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Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 13th of Month 2 (Subati):
Inspector Raquel Bosque rode slowly through the Rhungora countryside, his eyes darting over empty fields and deserted villages. Something was terribly wrong. He had gotten the feeling two days ago when he had encountered the first waystation completely deserted by its small ten man garrison. Only their bedrolls and dinner, now cold, in tin plates remained to prove that men had once inhabited the small stone structure.

He had looked for some locals to question but found the village likewise deserted with no signs of the occupants, even the livestock were gone. His escort, two Imperial cavalrymen, had ridden with loaded carbines since then.

“Inspector!” One of his escorts, a young handsome fellow named Marcelo, was pointing into the distance. Smoke. A single black column that climbed into the perfect blue sky. Only buildings burned like that. A grass fire would be grey and spread from horizon to horizon. He kicked back his heels and urged his horse into a trot.

The three men covered the distance quickly. The rolling Savannah, once so pleasant and calm, suddenly seemed to hold a hidden menace that Bosque could not quite describe. He had been an inspector for some twenty years, investigating whatever was required of him, and all of that experience now filled him with dread. Something was terribly wrong.

The smoke thickened as they drew closer and the Inspector quickly ordered his escort to dismount, leading their mounts into a thick copse of trees before proceeding carefully on foot. They stuck to the shade, it wouldn’t provide much concealment but something was better than nothing.

A small river cut through the landscape here and a customs house had been built to collect a toll from travellers to use the bridge. That building and its neat little garden were engulfed in flame now, sparks shooting high into the air as the whole roof suddenly caved in.

“Well shit.” Marcelo muttered from Bosques right. His carbine was tucked into this shoulder, ready to fire, as he scanned the vegetation around the customs house. “I suppose it would be too much to hope for a chimney fire?”

“Unlikely.” The second soldier, Zamora, indicated several large vultures that were tearing at some black object lying in the roadway. “Could be a dog?”

“In a uniform?” Bosque had his eyeglass out now and was surveying the damage. The vultures had jumped abruptly in size and he ignored them as he focused on what he was now certain was a dead man. A white trimmed golden jacket with red lapelles was evident, the uniform of the regiment currently assigned to guard this stretch of roadway.

“We need to go, right now.” Bosque wasted no time as he turned and hurried back toward the horses, his escort in tow. There was no argument from them as they swung into the saddle and spurred into the open road.

They skirtered the customs house and body as they made for the bridge, hooves throwing up sparks as the metal crashed against stone. They saw no one else, dead or alive, as they went and Bosque felt his heart sink. The customs house should have held at least another dozen soldiers.

The three rode in silence now, more and more aware of the increasing number of smoke columns smearing the tranquil sky. The sun was hot on their necks but none of them noticed. All they wanted now was to reach safety, wherever that was. Minutes turned into hours as they rode, stopping now and then to water their horses and feed themselves. More abandoned guard stations came and went but no more bodies were to be found. It was as though a giant hand had plucked everyone from the land, leaving behind nothing but echoes in their abandoned buildings.

Then, as they crossed the Kadasha River, they found human life. A squad of soldiers on exhausted horses, were resting in some shade as they gulped down water. Bosque was surprised to see that they were a mis-mash of uniforms and his discontent deepened further.

“Easy! Inspector Bosque of the Territorial Guard.” He called out quickly as the soldiers scrambled to their feet, snatching up their weapons, when they saw the three riders.

Relief showed on their faces and weapons were lowered as Bosque dismounted, leading his horse to the edge of the river before turning to the assembled soldiers. He looked them over with a practiced eye. They were tired, dirty, and everyone of them looked afraid.

“We have just returned from the North. Every way station, guard post, and customs house is abandoned without a single soul to be found, what the hell has happened?” Bosque focused his questions on a tall Sergeant, the highest ranking of the group. The man stared at him in amazement for a moment.

“God Bless you Inspector, but the Rhun have risen. They’re killing everyone they can find who wears the Emperors uniform.” There was murmured ascent and nods from the rest of the soldiers. “I managed to find these lads when I fled Khapala.”

Khapala, the capital of Rhungora, home to the provinces only real port, modern citadel, and an impressive garrison.

“Why did you have to flee?” The Inspector asked carefully. He did not want to sound like he was accusing the man of desertion. There were two dozen men with him, all of them on the edge of reason, and the Inspector only had two cavalrymen to back him up.

“The Rhun…” The Sergeant looked confused, as if he thought Bosuqe was having him on. “You really don’t know?”

“No, Sergeant, I haven’t a clue. You said the Rhun has risen, what does that mean exactly?”

“Khapala is gone, sir. The garrison slaughtered.”

Bosque felt as though someone had thrown ice cold water over him, his mind trying to process what that meant for the Imperial forces in the country.

“It wasn’t any sort of planned thing. A group of the local auxiliary decided they’d had enough, shot their officers, and attacked the garrison. The whole country is up in arms.”

______________________________________________________________________________

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 13th of Month 2 (Subati):
Thus begins the rise of Rhungora against their overlords. The shock had reverberated through the nearby colonies at the audacity and violence of the insurrection. Armies had been mobilized, seemingly endless columns of soldiers marching to war to put down the rebellious upstart nation. Everyone had known it would be but a matter of time before the rebellion would be crushed, the imperial penance exacted, a million hearts were to bleed in recompense.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 21st of Month 2 (Subati):
Vast imperial armies had marched with easy knowledge of their victory into the plains of Rhungora. They had set ablaze entire villages, razed to the ground all structures that met their advance, they left no stone unturned and no rebel alive. Within a week of their arrival, the border was aflame, the land wreathed in smoke and ember.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 28th of Month 2 (Subati):
Within another week, tens of thousands had perished, entire cities wiped from existence under the boot of imperial retribution. There would be no mercy for such upstarts. For every Imperial soul lost, a thousand of the enemy would feed the earth with their blood. Such was the price of treason. Such was the price of daring to defy the will of the supreme.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 2nd of Month 3 (Adara):
As is almost inevitable in war, disease swept the ranks of the invading forces. Native afflictions, few of which the men of Anyueva held a resistance to, devastated their numbers.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 22nd of Month 3 (Adara):
The Empareja ordered in fresh units, drafting colonial volunteers into a new army. This new force had swept once more into the upstart province, and once more the burning of Rhungora had resumed.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 30th of Month 3 (Adara):
The crushing defeat of a rebel army at the Battle of the Rhilahedra Plain, wherein fifty thousand Anyuevan soldiers - forty thousand colonial and native volunteers, and a professional core of ten thousand homelanders - had brought to heel a rebel force claimed to number three hundred thousand. Though the rest of the world treated such claims derisively. The comparatively poorly led enemy force had been split down the middle and torn to pieces by the potent cannonade of the Anyuevan guns, their forces had been run down by Anyuevan grenadiers, their resistance crushed like the impotent bugs they were.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 17th of Month 4 (Nisani):
The Dark Day. In a mirror image of Rhilahedra, the seemingly unstoppable onslaught of Anyueva’s military forces was dramatically halted. One hundred and twenty thousand soldiers marching under the banner of Anyueva clashed with eighty thousand of the Rhun, and ten thousand ‘mercenaries’ hailing from the lands of Quat’i Al-Qarikha. Sixty thousand Rhun, and seven thousand sons and daughters of Quat’i walked from the battlefield that day. Nary ten thousand Anyuevan sons escaped with their freedom or their lives intact. The news had triggered an uproar, a tumultuous outcry, a demand that this defeat be avenged.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 29th of Month 4 (Nisani):
Declaration of war between Quat’i Al-Qarikha and the Grakaisaran Imperpulau Anyueva, and the armies of the two super-empires marshalled for all out war. In Sentekuthi, the capital city of Anyueva, the Posdal of the Father called for a grand crusade against the heathen Elder worshippers of Quat’i.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 30th of Month 4 (Nisani):
In Melidki, the capital of the sprawling empire of Quat’i, the Malik assembled the merchant dynasties, the designated governors of each province, the clergy of the Twelve, and decreed to them that they would put forth their sworn funding to arm the people of the nation and to raise once more the great armies of Quat’i.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 13th of Month 5 (Ayyara):
The first full military clashes between the two superpowers begin. The mighty guns of the Anyuevan fleet roared in challenge to the navy of Quat’i. The great harbor of Adenib had drawn its chain, and its coastal guns roared back as the people braced for blockade. An expeditionary force of a hundred thousand sons and daughters of Quat’i landed upon the beaches of Anyamundar, bayonets gleaming in the tropical sun as they marched forth to do battle. Five hundred thousand levied men and women rallied to the banner of the army, and they too marched forth in great columns.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 30th of Month 5 (Ayyara):
The forces of Quat’i Al-Qarikha met the Anyuevan army in the humid heat of Anyamundar’s tropical plains, in the south of Rhungora, in what would come to be known as the Killing Field of Ipsit. Lady General Ipsit, commander of the second expeditionary army, brought her force numbering some one hundred and twenty thousand to bear against an Anyuevan army reported to number nearly one hundred sixty thousand. It was rumored that the streams ran red with the blood of fallen Anyuevan soldiers as canister shot raked their lines, that the ground became a muddy slog with the fallen of Quat’i. But at the end of the day, Quat’i stood victorious, suffering thirty thousand killed and wounded to nearly three times that number on the side of Anyueva. But Ipsit was criticized for her failure to cut off the retreat of the fleeing Anyuevan army, which rallied under the command of its highest ranking surviving officer, a man named Peleun Ietrop Aoonad Ban, who lead the remaining force of some thirty thousand in a fighting retreat that humbled the high spirits of Ipsit.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 30th of Month 5 (Ayyara):
Peleun makes a speedy march south where he recruited able and willing volunteers with stirring speeches and promises of rewards and glory. Soon, cut off far from reinforcement, he had crafted his surviving force into a hardened backbone upon which his new army would rest. He would requisition and receive copious supplies of arms and ammunition from the military forts erected near the border, and slowly his new force grew.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 23rd of Month 6 (Hazirani):
The humiliating defeat of Lord General Anwai at the hands of Peleun’s new army, grown to some one hundred and sixteen thousand. Awai’s Third Expeditionary Army, numbering some one hundred thousand, was brought to battle and completely annihilated in a brilliant double envelopment that cost the Anyuevan force a comparatively minor eleven thousand killed and wounded. Peleun would launch a lighting assault into the heart of Rhungora and beyond into the lands under Quat’i Al-Qarikha.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 29th of Month 6 (Hazirani):
Lady General Ipsit’s army avoided near catastrophe in the Battle of the Talak River, but even so left thousands of their own lying dead on the field before the triumphant Anyuevan force. Lady General Zira was not so lucky, and met a similar fate as that of Lord General Anwai in the Battle of Lake Irimin when her forces were drawn into a killing field and her own life ended by a stray cannonball. The entire army of Quat’i had been slain or drowned as they were herded into the lake by merciless Anyuevan artillery and musketry.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 9th of Month 7 (Tammiz):
Anyueva scores a crucial victory against Quat’i in the Siege of Port Madine, a grisly battle in which, due to masterful use of terrain and artillery by Peleun, the city fell in less than two months of fighting. This vital port annexed from the hands of Quat’i, the surviving armies fell back rather than be stranded without support.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 20th of Month 7 (Tammiz):
Lady General Ipsit’s force, whittled down by attrition and numerous smaller engagements, found itself guarding the crucial city of Salaah near the border of Rhungora. Lord General Ramesh’s Fourth Expeditionary Army found itself pinned in a protracted staredown with an Anyuevan army equally matched in numbers and artillery.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 11th of Month 7 (Tammiz):
With the emerging stalemate in Anyamundar, Peleun found himself sailing to the home islands of Anyueva. Greeted to a hero’s welcome by the common folk, he was brought into the chamber of the Posdal of the Father himself.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 15th Month 9 (Aylulan):
One month had passed since Peleun emerged from the chamber, the new Posdal of the Father. He proclaimed a new era of glory for the people of Anyueva, and announced the marshalling of yet more armies, for the war was not yet over. One month had passed since the purging of the ranks of Anyueva’s elite, replaced by those handpicked by Peleun for their loyalty, skills, and ideological fervour. He proclaimed a new era, one where Posdalism would truly rule the world, where the foul things that worshipped demons and devils that were not of man would be wiped from the world or made to see the truth and repent. The call for crusade was renewed.

Year 1851 Post-Awakening (P.A.), 21st Month 9 (Aylulan):
News arrives in Quat’i and the rest of the world of the coronation of the new Empareja.







Bayonets, Brimstone, and Bullets - A Napoleonic Inspired NRP



“The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.”

Otto von Bismarck


Some maps:









Change looms. The world is marching on a new era. Revolutions, societal upheaval, technological advancement, and more seem to fill the world. From the ice cold arctic tundras in the north to the humid tropical jungles of the equator, in the great steppe and the vast mountain ranges of the east, within the subjugated and defiantly independent lands of the new world, change is poised to strike hard and fast. The two great empires, of Quat’i Al-Qarikha and Grakaisaran Imperpulau Anyueva, millenia old rivals, teeter on the brink of war. Around them, the lesser powers both great and middling watch eagerly, desiring to enrich and empower themselves in the ensuing carnage.

______________________________________________________


In this NRP, you play as a nation of your own creation. This is a setting with heavy historical inspiration, but no direct parallels. The best term for the setting is schizotech - this is a world wherein an orderly column of line infantry exchange musket fire after being ferried across the nation by train, while steam-powered drydocks assemble great first-rate ships of the line to rule the seas. While not to the same extent as my other NRP, this, direct comparisons are to be avoided - as a nation taking inspiration from the likes of China or Peru may boast technological capabilities that exceed the greatest of European powers at the time. Vast empires with vast populations, deep history, and so on. That said, this is not a map painting simulator, and if you want to conquer the world, I fully understand, but this is not a Total War or EU4 game and such should not be your driving goal.

Individual nations are player created, with randomly rolled stats serving as a guideline upon which you should build your nation.

This is a world with by now some decently well established lore, and I encourage you to speak to me and the other players about how your own nation fits into it!

Technology is a bit of a giant anachronism, but the most technologically advanced nations could be said to be in a position around the early 1860s, with railways, steam powered industry, and more making their way into the big time. The major exception is military technology - which has lagged behind, and will at the beginning of the RP resemble that of the Napoleonic wars. As the RP progresses, it will catch up with the rest of technology as rifled muskets, minie balls, improved artillery, and more make their way into play.

I invite those interested to join our Discord server and get to know the players already in! This RP will hopefully begin early March, and I hope you enjoy it!

Rules

  • Use common sense.
  • Don't game the rolls.
  • No godmodding, powergaming, etc. You get the point.
  • What the GM and Co-GMs say, goes. Please don’t push things this far. I don’t like having to put my foot down but I will.
  • No meme nations (why do I have to make this a rule?)
  • Don’t be an arse.














And with that, I welcome you to this land - troubled though it may be, and await your own entry into the great games of war and politics that will play out!
@The Wyrm

Fixed!
Bayonets, Brimstone, and Bullets - A Napoleonic Inspired NRP



“The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.”

Otto von Bismarck


Change looms. The world is marching on a new era. Revolutions, societal upheavel, technological advancement, and more seem to fill the world. From the ice cold arctic tundras in the north to the humid tropical jungles of the equator, in the great steppe and the vast mountain ranges of the east, within the subjugated and defiantly independent lands of the new world, change is poised to strike hard and fast. The two great empires, of Quat’i Al-Qarikha and Grakaisaran Imperpulau Anyueva, millenia old rivals, teeter on the brink of war. Around them, the lesser powers both great and middling watch eagerly, desiring to enrich and empower themselves in the ensuing carnage.

______________________________________________________


In this NRP, you play as a nation of your own creation. This is a setting with heavy historical inspiration, but no direct parallels. The best term for the setting is schizotech - this is a world wherein an orderly column of line infantry exchange musket fire after being ferried across the nation by train, while steam-powered drydocks assemble great first-rate ships of the line to rule the seas. While not to the same extent as my other NRP, this, direct comparisons are to be avoided - as a nation taking inspiration from the likes of China or Peru may boast technological capabilities that exceed the greatest of European powers at the time. Vast empires with vast populations, deep history, and so on. That said, this is not a map painting simulator, and if you want to conquer the world, I fully understand, but this is not a Total War or EU4 game and such should not be your driving goal.

Individual nations are player created, with randomly rolled stats serving as a guideline upon which you should build your nation.

This is a world with by now some decently well established lore, and I encourage you to speak to me and the other players about how your own nation fits into it!

I invite those interested to join our Discord server and get to know the players already in! This RP will hopefully begin early March, with the OOC going up at the end of this week, and I hope you enjoy it!



I was killed near Rzhev
In a nameless bog,
In fifth company,
On the Left flank,
In a cruel air raid

I did not hear the explosions
And did not see the flash
Down to an abyss from a cliff
No start, no end

And in this whole world
To the end of its days -
Neither patches, nor badges
From my tunic you’ll find

-Aleksandr Tvardovsky, “I was killed near Rzhev”


Kurkesta-II, planetary capital of Volynogra

A distant rumbling echoed through the still morning air like rolling thunder. On the horizon, flashes of light lit up the dawn sky, the sound of orbital artillery washing over the position. Were she as blissfully ignorant as she had been but a year ago, Melekhova could have mistaken it for the innocent murmur of something natural. But she had seen far too much to mistake it for anything else. It had been eight months since she’d been deployed to the war zone raging across the fertile world of Kurkesta-II. Compared to the vast megalopolises of Mirvolyudki, the cities upon this world seemed little greater than a small town - but they had been turned into fortified citadels, bombed to rubble through continuous orbital strikes. The tank battalions of Mirvolyudki had swept aside comparatively less experienced defenders in the open plains where once vast bumper crops had been sewn. Now, though, they had been encamped in a siege of this city for months on end.

The occasional crack of sniper fire echoed across the near landscape. At times, she would hear a muted scream or shriek of pain in response, then the clatter of answering machine gun fire. Sometimes they would find their mark, and an enemy sniper would fall from their perch. Mostly, the killer would have already snuck away, quietly laughing to themselves. She could not fault the gunners, futile as their desperate returning fire was - it was impossible not to do something. To sit idly by as comrades fell without answering. She had done the same.

Soon, it would hopefully end. Today, they would commence the final assault. Now, the traitors’ holdout would be eliminated, and the rebuilding of the world could begin. She of course would be redeployed to the next hellish war zone - but at least she would not be stuck in this nightmare of a city anymore. She would no longer suffer in this ditch, unknowing if a sniper’s bullet awaited her around the next corner.

Behind her, she heard the earth shaking tremor of ground based artillery opening up, their salvos of heavy shells joining the cacophony of the warships in orbit. Explosives arced overhead, slamming into defensive fortifications. Clouds of dust rose from the earthworks and reinforced concrete structures that ringed the city as the explosives slammed into their marks. Even as the artillery continued to increase in its volume, vast fireballs bloomed across the horizon, bomber aircraft far out of her sight delivering precision strikes on the enemy fortifications. A small part of her swelled with some twisted pride in the power of her nation, but a much larger part of her was filled with dread at the thought of what would await them.

The almighty din filled the heavens and earth, even as the mechanical whine of tanks and armored carriers began to trundle towards the enemy lines underneath the cover of the apocalyptic bombardment. From the trenches rang the war cry of the Sukhoputnyye Voyska, a deep, throaty cry of “URA!”

Thousands of vehicles burst forward from the line, followed shortly behind by steady streams of millions of foot soldiers. Ahead of the tanks ranged minesweeper teams, sifting through the devastated hellscape of mine and shell craters to clear safe passage for the assault teams. At times, an explosion would ring out and a team would be destroyed, or a tank would strike an undetected mine, going up in flames. From the enemy positions, those brave enough to open themselves to the artillery spotters, a hail of withering fire erupted. Heavy hypervelocity slugs tearing through body armor and the flesh behind, directed energy weapons supplied from the broader cluster burned horrific holes through plasteel and skin alike. At such close range, few shots missed their mark.

Melekhova cursed the Raygonians, the Arcadians, the Halcyon Continuance, every single member of that accursed alliance that fed supplies and arms to the scum of Tretirykh. She cursed the foul beings who had begun the ‘movement’ deep within the underbelly of the Union. She cursed herself, for she had lapsed, and had she not done so she would not be here now. And as it came time for her unit to go over the top, to charge forth into the awaiting maelstrom of the final stretch of hellish urban war that awaited her and her unit, she joined in the war cry that echoed along the entire front as she and her comrades took their rifles in hand and surged out of the trench.
____________________________________________________________________________

A sniper bolt burned through the armor covering starshyna Nalikova’s chest. A spray of blood and viscera erupted from the crater where before had been her chest, covering Melekhova’s face and body in pieces of the woman. The starshyna collapsed in a limp heap as the smell of ozone filled the air. Melekhova stared, her mouth agape at the prostrate form of her commander, then up and around at the surrounding buildings, frantic, desperate to see from where the shot had come.

She screamed at her squad to take cover, pulling her machine gunner from her position overlooking the cratered boulevard.

Her vision shifted into infrared as she ducked behind a nearby wall, and she scanned the skyscraping residential buildings. She strained to glimpse anything out of the ordinary for the devastated metropolis, any stray heat signatures that might give the killer away.

Out of a ruined home, she saw something, a faint glimpse of what looked like the barrel of a rifle, warm from the recently fired shot. Forgetting her own self preservation, she seized the abandoned machine gun from its position, hefting the weapon to her shoulder and squeezing the trigger. The deafening burst of the weapon filled the air as her helmet clamped tight over her ears, shielding them from the worst of it. The bullets tore through the plascrete and anything that might be hiding behind it, kicking up a dust cloud that obscured much of her vision, even thermal.

A dull thud reached her ears, and she cautiously took a step forward, and then another, her eyes alighting on the bleeding, crumpled, bullet ridden form that had fallen from its perch. A strange thing, what of its skin she could discern an unusual greenish, scaly material. The eyes, now dead and lifeless, were small and beady, out of place from the squat, densely built body. A rifle unlike their own lay next to it, a strange device that glowed gently with indicator lights. Hurriedly, she dashed forward, seizing the rifle, or whatever it was.

She stood right over the dead body of the foreigner. It was true, she realized. Wherever this creature… a Raygonian, if she recalled correctly, had come from - it was most certainly from outside of the Union’s space. Most probably sent by the unholy cabal that ruled the hive planet to which the thing’s species had lent their name. The implications weighed heavy on her, and she stumbled back to her squad and sank to her knees next to the dead body of starshyna Nalikova.

“My god, it’s true.” She muttered, looking up at the remaining members of her squad. “It’s true, that… it wasn’t from here. The rumors are true.”

Her comrades said nothing, the gunner gingerly moving towards her and resting an arm on her shoulder, taking back her weapon. Another moved up, grabbing hold of one of the starshyna’s ID tags and yanking the chain free.

Wetness fell upon her chin, and Melekhova realized she had been crying. “Her children.” She whispered hoarsely, “She joined for them, she was telling me how excited they were that mommy was fighting the traitors, that her oldest would turn ten soon. She was due for leave to visit her in just a few weeks. Oh god, what do I tell her? What do I tell them? Little mladshiy was due for her first implant but she wanted to be there for her because she was scared.” Tears came faster now, streaming down her face as she sobbed, pulling the gunner into her embrace, “I’ll kill them all.” She said, teeth gritted, “I’ll kill every single one of them.” She choked back another sob, crushing a piece of rubble to powder with a cybernetic fist, not minding the signals of pain, “Why wasn’t it me? I have nobody, why was it her? She’s not a priztuyvnik like me, she had something to give!”

Out of the corner of her eye, her vision blurred by tears, she noticed something - Nalikova’s arm outstretched before her, a small electronic device in her hand. Gently, another member of the squad pulled it from her fingers, before she too began to cry. Her tears joined those of Melekhova as she slumped against the wall. On the dimly glowing screen, the image of a happy family beamed back at them. Starshyna Nalikova’s eyes filled with life, a broad smile on her face as she held her newborn son, her first child beaming up at her with a face full of wonder. Behind them stood five others, Nalikova’s other mates, one of them pregnant, all beamed at the camera. One of them - Melekhova remembered her name being Nataly - had her hand rested on the starshyna’s shoulder, an expression of the purest adoration on it.

Melekhova clutched the image tight to her chest as the unit mourned in silence.

It felt as though hours passed, but slowly the gunner returned, crouching low beside her. “We need to move on, Corporal.” She pulled Melekhova’s eyes away from the dead form of the commander, “I know you two were close, but we need to move on.” The sounds of urban warfare echoed around them in the distance as she spoke, explosions and gunfire muted by the husks of the dying city.

Melekhova nodded, slowly standing from her perch. “I’ll carry her.” She murmured, “We’ll rendezvous with Kapitan Galina. We can move on from there.” She looked around at her unit, “Pass me the thing’s rifle - I’m sure command will want to get their hands on as many of these things as possible. They go straight through our armor.”

An uneasy look passed between the squad and the gunner stepped forward again. “Corporal, her body is heavy. We’ll be slowed down, we might not be able to rendezvous with the Kapita-”

She was cut off as Melekhova placed her hand over her mouth, “I am not leaving her here.” She said, her voice choked with emotion. “We leave nobody behind. I’m not leaving her here in this godforsaken city. I’m not leaving her to be found by some pack of those… things from the rest of the cluster for them to do… Heaven knows what they might do to her! Yefreytor Filippovnu Madgalina, I will carry every single member of this squad back home myself, if I have to. Is that understood?”

The gunner said nothing, her eyes wide as she took a slight step back from the incensed Corporal. Melekhova looked at her squad, meeting each of their eyes in turn. None raised further protest.

Silently, they turned back the way they had come, crouching low as they dashed between points of cover. Steadily, they made their way to the point of the heaviest fighting, following the sound of explosions and the callouts barked on radio. The ground began to shake once more, and the squeal of tank tracks pierced through the air. The deafening report of field artillery shook loose a small rain of pebble sized rubble from the ruins surrounding them with every blast.

The central city square lay ahead. On its outskirts, a forward operating base had been hastily erected. A primitive hospital and morgue showed the devastating results of the final push to capture the city. The moans and cries of the sick and dying filled the air, the rows upon rows of simple coffins awaiting disposal via composting, were ample testament to the cost. Formality was not stood upon, not now - in short order she and her squad had reported to the Kapitan of the company. They had been assigned on scouting duty, to investigate the quality of defenses and debrief command of possible assault routes. Images flashed between them, audio recordings, and the final moments of Starshyna Nalikova.

“I couldn’t leave her there.” She said, after some minutes had passed without an exchange. “I… you saw the thing that killed her. I couldn’t just leave her out there, we don’t know what they might do!”

The kapitan remained silent for a moment longer before nodding, resting a hand on Melekhova’s shoulder. “I understand. It was dangerous, what you did, but I understand. There is a time to mourn, but that time is not now. I can’t have you if you can’t fight, understand? There is precious little time to waste now, I will see to it that you are given time to mourn and contact her next of kin.”

“With respect, kapitan, there is no time for this.” interrupted the gunner, stepping between the two.

Melekhova nodded, steeling herself. “My unit is awaiting orders, kapitan. We are ready.”

____________________________________________________________________________

A red burst of blood splattered the wall behind the unarmored humans, his strange energy-weapon clattering to the ground as he fell forward. Melekhova stared grimly down the sights of her rifle, her heart hardened to the man’s expression of shock. Another one of the Ragyonians - as she had confirmed they were called - hastily aimed its weapon in her direction, and she shifted her aim, sending another two bullets downrange. More blood painted the floor of the corridor, and the thing crumpled to the ground.

An earthshaking tremor rocked the building, and the squad steadied themselves, well accustomed to the impact of artillery on the remaining defenses. Only a small shrivel of enemy territory remained in the city, and before entering the building they had been able to view the other side of the battle, as the encircling army of the Soyuzka i Mirvolyudkiyska ground its way through the defenses. It was a matter of hours at most now until the last defender was killed, and the world would be restored to order.

Gunfire erupted in the room adjacent to the corridor, accompanied by the erie crack of foreign energy rifles discharging. A tense moment followed as Melekhova and her squad positioned themselves by a doorway.

“Three enemy combatants behind a barricade, 3 o’clock, two of our own and one injured, 10 o’clock.” Reported a squad member, watching through a small crack in the wall through which her enhance vision could penetrate. “Wall is too thick to hit them from behind. Solid plascrete.”

Melekhova grimaced, “Just for this one room, I’d like it if we hadn’t built it to withstand the apocalypse. Federova, you’re on point, flashbang and go in shooting. Our people should be unaffected. Nataliya, suppressing fire while we take position. Now move, move, move!”

As she had ordered, her squad carried out the plans to the letter - a brilliant flash lit up the room as the grenade detonated, and the squad poured through the doorway, weapons blazing. Instantly, one of the enemy went down, another unarmored human, her body collapsing limply over one of her comrades, shielding him from the worst of the gunfire. Another went down in short order, her weapon discharging wildly in all directions as she fell. Outflanked and caught off guard by the unexpected assault the remaining man threw his weapons to the ground, crying out in thickly accented, broken speech, “Surrender! Me surrender!”

Melekhova blinked, unsure how to react. She looked back at her unit, her confusion obvious. Nobody in her squad moved, they remained crouched behind cover. The members of the other unit, however, did move. One of them leapt from his position, sprinting over to the enemy soldier and driving his fist into the man’s face, then his gut, his ear, his chest. Again, and again, and again, as he screamed meaninglessly, tears glistening on his cheeks.

“Heavens damn you!” He screamed, grabbing the man and throwing him into the center of the room, pulling his sidearm from its holster and aiming it in his direction. "Give me a reason not to shoot you right here and now."

Relative silence descended, and Melekhova and her squad rose from their own positions. Cautiously, they approached the two, motionless as they watched each other. Her eyes alighted on the surrendering man, a haggard looking thing, his eyes bloodshot and his leg was wrapped tightly in a dirty bandage. She almost pitied him, but her heart held little room for sympathy for the soldiers of Tretirykh, let alone those who had come from abroad to aid them.

“They killed everyone.” Melekhova’s attention was drawn back to the man from the other squad, his hand trembling as he pointed the handgun at the foreigner. “You killed everyone! How many of my family are left?! Just me? My sister, what of her? My mother, my brothers, my father? How many of them are lying in some ditch somewhere?” He stomped closer, pressing the muzzle to the man’s forehead.

Wide eyed, the captive looked around at the others for help, for salvation, desperate for something to save him. “I- I… I not Trah- Trahterick! From Federation! Not Trahterick!” His breath came in ragged gasps, and he looked between each of the observers, seeking their intervention. “I… I like Mirvolyudki!” He forced a smile, his eyes darting between the gun to his head and the other soldiers standing around him. He began to sing the anthem of the union - or at least, he tried to. The cadence was there, but the words themselves were scattered and confused.

“Nikita, put the gun down.” Murmured the second member of the squad, her eyebrows narrowed. “Put the gun down, and I’ll take him and green over there back to camp. We’ve won at this point.”

The foreigner’s eyes shifted to her, his expression filled with hope. He smiled at her, “Y-yes, surrender! I surrender! I lose! You win! I help!” He edged towards her, “Help carry! I help!” The man was visibly trembling, his emaciated body barely looked as though it could support his own weight, let alone assist in carrying a wounded soldier. He began to speak rapidly to himself in his own language, incomprehensible to any of the assembled soldiers. Melekhova debated intervening as he looked back up, “Pl-please! I have fami-”

The sound of a gunshot echoed through the room. Two dozen more followed in its wake as the soldier emptied his gun into the foreigner.

The man fell to the floor, dead, in a rapidly forming pool of his own blood and brain matter. Melekhova stared, wide eyed in shock as he tossed the empty magazine aside, inserting a new one and emptying it into the foreigner’s body as well. Callously, he slid the weapon back in its holster, delivering a final kick to the corpse and spitting on what used to be his face.

“So did I.”

____________________________________________________________________________

At last. They had taken the planet. As she looked out from the viewing screen at the planet below, Melekhova could not help but wonder at the purpose behind it all. Tretirykh had seized the world, murdered millions, and begun a war that already had claimed in excess of a billion lives. What was their aim? They knew, surely, that their war was futile, that the people of the union would stand strong against their atrocities. And yet, how many wasted lives now lay upon that godforsaken rock? How many broken promises lay upon the plains of the world below? How many children would awake, now motherless, how many parents would have to consecrate the memorials of their children, how many had been robbed of family and friends by Tretirykh?

Behind her, her squad gunner lurked, wordless like she.

“You never told me what happened to your old squad before you were reassigned to us, Lavrova.” Melekhova murmured to her, breaking the silence. “You never told anyone, as far as I know.”

Silence reigned between them again as Lavrova did not respond, remaining soundless as she watched the planet gradually shrink away. They had been spared little more than a few hours before being ordered aboard the transports once more, enough time to visit the dead and pay their last respects before being ordered away.

As the silence lapsed on, Melekhova dug out the small device she had taken from the Starshyna, her lips pursed as she held back fresh tears at the sight of it. She would return it to Nalikova’s family, of that she was adamant.

A sound from her side drew her attention away from the device, and she looked back up at the gunner. Tears streamed down Lavrova’s cheeks, her eyes red from crying. It was evident she had been for some time, her cheeks and nose red from wiping away the tears.

“Artillery shell.” She finally whispered in reply, her voice choked with emotion. “A month after deployment. Some… artillery piece supplied from one of the foreign countries. There was barely anything left.” She wiped her hand along her nose again, trying to clear her face of the signs to little avail. “I couldn’t even find their tags. Ana had a letter on her tablet she wanted me to give her mother if she died. It burned with her. I was helping someone else set up a gun, all I received was a sunburn. But there was nothing left. No bodies. No bones. Not even ashes to scatter.” Again, she drew breath, unable to tear her eyes from the view of the planet. “Nalikova knew, of course.” She muttered, and a fresh round of tears began to well in Melekhova’s eyes once more. “She knew, she never told me, but she knew. She told me I could tell her anything, that she was there for all of her soldiers.”

Melekhova nodded, gingerly placing an arm around the shoulder of her comrade. No more words passed between them as they watched the planet fade away into a distant, blue sphere, almost lost amidst the vastness of space. Another warzone awaited them on the next world, and another, and another.
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