Alliance in the North

South-Eastern Michelsland
05:33 PM

Sitting on the nearest boulder and loosening the straps of his flak jacket, Lothar De Corde smiled with satisfaction, deep breathing the resinous smells of the surrounding woods. Life was great. If not by rank, at least de facto he was number 4 of the New Iremian Archangels… which meant he was number 2 of the operatives, considering both Reziel and Colonel Clarke were buried deep under too an high pile of papers to actually have time to lead the troops. Not bad, at 27. Putting down both his rifle and his Kevlar helmet, he chuckled between himself before checking the tactical computer on his armband. The reports from his men were coming… and for once since the beginning of that… campaign… they were reports telling a story of complete success. Thanks to the intelligence, the two platoons of Archangels had finally been able to intercept a small column of those filthy anarchists and to wipe them away from the very face of earth. After a whole week uselessly spent to chase for always disappearing ghosts, it was definitely a satisfaction.

Unluckily, once again there were no traces to link them to the Government… no: to whoever was in charge of that inextricable mess which was Playstation Portable. That was definitely a pity, as it would have prevented the Empire of Michelsland to both send a formal note of complaint and to officially request the support of the New Iremians to handle the situation. Shaking his head, Lothar sighed quietly, perfectly aware that the situation wouldn’t have changed for the days to come: the Archaengles would have packed up their things, reloaded the two Chinooks… and then they would have moved back to their camp in the Southern Grand Duchy, waiting for the next hint. Waiting for the next incursion in Michelsland… waiting for the next chase to start.

Grabbing his canteen and drinking a mouthful of fresh water, Lothar smiled. After all, it wasn’t such a bad news. The risks would have gone on… but the same for the excitement. When the armband lightened because an incoming message, Lachdanan opened the communication while rising back on his feet to reach his men.

«Phantom, here’s Squirrel. Well… we were going to shut the radio down and to pack up everything, when we’ve intercepted… well… I’m not sure. It seems a SOS message. Probably… probably you should come down here to listen: it’s too feeble to be effectively forwarded»

«SOS? Coming from… where? Eindhoven?»

«Uhm… no. Just the contrary… and that’s the strange thing. It seems… SE. Distant… but not too much»

Frowning, the Archangel Major hurried towards the Chinooks. South East?

The clatter of some outdated, semi-automatic rifle brought the stunned villager back to consciousness. Several minutes earlier the large, unwashed man had thrown him through the window of his house. Daisuke clawed the floor as he attempted to drag himself onto his feet, grabbing the sword from his family shrine. For the second time this year, the various barbarians from somewhere to the east had attacked.

“Have you made the call?” Daisuke whispered to another villager clutching a bloodied, screwed up shirt to his forehead. “Yes Daisuke… But, I don’t know if anyone will come…”

North-Western Terasu – The Village of Osenkyu
06:46 PM

«Here we are, Phantom… down there! Look!»

Glancing outside the copter, despite the feeble dusk light Lothar De Corde caught the movement of ground troops on the terrain. It was as if…

«Damn… anarchists once again! Everyone… ready with the parachutes: we go down!»

«Phantom… the GPS… we’ve entered the Terasian territory! We have no authorization to intervene and… damn, Phantom: they’re isolationists, we do not know…»

«It was a SOS call… look down there: they seem… besieged. Order the first copter to cover us… and then I want the men ready to launch within two minutes. We’ll use… look at that glade over there! That will be our target: we’ll be able to support the Terasians within three minutes after the landing»

Nodding, the Archangel Sergeant started barking his orders while the Major grabbed his parachute before hurrying towards the cockpit.

«A radio message to the Terasians… use their same frequency, and who cares if someone else could overhear us»


1 hour later…
The rumble of army jeeps and various military transports could be heard in the distance. Daisuke watched the soldiers. He neither knew who they were or where they were from. Apparently they didn’t seem to understand Terasun either…

There was a screech of tires as the truck halted and a clash of metal as the rear door flew open. “Who the hell are you?!” screamed one of the newly arrived Terasun soldiers. “Speak!” repeated the same soldiers but he was met by blank faces from the foreigners. A second, higher ranking man stood forwards, rifle aimed at the Rezielans. This time he tried in English. “Who are you? Where are you from…? What do you want?!”

As soon as the Terasian officers had finished asking his questions, Lothar De Corde sighed quietly. Despite he had not had too much time to know the Terasian culture during his former visit in the country, he had seen and heard enough to understand they were right in the middle of a potential international accident: in some ways, the Terasians were not that different from the New Iremians… but their code of honor seemed even stricter. Above all, they were terribly isolationists, and they simply hated having to request foreigners’ help, as if doing it had been a manifestation of weakness. There were no chances they would have simply thanked the Archangels for their intervention, which had allowed the small village to survive the anarchists’ assault. Signing his men to stay calm, to lower and their weapons and to let him handle the situation, he saluted the Terasian.

«Major Lothar De Corde of the New Iremian Archangels, sir. We are… extremely embarrassed for our presence inside your territory, but we were patrolling the northern border of Playstation Portable, when we’ve intercepted a SOS call coming… from this village. Your countrymen were fighting bravely… but the forces of the assaulters were simply overwhelming. We’ve intervened only because… there was no honor in such a battle: the villagers have been treacherously attacked, and they were outnumbered two to one. Our direct involvement seemed to be their only chance, Sir…?» he replied, hoping the Terasian would have relaxed at least a bit.

Uryu, the soldier who previously addressed the New Iremians, looked to the soldiers by his side. A younger, relatively new recruit jumped forward waving his rifle, “Sergeant! They are saying we can’t defend ourselves, they are insulting us!”

“Shut up. I don’t even know you’re name.” he muttered before dropping his gun to the floor and signalling the nearby comm op to him and snatched the hand set. After what seemed an hour of Terasun conversation, the Sergeant finally waved the comm op back and adjusted his jacket. “We will help clear up this, tend the wounded, and wait for support. But you,” he said while pointing at Lothar’s men, “You can consider yourselves now our prisoners. Command would like to see you.”

For a brief moment, Lothar’s instinct was to answer the insolent Terasian on the same tone, but immediately after he forgot about it. It wasn’t the fact the Archangels were both outnumbered three to one and weary because of the two battles fought on the same day, but the simple awareness it would have been a completely useless bloodshed, as in the end there was no animosity between the Grand Duchy and Terasu. On the contrary, they could have been key allies in that unforeseen battle against the anarchist filth. But despite that, he was aware he couldn’t give up too easily, or the Terasians would have thought he was a man without honor. Ignoring his men’s stiffening, he grinned at the low-rank officer in front of him.

«Sergeant, you should choose your words a bit better, if you do not want to be held responsible of a major international accident. I’ll be pleased to follow you to your Command, but in the meanwhile… I fear we won’t consider ourselves your prisoners. Guests, perhaps… but nothing more. I’m sure someone with the proper rank will understand my point… and will find out it’s a pretty agreeable one»

Somewhere in Terasu
2 hours later…

Lothar entered the brightly lit bunker, led by two guards. “Welcome.” called a voice with a heavy accent as a short, heavily built man with a large gut stepped forward. He was bald but had thick stubble around his bottom jaw and wore thin wire glasses resting on the bridge of his nose. Despite his over all rough look, the mass of badges and various military symbols obscuring his top half from view suggested otherwise. “I already have a rough idea. But what brings you to Terasu, Lothar?”

Observing the man, Lothar was fully aware he had to carefully weigh his own words. As soon as he had entered the Terasian bunker, he had immediately been reminded of something he had learnt during his first mission in the Eastern country: when his own high-tech armband had immediately gone idle, probably neutralized by some kind of jamming device, the Archangel Major had remembered that just like the Iremians with their shiny steel armors, the Terasians hid many surprises behind their samurai-like attitude.

Luckily and sadly at the same time, that similarity didn’t extend to their tech only. Despite many obvious differences, the two peoples were very similar… perhaps even too similar. Nurtured since their childbirth with words like “honor”, “loyalty”, “courage” and “valor”, both the Terasians and the Iremians could have well been considered anachronistic by many other nations. Sadly, such similarities could have well been a wonderful starting point to develop a deep co-operation… or they could just as well proved a terrible obstacle to it. On that very day, that would have been his challenge: to push things towards co-operation, doing his best to avoid a clash… which required avoiding to insult the Terasian officer anyhow. Something which was far easier to say than to do.

«My Lord… we were involved in covert operations in the South-Easternmost sectors of Michelsland. I’m sure you’re aware of the situation in the area. The Empire is unable to protect its own citizens… and it has unofficially requested the support of our troops against the anarchist incursions coming from… probably coming from North-Eastern Playstation Portable. We were almost moving back home when we’ve intercepted a SOS communication. Considering we were the nearest reaction force in the area… we have thought to check what was going on, fearing the anarchists could have been involved somehow. As it came out… they were»

Glancing straight at the Terasian Officer, Lothar went on with his explanation.

«My Lord… your countrymen were fighting bravely, but they were overwhelmed both in number and firepower-wise. Moreover, despite their training… many of them were civilians, and the attack had been too unexpected. We’ve probably been wrong entering your nation without authorization… but due to the present circumstances, the Grand Duchy of Reziel considers Terasu as a potential ally in the… war, if you’ll pass me the term… against the anarchist filth»

The officer took a deep breath and scratched his chin. He leant forward slightly as though he was about to speak but instead leant backwards and let out a supressed laugh. “I’m not your Lord! My name is General Abura, but feel free to call me Lord if you so wish.” Abura laughed again. “An Alliance… I’m in no position to arrange alliances I’m afraid… I trust you have such authority though… I believe you are searching for an audience with The Emperor.”

Lothar hesitated for a brief moment. A meeting with the Emperor was probably a bit over the ‘try to get in touch with the Terasians if you’ll have the chance’ recommendation Reziel had given him when he had left New Irem with his men. But after all… that was the chance they had waited: a top-level contact. The fact it should have been either his mother or the Grand Duke to handle such a circumstance was… well, nothing else but a mere fact. Another fact was that he was there. The right place and the right time. A chance… a chance to grab. A chance they couldn’t waste. Smiling at the Terasian General, Lothar grinned and nodded.

«I’ll be honored to meet His Majesty, General»

Abura laughed and looked around as several other officers chuckled. “Aren’t we all!” he said with a wink. “I’m not promising anything. Let me show you something.”

Lothar followed the portly man from the command centre, through several checkpoints and down a short woodland path until they reached a large clearing. Through the trees houses and traces of the local villagers could be seen, but at this particuar clearing everything seemed “Perfect.”

“What…?” Lothar stepped onto the paving surrounding the structure in the centre.

“Perfect.” repeated Abura, “That is Him. Best not go any further. Not sure how the Gods will react to a foreigner.” he chuckled. “My point is, I doubt you will get an audience with Him just like that. But Prince Jūshirō,” there was a slight pause as Abura seemed to mentally punish himself for using the Prince’s name without his full title, “The First Son, Heir to the Throne, is visiting a nearby City - Anyama. I will work on getting you to see him, but you need to have a damn good case. You’re lucky it was me who found you. I spent a decade abroad… Hence why I speak English… Some people look down on me for just that. Imagine what they would do to you.”

Without even being able to speak, Lothar simply nodded. Despite Abura’s words had reached him, he was still a bit shocked by the experience in the clearing. He had been in Terasu before, and he was aware the whole country was permeated of an ancient magic, but such an experience was definitely something he hadn’t been ready for. As soon as his eyes had touched the structure, he had felt… at ease. No. Not only. Despite the obvious relax, he had distinctively felt something stirring and whining of uneasiness inside his own soul. As if… as if the darkness of the twin had been somehow disturbed by the… what had Abura said? Perfection. Yeah… that was exactly the word. Trying to focus back on the real world, Lothar gently shook his head and looked straight at the Terasian General.

«Yes… I do understand meeting the Emperor Himself would have been a bit too much. But I’ll obviously be happy to meet the Prince. And yes, I suppose I could have a good case, so I hope I’ll be able to avoid being looked down» he smiled «So… I’m ready. We can leave for Anyama at your earliest convenience»

OOC: Reziel, sorry for taking so long to post! I’ll fast forward… a lot.

General Abura patted Lothar on the shoulder as he was led up the empty corridor to the doorway of the Governor of Anyama’s office. “I’ll wait out here. And don’t look up until He speaks to you! And don’t do… Anything until he tells you to!”

Two men, both carrying swords and an automatic rifle, pushed the large doors open.

Lothar entered alone and almost as soon as he did the doors slid shut.

“Welcome,” sounded a voice. “I was told you speak English.” A figure sat on a sofa in the corner of the office reading a book. He gestured towards a chair facing a desk against a huge window, “Please sit.”. Still sitting, Jūshirō pushed the book back into it’s place and stood up. Lothar, now seated, watched as The Prince crossed the rose up. Jūshirō was remarkably tall, especially so for his nationality, at around 6’5".

Crossing the spacious office in a few steps he crashed into the Governor’s chair and chuckled. “I once visited Reziel, though it was quite a while back. Nice country. Some ways, we are alike. Infact my visit to Reziel is the reason I learnt English. Intriguing language, I bet you there are no more than 200 advance, or fluent, speakers of English in Terasu.” Jūshirō laughed silently at himself and waved a hand as if he was erasing his previous rambling.

“Anyway, what is the matter at hand?”

Despite impressed would have probably been a bit too much, Lothar was… well… impressed. Jūshirō was far from being a giant, but the Rezielan soldier couldn’t avoid thinking that for the first time since his own arrival in Terasu he couldn’t count on physical superiority. Not that he had planned to start a brawl with the Terasians or something like that… but being tall in a country of shorter men was definitely something which had added to his self-confidence. Now, his bare 6’ seemed… well, not enough would have been a nice description. Above all because there was something in Jūshirō. Something different to describe… but tangible anyhow. A sensation. A power. And leaving aside that, crossing the large room the man had moved with the sure moves and the natural grace of a man trained in making a weapon out of his own body. Military training… and of impressively high level. Throwing a quick glance at the katanas crossed against one of the room walls, the Rezielan didn’t had the littlest doubt Jūshirō was probably a master swordsman. Suddenly, the Prince’s question called Lothar back from his thoughts.

«I… yes, our secret service informed us of a possible visit of an high rank Terasian personality, but unfortunately at the time we had some… problems which prevented them to be more precise. However, I think you’re right, my Lord. I mean… telling we’re alike. And that’s… yes, that’s the main reason of my visit, I guess. Because also if it has definitely not been pre-planned… well, it was wanted anyhow»

Seeing a sparkle of curiosity in Jūshirō’s eyes, Lothar grinned and nodded.

«My Lord… I suppose you’re perfectly aware of the ongoing situation in Playstation Portable and in the nobody’s territories north of your country and east of ours. Our scouts report increasing activity of somewhat organized groups… armed groups whose raids are beginning to endanger our respective countries. As you’re probably aware, there’s an high chance there are the Playstationists behind it… but our official complaints have not had any kind of answer from Kettaman. Therefore… well, I fear we have to do something. And with we I mean our nation and yours, considering the Michelslandian Empire does not seem able to… uhm… take care of itself»

Looking straight at the prince, Lothar waited for his answer. The deep link between the NW Terasians and the Southern Michelslandians was a fact… just as it was a fact the central government of Michelsland had requested the Rezielans’ help to counter the rebels’ activity. An officially secret fact, probably, but a fact anyhow. Such decision wasn’t that strange, after all. Despite the relations, the Terasians were known for their reluctance in being involved with foreign issues, and their generally hostile attitude towards strangers was well known throughout the whole East Pacific. Moreover, the Terasian Army seemed stuck some three centuries in the past, with a dislike for modern weapons which made the Rezielans’ love for medieval stuff paling. All good reasons to justify the Michelslandian decision to involve their northern neighbors instead of the south eastern ones… but definitely not enough for Lothar to foresee the Terasian Prince’s possible reaction to the situation.

Shouts from soldiers practising hand-to-hand combat in the courtyard some way below in the courtyard filtered through the window of the office currently occupied by Jūshirō and Lothar.

“Hypothetically, if I accept your offer and we put down these barbarians…” Jūshirō leant forward in his chair slightly. “Well I believe the phrase is, what’s the catch?”

«To be honest, there’s no real catch. Do not misunderstand me, my Lord. I’m not saying a cooperation won’t benefit both our nations… but I’m not here because we are in need of something. We’re simply looking for potential allies in the area… and the Empire of Terasu is obviously a nation which interests us»

As the noise of the training swordsmen went on, Lothar smiled at the Terasian Prince.

«As I’ve told, I’m persuaded we share many things… and the very noises we’re hearing could be the best proof of what I’m saying. How many nations do still care about swords and melee combat? How many other nations are actually able to understand what does wielding a sword mean? To understand it’s not just a foolish fight between two primitive individuals… but a battle of beliefs, of opposed personalities… a battle of honor? Not too many, I think. Not too many… aside you and us. That’s why I think our nations can get along pretty well. Alliances do not necessarily imply a renounce to one’s legitimate independence. They can well just mean not to be forced to face difficulties… alone»

There was an almost painful silence as the Prince just sat, motionless. After a moment he looked up at Lothar, gave a polite smile and nodded.

“You make sense.” There was another pause before Jūshirō thought things over in his head. “Consider this the start of an alliance - Unofficial at the moment. I will speak to my Father. I’m afraid he probably wouldn’t give you the credit you deserve.”

Getting to his feet Jūshirō bowed slightly and adjusted his hakama. “My legs are aching.” He said in a hushed, amused voice. “So Lothar of Reziel, anything else?”

Smiling, Lothar rose on its feet. The Prince had interrupted the talks a bit abruptly… but what he had just said was worth ten of hours spent talking and discussing. An informal alliance. Considering the Terasians’ main attitude towards foreigners, that was definitely an incredible starting point.

«I thank you for both your time and your kindness, Your Highness… and I look forward to further developments on this issue»

As the Terasian slightly nodded, Lothar smiled again. Yes. Things had definitely taken a positive route. As the Prince accompanied him towards the exit door of the Palace, the New Iremian Archangel thought it would have been nice to visit the Terasian capital once again… possibly pretty soon. He didn’t know that wish wouldn’t have been satisfied for a while, because an unexpected was already waiting for him.