Moving Sands


Haava stood in the street. She looked up, using her hand to sheld her eyes from the sun.

‘It is a good day’ she thought.

It was hotter than usual, and the glare of the sun was warm on her face. Her whiskers twitched and she sneezed. She looked back towards the end of the street. People walked with their phones pressed to their ears, and paid little attention to Haava. She walked towards them, stopping in a crowded walkway.

“Get out of the damn way, cat” one of the many men forcing their way past her grunted out as he rushed by.

Haava smiled, and said to no one in particular “Allahu Ackbar friends.”

She closed her eyes and pulled the cord under her clothes.

Some distance away

Bayrum heard the blast he had been waiting for. He sat behind the wheel of a nondescript whit panel truck, idling it on a side street. Using the blast as his signal, he pulled on his YILF headband, put the truck into gear, and drove it into the city hall. When it slowed, the men inside pushed the panels off the side of the truck and began to fire on the building.

Scenes similar to this would be happening all over the country.

Message distributed to the general media

People of Urth. We are the Yasterian Islamic Liberation Front. We act today to claim our rightful place and lands of this continent. We will spread the will of Allah across the remnants of this nation. Let us join the cause of all the true believers of Urth!

Ikrisia gazed over the occupants of the large room before her. She sat down carefully in silence as those who had undoubtedly been discussing the Vekaiyun advancements across Yasteria paused for their leader. It was only proper, even for those who didn’t quite respect her newfound adopted positions on tolerance and gradual assimilation.

“Good evening,” she said as she glanced at an already-prepared drink in front of her, but decided against sipping the nectar of negotiations - alcohol. She wasn’t an alcoholic anyway, not like her father at least, whom she was still at ends with. Just why did he have such hostility against those who she wanted to spend time with? Especially since he wasn’t there for her before? He seemed to want to spend time with her, but it wasn’t productive. Listonia was solidly within the Vekaiyun Union, what else was there to talk about? “I see the conversation has hit a lull in productivity,” she added with a smirk. “Was it something I said?”

Kral Commodore Yamano Nevikalu, the human, bristled his mustache and shook his head. “No, ma’am. We’re discussing terrorist factions entering Allegheny.”

“They should be wiped out immediately!” Sipavu Commodore Aksynia Milostrovi demanded as she pounded her fist against the jaku hardwood table. “Snuff them out before they spread! And they will spread!”

Normally one would ignore such an outburst, but she controlled the mighty and storied 11th armored corps division, one of the largest and most organized divisions in the Vekaiyun Armed Forces. Their commander demanded much respect.

Ikrisia, on the other hand, saw a lot of herself in her demeanor, though without the corrective actions her life sustained upon her. Consequently, she was understandably tempered in her zeal. “Mmn. Yes. Well, this situation merits our attention, does it not? We have already decided the eastern portion of the weakened Alleghenian state is within the Vekaiyun sphere of influence. With Savenchorund within our sphere as well, it would provide a strong barrier against any meddling from the south or the east.”

Ler Commodore Lebivistre jolted to action upon hearing the old directives. “But we have done nothing to accomplish those goals as of yet!” His short, staccato talk coupled with his face frozen as if he was taking a permanent bowel movement was both comical but horrifying at the same time, like one would never dare grin in front of him for fear of him snapping their neck in some form of combat he learned long ago. He did, after all, survive the years of Selvala and Max.

“Yes, well, the plan is still in motion.”

“Still in motion?” Lebivistre asked. “The Premier has spent more time with her private life more than anything else it seems.”

The room fell silent. Only Lebivistre could speak to the Premier like this and get away with it without any reprimands from his superior. For she respected him, and he was one of the very few who sided with her way back when the civil war from seven years ago was in its infancy.

“Alright. No, you are most correct. I have indeed placed my personal endeavors at the forefront of my mind. You are correct that I outlined a goal of affixing eastern Allegheny and Savenchorund within our sphere of influence, perhaps even included in the union. But only marginal progress has been made.” She turned to Aksyina, then to one of her Hejul Generals, Sayli Kostranaru. “Float the possibility of providing defense to the eastern Allegheny people, protection from this new faction of terrorists. Of course, we wish to avoid needless deaths of individuals, but I am aware it may take more substantial efforts for them to see things our way.” She paused and looked around the table. “And our way must always be correct, for if it isn’t, we do not serve the Vekaiyun state to our fullest capacity. We are a leading nation now. Therefore, we must act as such. No sudden movements, no acts of revenge. We simply correct problems. And that is all we must do.”

“I suggest-”

She was quick to interrupt Aksynia. “React, do not act. Let’s see how this situation plays out.”

Esma lolled her head to the side, a habit she had picked up as a kitten and never stopped, gazing across the great hall. It was a glorious place, lined with green ferns, and flowing water through the center. Gold inlays covered the ceiling, and paintings of the royal family dotted the walls. Her mother Noi had commissioned the room. Esma thought it gaudy.
She raised her hand to scratch behind her ears. The piercings, filled with gold hoops, itched like mad. She looked down past the piles of reports, maps, and religious texts. Her crown sat on the edge of the table.
'The crown is heavy. She smiled slightly, the irony of her thought not lost on the young Padisha.

“Haagen, what is going on to the East? Have our neighbors gone mad?” Esma sat upright and spoke towards the general in attendance.

Haagen bowed his head.
“Your grace, it seems a rebellion has broken out, with a Sunni militia beginning to seize cities in the East. The group could prove a threat to our security on the border, as they have not swore fealty to the Caliphate as of yet.”

Esma spoke quietly. "We have been providing support for the Muslims in Bai lung and the FPS for many, many years. Are the groups related?

“Not that our people on the ground can surmise.” Haagen replied “While some of the weaponry seems to have originated in the Caliphate, that is hardly surprising.”

Esma cleared off a portion of the table and began to write.
“I believe we should monitor the situation closely for now.” She said while writing. “We cannot alienate what may become a friendly state between us and the Catholic Fox to the East, but neither can we ignore those following heathen scripture to gain influence if they cannot be persuaded to the truth.”

Esma handed the paper to her aide, who walked it to the general.
“These are general orders for the situation. Move forces to the East, and be prepared to pacify the Allegheny region if necessary. Also prepare the Air Corps for missions north. We may be forced to secure the coastline, should this devolve farther.”

Esma sat, and thought back on her days as a youth, sprinting across the sand dunes.
The crown is heavy…

Perhaps the largest of the many cathedrals scattered across Eldura, the Cathedral of the Seven Sacraments, sometimes erroneously referred to as the Cathedral of Seven Saints in recognition of the first seven canonized saints of the Vekaiyun Catholic Church, seemed to stretch to the heavens as the chanting of monks and nuns filled the cavernous interior within. The vaulted ceilings depicted various colorful frescoes of early Vekaiyun Christendom, from images of St. Aiya - the First Sister - to that of St. Kabuu, St. Ives the educator, and St. Ignes of Provinsk. Of course, images of Christ were most central. Evenly dispersed between each scene were stained glass windows, beautifully adorned in a celebratory array of colors as light poured in and doused the row upon row of pews within the confines of the church.

The Cathedral of the Seven Sacraments was the worship center of choice for the immediate Vekaiyun government and its families. Their service, which began before the service for Elduran citizens, was roughly two hours early - eight in the morning, to be exact.

Ikrisia opened her eyes after exhaling a sigh. She, like the Vekaiyun officers and ministers whom she dealt with on a daily basis, was a practicing Vayan Catholic. After receiving the Eucharist, a daily occurrence for those of her ilk, she remained seated, heavy with a sobering reflection of the mysteries of her faith, and confused at the crossroads in front of her. Lebivistre was right. She was devoting time away from a nation that needed every bit of her being. But she did in fact care for Yensey, enjoyed his presence, and looked forward to seeing him. She never really thought she’d find something like that in her life, and didn’t quite know what to do with it. Years ago she was simply a supersoldier and nothing more. She could only taste what a real relationship was like, but the more she grew to know her father, the more she wanted to know more about him. Spend time with him. Understand why he did what he did. And explore just what it was like to have someone who truly thought of one more than what their merits were on the battlefield. But it was selfish to do so. The relationships she forged with her father, as incomplete and troubling as they were, did not really serve the state in any capacity.

The concept was so foreign and yet so attractive when she first began to notice Yensey. But how irresponsible it was for a Vekaiyun Premier to divert attention to the trappings of a developed life! Irresponsible and selfish! It was foolish for her to invest in a relationship with another person while her nation required so much from her. How dare she divert attention to her personal life. Escaping in Provinsk. Dabbling in dinners. Attending regalias. It was all a facade, a distraction entirely inappropriate, one of irresponsible fancy, to take her from her sole duty: protect and improve the Vekaiyun nation. If only she didn’t waste-

“Hey, you okay?” Yensey Nekuslovi whispered as he placed a hand on hers.

Ikrisia looked down at his hand, then up at him. “Yes. I suppose I am just overthinking things.”

“Worried about the Allegheny stuff?”

“Not at all. We have offered our assistance in protecting the state from general harm and will respond if necessary.”

“Right. Can’t do anything about it right now.”


“It’s all about balance, right? Like an equation.”

Ikrisia smiled slightly. “I suppose you are correct.”

“So you’re okay now?”

The Premier of Vekaiyu paused. “Yes, thank you.”

Gunfire. It was all Janusz seemed to hear as he crouched behind the ruins of what was once his home. An aging Vulpine, the fur around his muzzle turning grey, he had seen his share of fighting being a retired mercenary.

His stomach churned. He had eaten last night, after coming across a questionable meal in an abandoned YILF camp outside the city. Most of the food had been taken by both the rebels and the militias fighting them as they pushed the lines back and forth across the city.

He looked around, and stood, scanning for a clear path to move east. If he could somehow make it to the border, he could try to claim refuge in the VU.
‘Anything is better than this hell’ He thought as he walked across a rubble strewn alley, glass crunching under his feet.

A dumpster rattled as something moved behind it. Janusz dropped to his knee, weapon raised. He saw a girl, human, no older than 7 he guessed, digging through the trash. She looked towards him with a blank stare. There was no fear, no smile, no reaction at all really. She simply stood there.

Janusz gruffed. “You need to get out of here. They could start shelling the city again. Where is your family?” Although, he had a guess to where they might be.
“Baba told mother and me to head West… The Caliph would be safe and protect us. He was going to talk to the bad men with the black armbands. I haven’t seen him or mother. I need to wait here for them.” the young girl replied quietly, averting her gaze.

Janusz began walk past her. It grieved him, but he knew he wouldn’t survive long with a child in tow. His stride was broken by the familar sound of shells lobbed through the air. He stopped to listen, trying to determine what part of the city would be on fire next, but there was no follow up explosion…

“Shit, gas!” He growled, looking back at the girl. He shook his head, muttering to himself. “I’m going to get myself killed today.”
He grabed the girl, as she shrieked, calling for her baba. He ran.

Ikrisia mulled over the recent reports from Allegheny. The nation was quickly becoming overrun by viziers in the caliphate, it seemed. That was the price for working with them, she mused. While she was on the periphery of the past between Vekaiyu and Packilvania, she knew any dealings with their ilk required the maximum amount of attention. This wasn’t some random war in Aurora; on the contrary, any time the two nations engaged it seemed that the world held its collective breath, and she wasn’t about to exhale, not yet, at least.

Still, every time she tried to concentrate, she thought of Yensey, of what he meant to her. Then it would ultimately cause her to think of her father, licking his wounds in Listonia. Why was it so hard to concentrate anymore? She was once so sharp, able to deduce the best of tactics across any theatre of war, but now she couldn’t even seem to formulate a response to the Kivreskov and determine if the Vekaiyun Legislature was on board. The legislature, the body she herself constructed in order to prevent another power-hungry dictator from harming the nation yet again.

It was that empathy. That unique… inefficient emotion that seemed to cause her the most trouble. Why was it that the closer she came to understanding her own soul the more it seemed to push her from her duties? There was a battle at hand, a battle across the Yasterian continent and a battle across her own mind. But she had been there before and was all too familiar with the perilous crossroads that befell her all too vulpine mind. She learned from past experiences and was a bit more confident than her old self would have been under the same circumstances.

She could do both. For now, she could do both.

The Vekaiyun Premier scanned the room of all her advisors, military personnel, and ministers present. She wasn’t one to stare intently, but she did her best to gauge interest. Once she matched the reports with the faces in front of her, she took in a sharp inhale. “And so it has come to this. A civilian attack, a form of chemical warfare on a populace in Allegheny. As I stated earlier, we are to react, not act. And react we shall.”

She turned to Sipavu Commodore Aksynia Milostrovi. “Spur your divisions to action and prepare for a general ground invasion on the lands. Ensure your motives are pure and that the message to your troops is one of protection and not conquer. We have no need for their lands, if only to provide a buffer at the very least. But if this is a conquest of faiths, then so be it. I will not take their advancements lightly.” She then flashed a look at Sipavu Commodore Yiisu Strobinaru. “Savenchorund is to be engaged with the Vekaiyun Union in membership talks. Considering their predicament, they would be foolish to ignore our offer, and even more foolish to allow themselves exposure to an ever-threatening front. I expect you to work with the entorage of appropriate ministers to secure their membership through any means necessary.” She grimaced. “These are the directives. Shore the boundary between our two nations, and ensure we are here not to conquer, but to preserve and protect. I will establish talks with the Pax in order to stave any immediate threats. If a treaty cannot be proffered, we will engage in war with the Alleghenian state in order to preserve it from the threat of those who delve into the uncouth tactics of civilized warfare.”

Yamano Nevikalu looked at his subordinates, then at Ikrisia. “Ma’am we’ve used chemical warfare in the past.”

She nodded. “And we’ve learned from that, learned not to take it lightly. Tread carefully is all I ask. In the meantime, we will attempt a resolution. Thank you for your time.”

It was un-Vekaiyun to not back a threat without clout. The brunt of the Vekaiyun army was parked outside of strategic outlets between the Ta’lavero Mountains, ready to advance upon the orders of the Kral Commodore Vanse Nevikalu, who ultimately drew his orders from his superior. The fiery and rumored to be unscrupulous Sipavu Commodore Aksynia Milostrovi would deal with the ilk of the opposition soon enough. As for the eastern front, Sipavu Commodore Yiisu Strobinaru was already en route to Savenchorund to sue for union with their growing faction. Gone were the days where Vekaiyu was simply a “me-too” nation, a useful pawn that could not see beyond its own squabbles to ascend toward its rightful place as a guide and protector of all that was good and right. Now, with the nation recovered from the bitter civil war some seven years prior and with the union fledgling toward dominance of trade across Yasteria, now was the time to strike while the iron was hot.

As the bells to the Cathedral to St. Aiya chimed in the distance, the Vekaiyun Premier hardened her resolve in the cool Elduran night, not cold enough for snow, but certainly turning to such in the coming weeks. For a tumultuous autumn would soon give way to a serene winter, and once the snowfall began, all would become silent. Towards the west, she had hoped their snowfall would not come early, for if it did, it would be in the form of Vekaiyun rockets, and that would most certainly establish a tranquil silence undaunted by any sort of rogue faction that dared harm innocent individuals therein.

“We have waited long enough, Nevikalu,” Ikrisia spoke as she turned around to view the Kral Commodore. She waited for the bells across Eldura to cease, opting to use the time to meditate and ensure that her resolve was of clear mind. “We can no longer subsist while those to the west suffer as they do. There was a time where I would be hesitant to make such a call. But after our successes in Dveria and Isklevyu, after the recoveries in Vilines from the terrorist attacks, I feel it is immoral to sit idle and do nothing. It is time for us to act.”

Nevikalu bristled his mustache. The human was not used to this war-like side of the Premier, something that had been tempered over time and forged in the furnace of trials and tribulation. “Understood, ma’am.”

“I will push for the Kivreskov to understand our motives. Provided such action is deemed worthy, and I believe it will be, we will move westward with liberation in mind. At this time we are not seeking to occupy territory; on the contrary, this separates right from wrong like wheat from chaffe.”


“Ready your troops. I will present our case to the legislature.”

Alghenny sid eof the border

It was dark and overcast, a strange night in the dessert. A lone figure lay flat against the sand, concealing himself as best he could, trying to use his fur as camoflauge. He pulled a set of binocculars from his pack to look towards the border. He looked towards the Pax, many of the soldiers prostrated on the ground, prayiong for what was to come. He looked East, towards a border town, smoke rising into the night air. It was dark, having lost power weeks ago. He could see the figures of the YLF patrolling around the streets in beat up trucks. He settled in, waiting. He prayed quietly.

Pax side of the border

The sound of prayer chants were broken by the roar of diesel engines. Pax armor were being started and checked over. Soldiers roused themselves from the ground, and began securing their equipment. The younger among them obviously nervous, their tails almost rigid in their uniforms. They waited for their commands, as the formations came together.

Haagen sat in the command tent, looking over the latest maps of the East. The Fox was preparing to move, that much was clear, and with the ascension of Sachenvorbund to the VU years earlier, the Pax could not afford to let another state fall under VU influence. Esma had given him royal authority to deal with the situation as he saw fit. He would not dissappoint the Padisha. He stood, gave thanks for the opportunity to spread the word of Allah, and ordered the advance. Pax armor crossed the border a few minutes later.

Does anyone want Janusz’s story to continue, or should I drop it?

This past month had been one of the craziest for the Intelligence Department due to the recent annexation in Eridani Theta, and now stacked with the reports from the mainland, the department had way too on its plate. Thankfully for Tristan, he did not have to sort through all of those reports himself, but that did not mean there was still a lot of paperwork he had to go through. The leader of Fortuna deeply sighed as he pushed the reports away, leaning back in his chair in an attempt to relieve some of the stress.

“So, Allegheny is under attack. . . Is this for certain?” Tristan asked in a low tone as he closed his eyes. The collection of advisers and senior officers looked at each other hesitantly, for they feared to upset their leader further. Serena Rustici, Director of the Intelligence Department, decided that it was probably wise if she were the one to answer. After all, it was her department that was keeping the nation updated on the goings on the mainland.

“Yes sir, we are for certain that the Caliphate has awaken,” she clearly stated.

“And you say it’s because of all those attacks taking place in Allegheny?” Tristan questioned.

“Yes sir, that would be the most likely reason. Allegheny has become a warzone in the past year, it was only a matter of time before the Caliphate or Vekaiyu reacted.”

“Hmm. . .” The Fortunan Leader paused as he processed the information. The thought of one of the few nations bordering the Pax falling under their influence deeply concerned him. What would stop them then from conquering his small island nation? He must not allow that, of course, it was his duty to protect Fortuna from the outside. “I guess our only solution is to just insure Fortunan safety. Have the Yasterian coastal fleet on alert for the time being, and have the army increase security within our territories, especially in Eridani Theta. Serena, continue keeping me updated on the mainland. Also, I’ll make a statement saying we disapprove of the actions against Allegheny, yada yada yada.”

“Sir,” Commander Romano piped up, “may I suggest Operation Imperial?”

“Operation Imperial, eh?” Tristan again paused again as he pondered Romano’s suggestion. With the current situation and the Eridani Thetan crisis, it might be risky to attempt another operation. But the situation on the mainland could be a great opportunity for Fortuna to further grow their influence. . .

“I have a strike group at the ready led by Grand Admiral Guido,” Romano quickly added before Tristan could respond, “all that it requires is your command.”

“No, we will hold off on that for now, I think it would be wise to first see how this plays out. We’ll continue to observe how the mainlanders handle this situation themselves, and if worse comes to worst, we will then take action.”

Imperial Palace
The Black Room
Eastrovia, East Malaysia

The Black Room was where the Empress and her intelligence advisors would hold classified briefings on a basement level of the palace. The elevator in her office went straight to the room after she selected the option and verified with a hand scan. The room itself was just like any other in the palace but it was an almost a communication dead zone with the exception of specialized tablets and phones that never left the room. Today was an unscheduled meeting she called after viewing the latests updates and news reports as she was looking through a folder with a few print outs she didn’t have time to upload to the server. She hated using paper but it was information she needed. She could faintly hear the elevator slowing down as it reached her destination and the doors opened with a computerized beep. Her advisors where already seated at the table but stood up when the doors opened. She smiled and nodded her head as she pulled her chair out giving them permission to be seated.

“Good day to you all. I have called this emergency session to discuss the reports that have been coming across my desk and on the news. I would like to start with you Agent Pink,” who was seated across from her as she opened up her folder, “Officially the Packilvania Task Force does not exist and that is to promote diplomacy between us and the Packs yet it barely exists. We have not had a military encounter with them for several hundred years but our ancestors recognized the threat but previous leadership has underestimated it. For the past 35 years between Emperor Ashton and myself we have worked to realign ourselves to match them but it is not something that we can fully due without putting a dark spot on our energy which would be against the teachings of Aza,” she took a moment to address the humans of the room, “or your God. What do your eyes and ears tell you?”

“The advancement of this curious human religion is alarming. On paper it would seem to be peaceful like the Christian religions on being able to coexist with ours but it has groups that take it to the extreme. The 1938 Terrorist Attack in Northrovia proved this to be true but it did lead to the passage of the Reformed Immigration Act of 1940 and the formation of the task force to evaluate the Packilvania’s governments involvement that lead to the threat assessment. The government itself was not involved but it didn’t disagree with the actions either. My eyes and ears are worried ma’am. With the advancement into Allegheny they see unease in the region and hear whispers of advancement eastward and even to the south has been mentioned.”

Glendale nodded at the notion of southward advancement. It was not something she hoped to hear within her lifetime but it was always a echo in the back of her mind. She turned to her EMCIA director next, “what about official channels?”

Benjamin Nixon always found the Peregrin religion interesting. It was about different types of energy and love from what he gathered over the years. He grew up in a small town in North Caven Union southeast of Prometheusburg known as Wachville. The small but vibrant downtown most prominent feature was the church and no one practiced Republicism. Once he grew up and made his way north and into the service he was opened up to a much different world and even knew several friends who had converted over the years. “Some movement on the Vekaiyu and Fortuna fronts but not much has been shared; they assume we already know. FPS is pretty silent right now but they know the storm is on the horizon.”

Glendale chucked a little, “and so it begins… let us see if we can keep the peace among us or battle the storm. We must play our cards very wisely in the event of southward advancement but in this moment I will issue a statement for an independent Allegheny. I will also have Defense Command to start unscheduled training exercises in the Tri-Islands and Imperial Sea.”