Hidden 13 days ago Post by Andreyich
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Andreyich Your colleague, friend, brother

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>>>Tuesday January 15, 1991

>>>Stavropol Krai

"Pull, pull!" The ropes tugged harder, and so the staues went down one by one. First Dzerzhinsky, then Frunze, then Marx, until finally reaching Lenin and Stalin. Most just had their plaques crowbarred off, but as if to add insult to injury one was replaced with a crude but discernible cast of Krasnov, Shkuro, Wrangel.

The Marxist-Leninists weren't happy but their opinion hadn’t mattered when they had won barely a tenth of the vote in all of Stavropol; surveys revealed that even this paltry vote was almost entirely to be a product of internal migration from elsewhere within the USSR. All other parties had to be content with single digits or less, the People's Collective Party having won more than eighty percent of the local vote. It was a good name of course, and an accurate one. But it also belied the full truth. It was the party of the Cossacks, the natives of the region. They of course had to operate within the framework of the CCCP, claiming to have the variant of socialism they followed owing to the ancient and democratic Cossack collectives. Socialism with Cossack characteristics! But to their electorate they made clear their disdain for the Marxist. When speaking on national television they of course explained that this was because the Russian people could not be forced to take on this strange Anglo-German brand socialism — this would be Imperialism! Why, weren’t those foreigners the very people who made fascism and now pursue the most hedonist and decadent forms of capitalism? But to their electorate they made clear they were the ones who would react. They were the ones who would melt the star into a cross and the hammer and sickle into a Cossack’s saber. They would be the ones who would make the Leninists and Stalinists pay for the de-Cossackization that so many in Moscow were eager to sweep under the rug. Today was just the beginning. The history books stamped by the Leningrad cretins would forget the indignities inflicted upon the Cossacks but the sons of the Don vowed they would not.

But they had acted too fast, they knew they had overestimated the discretion of their base. This wouldn't have mattered if not for the delicate timing. Today Spartak Leningrad had went up against Dynamo Stavropol, the more practiced Southerners taking the match 5-3 with a local referee making decisions that erred on the blatantly biased. The Spartak fans were angry and since their tickets to return home were largely only for the next day the football fans from the Marxist-Leninist core of the RSSR roamed the city very, very angrily. Then of course a delegation of students from different faculties had landed a few days earlier largely from Primorski Krai, the area being one of the most loyal to the main Communist party.

The success of the PCP had emboldened the locals leading to their little citizen initiative with the statues but it was not without opposition. Of the local enemies to the cause of the PCP there weren't many. Of them most were too afraid to do much knowing they had friends in every part of Stavropol from administration to police. To anybody with all the facts of the situation the outcome of the day would not be as surprising as it was to most of the Soviet Union and indeed the world at large.

Nobody could be sure who was the first to form what locals dubbed the “red mob”, and it likewise wasn’t quite clear who threw the first blow.. But as one the local red activists grouped together with the Primorski Krai students and the fans of the Spartak Leningrad football team at the sight of the old statues being brought down.

Some organized in smaller groups around the smaller monuments in the area, and these perhaps ironically had the best fate only being shoved about to clear the way for the destruction of history.

The largest of the happenings was along the administrative building, just outside where the regional party members convened. The people surrounding the Lenin monument were quite numerous and for some time they felt as invincible as they looked. Workers trying to get to the site were pushed back, but they were soon replaced with far more insistent comrades. The Dynamo Stavropol fans forgot their smugness over their football team’s victory over the nemesis when they saw this very same nemesis defending one of the greatest villains of their history.

The football hooligans would have been enough to simply beat back the people surrounding the statue, but when the rest of the local people came forth a riot consisting of two mobs fighting one another very slowly turned into a stampede. First the Priests came to support the locals, then members of the militia claiming to be “impartial” came forth from within the administrative building beating upon the people surrounding the monument.

The event only got more horrible as one of the Spartak fans shoved a youth in grade school down into the ground such that the child’s ear was scraped bloodily; an injury that would heal in a day, but to see one of their children bloodied by these folk from elsewhere roused the Cossacks. More violence yet came from the recognition of the Koryo-Saram and other Asian peoples amongst the Primorski Krai students. The Sino-Soviet split though now healed geopolitically, but its propagandistic impact was still in the minds of the people of Stavropol in particular who had lost much wealth during the great reduction of trade with China reducing demand for the agricultural machinery manufactured there. Particular cruelty was shown towards these Koreans and other students with bottles being first smashed to be vicious blades before being used to strike. Yes, these weren’t Chinese, but were not those people all friends and - when we got down to it - all the same?



The violence entered its fatal stage as fans of the Football Club of Yessentuki arrived. A smaller town and even more distant from the ideologues in Moscow and Leningrad they had suffered far more than the men of the capital at the hands of the people who’s incarnations they saw surrounding the great statue. They had a rivalry with Dynamo Stavropol but they were more than happy to make a truce to kick these fools off of their lands. Whereas the locals had only gone for the defenders of the statue with whatever was at hand like bottles and stones the FC Yessentuki fans and their friends came far more prepared with petrol bombs and clubs one man having even brought along a pistol according to some sources. Angry shouts turned to frightened and pained screams as great blood was drone and burning petrol hit flesh.

For the participants it may have seemed like an eternity but the whole even took less than half a day to be done. By the end there were more than two hundred with varying degrees of injury and nineteen dead, three of whom were locals. Of the injured nine would expire on the way to the hospital with a further two comatose. All after the statue went down and a new one was erected all the Stavropol natives ran like the winds as they realized the possible legal ramifications of the day, while for their part the OMON and other Militia members roused did not seem very enthusiastic in the chase that they gave to their local kinsmen instead reserving their strength to beat the visitors and arrest them for having “incited and participated in a violent riot.”



>>>The Moscow Kremlin

Premiere Anatoli Pavlenko closed the file, standing up to look outside the windows of the Kremlin. It was a theatrical gesture but he felt that for some reason the members of the Supreme Soviet assembled at the desk expected it of him. Behind him were arguing Tikhonov with Ryzhkov along with several other figures, and as a crescendo was reached of overlapping voices Anatoli once more sat down.

“What have you told the newspapers to say.”

“I have told them to be quiet Sir.” Ryzhkov said.

“Mmmmm. Have any acted out of line?”

“We rectified the few cases that have.”

The Premiere said a nasty word.

“Drop the muzzle order. Now!”

Anatoli wiped his brow, shaking his head.

“I take it our Eastern partners have by now heard of this news.”

“They haven’t said anything, but it is inevitable.”

“Tell the Stavropol militia if asked about the ethnicity of the victims to reply that they do not know.”

“It is just a few Koreans. Met a few of their kind with Brezhnev. It’s not a big deal Premiere, nobody will really care after a day passes.”

Brezhnev.

“Perhaps Councillor, perhaps. But if not for our Eastern partners abroad we need to at least look at what our comrades in Primorski will say.” the Premiere said, suppressing another nasty word in direction of Ryzhkov.

At this point Anatoli turned away from Ryzhkov wanting a… different opinion. “Mitrovich, any word from the East?”

“Errr, not quite. Some. The governor of Primorski went to us but the Koryo-Saram councils sent messages right to Stavropol demanding answers.”

“What was the reply?”

“A well written rendition of ‘fuck off’.”

“Of course it was. Can you deal with it?”

It took Mitrovich’s best efforts to not look flabbergasted at having been told to single-handedly prevent a simmering ethnic conflict spanning two continents.

“Good. What of the parties?”

“Most condemn today’s events but only a few are going against the PCP directly. For now anyway.”

Anatoli sighed, it was a better result than previously expected but not by much.

“We should crack down on the Stavropolites. The PCP needs to be put in its place my dear comrades.”

“No, it cannot. We cannot be seen taking away what we gave so recently. All the little parties say they want something to be done about Stavropol’s ‘insolence’ but the moment we do something they will all cry out in anger at us abusing our powers and our new oppression. Now then, if that is all let us go meet them.”

The assembled Soviet leadership left the meeting room and went down to meet the Congress of People’s Deputies still arguing amongst itself. At the portal to the auditorium one of the Clerks was waiting to open it for them to pass through, the little man sweating profoundly. “Is everything alright in there?”

“They’re fighting, Comrade Premiere.”

“Who?”

“Stavropol’s PCP representative, Nikolai Pavlovich.”

“With whom? What did he say?”

“With a lot of them.” The Clerk looked to a transcript he was typing on his computer, which after a moment he turned for the Premiere to view. The Premiere pushed it back after realizing it was a list of slurs, shaking his head. “Let’s go.” he said, repeating it a few times under his breath.

They opened the portal and went to their seats, keeping quiet as they listened to the argument between Stavropol’s Antonenko arguing with Moscow’s communist party deputy. They came in at the tail end of the conversation, but it did not bode well for the Union’s stability.

“A-ha-ha! Oh you little bitch you dare threaten me?” the Stavropol representative laughed without any humour. “If not for Stavropol you Marxist, Stalinist degenerates would be starving decades ago. After university I went right to work on the farm, when have you worked with the people? No you little worm you’re the bourgeoisie of the Soviet Union, and you dare cry these lies of the Cossacks not knowing socialism. Seventy years ago you tried to destroy our people. The Cossacks still stand, but everybody forgot about your Marx, Lenin and Stalin. But know, just like you tried to destroy us we will destroy you Leninist, but we will not fail.” By the time Anatoli had ascended the steps to his seat Nikolai Pavlovich had taken off his shoe and was moving over to strike the Moscow representative with it. The Premiere clasped his hands as security came and a different topic was broached. Being Premiere was different to his expectations. The sheer amount of delegation he was to do only gave him a feeling of powerlessness as the chilling words of Antonenko echoed in his head. These would be interesting times.
Hidden 11 days ago 9 days ago Post by Jeddaven
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Jeddaven the Dunmeri

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Brasilia

Another day, another nightmare.

All around Conceicao, Brasilia was burning. Her honour guard was dead, mutant corpses strewn about the palace grounds. To the East, Paranoá Lake was clogged with the wreckage of thousands of tiny boats and millions of floating, bloated corpses. To the West, the city burned, the deafening roar of the inferno's flames narrowly failing to drown out the screams of so many innocent people. Jets screamed overhead, seeking to fight off some unseen attacker, only to be rendered unto heaps of flaming wreckage in the blink of an eye. Tanks and armoured cars littered the streets in every direction.

Brazil was helpless. Her nation had thrown everything against the enemy, every piece of military hardware, every last-ditch weapon, every man and woman able to carry and fire a rifle... And it all amounted to nothing. Worse than nothing, perhaps. If they hadn't fought back, then they could have at least survived on their-

"President Conceicao?" A voice whispered, so impossibly gentle that it couldn't have been human. In mere moments, however, the voice brought the listless President back to the world of the living, leaving her to jolt upward in her chair. Her eyes darted from one side to the other - left, then right - only to finally settle on the gently smiling face of a kind young man, dressed in the finest of suits, beaming at her from across the table.

"...Filipe." Conceicao groaned, rubbing her eyes with a furred, wickedly clawed hand. "How long was I out for this time?"

"Only a few moments, President Conceicao. You haven't missed anything just yet. Are you sure you are well?" The young man asked, canting his head to one side. A tongue, partway reptilian in nature, slipped out from beneath his teeth, idly flicking at the air.

Conceicao gave him a dismissive wave, carefully straightening her custom-made suit, noting the slight twinkle in his eyes as a nictitating membrane slid over each of the bright, blue, shining orbs. "I'm fine," she groaned, forcing a wicked, fanged smile onto her discoloured face as she idly scratched at a splotch of bright green scales. "I will be, once the day is done. The others - are they here?"

The boy nodded. She nodded back. Behind Apolônia, the door buzzed, swinging open - and in came a parade of Brazilian Ministers, diplomats, and generals, each dressed in practical, if well-made uniforms, sparsely decorated by medals. One-by-one, they took their seats at the table, a handful muttering greetings in Portuguese or one of the many languages native to pre-colonial Brazil. For the first time in days, a genuine smile graced Apolônia's features as she nodded to her aide, a pair of television screens unfolding from the scene at either end of the table.

"Ladies, gentlemen... You all know why I have called you here today." Conceicao began, taking in a deep breath. "Today, Brazil is more powerful than it ever has been, enough to nearly challenge the hegemony of the world's great powers on its own... But she is still vulnerable. Her armies are strong, but so are her people. Her people, however, are merely mortal. Morale alone cannot protect us - not against the American fascists, not against the communists should they decide to turn against us, and certainly not against the visitors, who we still know so little about. The Americans and Russians could flatten our cities with nuclear hellfire and weapons that hang high above our head, and... Well, even I do not understand what the visitors are truly capable of. Today, we show the world that Brazil will defend its soil to the very last breath." She continued, giving Filipe a sidelong nod. The screens, each and every one, flickered to life. The feed they seemed to depict a rapidly approaching metal speck shook violently, as if rocked by an earthquake, and all across the room, a handful of eyes widened in shock, others simply displaying their quiet assent.

"Some of you realize what I speak of, I think. Ahead of us, you will see the Stella Maris - the largest space station Brazil has put in orbit, and enough to rival both the Soviets and Americans in size - though not in number. She is a state-of-the-art construction, equipped with the finest telescopes and sensing devices, all pointed throughout the solar system to watch for Visitor activity. That is what all of you know of her. There is, however, much that some of you do not know."

Apolônia cleared her throat, gesturing toward the speck as it grew larger, finally visible to the naked eye as a large, slowly spinning cylindrical space station, thick metal rings situated at various points along its length.

"She is much more than that, however. The Americans and Russians will not like it, but the Stella Maris is more than just a research station. She is a protector - a platform studded with state of the art KEM launching systems, advanced pint defense technology, and a custodial weak artificial intelligence that helps the station's crew manage the station's functions." Conceicao paused, allowing her ministers and generals a few moments to process the information before abruptly continuing.

"As of this moment, you are the ones to know this, but that is about to change. Tomorrow, once the second of the station's railguns are armed, I will announce the true purpose of Stella Maris to the international community. I do not enjoy keeping secrets from so many of you, but in this case, it was necessary in order to prevent the station from being compromised, but that is not important. Was is important, however, is that Brazil is now more prepared than ever for any threat - she can strike unavoidably anywhere in the world with just over twelve megatons of energy, far more precisely focused than any nuclear blast - and, hopefully, the first step along the path to bringing ourselves into parity with the Visitors." She said, briefly scanning over the ministers arrayed before her. Some exchanged glances, some nervous, other enthusiastic - but none dared open their mouths to question their revered leader.

"Filipe," she continued, settling back into her seat. "Our next matter of business concerns Angola, I believe?"



UN General Assembly Chambers

Wayorá loved his country - Brazil - or at least the miracle President Conceicao had brought to it. There was, truth be told, little he could say hadn't been vastly improved, from the state of its developing economy to the way the average person was treated by the government. He, if nobody else, could say that much - a scant few decades ago, he'd been living in an ailing, dilapidated aboriginal village, struggling to stay sustainable due to near-constant exploitation by previous Brazilian governments. Bow, he was Brazil's representative to the world, its UN ambassador, but even he couldn't help but occasionally hate his job. What else were you supposed to think, after all, when you were staring down the barrel of hundreds of diplomatic guns, explaining to said diplomats that you had at least two enormous weapons pointed at all of their heads. Still, even with wrinkles already appeared on his newly aged face, he had a job to do.

"Ladies, gentlemen, friends of the world..." He began, quietly clearing his throat to grab the Assembly's attention. "Thirty years ago, the paradigm of human existence was forever changed. I won't bore you with the details, as I'm sure most of you remember the very events I refer to, and all of us have different stories. Different thoughts - a rainbow of opinions, one might say. Some of us were excited, terrified, simply awestruck, or any number of emotional states in between... But what we can all agree on, I think, is that none of us liked how helpless, vulnerable, and unprepared the Visitation made us feel. What, after all, could we hope to do?" He said, gesturing across the entire chamber, arrayed before him.

"Even now thirty years later, we are still struggling tooth and nail to survive in this strange new world. We've all made great progress, I'm sure you can all agree, in so many different ways, whether that be through human ingenuity or sheer refusal to lie down and let these anomalies take our beautiful blue marble from us. Today..." He paused, though only for the briefest of moments. When Wayorá wrote the speech, he thought it was only for dramatic effect, but now, alone in his thoughts, it seemed so much more like fear. That meant he needed to move on quickly, of course - and so he did, relaxing his muscles into a more friendly, laid back posture.

"Today, I am proud to announce that Brazil has taken another step in protecting our planet from hostile extraterrestrials. The Stella Maris, a state-of-the-art telescope array and research station, joins the ranks of the great powers prepared to defend our planet with arms placed in orbit." He said, promptly continuing before the chamber had a chance to erupt into an uproar, even as murmuring broke out within the General Assembly, spreading like wildfire. "Now, I assure you, that is the sole purpose of the Stella Maris: to study and protect, and nothing more."

In the brief moment of silence that followed, the chamber erupted into furious debate.

Inwardly, all Wayorá could think to do was wonder what else the government had been hiding from him.

Hidden 9 days ago Post by Mao Mao
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Mao Mao Sheriff of Pure Hearts (They/Them)

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PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

January 15th, 1991
EMPRESS OF KOREA

Cheongwadae, Seoul
The winter snow that coated the gardens of Cheongwadae had finally melted, making them accessible for the President and her staff. President Na Mi-Kyung went out alone to have a moment of solitude before being forced back to the unpleasant world. She reflected upon her dead parents and prayed that they were proud of her. Or at the very least, gratified that their only child was safe and sound. Then, her tranquility was interrupted. Mi-Kyung immediately knew that her friend was coming to visit when there wasn't any sound of resistance from her security. So, she spoke up. "It's nice to see you again, Chairman. I would've prepared a feast if I knew you were coming."

"You know why I am here." Chairman Xue Xuefeng said in a severe tone.

"My petition..." Mi-Kyung answered with a smile. "I knew that it should've been scented."

"I'm serious. You've made the National Congress divided on the matter, which is something that hasn't happened in decades." Xuefeng explained.

Mi-Kyung laughed. "That's because they don't want to stand against the Paramount leader openly."

"Very funny." Xuefeng replied before finding a nearby bench to sit on. He didn't care if the snow hadn't melted yet. Mi-Kyung sat next to her friend and stared out at the garden. Both of them remained silent for a minute until she started talking again. "It's incredible to see how much this garden has grown since we last saw it together, isn't it?"

Xuefeng nodded. "The tenth anniversary of the Korean Reunification was the last time we stood here. I believe that tree over there was barely planted, and now it's growing high over the other plants. Remember the first time we set foot here and saw how much of the garden was devastated by the artilleries. It took so long to replace the damaged flowers and bushes. But now, we are here to witness its regrowth. Breathtaking, isn't it?"

"Only if we weren't so busy to spend time together." Mi-Kyung frowned. "I assume you came here to tell me to shut up."

Xuefeng stood up and then turned to his friend with a hint of a smile on his face. "Actually, I came here to ask if you were up to the task—reopening Korea's ports to foreigners that want the world to live under capitalist rule, especially Americans. Look at the citizens living under the Soviets calling for newfound freedoms that their government has restricted. China would look bad on the international stage if we are having similar problems in Korea."

"Just like Taiwan?" Mi-Kyung added while Xuefeng glared at her.

"Their citizens were brainwashed by the Kuomintang while South Koreans were under American influence. Our situations are completely different. But if you have a solution, then I trust your judgment to keep the peace." Xuefeng looked at her watch then back at Mi-Kyung. "I have to go back to the mainland. I will express support for the petition at the next National Congress."

Mi-Kyung watched as her friend left the garden to head back home. She sat there for a few more minutes until one of her aides approached her. And she knew what it meant: time to go back to work.


Shilin Night Market // Taipei
Two young men watched the entrance of the night market to find their target and kill them. One of the men had a brown bag, which contained a pistol and a photo of the target. It was an older businesswoman based on the outfit in the picture with another man. That was all he knew about her, and he was okay with it. After all, she was from the mainland that moved to Taiwan shortly after the invasion. Like plenty of Taiwanese people, their hatred towards mainlanders was unmatched since they "invaded" their homes. So, to him, it was good that another "invader" was going to die.

Then, he got the signal from his partner. It was time.

He stood up and followed his partner, who was going to "accidentally" bump into the target. But, both of them weren't expecting associates with her. It was already too late to let them go. While his partner was apologizing, the other man reached into the bag and felt no pistol. That was when he saw his friend with the gun, thinking he had the better chance to kill her. However, her associate saw the weapon and had enough time to push the target out of harm's way. Two shots rang out, and the associate dropped to the ground with bullet holes in his chest.

Before his partner had time to react, the other associate pulled out a pistol of his own and opened fire at the assassin. The other man knew that his friend was already fucked and ran towards his only chance at escaping with his freedom: a rented motorcycle. He didn't want to risk getting captured and ran towards it with lighting speeds. By the time he started the motorcycle and began driving away from the night market, he thought nobody followed him. That was until he heard a gunshot and felt something going through his right leg. It caused him to lose control and fall off of the motorcycle.

The last thing he saw was the left side of a parked car before he lost consciousness.


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Andronicus23 Rogue Courser

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New Horizons Coalition

Tactical Recovery Team Zulu 43 ‘Night Stalkers’ - Paris, France
Recovery Operation ‘Hammer Fall”



Commander Vahid had stumbled upon something terrible.

Zulu 43 had made their way to the warehouse in quick order, and on his command, had breached the doors and began their raid with pinpoint precision. Initial resistance from the smugglers had been light, as expected, and Vahid had anticipated that the raid would proceed as a standard operation.

What had quickly become clear was that this was far from a typical smuggling ring. The intelligence that had been gathered over the past month had not indicated anything out of the ordinary. The smugglers were suspected to be affiliated with contacts in North America, and the artifacts that had been positively identified as in their possession were not considered to be dangerous. More than likely they’d been acquired either through illegal zone scavenging operations in eastern europe or via illicit artifact trading within the city itself. All in all it was considered a low-level bust, with the potential to at least reveal some valuable info on higher level targets.

Things had started to go sideways once they'd cleared the first floor, and proceeded down into the warehouse basement level. Zulu 43 had neutralized resistance quickly, but soon found themselves staring at an unanticipated makeshift tunnel deep within the basement’s structure. It had seemingly been carved out recently by the smugglers themselves, and a safe bet would assume it was some manner of escape tunnel that potentially connected to other buildings in the surrounding area. Not wanting to lose the initiative and potentially allow any high-level targets to escape, Vahid had made the risky request that Zulu 43 continue pursuit immediately down the tunnel. A request that had quickly been granted by Operation Command.

Activating their night vision optics, and leaving two of their members behind to guard the entrance and await reinforcements, the Recovery Team had probed the darkness beyond. The tunnel appeared to be wired for electricity, but in their haste to escape the smugglers had either not activated it or had shut it off to deter pursuit. Overall the tunnel appeared stable and surprisingly well constructed, which immediately began to tip Vahid off to the notion that this might be for more than just a quick exit.

Those suspicions were confirmed when the team began encountering rooms: living quarters and storeroom areas. Some of them even appeared to be well furnished, especially given the circumstances. They cleared each and every one before proceeding onward. In one of these rooms, Vahid had found and picked up a book of some sort, lying on a nearby table upon which strange symbols had been carved. The cover had multiple languages, French, Latin, Russian, and English. The title had read simply:

“The Prophecies of The Thousand Eyes”

“Shit,” Vahid cursed, as he showed the book to his lieutenant, “I knew something was off here.”

“Thousand Eyes,” The Lieutenant gave a whistle, “Didn’t think we’d seen those psychos here. How the hell did they get into Paris unnoticed?”

Vahid shook his head, “No idea, but we need to fall back. Now. There’s no telling what's up ahead.”

“Commander! Contacts!” One of the soldiers shouted, right before he began opening fire further down the tunnel.

“Damn it!” Vahid cursed, and swung his M4 back up.

Screams echoed further down, and twisted almost inhuman forms could be seen manifesting in his night vision. Unchecked NLC mutations, especially those utilized by the Cult of the Thousand Eyes, were loathsome to behold. Thousand Eyes was a Post-Visitation Doomsday Cult dedicated to the idea that humanity was unworthy of its place in the universe, and ultimately believed it to be only deserving of enslavement or eradication. By hastening this end, members of the cult hoped to be found worthy of transcendence by the ever-watchful ‘thousand eyes’ within the black void of space.

The hulking form of a heavily muscled man-creature covered in all manner of ritualistic tattoos barreled down the tunnel towards the Zulu 43 members as it threw aside lesser mutates in its way. In the confined space, it seemed nigh impossible to bring the NLC mutant down with small arms without it reaching them first. Vahid began waving the rest of his team away to make for the exit back where they’d come.

“Ramón! Light it up!”

One of the soldiers detached a flamer nozzle from a device on his back, and he aimed it down the tunnel towards the rapidly advancing mutant. As it came within feet of the pair of them, the nozzle unleashed a hellish torrent of fire. The sounds of screaming filled the tunnel and the fire illuminated deformed faces caught in utter agony.

“Go go!’ Vahid ordered, and he and Ramón began to beat a hasty retreat to follow the rest of Zulu 43 back out the tunnel.

Svalbard Global Operations Headquarters

“As all divisions are currently present, the meeting may proceed.”

A woman in a cleanly pressed black dress suit took her seat at an empty table in a dimly lit room, all around her on the wall were various screens, upon which six other individuals in similar attire were displayed as they transmitted remotely from locations across the globe. Their faces were obscured and their backdrops were nondescript, a certain degree of anonymity being the desired result.

“I’d like to start by going over the report from Paris, an artifact Tactical Recovery Team, codename Zulu 43, engaged elements of the Cult of the Thousand Eyes during a raid on a suspected smuggling ring. Once it became clear that the cult was involved, Zulu 43 immediately retreated and relayed a request for assistance. A close quarters combat specialist team was deployed and the nest was immediately purged. We’re still gathering evidence regarding the Cult’s activities there in cooperation with French authorities.”

“Thousand Eye’s presence in a major European city is disturbing to say the least,” One of the figures on the screens stated, “We need to make sure everything is being done to ascertain how they were able to slip past Coalition intelligence and establish such a strong foothold.”

“A foothold right under our very nose….” another added solemnly, “Aurora any thoughts on that point?”

The woman perked up at her codename, “I’m taking the necessary steps to do just that,” she replied, “I should have an initial report from my subordinates within the next day or two.”

“Very good, I don’t mean to suggest that this was a lapse in your division’s operations. It is a concerning development that affects us all.”

Aurora nodded, “I take no offense, and concur with the assessment.”

“Very good, we’ll continue monitoring the situation then, and raise our threat level regarding the Cult of The Thousand Eyes worldwide. It's clear that we’ve underestimated their capabilities. Their dangerous use of NLC artifacts poses a threat to mankind as a whole, and they cannot be allowed to spread unchecked.”

“Agreed.” Came the unanimous reply.
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