1. We have added a Gift Upgrades feature that allows you to gift an account upgrade to another member, just in time for the holiday season. You can see the gift option when going to the Account Upgrades screen, or on any user profile screen.
    Dismiss Notice

Hammer and Steel

Discussion in 'Civ4 - Stories & Tales' started by Tycho, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Ming Tian, Part IV

    Calm Before the Storm

    “State Security, open up this instant!” A heavy gloved hand, covered in Kevlar and heavy metal designed for further protection smashed a staccato of notes on the wooden door that led into the apartment. The commander of this operation grimaced even more and smashed out another staccato. “Open up this instant, State Police! Do so now, or we will enter by force, and you will have waived your rights!”

    Luke watched in his own State Security armor from a safe distance away from the door. A tipoff from one of the neighbors on this hallway had led State Security here on the path of Ming Tian, devious assassin that he was. Luke’s leg throbbed, but he had left his pills at the office, and it was too far to go get them on an operation like this, and besides; Luke wanted to see Ming Tian be captured in the flesh, so that way he could possibly pay back the bastard that had crippled him.

    The commander was just about to rap on the door one final time before they broke in when it cracked open slightly, revealing a rather thin, bedraggled Chinese man standing in the doorway, looking like he was fresh from bed. Granted, it was about six thirty in the morning on a weekend, and that accounted for that, but all of the State Security personnel were watching him carefully. Dressed in undergarments and rubbing his eyes, he looked at all of them and raised his hands into the air, with half of the surrounding delegation of State Security troops raising their weapons to track his movement as he did. “Officers,” he began slowly, “I have not done anything.” He adjusted the glasses on the bridge of his nose and looked at them all as he crouched on his knees, several State Security personnel having automatic Tiger Industry rifles in their hands pointed at his skull. If he made even the slightest threatening movement, his brains would be patterned across the floor like so much exploded watermelon.

    “Clear out the apartment, look for any and all evidence,” the State Security commander ordered. “You know what we are looking for… secret compartments, chests, evidence of any kind, including newspaper clippings and whatnot. Anything that ties him to the assassinations, I want found and identified… and if he is clean, he can return back to his home and resume life.”

    About a dozen State Security officers nodded and filed into the room, rifles raised as they spread out and assumed formations to clear and make sure that nothing would possibly spring out at them, and that the Chinese individual did not have a friend of multiple friends hiding inside with shotguns at all. Luke proceeded in behind the State Security officers, limping slightly, gritting his teeth as he had one hand on his leg and gripping the scar tissue, as he continued to look around the apartment all around him.

    It was quite a nice place, if a little messy. Upon entering the apartment, the little foyer was mostly empty except for a welcome mat, a spot to put shoes, and two tables that balanced the mail and the newspaper respectively. Despite these humble beginnings to the dwelling, it opened up dramatically into a two level central hub of the house, with large windows looking out over the southern edge of Washington. It was quite large in this area, with a spiraling staircase heading upwards to the higher level, and in front of the windows was a large computer setup, of no less than three different machines and nearly half a dozen screens, with all of them currently on. The desk supporting them was made out of solid mahogany, and the general look of it appeared to be that it was a central hub for the entire apartment; items and empty containers were scattered left and right, as well as a massive amount of disks and removable flash drives, with huge amounts of data storage. A nice television was put above a woodstove against one of the walls, and adjacent hallways leading off towards the kitchen, a bedroom, and other areas of the apartment could be seen from a variety of directions.

    And the books! Bookcases around many of the walls, both on the first floor and on the second floor, going from floor to the next level or ceiling in many locations, filled with a variety of different types of literature and scripts, covering a variety of subjects. Luke limped by several of the bookshelves, looking at the titles as he did so; Dante’s Inferno, War and Peace, the entire twenty seven book collection of the Lance Chronicles, and many more books and collections of novels and assorted literature. It was amazing the amount of written material that this one man had contained here, and Luke was rather surprised at this.

    One wall was dedicated to posters of all shapes and sizes, from a variety of movies and shows. Some were American centric pieces of cinema and media, and others were Chinese and Japanese style tales, from anime to the heroic bloodshed films the government was discouraging but had not committed to stamping out, and even some Roman and German entertainment items here and there. As more of the man's frivolous belongings were being parsed through, and Luke was starting to grow concerned. He had expected something more along the lines of a military centric style home with manuals on weapon maintenance and on shooting and using weapons, or perhaps a Spartan type environment completely devoid of luxuries and strictly geared towards training and preparing for assassination and combat… not something like this apartment, with someone who apparently enjoyed a great selection of items that he enjoyed. It was frustrating… they had come to find Ming Tian, and yet again, it had been a false flag, a false flag with which they had not been able to find Ming Tian… yet again.

    The rest of the men of the State Security detachment were still sweeping through the apartment, but by the looks of it, they were finding nothing of interest at all. Some of them appeared to be quite frustrated by this, and one by one they started to file out of the apartment again. The commander out there rose his eyebrows at each man that passed by him, and each man shook his head and proceeded by. Luke hobbled out after them and shook his own head when the commander raised his eyebrows at him. Frowning, the State Security officer turned away from the door and towards the Chinese man on the ground, hands on his head as rifles were trained on him.

    “You are free to reenter your domicile, sir,” the commander said, “But keep in mind, we will be monitoring you for the time being due to supposed connections between you and an undesirable target. Keep that in mind, and remember this well; if we find out that you have been dealing with said individual, we will not be merciful next time and will not be taking you out of that apartment alive, or in one piece to be precise. Now, have a good day sir.”

    State Security then proceeded to march down the hallway and out of sight, Luke hobbling along behind them with his bad leg in tow.

    Ming watched the State Security officers go through the pair of binoculars he had, on par with the military sets that they handed out if not better. They came with infrared, night vision, long range zoom, and a variety of other features for such a seemingly low technological device, and functioned remarkably well despite the heavy use that they often had. Right now however, he was busy watching the State Security officers march in single file out the door of the apartment building and move towards two waiting vans that would take them back to a State Security compound somewhere in central Washington. Ming had only distaste for the State Security officers and men for the most part, since after all, they were no better than the Roman OVRA secret police and almost as brutal, if not more so, then the Chekra and the Russian Cheka. Ming had contemplated bombing both of the vans down there to strike some more fear into the hearts of the State Security officers, but that would only invite reprisals on the Chinese community, which had become quite common whenever Ming decided to start killing people.

    Killing the Roman man had been easy, and his crimes were many and varied, but there was still work to do, and people to kill; an assassin’s work is never done after all, and you just have to keep going and keep killing till you reach the very end.

    The State Security vehicles slowly drove away as Ming watched them go in silence, puttering off into the distance as they left the apartment that they had been investigating. Ming had almost lost an informant to them, and he was glad that he had not though, as sources of information were always wanted and gladly needed. Ming would have to apologize to the man later for the trouble that had been caused to him due to the association that they both shared… putting his friends at risk was something that he would rather avoid if at all possible.

    “I cannot believe we failed to find that damnable assassin or any other evidence in that damnable apartment.” State Security Patrol Commander Jacob Greaves fumed as he drove the vehicle, Luke in the seat beside of him. “How in the utter hell could we not have found anything is my question, something that will probably never be answered after all. That assassin is slippery as hell, and even though he has been quiet for a month or two now, he’s still out there. We got the President and the Committee for the Continued Preservation of Order in the State up our collective arses due to the whole fiasco in downtown Washington with that dead businessman, and damn it if they aren’t angry that the bombings on the munitions factories all across the State are becoming a problem! With a possible war with Rome on the horizon, and possibly Germany as well, we can’t afford to suffer this damned assassin to be wandering around destroying assets and materials across the State left and right!”

    Luke popped a pill into his mouth and rubbed his bad leg gently, the muscle pulsing slightly with pain. “Not my problem, Greaves, I am just here to oversee Washington operations since the San Francisco State Security Division has been rather… misplaced at the moment.”

    “If you mean blown to hell by that whole nuclear blast that wiped out half of the city, you got that nailed on the head. The only reason San Francisco isn’t completely rubble at the moment is because it was an overcast day with a slight drizzle at some points, which means that most of the fallout and radiation came right down on top of the city… but why you are here in Washington, I will never understand. The commanders up at State Security must see something in you that the others do not, as from what I have heard from others, you've been put on the backburner.”

    “What’s that supposed to mean, Greaves?” Luke looked at him carefully, a hard look in his eyes. He was not in the mood for this ****e, not now, not today. “Please… elaborate since you decided to bring it up.”

    “To be quite frank, Luke, you are someone that many of the others in division around here don’t really trust.” The car turned smoothly onto the downtown overpass and they began the long winding swinging route over Terry Hill. “First off, you survived that whole debacle over in San Francisco when we had a whole lot of people die over there, including many good soldiers of State Security. Then of course, there’s that whole thing with you being friends with a guy out of the Verbenschwa. Say what you will about State Security, the Verbenschwa are worse by a long ways, and we at least have some compassion and feeling. Those over in the Verbenschwa… we can’t stand them and we don’t like them, and not a whole lot of love is lost between them and the other parts of the security details organized by the State.”

    “Considering some of the friends that other members of State Security make, and the Ehrenguard State Security section that they have, the friends that I have and that I have made have no bearing upon this situation. Quite frankly, a few of the Ehrenguard section that they have trained and ready make some of the Verbenschwa sections look like basketfuls of puppies in comparison.”

    “If you count the non-combatant ones… I don’t know about you Luke, but the guy you know and are acquaintances with is not known as a good person in State Security and in other areas of the security details throughout the state. He may be a record and archivist keeper for the Verbenschwa, but don’t let that fool you; he’s a dangerous man.”

    “And what do you know of this Greaves? What experience do you have that has any bearing upon this conversation at all?”

    Greaves was silent for almost a minute as the car drove slowly along the overpass through the skyscrapers and apartment buildings that loomed into the sky all along the route that they took. Quietly, he spoke slowly and carefully. “I was once Verbenschwa myself, soldier in the ranks back before the Twenty Hour War. Your friend had a reputation in the Verbenschwa, even amongst all the psychopathic sociopaths in those ranks that they have up there, and you have to be especially violent and horrible to earn yourself a name that makes even the most hard ass of those guys to shudder when other bring up your name.”

    “I am quite frankly surprised that you served with the Verbenschwa in all frankness.”

    “Not surprising at all; we have a very heterogeneous mixture of operatives, and people that don’t find a good spot in one organization or group will be sent off to another one. You have State Security guys sent up to the Verbenschwa and then sent back to the Ehrenguard because they’ve learned all that they can from the Verbenschwa. And you have the agents as well… supposedly made up of guys from the State Security forces, the Chekra, the Verbenschwa itself, and even small, elite groups from the Ehrenguard and the Information Corps.”

    “The agents are a small group, not major players in all things… they say that they have hardened criminals and murderers in there as well, and that they also kill and murder dissidents in the State whenever they are ordered to do so.”

    “And what is it exactly good that we do?”

    “We round up dissidents, we have a job to do.”

    “As do the people in the Verbenschwa, and the agent program. They have jobs as well Luke. Mark my words, Luke, mark my words carefully, it’s going to get bloody if you don’t know what you are doing. And if you put too much trust in people and don’t ask enough questions or ask the wrong ones, you’ll end up dead if you aren’t careful…”

    Greaves trailed off at that point as he looked ahead, the sentence that he had been detailing falling away like a man off of a cliff as he and Luke watched in horror up ahead. The first truck in the line heading back to the State Security division headquarters for the southern part of the city was up nearly three hundred feet on the long road, separated from the rest of the convoy by a flock of civilian cars that had merged between the convoy when Greaves and the other had lagged behind. That didn’t matter much though, because at the precise moment that Greaves had trailed off, it ran over a manhole cover in the center of the street with its left tires, and almost completely disintegrated at that point.

    “Mother of God…” Graves cursed as he whipped the wheel around to avoid a civilian car that had stopped short, and the four way street was suddenly filled with obstacles. Luke hung in there, his bad leg hitting the side of the dashboard left and right as he bit back screams of pain, while ahead the broken van that had been taking State Security forces back to base burned with a scarlet and orange light. Four cars around the van on the four lane road had been blown apart as well, and burning vehicles littered the street, but the van was the center point, half of the vehicle gone, and pieces of it raining from the sky. In horrified fascination, Luke forgot all about the pain as bloody body parts started to smack into the ground.

    Greaves slammed on the breaks and narrowly avoided hitting a civvies’ car with the front end of the van, and as both he and Luke clambered out, one walking as fast as he could and the other limping, the sound of sirens started up, fire and police sirens as State Security personnel clambered out of the other vans with assault rifles and other weapons in tow as they started yelling and shouting at people to get back from the bloody, flaming carnage that had engulfed the security forces ahead.

    Greaves paused about fifty feet from the wreck, Luke catching up to the best of his ability as the other man craned his neck forward and put his hand up to his eyes to see closer to the wreck, searching for survivors in the flames. It was a lost cause though; everyone inside of it was dead by now. The smell of cooking flesh, the foul odor of horrible things, could be detected in the air, a fetid and hideous thing to behold, and Luke put his hands up to his face and started a violent coughing fit. Oily smoke rose out of the shattered front of the car, what was left of it at least; the gasoline tank had ignited and fed the flames on slowly.

    The ammunition and weapons inside of the vehicle started to cook off at this time, a shallow popping noise in the air, like a piece of wood with sap in it that had been lit up. “I think we ought to be moving back just a tad bit, don’t you think?” Luke grabbed Greaves’ shoulder and started pulling the man back with him to safety, as the sound of sirens filled the air.

    The radio on Greaves’ collar squawked several notes, as did the one on Luke’s hip. Greaves responded immediately and listened in as the words came in and let his eyes grow wide at several points as the orders flowed in. He clipped it off once the orders had been given and turned to Luke with a glance of determination and sadness. “We have to get the men together Luke, orders from the top; we have to conduct a roundup of sorts…”

    “Where exactly are we going to be heading to, Greaves?”

    “Sarjaku Ghetto, lower slums… we are supposed to round up as many German expatriates and ethnic Chinese to start… purging them. We have orders from the President himself. He’s putting the hammer down now, since apparently the Liberation Front decided an attack upon the state was in order now…”

    “We aren’t really going to be purging the Ghetto, are we? That’s sheer madness! That’s only reserved for the worst case scenarios!”

    “Our new president has apparently decided that it is time to start this… there are about four hundred thousand bodies in the morgues and graves due to terrorist attacks all across the State, and the President has ordered us to do it, or go off to be executed. Personally, I like living Luke, so we have to do this work before all else, and apparently, we have some Liberation soldiers hiding amongst the expatriates.”

    Greaves turned away and started to head back to the van, ammo popping in the background as the first fire trucks arrived on scene to deal with the blaze. “Saddle up Luke; it’s time for some blood that will be coming on the horizon.”

    “Apparently by the looks of it, our business is doing excellently sir, more so than anything else that we have dealt with before; the State is buying up huge amounts of chemical gases and acids, and a variety of biological weapons, and we of course are happy to provide.” Sherri, Hargreave Zhang’s assistant smiled. She was a short blonde woman of about twenty four years of age, and a good assistant to the CEO of Wulf Western Syndicate, and was giving him the listing of prices and shares and other financial data that they had been amassing for quite some time at this point. Zhang, a former soldier of the State, smiled as she did so; money made the world go by, and he was more than happy to provide weapons of all shapes and sizes for the regime so in that way, he could compete with those blasted Dai-Ichii weapons makers who had their fingers in everything.

    “Any new contracts that the State officials have seen fit to hand to us after our last assignment? We got all of that blasted nerve and chemical agents to the State on time and in good speed as well, beating our deadline by more than six days.”

    “The State has contracted us for another batch of the agent that we have been producing, about three thousand tons of the agent and also more production of artillery, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and a variety of handheld weapons for soldiers, as well as a select few vehicles, such as the C-22 Cecil tank and the M1 Abrams that they are keen to mobilize and use in order to expand the armored sections of the State Army.”

    Zhang smiled at that. “Very nice; how are our production rates at the moment?”

    “Our production rates have exceeded almost a hundred tons a day, and by the current rate, our production chain shall end up producing two hundred to three hundred tons of the viral agent every day, as well as gas and everything else that you have requested. Our current arms manufacturing means that we are producing almost two thousand handheld weapons for soldiers every hour. We are also producing six artillery pieces and two tanks by the end of the day, and with the expansion that Wulf Western Syndicate is undergoing, it appears to be that we will be increasing production with the opening of new factories.” Sherri smiled at Zhang on that last note and jotted some little tidbits of information onto her paper.

    “Thank you for the update and all the good work that’s been done for us here; we appreciate it.” Zhang stood up and pulled a pipe out of his desk and put the tobacco in it, and lit it gently. “Go ahead and take your leave ma’am, but be careful; I hear that the State Security has been in an uproar due to some sort of bombing that went on in the downtown today.”

    “Will do sir, have a good evening.”

    Sherri picked up her stuff and walked out the door of Zhang’s office as he smoked on the pipe gently, little tendrils of smoke wafting up into the air of the office to be slowly dispersed. It was a nice office, if a little bit too extravagant for the old soldier in him, but that had been years ago, and he was nearing his early seventies, unfortunately. A fine mahogany desk, the one that was indeed the central focal point of any office that a businessman called home, was displayed prominently, and quite Spartan, with only a small desktop computer there, with various other pieces of business littered around the desk. Cabinets lined the walls behind his desk, filled with papers full of information that were worth more than some of the people that he employed; some media outlets and international authorities would not take kindly to learning that a company within the State producing chemical and biological weaponry also made weapons, artillery, tanks, missiles, ammunition, handheld rifles, communication devices, and children’s toys, as well as using the money from all of those ventures to fund items of interest that could be called “insane.”

    There was a knock on the door as Zhang looked out the window of his office down onto the main courtyard of the facility, surrounded by sharp, grey stone walls. Zhang snuffed out the flame in the pipe and grimaced towards the door. Who in the hell could it be at this time of night?

    He started towards the door, but paused when the knocks came again, and louder. No businessman that he knew did that, they were more than happy to wait and be polite to the person that they were coming to see, and it wasn’t security either. If something was the matter, they would have phoned up to his office and alerted him, and Zhang would have waited with his semi-automatic pistol till they came up and secured the area… Some might say that that was rather incautious of him, but Zhang was an expert marksman with the pistol and had killed more men with it than there were people in some small villages and towns out in the countryside sometimes.

    Another knock on the door, and then the phone rang gently. Zhang picked it up while looking at the door and scrabbling for the locked part of his desk to open it up and get out his pistol. “Hello, Zhang’s office, Wulf Western Syndicate manufacturing, how may I help you this evening?”

    A strange voice came over the line, accented and cultured. The man on the other end had a Chinese touch to his voice, and he spoke quietly over the line. “Open the door, Zhang.”

    Zhang dropped the phone and clicked it off as he brought out his pistol, loaded an extended clip into the weapon and aimed towards the door. Several moments passed, and then the sound of someone kicking down the door sounded. A black combat boot came through the polished wood of the door with ease, withdrew, and followed by several sharp cracks as two knives punctured the area above the lock. Zhang flipped the safety off and carefully locked the gun, crouching behind the desk.

    The door flew off of the hinges in one smooth movement, splintering apart and fracturing as it sailed through the air. It skidded along the floor, as a tall, black cloaked man with a white mask stood in the doorway, looming out of the shadows to stride forward, double knives in hand and gripped firmly as he made his way towards Zhang. Striding like that, he was easy prey for Zhang’s marksmanship.

    Zhang fired twelve times in rapid succession, aiming for the center mass like he had been trained to do. Three bullets thudded into the center of Ming’s chest, another two clipping him in the right shoulder, four his left shoulder, and two in his mask, with one swinging out and burying itself in the wall behind the assassin. He kept going though, apparently not even wounded, as he broke into a sprint, towards the desk, as Zhang reloaded a clip.

    As Ming began to vault over the desk, Zhang rolled along the floor away from the desk, aiming as he did at Ming, firing off the remainder of his clip at the assassin that had come for him. Zhang might be old, but he was not going to go down as easily as the Roman man had. Six bullet crashed through the air, two hitting Ming in the chest again, and all the others missing. Rolling behind cover, Zhang ejected a clip, and grabbed a seemingly decorative knife that was actually an heirloom from his grandfather, and wielded it, blade pointing downwards against his arm. “Come at me, freak.”

    Ming turned towards him, and whipped towards Zhang, two knives arcing down. Zhang caught them with his own blade and held the knives there, pressing back against Ming and forcing the assassin to bend backwards to try and avoid the knife in case it released. “You are weak assassin, I can best you like you bested the Roman… and then, your reign of terror shall be ended as suddenly as it began.”

    In response, Ming took his foot and drove it up into Zhang’s abdomen, and sent the older man hurling backwards. Zhang stumbled as Ming moved forward, to stab him once in the abdomen and knock the knife out of his hands and kick it away. Bleeding, and still falling and stumbling backwards, Zhang smashed into a spare coffee table, falling through it as it splintered as it broke underneath his bulk. He coughed up blood, and felt three pieces of polished wood that had punctured his skin. Two of them were apparently in his digestive tract, and another had sliced through a lung and poke out just underneath the skin. He smiled slightly at it. Whoops.

    Ming kicked the pieces of wood around the fallen businessman, before taking his hands and gripping Zhang by the collar and hauling him up by it. The mask obscured most of the man’s face, but his eyes, his eyes had only hatred and bloodshed in them as he looked at Zhang and growled out in a low voice. “Hello Zhang, care to give me some answers?”

    “Let me guess, you here want to know exactly who are what Phantom Six is, and what purpose he serves.” Zhang grinned wide as blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth and ran down the sharp curves and lines of his face. “Aren’t you in luck then? I happen to know some of the answers that you seek, but I’m unfortunately not telling.”

    Ming hurled Zhang against a wall, and the latter man could feel the splinters going through his skin. A violent coughing fit ensued as pieces of lung and blood came up and out. “Now that was uncalled for, assassin… What makes you think I am going to tell you after that episode?”

    “If you don’t, I will kill you, Zhang.” Ming had a knife and pressed it up against the businessman’s neck
    “I’m dying anyways, assassin…” Zhang smiled weakly now. “But I’ll let you know something… look for Mr. Fang, and maybe then you will pick up the trail.”

    “Where is he?”

    “South… to Buenos Aries, in the city… I will warn you though, the President and Colonel Hargreave won’t really tolerate you at this point.”

    “Sleep well then, merchant of death.”

    Ming twirled the knife between his fingers, and slammed it into Zhang’s throat. Everything turned red and Zhang died with a smile on his face.
  2. Verarde

    Verarde Pondering Wearing A Hat

    Nov 25, 2009
    Northern VA
    Bravo! Inspires me to finish up the next chapter of my story!
  3. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    The Brotherhood Sends the Messenger

    So, they tell me that you are a man of high taste and values, someone who is a discerning fellow hoping to join our organization? Good luck with that, my friend, that is something that does not often happen if you are not of the right caliber. I don't even think you know what you are doing at this point, sir, thinking that you can walk in here and demand to join the organization such as ours that is like it is. We have standards, we have ethics, and we have a set of morals that may differ somewhat from most of society's set, but they are no less rigid and ironclad in design and strength. We are people that do not easily bend to the will of others, and without a recommendation or proving that you have what it takes to join us, I'm afraid we will have to turn you aside.

    What do you mean? No, we aren't making up "random horse crap", as you say we are. We are indeed a discerning crowd. Merely barging in here and demanding representation from one of the higher ups is not something that we can indulge to everyone in the world that happens to come through our doors. It's actually more common than you think, though it is terribly boring waiting for that one person every few days that happens to wander in here without a recommendation form from one of the field officers or recruiters that we send out into the world. We would like to change such stringent policies, but if we did that, every man and his dog would be in here and trying to sign up for this, so there's nothing that we can do there. Okay, yes, maybe not every man and his dog, but pretty damn close is what I'm saying. And don't dare give that old phrase about the fact of overexaggeration, it's the only thing I have to look forward to every day when I come to this boring old job every single day.

    Well of course it's boring, except when an armed man comes in here and sticks a gun in my face, at which point I smile at him, pat him on the head, and tell him to go back to his home, for his mother must be terribly sick with worry about him. Of course, at that point, if they don't go, I just kill them by strangulation and asphyxiation, which is actually more fun than it sounds, especially when they continue to scream with agony and fury. In all honesty, this may be boring but it damn sure is fun when something exciting like that happens at any rate. But excuse me sir, I have lost track of my thoughts and my speech, and I have rambled as such. Where was I again?

    Ah yes, about all that recommendation stuff. We can accept you if you display remarkable skill at a given task, but you need to first show that you at least know what it is that we are looking for. Have you perhaps brought an item that the Brotherhood might have wanted or wants to possess, and how did you find said item?

    ...Well, I am deeply impressed. You managed to find that, did you? The Brotherhood searched for that for years, and yet we were never able to find any trace of it, not in the ruins of the southern cities or the crumbling bastions of the west that had been brought to their knees during the Reckoning Wars that we had with Byzantium back in the olden times. How ironic it is, is it not, that they were the eastern form of the Roman peoples that we had once seen, a hybrid version of the Greeks and the Romans, and how odd it was that they should happen to have their civilization brought to it's knees about the same time that Greece was laid low by Rome and Athens almost completely razed to the ground before being built back up. But I digress... where did you find it?

    Stole it did you? From whom now? Not a whole lot of people would be interested in an artifact from those times, from the forging of the bells, right? I think that you would best be advised to keep artifacts like this away from other people. But I do believe you when you say that it came from that man... the Lieutenant General was always an avid collector of such artifacts from those times and built up quite a collection. No wonder why they published an add in the paper the other day about him being stabbed to death in his home. That was you, wasn't it?

    Oh, don't be so coy now, that won't get you anywhere. In fact, if you continue to be like that, I'll call the police down on you right now, and that will be the end of that and- oh look at you, so high and mighty with a gun in my face. I advise you to put that down, or where you not listening to my earlier stories about what would transpire when other people of this sort used to do that to me. I think that you most likely will need a lesson in remembering that, but not here, not today... right now, we need to see if you have what it takes to progress to the next level.

    Well follow me, I run the screening process as well. Wipe that look of distaste off of your face my friend, why so disgusted? Yes, I am missing an eye, and that's why I wear this eyepatch, but that's hardly a reason to look like you just vomited into your mouth. The manners some of you young ones have these days... back in my day, when I joined up, a man that walked in with me to sign up and join this organization who had the look you did had his esophagus shortened to that of having the diameter of a straw, and not from himself mind you. You really should just relax and try to be calm for once and try to be mindful of other's feelings at this point.

    But anyhow, walk with me now.

    Would you like to hear a bit of history about our organization, and how we came to be? Don't roll your eyes at me sir, it's actually quite an intellectual thing that we discuss, and quite frankly, I like to engage in rhetoric over the subject, mostly because the history of the people that I work with fascinates me and enthralls my mind and my senses to the extreme... but it seems that not a whole lot of people these days share my opinion, what with all those bombings and crazy men and women out on the streets shooting and killing each other, on the side of the State, on the side of freedom, on the side of anarchy, profit, liberation of the Northern Territory, eagerness to start a war with Rome, it's all the same. All of those people out there attract attention and bring down the hammer of god upon them time after time as they needlessly tear each other up... haven't seen a civil conflict like this since ten years ago during the Worker Uprising, and that was ugly.

    Scoff all you want, it was a bloody mess, and I was with State Security at the time. State Security didn't handle a lot of tripe in those days, and would blow off your head if you looked at them sideways in a shifty manner, so merely being a prick about stuff was enough to get you tossed away and the key forgotten all about. That happened more often than you think, and quite a few prisons and facilities around the State are filled with skeletons of people who got locked up and promptly disappeared from people's minds. And trust me, when those uprisings came up all around the State, and it looked like this one might actually be unified and be of some threat to the status quo, the government called us in and set up human barricades of us all across the streets and intersections. Live weapons, lethal ammo, orders to shoot to kill, not to wound, and the body count racked up faster than you would think. They tried to rush the Capitol Hill several times, and take on Parliament, but every time, they got tossed back and thousands of bodies would litter the streets.

    The black ops groups were out there as well... the Ehrenguard, the Verbenschwa, and the agents were all out there and making piecemeal out of some of the rebel leaders that dared show their faces in public and try to organize the resistance. Ten days, that's all it took, before the body count became too much for the rebels to bear. Ten days later, and the ghettos were up in flames as the government ordered us to purge them across the State, and we were ordered to go in as well and mop up some of the leftovers that they had missed in the first pass through the area. Women, children, the elderly, men, all of them were ordered to be offed by us, and we tied 'em up and lined them up against the walls. Americans, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, Greeks, Byzantines, all of them, lined them up against the walls and then started to shoot one by one and then dispose of the bodies. Eighty thousand people from the mass purging of the ghettos back then, and I remember it all.

    But I apologize to you sir, I remember too much, and I got completely distracted from my original talking point... right through here though, go into this room right here, and wait until I get into the control booth and turn on the mike.



    Alright, can you hear me now? Motion to the camera if you understand what I am saying.

    Ah, very good. Alright, let's see here, been awhile since I did this... where's that button... ah hah! Here it is! Alright, the table is up, select your weapon of choice my friend, the first challenge is about to come up.

    Well, I don't know, pick up anyone that you want. Knife, pistol, semi-automatic assault rifle, it doesn't matter, just pick one for crying out loud. I have a schedule to keep, unlike you, my friend.

    Ah, a Dai-Ichii DI-99 Automatic, eh? I remember using those back in the days of the State Security, good, fine weapon right there. Go ahead and use it now, fire off a few rounds. Very good, very good. Alright, bringing up the first challenge.

    ... Well what are you waiting for? Shoot the gopher, this is the first challenge? Don't bicker with me sir, you are here on good and nice politeness from me, and... crap, forgot you had your own pistol. Okay, I will allow that, but shooting that gopher a more than a few times looks to be a little overkill, and what's more, you seem to have packed hollow points into your gun... red paste on the wall it seems.

    Alright, next one coming up.

    Hang on, got a call from the top inbound, you keep doing what you are doing, and I will be back in a moment.

    Alright, hello? To whom am I speaking to right now?

    Ah, captain, it's you! I couldn't even tell over the lines that we have right now... dreadful things, need to be deinstalled is my thoughts on that matter...

    What? A Black Marcher spy? Where?

    What, are you joking with me? This isn't very funny, captain...

    Ah, I see. I see. Of course. Well what do you want me to do then? Of course I will. Yes. Yes. No. Protocol 444, what else? Alright, fine, I'll deal with it now.

    Meh, the things I do for my job.

    You are going to experiencing severe nausea and dizziness shortly, probably some light vomiting and bleeding from multiple orifices. Do not worry, that's nothing to grow concerned over; it's just highly toxic and lethal nerve agent synthesized to perfection in order to drag out a slow and torturous death process in which your organs turn into red mush on your insides and your skin cells and others start to break down until you turn into a puddle of liquid. We are also releasing two nerve agent resistant tigers into the area for you to enjoy, have a good day sir.

    Doo-doo-dah-doo-dee-do... no this is not a part of the test, orders from the higher ups. No if you don't mind me, I have some coffee and bread slices to attend to and to bring back so I can watch you perish in agony.

    Tra, my friend.

    Well, this mess is going to have to be cleaned up quickly. The higher ups in the Brotherhood sure do love their melodramatic deaths inflicted upon spies and possible people they don't like...

    Sergei, remember to feed the tigers more treats! Make sure the people are still alive when you give them to the tigers, they prefer it like that.

    Now, if you will excuse me, the Brotherhood has called upon me, and I've got to head north with posthaste efficiency. Seems like that witch Snowbell is on the move again, and I've got to take her down.

    Need a team? Hardly, Sergei. If anything, their would need to be a team of people protecting Snowbell to try and stop me. I turn agents into red smears on the pavement after all.

    One of the perks of the job.
  4. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Just messed around today with some design of State Security and Verbenschwa propaganda posters and designs.

    Spoiler :

    Spoiler :

    Spoiler For the Verbenschwa :

    Enjoy folks, update tomorrow as always.
  5. Verarde

    Verarde Pondering Wearing A Hat

    Nov 25, 2009
    Northern VA
    Those look very...socialist. :p
  6. Tomorrow's Dawn

    Tomorrow's Dawn Heroes Never Die

    Dec 27, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    Actually, if anything, they scream fascist.
  7. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Dawn has it quite right on that count, they are very fascist looking designs :).

    I basically took a look at the German Schutzstaffel design and went from there, to draw some parallells if you will. That was very intentional right there, and in fact, I had considered trying to base a design off of a Waffen SS propaganda poster as a design for the State Security logo, but decided that that might make some people a little bit unhappy with using stuff like that, so I remade it and went with that.
  8. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Note: I have been very busy as of late, something that I regret deeply about that, mostly due to working with a friend of mine from Norway in helping to design an idea for a web comic that we came up with, so I have been very neglectful of Hammer and Steel despite my intentions, but no worries, the story is still continuing. Trying to solve issues with my game, as well as being caught up in Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion haven't helped matters at all, while also preparing for Planet Chaos which will be coming out in a week or so, but in the mean time, here's a special chapter for you all.

    Lair of Shadows

    Alpha: Team 3, are you at position, over?
    Sigma: Da, we are at position over.
    Alpha: Team 7, you at position, over?
    Delta: Ja, ja, ja, we are at position.
    Alpha: Team 2, confirm placement at your position?
    Echo: We are at position commander.
    Alpha: Very good. Teams 5, 6, 8, 9, 4, and 10, are you all positions?
    Nova: Yes, we are at position sir.
    Theta: Yes sir, Theta Team 6 at position.
    Iona: Team Eight at position command, awaiting orders.
    Vostok: Team Nine in position, all clear command chief.
    Omega: Team 10 in position sir. Ready when you are.
    Alpha: Excellent. You all know the drill, breach and clear, make sure none remain.
    Omega: Lock and load people.
    Vostok: It's on people, get excited!
    Delta: Understood sir, breaching equipment set up.
    Omega: Command, what's the call on prisoners.
    Alpha: Human only, kill all of the elohim, garou, desert witches, Smiling Jack's, and Montauk creatures.
    Omega: Understood sir.
    Delta: What if they don't come quietly?
    Alpha: They are too far gone. Terminate with extreme prejudice.
    Delta: Roger commander, breaching cycle beginning.

    (Audio fills with bursts of static as the breaching of the facility begins.)

    Alpha: Roll out people, remember, let's make this quick and clean, no casualties on our sides. Hollow points, and special ammo waiting in the wings if you encounter multiple creatures that will not be put down with standard ammunition.
    Delta: Understood sir, we are moving forward.
    Sigma: Notification of our current position, we are moving through a medical facility right now. Lots of bodies and people down here.
    Alpha: Survivors?
    Sigma: None.
    Alpha: Proceed then.
    Iona: (Notable gunshot noises) We have engaged first elohim targets, so far, all have been put down and terminated with extreme viciousness.
    Omega: Moving through the tunnels now, we've flipped to infrared and night vision, quite dark down here.
    Alpha: Stay frosty, Omega.
    Omega: Copy that.
    Vostok: Command, we have encountered heavy resistance in some of the upper levels of the facility, we are engaging in a firefight with them now. Requesting assistance, over.
    Alpha: Vostok, this is Alpha over, we are deploying sentry droids to your position, hang in there for a few minutes and they will arrive.
    Echo: Alpha, we have encountered stiff resistance in the catacombs, they are engaging with long range sniper fire over. Is there an alternate route to reach the second area of the catacombs in order to take out the snipers?
    Alpha: Echo, sending additional and secondary routes to the area over, be careful.
    Echo: Will do so sir.
    Omega: Smiling Jacks have appeared sir, we are engaging them with incendiary munitions and focused beams of light.
    Alpha: Omega, be forewarned, we have multiple heat sigs behind the Smiling Jack's coming in bound at approximitely twenty miles per hour. Reason to believe that they are Fanatics racing inbound to supplement the Jacks.

    (The sound of a loud klaxon horn can be heard over the radios.)

    Iona: Who the hell tripped the alarms?
    Alpha: Doesn't matter drop the silencers, and go loud.
    Vostok: Roger, Alpha, we are dropping silencers.
    Sigma: Terminus into the next area has been sealed off, breaching it with blowtorches and cutters now.
    Alpha: Heat sigs inbound Sigma, shape and heat levels indicate that they are most likely either Montauks or Shucks. Shotguns out, load coin shot.
    Sigma: We see them commander.
    Omega: Fanatics are engaging, two casualties so far, no fatalities. A dozen fanatics down, the Smiling Jacks and the Fanatics are retreating back down the tunnels.
    Iona: Montauk Monstrosities are observed, we are opening fire now.
    Alpha: Omega, be warned, possible trap up ahead. Iona, make sure they are automatic weapons with large clips.
    Iona: We know sir, two monstrosities down so far.
    Sigma: Get that ******' door open now!
    Omega: What's wrong Sigma?
    Sigma: Shucks, we have Shucks coming out of the ratholes right now! The door's sealed tight it seems, blowtorches are having problems getting through... two casualties so far, and more on the way.
    Alpha: Spider drones inbound, ETA in two minutes and thirty three seconds.
    Vostok: Sentry drone severely damaged, in heavy formation and attack lines.
    Alpha: Roger Vostok, be careful.
    Echo: Snipers eliminated, still under heavy fire. Reporting three more casualties, squad at 90 percent strength.
    Alpha: Echo, location of the wounded?
    Echo: With us commander, too many enemies around to leave them behind.
    Alpha: Roger, reinforcements are still fifteen minutes out.
    Omega: Smiling Jacks are still retreating, unsure of what they are trying to do currently.
    Alpha: Omega, fortify the position, the commander is inbound.
    Alpha: Sigma, current status?
    Sigma: Just got through the doors and sealed them behind us, four casualties and two fatalities, too many Shucks. Killed about six dozen of them at the very least, but there was too many of them.
    Alpha: Fortify position Sigma, reinforcements are inbound-

    (Large bursts of static fill the comms for about thirty seconds.)

    Alpha: Sigma, give me a status, over.
    Sigma: Half of the ******' roof collapsed, two more fatalities, we have garou and Shucks pouring in from the top! (In the background) Covering fire, you fools, automatic switched on! Hollow points, get hollow points in there!
    Omega: Commander, Smiling Jacks are advancing again, they are flanked by Montauks, over.
    Alpha: Lay down covering fire and toss flares, pin them down.
    Iona: Reanimated figures are coming up sir, there are no living humans in this facility. Fending them off to the best of our ability.
    Alpha: Keep at it Iona, we are getting support over there asap.
    Vostok: We have multiple targets inbound, over, Montauk monstrosities bearing in on top of us. Coin shot rounds loaded, and we are engaging at range.
    Omega: Notifying command, it appears to be that the Smiling Jacks have some sort of armor.
    Alpha: Omega, are you positive?
    Omega: Yeah, we are pinging rounds off of them left and right, and they keep coming at us.
    Alpha: Use under barrel flamethrowers, terminate targets efficiently as possible.
    Omega: Understood sir.
    Alpha: Sigma, respond.
    Sigma: We are here sir, Shucks and Montauks have stopped for the moment, they are holding back it seems.
    Alpha: Very good.
    Omega: Command, where is Echo, over?
    Alpha: Chirst. Echo, you there? Status report!
    Echo: Position unsustainable, receiving fire from all sides. Three fatalities, three casualties, we are retreating currently.
    Alpha: Hold position Echo, reinforcements are inbound.
    Echo: Repeat, situation is unsustainable, we have hit another fatality. Pulling soldiers back and holding at the next terminus.

    (Sharp screeching sounds across the radio, followed by silence.)

    First part over, Second part currently being retrieved.
  9. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Due to a large amount of family matters, a week long vacation, and not a whole lot of time to work on stuff, I have neglected Hammer and Steel quite a bit, and I am trying to revive everything that I have been working on.

    Due to this, Hammer and Steel is going to have an update day, next week on the Saturday, July 21'st, in order to put out some more segments and get it going again.
  10. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Lair of Shadows, continued

    The gunfire was deafening in the close quarters, and in the darkness it lit everything up with each crackle and pop that echoed out from the rifles of the team. Flashes of light appeared and illuminated what was around them, but they didn't really want to try and focus on what they were; the Shucks, those demon hellhounds with their red coals for eyes and slavering jaws filled with rows of sharp, sawtooth-esque teeth, snapped and clicked sharply as they leaped and sprinted at the team. Dozens of rounds of hollow point, armor piercing, and incendiary rounds smashed into them, but even under the sustained firepower, many of them were able to withstand the lead tempests to race up to the soldiers and try to sink their teeth into their flesh. Two bodies were already on the floor, the result of some panicked decisions to try and deal with them, before ultimately the massive jaws of the creatures clamped down on their throats and tore.

    More people screamed behind the soldiers, wounded that had been hit or attacked, and many of them had steaming lacerations that burned to the touch, the result of the hellhounds propensity for acidic saliva and teeth that carved deep gashes into a person. Even so, the Montauks were worse than the hellhounds, because even the hellhounds can be halted and put down with a shotgun shell to the back of the throat or the spinal cord, or even the brain stem or the brain itself. The shambling abominations of the Montauk, with their ghostly rattling and moaning of hatred, malice, pleading, and much, much more echoed in all of their minds as they tried to cut their way out of the situation. Some thought it was futile to try that, that trying to slice through and make godspeed out of the area was all but impossible, that the operation was a failure, that they would all die down here in this lair of vampires and wolves and hellhounds, of beasts that many could name and ones they could not, of things that would make a sane man break and snap.

    The commander of the tiny group that remained, pulled back for an instant and got into cover behind a jutting piece of wall that had been smashed out by something from the other side; no doubt Omega, the heavy weapons team, had detonated something to drive their enemies off, and by the looks of it, they'd apparently done quite well at that. No time to think about that though, as the commander took one hand off of the rifle in his hands and reached for the comm button on the side of the half gas mask, half helmet that they had been issued before this operation, in case there were chemical, or even biological weapons in the air down here. The communication lines flicked on, and the crisp, cool voice of Alpha greeted him, the commander of the entire operation that they had been put into.

    "I already know what you are going to ask, Sigma." The man remained quite calm under pressure, it seemed, something Sigma was thankful for. He'd been under commanders who had not been able to keep their cool, and the entire team and the men under the operations in their service had suffered for it and paid bloody prices, often with their lives. "Support is inbound, they are already in the facility and linking up with all of the positions as we speak. And the Regent is here to assist as well, perhaps for the first time in a long time it seems, so do not worry Sigma. Try to stave off the Shucks and the Montauks for a bit longer and we will get support up to you as soon as possible."

    "You read my mind so well sir. What's the status of all of the teams?"

    "All are good so far, except for Echo; they got hit with a chemical attack right before the support teams linked up with them, and that level is full of corpses right now. Echo commander is dead, most of the men are as well, a quarter of the men are still alive and have made it out though. Skyborn has authorized us to burn this whole facility to the ground after we are done, and dispose of as many samples as possible, if we can't keep any, though the Regent will have some words about that no doubt."

    "Understood, and the Lady?"

    "She's on her way as well; she mentioned there was a disturbance out in the seas about something, and it's been mentioned that a satellite fell out of orbit; bunch of casualties, and there is a massive load of political press and propaganda being chocked up to different factions up topside."

    "Understood sir."

    "Good luck to you Sigma, we will be with you shortly."

    "Regent, commander." The men of Omega snapped to a salute all at the same time, as the woman passed into the doorway, sword on her hip, assault rifle slung over her back, the thick body armor covering her body. A pin on her lapel showed a white sunburst, marking her as a commander in the Special Operations Corps, and the black and red pin next to it gleamed brightly in the makeshift lighting. A gas mask was slung to one side, and her hair was wild, and her face was scarred with faint lines from when a shrapnel bomb had exploded and almost taken off her entire face. She saluted back to them as she walked past, and unpacked a flashlight from her pocket and shone it down the hallway.

    "What do we have here, gentlemen?" Blunt and to the point, she peered into the darkness and kicked a Montauk body out of the way slightly to take a few more steps down the hallway. She paused for a second and drew out a cigarette, and lit it before puffing gently on it and looking down the hallway once more. Thin, guttural growls came from down there, as well as the occasional humanoid scream of pain and agony. Blood coated the floors and the walls, and every time someone would take a step, their boots would come up off the floor with a sticky noise as it congealed and dried. "More demons and vampires and wolves down there?"

    "Yes, Commander Regent. They are deeply entrenched in there, and they might make a move forward soon. It might be best to pull back-"

    "No." The word was simple but it spoke volumes in this spooky and sparsely lit area. She smiled and flicked the cigarette away into the darkness. Something skittered back from it, tripping over metal bars that clanked with a creepy note down the way. "I think it's high time that we dealt with these bastards. Tell me, what do you all think the likelihood of us getting a few flamethrowers up here would be like given our present situation? Likely, or not? Well, doesn't matter, cause watch this."

    Zippo lighter in hand, she lit it in the gloom, and then with one fluid motion, threw it down the hall with a ferocious swing. It sailed down the metal and concrete pathway fast, striking something fast and hard, a squelching noise echoing before it lit up and started screaming horribly, flames boiling up the trunk of the Montauk. Black shapes, illuminated by the flames, turned and shrieked at the sudden combustion of the creature, as it flailed around slowly, squelching and snapping sounds echoing and multiplying. Regent said nothing, only smiled and flicked her hand forward to point at them.

    Omega knew what to do.

    Gunfire raked the demons as they congregated down there.

    Vampire bodies the bodies of garou carpeted the floor in mass amounts, blood weakly pouring out their noses or their eyes. The chemical agent had made short work of them, and the entire floor was being swept by the replacement for Echo team, Foxfire team. Survivors of the initial deployment of the agent were dealt with accordingly, while the Lady oversaw the entire operation, moving carefully through the halls, having forsaken her typical wear for some more protection, among it being heavily padded body armor, the sort that bomb squad disposal units usually get tasked with, and yet it still was lighter than what most of Foxfire was wearing as they swept the corners and the halls, making sure that no remaining garou or elohim remained.

    One struggled and gripped at the Lady's boot, begging for mercy. Foxfire's commander offered to do the deed for her, but she declined. She knelt beside the man, one of German descent, and closed his eyes as the life drained out of him. He fell against the rest of the bodies, yet another casualty of the war.

    "The status on facility is currently pending, but it looks like we managed to clear it all, madame."

    "And the Shadow?"

    "Not to be seen, though it appears that indeed he was here. We found a central control hub that no doubt oversaw the operations, and also documents and plans about the breeding and production of a new race of creature; several new races it seems. Both the elohim and the garou are nothing from this world, madame. We don't know where they came from, or how they got here at all, and not only that, a submarine from the State Navy also disappeared as well, and has caused a massive uproar."

    "Name of the vessel, commander?"

    "It was the Forward Unto Night, Lady Commander."

    "Just as I feared, the tear in the fabric of space that I felt was the Shadow going and returning in a space of time that is both infinitely small and infinitely long. He took the vessel with him no doubt, to try and trick that world into coming out and facing him, or possibly enslaving that world to his own whims and goals."

    "Most likely madame."

    The Lady sighed gently and stepped over another body. "More of these facilities appear every day it seems, and the ones we don't burn just make us look weak and give the Shadow opportunities to strike back and take them from us. We are few and far between as it is, and every death makes our numbers dwindle, until we get new men, new soldiers, new people into our service... I'm afraid this facility, with all the knowledge we might have gleaned from it must be burned."

    "Burned, madame?"

    "Yes. Preferably with a high yield weapon. We aren't going to give him any opportunities now.
  11. SamSniped

    SamSniped DJ Goodboye

    Jan 1, 2011
    playing some funky jams
    :clap: Nice return to the story!
  12. hoplitejoe

    hoplitejoe Top fun-poster

    Mar 22, 2010
  13. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Thank you fellows, I'll have another one out tonight if all goes well. :)
  14. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    "Give me the butcher's bill," the President said as he steepled his fingers carefully and slowly, casting his grey eyes upon the Minister of the Interior. "How many casualties, in both military and civilian sectors, and give me the total cost of the damages that have transpired."

    The Minister of the Interior, a squat, ugly man with a massive scar that ran across his face in a diagonal arc, shuffled through some of the papers that laid before him. Hundreds upon hundreds if not thousands of papers of reports transcribed, collected, typed out, printed, organized, and handed to him were clasped together by staples that helped them all cling together. "According to the reports and numbers that we have collected, almost sixty thousand civilian deaths, not counting the near total annihilation of San Francisco, and an estimated ten and a half thousand soldier deaths. Not only that, but we have lost almost fifty two agents, twenty six Verbenschwa men, half of the remainder of the Chekra, and the body toll of Ming Tian's continued attacks upon our nation and our sovereignty. The Parliament is in turmoil and-"

    "Parliament can die in a fire right now." The President's mouth twitched into the closest it would ever get to some vestige of happiness. "They no longer matter, and with the escape of several suspects in the November bombings, I am quite tempted to liquidate the Parliament under Provincial Wartime Agreement Acts set forward by my numerous predecessors."

    "I don't think that enacting those at this moment would do very well for you sir." General Tartus, of the Special Task Force Units, massaged his face where a piece of shrapnel had caught him and ripped open his face horizontally from ear to ear, leaving a broad white scar and half of a nose. "The masses still want the Parliament, and in these times of tumult, doing that would probably upset the masses and bring more of them to the gates of the government and the army, demanding that Parliament be reinstated. Something on the scale that you are talking about, executing the Parliament for treasonous actions, would do much to upset the current balance that we have, and might kindle the flames of retribution and revolution against us, which is something that I think all of us could do without, agreed?"

    "Perhaps." The Presidents sighed briefly before speaking up again. "What is the current status of that rogue agent that slaughtered quite a few of her comrades?"

    "Agent Snowbell?" The Interior Minister thumbed through his papers with a sour face. "She is still considered a rogue agent and has been making her way north with vestiges of the Black Marchers that hail from those areas. Members of the Grey Dawn and the Black Marchers are engaging them at every opportunity, as the Black Marchers are less kind to the populace than the Grey Dawn have been, so it's a bloody mess up there with bodies appearing in massacre locations every damn day it seems. So far, we have dispatched six agent teams and two Verbenschwa teams to deal with her, among them Agent Team 66, Team Foxfire, Team Fallow, and the Bloody November squad as well as the Red Company."

    "The agents have been failing us quite a bit as of late." An icy tone crept into the President's voice, though he talked softly enough. "Two teams tried to stop the bombing of San Francisco and failed, and there are thousands of charred bodies there, as well as hundreds of billions worth of damages, and fallout that might never get cleaned up. Three teams deployed to Roman territory to assassinate the Grand Secretary of the Roman Republics, and that failed spectacularly, though I am surprised that it's not a major outcry on the international political front, and even more surprised that they didn't figure out it was us and instead assumed it was the German Reich. And six teams deployed on ships set out for war games to try and infiltrate the German Reich along their border, and then a damn hurricane hit them, and half the teams got washed overboard it seems, and another disappeared with one of the best submarines in the entire Navy. Need I remind you gentlemen that the Forward Unto Night had enough thermonuclear weapons to vaporize close to six dozen cities, and we still haven't been able to find it yet?"

    "As I have said before, Mr. President, we are continuing to look for it and search the waters, though the patch of ocean that we are looking for is some of the most inhospitable and turbulent waters in the entire world." Grand Admiral Mackenzie shifted in his seat, and adjusted his beard along with his posture. "We have to search approximately three thousand square miles of ocean floor, and by that time, the currents may have shifted the submarine elsewhere, or covered it with enough debris and mud to obscure it from our cameras."

    The President was clearly displeased with that answer, but he relented. "And the status of the German and the Han ghettos?"

    "As per your orders, they are being dealt with as you ordered the Verbenschwa and State Security to do. So far, two ghettos in Washington have been swept, as well as another ten in the nearby cities, and the people inside of the settlements dealt with as you have specified, Mr. President."

    "Excellent. Precisely what I like to hear."

    "Indeed. And you called us here to give us another order, sir?"

    "Of course. Gentlemen, as you all know, another celebration is close to our doorstep now, and during the Celebration of the Bells, there will of course be quite a few fireworks and stuff going on. As per my earlier comment that the agent program was performing below expectations, mostly due to the lack of talent that remains in the agent program. As such, it has come to my mind that it is best if we were to decommission the agent program and disband it all together, mostly due to the fact that the Verbenschwa is starting to exceed even my own expectations, and the Chekra is about to be absorbed into the Verbenschwa. As such, I have drawn up a new hierarchy of the special forces groups that we have. With State Security and it's multiple sub branches at the bottom, the Ehrenguard above it, and the Verbenschwa at the top, we will no doubt expand it in time, but I believe that it is in our best interests to... prune, as you will, the multiple offshoots that have grown and sprouted up in the wake of my predecessors."

    "What are you suggesting, sir?" The General leaned forward and was smiling carefully.

    "I mean it's time to liquidate the agent program."

    The General smiled wider. "Of course sir... what date would you like to pick for it?"

    "The celebrations of course; tell the agents to stay away from the celebrations and the revelry, and when they are at their homes, the Verbenschwa and the Ehrenguard will deploy as State Security cordons the area off and the former two groups engage the agents and liquidate them and their families. Clean sweep, no survivors, you know the drill gentlemen. I want this done as soon as you can do it, and make sure that you do it efficiently, cleanly, and most of all, quietly, though with all the fireworks going off, I imagine that you will not need to worry all that much about doing it too quietly."

    "Understood sir, we will do as you have commanded us to do."

    "Excellent. Let us have an intermission gentlemen and return in a little bit."
  15. Verarde

    Verarde Pondering Wearing A Hat

    Nov 25, 2009
    Northern VA
    I can't see that ending well.

    Great writing as always, Tycho.
  16. Yoshiegg737

    Yoshiegg737 Jungo Jungo

    Nov 14, 2010
    Very nice :D
  17. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Thank you so far guys, continuing to work though it's been hectic as of late. :)
  18. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Resuscitating the story here, I'll be posting some more in the days to come as school draws closer, sorry for not being around; going to make an attempt with Rome and Honor and Glory as well.
  19. Daedwartin

    Daedwartin Emperor

    Jan 6, 2012
    Grand Daedwartian Union
    Keep it up

    Also, wall of text...
  20. Tycho

    Tycho AFK Forum Warrior

    Jul 31, 2011
    Back to school right now, and straightening out and trying to balance my workload currently, but I am still working hard on more bits of the stories that I have.

Share This Page