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Zoran

The Zoranian Civil War

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April 30, 1420
11:00 AM Over Time

“Atsil Ani’-Wah’ under orders of the Grand Defense Council you are under arrest for treason!” yelled a soldier from the other side of the door. Atsil looked at the door in fear as the thought of being put in a prison cell crossed her mind.

I didn’t ask for this! I don’t want to be queen! I wasn’t part of any of this!

She thought to herself. The soldier banged on the door again,

“Atsil Ani’-Wah’ if you do not open the door this instant we will be forced to use force.” yelled the soldier. Atsil could hear the soldiers planting charges on her door. She just stood there, paralyzed with fear.

Great Spirit please help me!

“Hey what’s the deal here? Don’t you guys think that ballistic breaching is a bit much for a normal apartment door?” said a muffled and unrecognizable voice. The sound of gunfire followed along with the sound of bodies hitting the floor, people being grappled, and a...wilhelm scream? Atsil leaned against her wall and slid down to the ground out of fear. Then there was silence and no sound was outside...until there was a slight click heard from the door followed by another click and a third click. After the third click the door unlocked and the door opened to reveal a man in a black reflective helmet mask in some strange black armor. Behind him were the unconscious bodies of six Zoranian soldiers and the man looked completely unharmed. He walked into her apartment casually as if nothing happened and looked at Atsil.

“Sorry about that, hope they didn’t cause you too much trouble.” said the man. Atsil could tell that the man’s voice was modulated as it sounded too deep for it to be natural.

“Who are you?” asked Atsil. The man’s body language shifted to give the idea that he was insulted,

“How can you not know who I am?! I am the one and only CGZ and I am here to save your hide from the idiots in the GSC, the fat cats in their towers of false power, the fanatics that use the Great Spirit’s name for their own desires, and from the monarchists that are the closest thing you have to a fan club. Look I am not on any side of this war but seeing as you are an enemy to three of the four sides and a potential pawn for the fourth and that just makes you a target. Now I am offering you the chance to come with me and hide until the war ends. Just going to say it now, I am probably your only hope kid.” CGZ offered his hand to Atsil. Atsil thought about her situation for a minute, what he said was realistic as without her one side in the war effort would fall into divisions over who to make into a monarch and so she would become a target by the two other sides. Also she already is considered a traitor by the GSC so it looks like she has no other choice. She takes the legendary thief’s hand and is pulled to her feet.

“Now before I take you with me I am going to have to blindfold you.” He says, taking out a black blindfold, “While I want to help you I can’t trust you with the location of my secret hideout. So if you could put that on it would make my job ten times easier.” Atsil sighs and begrudgingly puts it on. The thief then grabbed her hand and began to lead her out of the apartment building, through the conflict filled streets and into what she can assume to be a car. She was buckled into her seat with help from CGZ before he accelerated causing her to be pushed back into her seat.

“When did my life get so complicated?” she said out loud without even realizing it,

“Probably when your father died. Just stating the obvious here.” answered CGZ.

As they sped down the streets they could hear the sounds of gunfire and explosions. While she could not see, Atsil already imagined what must be going on. A few bullets even hit the car but they didn’t do any damage to the vehicle due to how armored it must be.

“Jeeves play My Mix!” said CGZ and a posh sounding voice answered,

“Right away sir.” A drum solo began to play from the speakers of the car and classic rock filled Atsil’s ears.

“How are you so calm during all of this?! People are literally dying around us!” Atsil says trying to yell over the classic rock music,

“Look it isn’t that I don’t care but it's the fact that I have to worry about getting you to safety without drawing too much attention to myself by using secret tunnels that I have all around the country. The thing is that the closest entrance to one of these tunnels is in the middle of one of the conflict zones. It is going to keep a level head when driving anyways.” says CGZ as he manages to swerve around a very obviously placed landmine that was set in the middle of the road.

“Damn that was a famous Dalimbari mine! How much funding do these private militaries have!? Anyways, as you can-oh wait you can’t see, well if you could see you would understand why I am having to be so calm while driving. If I wasn’t calm then we wouldn’t survive so if you would be so kind try not to interrupt the music.” Atsil didn’t know what to say about this.

By the Spirit I don’t know whether I am with a bold genius or an adrenaline junky madman!

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April 30, 1420
12:00 PM Over Time
In an undisclosed location that is definitely not in an ancient fortress from the height of the rule of Saint Mark over Zoran


“What do you mean you lost her?! How can you lose the daughter of Ani’-Wah’!?” exclaimed Wohali Lanusila, leader of the Monarchist Forces,

“We’re sorry sir, but this guy in a really cool black armor just took out the GSC forces that were in the apartment, took Auraelia to his vehicle, and drove off at fast speeds with her in tow. Since then we lost track of her.” said the soldier on the encrypted phone. Wohali took a deep breath and pinched the ridge of his nose before asking,
“Did you even attempt to follow the vehicle this mystery man was in?” there was a moment of silence before the soldier answered,

“No sir.” Wohali was about to throw the phone at the wall but instead he just poured himself a glass of Mist Over the Lake Badgerian whiskey with a shaking hand and downed it in one go. He let out a sigh before asking,

“What did this armored man look like?”

“Well we didn’t see anything that could make his identity stand out but he wore black armor and had a helmet mask.” The soldier stopped and the sound of discussion distant explosions could be heard on the other end of the line, “The scouting party just got back from the apartment and they found something which gave us the identity of the suspect. Sending you a photo now.” Waholi then looked at his messages and saw a photo of a purple card with black crown and a cookie on it.

By the Spirit CGZ has gotten into this, what is going on in this country anymore.

“Tell all forces to be on the lookout for any sign of CGZ, we need to find the future queen to be safe in our hands!”

“Sir yes sir.” Wohali ended the call and poured himself another cup of Mist Over the Lake whiskey to calm his nerves.

Without that girl our faction will be divided among who should succeed. I was able to unite the factions into supporting Atsil as the Queen but if she dies or goes missing then our forces will lose their purpose and we will lose this war.

He let out a sigh as he looked at his watch to see that it was time for him to meet with the delegation from Saint Mark. As a monarchy itself he hopes that their similar alignments may allow for some support to be arranged for the monarchist cause.

This country has been left ungoverned for far too long. While the ideals of the founder were noble it was flawed and chaotic. People have been stuck in poor conditions while the Council tells the world that there are no problems. President Ani’-Wah’ was the closest unifying force this country has seen since the days of Austenaco. Only a strong unifying figure with the power to enforce regulations and to create laws to protect Zoranians from unfair and unjust conditions can save this country. All this can be done through a monarch and the Ani’-Wah’ family are trusted by the people because of the late president. The GSC has practically already lost after a large number of their troops defected to our cause or to the theocratic cause. While the theocrats have a fire and a passion, they are few in number and lack support from the Divine Shaman himself. The only real threat is the Corporate faction because they have money, resources, connections, and influence.

Waholi thought about all this and more as he marched down the ancient halls of the Saint Markian fortress to meet a potential ally in his fight for a truly united and better Zoran.

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Maxwell, Lord Eastmarch, Count of Wynd, paced in front of his four attendants. As a first cousin to His Serene Highness, his participation in these covert talks was a sure sign to the monarchists that they would receive the full support of The Holy Principality of Saint Mark.

Having a stable Zoran off their shores was in their best interest, of course, and the House of Ani’-Wah’ had always been on excellent terms with the Houses of Halohin and those of many of the Electors. All of the intelligence, both normal and paranormal, that had been gathered from Saint Mark’s renowned network pointed to the monarchists as being the most likely faction to provide the needed stability, while still respecting the rights of the Zoran people … and the Saint Markian-Zoranian trade and defense agreements, of course.


It would be vital to provide as much assistance as they could, without actually being drawn into a military conflict.


At the sound of approaching footsteps echoing in the cold, ancient halls, Lord Eastmarch straightened and put a reassuring smile on his tanned face.
 

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April 30, 1420
12:30 PM Over Time

Waholi stopped as he reached the large wooden door that led to the meeting room. The importance of this meeting weighed down on him. He knew very well that without support from Saint Mark they would be forced to surrender in three months as they drew closer to running low on ammunition and supplies. He took a deep breath and exhaled before pushing open the heavy door.

Before him stood a tall and slender man, with a tanned complexion, black hair and mustache, and brown eyes. Waholi knew that this man was Lord Maxwell, cousin to the Prince of Saint Mark. He closed the gap between him and Lord Maxwell with a smiled and bowed in front of him before speaking,

“It is an honor to have you here Lord Maxwell. Thank you for coming so quickly, I hope you didn’t have too much trouble getting here.”

“It's a pleasure meeting you General. My trip wasn't too difficult. Thank you for asking. My family has a hunting lodge near here, so it appears that I was simply spending some time there in the country, while I slipped away to your fortress here undetected.”

“It pleases me to hear that, I worried that with all the turmoil in the country you would have experienced some troubling issues. But come take a seat, would you like anything to drink? We don’t have much but it would be rude not to offer anything.”

“A bourbon and water would be appreciated, if you have it. Thank you.”

Waholi called in a soldier over his walkie talkie to bring Maxwell’s refreshments and in a few seconds a soldier came in with a tray that had a bottle of brandy and a pitcher of water along with two classes for each on it. The soldier set it down on the table and poured it out for their guest. The soldier then stood at attention until Waholi dismissed him,

“Now let’s get to the business side of things.” said Waholi as he sat down at the table, “I am going to be honest with you, we are desperate for aid from Saint Mark. While we have popular support amongst the people, our supplies are limited. I estimate that at the current rate without support we would last about three months until we run out of ammunition and other supplies. As I mentioned to one of your intelligence agents, we are in need of arms, supplies, and funds. In exchange, when we win the war I will convince Atsil to maintain the Saint Markian-Zoranian trade agreement and defense agreements as well as repay Saint Mark the amount of money you loan us during the war.” Maxwell took a sip of his glass of Bourbon before saying,

“The House of Halohin, as well as the Houses of many of our Electors, have a long and friendly history with the Ani’-Wah’ family. For the sake of these ties, and to promote the greatest chance for stability and prosperity in Zoran, we are ready to support you with all of the funds and non-martial supplies you require.” said Lord Maxwell. General Waholi thanked the Spirit in his head but stopped as the lord continued,

“Just as a cautionary measure, we would rather not send you munitions directly, but we will be happy to send more than enough in the way of funds to be able to purchase whatever you need. If however, you run into problems finding a source for the munitions, we will help you there as well. Saint Mark is committed to your success.”

“Your reasoning is understandable and we have no problems with Saint Mark’s precautionary measure. It brings me joy to know that Saint Mark is backing our cause, we will send someone to your capital to keep you informed on the situation.” 

“Best of luck and may God's Will be aligned with your cause.” said Maxwell before he finished up his glass of water.

“Thank you, may the Spirit help us all.”

The two shook hands, smiling as they secured a deal that could change the course of the war.
 

April 31, 1420
12:00 AM Over Time

A monarchist soldier runs into Waholi’s room holding a modified zPad(to prevent the corporations from listening in as well as preventing them from tracking them down), Startled by the sudden entry of the soldier, Waholi jumped out of bed and drew the pistol he hides under his pillow, aiming at the soldier.

“Sir! Sorry to wake you but there has been a major development. You are going to want to see this.” Waholi exhaled and put the gun on the bed before walking up to the soldier and taking the zPad from his hand. His eyes widened in shock, disgust, and sorrow. His palms shook and tears welled up in his eyes,

“By the Spirit...how could this happen? I didn't expected for something like this to occur.” He whipped the tears from his eyes and shoved the tablet back to the soldier,

“Send a message to all men that are still over there, tell them to return to the nearest base they can get to immediately!”

The soldier nodded and ran out to do such a task. When the soldier was far enough away, Waholi fell to his knees and began to weep. He did not weep because what had occurred impacted him personally, but he wept for the innocent lives that were lost and ruined by what had occurred.

How could they do this? Centuries of history and development, gone! Has the GDC gone mad!?

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April 30, 1420
12:30 PM Over Time
National Zoranian Banking Clan Tower; Yemiduga City, Fisheros, Zoran

In a meeting room at the top floor of the National Zoranian Banking Clan tower, hundreds of executives and CEOs from corporations across Zoran have gathered to discuss their plans in the war. All of them sat in a large round table in dim lighting. Everyone had a binder with information on the current status of the war. Everything from expenditures, number of arms and ammunition, to missiles and missile launching sites, to even expenditures and their combined income. Every person in that room had put an investment in the future of the country and hoped to make massive profits if they succeeded in taking control and the mastermind behind it all was the head of one of the oldest industries in Zoran, Quasena Basket Weaving Enterprises. The current head of the Quasena family that runs the business is none other than Kunagadoga Quasena, who sits in the most elaborate chair with the window of the room behind him.

“Glad to see all of you could make it today. We have much to discuss in terms of our push to take the country. Open your binders to page two titled, the Dalimbari Arms Agreement or the DAA.” Everyone in the room did as he instructed all at one, everyone knew better than to challenge his authority. The page was a detailed copy of the contract signed between the Corporate Union of Zoran and the Free State of Dalimbar which went over the agreed price settled on for arms and the promise for Dalimbar to be the Union’s main supplier of arms during the conflict.

“As Dalimbar as our main supplier of arms we will have access to a large amount of supplies and weapons from them to support the private military companies we have hired to do our dirty work. They were not cheap but they ensured quality arms for our cause, especially their world renowned landmines. I propose that we send a representative over to Dalimbar to keep them posted on current events of the war and to negotiate more deals with the Dalimbari junta.” said Kunagadoga as dryly before taking a sip of his glass of water, “Does anyone in the room oppose this proposition?” No one in the room said a single word in response to his question, “All in support raise their hand.” He said as he raised his own. Everyone’s hand in the room raised with him, something which pleased the leader of the Union.

“Very good. Now with that out of the way, we must turn to a more pressing issue, Atsil Ani’-Wah’. Everyone please look at the screen on the wall opposite of my seat.” He said as he turned on the screen with a control panel on the table. Everyone turned their swivel chairs to face the screen in unison as the screen showed video camera footage of CGZ escorting a blindfolded Atsil from her apartment building to an alleyway on the opposite side of the street. After the pair was out of view on the camera, the screen switched to a side by side report of Atsil and CGZ with their records, police reports, bio, and picture. CGZ’s was quite empty compared to Atsil’s but CGZ’s criminal record was full compared to Atsil’s empty criminal record.

“Ladies and gentleman, two of our biggest pains in the asses are in hiding together. CGZ has long been a thorn in the side of all wealthy people whether they are in business or governance for centuries. Illusive, untraceable, intelligent, skilled, and dangerous. The fact that he has become part of our hunt for Atsil makes things a lot more difficult.” said Kunagadoga without hiding the annoyance in his voice.

“Atsil on the other hand is a more reluctant annoyance. For a long time the Ani’-Wah’ clan has rivaled my family in wealth for many years. But it was never a feud in fact I am sure all of us have had lovely relations with the heads of the Ani’-Wah’ family. But our biggest threat in this war is the monarchist faction, who intend on having Atsil as the monarch of Zoran. So we must have her eliminated if we wish to disorganize and crush our biggest rival for the control of Zoran. But with CGZ protecting her, locating her will practically be impossible.” he said grimly. Everyone in the room began to whisper amongst themselves, most of the men and women in the room knew the impossibility of tracking down CGZ. Kunagadoga raised his hand and the whispers ceased,

“Thank you. But I have two potential solutions. One is we commit an act or provoke an act by one of the factions that will cause Atsil to want to leave the protection of CGZ to help end the war. This one I believe has the most potential as Atsil is known for having a compassionate heart and being strong willed, just like her father. Thus if we push her to the point where she can’t stand to sit back and watch any longer then we might be able to track her down.” The others in the room began to nod and whisper in agreement amongst themselves, “The other option is one that I believe will be less likely to occur but could lead to great results, we contact the Cambrians and try and enlist the help of their Inquisitors to potentially locate CGZ. However, like I said this would be unlikely to occur due to our agreement with Dalimbar and thus they probably do not think highly of us currently. It would also risk ruining our good relations with Dalimbar by turning to their enemy for support. Personally, I prefer the former option but of course I will put this up to a vote. All in favor of option one raise your hand.” A good majority of the table raised their hands in support of drawing Atsil out, some agreed out of fear of Kunagadoga and others genuinely believed for option one to be the best course of action.

“All in support of the idea of reaching out to the Cambrians, raise your hand.” Those that did not raise their hand before raised their hands now potentially believing that despite the unlikely nature of getting support from T&C that it could prove to have more results. Konagadoga smiled at this,

“Great, option one it is then. But this meeting has gone on for quite a while now, let’s all take a quick thirty minute break and gather around the water cooler and talk about our money shall we?” Everyone in the room smiled and began talking in agreement as they all stood up and left the room. However, one executive walked up to Konagadoga and whispered,

“Kona my old friend. Are you sure your personal grudge against Atsil didn’t influence the making of this plan? You still aren’t miffed about the fact that she rejected you back in secondary school are you?” The smile on Konagadoga’s face faded quickly at the executive’s words,

“Detsinulahungu my old friend, not another word out of you unless you want to end up as a woven basket that is gifted to the Dalimbari.” Konagadoga said coldly. Detsinulahungu’s eyes widened and he slowly backed away from Konagadoga.

I will never forget the day that she broke my heart.

Konagadoga thought to himself before leaving the room to go to the water cooler as he had said.

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The sound of footsteps echoed through the hallowed halls of the Windlar Castle as the most trusted advisor of King Maddy IV, Jamie Marshall rushed towards His Highness' office with a folder marked confidential.

"Your Highness, Zoran has fallen. There is a grapple for power. We have intel that Atsil Ani'-Wah' has been kidnapped. Our secret agent was approached by one of the high-profile Monarchists.They have asked for our help alongside that of Saint Mark."

"Then we must do everything we can to help them come to power, and more importantly survive. Call my brother, Prince Dominic, at once."

"Why, Your Highness, do I need to call him?"

"We have had great relations with the Ani'-Wah' house in the past. It is in our best interest that the Monarchists win this power struggle in Zoran."

"So you need your brother for?"

" 'You're my' advisor for the sake of the Lord. Sending him to talk with their general will show our support and earn their trust, because without trust, wars like these can never be won."

"I'll ask him to come here as soon as possible."

"Fly him here if you have to. He should be off to Zoran to meet the general as late as tomorrow. I want my best agents dispatched to Zoran to start looking for Atsil. In the meantime we'll co-ordinate with Saint Mark in this effort."

Jamie rushed off into the halls of the palace, simultaneously calling Prince Dominic.

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April 30, 1420 AF
12:15 PM Over time
In the catacombs of an ancient Zonethos Temple

Shaman Oconostota Nideloyu was offering up a prayer to the Great Spirit in hopes that his meeting with the Varanian delegation would end with the support he needed. He knew the theocrat faction was the weakest among the four involved in the civil war, he desperately needed support should the Will of the Spirit be fulfilled.

The Spirit has warned us against straying from His Will and the country is now in turmoil because of the previous government straying from His Will. Only the Divine Shaman, the successor of Adanvdo can return the country to glory in the eyes of the Spirit.

He got up from the ground and started making his way down the halls of the catacombs in order to meet with the Varanian delegation. He knew little about the delegation but he knew they were willing to give support to his righteous cause.

As he drew closer to the meeting place within the catacombs, he could see the Varanian general waiting for him. He could tell the general was not comfortable standing in a dimly lit room surrounded by skeletons. He entered the room and held up a hand in greeting,

“It is a pleasure to have you here in general. I apologize for keeping you waiting here for as long as I did. Come, let’s go to some place a bit less...grim.” said Nideloyu.

“The pleasure is mine,” said General Ristovski, “and yes, let’s.”

General Ristovski and Shaman Nideloyu made their way through one of the many tunnels of the catacombs until they reached a staircase that leads into the temple which resides above them. This temple was ancient, abandoned long ago when Adanvdo reformed the faith. The reason it was abandoned was because it was judged to be tainted by a giant symbol of a crab, the sign of Ulagohvsgi, being etched in the middle of the temple floor. But this temple, which has been reclaimed by nature, is now the base of operations for the theocratic faction. They stopped in the most intact room in the temple that had a table and a few chairs in the center of the room.

“Please take a seat general, we have much to discuss.” said Nideloyu as he gestured towards one of the chairs. General Ristovski  nodded in gratitude and sat in the chair while Nideloyu walked over to the other side of the table to sit in the seat opposite of him.

“Ah, thank you.”

“Now might I ask why Varanius is interested in backing our most righteous cause? It seems unusual for a secular state to back a group that wishes to create a theocracy.’
“Yes, it does admittedly seem rather odd. But, we wish the best for the people of Zoran, and we think you have the best chance of making that happen.”

“We thank you for coming so far to meet with us. I would be lying if I said we didn’t need support. What kind of assistance is Varanius willing to give us? Arms? Funds? Legitimacy?”

“Funds mainly, to begin with. Arms and legitimacy may come later, depending on availability.”

“And what would you like in return from us in the future? I can imagine that something trade related is what Varanius is looking at correct?”

“Right to the point I see. Yes, well. We do actually have our eyes on those exotic plants. Things like that have so many uses after all.”

“We can do something with that when we win the war.”

Nideloyu muttered a prayer of thanks to the Great Spirit before extending his hand to General Ristovski and shaking on their deal. The future may not be so dark for the theocrats as people once believed with the support they will receive from the Varanian government.

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April 30, 1420
1:30 PM Over Time
Temporary Grand Defense Council Building in Southern Zoran

 

“Ladies and gentlemen in this room, we are the few members of the GDC left. Others have either abandoned their position, been captured by one of the rebel groups, or joined the rebel groups.” said Speaker Quadelo, “This is not our finest hour, our more experienced members of our officer corp have defected to the monarchist rebels and much of the army has either defected or deserted. While we still maintain control of our naval vessels along with our air force, the corporations have taken the missile launch sites and we lack support from the people.  However, we still have some international support whether it be recognition, funding, or by other means. With that I open up the floor to the generals in attendance to give us their plan in regaining control of the country.”

A young general, General Lagodo, stood up and walked to the center of the room, a cocky smile on his face. He believed that he was going to be the general to save Zoran. He lacks experience and the only reason why he holds his rank is because of connections he had in the government that helped him progress his career. He had a plan, a bold plan, and he considers it the best plan.

“Representatives, it is an honor for me to serve this country during these turbulent times. Each of you should have a copy of the operation I have planned underneath your seats.” said General Lagodo as the representatives in the room got the folder out from under their seats. The room was quickly filled with shocked muttering, “The plan I have will ensure that other factions cannot claim to be the legitimate government of the country. An evacuation order will be issued and executed as soon as you all approve of the plan. The actual execution of the order will take place at midnight tonight.”  Representative Tsolaquo shot up out of his seat and slammed his fist on the table,

“Are you insane!? What you’re proposing is a war crime! While it may prevent the rebels from claiming legitimacy there will be serious ramifications as a result of doing this!” Several other representatives nodded in agreement with Tsolaquo’s statement.

“While what you say is true we are in a desperate situation representative, desperate times call for desperate measures.” said General Lagodo,

“But it would be dishonorable to use that as justification for this! I cannot allow this!” exclaimed Representative Tsolaquo,

“Ladies and gentlemen, while I understand your concern about this plan you must realize that we lack authority over our own country! We wouldn’t be able to challenge the rebels should one of them take control over Platypus Island and claim to be the legitimate government! The plan might be morally questionable but it will prevent them from making such a claim, allowing us to have time to gain more international support and to coordinate an offensive against the rebels and retake the country. Most honorable speaker, I would like to request you put the plan up to a vote.” said General Lagodo. Speaker Quadelo nodded and put the plan to a vote. Representative Tsolaquo and a few others voted against the plan but they were unfortunately outvoted by two votes. General Lagodo smiled and said,

“Excellent! I will issue the evacuation order immediately and prepare the air force for the operation!”

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The fire crackled in the hearth, shining on King Maddy IV and his brother Prince Dominic, as they sat in front of each other.

King Maddy IV said," My brother, you will be visiting Zoran to meet up with the Monarchists' General. An agent of -redacted- will accompany you, disguised as your assistant, for your safety."

Prince Dominic asked," Won't sending a member of the Royal Family raise suspicion in the other factions?"

King Maddy IV replied rather coolly," It would if you would have just visited the country without no good reason. That's why I talked with Prince Marcarius, and he agreed to lease some of the Saint Markan estates in Zoran for a period of ten years. Your cover will be to check on the estates and secretly meet with the General."

"Understood. You know, I'm sometimes in awe of how you think and how you maintain your international relations. I have a question though, how much can I stretch for them, you know because I won't be able to reach you at that time."

"You can offer them arms and money and if they are in a dire need, other kinds of armaments. Promise some post war reparation funds and put in an idea of a trade deal post war."

"Sure. Goodbye brother, I'll see 
you soon", Prince Dominic said while hugging his brother, because as good an opportunity this was, there was an existential threat to his life.

"Goodbye brother. Your 'assistant' will brief you further on your way there. And be extremely careful, God forbid, if anything happens to you, no power in this world will stop me from marching into Zoran."

Prince Dominic left the palace for the airport with his 'assistant', with pride that his brother trusted him with this important duty. His life was probably in danger, and he hoped that he would be alive to see his beloved brother again, but he wouldn't let that stop him from accomplishing the task at hand.

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April 30, 1420
2:27 PM Over Time
Unknown Location

After driving through a battle zone and then three hours of driving through what Atsil can only assume to be underground tunnels, Atsil felt CGZ’s electric car come to a stop.

“At last! We are finally here!” said CGZ, “Oh wait, you still can’t see. Hold on.” The blindfold was then removed from Atsil’s head and she saw the interior of CGZ’s car for the first time. The seats were a black leather that went with the midnight black color of the interior. There were multiple touch screens along the dashboard that detailed underground tunnels, patrol routes, conflict zones, traffic, etc. as well as climate control and things you would expect to find in a regular car. Atsil could only look with awe at the technological look of the interior.

“Impressed? All of this was the design of my father and I before the car industry began designing electric cars. But that doesn’t matter right now, come on I will show you to where you will be staying.” said CGZ in their synthesized voice. He got out of his car and Atsil quickly followed. Upon exiting the car, Atsil stood starstruck when she saw the machinery in what she could only assume to be the garage. She didn’t understand what most of it did but she could only assume it was for inventing new gadgets or for the car. But she stopped looking around when she noticed that CGZ was about to leave the room and so she hurried behind him.

The hallway she followed him into was even more extravagant, but not with machinery. The hallway had Saint Markian doric columns made of white marble all the way down to the end and in between the columns there was a statue of what Atsil could only assume to be CGZ’s of the past. Golden chandeliers lit the hallway and gave a yellowish hue to the stone grey walls and the floor was a checkered black and white with polished marble and black granite. Atsil observed all of this as they walked through the hallway until they reached the end.

“If you think this is impressive, just wait till you see what’s next.” said CGZ as the door opened in front of him to reveal a large room full of bookshelves that are built into the walls and that are lined up in rows in the middle of the room. But the bookshelves only occupied half of the room, which was the side they were on. At the other side of the room there was one large computer monitor with two smaller monitors attached on the either side of it displaying a variety of data or news reports.

“By the Spirit, were you inspired by a certain comic book superhero or something?” asked Atsil,

“I didn’t design this room, the original room was made by the sixth CGZ and was modified, expanded, upgraded, updated, etc. by other generations and my father got the computer all set up before he passed. But he was a bit of a comic nerd so it is quite possible.” He answered as we made our way passed the part of the room occupied by bookshelves and into the area occupied by the computer along with a variety of other things such as what looked to be an armor display case and other things.

“How did your family manage to keep all of this a secret?! Surely the purchase or theft of the things needed to create half of the technology you have would have here would draw a lot of attention!” asked Atsil,

“Can’t tell you or else you might go blab about it to someone after this mess is over. But let’s just say my family were people of many faces.” he said cryptically. They then turned right and went through a door which led to what seemed like a regular living room and kitchen with a mixture of the architecture and design found in the hallway and modern appliances and technology with a large window that overlooked the Zoranian jungle. The furniture was elaborate and had a royal feel to it. Atsil was kind of disappointed at what she saw, something which CGZ could sense from her and let out a chuckle before saying,

“What? Am I not allowed to have some normal comforts in my home?”

“No of course not!” said Atsil, “I am just surprised there wasn’t some advanced machine hidden somewhere.” He just laughed in response and led her up a spiral staircase in the middle of the room and led her to a large double wooden door.

“This will be your room. You should be able to find everything you would need in there including clothes. Also, do you still have your phone on you by any chance?”

“Yes, why do you ask?”

“Give it to me for a second.” He said as he held his hand out for the phone,

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want to be tracked. The security measures here that prevent tracking are advanced but I don’t want to take any chances.” Atsil, begrudgingly, gave her phone to CGZ who removed the case from it, took a tool out from his suit, and removed the sim card from it. He then threw it onto the floor as hard as he could and crushed it under his foot.

“Hey! What the f-”

“Language, also don’t worry I will get you a better one of my own design. I still have the sim card so all your data should be safe.” He said as he slid the sim card into a small pouch in his suit and picked up the pieces of the shattered phone from the floor. “I will get the phone to you in about an hour or so. In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay and let me know if you need anything. Also don’t go snooping around, there are a lot of rooms in this place and some of them can be dangerous.”

With that CGZ walked away down the stairs and out of sight. Atsil was still angry about the phone but turned towards the door to her room and pushed it open only to let out a gasp. The room was like she walked into a royal bedchamber, something which seemed ironic to her considering that one faction wants to make her a queen. But considering how old the place is and how wealthy CGZ must be from all that his ancestors stole over the years, the room’s design and style made sense to her.

Does he live here on his own? How does he keep all of these rooms so clean and dust free if he does live on his own? Did his ancestors hire people to build all of this? There are just so many questions to be asked about this place! But most importantly, where exactly am I!?

Atsil sat down on the soft bed, feeling the soft silk sheets with her hand as she thought about all of these questions. However, the thought that weighs heaviest on her mind is how the Zoranian people are living during these times of conflict.

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April 30, 1420
2:30 PM Overtime
From the perspective of a Zoradian resident

An emergency announcement popped up on my phone and on the television. It was an official announcement from the GDC that was straight and to the point,

“Attention all residents of Zoradia! The GDC is ordering an immediate evacuation of all people from the city. Take only what you need and flee the city. Soldiers will try their best to ensure a safe evacuation of all people. This order also goes for those who remain in embassies in the capital. No one is permitted to prevent people from evacuating the city. People can evacuate via roadways or by sea. Everyone must be out of the city by 23:00 Overtime tonight!”

When the television reverted back to its normal channel and I looked up from my phone, I heard honking and pandemonium from outside my window. The gunshots still exist but they are now drowned out by the sound of honking and panic.

Soldiers were guiding cars and people to the evacuation routes while keeping a lookout for rebels. Who knows if the evacuation will be pulled off in time.

 

April 31, 1420
00:00 Overtime

The once bustling streets of Zoradia are now practically empty. The streets were devoid of life and those that remained were rebels that thought the GDC had abandoned the city. But those that remained did not get the memo of the evacuation. The roaring sound of jets could be heard in the distance when the first explosion occurred, one of the skyscrapers has been hit with a missile. The rebels in the city dove for cover as debris began to rain down from above. But the explosions didn’t stop there. There was soon another explosion and another and then another. Buildings began to crumble and burn.

The fighter jets roared over the city executing the order they have been given—destroy the city and make sure nothing remains except for the Temple and the Mausoleum if possible. While the government may lack bombers the missiles from the jets will complete the job after numerous runs. At the same time, off in the distance, members of the military were firing shells of artillery in hopes of speeding along the process.

It was clear that the bombing was not going to stop for quite some time. But the biggest tragedy of this act is that some people still have yet to evacuate. While the evacuation order was initiated, many elderly people were unable or unwilling to leave their homes. On top of this, those who were in the hospital and other medical facilities were unable to leave because of their condition and this led to many employees in the medical facilities unable to leave the building to care for the patients. This led to the death of innocent civilians when the homes of the elderly and the medical facilities were bombed as well.

Outside the city, people fled to other cities and others set up refugee camps. Those that fled by sea were either taken in by ships sent by the fujansk for humanitarian aid, military vessels, or private ships of the wealthy who were forced to provide aid to their fellow Zoranians by military officers on the scene.

The desolation of Zoradia has begun and with it begun the true suffering of the Zoranian people.

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April 31, 1420
1:00 AM Over Time
Unknown location

Atsil could not sleep, her mind was racing with concern over the innocent lives at risk from the conflict. She thought of her siblings and her nieces and nephews, worried about how they are handling the situation. CGZ did end up getting her a phone as promised and indeed it was better than her previous one and thankfully none of the things she had saved on her previous phone was lost. In the time since CGZ took her here, her siblings have been asking if she’s safe or if she is actually in league with the monarchists. She has been afraid to respond fearing that she would be putting their lives at risk.

She decided to go and get something to drink from the kitchen and left the room. As she descended down the stairs she heard what sounded like surprised movement in the direction of the living room. As she reached the bottom, she saw CGZ wearing a ski mask and sunglasses, jeans, and a white long sleeve shirt.

“What are you doing up so early in the morning?” he asked,

“What are *yawn* you doing up so early in the morning?” she asked back. He let out a slight chuckle before saying,

“Keeping my eye on the movements of the different factions. For the past hour something terrible has been happening in Zoradia.” These words made Atsil worry,

“What do you mean? What happened?” CGZ sighed before asking,

“Do you really want to know?” As simple as those words were it made Atsil’s hair stand up on the back of her neck. She found herself hesitating before answering,

“Yes, what happened?” CGZ tapped the right side of his sunglasses and said,

“Jeeves, turn on family room TV.” The flat screen TV behind him came to life and showed a horrific scene. Zoranian multirole fighter jets bombing the capital city of Zoradia. Missiles collided into the skyscrapers and the jets fired HEI-T-SD rounds into buildings to slowly bring them crumbling down. Soldiers from different factions were scrambling to get out of the city and she saw some get crushed under a piece of concrete. Atsil stood there silently watching it all unfold with shock. Her skin turned pale and her eyes began to water as her body began to tremble.

How could a government do this! Innocent lives are at risk! This act is unnecessary and a waste of resources! All the people who must be living in fear at what is occurring...it fills my heart with sorrow.

Her legs soon gave out and she began to cry, lamenting the suffering of the people. She didn’t hear CGZ tell Jeeves to turn off the TV or his approaching footsteps. CGZ knelt down and helped Atsil to her feet and walked her over to the couch. He offered her comfort while she lamented over the suffering of the people.

CGZ felt bad for Atsil, she did not ask to be part of any of this. All factions are looking for her all because she is the new head of the Ani’-Wah’ family. Atsil was young and while CGZ wasn’t much older than her, she has been experiencing so much change in such a short amount of time.

I do not envy her, no one should have to deal with all of this. There is so little that I can do to help her, but by providing her refuge she will at le-

“I need to go out there.” she finally said after a few minutes of crying.

“What? Are you insane!?”

“People are suffering, I need to do something to help them!”

“Atsil, you have a large target on your back! The corporates want you dead, the theocrats want you dead, even the GDC wants you dead! By going out there you are going to get killed!”

“Hiding away while people are suffering is dishonorable! I need to go out there and do something to help! Even if it is by leading the monarchist faction, I have to do something for them!”

“You don’t even know if the monarchist leadership is only riding on the popularity of your father! They could seek to use you as a puppet for their goals!”

“Well to me they are the lesser of four evils! If they want to use me as a puppet then it will be their fault for underestimating me! I may not want to be queen but I have to do something to help the country and its people.” CGZ got up from the couch and stormed away into one of the many mysterious rooms in this place. After a few minutes CGZ came back with a thick file in his hand and handed it to Atsil. The folder had the logo of the SIC on it and below it said “Training Manual”.

“Read up on this. You aren’t going to be able to master it today but you may need some skills from this if you want to do what you plan on doing.” Atsil took the file and looked at it with surprise,

“How did you even? Nevermind, I shouldn’t be surprised. But if you are so against me going out there then why give me this?”

“Because if you want to go out there I can’t stop you. If you are going to do this then I don’t want to see you get killed out there. So, to me, the best way to help you is to give you access to the skills created by your family so you have a chance of surviving.” He began walking away when he said, “Let me know when you are ready to leave so I can take you to the monarchist headquarters.” CGZ then left the family room and Atsil was left on the couch with the training manual in her hand.

What an odd man. He went from being frustrated to helpful and reluctantly supportive. Well I don’t intend on looking a gift horse in the mouth so I better get to reading this immediately.

Atsil went to her guest room with the file to begin reading the SIC manual.

Meanwhile, CGZ took the sunglasses and the ski mask off and sat at his desk and looked at the monitors of his computer. He pulled up the information he had on the different factions and their allies.

So let’s see here. Seems the GDC has recognition from Giovanniland and support from the Fujansk, Artzotskia, and Marble Mallorca. For the monarchists it seems that they might have support from Saint Mark and Larxia. It appears that the theocrats might have support from Varanius and the corporates have made it clear that they are doing business with Dalimbar. This is going to be an interesting war.

He then turned his attention to the pile of calling cards on his desk and as he looked at the symbol on it Atsil’s words echoed in his head,

Hiding away while people are suffering is dishonorable!

He recalled his family history, how his ancestors performed daring heists and escapes in the past just for the thrill of the steal. But what always stood out to him was how they gave half of what they stole to the people in need. If it was an item like a crown or a valuable piece of art they would take half the value of that item from their own funds and give it to the people without selling the item. His ancestors never turned away from the people and CGZ began to feel the weight of that legacy because of Atsil’s words. He put his head in his hands and pulled at his hair,

Those were different times! I can’t afford to be as bold as my ancestors! Security has evolved and so has criminal investigation! Hiding in the shadows and remaining in the shadows is the way forward!

He let out a growl in frustration and quickly turned to his computer and pulled up some funny cat videos to distract him from his family’s legacy that weighed down on him.

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