Book 1 - Sand
This thread is intended to be paired with Voyage of the Homebound (1.3)
The first part of this is a joint post with Stander (Mirhaime).
Monday, February 6th, 2023
Arzaalnay, Daabab 18th, 412
Azniv sighs, and stretches in her chair. She’s had a lot of meetings, trying to secure the defense of Aldaar before Anahid gives a public statement about the upcoming invasion. Most of today was spent just with Pierre, organizing the logistics of the Federation’s support. And she still had to review all the data collected by Amenates. Luckily, her schedule didn’t have any more meetings on it, so she could sit back and -
“Ma’am, we have some people here for you.” Damn it.
“Tell them I’m busy.”
“I really think you’ll want to talk to them.”
“I really think I won’t.” Azniv looks at her secretary, directly in his eyes. “Ugh, screw me. Alright, send them in.”
It was only a few moments later when, into the room, two individuals came in matching clothing - inconspicuous three-piece suits topped with a crimson-coloured tie for the man, a black one for the woman, and similar pairs of business shoes. Both the man and the woman were no older than Azniv herself, but the way they presented themselves, and the battle scars on their brands and their faces seem to suggest that they were more than simple civilians here to complain about something trivial.
The man was the first to remove his hat, bowing down ever slightly to greet Azniv.
“Pleased to be in your presence today,” he spoke, the language and the dialect of which he spoke seemed to suggest that he was an Aeter-born Mirhaimian.
“Perhaps you had expected us,” the woman spoke, her voice prominent with a scent of Cathaine, following her partner in removing her hat and curtsying if only for the sake of formalities. “If not then, perhaps, you’d like for me to lay things out?”
“I wasn’t expecting you, but what I do expect is that I know who you are and why you’re here. I must say, I’m impressed at the covertness; I didn’t hear of a single murder in the time you spent getting here!” Azniv says this all in Fefsen with a flawless Lorenian accent and a slight glint in her eye that tells the visitors she knows something they don’t. She probably knows many things they don’t, none of which are relevant to the meeting at hand, like the Mukarrasi Phoenixes’ batting average for the past couple seasons. Although, who knows, maybe they’re huge fans of obscure local baseball teams? Despite having met with many agents before, Azniv’s never seen these two; she assumes they’ve been sent here to replace any corruption that may have existed in KUSA’s Aldaar office, but she can’t be sure. “Have you been enjoying your stay? I hope you’ve gotten the chance to try Nihari - from what I understand it’s quite different from breakfast in Novaris, but it is delicious.”
“Our restaurant serves it,” the man laughed, taking a seat for himself to sit down and lean back on, his hat resting on his lap, “Perhaps you’ve heard of Koran’s?” Soon followed by his partner, she nodded politely to Azniv before sitting down, and crossing her legs.
“But we aren’t here to talk about food, are we?” She chuckled, pulling from the canvas bag that she kept by her side a folder of documents and placing it on Azniv’s desk. Within contained documents that they were to narrate. The nature of the documents laid out a proposal of cooperation between KUSA - the brutally effective intelligence agency subservient to the Crown itself - and the government that Azniv served. These were topped off with a few documents relevant to the upcoming battle - carefully monitored by the Kervarmohedh Umsedha during their ongoing operation in the country - as a sign of good will.
“It’s clear that you’re educated in Mirhaime, after all, you speak our language flawlessly,” the woman said, leaning forward with her arms crossed, “Then perhaps it is safe to assume that you understand Ymirodraeth’s precarious standings with the government which you oppose?”
“I do understand them; as a matter of fact I have already helped provide Alane the means with which to deal with the worst of them. Which is why I believe we can work together; the Aldaari people are quick to forgive and move on, after all, and even after we secure our independence I believe we can still work together. That being said, we may be forgiving but we still don’t give something for nothing - so let me hear your proposal.”
“We never did you wrong,” the woman chuckled, leaning back against her seat, “WEGEC did,”. She turned to her partner who she trusted firmly knew the details well enough to relay it as flawlessly as her.
“Perhaps you’ve heard of the term ‘Alarism’ being thrown around quite a lot when it comes to the studying of Mirhaime post Great War,” the man spoke, “It necessitates the experimentation of the Commonwealth Systems in order to sustain the mainland itself through means preferably…non-exploitative. Alor was the one who proposed the voyage to West Gondwana and Ciorstaidh - a name you might be familiar with - was the one who proposed the structure of the state that had kept your people under chains for a century.”
Stopping for a moment, his eyes turned away to the window on the side of the room - one that he knew for a fact was facing East - before turning back to look at Azniv. “While others in Arcturia became successful democratic states, Aldaar had the misfortune of becoming the shadow state that it’s known now, and we’ve been trying to get rid of it for decades. The student movements of the nineties all the way to the recent debates,” he sighed, biting his own lips as he thought of how to present the words that he had in mind, “Perhaps we could assist one another. Your Army’s lacking the hardware and the expertise to wage a conventional fight, and the technological gap has plugged most of the advantages that the deserts here have given you. If Aldaar is to be free then by large decisive conventional engagement it must defeat its foes.”
“There are details of our task forces currently operating in the Western Gondwanan Theatre,” the woman opened up yet again, gesturing towards the document before Azniv, “A battalion’s worth in strength, and veterans of unconventional and conventional warfare alike. They might have what your Army needs along with some supplies courtesy of the Mirhaimian taxpayers.”
“I see,” Azniv says, chewing on her lip. “We know the WEGEC-loyal forces can’t make any headway from inland or the air, thanks to the Côtoise’s help. But while most of our coastline is too rocky for an amphibious invasion, there are a few areas that need at least a spotter. In addition, Alkhatawf is planning something big - I know, it was news to me, too. But they need somebody who can access every computer tied to WEGEC’s system to help spread a message. For the battle of Mukarras, we need somebody with a navy in order to stop our enemies from being reinforced; I assume we both want this over as quickly as possible. And lastly, we need your people in Loren ready to move on the ringleaders of this whole shabang. Questions, comments, concerns?” Azniv finishes.
“We should be the one asking you that,” the woman said, her eyes inconspicuously looking downwards to her left wrist to see the time on the watch that she wore, “We’re way ahead of you in working with KUSE to file a case for their arrests. The playground’s ours with the Aeterite Armada’s blockade, anything in or out without authorization and they’d be gone. We need a designated zone to drop our specialists, operatives, and supplies though so I trust that you’ll arrange that soon enough?”
“Of course. There are a few places that work, I’ll have my assistant get on that; but at first thought I would suggest using the airport in Bohyate, since Mirhaimian planes land there all the time without any scrutiny. From there it’s a short drive to Hasa where our own operatives can deliver it where it needs to be.”
“If that’s the case then you could expect the first planes carrying supplies and operatives to arrive by next week,” the woman said, standing up as she prepared herself to leave along with her partner, “If you need us, our cell’s in Koran’s. Try the food there, maybe you’ll like it.”
“I’m sure I will. Oh, and by the way; I was educated in Nafaq, and I dropped out of high school. Thank you for the compliment, though. Now, if you don’t mind, an advisor’s work is never done… even with nobody around to advise.”
“We’ll keep that in mind,” the man said, a friendly chuckle escaping him to break the tense atmosphere as he turned his back on Azniv and retreat from the room along with the woman, both of them not forgetting to tip their hats as a small sign of courteous respect before breaking out if sight.
And so, into the streets of a liberated Mukarras they disappeared, the scenery of a changing time equally worrying and fascinating to their eyes. The free having broken off their chains roaming the streets beneath bright banners denouncing the invaders, to militia preparing themselves for a battle of titanic proportions yet to come. This wasn’t an Aldaar that they were familiar with but alas one they accepted as necessary - after all, for freedom, no cost is ever too great even to the malevolent eyes of the organization they serve.
“What a strange place, isn’t it, Aran?” The woman asked, holding her partner’s hand as she walked the street with him.
“Strange and familiar at the same time, Cadhla,” Anrai said with a smile, “Strange and familiar.”
“Strange to think how long we’ve been here,” Cadhla said, her eyes turning away from him and back on the road they were walking.
“We saw everything with our own eyes and yet we could scantily believe it,” Aran smiled, "But that’s enough politicking for a day, let’s get back and open the shop, shall we, honey?
“Yes, darling,” Cadhla smiled warmly, “Let’s.”
Meanwhile, Azniv was beginning to relax. The more things change… this wasn’t her first time working with KUSA, after all. But now, the roles were almost reversed. Of course, she knew what was in it for the Fefsen - good press, destroying Alane’s opposition, and all without even abandoning most of their strategic needs. A perfect partnership for both sides. A win-win. And yet… Azniv still felt like she was missing something. Like there was still a puzzle afoot, a clue or piece of evidence she had yet to consider.
“Why now?” Azniv wondered aloud.
After all, while most of the government had been kept in the dark, KUSA had known. They had always known. Maybe she was just being paranoid, but Azniv felt like there was something that those operatives hadn’t told her - hell, maybe something that the Mutadiit hadn’t even told her. No, something else was happening in Aldaar. Azniv Haviiz was sure of it.