even I was surprised on his ascension, because from a handful of others that I’ve meet this is incredibly rare) into the Celestial Realms he simply took a hands -off ‘rule without ruling’ approach and this influenced other beings in the Celestial Realms… which would lead to the various Chinas across the timelines to quickly find Daoism which is pretty much based on that ideal.

    Then there is this particular fellow who is probably the humblest out of the lot and utilizes the ‘rule without ruling’ ideal to its logical conclusion. Would rather simply push a little here, pull a little there, and let it all sort itself out and only do rather overt things when there is no other option (yes, he helped Moses part the Red Sea, sent a giant pillar of fire, and send the Plagues at Egypt, mostly due to the Pharaoh's own insecurities and his inner council using those insecurities to manipulate the Pharaohfor their own ends). … and for the most part the religion takes care of itself, although he is rightfully pissed that secular politics always make a mess of things and the messages have a tendency to get ‘garbled’. The poor guy now is pretty overworked in trying to push back all that corruption and garbling of messages.

    Now that Hardy actually fucked up and allowed me to go back home, I can work out who is still aligned with me, who are neutral, and who are my enemies. Hopefully two of my patrons -a genie couple- are still around… they always make me laugh and understand me the best.

    Let’s see what Hardy and company did while I was gone.


    … …
    … … …

    WHAT THE FUCK! THEY’VE TURNED THIS WORLD INTO THEIR OWN SANDBOX AND ARE TRYING TO GET EVERY OTHER PANTHEON OR CELESTIAL FACTION TO EAT OUT OF THEIR CROTCH! THOSE FUCKTARDS! THOSE VIOLKIN! GAGH!

    IT’S TIME TO EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MINATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE!

    … ok, I don’t know how that get over me but… Hardy and company have fucking triggered me! Me, the 82nd Ultima Researcher of the Chozo Confederation, triggered into genocidal rage! Even in our darkest days, it takes a lot to push a Chozo into such a rage. The two species that did it deserved it from an objective standpoint! Even the enigmatic Minbari and their infamous bipolar attitude on war simply nodded in understanding of the whole situation.

    Ok, calm down Jade Wing… just breathe in, breathe out. Find your inner peace and rebalance yourself. Inner peace… inner peace… inner peace… inner peace… INNER PEACE… INNER PEACE…

    Oh, fuck it. Time to scream in a primordial universe to vent my anger because of my trigger induced genocidal rage. I grabbed a primordial universe and yelled into it, venting all my profanities and rage into it.

    Ok… that made me feel a bit better. Better reset that universe just in case all that rage causes problems. There, done… Now, where was I? Ah yes, finding my old allies…
     
    Ocean Sailor and Wolfsroses59 like this.
  19. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Another snippet, hope you guys like (and please remember, not all Adolf Hitlers across the universe are the same)...

    (_______________)
    Fort Portal, Alnus Province; September 20th, 2017 - 10:30 Hours


    Lieutenant Itami sighed as he and a small portion of his platoon -alongside Rory Mercury, Lelei La Lalena, and Tuka Luna Marceau and her father- went through the fifth checkpoint -and set of automated turrets- that day. From what Itami the small portion of his platoon has seen, the Iron Pact had been incredibly busy. Rail lines were being built towards the border between ‘Alnus Province’ and other local provinces, the ancient highways were being upgraded into what looked like autobahns, villages being completely rebuilt with a mix of old and new architecture, and -as Itami’s little two-vehicle convoy got into visual range of the base- saw zeppelins -admittedly small ones but still, fucking Zeppelins- of all things starting to lift off for kami knows where.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Private Richards said, “It looks like they’re settling in for the long term here…” No one could fault Richards’s outburst… as all the sights right now are insane.

    “Yeah, and what does that mean for the locals?” Itami sighed with a frown, “Forcing cultures to march through centuries of evolution or match another’s rarely ends well.” Itami learned enough history to figure that much.

    “Alright Leutnant, you and your convoy are cleared to enter the base,” the guard at the checkpoint said in heavy German-accented Japanese before turning to one of his compatriots, “Hans, let them in!” As the gate opened, the guard turned to Itami. “Alright, the Central Administration complex is at the end of the central road with the internal motor pool on the left. Just don’t get into trouble of your own accord and things will be fine.”

    “Understood sir,” Itami responded politely, “we’ll try to ensure that we don’t cause any trouble.” With that, Takeo Kurata took the vehicle down the main road towards the massive prefabricated structure. Akira Tomita and the others looked around, absorbing everything they could while taking mental notes of the various vehicles and weapon systems. While it is clearly apparent that this is only a mere fraction of the base and its contents, it didn’t make help the feeling of dread with the JSDF and US soldiers.

    It didn’t take too long for the convoy to get to the administration complex, and what everyone saw was simply awe inducing. The hustle and bustle of base personnel simply astounded the few locals that Itami manage to persuade to come with, but everything he saw simply pointed to one thing and one thing only: The Iron Pact is planning to stay until whenever their objectives were done.

    That… can be troubling… to say the least.

    “Ah, Leutnant Itami!” a familiar voice said cheerfully, “I hope that your trip to our base was uneventful.” Itami quickly recognized the voice as Captain Neumann’s, Itami didn’t recognize him immediately due to the dress uniform that he was wearing. It was like the old Imperial German uniform in a sense, as it was ‘field grey’. The uniform was also expertly tailored to match the physic that Captain Neumann had, an oddity compared to their field uniforms which were clearly mass produced. Captain Neumann’s chest, however, was worrisome as it was laden with medals… including what looked like the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with oak leaves, swords, and diamonds.

    “It was,” Itami answered in German, “far better than what we have over the course of the last few months.” Captain Neumann chuckled a bit.

    “True, too true,” Captain Neumann replied, “Now, before you and your fellows go to Berlin, General Forsythe wants a word with you about some civilians that we rescued from a mining town northeast from here.” Itami raised an eyebrow at this, what little information that the Japanese-US coalition had indicated that civilians that were sold into slavery were dead already… given the poor conditions.

    “Alright then,” Itami sighed, “Old Man, get everyone ready for the trip… I’ll have to meet up with General Forsythe for something.” Souichirou Kuwahara sighed as he got everyone ready for the trip while Itami was escorted to General Forsythe’s office.
    General Forsythe’s Office; a few minutes later


    General Forsythe raised an eyebrow at the JSDF lieutenant in front of him. He was the opposite in terms of physical stature he assumed he would be. His voice was somewhat nasally and higher pitched, the opposite of what one would think would have a commanding voice given what Hauptmann Neumann’s Aufklärungsabteilung company’s AARs had implied. Itami’s stance, to be frank, is probably one of the weirder ones that Forsythe has ever encountered. What he did notice was a suitcase at his side.

    “First Lieutenant Youji Itami, JSDF Ground Forces, here as requested,” Itami said politely, “May I ask what the reason for your request is?” Forsythe smirked slightly, Itami appeared to be someone that likes to get to the point of things and waste little time for anything… although there is a slight undertone that he didn’t want to be here anyway, and that suitcase was the reason.

    “The reason for my request Leutnant,” Forsythe explained, “is the fact that we’ve liberated a lot of slaves a while back, and so far, ten of them were from your world.” Itami’s eyes widened almost comically, knowing straight away about the implications of what has been said. “We’ve already debriefed them and ensured that they’re at peak health.” Forsythe then pulled out a tablet. “This is the full list of people from your world that had been liberated from slavery so far.”

    “Ah, so these are the people I’m supposed to pick up?” Itami replied as he looked through the detailed list as he put the suitcase down, “I’m just surprised that you’re so forthcoming about this General.” Itami sighed a little bit, remembering a few instances he had with various generals be his home nation or abroad. Usually they’re generally incredibly strict or simply leave things out is a common stereotype for generals in Itami’s experience… but this man wasn’t either, which is rare in Itami’s experience. Especially for a German general.

    “Ah, I understand,” Forsythe answered, “and yes these are the people your superiors want to be picked up after the entire inquiry is finished.” Itami mumbled something about ‘meddling politicians’ under his breath, and Forsythe was understanding about it. He had encountered similar politicians in his incredibly long career as a general, although in his case they rarely survived politically when they meddle too far.

    “I’m thankful,” Itami said in a somber enthusiastic tone, “that we don’t have to create more graves… we’ve already have enough of them as it is.” Forsythe understood completely, if the Empire’s invasion of Itami’s homeland was anything like the one that invaded Berlin, then there were literal hills of bodies to burry. “Well, I do have something for you. We’ve been getting strange information from informants in one of the nations from my world and my superiors decided that you might know something about it.”

    “Oh, and what would that be?” Forsythe asked politely, intrigued.

    “It’s in the suitcase,” Itami answered, “My superiors told me that under no circumstances that anyone would look into what is in the suitcase until I give it to you or your staff.” Itami frowned as he carefully placed the suitcase on the desk. “It’s my superiors’ hopes that you’ll respond quickly on this matter.”

    “We’ll see to it then,” Forsythe replied as he picked up the suitcase, “You should get back to your group, they should be starting the last few procedures before going through the portal.” Itami quickly thanked Forsythe and left, escorted by an MP. Forsythe sat there for a moment, remembering when he himself first joined the military. “Well, well, well Youji Itami…” Forsythe muttered to himself, “you remind me of myself when I was your age. I know you’ll be going places soon enough…” That was when Forsythe opened the suitcase. “Now, what has your superiors bamboozled…”
    Checkpoint Portal - Berlin, Germany – Iron Pact Earth; September 20th, 11:00 Hours


    Words fail to describe the sights that Rory Mercury is seeing in ‘Berlin’. While the Empire fiddled with structures of tall stature outside of forts and castles, they were hard to maintain and construct, not to mention somewhat ugly in terms of looks in the skyline. Yet here, this Iron Pact -and from what Itami and his fellow soldiers said, the world beyond the Gate on Alnus Hill- not only solved them but had them in abundance. An impressive feat of engineering to say the least. The towers are atheistically pleasing as they were practical… and looked more like they were sculpted than built.

    “Hauptmann Neumann, Leunant Youji, papers please,” a man said out of a window. Itami had explained to them to keep a bunch of papers and a booklet-like object called a ‘passport’ at hand or be refused entry. This is an alien concept to Rory. Her station as Apostle gave her exceptions, allowing her to freely cross borders with ease. Yet here, you had to have travel documents.

    “Your documents are in order,” the man said, “I’ll just need to get everyone into the system. Everyone, please bring your documents and I’ll get everything set up.” Slowly the assembled lined up and gave the documents to the man, who then looked through the documents with unnatural precision. With a few strokes on his device, he was done. This went on for the next ten minutes before she was next.

    “Ah, Rory Mercury,” the man said as he politely took the papers and passport out of her hands, “I’m sorry about the wait but there were a few problems getting everything into our system, please excuse any delays on my behalf.” The man made a few strokes on his device. “Your listed occupation is Apostle. Due to what your occupation is described, I’m required to tell you that you’ll be with an escort for the duration of your visit.” Rory frowned a little, she never needed an escort

    “Why would the Apostle of Emoly require such an escort?” Rory asked with some distain, “Few have tried to harm an Apostle, and fewer have survived to tell the tale.” The man simply frowned intensely at Rory. Uncharacteristically, Rory felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

    That is why the escort is being assigned to you,” the man answered flatly, “They are going to be keeping you and your magic using friends in line.” The man quickly finished up and gave Rory’s documents back. “Now, please get out of my line so the next person can get their data in.” Rory left in a huff, knowing that the man was eyeing daggers into the back of her head.

    “Well, then, with that out of the way,” Centurion Neumann said, “we’ll have lunch before ensuring that everyone is ready for the inquiry.” Itami simply shrugged, as if he was in his opposite’s position, he would do something quite similar as well. “Now, this way to the charter bus…”

    “So,” Richard Steiner asked, “what is our lunch destination?” Centurion Neumann thought for a moment before giving his answer.

    “We’ll go to Bert, Tetsui, and Hans International Bar,” Centurion Neumann answered, “Gives our Falmart natives a taste of a bit of everything culinary that the Iron Pact has.” Richard Steiner raised an eyebrow at that. “It doesn’t help that they’ve got some of the best steaks and second-best burgers in town for their price either.” The Iron Pact soldiers chuckled a little at the last comment, knowing their commanding officer a little too well. “However, we’ve got to make a small stop at the Memorial first.” The Iron Pact soldiers simply nodded in understanding the reasons why their superior had always tried to ensure he makes a stop at that memorial, mostly because his great-great grandfather and great-grandfather had been buried there.

    Soon enough, the long horseless carriage entered the streets of Berlin, and towards their destination…

    Memorial to the Fallen Park; 11:45 Hours


    Everyone but the Iron Pact soldiers were surprised in the majesty of the large park that they’ve entered, and everyone then had a good snicker at Centurion Neumann’s foresight to have their lunch just down the road from the park itself. The ‘Americans’ of Itami’s world soon saw the correlations with a place called Arlington.

    Yet… Rory couldn’t help but feel that things were… off… about this place. She couldn’t put a finger on it, but it had this odd air about it. Yes, the Saderians -the people that dominate much of Falmart with an iron fist- have graveyards but they were specifically designed with countering necromancy in mind but the Saderians never had something like this

    Rory’s musings ended when they saw Centurion Neumann stopping at an ornate granite wall that had names engraved on it and polished to a sheen that outdid anything that even the best grave masters in the Empire could do. That was when she noticed the words on the top of the wall: “Für die heroischen Männer und Frauen, sollen ihre Opfer für immer in Erinnerung bleiben”. The wall was divided up into sections by thick lines, and Centurion Neumann went to a section with ‘2. Weltkrieg’ at the top. It was here that everyone saw tears flow from the Centurion’s eye’s.

    That was when it hit Rory. Centurion Neumann was paying respects to a family member. Someone further up the familial line for certain, but certainly not his father…

    That was when Rory heard… humming. She quickly and stealthily split off from the group to search for the source of this humming. Weaving through the stones and graves, through families paying their respects, Rory’s search started to become frantic as a few simple words kept repeating, seemingly without end.

    Wir sind verloren!

    Wir sind verloren!

    Wir sind verloren!

    Wir sind verloren!

    Those words kept sending chills up Rory’s spine as she looked for the source. The longer she took in finding the source, the more she felt like she was descending into madness... and this went on for a good half-hour.

    That was when she saw them. Thousands of men -and some women- were marching down an avenue garbed in uniforms she couldn’t recognize, armed with weapons that she couldn’t make heads or tails of, and they were all marching to the west…

    Now seeing spirits isn’t something that surprised Rory -by Hardy (as much as Rory hated the Goddess of the Underworld’s guts) part of her job was to work with restless spirits- but it was the sheer numbers in one spot that broke her preconceptions. Rory simply stood there in amazement as the thousands of soldiers walked down the avenue, singing a song that she couldn’t fully understand the context of…

    Wo alle Straßen enden, hört unser Weg nicht auf. Wohin wir uns auch wenden, die Zeit nimmt ihren Lauf.

    Das Herz verbrannt, im Schmerz verbannt. So ziehen wir verloren durch das graue Niemandsland. Vielleicht kehrt von uns keiner mehr zurück ins Heimatland.

    Words couldn’t truly describe what Rory was seeing. Sure, on numerous battlefields you could see hundreds of soldiers and warriors still residing in the world of the living, either still fighting their battles or trying to find a way to the afterlife. Having thousands all in one place, however, is unheard of in the history of Falmart. As the soldiers marched onwards, Rory started hearing voices, conversations, and more.

    That was when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Rory quickly turned around and saw two spirits looking at the city beyond.

    Rory nearly jumped a few feet into the air as she turned her head to get a look on who was laying their hand on her shoulder. It was a tall, lanky man with a pair of framed glass planes resting on the bridge of his nose. There was two more men beside him, one was an average-sized man that had a slightly thick middle and the other was also average but much more fit… but the mustache was something that she never saw before.

    “Sorry for scaring you, Mädchen,” the man with the framed glass planes apologized, “It’s a rarity to have anyone with the ability to speak to the dead visit here.” Rory raised her eyebrows at that tidbit of information, as it implied that the shaman ability is extremely rare in this world as well. “The only regular is Leutnant Adolf Neumann’s great grandson.”

    “All of this is rather different than anything I’ve ever experienced, I’ll admit,” Rory spoke truthfully, “To see so many spirits marching like they were still alive, to see so many buried here in one place… it’s something that I or anyone else back in the Empire ever experienced.”

    “It always is,” the mysterious being said, “… getting out of what you know I mean… your comfort zone.” The other two beings chuckled a bit. “Still, it is a pleasure that has no words to describe to see the very nation that you’ve sacrifice your life for prosper. My family told stories of when they arrived with the first settlers, turning a village in a swamp into the center of a great nation. To see it prosper before your very eyes. A feeling so exquisite that words can’t truly describe it.” Then the mad slapped his own face like he forgot something. “I’m so sorry, I forgot to ask your name and give us ours.”

    “It’s alright,” Rory answered thoughtfully, “It isn’t the first time I’ve had spirits forget to introduce themselves…” Rory quickly shook her head. “The name’s Rory Mercury, Apostle of Emory.”

    “My name is Egon Spangler,” the mysterious being said.

    “My name is Adolf Neumann Senior,” the rotund being introduced himself, “Pleasure to meet you Mädchen.”

    “I’m Adolf Hitler,” the third and last being introduced himself, “It’s a rare pleasure to have someone else talk to us despite leaving the mortal coil.” Rory mentally calmed herself reminding herself that this is a vastly different world than Itami’s, and thus the people there are vastly different. Their histories and paths through life could be different than their other-world counterparts. “Is something the wrong Mädchen?” That sentence broke Rory out of her mental marathon.

    “Um… sorry,” Rory answered, “It’s just that the people that I’m staying with had a man named Adolf Hitler… and… he was a monster.” Hitler sighed knowingly, like if it was something he half-expected. “Went out to exterminate millions just because they were a different people than him.” Hitler shook his head in understanding with that sentence.

    “It’s funny, in a way,” Hitler said with a depressing chuckle, “before the Great War of Resistance, I would have probably walked down that path and never really looked back. Between the Great War of Resistance and the First World War, I… was a broken, angry man looking to lash out. I would probably lashed out in the worst possible way if it wasn’t for my future XO and the unit we led.” Hitler looked towards the Berlin skyline in revere, seeing how well Berlin and Germany prospered. “Jews who could fight, Poles, even the few Old Prussians that still remained in Germany joined my unit, citing that I had a knack of finding the best position to make the most difference. Over the Great War of Resistance, it’s this disregard of their own lives to save a nation that is usually indifferent to them… I hadn’t seen anything like it. The Poles stated that while we did destroy their country, we Germans didn’t act like Russia against them. The Jews considered Germany their Second Israel and were willing to lay their lives to keep it that way. The Old Prussians simply wanted to prove that they were just as German in spirit… To say it was all magnificent is an understatement for ten lifetimes… even though I only saw it half-way into the war.” That was when Hitler laughed. “After the war, I left military service and started writing a book and returned to my passion… as an artist. Imagine my surprise when I met this American named Walt Disney.” Rory raised an eyebrow at this. “When he looked at some of my older pieces, he told me that I would be a phenomenal architectural artist… then he showed me his drawings, helping me make my art with people in them to be less lifeless, starting a beautiful friendship.”

    Egon laughed. “Serving under you sir was and always will be an honor sir,” Egon said in a proudful tone, “Despite our rough beginnings… you’ve came through in the end.” Egon simply put his arm around Hitler’s shoulders. “Sure, it meant that I wouldn’t get to see it, but you did well on your promise.”

    “Yes…” Hitler sighed, “… and that was the sincerest regret I ever had.” Egon smiled, knowing what is coming next. “I might have said it a thousand times, but I will keep saying it. You were someone that understood me. Understood my troubles and my resentment. You have been and always will be the man I will call comrade in arms…” Rory was surprised at this, as she never saw such non-romantic comrade in her 900 plus years of existence.

    “… and I will always say, Herr Major,” Egon commented, “that you shouldn’t regret that… but that hasn’t stopped you anyway. You’ve always been a person that can be emotionally disturbed over whatever you latch onto.” Adolf Senior simply rolled his eyes at the two.

    “Now you’ve done it,” Adolf Senior commented, “You’ve got them at it again. Those two always go on and on about each other when they’re together and get worked up. Still, I’ll say that I’m happy for them even though they act like a married couple.” That was when Rory heard Itami and Centurion Neumann yelling at the top of their lungs.

    “Rory!” Itami exclaimed, “You are supposed to stay next to us!” Rory simply rolled her eyes in annoyance Itami continued. “Have you ever thought what will happen if something were to happen? This isn’t like the Empire, you can’t simply wave your statue as an Apostle like it’s some sort of immunity.” Itami then frowned. “If you go galivanting around and doing whatever you felt like, I’m going to be the poor sap that gets in trouble.”

    “Itami, chill a bit. We’re in one of the most sensor-dense locations on the entire planet,” Centurion Neumann commented as he tried to calm Itami down, “See, she’s… oh hey Great Grandpa Adolf.” Itami looked at Centurion Neumann like he was verifiably insane.

    “Neumann-san, you’re starting to sound like my mother,” Itami replied in a worried tone, “Are you sure that you aren’t clinically insane?” Centurion Neumann looked at Itami like he was a racist bigot… before he quickly remembered that Itami wasn’t from this world.

    “I forgot that your world hasn’t put much into the paranormal as we did,” Centurion Neumann sighed, “It’s an open secret that I have the ability to interact with the dead that haven’t passed onto the afterlife.” The look on Itami’s face was absolutely priceless to Rory. She already was informed of Centurion Neumann’s shaman ability, although she is somewhat skeptical of what Leo had told her. She also had sensed the ability within the JSDF, more specifically within Itami’s group… “It only really started in earnest after a near-encounter with death back in ’05... and I’ve been shuffled around the planet being a ghost whisperer/cop/psychologist ever since.” Rory sensed something more about what Centurion Neumann was saying but felt that she didn’t need a possibly powerful shaman on her ass. If a shaman/woman is powerful enough, even an apostle would have problems staying alive if they are significantly angered.

    Itami, frankly, didn’t seemed to be convinced.

    “Although, if your comment about your mother is any indication,” Centurion Neumann acknowledged, “You might simply be a Speaker of the Dead that has suppressed their abilities, or they haven’t fully activated.” Itami started to get agitated and angry, like if Centurion Neumann was calling him batshit insane. “However, that is for a few friends in Wolfenstein to ask and answer, not me.” That was when Centurion Neumann put two of his left fingers to his ear, muttered a few things… like if he was talked to directly in his mind. “Alright, we better get going… we’ll be late if we don’t go to lunch and buy clothes now.” With that, the trio quickly got to the horseless long chariot.
    Combined Chamber of the Reichstag, Berlin; 15:30 Hours local time


    Itami frowned as he and the entourage entered the main chamber of the alternate Reichstag. The chamber is packed as news crews readied their cameras while those who wanted to be physically see the proceedings sat in the banisters that are now filled to the brim. From what Itami could tell, this Imperial Germany adopted a tricameral legislative body. One was clearly the various noble families, given their ware, and stood on the left-most side of the chamber. Then there is a series of politicians that looked like they were elected who sat in the center of the chamber, they came in two by two and Richards commented that they acted like the US Senate. Then there was the large crowd that filled the right-most side of the room, Itami quickly lost count after four hundred… which meant that they were like the Diet members and are probably almost as bad in general…

    “All rise!” Chancellor Joseph Steiner ordered, “Kaiserin Sophia the First of the House of Hohenzollern, Chief of State of the Empire of Germany and it’s commonwealths presiding!” That was when a rather regal song started playing as a woman dressed in a mix of something straight out of a fantasy and something modern entered the room with four guards armed with ancient -well, compared to the ones that both the Iron Pact and the JSDF/US coalition are using in Falmart- submachine guns.

    The Kaiserin briskly walked to her seat on an elevated platform in the center of the back wall and stood by her chair while the guards took up positions beside the platform. The song went on for a short while longer before it ended, allowing Kaiserin Sophia to speak.

    “I, Kaiserin Sophia the First, will preside over the Inquiry of the battle that took place on July 19th, 2017 in the lands held by the Holy Empire of Alnus,” Sophia began in a regal tone, “Witnesses include personnel from an alternate reality, soldiers from the Iron Pact now in campaign in those lands, and locals from the Holy Empire of Alnus. This Inquiry has been called, as per protocol for loss of civilian life in combat with Iron Pact soldiers, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chancellor Joseph Steiner.” Itami, his comrades, and the Falmart locals practically held their breath as the Kaiserin looked through the crowd. “You now may take your seats.”

    Everyone simply sat down… and Itami and his comrades simply sighed a sigh of relief.

    “Chancellor, you may begin with the proceedings,” Sophia ordered, “Let us begin with the context of the situation.”

    “Well, here comes the boring part,” Aaron Neumann forewarned in a whisper, “Every Iron Pact inquiry always starts with the situational context to minimize causing improper outrage and political intrigue.” Itami and his comrades raised their eyebrows at Aaron’s warning. An inquiry like this -while it took time to setup- is easy to manipulate to score easy political points back in Itami’s Japan. Here, the context is laid bare for all to see… like US military/security inquiries, just without the Itami’s US’s politics before Mattis became the head of the Coup.

    The several projectors soon showed the combat footage while analysts filled in any blanks that the footage couldn’t fill. It showed things like combat conditions, attack vectors, among other things. In addition to the combat footage there was material analysis from the Fire Dragon’s scales, the breath of the Fire Dragon, to what little of the Fire Dragon’s recorded capabilities was displayed in full. The explanations took an hour to complete, and oddly enough, it answered a few questions that bothered Itami; like how the scales were able to shrug off 55mm HVAP rounds but were able to be penetrated by the Javelin. Itami quickly filed all of this away in his mind while making a note to himself to ask for the analysis… which would come in handy with his own inquiry.

    Several of the politicians in the Diet-side of the room rolled their eyes in contempt at the deluge of information.

    “Who are those politicians that are rolling their eyes in contempt?” Itami whispered to Aaron, wanting to know the political situation in this Germany.

    “Oh, they’re the few seats that the Isolationists managed to scrounge up in the last elections,” Aaron answered in a whisper, “They’re the sort that wants to disband the Iron Pact and pretty much go isolationist. They’re well known to be idiots and their constituencies are made up of geopolitical idiots… so they’ve been continuously elected there. Thing is they’ve been under investigation by the Federal Police for various political and financial fraud, something they’ve been trying to keep out of the spotlight.” Itami sighed and forced himself to not bang his head against the desk. Apparently, no matter what, there are those idiots having some political sway. If these individuals had their way, then they would eliminate the military completely. Thus, Japan would be vulnerable to the many enemies it made over the decades and -pragmatically- would put Itami and many like him out of a job to support their hobbies. It also didn’t surprise Itami that these Isolationists were being investigated… given what had happen back home.

    “Ah,” Itami whispered in understanding, “They sound a lot like the far-left politicians back home.” Itami sighed a bit, knowing who called the inquiry that is going to happen within the next month. “Could you pull a few strings to get the analysis on the Flame Dragon’s scales because that’ll be a lot of help on making sure my inquiry goes smoothly.” Aaron smirked at Itami, understanding his plight.

    “I’ll see what I can do,” Aaron answered, “It’ll probably happen if I get sent over to provide the Pact’s side of the story.” Itami shrugged a little in understanding.

    It was then that the inquiry got to the testimony stage. Itami sighed as this was perhaps almost -if not more so- as tedious as the context setting. Aaron was up first, as he was the overall commander during the battle. Everyone practically started murmuring as he took to the stand, what was being said were intelligible to Itami, but it appeared that Aaron is quite significant to this alternate reality.

    “Hauptmann Neumann,” the Chancellor began, “Describe the events leading up to the subject of this inquiry to the best of your abilities.” Itami sighed, it was going to be one of those inquiries… and prepared for a long inquiry…
     
  20. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Well, the prototype for the last section of the chapter, which I'm calling 'Meanwhile in Equestria'...
    (_____________)
    Equestria, Ponyville – Castle of Friendship, Office of Twilight Sparkle; September 25th, 2017


    Twilight Eventide Sparkle -Princess and Goddess of Friendship, current heir to the House of Sparkle-Armor, Bearer of the Element of Magic, Former and most Powerful Student of Celestia, Vanquisher of Tirek, leader of the Elements of Harmony, and -if her ascension didn’t happen- the best (and youngest) prospect for title of Grand Magus of Magic- sighed as she signed yet another piece of paperwork. Right now Twilight felt the hankering for cake -a weakness that her mentor and now-equal Celestia imparted to her during Twilight’s many years as her student and, after her ascension, her instructor of all things Princess related… now that she thought about it, many of Celestia’s students had a weakness of cake including the temperamental Sunset Solus Shimmer- to break not only the doldrums of paperwork (thank Faust for inkwell pens!) but to get rid of all the stress she had been having.

    … and one of the sources of stress -the humans from worlds that weren’t connected to the Mirror-Portal that is now a fixture of Twilight’s new and improved basement-laboratory- is why Twilight had called her friends for this impromptu meeting for. At least, those that haven’t left for a Friendship Quest.

    “So darling,” Rarity Paragon Belle questioned in her impressive approximation of the Canterlot accent, “what has gotten you all riled up today?” The remaining four of Twilight’s friends -and her first ‘special’ student Starlight Shimmer Stormgale- were going to ask that very same question. Starlight grew immensely ever since she was captured by Twilight’s own Royal Guard during the entire Equal Town fiasco… but trust had to be earned both in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of Twilight’s cadre of friends, thus her status as ‘special student’. “I mean, darling, it couldn’t be the paperwork…”

    “While Ah would rarely agree with Rarity here,” Applejack Chartreuse Apple said in her very thick Southern Equestrian-Big Macintosh Mountain accent, “Y’all know that things have been rather hectic around here ever since the slaves from that Imperial slave ship shipwrecked by Manehattan was sent here.” Everyone nodded in understanding, three months back a Holy Empire of Alnus slave ship heading towards the only Imperial ‘colony’ on the Equestrian continent shipwrecked just south of Manehattan. The slavers were quickly apprehended and put to work in the mana crystal mines in the Canterlot Mountains while the slaves were freed… which has landed Ponyville in its current situation. “Now trying to open up has been hard for all of us, even when we have to juggle not only our duties to the Map but our own lives as well.”

    “It is rather overwhelming,” Fluttershy Stormwing commented in her new shy-but-steely tone, “Although some of the humans I’ve been working with have been a great help… it is just too much. What they have suffered for six months in the hands of the Empire had created such deep scars in their minds…” Everyone else sighed at that comment. The treatment for non-Imperial slaves -or enslaved Imperials for crimes such as high treason or breaking certain by-laws of enslavement given what Luna’s intelligence network had uncovered- is simply horrendous by any measure. ‘Training’ specifically designed to break the will and hope of those in bondage, so they do anything they want -with few fields foregoing the training only because of practicality and need- and do whatever job they’ve been assigned. These slaves were only fortunate enough that they only got ‘light training’ before being shipped out to the Imperial colony on the continent Equestria resides on.

    “Ah can’t argue with that,” Applejack commented, “They’ve been doing quite well all considerin’. Even Granny Smith is a bit surprised at the better condition of the farm since they’ve arrived…” Applejack sighed a little. “… but she is worried that their condition isn’t improvin’. Whenever she went out to see how they’re doin’ work, they seem a little broken in the noggin’… much like them Warrior Bunnies that washed ashore in that shipwreck just a few months after you’ve became a princess Twili.” Twilight sighed and frowned, remembering one of her first duties as Princess of Equestria. A large Imperial slave ship was shipwrecked near Neighton, loaded to the brim with a species known as the ‘Warrior Bunnies’. Despite the doctors on-site and setting up a field hospital, a good third of them died of their injuries. The head slavers were quickly turned into stone by an enraged Celestia and Luna while the crew was sent to the mana crystal mines for the next two decades. A sixth would commit suicide thanks to the horrors they’ve witnessed, another sixth would be forever institutionalized in the Grand Mental Hospital of Canterlot to try to rehabilitate them with little success, the rest would be effectively shut-ins, although Twilight and her friends have been slowly getting them out of their self-imposed shells.

    “They’re pretty good petty good ponies,” Sunset Solus Shimmer sighed, “Especially since one of them was able to relate to Starlight and help her improve leaps and bounds.” Twilight raised an eyebrow at that, as now a question she had been developing with Starlight had been answered. “The biggest problem is that they’re still hurting, even if they don’t know it yet.” Everyone could at least agree on that.

    “Yeah… they’re pretty awesome,” Rainbow Dash Blitzer commented in a somber tone with her characteristic hybrid of Big Macintosh Mountain and Cloudsdale accents, “but I’ve seen it with the army side of the Wonderbolts whenever they raid some bandit or slaver camp. Some of them have it so bad that Spitfire had taken them off the active roster.” “Sometimes permanently,” Rainbow thought to herself, leaving it unsaid. “Tartus, the doctors within these non-Imperial human ranks been helping Scoots with getting her to be able to fly! I haven’t seen Scoots so happy since… ever.” Most of the doctor-speak went over Rainbow’s head, but from what she could understand, Scootaloo’s body had been stunted in various ways but if they had a specific family of algae and the ability to process it -or a supply of ‘biological rejuvenators’ from their home-, they can kickstart it, so she would be on her original low-end and not a runt.

    “Really?” Rarity asked in an astonished tone, “They must be pretty good if they can do something like that… but focus Rainbow, we need to find ways to get these rather cultured humans to get out of their shell and actually heal instead of simply stay in their shells and bottle their horrors up.” Rarity pondered for a moment before getting an idea. “Doctor Wolf and Doctor Sound Mind have their practice in-town, and they’ve been amazing at helping all of us with our own problems. Perhaps we can have them help us with this. They did convince most of those Warrior Bunnies that were on the fence that it wasn’t worth it.” Everyone pondered for a moment at what Rarity was saying, when Doctor James Wolf and Doctor Sound Mentat Mind came to Ponyville before Twilight’s ascension, they vastly improved the relationships between the Elements -and Spike- and prevented a few problems from arising. Their biggest claim to fame is their ability to persuade the suicidal Warrior Bunnies to not commit suicide even if it took a lot of work on their part.

    “That… sounds like a good idea,” Twilight admitted, “… but that still runs into the problem that we need to get them out of their shells more.” Twilight frowned slightly as she tried to rake up something to help them. Ideas kept flashing in her head, all to subtly push them towards getting the help they need…

    “Well, there is that celebration that they’ve been preparing for the last few days,” Rainbow suggested, “… maybe we can participate and try to coax a few to get the ball rolling?” The last part was uncharacteristically shy and downtrodden for the normally boastful mare of incredible self-esteem… even though the idea is perhaps the smartest one so far. “I mean… it’s worth a shot…”

    “No need to act like Fluttershy Rainbow,” Applejack congratulated, “Ah may hate the slight underhoofenness that your idea has, but it is probably the best shot we’ve got to get them to open up.” Everyone nodded in agreement with that statement. “However, we might sour things if we try it too hard… we might have to contact Dr. Wolf and Sound Mind about setting everything up before we do anything.”

    “That’s… a pretty good idea Rainbow,” Starlight Shimmer complemented meekly, “it’s far better than anything I could have come up with…” Starlight Shimmer had been reprimanded for her tendency to force magic to solve her problems which have gotten her into a lot of trouble over the better part of a year since the Equal Town fiasco and her new status as a ‘special’ student of Twilight Sparkle. She was getting better, especially with a non-Imperial human by the name of Wilhelm Asperger.

    “Don’t fret sugar cube,” Applejack said in an apologetic tone, “You’re working on it and that is all that matters.” Then Applejack tapped her chin. “It isn’t like we are all Princesses. There was the one time that Ah out stubborn’d a mule…” Applejack then took Starlight Shimmer aside to recount one of her more embarrassing moments.

    That was when one of Twilight’s guards entered the room.

    “Princess Sparkle,” a pegasus guard said as she entered the office, “The leader of the non-Imperial humans has sent me to come get you for the coming festivities.” The guard in question is part of Twilight’s Sodality Guard… and the newest of Equestria’s Royal Guard units. Right now, Twilight hasn’t designed a proper uniform for them so most of them simply have their original armor painted in Twilight’s colors. This is partially because Twilight made many enemies as a student of Celestia and as the youngest Princess, thus Celestia and Luna giving her a company of their guards each to build her own Royal Guard to protect her. “From what I can tell, the leader wants you to precede over the festivities as you authorized it and it would be perfect to engage in a cultural exchange.”

    Twilight raised an eyebrow at this, usually for foreign festivities the planners would simply ask for permission from the Princesses (or in this case, herself) and the interaction pretty much stops there. Yet, they have asked for her to precede over the festivities… unusual in of itself. “Alright then,” Twilight answered, “I’ll just finish up with the meeting I’m having with my friends and student and I’ll be right out.”

    “Understood Princess,” the guard said, “I’ll ensure that the leader knows what is happening.” And with that, the guard left as she closed the door.

    “Well… that was unexpected sugercube,” Applejack commented as she brought Starlight to her seat, “but unless Ah’m mistaken, we’ve been given an opportunity. A very obvious and most opportune opportunity that we’ve been saddled with.” Everyone in the room raised an eyebrow at Applejack’s line of thought. “From what they’ve told me and my family, these celebrations are quite similar to a celebration from Germania before Equestrian Unification. Between the immense amounts of alcohol, cider, food, and happiness-inducin’ activities, they’ll be likely to open up on gettin’ help.”

    “We’ll discuss this further later,” Twilight stated as she got up, “Right now I’ve got a celebration to preside and I can’t keep them.” The others stayed in the office, trying to work on a surefire plan to get at least a few of them the help they needed. “I hope that things don’t go too badly like last time…”
    Ponyville Fairgrounds, 11:30 Hours


    Twilight sighed as she and her protective entourage flew into the Ponyville Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds were packed with Warrior Bunnies, ponies, the non-Imperial humans, and even the diplomatic envoys -and their families- of the Yaks, Griffons, and even the Hissho… apparently Celestia let it slip that this celebration was going to happen, and the various diplomatic envoys decided to come down and take a gander…

    “Ah, my faithful student,” said a voice that Twilight instantly recognized, Twilight immediately turned around and saw Princess Celestia in her regal festive garments with Princess Luna close behind, “It has been too long that we’ve seen each other!” Celestia smiled as she continued. “Sadly, Candance couldn’t make it due to her duties as Queen of the Crystal Empire… but she sends her regards.” Twilight dropped all sense of dignity and quickly ran up to Celestia and hugged her and Luna.

    “Oh, Princess Celestia!” Twilight exclaimed as she hugged her former mentor and her sister, “It has been too long!” It was too long since Twilight had met her mentor and her sister in an informal setting -or as close as one could get to an informal setting considering the circumstances- just to talk and be friends. “I’ve missed our time together so much!” Celestia simply smiled at Twilight while Luna made a faint daw to herself at the sight.

    “Now, now… I keep telling you we’re equals now,” Celestia playfully reminded Twilight, “you don’t need to call me Princess all the time.” Twilight blushed lightly at the reminder, cursing her excitement causing her to go back to her old habits. “I hope we can see the festivities in all their glory soon because this is shaping up to be something else.”

    “Why yes, dear sister,” Luna chuckled, “these festivities are going to be GLORIOUS!” Everyone looked at Luna after she said the last part in the in/famous (depending on how you look at it) Royal Canterlot Voice. Luna quickly became embarrassed at the outburst, despite her having a handle on it since her return. “This ‘Oktoberfest’ sounds like the old festivals that we used to partake in when we first founded Equestria! Great feasts of harmony, bounty, and thanks with our subjects!” Celestia had fond memories about those days… but her face mentally soured as she also remembered the assholes that forced the disbandment of these great festivals. Celestia wasn’t when she found out that they pulled that behind her back and it helped Luna along becoming Nightmare Moon.

    “I still remember those days like they were yesterday Luna,” Celestia chuckled right back, “They’re one of the few times that we celebrated like family with our subjects.”

    “Although the imbecile that spiked your drink with that hallucinogenic that one time had to ruin it!” Luna complained, “I had to do your duties for a month while trying to keep you from harming yourself and our subjects!” Celestia sighed a little, remembering that month of pure strangeness… she never found the perpetrator, nor did Luna.

    “Prinzessinnen, please excuse this interruption into your nostalgia but we’re ready,” a human male said in a polite tone, “We’ll be starting the march as soon as you meet up with the organizer.” The three assembled princesses looked at the man with a mix of interest and confusion. The man quickly picked up on this. “Ah, the opening ceremony always starts with a march, Prinzessinnen. It also serves to get everyone to their seats before the main party starts.” With a small contemplative ‘ah’, the three princesses took flight and flew to the man that organized the festivities. “I am not going to get used to that…”
    Band Assembly Area, a few minutes later


    “Is everything ready to go?” asked Nikolaus Rodenberg as the band made their final preparations. Nikolaus had to admit, the Equestrians can make damn fine instruments -hell they have accordions in roughly a mix of magi-tech industrial revolution and Enlightenment- and the musicians that the Empire enslaved were competent in the music that he was going to have them do today.

    “Yes sir, all we’re waiting is for the Prinzessinnen to arrive and we’ll start the festivities,” a woman -one of Nikolaus’s leunants in this endeavor by the name of Samantha Reeds- answered, “we’ve sent Richards to get them… and are they flying?” Nikolaus quickly looked up into the sky and saw the three prinzessinnen flying towards them.

    “… you know what?” Nikolaus commented in awe, “I think I’ll never get used to the fact that they can fly.” Samantha simply nodded in agreement. “Alright then, Richards has gotten the Prinzessinnen to the front of the march… everyone make sure everything is ready!” The musicians quickly made their final adjustments and quickly assembled into formation.

    “Well, they’re quick,” Prinzessin Luna commented as she landed, “Now Organizer, where are we supposed to be when this festival begins?” Nikolaus simply sighed as a great weight lifted off his shoulders -not as great as keeping everyone that got enslaved by the Empire still alive but still a great weight- and spirited itself away.

    “You’ll be with the banner bearer, that would be me, and lead the band into the main tent,” Nikolaus answered, “Since this is also your first Oktoberfest celebration, you’ve don’t really have to have a great speech prepared or anything… unless you want to.” The three Prinzessinnen sighed in relief.

    “That is wonderful!” Celestia said with a great smile, “I thought this would be making a speech and made one!” Celestia quickly pulled a small scroll out of her left breast pocket. “Most foreign festivities I’ve been in had that requirement.” Twilight and Luna looked a mite embarrassed at the situation and produced their own scrolls, likely speeches, as well.

    “If you want to, I really can’t stop you,” Nikolaus emphasized, “but I’m saying that since it’s literally your first Oktoberfest and you’re the patrons of said Oktoberfest, you don’t have to make a grand speech unless you want to.” Celestia quickly cast a minor flame spell, turning her speech into ash.

    “I was never the one for grand speeches anyway!” Celestia joyfully said while Luna and Twilight rolled their eyes a little at Celestia’s antics, “Now, we should start before the crowds get restless!” Nikolaus couldn’t really argue with that and so he signaled the band to begin the march.
    --
    Now Twilight had been in many festivals in her time -comes with the territory of being a daughter in the minor noble (although if you ask some of the noble families like a significant portion of the Blueblood family, faux noble and barely a step up from commoners) family of Sparkle-Armor and the most powerful student of Celestia to date- but this Oktoberfest had to take the metaphorical cake. The ‘march’ isn’t anything like she had listened to, as it was far too festive to be like the marches she had listened and gotten used to over the years. The band had been playing for the last three minutes as everyone poured into the tent and grabbed seats while beer-ponies in somewhat risqué -apparently no matter how much work Rarity (despite being a practical goddess of fashion) put into the outfits, some ponies simply make them risqué- outfits passed the largest glasses of beer she had ever seen.

    The music soon ended, and everyone waited impatiently to start the festival in earnest. Nikolaus simply nodded and began his speech.

    “Welcome one and all to the first Equestrian Oktoberfest!” Nikolaus announced through the mana-microphone, “I hope everyone is ready to have a good time because this is going to metaphorically blow your mind. The alcohol and food are ready, the games and activities prepared, and the musicians have a wide selection of music both traditional and modern to choose from. Before we start, I’ll ask the Princesses if they have anything to say before we begin.” Twilight quickly ceased the indicative and raised her hand. Nikolaus simply nodded and allowed her the use of the microphone.

    “The humans here today came to me a few weeks ago, asking me if they could set up for this festival,” Twilight began, “I readily agreed, my thirst for knowledge begging me to allow it. While everything was being set up, I noticed something else… this was also something to help them heal from the injustices and horrors that they suffered from the Holy Empire of Alnus.” The humans in the crowd murmured in confusion. “I hope this little slice of home will help you on the road to recovery. As the Princess that authorized this festival, I decree that the First Equestrian Oktoberfest begins now!” Everyone in the tent roared in applause and the band began playing a new song.

    “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”

    “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”

    Twilight simply stood there as the band played and all the humans were singing along.

    “Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen!”

    “Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen mit der erste und der zweiten Hypothek!”

    Her right hoof started tapping as the song continued. Magical music is a recognized field of magic for centuries within Equestria and the nations on the northern and southern continents. This is partially why the Empire failed in their conquests, as the Equestrian Army’s field music bands can utilize music as numerous support spells. Here, while there is no magic involved, another aspect of the magical aspects of music is being played out.

    “Ja, wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen.”

    “Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen mit der erste und der zweiten Hypothek.”

    Twilight started drinking, deciding to be in on the fun… figuring out that this might just work out…
     
  21. Threadmarks: STORY Chapter 5
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    10,993 words, that is how many words are in this chapter. 10,993 words.

    (_______)
    Chapter 5: Plans of Politicians, Higher Beings, and Assholes…
    The Celestial Realm

    It is so good to be back again! For eons I’ve been forced out of my post as Celestial Caretaker (a post that I was originally shanghaied into via my own inquisitive mind) of the planet below. Damn Hardy and her band of hooligans! Still, I wouldn’t have met all sorts of interesting beings on the other side of the Celestia Porta if I was able to wrestle back control.

    Seeing Confucius hammer out reconciling the ancient ancestral religions of China in the various timelines while allowing it to be flexible enough to allow other religions to be applied was an irresistible pleasure. Even when he accidentally ascended (even I was surprised on his ascension, because from a handful of others that I’ve meet this is incredibly rare) into the Celestial Realms he simply took a hands -off ‘rule without ruling’ approach and this influenced other beings in the Celestial Realms… which would lead to the various Chinas across the timelines to quickly find Daoism which is pretty much based on that ideal.

    Then there is this particular fellow who is probably the humblest out of the lot and utilizes the ‘rule without ruling’ ideal to its logical conclusion. Would rather simply push a little here, pull a little there, and let it all sort itself out and only do rather overt things when there is no other option (yes, he helped Moses part the Red Sea, sent a giant pillar of fire, and send the Plagues at Egypt, mostly due to Ramses’s own insecurities and his inner council using those insecurities to manipulate Ramses for their own ends). … and for the most part the religion takes care of itself, although he is rightfully pissed that secular politics always make a mess of things and the messages have a tendency to get ‘garbled’. The poor guy now is pretty overworked in trying to push back all that corruption and garbling of messages.

    Now that Hardy actually fucked up and allowed me to go back home, I can work out who is still aligned with me, who are neutral, and who are my enemies. Hopefully two of my patrons -a genie couple- are still around… they always make me laugh and understand me the best.

    Let’s see what Hardy and company did while I was gone.


    … …
    … … …

    WHAT THE FUCK! THEY’VE TURNED THIS WORLD INTO THEIR OWN SANDBOX AND ARE TRYING TO GET EVERY OTHER PANTHEON OR CELESTIAL FACTION TO EAT OUT OF THEIR CROTCH! THOSE FUCKTARDS! THOSE VIOLKIN! GAGH!

    IT’S TIME TO EX-TER-MIN-ATE! EX-TER-MINATE! EX-TER-MIN-ATE!

    … ok, I don’t know how that get over me but… Hardy and company have fucking triggered me! Me, the 82nd Ultima Researcher of the Chozo Confederation, triggered into genocidal rage! Even in our darkest days, it takes a lot to push a Chozo into such a rage. The two species that did it deserved it from an objective standpoint! Even the enigmatic Minbari and their infamous bipolar attitude on war simply nodded in understanding of the whole situation.
    Ok, calm down Jade Wing… just breathe in, breathe out. Find your inner peace and rebalance yourself. Inner peace… inner peace… inner peace… inner peace… INNER PEACE… INNER PEACE…

    Oh, fuck it. Time to scream in a primordial universe to vent my anger because of my trigger induced genocidal rage. I grabbed a primordial universe and yelled into it, venting all my profanities and rage into it.

    Ok… that made me feel a bit better. Better reset that universe just in case all that rage causes problems. There, done… Now, where was I? Ah yes, finding my old allies…

    Fort Portal, Alnus Province; September 20th, 2017 - 10:30 Hours

    Lieutenant Itami sighed as he and a small portion of his platoon -alongside Rory Mercury, Lelei La Lalena, and Tuka Luna Marceau and her father- went through the fifth checkpoint -and set of automated turrets- that day. From what Itami the small portion of his platoon has seen, the Iron Pact had been incredibly busy. Rail lines were being built towards the border between ‘Alnus Province’ and other local provinces, the ancient highways were being upgraded into what looked like autobahns, villages being completely rebuilt with a mix of old and new architecture, and -as Itami’s little two-vehicle convoy got into visual range of the base- saw zeppelins -admittedly small ones but still, fucking Zeppelins- of all things starting to lift off for kami knows where.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Private Richards said, “It looks like they’re settling in for the long term here…” No one could fault Richards’s outburst… as all the sights right now are insane.

    “Yeah, and what does that mean for the locals?” Itami sighed with a frown, “Forcing cultures to march through centuries of evolution or match another’s rarely ends well.” Itami learned enough history to figure that much.

    “Alright Leutnant, you and your convoy are cleared to enter the base,” the guard at the checkpoint said in heavy German-accented Japanese before turning to one of his compatriots, “Hans, let them in!” As the gate opened, the guard turned to Itami. “Alright, the Central Administration complex is at the end of the central road with the internal motor pool on the left. Just don’t get into trouble of your own accord and things will be fine.”

    “Understood sir,” Itami responded politely, “we’ll try to ensure that we don’t cause any trouble.” With that, Takeo Kurata took the vehicle down the main road towards the massive prefabricated structure. Akira Tomita and the others looked around, absorbing everything they could while taking mental notes of the various vehicles and weapon systems. While it is clearly apparent that this is only a mere fraction of the base and its contents, it didn’t make help the feeling of dread with the JSDF and US soldiers.

    It didn’t take too long for the convoy to get to the administration complex, and what everyone saw was simply awe inducing. The hustle and bustle of base personnel simply astounded the few locals that Itami manage to persuade to come with, but everything he saw simply pointed to one thing and one thing only: The Iron Pact is planning to stay until whenever their objectives were done.

    That… can be troubling… to say the least.

    “Ah, Leutnant Itami!” a familiar voice said cheerfully, “I hope that your trip to our base was uneventful.” Itami quickly recognized the voice as Captain Neumann’s, Itami didn’t recognize him immediately due to the dress uniform that he was wearing. It was like the old Imperial German uniform in a sense, as it was ‘field grey’. The uniform was also expertly tailored to match the physic that Captain Neumann had, an oddity compared to their field uniforms which were clearly mass produced. Captain Neumann’s chest, however, was worrisome as it was laden with medals… including what looked like the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with oak leaves, swords, and diamonds.

    “It was,” Itami answered in German, “far better than what we have over the course of the last few months.” Captain Neumann chuckled a bit.

    “True, too true,” Captain Neumann replied, “Now, before you and your fellows go to Berlin, General Forsythe wants a word with you about some civilians that we rescued from a mining town northeast from here.” Itami raised an eyebrow at this, what little information that the Japanese-US coalition had indicated that civilians that were sold into slavery were dead already… given the poor conditions.

    “Alright then,” Itami sighed, “Old Man, get everyone ready for the trip… I’ll have to meet up with General Forsythe for something.” Souichirou Kuwahara sighed as he got everyone ready for the trip while Itami was escorted to General Forsythe’s office.

    General Forsythe’s Office; a few minutes later

    General Forsythe raised an eyebrow at the JSDF lieutenant in front of him. He was the opposite in terms of physical stature he assumed he would be. His voice was somewhat nasally and higher pitched, the opposite of what one would think would have a commanding voice given what Hauptmann Neumann’s Aufklärungsabteilung company’s AARs had implied. Itami’s stance, to be frank, is probably one of the weirder ones that Forsythe has ever encountered. What he did notice was a suitcase at his side.

    “First Lieutenant Youji Itami, JSDF Ground Forces, here as requested,” Itami said politely, “May I ask what the reason for your request is?” Forsythe smirked slightly, Itami appeared to be someone that likes to get to the point of things and waste little time for anything… although there is a slight undertone that he didn’t want to be here anyway, and that suitcase was the reason.

    “The reason for my request Leutnant,” Forsythe explained, “is the fact that we’ve liberated a lot of slaves a while back, and so far, ten of them were from your world.” Itami’s eyes widened almost comically, knowing straight away about the implications of what has been said. “We’ve already debriefed them and ensured that they’re at peak health.” Forsythe then pulled out a tablet. “This is the full list of people from your world that had been liberated from slavery so far.”

    “Ah, so these are the people I’m supposed to pick up?” Itami replied as he looked through the detailed list as he put the suitcase down, “I’m just surprised that you’re so forthcoming about this General.” Itami sighed a little bit, remembering a few instances he had with various generals be his home nation or abroad. Usually they’re generally incredibly strict or simply leave things out is a common stereotype for generals in Itami’s experience… but this man wasn’t either, which is rare in Itami’s experience. Especially for a German general.

    “Ah, I understand,” Forsythe answered, “and yes these are the people your superiors want to be picked up after the entire inquiry is finished.” Itami mumbled something about ‘meddling politicians’ under his breath, and Forsythe was understanding about it. He had encountered similar politicians in his incredibly long career as a general, although in his case they rarely survived politically when they meddle too far.

    “I’m thankful,” Itami said in a somber enthusiastic tone, “that we don’t have to create more graves… we’ve already have enough of them as it is.” Forsythe understood completely, if the Empire’s invasion of Itami’s homeland was anything like the one that invaded Berlin, then there were literal hills of bodies to burry. “Well, I do have something for you. We’ve been getting strange information from informants in one of the nations from my world and my superiors decided that you might know something about it.”

    “Oh, and what would that be?” Forsythe asked politely, intrigued.

    “It’s in the suitcase,” Itami answered, “My superiors told me that under no circumstances that anyone would look into what is in the suitcase until I give it to you or your staff.” Itami frowned as he carefully placed the suitcase on the desk. “It’s my superiors’ hopes that you’ll respond quickly on this matter.”

    “We’ll see to it then,” Forsythe replied as he picked up the suitcase, “You should get back to your group, they should be starting the last few procedures before going through the portal.” Itami quickly thanked Forsythe and left, escorted by an MP. Forsythe sat there for a moment, remembering when he himself first joined the military. “Well, well, well Youji Itami…” Forsythe muttered to himself, “you remind me of myself when I was your age. I know you’ll be going places soon enough…” That was when Forsythe opened the suitcase. “Now, what has your superiors bamboozled…”

    Checkpoint Portal - Berlin, Germany – Iron Pact Earth; September 20th, 11:00 Hours

    Words fail to describe the sights that Rory Mercury is seeing in ‘Berlin’. While the Empire fiddled with structures of tall stature outside of forts and castles, they were hard to maintain and construct, not to mention somewhat ugly in terms of looks in the skyline. Yet here, this Iron Pact -and from what Itami and his fellow soldiers said, the world beyond the Gate on Alnus Hill- not only solved them but had them in abundance. An impressive feat of engineering to say the least. The towers are atheistically pleasing as they were practical… and looked more like they were sculpted than built.

    “Hauptmann Neumann, Leunant Youji, papers please,” a man said out of a window. Itami had explained to them to keep a bunch of papers and a booklet-like object called a ‘passport’ at hand or be refused entry. This is an alien concept to Rory. Her station as Apostle gave her exceptions, allowing her to freely cross borders with ease. Yet here, you had to have travel documents.

    “Your documents are in order,” the man said, “I’ll just need to get everyone into the system. Everyone, please bring your documents and I’ll get everything set up.” Slowly the assembled lined up and gave the documents to the man, who then looked through the documents with unnatural precision. With a few strokes on his device, he was done. This went on for the next ten minutes before she was next.

    “Ah, Rory Mercury,” the man said as he politely took the papers and passport out of her hands, “I’m sorry about the wait but there were a few problems getting everything into our system, please excuse any delays on my behalf.” The man made a few strokes on his device. “Your listed occupation is Apostle. Due to what your occupation is described, I’m required to tell you that you’ll be with an escort for the duration of your visit.” Rory frowned a little, she never needed an escort

    “Why would the Apostle of Emoly require such an escort?” Rory asked with some distain, “Few have tried to harm an Apostle, and fewer have survived to tell the tale.” The man simply frowned intensely at Rory. Uncharacteristically, Rory felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

    That is why the escort is being assigned to you,” the man answered flatly, “They are going to be keeping you and your magic using friends in line.” The man quickly finished up and gave Rory’s documents back. “Now, please get out of my line so the next person can get their data in.” Rory left in a huff, knowing that the man was eyeing daggers into the back of her head.

    “Well, then, with that out of the way,” Centurion Neumann said, “we’ll have lunch before ensuring that everyone is ready for the inquiry.” Itami simply shrugged, as if he was in his opposite’s position, he would do something quite similar as well. “Now, this way to the charter bus…”

    “So,” Richard Steiner asked, “what is our lunch destination?” Centurion Neumann thought for a moment before giving his answer.

    “We’ll go to Bert, Tetsui, and Hans International Bar,” Centurion Neumann answered, “Gives our Falmart natives a taste of a bit of everything culinary that the Iron Pact has.” Richard Steiner raised an eyebrow at that. “It doesn’t help that they’ve got some of the best steaks and second-best burgers in town for their price either.” The Iron Pact soldiers chuckled a little at the last comment, knowing their commanding officer a little too well. “However, we’ve got to make a small stop at the Memorial first.” The Iron Pact soldiers simply nodded in understanding the reasons why their superior had always tried to ensure he makes a stop at that memorial, mostly because his great-great grandfather and great-grandfather had been buried there.

    Soon enough, the long horseless carriage entered the streets of Berlin, and towards their destination…

    Memorial to the Fallen Park; 11:45 Hours

    Everyone but the Iron Pact soldiers were surprised in the majesty of the large park that they’ve entered, and everyone then had a good snicker at Centurion Neumann’s foresight to have their lunch just down the road from the park itself. The ‘Americans’ of Itami’s world soon saw the correlations with a place called Arlington.

    Yet… Rory couldn’t help but feel that things were… off… about this place. She couldn’t put a finger on it, but it had this odd air about it. Yes, the Saderians -the people that dominate much of Falmart with an iron fist- have graveyards but they were specifically designed with countering necromancy in mind but the Saderians never had something like this

    Rory’s musings ended when they saw Centurion Neumann stopping at an ornate granite wall that had names engraved on it and polished to a sheen that outdid anything that even the best grave masters in the Empire could do. That was when she noticed the words on the top of the wall: “Für die heroischen Männer und Frauen, sollen ihre Opfer für immer in Erinnerung bleiben”. The wall was divided up into sections by thick lines, and Centurion Neumann went to a section with ‘2. Weltkrieg’ at the top. It was here that everyone saw tears flow from the Centurion’s eye’s.

    That was when it hit Rory. Centurion Neumann was paying respects to a family member. Someone further up the familial line for certain, but certainly not his father…

    That was when Rory heard… humming. She quickly and stealthily split off from the group to search for the source of this humming. Weaving through the stones and graves, through families paying their respects, Rory’s search started to become frantic as a few simple words kept repeating, seemingly without end.

    Wir sind verloren!

    Wir sind verloren!

    Wir sind verloren!

    Wir sind verloren!


    Those words kept sending chills up Rory’s spine as she looked for the source. The longer she took in finding the source, the more she felt like she was descending into madness... and this went on for a good half-hour.

    That was when she saw them. Thousands of men -and some women- were marching down an avenue garbed in uniforms she couldn’t recognize, armed with weapons that she couldn’t make heads or tails of, and they were all marching to the west…

    Now seeing spirits isn’t something that surprised Rory -by Hardy (as much as Rory hated the Goddess of the Underworld’s guts) part of her job was to work with restless spirits- but it was the sheer numbers in one spot that broke her preconceptions. Rory simply stood there in amazement as the thousands of soldiers walked down the avenue, singing a song that she couldn’t fully understand the context of…

    Wo alle Straßen enden, hört unser Weg nicht auf. Wohin wir uns auch wenden, die Zeit nimmt ihren Lauf.

    Das Herz verbrannt, im Schmerz verbannt. So ziehen wir verloren durch das graue Niemandsland. Vielleicht kehrt von uns keiner mehr zurück ins Heimatland.

    Words couldn’t truly describe what Rory was seeing. Sure, on numerous battlefields you could see hundreds of soldiers and warriors still residing in the world of the living, either still fighting their battles or trying to find a way to the afterlife. Having thousands all in one place, however, is unheard of in the history of Falmart. As the soldiers marched onwards, Rory started hearing voices, conversations, and more.

    That was when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Rory quickly turned around and saw two spirits looking at the city beyond.

    Rory nearly jumped a few feet into the air as she turned her head to get a look on who was laying their hand on her shoulder. It was a tall, lanky man with a pair of framed glass planes resting on the bridge of his nose. There was two more men beside him, one was an average-sized man that had a slightly thick middle and the other was also average but much more fit… but the mustache was something that she never saw before.

    “Sorry for scaring you, Mädchen,” the man with the framed glass planes apologized, “It’s a rarity to have anyone with the ability to speak to the dead visit here.” Rory raised her eyebrows at that tidbit of information, as it implied that the shaman ability is extremely rare in this world as well. “The only regular is Leutnant Adolf Neumann’s great grandson.”

    “All of this is rather different than anything I’ve ever experienced, I’ll admit,” Rory spoke truthfully, “To see so many spirits marching like they were still alive, to see so many buried here in one place… it’s something that I or anyone else back in the Empire ever experienced.”

    “It always is,” the mysterious being said, “… getting out of what you know I mean… your comfort zone.” The other two beings chuckled a bit. “Still, it is a pleasure that has no words to describe to see the very nation that you’ve sacrifice your life for prosper. My family told stories of when they arrived with the first settlers, turning a village in a swamp into the center of a great nation. To see it prosper before your very eyes. A feeling so exquisite that words can’t truly describe it.” Then the man slapped his own face like he forgot something. “I’m so sorry, I forgot to ask your name and give us ours.”

    “It’s alright,” Rory answered thoughtfully, “It isn’t the first time I’ve had spirits forget to introduce themselves…” Rory quickly shook her head. “The name’s Rory Mercury, Apostle of Emory.”

    “My name is Egon Spangler,” the mysterious being said.

    “My name is Adolf Neumann Senior,” the rotund being introduced himself, “Pleasure to meet you Mädchen.”

    “I’m Adolf Hitler,” the third and last being introduced himself, “It’s a rare pleasure to have someone else talk to us despite leaving the mortal coil.” Rory mentally calmed herself reminding herself that this is a vastly different world than Itami’s, and thus the people there are vastly different. Their histories and paths through life could be different than their other-world counterparts. “Is something the wrong Mädchen?” That sentence broke Rory out of her mental marathon.

    “Um… sorry,” Rory answered, “It’s just that the people that I’m staying with had a man named Adolf Hitler… and… he was a monster.” Hitler sighed knowingly, like if it was something he half-expected. “Went out to exterminate millions just because they were a different people than him.” Hitler shook his head in understanding with that sentence.

    Adolf Hitler simply sighed at Rory’s answer, and looked towards the skyline again, thinking of an answer that would melt Rory’s doubts.

    “When I came back to Germany after the First World War, I would undoubtedly go down that path with abandon,” Hitler answered with a depressing chuckle, “I was one of many men that was hurting and angry. Feeling that we’ve been betrayed somehow. Yet… when word came that the French and British were to destroy the Fatherland so completely, we jumped at the call but not because of the government, but because of the Fatherland.” Rory simply sat down in the grass, knowing that this is going to take a while. “That is when I was assigned a bunch of Poles, Jews, and Old Prussians with very few Germans. I spent them like bullets. Threw the dice far too many times and threw their lives away… yet more came to fill the ranks.” Hitler simply looked like he was reminiscing, as he shed a tear. “I… at first I couldn’t believe that those I considered inferior were jumping at the chance to do what they thought was the most good. They fought with such bravery and such ferocity that I couldn’t understand it with the path I choose between the Great War and the Great War of Resistance.” Rory was in apt attention as Hitler continued. “Slowly, I started to see the bravery and ferocity for what it was: Magnificence. It took me years to finally see it, years that where I would have made better tactics and strategies. Picked better targets… and probably save my closest comrade in arms.”

    Egon simply sat there in understanding.

    “Yet, it was when my XO died in my arms that I vowed to remember him and those who died in our small part of the Great War of Resistance. I found myself changing, Rory. Changing in mind and in spirit,” Hitler continued, “I saw many horrible things, Rory. Horrific in ways you couldn’t imagine. I saw the path that my anger and hate was heading to. It was then I changed completely. I was no longer Adolf Hitler, an angry and hurt soldier upset of how the Fatherland lost a war that by all rights should have won. I was Adolf Hitler, a humbled man that has seen the life that his old self would have led.” Rory was amazed, as such radical change is rare within Falmart in general. “There is an old virtue from a nation called Japan, made specifically for its militant noble class: “The decisions you make and the actions that follow are a reflection of who you are. You cannot hide from yourself.”. I inadvertently understood this after the Great War of Resistance, despite not reading the virtues of Bushido myself. I began to find myself and found many things that scared me. I kept that spiritual weight the rest of my life.”

    Rory was astonished at what she was hearing. No leader in their right mind would outright admit their weaknesses and follies unless there was no other choice.

    “I decided, afterwards, that after the war I would retire from military service and simply become an artist while writing a memoir about those who were in my unit during the Great War of Resistance. I was just outside of Hamburg when I met a man that would change my life,” Hitler reminisced, “He wasn’t famous at the time, but he, too, had talent in art. I had seen him during the War driving a Red Cross ambulance hauling injured and sick civilians plastered with his ‘cartoons’. At the time he was at Hamburg waiting for his ship to arrive, so he can go back home to America when he saw me drawing the skyscape of Hamburg at the time. He commented that I had actual skill and talent. I never had been told that I had talent or skill. I was told that my art was lifeless… that I had no talent or real skill, but to have someone say that I did changed things. So, we started to talk about things, reveal little bits of our lives… and the more we’ve talked, the more we talked, the more we exchanged, and the more we exchanged, the more we became friends. Eventually we decided to keep in contact with each other, effectively being there for each other during the other’s darkest time. While I would eventually only do art as a hobby, Walt would become world renowned for his cartoons.”

    Then Hitler’s visage became a bit dark.

    “It was around 1932 that I started to go into politics. It was at this time that men that still had hate and anger within them formed their own party and decided that they would rule the Fatherland by any means necessary. I became a target when my memoir was published in the previous year,” Hitler remembered sourly, “I couldn’t stand the idea of the Fatherland that I helped in saving to become a twisted image of itself. With some help in speeches, I quickly became the leader of the newly formed Progressive-Socialist Party, and eventually we made great strides in many things, but eventually that made me into a target that those monsters couldn’t ignore.” Rory got the feeling that she wouldn’t like what would happen next. “They decided to try to assassinate me… in front of the entire nation… and that signed their death warrants.”

    “That was when what people called ‘Day of Death’ happened,” Egon butted in, “Kaiser Fredrick was rightly fed up at what they attempted to do and gave them an ultimatum: either hand over the conspirators of the assassination or get a Royal Ban. Instead, they decided that a coup was in order… and began a day-long rebellion against the Kaiser and Germany itself. The Nationale Reaktionspartei’s militants fought across Germany but was crushed by the army and marines. The few of the NRP’s leaders that survived got the death penalty and executed and the party and those like it were permanently banned by royal decree.”

    “I was the man that influenced Kaiser Fredrick in going through with that ban,” Hitler stated flatly, “I had seen what they did to those of the Jewish Quarter. The mangled bodies of Jews scattered across the streets, the bodies of raped Jewish women, the children hanging from ceilings and streetlamps… I yelled at the Kaiser to never let those monsters to have a voice ever again. I even threatened to pull a coup on him if he didn’t… but he just sat there, laughing.” Rory’s eyes widened to comical size as Adolf remembered. “He told me that I had guts to say that in front of him… and that he was convinced that if such people were able to foster such conviction in the various parties and the military, then he had no choice than to ban them… although he stated that I was the first to tell it to his face but warned me about my temper.”

    “Sir… I…” Egon started, trying to comprehend what Hitler had said… but Hitler stopped him from speaking further.

    “I vividly remember the sacrifices that the Jews made during the Great War of Resistance Egon,” Hitler answered, “… and I would not allow them to be in vain.” The very atmosphere started to become deathly cold, sending shivers down Rory’s spine. “I will not allow the sacrifices we’ve made be for nothing. I will not see all that we have worked for turned to ash. If my life is the price I shall pay to ensure that Germany prospers, then so be it.” Rory was now starting to get scared, as she was seeing a conviction that bordered on a cultist’s.

    “Sir,” Egon exclaimed, “You’re scaring Rory half to death!” Hitler then looked at Rory, seeing the fear develop in her face.

    “I…” Hitler started but failed to continue. He just sat there, scared of what he had done.

    “Now you’ve done it,” Adolf Senior commented, “You’ve got Hitler worked up again and had him realize it through Egon. Those two act like an old couple in ways that would have gotten them into immense trouble in our day… but here that doesn’t matter. They’ve always been said to be practically made for each other back in the Great War of Resistance, and now I can understand why.” That was when Rory heard Itami and Centurion Neumann yelling at the top of their lungs.

    “Rory!” Itami exclaimed, “You are supposed to stay next to us!” Rory simply rolled her eyes in annoyance Itami continued. “Have you ever thought what will happen if something were to happen? This isn’t like the Empire, you can’t simply wave your statue as an Apostle like it’s some sort of immunity.” Itami then frowned. “If you go galivanting around and doing whatever you felt like, I’m going to be the poor sap that gets in trouble.”

    “Itami, chill a bit. We’re in one of the most sensor-dense locations on the entire planet,” Centurion Neumann commented as he tried to calm Itami down, “See, she’s… oh hey Great Grandpa Adolf.” Itami looked at Centurion Neumann like he was verifiably insane.

    “Neumann-san, you’re starting to sound like my mother,” Itami replied in a worried tone, “Are you sure that you aren’t clinically insane?” Centurion Neumann looked at Itami like he was a racist bigot… before he quickly remembered that Itami wasn’t from this world and sighed.

    That was when Rory exploded in anger. “Itami!” Rory yelled in Saderian in a tone reminiscent of an angry god, “You are to apologize to Centurion Neumann this instant or I will kill you where you stand!” Itami was shocked -and deathly afraid- at Rory who was acting in a way he never saw before. “Do you know who you are insulting Sir Itami? Do you!?! Who you are insulting is someone that you never insult if you value your life in this life and the next! Someone that is rare even by our standards! One of the few things we Apostles respect are Shamans, and you have made a grave insult to one! Even Emory doesn’t mark a shaman with madness!” That was when Rory transformed into her ‘adult’ body. A very well endowed and well-muscled body. “I can interact with spirits as well, and what I’ve seen and heard here is more than enough to prove that he is a Shaman!”

    “But.. but..” Itami mumbled as his body started to freeze with fear. The others had just arrived and everyone, but Leo, were floored at what was happening before them.

    Apologize!” Rory ordered, “NOW!” Leo knew what was happening at that moment, Itami had to gravely insult a shaman, which is usually the last thing one can do in their time with the living. All Apostles, no matter who their patron god was, gave their respect to shamans… which is usually more than what the Apostles usually do with mortals. Rory is especially strict on giving shamans respect, given that a good six centuries ago she was saved by a shaman in a particularly nasty bit of business with a necromancer.

    “Rory,” Centurion Neumann said in an authoritative tone, “you apologize to Itami.” Then Centurion Neumann’s voice morphed into legion and his eyes turned a dark blood red. “Now.” Rory now felt absolute dread going up and down her spine… as the last word that came out of Centurion Neumann’s mouth was not something a Shaman can do. If Centurion Neumann is what Rory (now) fears… then nothing but death itself can stop him. Nothing.

    “… but Centurion Neumann, he…” Rory stammered as she tried to explain to Centurion Neumann why she was being so strict.

    But nothing, Rory,” Centurion Neumann flatly stated, stomping out Rory’s chance to explain herself, “Leutnant Itami didn’t know that he insulted me. He doesn’t have the context and understanding necessary to know that he was insulting me. I am willing to let it slide, but apparently you aren’t.” Centurion Neumann’s colleges at that point were trying to explain to everyone else what is going on while everyone else were in a state of muted panic on what is going on.

    “But Centurion,” Rory said as she found her courage, “I am forcing Itami to apologize because what you are is something that I give my uttermost respect to. The few shamans that I have met in my travels were all nice people, and even one of them was powerful enough to help me with a necromancer over six centuries ago, saving me in the process and…” Yet, apparently, Centurion Neumann was having none of it.

    That still doesn’t excuse what you have done,” Centurion Neumann verbally slammed, “Once Itami has the proper context and understanding, he will apologize. If he apologizes now, it won’t be sincere, it will be empty.” Rory shuddered as Centurion Neumann’s eyes stared into hers, acting -if not actually- like if they were looking into her very soul. “Now, from what Itami has implicated, his mother might be a Speaker of Spirits, but that can’t be confirmed until Wolfenstein takes a good look at Itami’s case. Now, apologize.” Rory had to relent, as she started to see every spirit in the ‘memorial park’ staring at her in anger… although Hitler, Adolf Senior, and Egon were trying to explain the context of what happened to the assembled spirits.

    “I…” Itami spoke up, steeling himself for his own verbal onslaught that he is about to give, “You’re right Captain Neumann, I don’t understand what is going on. I don’t know the context of what is happening. What I do know is that the mere fact that I implied that you are insane has shown a side of Rory that I haven’t seen before. A very demanding side that I doubt many have seen back in the Empire.” Rory looked at Itami in surprise. “And you captain, I have seen a side that few people have seen before and you have caused Rory to sit down and shut up… which I believe no one has been able to do before. Yet I can see where Rory is coming from. I have saved lives in my time in the military, and they all give me as much respect as they could give me. Now we are going to stay here until we all apologize to each other or we miss the inquiry. Your choice.”

    Everyone stood there, stunned, at Itami’s outburst. This was a side of the otaku officer that no one had seen. Rory felt, aroused, from the sight of Itami showing his dominant side… and that made her attraction to him increase significantly.

    That was when Centurion Neumann started laughing.

    “Now that is the steel I felt within you Itami!” Centurion Neumann laughed out loud, “I haven’t seen anyone get verbally smacked down that hard since I started to train with Big Boss!” Centurion Neuman’s and Itami’s comrades looked at each other like Centurion Neumann was howling mad. “Now, as an apology I’m going to give you two an all-you-can-eat buffet!”

    Itami and Rory simply stared… their brains trying to comprehend what just happened.

    Itami was the first one to shake himself back to reality. “Alright then,” Itami chuckled, “I’ll hold you up to that… now let’s go before we miss out on that buffet!” Everyone but the Itami, Rory, and Centurion Neumann simply stared in confusion. “What are you guys waiting for? We’ve got an all you can eat buffet to get to!” Itami quickly started jogging towards the long horseless carriage.

    Everyone else quickly followed suit…

    Combined Chamber of the Reichstag, Berlin; 15:30 Hours local time

    Itami frowned as he and the entourage entered the main chamber of the alternate Reichstag. The chamber is packed as news crews readied their cameras while those who wanted to be physically see the proceedings sat in the banisters that are now filled to the brim. From what Itami could tell, this Imperial Germany adopted a tricameral legislative body. One was clearly the various noble families, given their ware, and stood on the left-most side of the chamber. Then there is a series of politicians that looked like they were elected who sat in the center of the chamber, they came in two by two and Richards commented that they acted like the US Senate. Then there was the large crowd that filled the right-most side of the room, Itami quickly lost count after four hundred… which meant that they were like the Diet members and are probably almost as bad in general…

    “All rise!” Chancellor Joseph Steiner ordered, “Kaiserin Sophia the First of the House of Hohenzollern, Chief of State of the Empire of Germany and it’s commonwealths presiding!” That was when a rather regal song started playing as a woman dressed in a mix of something straight out of a fantasy and something modern entered the room with four guards armed with ancient -well, compared to the ones that both the Iron Pact and the JSDF/US coalition are using in Falmart- submachine guns.

    The Kaiserin briskly walked to her seat on an elevated platform in the center of the back wall and stood by her chair while the guards took up positions beside the platform. The song went on for a short while longer before it ended, allowing Kaiserin Sophia to speak.

    “I, Kaiserin Sophia the First, will preside over the Inquiry of the battle that took place on July 19th, 2017 in the lands held by the Holy Empire of Alnus,” Sophia began in a regal tone, “Witnesses include personnel from an alternate reality, soldiers from the Iron Pact now in campaign in those lands, and locals from the Holy Empire of Alnus. This Inquiry has been called, as per protocol for loss of civilian life in combat with Iron Pact soldiers, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chancellor Joseph Steiner.” Itami, his comrades, and the Falmart locals practically held their breath as the Kaiserin looked through the crowd. “You now may take your seats.”

    Everyone simply sat down… and Itami and his comrades simply sighed a sigh of relief.

    “Chancellor, you may begin with the proceedings,” Sophia ordered, “Let us begin with the context of the situation.”

    “Well, here comes the boring part,” Aaron Neumann forewarned in a whisper, “Every Iron Pact inquiry always starts with the situational context to minimize causing improper outrage and political intrigue.” Itami and his comrades raised their eyebrows at Aaron’s warning. An inquiry like this -while it took time to setup- is easy to manipulate to score easy political points back in Itami’s Japan. Here, the context is laid bare for all to see… like US military/security inquiries, just without the Itami’s US’s politics before Mattis became the head of the Coup.

    The several projectors soon showed the combat footage while analysts filled in any blanks that the footage couldn’t fill. It showed things like combat conditions, attack vectors, among other things. In addition to the combat footage there was material analysis from the Fire Dragon’s scales, the breath of the Fire Dragon, to what little of the Fire Dragon’s recorded capabilities was displayed in full. The explanations took an hour to complete, and oddly enough, it answered a few questions that bothered Itami; like how the scales were able to shrug off 55mm HVAP rounds but were able to be penetrated by the Javelin. Itami quickly filed all of this away in his mind while making a note to himself to ask for the analysis… which would come in handy with his own inquiry.

    Several of the politicians in the Diet-side of the room rolled their eyes in contempt at the deluge of information.

    “Who are those politicians that are rolling their eyes in contempt?” Itami whispered to Aaron, wanting to know the political situation in this Germany.

    “Oh, they’re the few seats that the Isolationists managed to scrounge up in the last elections,” Aaron answered in a whisper, “They’re the sort that wants to disband the Iron Pact and pretty much go isolationist. They’re well known to be idiots and their constituencies are made up of geopolitical idiots… so they’ve been continuously elected there. Thing is they’ve been under investigation by the Federal Police for various political and financial fraud, something they’ve been trying to keep out of the spotlight.” Itami sighed and forced himself to not bang his head against the desk. Apparently, no matter what, there are those idiots having some political sway. If these individuals had their way, then they would eliminate the military completely. Thus, Japan would be vulnerable to the many enemies it made over the decades and -pragmatically- would put Itami and many like him out of a job to support their hobbies. It also didn’t surprise Itami that these Isolationists were being investigated… given what had happened back home.

    “Ah,” Itami whispered in understanding, “They sound a lot like the far-left politicians back home.” Itami sighed a bit, knowing who called the inquiry that is going to happen within the next month. “Could you pull a few strings to get the analysis on the Flame Dragon’s scales because that’ll be a lot of help on making sure my inquiry goes smoothly.” Aaron smirked at Itami, understanding his plight.

    “I’ll see what I can do,” Aaron answered, “It’ll probably happen if I get sent over to provide the Pact’s side of the story.” Itami shrugged a little in understanding.

    It was then that the inquiry got to the testimony stage. Itami sighed as this was perhaps almost -if not more so- as tedious as the context setting. Aaron was up first, as he was the overall commander during the battle. Everyone practically started murmuring as he took to the stand, what was being said were intelligible to Itami, but it appeared that Aaron is quite significant to this alternate reality.

    “Hauptmann Neumann,” the Chancellor began, “Describe the events leading up to the subject of this inquiry to the best of your abilities.” Itami sighed, it was going to be one of those inquiries… and prepared for a long inquiry…

    Equestria, Ponyville – Castle of Friendship, Office of Twilight Sparkle; September 25th, 2017

    Twilight Eventide Sparkle -Princess and Goddess of Friendship, current heir to the House of Sparkle-Armor, Bearer of the Element of Magic, Former and most Powerful Student of Celestia, Vanquisher of Tirek, leader of the Elements of Harmony, and -if her ascension didn’t happen- the best (and youngest) prospect for title of Grand Magus of Magic- sighed as she signed yet another piece of paperwork. Right now Twilight felt the hankering for cake -a weakness that her mentor and now-equal Celestia imparted to her during Twilight’s many years as her student and, after her ascension, her instructor of all things Princess related… now that she thought about it, many of Celestia’s students had a weakness of cake including the temperamental Sunset Solus Shimmer- to break not only the doldrums of paperwork (thank Faust for inkwell pens!) but to get rid of all the stress she had been having.

    … and one of the sources of stress -the humans from worlds that weren’t connected to the Mirror-Portal that is now a fixture of Twilight’s new and improved basement-laboratory- is why Twilight had called her friends for this impromptu meeting for. At least, those that haven’t left for a Friendship Quest.

    “So darling,” Rarity Paragon Belle questioned in her impressive approximation of the Canterlot accent, “what has gotten you all riled up today?” The remaining four of Twilight’s friends -and her first ‘special’ student Starlight Shimmer Stormgale- were going to ask that very same question. Starlight grew immensely ever since she was captured by Twilight’s own Royal Guard during the entire Equal Town fiasco… but trust had to be earned both in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of Twilight’s cadre of friends, thus her status as ‘special student’. “I mean, darling, it couldn’t be the paperwork…”

    “While Ah would rarely agree with Rarity here,” Applejack Chartreuse Apple said in her very thick Southern Equestrian-Big Macintosh Mountain accent, “Y’all know that things have been rather hectic around here ever since the slaves from that Imperial slave ship shipwrecked by Manehattan was sent here.” Everyone nodded in understanding, three months back a Holy Empire of Alnus slave ship heading towards the only Imperial ‘colony’ on the Equestrian continent shipwrecked just south of Manehattan. The slavers were quickly apprehended and put to work in the mana crystal mines in the Canterlot Mountains while the slaves were freed… which has landed Ponyville in its current situation. “Now trying to open up has been hard for all of us, even when we have to juggle not only our duties to the Map but our own lives as well.”

    “It is rather overwhelming,” Fluttershy Stormwing commented in her new shy-but-steely tone, “Although some of the humans I’ve been working with have been a great help… it is just too much. What they have suffered for six months in the hands of the Empire had created such deep scars in their minds…” Everyone else sighed at that comment. The treatment for non-Imperial slaves -or enslaved Imperials for crimes such as high treason or breaking certain by-laws of enslavement given what Luna’s intelligence network had uncovered- is simply horrendous by any measure. ‘Training’ specifically designed to break the will and hope of those in bondage, so they do anything they want -with few fields foregoing the training only because of practicality and need- and do whatever job they’ve been assigned. These slaves were only fortunate enough that they only got ‘light training’ before being shipped out to the Imperial colony on the continent Equestria resides on.

    “Ah can’t argue with that,” Applejack commented, “They’ve been doing quite well all considerin’. Even Granny Smith is a bit surprised at the better condition of the farm since they’ve arrived…” Applejack sighed a little. “… but she is worried that their condition isn’t improvin’. Whenever she went out to see how they’re doin’ work, they seem a little broken in the noggin’… much like them Warrior Bunnies that washed ashore in that shipwreck just a few months after you’ve became a princess Twili.” Twilight sighed and frowned, remembering one of her first duties as Princess of Equestria. A large Imperial slave ship was shipwrecked near Neighton, loaded to the brim with a species known as the ‘Warrior Bunnies’. Despite the doctors on-site and setting up a field hospital, a good third of them died of their injuries. The head slavers were quickly turned into stone by an enraged Celestia and Luna while the crew was sent to the mana crystal mines for the next two decades. A sixth would commit suicide thanks to the horrors they’ve witnessed, another sixth would be forever institutionalized in the Grand Mental Hospital of Canterlot to try to rehabilitate them with little success, the rest would be effectively shut-ins, although Twilight and her friends have been slowly getting them out of their self-imposed shells.

    “They’re pretty good petty good ponies,” Sunset Solus Shimmer sighed, “Especially since one of them was able to relate to Starlight and help her improve leaps and bounds.” Twilight raised an eyebrow at that, as now a question she had been developing with Starlight had been answered. “The biggest problem is that they’re still hurting, even if they don’t know it yet.” Everyone could at least agree on that.

    “Yeah… they’re pretty awesome,” Rainbow Dash Blitzer commented in a somber tone with her characteristic hybrid of Big Macintosh Mountain and Cloudsdale accents, “but I’ve seen it with the army side of the Wonderbolts whenever they raid some bandit or slaver camp. Some of them have it so bad that Spitfire had taken them off the active roster.” “Sometimes permanently,” Rainbow thought to herself, leaving it unsaid. “Tartus, the doctors within these non-Imperial human ranks been helping Scoots with getting her to be able to fly! I haven’t seen Scoots so happy since… ever.” Most of the doctor-speak went over Rainbow’s head, but from what she could understand, Scootaloo’s body had been stunted in various ways but if they had a specific family of algae and the ability to process it -or a supply of ‘biological rejuvenators’ from their home-, they can kickstart it, so she would be on her original low-end and not a runt.

    “Really?” Rarity asked in an astonished tone, “They must be pretty good if they can do something like that… but focus Rainbow, we need to find ways to get these rather cultured humans to get out of their shell and actually heal instead of simply stay in their shells and bottle their horrors up.” Rarity pondered for a moment before getting an idea. “Doctor Wolf and Doctor Sound Mind have their practice in-town, and they’ve been amazing at helping all of us with our own problems. Perhaps we can have them help us with this. They did convince most of those Warrior Bunnies that were on the fence that it wasn’t worth it.” Everyone pondered for a moment at what Rarity was saying, when Doctor James Wolf and Doctor Sound Mentat Mind came to Ponyville before Twilight’s ascension, they vastly improved the relationships between the Elements -and Spike- and prevented a few problems from arising. Their biggest claim to fame is their ability to persuade the suicidal Warrior Bunnies to not commit suicide even if it took a lot of work on their part.

    “That… sounds like a good idea,” Twilight admitted, “… but that still runs into the problem that we need to get them out of their shells more.” Twilight frowned slightly as she tried to rake up something to help them. Ideas kept flashing in her head, all to subtly push them towards getting the help they need…

    “Well, there is that celebration that they’ve been preparing for the last few days,” Rainbow suggested, “… maybe we can participate and try to coax a few to get the ball rolling?” The last part was uncharacteristically shy and downtrodden for the normally boastful mare of incredible self-esteem… even though the idea is perhaps the smartest one so far. “I mean… it’s worth a shot…”

    “No need to act like Fluttershy Rainbow,” Applejack congratulated, “Ah may hate the slight underhoofenness that your idea has, but it is probably the best shot we’ve got to get them to open up.” Everyone nodded in agreement with that statement. “However, we might sour things if we try it too hard… we might have to contact Dr. Wolf and Sound Mind about setting everything up before we do anything.”

    “That’s… a pretty good idea Rainbow,” Starlight Shimmer complemented meekly, “it’s far better than anything I could have come up with…” Starlight Shimmer had been reprimanded for her tendency to force magic to solve her problems which have gotten her into a lot of trouble over the better part of a year since the Equal Town fiasco and her new status as a ‘special’ student of Twilight Sparkle. She was getting better, especially with a non-Imperial human by the name of Wilhelm Asperger.

    “Don’t fret sugar cube,” Applejack said in an apologetic tone, “You’re working on it and that is all that matters.” Then Applejack tapped her chin. “It isn’t like we are all Princesses. There was the one time that Ah out stubborn’d a mule…” Applejack then took Starlight Shimmer aside to recount one of her more embarrassing moments.

    That was when one of Twilight’s guards entered the room.

    “Princess Sparkle,” a pegasus guard said as she entered the office, “The leader of the non-Imperial humans has sent me to come get you for the coming festivities.” The guard in question is part of Twilight’s Sodality Guard… and the newest of Equestria’s Royal Guard units. Right now, Twilight hasn’t designed a proper uniform for them so most of them simply have their original armor painted in Twilight’s colors. This is partially because Twilight made many enemies as a student of Celestia and as the youngest Princess, thus Celestia and Luna giving her a company of their guards each to build her own Royal Guard to protect her. “From what I can tell, the leader wants you to precede over the festivities as you authorized it and it would be perfect to engage in a cultural exchange.”

    Twilight raised an eyebrow at this, usually for foreign festivities the planners would simply ask for permission from the Princesses (or in this case, herself) and the interaction pretty much stops there. Yet, they have asked for her to precede over the festivities… unusual in of itself. “Alright then,” Twilight answered, “I’ll just finish up with the meeting I’m having with my friends and student and I’ll be right out.”

    “Understood Princess,” the guard said, “I’ll ensure that the leader knows what is happening.” And with that, the guard left as she closed the door.

    “Well… that was unexpected sugercube,” Applejack commented as she brought Starlight to her seat, “but unless Ah’m mistaken, we’ve been given an opportunity. A very obvious and most opportune opportunity that we’ve been saddled with.” Everyone in the room raised an eyebrow at Applejack’s line of thought. “From what they’ve told me and my family, these celebrations are quite similar to a celebration from Germania before Equestrian Unification. Between the immense amounts of alcohol, cider, food, and happiness-inducin’ activities, they’ll be likely to open up on gettin’ help.”

    “We’ll discuss this further later,” Twilight stated as she got up, “Right now I’ve got a celebration to preside and I can’t keep them.” The others stayed in the office, trying to work on a surefire plan to get at least a few of them the help they needed. “I hope that things don’t go too badly like last time…”

    Ponyville Fairgrounds, 11:30 Hours

    Twilight sighed as she and her protective entourage flew into the Ponyville Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds were packed with Warrior Bunnies, ponies, the non-Imperial humans, and even the diplomatic envoys -and their families- of the Yaks, Griffons, and even the Hissho… apparently Celestia let it slip that this celebration was going to happen, and the various diplomatic envoys decided to come down and take a gander…

    “Ah, my faithful student,” said a voice that Twilight instantly recognized, Twilight immediately turned around and saw Princess Celestia in her regal festive garments with Princess Luna close behind, “It has been too long that we’ve seen each other!” Celestia smiled as she continued. “Sadly, Candance couldn’t make it due to her duties as Queen of the Crystal Empire… but she sends her regards.” Twilight dropped all sense of dignity and quickly ran up to Celestia and hugged her and Luna.

    “Oh, Princess Celestia!” Twilight exclaimed as she hugged her former mentor and her sister, “It has been too long!” It was too long since Twilight had met her mentor and her sister in an informal setting -or as close as one could get to an informal setting considering the circumstances- just to talk and be friends. “I’ve missed our time together so much!” Celestia simply smiled at Twilight while Luna made a faint daw to herself at the sight.

    “Now, now… I keep telling you we’re equals now,” Celestia playfully reminded Twilight, “you don’t need to call me Princess all the time.” Twilight blushed lightly at the reminder, cursing her excitement causing her to go back to her old habits. “I hope we can see the festivities in all their glory soon because this is shaping up to be something else.”

    “Why yes, dear sister,” Luna chuckled, “these festivities are going to be GLORIOUS!” Everyone looked at Luna after she said the last part in the in/famous (depending on how you look at it) Royal Canterlot Voice. Luna quickly became embarrassed at the outburst, despite her having a handle on it since her return. “This ‘Oktoberfest’ sounds like the old festivals that we used to partake in when we first founded Equestria! Great feasts of harmony, bounty, and thanks with our subjects!” Celestia had fond memories about those days… but her face mentally soured as she also remembered the assholes that forced the disbandment of these great festivals. Celestia wasn’t happy when she found out that they pulled that behind her back and it helped Luna along becoming Nightmare Moon.

    “I still remember those days like they were yesterday Luna,” Celestia chuckled right back, “They’re one of the few times that we celebrated like family with our subjects.”

    “Although the imbecile that spiked your drink with that hallucinogenic that one time had to ruin it!” Luna complained, “I had to do your duties for a month while trying to keep you from harming yourself and our subjects!” Celestia sighed a little, remembering that month of pure strangeness… she never found the perpetrator, nor did Luna.

    “Prinzessinnen, please excuse this interruption into your nostalgia but we’re ready,” a human male said in a polite tone, “We’ll be starting the march as soon as you meet up with the organizer.” The three assembled princesses looked at the man with a mix of interest and confusion. The man quickly picked up on this. “Ah, the opening ceremony always starts with a march, Prinzessinnen. It also serves to get everyone to their seats before the main party starts.” With a small contemplative ‘ah’, the three princesses took flight and flew to the man that organized the festivities. “I am not going to get used to that…”

    Band Assembly Area, a few minutes later

    “Is everything ready to go?” asked Nikolaus Rodenberg as the band made their final preparations. Nikolaus had to admit, the Equestrians can make damn fine instruments -hell they have accordions in roughly a mix of magi-tech industrial revolution and Enlightenment- and the musicians that the Empire enslaved were competent in the music that he was going to have them do today.

    “Yes sir, all we’re waiting is for the Prinzessinnen to arrive and we’ll start the festivities,” a woman -one of Nikolaus’s leunants in this endeavor by the name of Samantha Reeds- answered, “we’ve sent Richards to get them… and are they flying?” Nikolaus quickly looked up into the sky and saw the three prinzessinnen flying towards them.

    “… you know what?” Nikolaus commented in awe, “I think I’ll never get used to the fact that they can fly.” Samantha simply nodded in agreement. “Alright then, Richards has gotten the Prinzessinnen to the front of the march… everyone make sure everything is ready!” The musicians quickly made their final adjustments and quickly assembled into formation.

    “Well, they’re quick,” Prinzessin Luna commented as she landed, “Now Organizer, where are we supposed to be when this festival begins?” Nikolaus simply sighed as a great weight lifted off his shoulders -not as great as keeping everyone that got enslaved by the Empire still alive but still a great weight- and spirited itself away.

    “You’ll be with the banner bearer, that would be me, and lead the band into the main tent,” Nikolaus answered, “Since this is also your first Oktoberfest celebration, you’ve don’t really have to have a great speech prepared or anything… unless you want to.” The three Prinzessinnen sighed in relief.

    “That is wonderful!” Celestia said with a great smile, “I thought this would be making a speech and made one!” Celestia quickly pulled a small scroll out of her left breast pocket. “Most foreign festivities I’ve been in had that requirement.” Twilight and Luna looked a mite embarrassed at the situation and produced their own scrolls, likely speeches, as well.

    “If you want to, I really can’t stop you,” Nikolaus emphasized, “but I’m saying that since it’s literally your first Oktoberfest and you’re the patrons of said Oktoberfest, you don’t have to make a grand speech unless you want to.” Celestia quickly cast a minor flame spell, turning her speech into ash.

    “I was never the one for grand speeches anyway!” Celestia joyfully said while Luna and Twilight rolled their eyes a little at Celestia’s antics, “Now, we should start before the crowds get restless!” Nikolaus couldn’t really argue with that and so he signaled the band to begin the march.

    --

    Now Twilight had been in many festivals in her time -comes with the territory of being a daughter in the minor noble (although if you ask some of the noble families like a significant portion of the Blueblood family, faux noble and barely a step up from commoners) family of Sparkle-Armor and the most powerful student of Celestia to date- but this Oktoberfest had to take the metaphorical cake. The ‘march’ isn’t anything like she had listened to, as it was far too festive to be like the marches she had listened and gotten used to over the years. The band had been playing for the last three minutes as everyone poured into the tent and grabbed seats while beer-ponies in somewhat risqué -apparently no matter how much work Rarity (despite being a practical goddess of fashion) put into the outfits, some ponies simply make them risqué- outfits passed the largest glasses of beer she had ever seen.

    The music soon ended, and everyone waited impatiently to start the festival in earnest. Nikolaus simply nodded and began his speech.

    “Welcome one and all to the first Equestrian Oktoberfest!” Nikolaus announced through the mana-microphone, “I hope everyone is ready to have a good time because this is going to metaphorically blow your mind. The alcohol and food are ready, the games and activities prepared, and the musicians have a wide selection of music both traditional and modern to choose from. Before we start, I’ll ask the Princesses if they have anything to say before we begin.” Twilight quickly ceased the indicative and raised her hand. Nikolaus simply nodded and allowed her the use of the microphone.

    “The humans here today came to me a few weeks ago, asking me if they could set up for this festival,” Twilight began, “I readily agreed, my thirst for knowledge begging me to allow it. While everything was being set up, I noticed something else… this was also something to help them heal from the injustices and horrors that they suffered from the Holy Empire of Alnus.” The humans in the crowd murmured in confusion. “I hope this little slice of home will help you on the road to recovery. As the Princess that authorized this festival, I decree that the First Equestrian Oktoberfest begins now!” Everyone in the tent roared in applause and the band began playing a new song.

    “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”

    “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”

    Twilight simply stood there as the band played and all the humans were singing along.

    “Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen!”

    “Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen mit der erste und der zweiten Hypothek!”

    Her right hoof started tapping as the song continued. Magical music is a recognized field of magic for centuries within Equestria and the nations on the northern and southern continents. This is partially why the Empire failed in their conquests, as the Equestrian Army’s field music bands can utilize music as numerous support spells. Here, while there is no magic involved, another aspect of the magical aspects of music is being played out.

    “Ja, wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen.”

    “Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen mit der erste und der zweiten Hypothek.”

    Twilight started drinking, deciding to be in on the fun… figuring out that this might just work out…
     
  22. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

    Joined:
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    Here is a prototype for you guys to enjoy...
    (_____________________)

    Never interrupt an enemy while he is making a mistake.
    -Commonly attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte since 1836
    Artyom, Russia – Gate Earth; September 30th, 2017 – 04:30 Hours Local Time


    Captain Nikolai Malashenko frowned as he walked through the town of Artyom. To see the people so depressed and so downtrodden… so hooked on narcotics and drink that they would throw their lives away to end it all… to see families destroyed

    It was too much for him to bear. He and his comrades have been trying to give many people here the one thing they truly needed: hope. Hope for a future. Hope for family. Hope to live. It is without that hope that humanity’s life is short and brutal. It is hope that governments create to make people’s lives mean something.

    … yet, here, they assume that there is no hope. A situation that the Union will change.

    “Sir?” Nikolai’s second in command -one Korneyev Yaroslav Vladimirovich, Slava to his friends- asked as he jogged towards Nikolai, “What’s wrong?” Nikolai simply looked around with sadness miring his face.

    Everything,” Nikolai answered in a distasteful tone, “Everything and then some.” Nikolai looked at a family whose vehicle just broken down. “Our glorious Premier’s counterpart here has drained all the people’s hope. Made them effectively lose their will to live.” That was when Nikolai directed Vladimirovich to look at the family. “Slava, call in my command vehicle and have them report to my position as soon as they’re able…”

    “Understood captain!” Yaroslav answered, “This is Yaroslav, captain wants his BTR-90K to our position immediately!” Yaroslav heard complaints on the other end of the radio. “I don’t fucking care if your orders are to say at camp! If Nikolai wants to help civilians, not even men like Lenin or divines like God can stop him!” Yaroslav heard even more complaints about operational security when the conversation was interrupted.

    “This is Sokol One,” Nikolai’s CO stated over the radio, “What is the problem here?”

    “Sorry Colonel Orlovsky,” Yaroslav apologized, “Captain Malashenko has asked me to get his command vehicle to help out some civilians whose car broke down. The lieutenant has been arguing about operational security and orders…” Orlovsky coughed to silence everyone on the line.

    “This is Sokol One, I’m giving permission for Malashenko to use his vehicle to help civilians. However, I do not want to hear that arguments about operational security and helping the civilians happening on any channel,” Colonel Orlovsky ordered, “We have been given permission to help the civilians any way we can by our Premier. I do not want to hear that an argument like this happens again. Sokol One out.”

    “This Dimitri, we’re on our way. ETA: three minutes.”

    “Thank you, Colonel,” Yaroslav complemented, “We’ll try to help the civilians as much as we can. Sokol Six-One, out.” That was when Yaroslav ran up to Nikolai. “Captain, our command vehicle will arrive in three minutes.”

    “Understood Slava,” Nikolai thanked before he turned to the civilians, “Don’t worry, we’ll get you home in a few minutes.” Nikolai frowned at the fear that the small family of four were showing, especially the two children. “Why are you so afraid little ones?”

    “Why are you helping us?” the youngest said. That question wounded Nikolai… had the alternate version of their Premier turned everyone so cynical to the point that they assume that a genuinely helpful hand is to gain a favor of some kind?

    “Because little ones,” Nikolai answered with a smile, “it is the right thing to do.” The family’s faces didn’t change much. “You know, you remind me of my first born, Polya. Whenever she was sad or angry she would be so cynical of things… but when she is happy, she could brighten up the entire room with just her beautiful smile…”

    The conversation that the two soldiers and the family had went on for three minutes, and within those three minutes everyone got to know each other. Yaroslav and Nikolai told stories of their lives both at home and abroad as part of his world’s UN Peacekeeper Corps while the family told them of what few happy memories that they had. That was when the BTR-90K rolled up.

    “Captain!” the driver, Dimitri, exclaimed in joy, “Telling these civies about home?”

    “Da, lieutenant,” Nikolai answered with a hearty laugh, “I see that you’ve got the car retrieval kit too!” The back of the BTR-90K had a hitch for the various cars in the Soviet arsenal.

    “I thought it might be prudent that we do more than simply get them home Captain,” Dimitri answered, “We’ve also got Boris on board too!” Nikolai’s eyes widened a bit, Boris is one of the best mechanics in Nikolai’s unit. If he can’t find the problem, then practically no one can.

    “That is taking the initiative Dimitri!” Nikolai chuckled, “Now let’s get these civilians and their vehicle home and see why their vehicle broke down.” Most of the reduced crew of the BTR-90 quickly jumped out and started getting everything ready as Yaroslav and Nikolai got the civilians aboard the BTR. That was when the hairs on the back of Nikolai’s neck started to stand up.

    “Captain?” Yaroslav asked inquisitively.

    “We better keep our wits about Slava,” Nikolai ordered, “I’ve got a feeling that we’ve wrangled ourselves into something.” Nikolai frowned as he looked around the street. “It might be nothing, but we better prepare if it isn’t. Get Lydia to arm the cannon, coax, and grenade launcher just in case.”

    “Understood Captain,” Yaroslav stated in understanding as he entered the BTR.

    “Is the vehicle ready?” Nikolai asked politely.

    “Yes captain!” Boris answered, “We’re ready to move at any time!”

    Nikolai smiled, “Good, let’s get these civilians home.” Everyone acknowledged and entered the BTR…
    A few minutes later, in the residential block of Artyom


    “Nice little apartment,” Nikolai commented as he helped the family move what few groceries into their apartment, “Reminds me of my great uncle’s when he was still alive.”

    “It might not be much, but it is home,” the father -a former intelligence archivist by the name of Andreyushkin Nikodim Mikhailovich- answered as he put the groceries down on the kitchen counter, “I inherited it from my father, god bless his soul, and we’ve managed.” Everything has been going quite smoothly, and the family had opened up on the way to their apartment, telling their own stories about their lives.

    “That’s good,” Nikolai complemented, “Family is one of the few things that hope brings, in my experience.” Nikolai’s face was soon mired in a frown. “I remember when my grandfather Alexandr died. He had only seen my firstborn for the first time only the day before… and simply collapsed at the family home in Moscow. We discovered that he died happy, as he got to see little Polya and held her in his arms. He left my little brother Urvan with the family home while I inherited the family cabin outside of Vladivostok…” That was when they both heard gunfire. “What is happening?”

    “Looks like this world’s Spetznaz!” was the reply over the radio, “Probable target is likely the family we’ve just helped.”

    Nikodim cursed loudly as he opened a panel in the nearby wall. “I knew that Putin wouldn’t let me live,” Nikodim cursed as he loaded one of the AK-74u carbines he hid in the hidden gun rack and passed it to Nikolai, “I left the service to be with my family and he allowed me after doing one final mission, looks like he’s making sure that there are no loose ends.”

    “Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Nikolai complained as he readied his AK-74u, “The more I hear about your Vladimir Putin, the more I want him dead.” Nikolai quickly got to his radio. “Sokol 1, this is Sokol 6-1: we’re being attacked by enemy Spetznaz, we need support over!”

    “This is Sokol 1, say again.”

    “Sokol 6-1 to Sokol 1: we’re being attacked by enemy Spetznaz. Probable target is the civilians we’ve helped. Need immediate backup!” Nikolai practically screamed into his radio as a few bullets whizzed by, “Make that confirmed target being the civilians we’ve helped!”

    “Understood Sokol 6-1. Reinforcements are on the way. Lieutenant Romanov will be arriving shortly with his airborne infantry.”

    “Thank god!” Nikolai praised in relief, “It’s dependable Romanov coming to save us!” Nikolai had worked with Lieutenant Demian Romanov before, worked hard and played harder. Known to be incredibly efficient while prepared for the worst-case scenario. “Just hope that physics will allow him to do so…”
    ----------
    “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” Han Bo cursed as he and his three-man group of guards and assistants grabbed their combat gear, “How did they find out about us I’ll never know…” Han Bo was assigned by his superior to ‘test the waters’ with one of Putin’s special intelligence archivists. All he had to do was set things up for his escape into China and then sent to America where a joint US-Chinese debriefing would take place. Yet Putin’s personal attack dogs within the Spetznaz have now started to attack the building they’re in.
    “Sir, those unknown communists are opening fire,” one of the bodyguards said, “What should we do?” Han Bo frowned, knowing that this is a delicate situation. Orders were to not reveal themselves to the unknown communists, but on the other hand the Spetznaz have already moved in for the kill on their VIP and his family…

    “We’ll help them,” Han Bo ordered, “If we stay quiet, we might get caught in the crossfire or lose our only chance to get into the full extent of Operation Deep Fifty. We need that information, and we can’t get it from a body bag.” The bodyguards were pensive, as their superior is right. You couldn’t get information from a body bag… and this had been the most solid lead on Operation Deep Fifty that they had. A dozen operatives and their associates had died to get what little information the rest of the world had on the intelligence operation.

    “Understood sir,” Huang Shuyi answered as she loaded her QCW-05 SMG, “what unit of Spetznaz are we dealing with and plan accordingly.” The other two body guards looked at her like she was slightly unhinged, given how clam she was… but then again, she was assigned to this mission because of her talents and being a rising star within the Ministry of State Security as one of the few who always got the VIP(s) back safely.

    “We’re probably dealing with those from Directorate V,” the third bodyguard -a man by the name of Cai Zhihao– answered, “… and that means we’re going to have a nasty fight on our hands… and our weapons aren’t going to cut it.” Huang Shuyi frowned at that information.

    “Bring everything,” Han Bo ordered, “We’re likely going to have one shot and one shot only to see what Putin had in store for the world, and this man is the key.” Everyone understood what Han Bo was telling them. Whatever this Operation Deep Fifty is, it is so important that Putin would remove anyone that knows about it, even fragments, from existence. Andreyushkin Nikodim Mikhailovich is the key to understanding it all.

    The rest of the impromptu squad quickly loaded everything they could and carefully self-destructed what they couldn’t… then burst into combat.
    ----------
    “Chinese Second Division!” Nikolai heard over the symphony of gunfire, “Friendly! Friendly!”

    Nikolai cursed his luck, he is now dealing with spooks, and not just any spooks but Chinese spooks. If they were anything like their counterparts back home, they’ll be pretty damn impressive. To have them reveal themselves like this meant that Nikodim is far more important than initially believed.

    “Alright, just get over hear and help us!” Nikolai ordered as the four spooks ran towards Nikodim’s apartment as an explosion sounded across the street, “Romanov, where are you!?! They’ve just disabled my command vehicle!” Whatever these Spetznaz were carrying only damaged the drive train of the BTR-90K… but that meant that they’ve got heavy weaponry and what Nikolai had can’t stand up to heavy weaponry for long.

    “Pilot, I don’t care if you have to push the engines beyond the red line, just get us there!” Romanov ordered the pilot on the radio, “I know that’s breaking protocol but if we don’t then we might not have anyone to save!” Nikolai sighed a little at the conversation, knowing about Romanov’s willingness to break protocol to save people. “Nikolai, ETA is currently sixty seconds! Just hang on a little longer.”

    Nikolai winced as a bullet barely missed his helmeted head. “We’ll try to hold out Romanov!” Nikolai exclaimed through the radio, “But whomever these guys are, they’re fucking determined!”

    “Understood Nikolai,” Romanov replied, “We’ll make every attempt to get there as soon as we’re able.” Nikolai sighed as bullets flew around… knowing full well that this would be the longest sixty seconds that he would ever witness.

    Nikolai cursed as he checked the magazine of his local AK, only five bullets left… and there were only five magazines between Nikolai and Nikodim, and Nikolai’s crew weren’t in much better shape either. As even AK-07s had their limits.

    That was when Nikolai heard the humming of a Hind, and the door opening… and what came out surprised Nikolai half to death: Cyber Spetznaz. Four of them jumped from the Hind, fully armed and ready and literally landing either next to or right on top of the enemy Spetznaz. The rest of the squad parkoured their way down, firing as they went.

    There is a common theme to what happens when soldiers with high cyberization fought against those with low or nill cyberization, and that is a massacre. Reaction time is god -or at least one of them- in combat, and the ability to fine tune one’s reaction time to the situation is an invaluable asset. Add in the support of the Hind, and pretty much no one -other than Big Boss, The Boss, or the rising star that is the ‘Junker Boss’, but all three are extreme outliers- will keep fighting. Either they die, surrender, or retreat. In this case? The few that survived managed to retreat, most likely going to tell of their failure and the cause of that failure.

    “Damn,” what appeared to be the leader of the Chinese spooks said, “Those guys really cleaned up those Division V Spetznaz rather well. I’m Han Bo, the leader of the local intelligence cell for the People’s Republic of China’s Second Division.” Nikolai sighed a sigh of relief. “We were here to persuade Nikodim to help us in answering a few things and help smuggle him out before Putin decides to tie up loose ends…”

    “Thanks for the assist, Han Bo,” Nikolai responded suspiciously, he knew that most spooks would have cover names to reduce retaliation by terrorist organizations or to protect the soldiers themselves, “We were just helping Mr. Andreyushkin getting his family home and getting the groceries in. The… wait, did you say Division Vympel?” Han Bo looked at Nikolai in confusion. “As in internal security?” Han Bo simply nodded yes… causing Nikolai to mutter a rather colorful string of curses. “How far does is this madman willing to go?”

    “From what little we’ve seen, he’s of the school of ‘tying up loose ends by any available means’ ever since his failed Active Measures program in the US and Europe,” Han Bo answered, “Various agents and associates have been turning up dead for the last year with various levels of collateral.” Nikolai seethed in rage, good agents and associates are hard to find and cultivate… and to simply kill them because a program went sour is wasteful at best. Add to that this Putin wouldn’t care who got caught in the crossfire… Nikolai quickly got his rage under control as the Hind landed nearby just as two light attack helicopters flew overhead.

    “Nikolai, I leave you for an hour and your luck has you fighting Spetznaz,” Romanov laughed as he exited the Hind, “The Cybers have gone out to ensure that the perimeter is secured… and I see that you had a fight on your hands.” Romanov saw the disabled BTR-90K, its transmission and power plant damaged beyond repair but otherwise still capable. “You were lucky that I was on perimeter patrol when you called in. Anyone else wouldn’t be able to arrive in time.”

    “Thank you, Romanov,” Nikolai cried in elation, “We were almost ready to start throwing rocks at the bastards!” Then Nikolai saw one of his comrades come out of the apartment with the family. “Get Mr. Andreyushkin and his family to base… if Putin wants them dead, we better get them out of the line of fire.” Nikolai’s subordinates quickly got the family into the Hind alongside the wounded. “Romanov, this is Han Bo and his team, they’re from the local Chinese intelligence service. We would have died before you arrived if it weren’t for them.” Romanov quickly shook Han Bo’s hand.

    “Ah, thanks for saving Nikolai, Han Bo,” Romanov chuckled, “It’s been considered a running gag that Nikolai here has some of the schizophrenic luck in the entire military. Now, why are you even here?” Romanov’s visage turned grim as he asked the question, sending a few shivers down the Chinese agents’ spines.

    “Well,” Han Bo replied, “We’ve been getting intelligence about a project called ‘Operation Deep Fifty’, and despite our best efforts the various agencies haven’t had any luck on finding it’s contents, Mr. Andreyushkin is the biggest lead on the project.” Nikolai and Romanov looked at each other like it just gotten worse

    “Nikodim! Get whatever information you’ve stashed during your time as an archivist! The GRU and these fellows from the Second Division would like to know what you’ve got on Putin,” Nikolai asked politely.

    “I was about to do that,” Nikodim answered as he went into his apartment, then came out hauling hard drives and memory sticks.

    “Alright then,” Romanov yawned, “Alfa team, we’re taking a VIP and his family back to base, search and destroy any and all enemy Spetznaz in the area to ensure safe transport.”

    “Understood Lieutenant!”

    “This is so going to cause a headache when we get back to base…” Romanov complained as he got the rest of Nikolai’s crew and the local Chinese intelligence operatives into the Hind…
     
  23. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    So, the first time we are in the Viewpoint of Pina Co Lada, the competent child of the Imperial Family... and ZEPPELINS...



    Over Sadera, Zeppelin Vaterland IV LZ-420 – 800 meters above sea level; October 1st, 2017 – 06:30 Hours

    Kapitän Abraham Einhorn looked before him in the command gondola at the sight he and his crew are now witnessing. The capital of the Holy Empire of Alnus -Sadera- now stood below them. A city of millions bustling about as the zeppelin came overhead, not knowing that an amazing sight would be coming overhead.

    The Zeppelin Vaterland IV had been transferred from long-range cargo and passenger service to the land beyond the Portal -which has been identified as Falmart- for a special mission: to make contact with Equestria and its allies. Apparently -and this had been confirmed by Wolfenstein operatives stationed in Fort Portal- one of Equestria’s rulers can communicate to others via dreams… and that has been something of a godsend for the Iron Pact as there are still a fair number of enslaved individuals still unaccounted for. Apparently due to their hardiness they were going to be sent to the Empire’s colony off their continent before a storm mysteriously caused the ship to run aground near one of their major cities.

    The surviving slavers were quickly imprisoned and sent to do hard labor for at least a decade… and the enslaved Iron Pact citizens were sent to a place called ‘Ponyville’. The less said about those slavers, the better.

    “We’re now above the outskirts of the city of Sadera Kapitän,” Abraham’s XO -one George Wilhelm Wickler- stated. So far, the Vaterland IV had been cruising rather well, and it was at the perfect altitude to make an old fashioned ‘Zeppelin Spectacle’… without the dragon riders trying to wreck the majesty that is a Zeppelin.

    “Very good,” Abraham responded with a smile, “Steady as he goes then.” The command gondola crew responded with ‘jawohl’ as they continued their duties.

    “So… this is what flying in a zeppelin feels like,” the Equestrian Pegasus Comet Tail said in awe as he entered the gondola, “I’ve seen and flew in hot air balloons, but this is something else.” Abraham mentally chuckled, as this sort of reaction is common for those who haven’t ridden or seen a zeppelin before. “Then there was that march that was playing while we were lifting off… and despite that it was a march it was so whimsical and genuinely felt like you were flying in the clouds. Few pieces of music can achieve that feeling…” Thankfully Comet Tail is an expert navigator -despite having training with equipment that is, at best, early industrial- and has been rather helpful with plotting a course to Equestria.

    “I understand,” Abraham laughed, “as far as I know, everyone has that sort of feeling when flying in a zeppelin. The feeling has been studied by psychologists the world over and we still don’t know precisely why that feeling is so prevalent.” Abraham then looked towards George. “Any military response to the spectacle?”

    “None so far, and from what the observation gondolas have been seeing, it looks like everyone is dropping what they’re doing and coming to see the spectacle,” George answered, “I think they’re too shocked to make a military response…”
    -----
    Piña Co Lada frowned at her current situation. Her father has been more focused on petty politics than defending the nation, her brother Diablo is trying to create some grand plan with practically no information to go on, and Zorzal has been on a sex-spree while the Empire is at its darkest hour. Her current situation? Waiting for the remaining elements of her Rose Knights to come to the capital so she can move out and start getting information of these new and powerful foes themselves, and not through Piña’s somewhat shaky network of informants and spies. She could never match the network that her grandfather -Emperor Aulus Antistius Iulianus- or -to a lesser extent- the old information network of her father… but right now it is needed despite its frailty and unreliability.

    “Princess Piña!” Hamilton Uno Ror – Piña’s trusted aide, and despite her small stature a rather good fighter- exclaimed, “The runner from Lady Beefeater’s Cohort has given us more information on the border between the rest of the Empire and the Holy Hills…”

    “Please tell me we have some good news for a change Hamilton?” Piña asked with a scowl on her face, “The last few runners only gave us bad or worse news.” Piña’s informants within the legions were troubling to say the least. So far, the enemy has been holding up on their respective hills while sending raiders of immense power to annihilate entire garrison castra with such ease and surprise that only a handful of legionaries or auxiliaries got out alive.

    “Just more bad news I’m afraid,” Hamilton answered, “The Empire lost another castra on the border sometime last week. The runner had taken the canals to get here within a week.” Piña sighed at the information and took a needle with a colored wax rear tip and put it on her special copy of the map of the continent that she had on the adjoining wall. The red-tipped needles were placed on locations of destroyed castra, the blue-tipped needles where the two invading forces were spotted, and the yellow-tipped needles were rumor, but the runners couldn’t confirm what actually happened.

    “DAMN IT!” Piña cursed loudly as she pounded the table, tin figurines falling over, “How can these invaders be able to do this?” Piña rattled her brain as she tried to figure it out. “This doesn’t make sense!” She quickly battered the desire to start pulling hairs out as she looked at the situation that is being presented to her.

    “Lady Co Lada…” Hamilton spoke up, “the runner that came in has information on the how. We’ve finally got a survivor that is able to tell us what happened to the castra.” Piña was elated to say the least, as the invaders had always struck so hard and fast that there wasn’t much to go on. “From what the survivor can tell us, they always struck at night, came in like ghosts barely visible to sight, used some sort of magic to destroy the castra’s large towers, and that was before the metal dragons started flying in, annihilating everything with great explosive and fire magics unlike anything the world has ever seen outside the Solar Invictus! Most of those who survived were quickly eliminated by these ‘ghost soldiers’ before they vanished without a trace.” Piña’s heart sank as she heard Hamilton summarize the information. That… was bad. The ability to destroy castra with impunity is rare in of itself, only the Diarchs of the Kingdom of Equestria are the only obvious ones with that ability, given that they’re gods… but to have it done so regularly… the implications are disturbing to say the least.

    That was when Piña heard a commotion going outside, and looking away from her maps, she saw people exiting their homes and places of work and looking into the sky.

    Piña quickly exited her study and looked into the sky herself and saw something that she couldn’t comprehend. The shape in the sky was a shape that shared many similarities to an Unician cigar, but in a near-white grey. It was flying higher than any dragon rider was willing to go, at least any sane one. It was also massive… so massive that it made certain, implications on at least one of the invaders’ abilities.

    “Hamilton,” Piña commanded, “we need your best runners, our new rallying point would be the Citadel City of Italica.” She continued to look into the sky in fear. “I fear that’ll be where the invaders will be hitting next…”

    “I understand my lady,” Hamilton answered, “I’ll send my best messengers on this task.” Hamilton quickly left, working on the messages as quickly as she could without garbling the messages…
     
  24. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL: Introduction to Magic Mechanics!
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Alright, I'm going to start explaining magic to everyone. Now on Falmart, Magic has a scientific component to it as we've seen in canon!Gate... but this is to make the spells more efficient. It is this ever increasing drive for efficiency that drives magic researchers ever forward. Now in addition to the canon fields of magic, there are also magic that pertains to music, dance, even martial arts. As such, fighting someone with magical abilities can be incredibly painful as you have to let them start the fight which is bad if they're a trained combat mage. All mages that are born in Falmart are first trained in defensive magics, barriers and shields and the like, to protect themselves from any backfiring that they'll have in their training. These are relatively easy to master and don't take a lot of energy to use if used on an individual person but gets more taxing if they cast a barrier over an area.

    Now in order to use spells, you have to be able to utilize an energy called 'mana'. Mana is a type of energy that is used to cast spells, do rituals, and other things that are considered 'magic'. How efficient you use your mana is heavily dependent on how much one can grasp the underlying mechanisms of not only the universe but mana as well. However, the reason for all this research into mana is that a mage can only draw, store, and expel (i.e. use to cast spells) so much mana at any one time. Now you can train to increase these attributes or utilize mana-infused materials like 'mana crystals' to expand their mana capabilities. That is why many mages in the Empire utilize some sort of staff or wand, they have mana-infused materials either on them (like the crystal shapes on staves) or within them (like wands, which are made up of two comparable mana-infused materials, specifically a magically solvent wood and a core of either mana-metal or mana-crystal for the most part, although cores with unicorn horns or hairs and other magically adept beasts are rarely used) to enhance their mana capabilities.

    Some races can utilize what is known as 'spirit magic', which is the equivalent of magical voodoo. Spirit Magic requires the user to utilize mana to communicate (and only communicate, those who can interact with spirits is a whole different ballgame) to spirits -usually the equivalent of divine underlings- and utilize their services. This has the downside of making the user unable to utilize other methods of magic but with the support of a spirit, can utilize spells that are far more powerful... although to gain consistency out of spirit magic, one has to be in good relations with the spirit(s) whose services they're using. The best 'spirit mages' are those who can keep their spirit(s) happy by paying the mana on time, give them gifts, and the like.

    If an army has a cadre of both good mages and spirit mages... their combat ability triples against an equivalent unit without them. For example, during the revolution that got Emperor Molt into power, he was able to get some of the best mages in Falmart including one Cato El Altestan into his two cohorts. When they fought against his brother Caeso in the field, Cato and his fellow mages helped Molt to absolutely annihilate Caeso's own cohorts in the field, eventually allowing Molt to take Caeso's head and ending the revolution then and there. However, Caeso have effectively caused the mages to distrust the Empire with his mage purges, despite all the good will that Molt had done after he gained power. Cato is known for his incredibly wide array of spells, immense understanding of mana, and immense mana capabilities (which is a mix of innate ability and brutal self-training, training that he gave to all of his apprentices). If Cato is on the warpath, run, run as fast and as far as you can and hope to whatever divine you worship that you're far enough away.

    This is one of the reasons why the Empire failed in their invasion of Equestria, as Equestria had a third of it's population able to utilize spells like their mages (unicorns), a third of it's population able to manipulate the weather with their bare hands via innate magic (Pegasi), or the last third which are capable of incredible feats of strength and durability via innate magic (Earth ponies). Then there is the fact that they discovered how to weave music with magic... which is a game changer in the eyes of the Empire. Instead of having one person being the mana conduit, you can have small group of battle musicians use music to gather, store, and cast mana. Combat Music that can strengthen morale, heal wounds, and more are within the Equestrian arsenal and came as a major shock to the legions sent to Equestria. However, this requires not only those with magic able to play music but their instruments have to be made out of mana-conductive materials, which Equestria has (comparatively) a lot of. It also explains why Equestrians break out into song on occasion, as the magic of the music enhances everyone doing the song and dance.

    Alicorns... well... let's just say there is a reason that alicorns are considered gods by the Empire's soldiers. Get them to take the field is a surefire sign that things are going to suck for whomever got them roused enough to take the field.

    Most necromancy is considered a high crime across the world where Falmart resides. Partially because it gets a lot of afterlife gods really pissed off, partially because it requires an immensely powerful mage to do it, and partially because necromancy loves to cause problems. Period. There are ways to disrupt necromanic magic however, and designing/redesigning cemeteries in certain designs reduce or even outright disperse necromatic magic. Although, there have been accounts that those who practice necromancy did it for good reasons like trying to allow people say goodbye to their loved ones one last time. That is how mages like Quintus Rufrius Adepphius became known by the title 'Final Rester', which is a good thing too given that shamans -what people call those whom can interact (i.e. talk and touch) with spirits- are incredibly rare, even among highly-magical races like Equestrians... and allowing this is pretty much the only exception to the no necromancy rule.
     
    Ocean Sailor and Corvus 501 like this.
  25. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL: Famous People of the Iron Pact Timeline Part 1: Adolf Hitler
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    ... yeah, staring into the historical figures of the Iron Pact timeline and we're kicking things off with what is probably one of the most controversial ones. Much of the Iron Pact's Adolf Hitler was pretty much the same as OTL, had a somewhat sub-par childhood with a father who tried to force Hitler into politics, took a stint at art and got ridiculed and kicked out of art school (the thing is, he is pretty decent as an artist... it's just that he's an architectural artist and not an 'artist artist'), joined the German Army during WW1, had anger issues, felt betrayed in the aftermath of WW1, etc. etc. etc.

    The difference between Adolf in our timeline and the Iron Pact timeline is The Great War of Resistance. When the Kaiser made the call to arms, he went to it's banner with gutso but only to defend the Fatherland.

    Adolf would quickly become the leader of a unit made up of what he would have called 'undesirables' before the Great War of Resistance. German Poles, Old Prussians, every Jew who could fight... and a whole lot more. Adolf's unit would start out in defending the Ruhr Valley, fighting in such a way that would make Paul Emil von Lottow-Vorbeck proud... and a little confused. The fighting would also show Adolf's uncanny ability to know when and when not to gamble. It is was also during the first half of the Great War of Resistance that his unit would have an unusually high fatality rate... but this is just as much as Adolf's willingness to spend 'undesirable' lives as much as those he considered undesirables fighting with such ferocity and conviction that it would eventually steer him from the path he was walking at the time.

    He saw where his path would take him several times during his days as commander of his unit. One would be in a town outside Düsseldorf, where the French massacred Germans and anyone that managed to get into the churches were literally put to the torch... burning them alive. Hitler and his unit didn't get there soon enough and saw it for all it's horror. That town became a rallying cry for the defense of Germany. The second time would be during the lesser-known Siege of Düsseldorf, where the Franco-Anglo forces used nerve gas in several quarters of the city. Then there was the push towards Paris, where he and his unit nearly shot fellow Germans trying to stop a massacre of French civilians. The 'tipping point' for Hitler would be the death of his XO, a German Jew by the name of Egon Spangler who took a sniper's bullet for Hitler. Hitler tired to keep Egon alive the best he could, but Egon would die in his arms... and he would fly into such a righteous rage that it scared everyone half to death. He would find the sniper and then proceed to keep slamming the man's head until it was a fine paste on the wall. When Hitler snapped out of his rage... well... to say he puked his guts out in horror would be an understatement. No one else would see this rage again until the Day of Death in the 1930s when the Nationale Reaktionspartei decided that they wouldn't go down quietly after making an assassination attempt on Hitler during his early political career. No one would blame him after seeing the carnage in the old Jewish Quarter of Berlin, and I do mean no one.

    When he returned to Germany, he met one Walt Disney (whose only 'claim to fame' at the time is that his ambulance had his cartoons slapped on it) in Hamburg, where Walt was waiting for the ship that was supposed to take him home to arrive. The rail system was clogged with traffic, so Hitler decided to go back into art to wait until a train to Berlin was available. Hitler was doing a skyline painting at the time when Walt found him, and saw something that has to be nurtured instead of crushed. So that was when -in very broken German- Walt commented on how good the skyline painting was. This surprised Hitler, who was basically belittled about his artistic talent all his youth, and thanked Walt. Soon enough, they started to discuss their lives and their passion for art... and eventually became an exchange of ideas. Walt and Hitler would become pen pals, helping each other out in writing and occasionally meeting each other to discuss art and how to improve on art.

    Hitler would soon become a staple of politics in 1932 when the Nationale Reaktionspartei (NRP for short) started to cause trouble. He would go to the Progressive-Socialist Party and speak out against the NRP in rather passionate speeches, turning him into a target. It was 1935 that the NRP would attempt an assassination on Hitler, which failed (and starting to show to the rest of the world Hitler's uncanny ability to dodge death) and killed a dozen people in the process. Kaiser Fredrick then gave the NRP an ultimatum: surrender the assassins and the conspiracy or get a Royal Ban. At this point a Royal Ban hadn't been actually implemented and only existed as a political construct as a check on power between the elected government and the monarchy. A Royal Ban is basically the highest ban one can get, and only the Kaiser can lift such a ban... and now it was going to be used against an increasingly hostile political group.

    The NRP decided that they'll pull a coup instead, causing what would become known in infamy as the Day of Death. To say the carnage was bad is to simply understating it. Despite the fact that under the new German constitution, everyone had to have at least five years of militia or federal military service and have to go through a series of test to retain their military certifications every two years, many Jewish, Polish, and other 'undesirable' quarters had massacres unlike the world has ever seen since the Great War of Resistance. This, and the fact that his favorite niece was raped and killed by the NRP, understandably sent Adolf into a righteous flying rage. This wouldn't end well for the perpetrators, as they were quickly found doing the same thing in another quarter of Berlin and were executed. The few survivors quickly told the other NRP insurrectionists what had happened and most of them quickly surrendered fearing that the same fate would happen to them. In the aftermath, most of the surviving insurrectionists would be executed or jailed for the rest of their lives (usually doing some sort of hard labor in the mean time). Hitler's profanity laden speech to Kaiser Fredrick about the fate of the NRP would be later parodied, played straight, hammed up, hammed down, and everything in between in cinema and comics for days to come.

    After that, Hitler would become Chancellor in 1940 after being selected as one of the candidates by the Kaiser himself (the new German constitution had the Kaiser pick candidates via interviews and audits on their political actions, and allowed the people to elect a chancellor out of those candidates) in a landslide election and would stay there until he asked to retire in the early 1950s so he can be with his family more. Hitler, in his time in office, made numerous reforms, which included but aren't limited to: establishing the equivalent of the National Forest Service and numerous national parks in 1941, made a standardized gun registry and weapon certification program that would be later used in the US in early 1942, creating a shell shock treatment program for everyone in mid-1942 and became one of it's first patients, improved education and the access of it, and creating the foundation of the African Commonwealth.

    Adolf Hitler would later pass away peacefully in 1967 with family, just as Apollo 8 circled around the moon...
     
  26. Threadmarks: INFORMATIONAL: Introduction to the Iron Pact's Air Defense
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    It should be noted that the Iron Pact's methods of air defense is an interesting creature, as it is both distributed and solidly structured. Each range bracket has it's own weapon systems, yet are distributed across the field of battle freely while having a solid structure of range brackets, duties, and weapons.

    This distributed air defense is born out of the dark early days of World War 2, where Soviet, French, British, Commune, and their allies' air force had near-air superiority of the battlefields of their respective theaters partially thanks in part to their surprise attacks. When the war started, ground based AA was effectively a mere afterthought, not thought as good enough to stop most attacks let alone down aircraft. This changed as the war progressed, with weapons like the 3cm Flak 45, 5.5cm Flak 42/47, the 7.64cm Mk 33 Automatic, the 7.5cm Flak 46, among others gaining deadly reputations to enemy pilots as something to respect. Even the vaunted IL-4 Shturmovik -the poster boy for 'flying tank'- and their pilots tend to tread lightly when many of these weapons were reported to be in the area. Weapons like the Mk 33 and 7.5cm Flak 46 were particularly infamous, as they can easily kill aircraft at most altitudes with ease thanks to the VT fuse allowing their less-than-stellar rate of fire to be not a complete disadvantage.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    (Top: 3cm Flak 43 AA system on a modified 2cm mount | 2nd: a rare example of the quad-mount variant (called Flakvierling in German) of the 3cm during a maintenance check | 3rd: a rare example of the German 5cm flak gun | Bottom: the 5.5cm Flak 42/47 on a gun trailer)
    After WW2, air defense didn't atrophy, if anything they kept getting stronger as SAM technology started to develop and improve. This allowed far more flexibility to Iron Pact AA units in terms of options that simply having gun-based AA systems wouldn't allow. This 'quiver of options' allows for the flexibility of having a backup when something fails, which happens more often than not in combat, especially as the police actions in Southeast Asia during the mid 1960s to late 1970s, the Indonesian Intervention in 1978, the North African Crisis of 2005 to 2008, the Saudi Incident in 2014, and the Third Israeli Intervention of 1983 showed.

    For short-range engagements, Iron Pact in Falmart utilizes the 'Stinger' MANPAD, the Flak 86/12 5.5cm L100 (replacing the 3cm guns), ATADS style Multi-Role Missiles, and short-range vehicle-borne (SRVB for short) SAM systems. While the infantry squad can carry their own MANPADs, the SHORAD variant of the IFV utilizes the 5.5cm Flak 86/12 and launchers that can utilize MRM missiles or SRVB SAMs. SHORAD vehicles are distributed on a 1:4 basis (i.e. 1 SHORAD for each platoon of mechanized infantry, motorized infantry, armor, or artillery) and have three primary jobs: to scan for enemy air threats within it's area, defend the assets it's attached to, and defend itself. This is made far easier as AHEAD ammunition had been developed to help counter missile attack.

    For mid-range engagements, the Iron Pact in Falmart utilizes 7.5cm automatic cannons of the Flak 67/00 series and MIM-23 HAWK style SAMs. These are deployed separately, mostly due to size constraints, on a modified MBT chassis. While the Flak 67/00 7.5cm cannon can fire on the move, the MIM-23 HAWK style SAMs can't (but doesn't need to be deployed, just hooked up to an air defense network). These systems are for engagements that are outside the immediate platoon-level but are shorter than the operation or theater level.

    While not deployed at this time, the Iron Pact have prepared long range and strategic systems just in case they are needed. These systems consist mostly of modernized/end-of-the-line previous gen SAM systems, but they aren't pushovers.

    These all simply cover the mobile systems, not the static ones...
     
  27. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Now, to explain my mental process of how to portray the Saderans so far:

    Now, the Saderans are descendants of Rome, and Rome was created out of conquest. Rome started out with slow, methodical, calculated conquest. After the Punic Wars, this shifted to quick, ad hoc, and basically 'seat of the pants' conquest. To give an example, it took Rome over a century to push their way to the Bay of Naples. Over a fucking century. Hell, the fight for pleabian rights took the better part of two centuries to fully complete. The precursors of the Saderans marched towards their future capital and basically rebuilt Rome from scratch. Now, the Saderans weren't idiots, they understood the value of slow, methodical, calculated conquest and they also understood the value of getting as large as possible as well. So, the ancient Saderans chose something between the two extremes until they effectively conquered/vassalized the continent.

    The Saderans, like their Roman ancestors, were of the 'if it works, then steal it and use it yourself... while trying to make sure you do not fall for it again' school of military thought. They would take whatever got their asses planted on the ground and use it against their enemies, or at least create a counter. This is why cities like Rondel have been given far more freedom than otherwise (in the case of Rondel -aka 'the City of Mages' and where the Council of Mages reside- they have been given this freedom when Saderans got their asses handed to them by an opposing kingdom and decided to get their own). That is how the Saderans managed to conquer an entire continent and the surrounding islands. Give the Saderans a problem and they'll try to solve it to the best of their ability.

    The thing about the Empire's current situation is that 1) Hardy did a fuck up of biblical (Old Testament grade) proportions, 2) the Empire not receiving word that the Iron Pact and Japan not only were mindbogglingly filthy rich but also outstripped them by orders of magnitude in terms of military power, and 3) the Empire had only recently healed from the Succession War four decades previous. Piña is doing the sensible thing and trying to gain intelligence, information, and consolidate it into a plan of action. Piña and other sensible and intelligent Saderans will be working on a flexible plan of action based on their context -a flawed one to be sure in the grand scheme of things- and what they have for available resources. Sure, Piña and co will get their awe-shock when they first encounter the Iron Pact and the Japanese/American coalition, they will recover and use that new-found information to make even better plans, even if it means that the Empire has to make an unfavorable peace to ensure that the Empire survives to strike back.

    Once Piña and her analysts start combing over the vast histories and seas of information that are beyond both Gates, then things get real interesting. ;)
     
  28. Extras: NOTICE! Requests/Permissions NOTICE!
    Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Ok, I'm still working on the next snippet -pertaining to Azibal and her contubernium- even though it's on it's third revision, but I have some requests and permissions I want you -the readers- to know:

    • Requests:
      • I've been combing the internet for music and while I've found many great pieces, I am putting a request for music, particularly lyrics for historical (and future) events on the Iron Pact side by Iron Pact!Sabaton (yes, they are a thing) in the Power Metal genre.
        • If you make the song itself? Then I'll sit here with my mouth agape at your dedication.
      • Art on the characters is immensely appreciated.
        • Art on character interactions is also appreciated.
        • If you can do equipment as well, then you've got my thanks and will be credited.
    • Permissions:
      • You have my permission to make a TVTrope page of this fic... just send me a link when you set it up!
     
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  29. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Well, we're back to our warrior bunny contubernium (aka squad) doing their job and getting confused, intrigued, and surprised along the way...


    Fort Portal, Primary Entertainment Center; October 1st, 2017 – 12:40 Hours

    Azibal and her contubernium had been in muted awe when Centurion Neumann had gotten them into what the legionaries of the Iron Pact called the ‘Primary Entertainment Center’. Inside, the building had what is called a ‘movie theater’ (which is similar to theaters that she and her contubernium are familiar with, just with moving pictures instead of people), a ‘computer center’ (which confused the netherworld out of Azibal and her contubernium), a ‘gymnasium’ that included what is called an ‘Olympic sized pool’, and things that Azibal and her contubernium didn’t know even existed. Yet, the most awe-inspiring part was when they were introduced to the campus’s library.

    For what amounts to be a frontier castra, the library here is only surpassed by the ones in the larger cities, the capital, or Rondel.

    Azibal and her contubernium had been learning the various languages of that the legionaries of the ‘Iron Pact’, and now they were going to use it to research the Iron Pact itself. What they didn’t count on was the fact that there was just so many books available to them right off the bat… and that they used a classification system that somewhat baffled them. However, that didn’t deter them, and after getting a ‘crash course in the Dewey Decimal System’ the contubernium got to work reading. Learning. Studying.

    Adonyah was nose deep in a book with the title The Analysis of Sun Tzu’s Art of War with the titular ancient treatise nearby, writing notes what the nations of the Iron Pact have learned through their analysis of the ancient treatise as well as the ancient treatise itself.

    Then there was Sisa and she was nose deep in another treatise, this time simply titled On War by one ‘Carl von Clausewitz’. The few legionaries that helped Azibal and her contubernium in finding the treatise and the books on its analysis called the book ‘the Western Art of War’.

    Shiba and Jesibel were reading stacks upon stacks of history books, thousands upon thousands of pages of history laid out before the two, going through history of pre-written history to what the Iron Pact considered the present. Histories of conflicts and empires laid before them… and was a lot to read and analyze.

    Adoniah was looking through various books on what is called ‘science’ within the Iron Pact. While most of them were introductions to the various fields of ‘science’, they were none the less vital to explain their capabilities. … and what Adoniah had shared with Azibal was mind bogglingly through, even more through than the immense tomes that the various Grand Mages of Rondel had created and shared with the world.

    The final duo -Nikkal and Adonya- of the contubernium were looking over the various myths and what the legionaries called ‘fiction’, which is mind bogglingly extensive to say the least. Yes, the Empire and its vassals are capable of doing such feats but that is mostly seen in the field of theater, not writing… but then again, not even the Empire could produce so many books. The shear resources needed to do so would be immense

    Azibal slumped as she watched several legionaries from the Iron Pact working or playing on their ‘laptops’. Azibal had already did a lot of work on consolidating and analyzing what the rest of contubernium had but so far only those more knowledgeable in various aspects can make any sort of sense about them.

    … and what little she could understand is a little frightening and oddly enough humbling.

    The Empire invaded one of the most powerful nations within the ‘Iron Pact’ known as Germany -also called the ‘Second German Empire’ and Imperial Germany- and its early history is incredibly similar to those of the tribe of the Warrior Bunnies. Started out as a bunch of fiefdoms, tribes, kingdoms, and micro-empires that eventually were part of something like the Holy Empire of Alnus, but with similar levels of factionalism to the Warrior Bunnies. In addition to military endeavors, the various German States also engaged in untold amounts of competitions in economic, cultural, and scientific fields, unintentionally (or intentionally, Azibal figured) creating the bedrock for a unified German culture.

    Yet the Empire invaded their capital when they thought it was ripe for conquest… who then called upon all its allies while simultaneously crushing the invaders. The Empire didn’t step on the griffon’s tail, it woken a nesting Great Dragon from its slumber. That must be sent back to the Empire as soon as possible, likely to Princess Piña. The only real place where Azibal could get it to Piña would be her uncle’s daughter, Myui Formal in Italica. If the forces that now reside on Alnus hill are anything like the ‘Iron Pact’…

    Azibal shuddered as she tried to keep her thoughts about it from going crazy and outright Ragnarök-ish. No need to go down that line of thought… would be rather counterproductive for her mission.

    still… it would be a fitting end to the Empire if their gods would allow it…

    Azibal shook her head again, trying to keep those thoughts from popping up again. While the empire had done horrible things to practically everyone, they’re practically the only group who doesn’t want constant warfare erupting practically every other month.

    “… Azibal,” Nikkal said as she pushed Azibal’s shoulder, “are you listening to me?” Azibal shook herself out of her mental stupor and looked at Nikkal.

    “Sorry,” Azibal apologized, “you’ve kind of got me deep in thought. What little I could understand is… overwhelming to say the least.” Azibal scratched her head. “So, what has got you all flustered Nikkal?”

    Well, Azibal,” Nikkal answered, “I’ve been going through what they call ‘fantasy’ and ‘mythology’… and… well… it has to be seen to be believed.” Nikkal plopped an absolutely thick book right in front of her. “They practically have every species that we know of on Falmart and Equis as creatures of myth… with some that we have only heard from rumor or gained from Imperial raids from the south and the east.” Pictures of creatures that the Empire had only gained through the slave markets of the free cities near the Sultanate of Agrabah were shown, as well as creatures that were only known through rumor from those cities. The Sultanate of Agrabah had always been a major thorn in the Empire’s backside, as it controls the trade routes to the extremely rich Qin Empire in the southeast. “This… shouldn’t be possible…” The more Azibal went through the book, the more confusion took hold. How could these people have rather accurate descriptions for numerous races when they never had them on their world in the first place?

    “This… this is impossible,” Azibal muttered as she looked through the pages, “They don’t have magic and yet they have examples of every magical race we know of!” Azibal sighed in confusion before an idea popped into her head. “… Nikkal, remember the rumors about those astro-projection experiments that the current Grand Magus of Magic was doing before he took the position?”

    “Yeah,” Nikkal answered, “from what little I could understand from the rumors, he was trying to utilize mental and soul magic to ‘project’ his soul to another location. He discontinued the research because it caused him to ‘ride’ onto other people, which caused discomfort for everyone involved.” Then Nikkal went wide eyed. “You mean…”

    “Yes,” Azibal answered, “I think we’ll need to send a letter to the Grand Magus and maybe a copy of this book. Someone has been using his research improperly for their own gain.” Azibal frowned. “Piña is also the only child of the Emperor that the Grand Magus would even listen to… which would help us immensely if he already hasn’t assembled a team to look into who occupies two of the Holy Hills.”

    Nikkal simply sighed at that. “A long night Azibal?” Nikkal asked.

    “A very long night…” Azibal answered.
     
  30. Aaron Fox

    Aaron Fox That Crazy/Not-Crazy Guy

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    Alright, I'm saying this right now that the next snippet might take a while longer, partially due to a quirk that I have, partially because the next snippet will have internal politics of mages/the magically inclined, and an old fic that I have on the back burner has been calling back to me.

    Just letting you know.

    Also, you are more than free to spam questions and constructive criticism for my fic. Hell, I encourage it.
     
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