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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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Fall 646,

And so it came to pass that after the events of the Feather Festival in Peace that much public murmurings circulated at the movements of the Voss Royal forces and their more secular counterpart, the Statesmen whose part in the incident was the violent investigations for Kashirn presences through Stanzen Stiglitz and Klein Krusser, both men of extreme patriotic thread. As it turned out, their reports dd not fal on wild speculation but has instead exposed Prince Vilkas as both a shrewd tactician and an unconventional piece in the Voss board.

As the Kashirn War wears on, the strain it has caused in the current combatants ranks has led them to ponder what methods they've gained in order to ease the war's progress, whether tactically, technologically or even supernaturally.

For all of these reasons, a meeting of national importance was to be called but under no circumstances could it be revealed to the prying eye of the public -- who could take sides at any moment for either the incumbent Prince Vilkas or the current leadership of the Statesmen who has up to this point recognized Vilkas as a mere mascot.
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In the afternoon light of the Weißenhaus, The Royal Guard were the first to meet informally to tend to their business apparent prior to the meeting's start.

The Events of Kolstec, and the Incident on Peace still fresh in people's minds.

> Voss Characters may recap what's hapened and interact amongst themselves. This room will pick up in the morning
No dices, please, only canon.
Lennox's squad sits moping around a table.
"Ah man, I miss Koschei."
"Me too, but what can we do? Those snakes got him with their acid! Nothing for him to rise up from!"
"I wish we did more in that mission..."
"We also lost the trumpet during the hasty retreat. Man, it's a downer."
"And now Peace isn't so peaceful no more."
"Where were we during that?"
"We were busy drinking our ass off, lamenting about Koschei, next town over."
The squad sighs in unison.
It was at this depressing times that the door opened, and in walks Koschei, carrying the trumpet and dressed in an old farmer's clothing, dripping sand everywhere.
"Koschei! You're back!"
"But how?"
"Seems that us skelts are tougher than we thought; I reformed from the dissolved sludge."
"And the trumpet, it's not damaged?"
"Found it unblemished, even though I swear it's doused in the same acid with me. Whaddyaknow."
"And why aren't you in uniform?"
"Well, turns out the uniform didn't reform along with me, took days for me to get out of that desert. Found an abandoned scarecrow in the way, took the liberty of clothing myself."
"Well, at least you're not showing your boner off to everyone!"
The room is again full of rattling and cackling, one that haven't been heard for weeks.
Yellow tape fluttered in the cold morning wind, as Otso gathered his furs around him. The Western Courtyard had been hastily cordoned off, awaiting an investigation into the attack on Oderkonn and Deus - but the officer knew the incident would be dropped in favor of the witch hunt occurring within the ranks of the armed forces. How fortunate for him that he had been demoted to relative insignificance just before this mess. Rubbing his hands together, the Norrman looked around the site. The bodies had already been removed, those of the dead sentries and the assassins - this had all the markings of an impending cover-up. The damage had already been done. There was little forensic evidence left to be collected, except perhaps the bullets fired at the assassins. But how was he going to find those?

Kraus places a hand lightly on the Northerner's shoulder as she walks from behind him. She surveys the scene, trying hard to keep her head sharp, imagining the events that transpired the previous night.

"You trying to piece this mess together too? Glad I'm not the only one."
The young stargazer casually walked to the Death Marshall's office. Just awhile ago, the machine had been carried here by the major herself as a present to Beatrix, but that wouldn't stop the coffee-obsessed young-ling from trying to get some of that sweet liquid for himself. Two or three large bucketfuls of earth dumped on the ground, it was time to do some magic.

With a few hand signs and mumbling, Espresso's foot dug into the pile of earth, controlling it to slide under the door. The animated pile of earth would form an arm and hand as it got to the other side, rising up to unlock the door from the inside. A little bit of tapping around to find the lock and door-handle followed by a loud *click*, the prize was here. The earth was moved back into the buckets before it could be admired. Espresso almost shed a tear of joy at the sight of the glorious java machine. Reaching into the robes, given to the only Stargazer of the Royal Guard, a hand would bring up a small pot filled the secret to the young star magician's success, extremely potent coffee.

Minutes passed while Espresso fiddled with the machine, dosing the portions perfectly and learning how to operate the marvel of coffee-related engineering. Minutes that paid off when the dripping sound of boiling coffee filled the room. Grinning ear to ear, bringing cup to lips, a liquid strong enough to skelterize a kreiger was ingested, and joy was had.
"W-where were you during the festival?" Alfie frowned as she saw Mesani saunter back into the barracks, more than a little drunk. "T-there was f-fighting at the parade g-grounds!"

"No offense, Lieutenant, but there was fighting EVERYWHERE." Mesani said, taking a pull from a bottle that wasn't there before. "There's a certain charm to bar fights, especially in the northern part of town. Think I might have killed a few unfortunate drunks."

"T-that's horrible!" Alfie gasped.

"Ah, they probably had it coming." Mesani shrugged. "Just marching in thinking they owned the place. Fortunately they were too wet behind the ears to realize that a good knife is better than any gun within a couple meters."

"I-is this something I should know about...?"

"Don't sweat it, it's how I spend every Feather Festival. Getting drunk, getting laid, and murdering a couple of poor saps for fun and profit. Mostly for fun. It's a holiday, after all."

I fear these damn limbs aren't precise enough for me to go back to artillery yet...

>126 terror
>Spend 75 terror to acquire [sb]
>51 terror remains

>Use 30xp to upgrade my [sb]
>10:+1 Crew slot
>20:+1 Armor
>42 xp remains

Deathmarshal, I'd like an up to date warmach when you find the time, I'll have a list of all purchases since the last one if you require it.
>Spend 41 exp towards unlocking Master Class Krieger

With this coffee I can stay awake 2 more days!

=The Masters of War/ The Most Dangerous Game=
[Krieger Master Class Challenge]

It is the greatest honor for any man to be able to slay a dragon. For once upon a time, ogres and dragons were very real things that threatened the fragile human and for this reason alone, the Grannkinn line owes their legacies to the efforts of soldiers that fought wars not with man, But monsters.

To gain the honor of becoming the next line of Slayers, the apprentice Krieger must challenge an unharmed monster in single combat by staring directly into their soul* unaided by the swords of his neighbors or even the errant arrow splinter of their fellows even if it was accidental. It took quite a bit of neogtiation from our end for them to even accept the terms involving the use of ranged rifles...

A watchful crow will then send the news once the deed is done.

*soul ; I think they mean eyes, but since some monsters dont have eyes I'm sure looking at them funny sets them off anyway

I must also note that the monster in question must be worth 3xp or higher. Stronger battles will attract the ire of comparable masters.
Do we even have any kriegers to even try for the masterclass?
That we do major!
N-not very many I w-would imagine...
rolled 2 = 2

The corpsier Alucard was bored. He had been bored ever since Reginrave had transferred to the command of a Col. Krusser for advanced officer training some time ago. He wandered the halls of the barraks, passing by Victor's old quarters, and was surprised to see the door open, and smell a pot of freshly brewed coffee. Victor sat at his desk, sipping his mug, and finishing up a report.
"Alucard, good to see you again. I've been reassigned back to the Terrible Children." he says, still not looking at the door, recognizing the corpsier by his unearthly presence alone. "It is good to have you back, sir. However I must ask, where are your tanks? I did not see them in the hangar."
"Lost them at Redemption Gate. Clovish anti-armor rounds fried the engines. I've been assigned to the R&D divsion now, to work with you and a Dr. Ein on creating more efficient ghoul troops."

"Very good then. Shall I arrange the usual spread of cadavers?"
"Of course." Victor says with that same old off-putting grin.

>NCA Report on Col. Krusser and his level of loyalty to the prince, see if it is possible to turn him away from the Statesmen.

>spend 59 banked exp on training programs
>I want my masterclass option Monday, and I came back to collect.
rolled 4, 5 = 9

>NCA: Attempt to determine how those new tank prototypes the Voss bigwigs have are built and see if any of the tech can be reverse engineered fro the Beetl.

"I-I really think they s-s-stole some of our ideas...!"
rolled 9 = 9

>forgot my second die.
Quite slow today.
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CO 'Iceheart': Major
Officer Cotton: Captain
Scientist White: Lieutenant
Tanker Alfie: Lieutenant
Tanker Blitz: 2nd Lieutenant
Ritter Elfreide: 2nd Lieutenant
Officer Reginrave: 2nd Lieutenant
Skeleton Lennox: Sergeant Major
Scientist Armitage: Master Sergeant
Scientist Zel: Master Sergeant
Gatling Tanker 'The Exultant': First Sergeant
Skeleton Soleam: Sergeant First Class
Pilot Officer vonClaude: Sergeant First Class
Ritter Thunderval: Staff Sergeant
Gatling Tanker Hailmarrow: Sergeant
Krieger Reinburth: Soldat

Stargazer Espresso: Magus

Scout Pilot Overwatch: Senior Airman
Medicist Kraus: Corporal
Scoutknif Rania: Specialist

Am I missing anyone?

Shoulders stiffening at the sudden intrusion, Otso relaxes when he recognizes the girl's face. "You're the kid from Dar, right? Think I saw you with the doc when she was giving me the new arm." Looking back to the field, he furrowed his brow. "We came closer to the brink than I'd like to admit with this incident, and they're going to just cover it up. Idiots. Deus's role in all this is already coming to light, they can't keep the possibility of her re-awakening hidden much longer. But they've already done a pretty good job of scrubbing things."

He cocks his head, before slamming his good hand into the metallic palm of his prosthetic. "Wait a sec! You got one of the ritter wolves following you around, right? Can you see if he can find me the bullets that got fired last night?"
rolled 3 = 3


Kraus nods "It worries me. They really did a number on her, but she's still a volatile thing. Just treating her like a simple weapon, sweeping all this aside like it was just some spy looking to bomb a lab or steal the latest tank blueprints isn't going to do anyone any good. Even aside from keeping ourselves and our people safe from catastrophe, a girl her age needs to see someone honestly cares about her well-being, that's just as shocked and appalled as she is at this assault, who'll care for her, and, and..." she realizes her fist is clenched, knuckles white, and falls quiet for a moment

She touches a finger to her forehead, at the suggestion of the sergeant "Of course! I can't believe I didn't think of that. I'll get her from my quarters right away..."

>Have wolf sniff out evidence

Having once trained with a similar creature in the forests of his youth, Otso could see the wolf's disgusted sniff as it took in the scent of gunpowder along the ground. Shooing the creature away, he took a closer look at the soil, making sure not to disturb it with his massive prosthetic.

"Well, look here. A bullet they missed?" Eyeing the impact trajectory, Otso lined his gaze up with the potential origin point: the Western guard tower. "Didn't they say they found the sentries in that tower dead?" He inquired to no one in particular, pointing up to the tower with an iron hand. Shifting his point to the other tower, he continued, "And the sentries in that tower. They were drugged at one point, but survived... Somehow I doubt the Kashir are in the business of drugging Voss sentries."

Scratching at the stubble on his face using his good hand, the von Claude concluded, "We have to assume the Kashir came in that way. So those sentries were dead when they made their attack... So who was up in that tower then, to shoot at these assassins? The sentries said they shot at a shadow that jumped over the bridge and escaped into the river.... What do you think Kraus? Maybe these Cloves and the Kashir are not so close as we perhaps think?"
rolled 3, 4 = 7

*Earlier this week*
"Are you sure it looked like that?" the hooded ex-apprentice asks to a pair of anxious voss citizens. "Y-yes sir, one second it looked like there was nothing there, and the one after weird masses of ...something blocked the bullets of the soldiers, but please ask us no more...it makes our brain hurt simply thinking about it..." the man explains slowly, but he brings to light makes Espresso think deeply. Thanking the group for their information, the stargazer must now ponder what to do. Mistress Rai had left Voss, that was a fact, but did she leave of her own free will? Was she kidnapped by the Clovis forces that crashed the town days ago? Were the Clovis forces hired to kidnap Rai? So many questions and no answer. One thing was for sure however, misstress Rai had used an odd power. Heading back to the Royal Guard HQ, Espresso made haste to get a large hangar to meditate in when night fell. Alone, surrounded by machines, parts, crates of supplies and whatnot, the young star magician delved deep within the art, deep within possibilities, to understand and find new frontiers to harness and use, to become stronger. For Rai's sake and for the glory of Voss

>NCA : Learn new depths to star magic.

"Of course, Sergeant. But it is a foolish notion to assume there is only one body of 'Kashir' in this war. My nation is a fractious one, you've surely noticed. Even Voss has friction among the armed forces. I suspect this means that whoever these assassins belonged to are not affiliated with those the Cloves were working for...It's entirely possible we might have one less enemy at the end of all this"
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=Briefing Room=
In which the royal guard discuss their private strategies.

" As you all know the events of the Feather Festival has made the Statesmen's position clear. That we, as the sole representatives of the next heir to Voss are unfit to to hold such power over Voss's affairs. It is likely that they will hold this meeting to force a word or two out of us or even Vilkas in their favor. Know that once something has been said between a meeting between lords, nothing can be taken back, under pain of death. So conduct yourselves accordigly, if your words are not tempered enough do not join, if you are as every bit as confident in standing your ground against peers and seniors then I welcome you to enjoy the picnic with us.

Make no mistake, this is the Statesmen's first move at trying to sway us to their way. But the reality is that as the Royal Guard, we uphold the crown and his throne, unified and intact.

> > > You may execute NCA's before the meeting to prepare or hold NCA's as the meeting progresses but it denies your presence in the meeting on the spot as soon as you do. Use all available resources we have, this bloodless fight may decide the next war.

If you have already used NCA's before this post then you have used your NCAs.
rolled 5, 3 = 8

"While I'm not sure the 'picnic' part is literal, it never hurts to be prepared."

>NCA: Arrange the catering if needed, prepare the meal for the Royal Guard members attending, concentrating on the DeathMarshal's.
See NCA above.

Iceheart brushes aside the flaps to Ema's tent, stepping into the dimly lit room. The room was a bit of a mess, the bed unmade, and a bottle laying tipped over on the ground. "Doctor Armitage, you busy? I can't stay too long since I'm in the middle of cooking lunch for Beatrix, but I think it's time for my weekly check up, right?"

She lifts herself onto one arm still in bed, naked as the day she was born. Squinting in the morning light as she slips her glasses on, she first regards how late she's slept. Second, noticing that her bed partner of the previous night had left already. Finally lighting up a cigarette and turning to Iceheart, she takes a deep drag before answering "Not at all, Major. Aren't we eager today? I'm surprised you even remember my name." surveying the room, she continues "I apologize for the mess. You know how celebration nights can get"

Iceheart quickly looks away, her cheeks flushing red. "For fuck's sake Master Sergeant, make yourself decent first." she exclaims, grabbing some of the woman's discarded clothing and blindly tossing it to her. As Ema changes the Major gets down to the biscuits, "I need you to get serious. My cough is back, my chest feels tight, the hydraulics in these damned limbs keep failing after Bea-... and I need you to modify the right arm. Can you do that Doctor?"
Slipping on some undergarments and draping her lab coat, now reeking of alcohol around her shoulders, she steps over to Iceheart "Your lungs are probably working harder to support the heavier limbs. And..." she strokes a finger delicately over the hydraulics "My, my, what happened here? No wonder you've been having trouble. Not only have you gained an extra 60 pounds, but your joints aren't working properly after some fool cut them and did a hack job of repairing them. Here, take an increased dose of your usual steroid for now, while I fix these. Now tell me, what do you want done to your arm?"

Iceheart watches Ema work, moving her jet black limbs here and there, testing the joints. "Never you mind what happened to the lines, it's not important for you to know. As for the arm? I require a shotgun installed, preferably one with at least moderate range, 8 or 10 gauge, 3 round tube magazine, with the ability to accept a box magazine when deployed if needed in heavy engagements." She finishes rattling off her requirements, and looks the doctor in the eye, a hint of her scared reflection staring back in the woman's glasses. "Are you able to have it done before the picnic?"

The doctor nods, loosely tying back her hair as she replaces one hydraulic tube after another. "My little sister would be better at that sort of thing. Could hardly tear her away from the farm's shotgun..." she looks off for a moment, before returning to her task "I can have it done, yes, but you'll need to take better care of your arm, perhaps even reinforce it with heavier materials if you intend to fire it with any regularity. That kind of firepower will warp your 'bones' over time, especially since adding the shotgun means subtracting a lot of structural support."
"Don't worry, it's a last resort, I don't plan to use it that often." She leans back on the examination table, closing her weary eyes. "Let me know when you're done. Oh, and Master Sergeant?"

"Yes, Major?"


Ema's cigarette drops from her lips. She remains speechless for a few moments, her heart feeling like it stopped, the room rotating topsy-turvy, before responding "Of course, Major"

>42 xp, spend 10xp on my prosthetic arm, adding a shotgun to it. 32 xp remains.
"I would like to attend this little picnic, to say hello to my former commander and hand off this report to the Major if nothing else."

>Attendance sketchy, will attempt to access the board from my destination tomorrow.

Forever a Soldat.

Next battle, next battle I will be the baller
It doesn't seem like this game is as accessible to newcomers as it has been in the past...
You are not wrong, not being sure what army will be played next makes things less plannable. Also Monday should post the unit cards first thing in a new thread again.
That is for the most part an illusion, mechanically the game is still fairly simple, and it doesn't take too much work to pick up the plot, which isn't necessary if you just wanna pop in and play.

For a short summary of the plot in laymans terms, the Voss Empire is currently leaderless, the only heir being Prince Vilkas who is not yet old enough to take the throne. We play his royal guard, and are currently trying to convince the other faction of Voss, the Statesmen, to accept Vilkas as their emperor. All the while fighting a bloody war with the heathen Kashir that was started when we saved Prince Vilkas from their demonic summoning ritual.

if you have further questions, feel free to post them here, or pop on over to the #onlyskirmish irc channel on rizon.
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To participate, pick a class from this sheet, and make yourself a tripcode in the name field. All newcomers start at the rank of Soldat.

If you wanted to be a Kreiger, you'd be: [K]Soldat Meatbag##securetripcodehere
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And these glorious bastards are the armor units. Same deal, you want into one, just make a trip with the proper designation.
>>Walker legs
>>+1 Armor
If I remember correctly in the Ragnyll saga, which takes place in the future from now in canon, it was said that Ragnyll Bi-Tanks are weaker than Voss tanks because of the bipedal propulsion but as a trade off they are more maneuverable and can jump. Now Voss has the same thing just better and in the past?

What manner of time-space-techno-sorcery is this?

My guess is these limbs are much more expensive to manufacture, and as such are uneconomical for mass production (20 terror = 5 squads of men, or 5 basic tanks), really only suited for use by specific individuals. Those used in the future by the bitank are likely stripped down, lighter versions for mass manufacture.
T-there's also the fact that bitanks were a relatively new invention for Ragnyll...

(Wait, how do I know that?)
traps everywhere
(Also weren't the Ragnyll ones based off farming equipment?)

The "##Password" goes after your name, not in the E-mail field, otherwise you got the right idea

Also, you can abbreviate [Hunter] to [H] in your name.
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In Regingrave's experience under the Lt. Colonel; >>20361247

He has seen the less than romantic parts of of the Voss army than he'd cared to admit, as well as the evergoing fruitless war with Kashir. However, due to Voss's tradition to never back out from their sworn words, it is a death locked battle that was born at the same time as Vilkas. A curse on Voss's principles, and soon perhaps their nation.

It was during these dark times of constant fighting, and the eventual destruction of their men that made most officers numb, careless and yes- even target to a sharpened enemy. All officers, except Kruss, whose sheer resolve allowed him to command for more than a city's worth of dead men, and many more to come. He was promoted extremely high up from all the dead officers above him. And when reluctance to take their place finally failed him, the position inevitably fell to his lap.
" Do you see now, " His words rang, " Only those strong enough to carry voss will remain. Let this war run its course, and whoever remains is the victor to lead the next generation, and perhaps they will be cleansed of the cursed king or perhaps the King will prevail, and Voss will begin anew once again. "

It has been 2 months since those words were spoken, and Kruss has now been assigned to work with Pandemon, who seems to share his same curse of never truly dying from the warrior's death. No doubt that the Statesmen has mustered up all the refuse and belligerent elements that the Kashirn war has whipped up and gave them the resources to end this war one way or another. Perhaps to undermine Vilkas's efforts. Or perhaps to have Voss win no matter the cost.

> The investigation of Kruss follows thus;
> He does not see Vilkas Von Voss to be ready to lead Voss. And Just as well, he does not see anyone else fit to lead it either.
S-so he's k-kinda like the standard r-r-reluctant hero, then?
Sounds like he'd be a bitch fight if we ever get on his bad side.
He's good...sadly his commander is not so he's not much of a threat yet.

Who says he needs to be a threat? If we could win him over to our side, Krusser would be a powerful ally.


Sunlight flittered through the opening of the doctor's tent, touching the edge of the cot. Ella awoke slowly, the first sight of the morning being a mess of hair arranged on a pillow. "Ow, my--" she muttered, her eyes screwed shut. "What happened last night...?" The sheets around her smelled of alcohol and sweat and...afterglow?

'Ohhhhhh no.' Ella's eyes shot wide open as she sat up in bed, grasping the sheets around her. She turned to her left, the figure next to her still fast asleep. Ella slowly brushed the hair away, first revealing an ear, then a nose. She continued until she had found the face of Ema underneath, her lips still shaped into a smile of serenity. Ella blinked, trying to reassemble the events of the last night. She grit her teeth. 'Dammit, Ella, you stupid girl!' The gears in her head tried to turn, but only light flashes came through. Visiting the Doctor, sharing a few drinks, the near-forgotten feeling of another's hand exploring her body--

Ema stirred slightly. Ella remained absolutely rigid in bed, waiting to see what would happen. She cut her breathing off, simply waiting to see if Ema would wake up. To her relief, the sleeping doctor smiply shifted her position in bed, blindly groping in the empty space where Ella's body would have been. Ella moved her pillow into Ema's grasp, and her stirring soon ceased. She sighed. 'Well, that's done,' she thought, silently slipping out of the cot. She stretched, the sunlight playing along her bare back. With a bit of effort, she found her bra and panties—the former slung around the doctor's chair and the latter hanging from the doctor's coat rack. She continued to look around the room for the rest of her clothes. "I hope it was good for you, Ema," Ella whispered to the sleeping woman as she laced up her boots. She gave a sad sigh; how had she allowed herself to let a simple talk get so out of hand?

By the time she had gotten her beret correctly set, Ella heard the noise of footsteps approaching the tent. She considered leaving a note, but time was of the essence. She was still an officer, and still needed to report back in. She briefly considered how her retinue fared while she was...blowing off steam. The headache, which had remained somewhat bearable as she was getting dressed, now pounded as she gave a glance outside the tent. The base was still asleep. She gave a determined smile. 'Maybe I can get back before anyone sees me.' The thought lingered in her head as the footsteps became louder, more distinct. Metallic.

"The major!" She whispered under her breath. Letting out a brief sigh, Ella put on a determined face and stepped through the flaps of the tent, squinting as her eyes adjusted to the bright sun.


Ella slammed the door to her cabin, letting out a sigh of relief as soon as she flipped the lock. The walk across the camp was mostly uneventful—a few close calls, but nothing she couldn't handle with a bit of resourcefulness and an empty cardboard box. Ella smiled, her headache mostly gone from the adrenaline of rushing across the base unnoticed. She straightened herself against the door, allowing a chuckle. Now to take a hot bath, change into a fresh uniform, and get back to work—

“Did we have fun last night?”

Ella yelped in surprise, drawing her handgun and focusing the power of the Eye on the doorway to bedroom. The figure in the doorway slowed, almost frozen in mid-action. Ella lined up the target in her sights, getting a closer look at her would-be assailant, a tall man in black clothing and a bone-white, beaked mask. “Oh!” Ella exclaimed, holstering her pistol. “Mal, I'm sorry! You just took me by surprise there.” She got closer to the Corpsier, the Eye glowing with raw power.

“Nnnnnnnnooooooo, nnnnnnoooooooo.” The corpsier's words came out slurred, his head slowly shaking from side to side. “Iiiiiiiit's quiiiiite allriiight. Myy fauult for not making myself known.” The Corpsier's voice slowly sped up to its normal pace as the powers from the Eye dissipated. “Fascinating.” Malachi flexed his hand into a fist. “You have become quite skilled with that relic of yours.”

“Might as well master it, y'know?” Ella smiled. “But what were you doing in my room, Mal?”

“Call it guard duty.” Malachi proceeded to step past Ella, his polished boots making a neat “clack” on the hardwood floor of the cabin. “Miss Tomas has been sleeping for the past ten hours—no doubt recuperating after helping with reparations to the city. Being an undead myself, I do not need such things as food or rest.”


“As well, I have good news for you.” Malachi turned on his heel, producing a folder from his coat. “You've been promoted, Captain.”

“Captain?” Ella stepped forward, taking the folder from the Corpsier's grasp. She opened the folder, finding a mess of paperwork waiting for her to fill out, alongside the new rank insignia pins for her uniform. “When did this happen? Did the Major—?”

“The news arrived this morning. I do have to say, the mail carrier was quite surprised to see you hadn't returned to your quarters. I waved him away, saying you had...officerial duties.”

Ella blinked. “Well, thanks for taking care of that, Mal.”

“Speaking of 'officerial duties'...” The Corpsier looked Ella straight in the eyes. “Last night, it seemed as though you and the doctor both were, how you say, blowing off steam.”

Ella's face flushed red. “J—just,” she stammered, “how much did you see?”

“Enough to know you needed some private time.” The Corpsier was grinning behind his mask.

“That night was just....I don't even know where to begin.” Ella shook her head. “It was messy, passionate, and entirely unexpected. But...I think that, one way or another, it was good for both of us. I think.”

“Both of you?”

“Mal, it's just...it's complicated. Right now, I need to shower, change into a freshly pressed uniform, and report back in to let everyone know I haven't gone AWOL after last night.”

“There's a freshly pressed uniform in your room and I took care of reporting you in. The itinerary for your day is in the folder with your promotion papers.”

Ella gave a tired smile “You're a godsend, Mal.”

The Corpsier bowed. “I do my best, Miss Cotton.”
Knew I forgot someone, Sergeant.

Thank you Ma'am
The skeletons huddled together after that announcement.
"Well guys, are we going to join that picnic?"
"I'm sure we're not short on words on the matter, yes?"
"But most of them are puns, and perhaps a limerick or two."
"This is an important meeting you know! I won't allow any of us to end up driving prince Vilkas' standing to the bottom."
"Well then, if we're not there to talk, then what if we arrive with music?"
"I'd think it'd drive a sour note to the picnic's atmosphere."
"Maybe not as sour as your limericks! Ha!"
"Shut up, we both know you wrote it, Koschei. Anyways, why are you so insistent on coming to that picnic anyways?"
"I heard they were serving lemon pies. I like lemon pies."
The other skelters burst out a laugh, before stifling it, as they know Deathmarshal Beatrix is still in the room.
"Lemon pies? Oh Koschei, you bag of bones, we have that on base!"
"Oh, they do? Well sorry for being stranded in the desert!"
"Guys, shut it, we need to get a consensus! We going or not?"
"Well, since they've got lemon pies here, I'd say we don't have to go."
"Yeah, spare them our jokes and music, them Statesmen probably had different taste."
"All in favor of not going there?"
The skeletons agreed unanimously.
"Then I'll inform Deathmarshal Beatrix. No take-backs, okay?"

A few hours later, from the cafetaria, Koschei's shrill voice pierced the dinnertime hubbub.

"I am going."

I'm going. Do we have any intel on who exactly is going to this little soiree of ours? Anyone in particular we should keep our eyes open for? Potential allies and enemies? If we're gonna be rubbing shoulders with the bluebloods of Voss, I think we should know who we will be talking to before we get there.

And who's pulling security? How tight will it be? Will we have our weapons with us?

(dammit, has my tag really been "FO" this entire time?)
"I am sure that they will have their own compliment of guards with them. We may as well guard ourselves until we know who can be relied on.

If you think it appropriate I can construct a series of missile turrets just a little distance away from this picnic, just in case their is an attack. Such a gathering represents an excellent target, and I would not put it past the kashir to try something.

If you'd rather I work on research, I can do that instead."


=Catering and Intel=

As Iceheart readied the order for the catering team, the staccastic tap of the dot messenger began to produce a seemingly endless roll of guests for the event. It had all been the names of the guests that had decided to reserve their share of the state funded meal. In the end the guest list numbered at no less than 500 bodies but hidden indifferently among them were the names of key officials :
[Prince ] Vilkas Von Voss
[ Mjr Gen.] Gustav Fierstrom
[Mjr Gen.] Pandemon
[ Gen.] Amadeus Thanes
[Countess] Hel
Col. Krusser [to represent Pandemon if absent]
Special Agent. Stanzen Stiglitz
Sir. Vanderbee Hellsing
Warchief. Normandy
Chief Engineer Odderkon
Arch Wizard. Bastion
Statesman Representative Schwartz
Master Professor Heinlein Hinzerhaus
Madame Quimbly

This including Vilkas's royal guard would be present.

As it stands, Armory park is also under the jurisdiction of the Royal Guard and so this important tasks falls on the soldiers once again despite the fact that our guests will bring protection of their own.

So this is the guest list? I'd like to request dossiers on the following people--anything we can find could be greatly appreciated:

Major General Pandemon
General Amadeus Thanes
Colonel Krusser
Agent. Stanzen Stiglitz
Sir. Vanderbee Hellsing
Warchief. Normandy
Arch Wizard Bastion
Statesman Representative Schwartz
Master Professor Heinlein Hinzerhaus
Madame Quimbly

We will be seeing a lot of new people, and I would rather we knew about these guys before we meet face to face.
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It should be obvious that with this kind of a turn out , a week before the Worlds Fair takes place, it's pretty apparent what the meeting will be about.

They'll question my position on the crown and our position on the war, sadly it's something that I was born with but hopefully we can come to a peaceful solution.. . Otherwise we might have to bury Kashir before it buries us. "

Vilkas looks outside to the east, only recently did the skies begin to look dusted and red when just very recently, it was a pure and vivid blue.

" The sands are beginning to make its way here too... "

I suppose I'll leave you to collect information about them now, would you ?
rolled 10, 7 = 17

"As much as I admire your concern for our troops who fight and die every day, sire, to let Kashir off with a scolding and a slap on the wrists now would be incredibly hard to swallow for any man who has lost someone to this war. As you can see their desert sands each day grow closer to eating Voss whole. While peace does stop the deaths, it makes all past deaths in vain if neither side has gained anything but hatred."

Beatrix turns around to find that Ella has gone off rather fast to do other things.

" or... not "

> Intel work on the whole Voss cabinet seemed a little overwhelming perhaps splitting the tasks might be better...

I've seen my only family fight and die to this war.. so I know what you mean. But even if this war ended in our favor, who would it honor ? What would it mean ? Destroying a whole nation and its people is ludicrous we need to know what it is we wish to accomplish with this war, and who we should hold responsible...

What would you do, Reginrave ?
"What indeed. You may not know this my prince, but I too lost family to this war. My brother Grant was among the number who stormed the temple to save you as a child."

Victor pours himself another cup of coffee, and sits down.
"Of course we cannot wipe out a people, that is as you said insane. I do not presume to shoulder the responsibilities of a king, but were I to have that option, I would make sure that the Kashir no longer had a reason to fight. If you know why they fight, you can eliminate it, and they will lose heart."

"Everyone has a reason to fight. For us, we used to fight to protect you, and restore Voss to her former glory. Now, we fight because we have no other option but to survive. In order for this war to be worth what it has cost, we need to gain something. Other nations want land, money, prestige, or dominance. I cannot answer, because I do not speak for Voss. You will someday. You will be the voice of the entire nation. What do you want from this world, this war, the kashiran people, my prince? When you know the answer to that question, we will be able to put this war behind us, and march on to our future."

"It is a shame the starstress was abducted before we could ask her why the Kashir still fight. Perhaps the girl from Dar can tell us."
rolled 3, 10 = 13


Okay, maybe that first request might have overwhelmed our paper pushers. Let's just take this slow, then?

>NCA: Bring up dossiers on Sir. Vanderbee Hellsing, Warchief Normandy, Arch Wizard Bastion, Madame Quimbly, and Statesman Representative Schwartz.
"If you'll allow my input, I think that discovering how they spread the desert will go a long way to ending this war. We find out who among the kashir is spreading it and instigating this war, and hold /them/ responsible. We eliminate them, ending this war quickly becomes a far more likely scenario.

It allows us to take the offensive against Kashir, satisfying the statesmen and others, and while removing the more hawkish elements from the kashir nation as well.

This move would open the door to diplomacy, either negotiating a truce... or their unconditional surrender... without completely wiping out the kashir people if that is the path you wish to take.

Practically speaking, we'd need to undertake an operation to capture some important kashir. We'll need information from them."

Kraus steps towards the officers and the emperor. "Capture? Why, you've got a perfectly good Kashir with you already. These are good questions, ones that should have been asked many times before. No matter, now is better than never."

"You see, Kashir is a nation of mystics, guided by celestial beings for generations untold. That is the source of her power, and reason for being. We built towards the heavens as far as we could reach, the hands of Gods lifting us up from the desert and into the folds of unimaginable power. However, this power has faded, in time. Even more has it so, with the destruction wreaked upon the skylands. There is still enough that we may alter the weather in impossible ways, and summon the Gods of Death and Destruction, but we are not even close to what we once were. This war is being fought in an attempt to gain it back--somehow."

"The common man though knows little of this, and even the nobles aren't all behind it. The one you've been fighting has not been the whole of Kashir herself, but one Mad King. He is the one waging this constant struggle against you, and it is he who must be stopped for it to have a chance of ending. Salazaar, and The Starstress Rai know of this, and wish to oppose him, create a better Kashir. If we can work together with them, to strike down the king and turn back the armies of Kashir, we may be able to secure a peace that satisfies both sides."

"There's someone else though, even more knowledgeable than I who may be able to shed more light on the situation. 'Jack', I think you called him, didn't you? The last living Kashirn Emperor from the age of luxury."
*At the Monster Labs of Zanzibarland*

The door to the radio room squeaked open as the head geneticist pushed his way in. The operator looked up at the newcomer and reported, "Sponsor's on the line for you sir." The head of operations let out a puff of annoyance. Considering the danger of the work he was doing, it wasn't surprising the amount of oversight their main sponsor was exercising. But he'd barely even managed to complete one experiment, and they were already harping on him for another? Beckoning to the radioman, he took the headset. "Sergeant, how can I help you?" The tinny voice of Otso von Claude spoke, distorted by miles of airwave interference. "Hello, Doctor Wickson. I've got someone on my case. He wants a splice done, and since he's an old family friend I have to oblige him the request. It's the ritter, Thunderval. See if you can't splice together a sample from that King Cobra he recently liberated from the Kashir and their salamanders." The zcifax sighed. "Well sir, we can try. The usual disclaimers apply." "Of course," responded the Sergeant, before the line went dead.

>Order the monster labs to splice together King Cobra and Salamander samples, as requested.
=Tea Network=
Ella Cotton decides to take on the task of doing the bulk of the investigation with her undead adjutant. Many sleepless nights were spent in the Royal archives piecing together the lives of the following officials. Their extended efforts left them trapped in the archives for a quite a while, resolving to report their findings through dot-transmissions and relay radios...

> Information Get
> Ella suffers sleep deprivation and won't be able to attend the picnic.

Sir. Vanderbee Hellsing,
Is a master assassin that has also directed Voss' supernatural efforts during the demonstrification period. He hails from a line of assassins and slayers, defeating Midians during the 4 corners War. Today, he works for Voss, training elite soldiers in the hopes of finding an apprentice. He's also led some shady jobs killing off revolutionary elements and at one point even made an attempt on the previous emperor's life. A crime he has been absolved for. He is now nearing 87 according to records.

Warchief Normandy, Is a hotblooded representantive of Norr, the land of Ritters. It is through their support that Voss is supplied with hearty soldiers and vigilance from non- Valknyrian nations like Aeon. He has yet to believe Vilkas to be of the same calibre of lord as Ascheron Von Voss whose tales of heroism inspired the Norrs.

Arch Wizard Bastion, Heads the maintenance of the Voss's lands through the ministry of lands and nature, keeping her rare and mystical resources in check. Representing the Westerly regions, Bastion wishes to find a way to stop the encroaching desert. As there have been no Quemists in the Royal Guard as of late, his mood on the war is bleak..
Madame Quimbly, is responsible for the Finances ministry of Voss and the director of the Terror Bank. It is said that Beatrix has once worked under her when she was training to become an officer. Madame Quimbly's role in the 4 corners war is unknown. Her view of Vilkas is unknown. But she has remarked that his crown took on a "cute shape" this time around.

Statesman Representative Schwartz: A statesman working for the Voss beauraucratic warmachine. He is one of the 23 people representing the VolksHaus , and was sent due to his experiences as an intelligence officer prior to taking office. His auditory memory gets him the name of Human Radio, allowing him to quote his political opponents on ancient sayings that was destined to bite them in the ass. He has also duelled and killed 12 men in this way. Most of them politicians, his subordinates, and his predecessor to the seat. He wishes to do away with the Voss Monarchy in favor of making Voss a republic.

.... details about their lives may be investigated during the picnic..
Excellent work Captain Ella, now get some sleep, you look like you need it more than I do, which is surprising.

Now, does anyone know what the appropriate attire for this meeting is? Dress uniforms or formal wear?

I would assume dress uniform would be good, ma'am. It would probably be advisable to put on your best faces for the bluebloods and officials.
> The picnic will be conducted tomorrow afternoon.
Get ready.
N-none of these people s-sound like people w-we want to make angry...

T-though I think Normandy would be the e-easiest to please. W-we've had a lot of n-notable Ritters and Vilkas was n-named after one...

To add, the time for this event will be 6Pm

Hmph. I suppose I could talk to him. The number of my brothers that have served in the ranks of Voss's ritters is so numerous by this point, they could have been an army of their own...
"Well well, a mad king and an unhappy people. If this is true, then our war is not with the people, it is with the King of Kashir. A well placed propaganda campaign aimed at swaying Kashiran and Vosskon peoples' hatred onto him would create a focal point for this war, a face to put behind the carnage. A victory condition. We satisfy the statesmen's need for victory and honor, all the while assisting the common people at large."

He finishes his coffee, and sets the mug down.

"That is awful privileged information you know, girl, Kraus was it? That's a Valknyre name, yet you are Kashir. You are a rather contradictory person, a commoner with education and eloquence not befitting her station, a name not native to her home, and a willingness to serve under the flag of your enemy. Just who are you, and how do we know your information is correct?"
T-too many of them have d-died though...

Yes, many of the von Claude line have died on the field of battle. But a single family sending that many sons to fight in the name of the Prince? It'd make no sense if someone didn't notice by now.
I'd also like to attend.

It was a goodbye, and quite the heartfelt one. In the stars were they would gaze nightly, Espresso was caught with an intangible feeling that no matter how black and desolate the heavens where, there existed the sea of stars familiar to them both. And it was with this feeling, that Rai's spirit nor her presence couldn't truly leave. For up there was the sea of black that he had not explored, but if he pushed further, he would find what could be small foot prints of her presence, and the celestial that remembered her name in passing.

> Choose a constellation to make a contract with !
You may now attempt summon them no matter what month it is.
I'll be in attendance, should my advice be required.

>Make a contract with the Lupus constellation.
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Brought up from Odderkonn's labs, the bound figure is rolled into a sterile room that would usually be Odderkon's debriefing room.

" Your language is quite limited, it took a bit of listening to your radio dramas to catch that much implied meaning can exist between words "

He begins as an introduction. He then tilts his head sideways in bemusement.

" So it would seem that you are in need of my services again, yes ? Tools needed to fight the High Gods ? Or have they... turned to seedier providers of mana, or whatever your people call it nowadayyyyyy "
Zel adjusts the bag covering his head, "We need to know how the kashir spread the desert, and how to stop it. Can you tell us anything about how they do this?"
"My subordinates have questions, I'm merely here to observe."

I'm...curious about this piece of Kashir history...
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Spreading the desert ? Ah.. yes that kind of power was available to me once. It was through one of my subjects, you see. A long time ago when gods inhabited the mortal bodies of man. Of course the drawback to that , was that those vessels were irreconcilably mortal and was of course ended by the hands of a warrior.

The monster you seek should not be of this world- and yet they were brought back somehow ahuhuhuhuhuh. If /that/ has found another host then deserts are not the only thing it can do.. . . . .
"Do you know how we can find this monster? If it is not of this world, where is it from?"
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Ah but first, could I bother you for another bottle ? aaahh thank you Susan.

Where it comes from doesn't matter. It is here now, in this world. And of course if you wish to stop it, you kill the host. " Deathgods " as you people call them, cannot be killed in their entirety- they will return to the void where they exist as meaning. Only to be called by the hearts of those who wish for them and delivered through a river of blood. This worlds happens to have both after all.

Too bad we cannot stop one or the other...A-are all DeathGods malevolent entities? I know the same would suggest it but...one can't but wonder...sir.

"There was another thing as well. The Kashir of late have been tapping into a cache of artifacts of great power. You speak of a time when gods walked in the bodies of men? Perhaps then you can enlighten us on their tools. Maybe you could advise our resident artificer on their uses - she seems to have found herself a bit too sentimental about their purpose."

"She mentioned such things as The Crown of Wyrms, the Judge's Hammer, the Killer Blade - while we know of the Eye of Shiva ourselves."
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Ahhh yes.. those relics. My memory is a little foggy about them aheheheh...

You can say that they were prizes I gained for uhhhh hmmmm.... I forget honestly. I was collecting so many rare and powerful creatures that one couldn't help but find a good use for their ... extraneous properties.

Maybe if you retrieved me these toys, I can tell you all about their story~ Uheaheahaheheheh, for a small price that is, I get awful hungry down theree.

If you know so much about the Kashir artifacts, I suppose you could start by telling us about the Eye of Shiva. I would hand the Eye to you so you could get a better look, but I'm not sure that the surgery the Starstress performed could be easily reversed. That, and I have grown rather...attached to it.

I found the Eye in the sand near the crashed Gorgon Fortress some months ago. From what has been said by both Warrant Officer Fran and the Starstress Rai, this artifact I possess came about when a young Gazer peered upon the form of a 'destroyer god'. In an act of penance, the Gazer plucked out her own eye.

Now I know from personal experience that the Eye can cause people and objects to slow down, if not entirely be frozen in an instant. I was hoping you might know the whole story about this, as well as any additional powers that the Eye might hold.
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Let me look closer Susan... pfahh... thank you

Ah yes... Mezula... I remember her. That plucky brat, going against my rule... what a day that was, in an attempt to seal one of my subjects from cleansing this world clean, she had sealed the very idea of that god in her mind. What is left of both Mazula and that useless figment remains in that object. Curious how she did it ? You'd have to ask her yourself... she must be a couple hundred years old or very dead. Hard to imagine, she was just a kid at that time... maybe they honored her memory by preserving those huge soulless eyes in a gaudy artifact..... myess....

"So, you counted death gods as your servants at one time. Would you recognize one that the Kashir refer to as Deus Ex? She is articulate much like you, much less a ravening beast like was witnessed at Nirvana and Heaven's Gate."
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Nope. I've never met those Incarnates before. If theres definitely one thing about the current Deathgods summoned though, it's that they're not the most powerful ones I've seen. Definitely not.

Deus Ex... rings a few bells however.... I'm actually surprised they managed to get it into this plane...

"Yes, Deus Ex. The Lady of Flames, Hassan's Handmaiden, Bane of Sylvia etc. etc. I've had a bit of personal experience in trying to repel her, so I hope you'll forgive my curiousity into her nature."

"The Eye is only part of a larger artifact. Interesting." Ella crossed her arms, covering her mouth with her hand. "Well, Jack, thank you for your insight. I suppose I'll have to talk with Fran in-depth about this as well, but one thing at a time." Ella paused, letting out a long yawn. "Right now, I'm feeling a nap would be good. Gentlemen." The captain saluted the crowd, turning on her heel and walking out of the room, her Corpsier following behind her.
Y-you mean there's s-s-s-scarier ones o-out there...?!
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rolled 1, 7 = 8

>NCA: Offer to provide helicopter transport for Vilkas, Iceheart, DeathMarshal, and Oderkonn to the picnic, then wait close by as fast response in case something happens.

"Always important to arrive in style."
The meeting is scheduled for tonight, please have all your affairs in order before then.
rolled 10, 8 = 18

"If I forget the code phrase, don't let me out of this room."

>NCA: Before the meeting, finish up research on the binding of Ibonyte to Midian blood.
>Use blood that is not currently inside me for this.
This is bound to end well.
H-how can a d-duocopter hold so many people...?

Well some of them could hang on for dear life outside of the duocopter, that would work. They could draw straws to see who
So when are starting?
Removing the hard mounted weapons provides room.
Maybe replacing the mounted weaponry with some sidecars used in motorcycles?
Oof picnic has been postponed till tomorrow due to work related shennanigans. And now I am le tired.

[Plus all this fun stuff to porcess ohohohoh >those might happen in the dead of night tho]
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With all due respect, Airman, would this be the safest way to transport our dignitaries to the picnic?
That's why I only /offered/, if they deem it not safe enough, that's fine.
That doesn't look like safe way at all to transport dignitaries.
Especially when one of them is the FREAKING EMPEROR.
evening bump
So I THINK we're supposed to be starting today...

=Black and White=

White locked himself in an enclosed vault as he proceeded to experiment with the black rock. When the nature of his vampiric power was yet known, the first then he had realized when taking his blood to the sample was how it /felt/ ticklish.

Little did he know that as soon as he let the two cultures interact, it took a few minutes before he sample itself severely regenerated into an albino likeness of its owner.

....sometime later

" Black " declares the sole voice in the vault.
" and ?" asks the security officer
" White " he finishes. Completing the pass phrase.

The door swings open and out steps a completely white haired man.
" Sir ! " the guard stammers, " Your bag- "
" I wont need it ," He responds, " I know exactly who I am, and there is no stopping a midian's pride once that happens " He straights his white lab coat, wiping off the bit of blood that stained at the lapel.

> one man walks in.
> one man walks out.

> Zell learns hemocloning using ibonyte.
Remember SkirmishQuest?
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Green Slime.

Huh... interesting, the two reptilian lines seems to have created far more basic life form than predicted. You'd think monsters followed the theory of sire-based evolution but it's creatures like these that prove that some genes just completely break down after a certain point... once we figure what these mana radiations mean we can start parsing something about these creatures...

Oh yes, about the specimen , it's a common slime based creature, said to be the ancestor of the monster lines. Their mana frequencies happen frequently across the board and therefore fills the elemental spectrum....
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Remeber Nomad? And Wolf and Dragon and Trauma and Taggart and Taggarts problem with handling his shit and Blank and R00k?
I miss it.
Once I finally make my dungeon lab, I will have to fill the levels closer to the surface with these slimes for the low level adventurers.
I remember it all. My story is probably done, but maybe we'll eventually get around to SQ2 after IH is complete.
Who has summoned me?
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"Are you ready VIlkas ? "

"As I'll ever be. Come, Deus, we must make an appearance"

" D- Do I have to ? I thought that horrible title you gave me was just... a - "

" A public one ? Yes. And we are going to a public function. A very... very public function "

Beatrix looks up and waves over the helicopter pilot. Overwatch cradles her arm bandages as she lands the duo just a foot over the whipping grass.
Lately she rarely touches the ground with her craft.

" We'll be off , all units we show up in groups and at different times. We wish to keep the feel of this... operation.... casual.

> Picnic Begins.
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I remember that Nomad hates penguins.
I did.
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Handle your shit
Donning his dress uniform, and boarding the staff car, Victor makes his way to the Picnic.

"To the picnic, driver."
"Of course sir." the corpsier replies from under his newly minted officer's cap.
Not wanting to trust her life in the hands of a driver she didn't know, Alfie decided to make her way to the picnic on her own. However, she really didn't want to be seen or attract too much attention to herself. Axel always warned her to always keep a low profile. After all, there could still be people out there who recognized them...

With that in mind, Alfie decided she might as well attend the meeting in her Beetl. That way strangers wouldn't be able to see her!

For a second, the Beetl's engines coughed and sputtered as Alfie kept smiling at her ingenious plan.
This is CC to RG.
It seems the first of the servants have arrived. We have just served Stiglitz an appetizer of bread, and Madame Quimbly is making small talk with Bastion. They are both enjoying a salad, over.

Should we send for 2 agents to keep them busy ?

> What do.
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Espresso had waited for hours sitting under a tree where near where the picnic would take place. Not sleeping as usual, the new contract weighted on the Stargazer's mind. Writing poetry and rhymes until the meeting would start, equipped with a thermos of newly brewed *Ghoul Brew* from Beatrix's coffee machine, the young star magus was ready for anything.

With the Royal Guard tasked with the safety of the picnic, Espresso would simply dive the earth to calmly detect any intruders or odd movement and wave to the members of the Royal Guard who arrived one after the other.
Zel adjusts his dress labcoat and pulls his formal Lab-bag over his head as the car pulled up to the park. Stepping out, he looks around to see who had arrived with his eyes finally settling on the ArchWizard. Who had even known that Voss had wizards, much more, an ArchWizard?
The Halberd softly touched down in a distant clearing, guided by a practiced hand. The loading ramp descended, and the officer and his retinue disembarked from the metal beast.

"Why we walking from here again, boss?" griped one of the interns. "The Warchief will not be impressed by armor. Indeed, it'd likely give a bad impression. You and your knights on the other hand... I think he'd be interested to see how honorable combat has evolved in the territories. Now stand up straight, you're supposed to be formal."

Keep Quimbly from talking with Bastion until we can dig up a Quemist to talk to him. We don't need his bad tidings to rub off on the head of funding.
>approach Stiglitz
Victor grabs a glass of the champagne from a passing waiter's tray, and makes his way over to Stiglitz's table.
"Good to see you again, Warrant Officer. It's been a while, Redemption Gate was it? How are you and the Colonel?"
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Reginrave is it ? I haven't been in the front, in fact not at all, I must confess, my work has been that of a paper pusher until I was comissioned by the statesmen to . . ."

He looks at the runny red glass a drowsy perturbed look on his face. " Ahhh what am I saying, how have YOU been ? "
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Seeing as no one was entertaining the Arch Wizard, Espresso took the situation in hand to try and keep the mystic amused, if only for a short while. Stargazing is no Quemist shroom-using, but hopefully it would provide some sort of distraction.

Removing the hood from the elaborate black cloak, the baggy-eyed blonde would stride towards the Arch-Wizard. "It is a honor to meet you Arch Wizard, I hope you are enjoying the picnic? Oh...where are my manners, let me introduce myself. Magus Espresso of the Royal Guard, at your service." Espresso was a tad nervous, hoping that such a formal greeting would suffice to properly honor someone of such high rank as Bastion
"Ah, But I could have sworn I saw your tanks out there. No matter. I've been well, recently reassigned to Research & Development. A bit dry, but the work is entertaining enough. Must be interesting working with the statesmen, My family is usually in the regular army, but my brother and I were transferred into the Royal Guard just before the war. Something about a lack of discipline." he laughs. He notes Stiglitz looking at the glass. "Would you like some? I can call a waiter over. In fact, yes, I think I will. Waiter! Two more champagne." he says, finishing of his first glass and picking up a piece of bread.

Inform me when Warchief Normandy arrives. I will attempt to sway him over to our side.

*Muttering* I hope this isn't one of the all-father's friends...
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... so they sent their first assimilates to greet me, a mystic at that.... have they no quemists....

" Ah. I am Bastion, today a normal civilian. Much greetings young magus. I did not expect that children will be running the magic department , have you covered your retirement plan yet ? Which mage school did you study from ? Yes yes all in good time, lad. I am curious about this stargazing and their medicinal functions "
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Ah yes, I had just gotten back from the memorial service. The Stiglitz who fought at Redemption's gate was my Brother, you see. I suppose the statesmen took notice of my investigation for the mercenaries who did this and pointed me to the Royal Guard's direction. But enough talk how about a toast perhaps "
"Yes, a toast, to brothers gone, but not forgotten."
He takes a drink with Stiglitz, and continues to make small talk until Stiglitz is either drunk enough to talk about his duties with the statesmen again, or Col. Krusser arrives.
"Excuse me, sir. I am planning to look into the source of the kashir desertification. From what information I've gathered, it comes from a monster that was brought back from death. It is said to have a host, maybe a person possessed?

With much research and time, perhaps I could make a device that would help us search for this source. However, if you could aid us in finding it, then we can find this monster and kill it, stopping the spread of the desert.

Maybe young Espresso here could assist you?"
Espresso takes the half-disguised insult and smiles back. Seeing the old man talking more casually helped put the mystic at ease.

"I haven't begun to think about retirement sir, as for what school I come from, I do not think there is a name for it. I was tutored by the Starstress, a grueling task, but I enjoyed every minute of it. But never mind that. It's a good question that you ask, about Stargazing's medicinal abilities. To be frank, I haven't explored that part yet. However it is possible for me to assume the spiritual form of not only the elements, but also of concepts strong within an area. Within a place of life and healing, I'm sure it could be of use.

Espresso gulps, hoping to balance his words correctly, proud to explain his art to quite possibly the only one here that could understand it, without boring the man nor show off. "What I've been working on is more in line with helping counter the desertification. My powers draw from the stars themselves and tie into the land and the elements. It is easy for me to flatten hills, move rivers and control fire to make the soil rich or to stop it from devastating homes and forests. I was thinking of manipulating clouds and directing rain to the desert regions to slowly heal the land, however if this is not enough, I'm hoping to move large quantities of water and directly force it back with the earth to heal it right back up. I'd love your input on this subject, if you don't mind me asking." the magus looks up to Bastion with a determined look in his eyes, hoping to prove that star magic can be a worthwhile tool.
late night bump
Funkel we need you!!!
Preparing all this is taking longer than I thought, I shall hopefully be ready soon.

(Back in 6 hours)
Isn't he dead?
So any idea when we're gonna start today?
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"Status report?"
'Ma'am, Bastion and Stiglitz are currently conversing with Stargazer Espresso and officer Revingrave, respectively, though Madame Quimbly is also here at this time. As well, The Emperor himself has arrived with the Marshal not too long ago.'
"Very good, I shall now make a pitiful attempt at being social." The Major tosses a set of keys over to the adept, "Park my bike for me please, and be careful, it's a prototype from the factory, I'm thinking about adding them to our arsenal." The boy nods and runs of.

The picnic is slowly getting underway as she arrives, brushing out her uniform for the umpteenth time. It was positively spotless, every insignia completely straight, her boots perfectly clean, and finally, her armor-like limbs polished to a mirror shine. Looking herself over one last time, she fits her hat snugly over her head, hiding a few of the staples, and straightens out the camouflaged-print shawl she had recently taken to wearing.

She walks past a few members of the Royal Guard, giving a curt nod to vonClaude as he leads his retinue of knights in, and maneuvers herself over to where Madame Quimbly is.

"Madame, Major Konnair, so glad you could make it, I hope everything is to your liking so far?"
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Simply wonderful, dear. I see this park is looking just as splendid as it did years ago. And compliments to the chef. But.. I am a little confused I had thought that this was a secret and informal gathering. I even brought my two, Sasha and Colin for appearances. Or is that uniform all they supplied you , poor thing ~
"Ahah, I'm afraid that's quite close to the truth. I haven't quite gotten the time to pick up any other outfits since getting these," she indicates her limbs, holding her arm out slightly for Quimbly to examine. "Fabric would keep getting caught in the joints, sadly ruined one of my best spring dresses trying to get it on.."

"But I digress, tell me, how are things with the Terror Bank. I heard DeathMarshal Beatrix once worked under you, what was that like?"
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Ah , she has come to realize her full potential as a disciplined warrior. But the ways of the lady escapes her. She's unyielding, and therefore a terrible negotiator. Turns out Voss commanders don't need to stoop to such things so of course I sent her away to cause damage elsewhere.


I suppose taking care of that boy is as far as she'll get as a woman...
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"Hm, I think it's less that she is incapable of being womanly, and more that she has no need to yet in her life or in her position."

The Major smiles, tilting her head just a little to the side.

"I'm sure there's someone out there that can help her with that path."
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Yes, a husband perhaps.

Let me tell you about allllll the suitors I've tried to get her to ...

> Catering command updates...
Update. The basket table has all been prepared, we've recieved more guests.

> Warchief Norman and his co. of 4 along with 2 concubines.
> Thane and his co. of 1
> Fierstrom Gustav and her security detail.

The overbasket is prepared, picnic blankets may also be distributed.

We've also reported a fly by of 2 other Voss aircraft, both Halberds.

Wine is now ready.
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Alright everyone... walk reaal slow. It's still full light.. out.

Gustav approaches with a massive picnic umbrella.
"Do we know anything about those two Halberds? I can look into it."

>Monitor radio, check IFFs, and contact air traffic control and investigate.

The 2 Halberds seem to have independent but high ranking designations. One them carrying a statesman, another one carrying an armed detail with clearances that check out. The VIP is unmentioned however but if one was to pin down its garrish look to /anyone/ at all.....
"Oh, hell. Here we go boys," Otso mutters quietly. One of his companions looks at him strangely. "Boss why are you so worried?" "Because he's from Norr; which means he might know our father... and that's never a comfortable situation for the sons of von Claude. Now shush. Don't speak until I introduce you to the man."

With some maneuvering, the two retinues come face-to-face. "Hail, Chief Normandy! A son of von Claude wishes to greet you!"
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Alright, how do I look. Casual ? You, hold my rank pins and surrender that umbrella.

" But commander where are - "
" It is MS. Fierstrom for now, soldier. I am being like Vilkas and blending with the soldiers. I smell him nearby. I wish to coddle him unreasonably before the sta- "

" . . . . . "


feels ndsecum
"Roger that, thanks." The headset goes back to Overwatch's outstretched hand.



The pilot's frown says it all. "I should be getting back now, thanks for picking this up for me," Iceheart says, referring to the less 'official' looking change of clothes she now wears, a form fitting tank top, her usual BDU shorts, and the shawl from earlier.

The Major returns just as the new guests arrive, smiling to herself upon noticing Gustav's comically large parasol. VonClaude seemed to be intercepting the Warchief, so for now she decided to content herself with checking on Beatrix and Vilkas, asking them if they needed anything.
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Hail to you, Guard of the emperor. I had thought that the last of the Vonclaudes have all made it to Valhalla by now ? Are you perhaps adopted ?

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. But Come. Come. That is exactly why I have come here. On behalf of the All- Father you see, I come bearing gifts. Two in fact.

The women accompanying him looked at each other pensively. Their slender coats imply limited wear underneath.

"Hahahahah! How kind of you. Unfortunately, I have nothing near as generous to grant you, my foresight being as lacking as it is. I have only these whelps to introduce to you." Otso gestures to the men behind him, all in awkwardly fitting casual wear with very obvious swords worn on their persons. "I pulled these boys out of the territories and decided to show them what a real fight was like. So far, at least two-thirds of them have survived the front, which is something in itself! But I daresay they have the spirit of heroes in them yet."
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. . . . . Young Stargazer.
One does not simply does floods of water on a desert and expect an oasis to spring for all eternity now do they ? There is a reason that deserts become so. For no matter how much rainfall happens on it, the vegetation and the soil simply does not remain. In fact the amount of water needed to stop a desert would succeed at turning it into an ocean floor.

Deserts are caused by a force far bigger than the sands that blow them or the sun that stares. In fact in the face of all this, you can even say that the source of such bad tidings is... otherworldly.

Now, how about a drink ? Or does your teachings not allow you to imbibe in courage tonics once and again ?
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"Mmm show me your face boy, "
" . . . ."
" He's tender faced got a good sword arm, firm hind. 6 of 10 teeth, I would not mount him lest I was swooned over by the moonwater "

His men laugh

" You can make these soft boys into warriors yet, I'd have you raise an army back home Von Claude. He nods to one of the women, a redhead "

" Calista here is one of my own, so you already know what she comes with, a house of a 1000 warriors, a keep up at Stormhold, and huuuuge ....tracts of land "

He spins the woman around revealing a bikini clad sword maid with thunderous proportions, tightened with age.

Or you may have one of your All-Father's catches, she's a silent one. But if you take her, she's guaranteed to take your life one day if you know what I mean "

"Or you can take them both or give one of them to the prince, where is the emperor anyhow, I have a few girls to show him myself... "
I'm sure you are right sir...I guess I got caught up in wishful thinking. If only it was that simple right? Helping a drought is one thing, countering a desert is another.

But as for it's cause, I do know that it is supernatural. One of our sources, someone of high knowledge on the subject, confirmed it for us.

Aaaaand I'l take you up on your offer of a drink sir. Make no mistakes, my teachings and art may be exotic in nature, but I'm still a true blue citizen of this fine country first and foremost. Say....do you happen to like coffee? If you do, I just finished making a blend that could raise the hair on a dead man.

"You honor me Chief. I'd love to see them both after the picnic - but first let me show you to our lord Vilkas, over there! I think that's him getting his cheek pinched by that Quimbly..."
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I like drugs.
Coffee is sort of a drug....But its more of an acquired taste...Here have a try. * the coffee-addict's passion was showing, his eyes shining as he tries to explain the subtleties of the Vosskon Ghoul Brew, which is a fancy way of saying a decuple short espresso shot. Taking the thermos out, the black liquid is poured into the thermos's cup and offered to the Arch-Wizard. In case of refusal however, Espresso would drink it and hide the thermos back again. "And with that done, I'd love to hear more about your art and craft sir, over whatever it is you'd like to drink or eat. I'm guessing your drug of choice is mushrooms?
Ema sits at Iceheart's chopper, observing The Major from afar, just in case her limbs need attention at such a crucial time. Already there were three cigarette stubs lying at her feet. With the gala going on and so many interesting people about, however, the time crawls slowly.

"Oh hell, why not. I'm sure she'll be fine..." she leans back, craning her head to look at the pilot "Excuse me, airman, I'm getting pretty tired of sitting here with a thumb up my ass. Unless you can think of somewhere better to place my fingers, I'm going to go join the festivities. Would you like me to get you a drink or something?"
"No thanks, can't drink while I'm on duty, you go enjoy yourse- wait what?"

But the doctor was already out of the cabin and halfway to the picnic itself. With a sigh, the pilot scrunches her knees up to her chest and closes her eyes.
Heh, I like this guy.

Chill old wizard that enjoys recreational drugs? I can get behind that.
Iceheart pulls aside one of the Royal Guard caterers, "Someone needs to speak with Thane, see if you can get Blitz, Alfie or that grizzled old fellow tanker of hers to do so, to judge the General's mood and feelings so far." The adept nods, and Iceheart goes back to getting a picnic blanket for the DeathMarshal.

"So, Beatrix, Emperor, you enjoying yourselves? Deus, having fun being Vilkas's pet?" She says with a gentle smile, trying her best to just sound playful.
Now all that's left are the military hardasses...
According to the invite list, all that's left is:
[Mjr Gen.] Pandemon
[Countess] Hel
Col. Krusser [to represent Pandemon if absent]
Sir. Vanderbee Hellsing
Statesman Representative Schwartz
Master Professor Heinlein Hinzerhaus
Zel steps away from the preoccupied wizard and stargazer, and seeing no one else of interest, wanders off to the side near the parked duocopter. He sticks a cigarette in the mouth slit on his lab bag and lights it, while speaking through the open door, "Anything on radar? I've seen more lively funerals, the wizard and his drugs not withstanding."

He exhales, smoke drifting out through the slits. He reaches into his coat and pulls put another cigarette. "Want a smoke?"
The enclosed pilot helmet shakes from side to side. "No thanks, and nothing besides what is probably Pandemon's Halberds, possibly Representative Schwartz since a statesman is said to be on board. So really, nothing interesting happening out there?"
"Not from where I'm standing. Not a thing. Just a little mingling between the bigshots. I've had my say with one of the few who may have been helpful, and promptly been disregarded. Only thing left for me to do here is wait for them all to finish exchanging pleasantries."

Zel leans against the side of the copter. "You aren't attending, just a ride here? Guess you're in the same boat I am. Have any cards?"
Before long, the two airships indeed land with the discretion of a beached whale screaming for air. And on the eastern horizon people gather at the overlooking hill, among them white bands with Red Xs seem to emblazon their left arms. They wait at the distance , only watching, only observing. The Royal guard patrol mobilizes to surround them, to find a size or a flank but where indeed does the crowd start and voss end ?

It was right around here that a doting General and a child prince look up to find that the picnic is quickly turning to something more of a public event.

From the airships they dismount, a rank of men wearing summer uniforms and wielding polished rifles and helmets goose step out and onto the fields of armory park. About a thousand in all, just as it says in the reservations...

> > more
"That's quite an honor guard..."
I'l need more coffee for this...
At the tail of the procession, a portly man, wearing a flannel shirt , white shorts and slippers step out next to a stern blonde fellow, wearing a white dress shirt and thick dark glasses to top off his everyday- gentleman frame towering at nearly 7 feet, and altogether weighing half starving kashirn family.

The two men, surrounded by soldiers, seems to pay no mind to their civilian cover at all.

" Fine day today eh Klein ?"
" Perhaps calling each other by our first names was a bad idea, Pandemon, "
" What was thaaat ? "
" Doby... "
" Ah Yes. Perhaps you are not used to THESE casual OPERATIONS. For you see, it helps to EASE the enemy and let them KNOW that you also have the power to CRUSH them with a wink "

" Is that why you brought half an army and offered to chaperone everyone else with airships ?"

" Precisely ! IMAGE ! Now, Klein let's assemble a volleyball game, I'll be your touch partner "

" HHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

" Something the matter ?"

" Oh- Oh it's nothing.. wait just who are all those people gathering on the hills "

" Probably just peasants, Klein, ignore them and they will disappear ! Remember, IMAGE !"

>> Krusser and Pandemon has [regrettably ] entered the field.
C- Commander, there seems to be 100 more people here than we have expected with the airship entourage shall we admit them into the picnic ?

H- Hey no soup for you until orders !
Thankfully we were prepared with surplus food, serve them as well, but make sure the Guard keeps an extra eye on them all just in case.

V- very well, in the end we managed to find these people in the list, please confirm their presence, they seem like they might also attend.

> Fran [Shop Manager]
> Major Vanders [Armor Division Commander]
> Statesman Hans Truman [ Assembly Overseer ]
> Paraty [Sylvia Elder]
> Col. Irons [Armor Division Commander]
> The Bone Spikes [Volleyball Team]
> Lynden Schmidt [Royal Noble, bailed from court charges]

Uh uh we have vosskon blossom, and that lady opera singer from Solstice, and and oh dear what IS this all of a sudden ??
" Ahhhh if it isn't the Royal Guard. I dare say you seem to be overstaffed, perhaps it would be wise if I sacrificed /haaalf/ my men to perhaps oversee this party ? "

His arm waves behind him presenting a division of men at the ready.

Fuck it, yes, let them join, make sure they're all attended to. Any other surprises?

"Ah, General, but if we were 'overstaffed' as you say, why would we need more people helping?"
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" Pardon him I think he means overstuffed.... or really understaffed. Honestly is hared to tell after that long range concussion got to him "
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" OHOHOHOH DONT BE SHOWBOATY DOBY, Be a gentleman and offer her a time for a brief smoke~ "

[Remember that those men were loaned to you....]
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ahahah I was merely working my charms Janice, now now , where will the meeting be held ? I'd like to have my own personal catering set up shop there ! "

> Where indeed ?
"Why, right here of course, like was originally planned. We wouldn't want to inconvenience everyone would we?"
Feeling like she shouldn't spend the entire event holed up in her tank, Alfie finally decided to risk it and venture out. After asking Mesani to keep an eye on their tanks, she slowly and gingerly opened the hatch.

She winced as the sunlight flooded into her eyes and she slowly climbed out. Unlike some of the other Royal Guard, she was still dressed rather casually, just wearing a jacket, knee length skirt, and heeled boots. All black, of course, which clashed with her pale hair and skin. Still, she was very wary of any eyes that happened to wander in her direction. The whole "walking around in the open alone with people around" was still new to her, but she supposed it was something a Lieutenant had to learn to do, as Mesani kept telling her.

Before she knew it, she found herself drawn toward a pair of officers not too far away. She didn't quite know why at first until she realized it, they both stank of machine oil, grease, and exhaust. A particular smell you picked up from sitting in tanks for days on end, and which never quite went away no matter how many times you tried to wash it off. It also kind of helped that they were clearly wearing Armored Division badges. She never really socialized much but every tanker knew who these particular men were.

"C-Colonel Irons, Major V-Vanders! I-it's an honor to m-meet both of y-you...!" Alfie saluted awkwardly. "I'm L-lieutenant Alfie, p-part of the Royal Guard's Armored Corps...!"
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I believe if we conducted our meeting under the benevolent shadow of the Valkyrie herself, our dear midians would also be able to partake. On top of that, why not have the fate of this nation be determined under her careful gaze ?
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Oh my you are quite the lovely flower, blooming to the smell of fire and motor oil, are you perhaps of the Royal Guard ?
Very well, let's begin, we can enjoy the picnic more after the meeting.
"Anyone seen Koschei?"
The Skelter squad is missing one member, and they're frantically looking in the mess hall of the Royal Guard's HQ.
"I really hope he didn't freak out due to lack of lemon pies."
"This is bad, real bad. Who knows what he'll do if he snuck into the picnic?"
"I dunno, eat all the lemon pies?"
"PRECISELY! you know lemon pies are reserved for royal guards and elites! That meant he's going to end up pissing off the Statesmen!"
"Ohhh snap. He's not in here. He must've snuck out."
"Daaamn. We'll need to be there as well, at least to do damage control."
"But the picnic's already started, and the royal guard's transport have left already!"
"That's why we need a plan."
Lennox then remembered. Lemon pies aren't supplied just by anyone...
"Waldorf, call Adrianna from comms. Find out if Pandemon's gonna be there."
"Will she do that, though?"
"Don't worry, she owes me for an authentic Vosskon Blossom record. Also, ask if the Pandemon bakeries are working overtime lately, and the guest list for the picnic."
A short call later...
"Yep, Pandemon's going to be there, and she's sending us the guest list through the telefax."
"Let's see here... as I suspected, Pandemon's bringing his own catering, from his own family bakery no less. And... what do we have here?"
"What's that... Bone Spikes? Isn't that the famous volleyball team?"
"I call them 'our way in'. Now we just need to bust out our old sportswear!"

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> The players have gathered under the shadow of the

Alright Alright everyone it looks like we're all here. In good spirits and in tolerable air I assume ? So how about we give a toast to our Prince Vilkas ! I hear his 7th Birthday approaches as my daughter keeps telling me, Velma~ "

His daughter darts her head to another direction as if to casually admire the back of her head.

" And of course on that note, perhaps Vilkas would like to spend this day with my children, I hear Colin and Sasha have also been gathering other children for their little wargame , would you like to join them, young Vilkas ? "

shadow of the Valkyrie *
"A-ah yes, in fact." Alfie responded, blushing furiously at Vander's compliments. "I-I'm the Royal Guard's Beetl driver, a-and I guess I l-lead the Royal Guard's a-armored compliment..."

"Y-you know, besides the auxiliaries we employ, I've never actually s-seen how armor units o-outside the Royal Guard operate. M-mostly, the armor in the Royal Guard s-serves to support the infantry. How do you h-handle things in y-your unit...? Y-you see I've been u-used to operating b-by myself but my r-recent promotion means I m-might have to lead others in b-battle..."

The thought of that scared Alfie out of her mind, and she was pretty sure she was doing a bad job of hiding it.
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The Crown is on, Assemblyman.

Do you /really/ want to see the Prince of Voss playing with children ?

Perhaps another time.... please ?

You're kidding me...

The Armored Twin terror that blasted through the Kashirn double formation.

YOU !? Amazing all that shellshock must've made you.. wow. I - I see well then let's hope this meeting clears up if we'll be working together rather soon. ..
Meanwhile, in a crate in Pandemon's catering retinue, Koschei sits happily munching on lemon pies. Even though they just get chewed up and fall through his ribcage. "Nectar of the gods!" he whispered to himself. Finished with the last of the lemony goodness, he popped open the lid carefully, and snuck outside. He knows it's a nonformal meeting, so he's dressed in a shirt with floral patterns and shorts, lime green in color. Suddenly, he spied a guard about to turn his direction up ahead, and so he dove in a portable janitorial closet.

Soon after, a car arrived at the picnic premises. From within, exits Lennox and Waldorf, dressed in trainers and jerseys, respectively, and their skeletal face obscured by a glorious moustache. They were soon greeted by one of Pandemon's men.
"Good evening! The Bone Spikes team, I presume?" he held a clipboard, obviously with a guest list.
"Yes, of course!"
"It says that there's supposed to be four of you... where's the others?"
"Ah, they've got bone flu and had to stay at the hospital. Shame, that. Since we're invited by royalty, we need to show up, and here we are!"
The guard stares at the mustachioed skeleton athletes for a while, and then smiled and let them in. "Welcome to the picnic! We have lemon pies for dessert!"
Lennox whispers to Waldorf. "I knew these moustaches are a perfect idea. Now to find Koschei."
Lennox and Waldorf saunter over to the picnic site, but they take a slight detour to the caterers' area.
"Okay Lennox, we're in, where do we start looking?"
"How about over there?" Lennox pointed to a crate labeled 'lemon pies'.
After some sneaking about and peering into the crate, they've determined that Koschei did sneak here.
"But where is he now?"
"Judging by the faintly lemony tracks and my intuition... let's look... here!"
The janitorial closet was opened, and sure enough, they find Koschei sheepishly grinning.
"Koschei you fool! What are you doing here, we're supposed to be back on base!"
"Well, lemon pi-" Koschei stepped forward, but tripped on a crate. He almost caused a ruckus, but Lennox and Waldorf managed to hold him. The crate was opened, and inside lies the cursed instruments.
"Wow. How'd this end up here?"
Just as Espresso was beginning to drink with the Arch Wizard, the beginning of the meeting caught his attention. "Excuse me sir, but I think I will have to attend the discussions. I would love to talk some more, over drinks and mushrooms perhaps. It has been an honor to be of acquaintance." quickly dumping the strong alcohol given by the old man into the thermos, the young eager mystic hurries along to the gathering of other officials, not wanting to miss too much of it.

After getting over their confusion of how the instruments end up there, Lennox turns around and find Elfriede staring at them.
He just grins sheepishly.
"Oh hi, Elfriede!"
"T-that's what they c-call me...? I didn't r-really do anything s-special..."

Ahh well I see, how about a proper toast then, to Voss !

[spoilers] Prosits all around. [/spoilers]

Now, now in light of this situation becoming very public how about we err on the side of official and watch our words as such. Nothing shall be voted on, at least not yet, we did decide to meet here to /discuss/ the state of the situation did we not ? Well then, let me illuminate everyone.

*throat clearing*

> > A silence fills the air

" You mean they didn't tell you ? "

Vanders looks around suspecting that everything is falling into some hideous plot any moment.

" The Royal Guard might take on a bigger responsibility for Voss, even before their Prince is even Crowned. Emergency powers and all that you know ?

But from what I hear ? They're maybe trying to break the current Royal Guard apart because as it is, you folks are currently really dangerous "

He wheezes into a laughter.
" Aint that crazy ? We're being taught to fear a stuttering albino hhhhahahahahahah these politicians lemme tell you, itslike they haven't fought in the 4 corners war before "

She simply smiles wolfishly in response to the skeleton's salutation.
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As we all know, the desert encroaches upon us. And it shows that this war may either drag on for another 4 years or with our efforts end within this year. But what happens after then ? The Kashir show no signs of wishing to pay us back for anything, in fact its unlikely that they've lost a war to anyone at all and have no way of conducting themselves accordingly. And so we must make preparations to shore up those losses, and win what we can indeed win from this war.

Quimbly ? I'm glad you made it. Come , pass me the bread and tell us what your academy has come to find.
I think you mean Bastion.

Bastion, the Bread.

[sionartl stabley.]
"T-that's horrible!" Alfie cried. The Royal Guard is everything to her, after all.

"And w-what's wrong with being a st-stuttering albino?!"

I- It's just so dang cute. Like my sister sister sister sister sister

But hey.. it looks like that meeting is picking up. If this is news to you maybe you should warn the others somehow. There ain't nothing worse than a tanker seperated from their column you know ?
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" Oh . ? My turn is it ? And I was just enjoying this brew. ... "

"Very well very well, The desert as you all know is SPREADING. "

Light laugher trickles among the procession.

" No amount of water will quench it, and a terrrfying amount of composte will be required to restore the ground of its nutrients, not even all the dead of this war will make an impact.

My mages have sought out where it goes, and indeed the blessings of Tera move ever upward towards the heavens where we suspect the enemy is gathering it for themselves. So it's no question that the Kashir are not only spreading their curse across our lands, but they profit from it in ways that not even a piece of paper can guarantee !"

" The only way to stop the desert from spreading is by having the Kashir stop it for us. Perhaps peace could be an option ? Can someone pass me some water I'm awful parched "

> He who passes the water must pick up the conversation.
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Iceheart passes the pitcher across the table to the wizard, the ice cubes clinking together, before returning to sipping her own glass of champagne.

"Do we have any inkling as to who exactly in Kashir has the power to stop it, because as loathsome as it may be, peace is always an option. Some of us may be opposed to the idea, but if we can create peace while ensuring Voss comes out far ahead, it should be as decisive as an actual military victory, with less loss of life, resources, and time."
"Ah, t-thank you! I think you s-sister is r-really lucky to have a b-brother like you...!" she says before rushing off to the main meeting.
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The King. And if not him.
Anyone of his mystical subjects, a close relative or priestess perhaps. I hear tell that we captured one such person right during an operation in Dagram yes ?
"That is right, and we have learned much from said person. In this case, things indicate it is the King who is most likely directly responsible. Perhaps if we cut off the head, the body will be easier to handle..."
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" Really, where is this mystic now ? We would all be delighted to meet her. Even after training one of your soldiers in their reality bending ways "
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The Major folds her hands together in front of her, peering over them at Stiglitz.

"Moved to a secure location after that incident you 'participated' in during the Feather Festival."
"Yes, regrettably the Starstress was unable to attend today's festivities, this being an important event for the top dogs of Voss only."

"However we have learned of a faction within Kashir who opposes the mad king...perhaps they would make an excellent target to install in his place, to end the war and establish Kashir as a protectorate of Voss."

Then it's of great importance that we find these people as soon as possible now do we ? Do you have a name ? How shall we contact them ? Or will we send spies ?

Ghost Spies.

They won't expect the dead.
"Salazaar. Since I highly doubt that the Kashiran king is willing to hire outsiders, it is likely they are responsible for the Clovis mercenary forces at Redemption Gate, and those that appeared at the Feather Festival."
"Let me reassure you, that has already been set in motion on our end, particularly your last two points. Trust me, I know almost as little as you do about them. As of now all we can is wait and hope for a successful response."
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Now now we're just meandering a bit. These new developments about the Kashir is news to our ears. How about we take a break for a moment, and return after some fresh air. We may deal with how we'll responsibly handle this war after then.

> This means sleep time is now
"This is of course, unconfirmed, and only my suspicion. The feather festival may well have been an attempt to contact people within the empire."
Will we be continuing today
Victor sets down his glass of champagne, and stands up from the table.
"If you will excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I have an important meeting to attend with one of my informants, if all goes well the Royal Guard will have more information on this conflict. Further questions can be addressed to my second, Corpsier Alucard. I look forward to working hand in hand with the Statesmen and other branches of Voss to bring this war to a decisive end. Hail Voss."

>Reginrave excuses himself from the Picnic and returns to base due to scheduled absence, leaves corpsier there to inform him of events later.
'nother bump
With a break in the meeting, Alfie finally finds her chance to approach her commanding officer. Awkwardly meandering her way through politicians, officers, and other dignitaries, she finally manages to reach Isane.

"M-major, I've been talking to some of the s-soldiers and there's rumors that the n-nobles are trying to s-split up the Royal Guard!" She whispers frantically. "Y-you need to be really careful!"
There gonna be a session today?
"That's just fucking great now, isn't it? And to think I actually believed this whole thing would go smoothly." She pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs, careful not to bruise herself with her mechanical digits.

"Reginrave can't keep his big mouth shut, then this... well, we won't let this happen, will we Lieutenant? First, I need to fix the rocky start of this meeting. Beatrix, Vilkas, anything you two can say to help would be appreciated, I am not letting the Statesmen fuck over my unit after we're so close to finishing this war ourselves. They need to know that we have the power, the abillity, and the /precedence/ to do this. If we can win them over to our side, all the better. VonClaude, you're a smart man, you don't need my permission to speak up during the meeting, the same for you Doctors Armitage, Zel, and White, Elfriede too. And Alfie..."

She bends down, placing a reassuring hand on the young woman's shoulder. "You're a strong girl, I need you to be the strongest you've ever been yet, okay?"

The Major rises, turning to Beatrix and Vilkas, "Any orders or suggestions for me Ma'am or your Highness?"
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N-Nothing... this is just... an all too new a side of you, I- Iceheart.

It's obvious that these people are looking to break us apart because we're currently a very powerful regime unto ourselves. What's more, they've timed this event after our very first loss in Kolstec. They'll try to ride on our doubts, our insecurities to pull us away.

I'll support you however I can... but if I dare speak... they'll use my word against me. Any move I make will determine their strategy and I'm too young to pick up on anything they imply...

So... good luck.

"Well now, Chief. We've said our greetings; time for business while we've got a break. I want you to support Vilkas and the Royal Guard in this meeting. We are literally on the cusp of ending this godforsaken mess, and the politicians are trying to take us out of a fight that we are /winning/ because of political meandering. It's going to cost them a lot more than some farmland and some refugees that they don't know what to do with. Do you know what the Royal Guard's 'loss' at Kolstec actually was, Chief? It was a tactical withdrawal from an objective of no importance, with minimal operational losses compared to some of our /victories/ in this war. But these spineless cowards have spun the story so as to undermine us and boost themselves in the eyes of feckless idiots and fools."
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Don't be clouded, Iceheart. The real enemies here are those who wish to do away with the Royal Guard, and the crown of Voss altogether without damaging the nation itself. The people here have gathered to witness the result of that. If we falter, they'll hound on us. If we react violently as we did 6 years ago, these people will see exactly what kind of people we are. The real question is, are really that kind of a bloody handed ruler ?

Or can we, perhaps find a way to sway everyone to support what we'll promise them; That we'll defeat the Kashir and end this war on our own terms.

As it is, we've fought this war virtually alone, with us at the tip and at the handle of the spear. That is the power of the crown after all.

This war will have damages too, and losses on our side. I think if we appease that horrific issue with the benefits of victory then they maybe convinced...
Iceheart smiles, her confidence boosted by his words, as she reaches down to embrace him with as little strength as possible, not caring about how cold her limbs might be.
"Thank you Vilkas, I'm, really honored to hear you say that. I am not worried about them bringing up Kolstec. A single loss amidst dozens of complete victories is not a track record to be insulted of."

"Yes Ma'am, and what you've said of us nearly fighting this war ourselves just proves, that Voss needs us whether they know it or not. We will react as is appropriate, and it won't be a promise of us bringing victory, it'll be a fact."
She hesitates, possibly wanting to say or even do more, but Iceheart simply gives Beatrix a reassuring nod.

" MMM ? From what I've heard, it seems like everyone's confused about your dealings with the Kashir mystic you have under your custody. And it sounds like ye've got something t' hide. I've got no quarrel with that , hell I could give two damns and a pocket of walnuts.

But tell me, VonClaude, wouldn't you rather lead the finishing blow to end the Kashir with the blood of your brothers' brothers at your tail ? You would be a warchief of great standing, not just some paper pusher rolling over for women ! What man alive would turn down such a deal ? What forces are keeping you back. Your duties ? Hah do not worry, if the Crown is your burden I will lighten that for you ~"

he trails off as if he's onto something more than he lets on.
Meeting will begin in 10 minutes...

"I could care less about the Major, the Deathmarshall, or any of the others who think they can run this war. They'll get what's coming to them in due time. And if it came to it, I would end this campaign single-handedly - you could not imagine how badly I desired to just take a horde of axemen up the hills of Kolstec and butcher that entire city. But let me tell you a secret about my line of the family. The one belief each of my brothers held in common over these eight years we've fought this war: Vilkas von Voss is not our ruler. He is our brother. Already five of them have given their lives for him. A strike against the boy then, is a strike against my own heart. Are you going to hold that against me, Warchief?"
"Acknowledged, Major." Zel places the radio back in the duocopter.

Seeing the meeting is about to resume, he heads back over.

I ... I cannot.
I suppose I should really tell you why I came. The Allfather you see. He has grown old. Too old to even give you more brothers. You are the last one. The last von claude. If you wish to follow your 5 brothers down this path to Valhalla, then I realize now that no amount of promise for a happy life will deter you. But if you must heed someone's well being, think of your family. Your LIVING family. The Vonclaudes... they have paid their dues for this dry as hell war. And... "

The meeting begins the dinner bell sounding for everyone's presence.

" ... We must ,Otso . That hill awaits."
I'm sorry I couldn't find a way to properly impress Arch Wizard Bastion, sir. If you have need of me, a single word and I'l do what must be done.
T-the only tangible card I k-know we can play is Ibonyte. I-if the floating islands really are f-full of it then it w-would give everybody else an incentive to s-seize them...

"Well then, Normandy, it's a good thing I don't intend to die anytime soon isn't it? The von Claudes will survive my death wish, I can promise you that. But for now, we have a war of words to win, do we not? It is the only conflict the public will bother to be swayed by, it seems."
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Alright everyone, in light of new information we have uncovered a few things that we shall now accept as true, going forward on this meeting.

The Kashir King arguably holds power over the desertification efforts. And it is favorable that decapitating his will from the rest of Voss would virtually eradicate the pointed threat. As does his /weapons/

The attack that has occured on the Feather Festival is indeed the work of the Clovis mercenary force that have appeared both on Redemption's gate, and on Peace during the Feather festival. If it comes to the conclusion that this "Salazar " character is behind those attacks then it goes on to say, that the Clovis is suspected of not just attacking key Voss operations, but may also be making contact with key Kashir bodies.

> A murmur goes around.

Order on the picnic table!

Royal Guard, while it is a matter of state security that you cannot tell us, what affiliation do you have with both Salazar and mercenary unit ?

>Hans Truman, passes the corn.
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Iceheart silently curses Reginrave's stupidity.

"As of yet, practically nothing. As I said earlier, plans to contact them have been set in motion, with the goal of ensuring that Voss comes out far ahead from this situation. There is the possibility of getting them on our side, to help usurp the Mad King, which of course benefits us a great deal."

Putting them on the podium of peace !? A dirty capitalist and their serpent tongued usurps. Don't be coy, Woman ! The only talks awaiting them are interrogations and a trial ! We must make plans to set an example of them so that the Cloves don't move to attack us as well ! We must end this war on the bodies of the Kashir so that none would cross our lake of blood ! !
"And for what? So we can drown ourselves and Voss itself in the very same lake? Trust me, I want to utterly crush the Kashir just as much as any of you, but I also know the meaning of moderation. We can't just keep pumping resources and life into the meatgrinder, we need a decisive victory that includes both military and political means, and this can be the way to do it. I mean just think of the trade Madame Quimbly, the boost to our economy if we do this. Not just the vast quantities of the liquid gold Ibonyte, but trade with Clovis."
"And know this, Clovis has no intentions of attacking us, to think so is simply jumping at shadows. The only Cloves involved are this one mercenary group, for any of them to commence open hostilities against us would spell death for them, and they know it."
Zel clears his throat, "A podium of peace? No. We will use them to crush the Mad King, a decisive victory over the kashir."
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" I like this girl, she's realistic about our situation, Norman, while you seem to think that we have an infinite supply of men to send to their deaths we'd also have to feed them, clothe them, arm them, and that costs money. Limited amounts of it that doesn't grow on manly genital waving.

Speaking as a warrior of the state, didn't we also make sacrifices as a people in order to gain an upper hand over the enemy ? Why, even before the 4 corners war, the oppressed Valknyre, having nothing else to lose would sooner starve themselves and poison their crops so that their enemy would also suffer the fate that we volunteered ourselves. I would say that this Salazar is an important resource if you are willing to go low enough, and that the Cloves can speak the same language of Money, if we actually looked them in the eye.

"Warchief. Wouldn't you say that we've paid enough of a debt to this war to satisfy our honor? After all, if these Kashir don't know how to stay dead, what good does honorable combat with them do us? Already they have cheated us of a fair fight. At this point, they're more deserving of a cold slaughter than a fight with our best. And if we can make others pay the price for us, then why not?"
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While we're on the subject then,
Just how much and how long have we been fighting AND LOSING against the Kashir ? And all because someone got hot headed and decided to fire first before listening to the enemy. No I do not wish to point fingers, but I only request how many figures more are being caused by this costly war- and for a Prince yet to even be recognized as an Emperor ?
"L-last I checked most of the losing (and the casualties) was b-being done by you and y-your commander...!"

I suppose if anything can be taken from Krusser's outburst; it is how MUCH have we lost, Quimbly - and what do these losses mean for us purely from your professional standpoint. And who, for everyone's posterity, were responsible for those losses.

> Quimbly answeran
Well, we can certainly say that the Kashir is responsible, now can we ? But they'll be as about responsible for their debt as they will be dead, so let's see....

Since this war's start, we've expended 664,583 Terror if I was to quote the yearly reports and combined them altogether, but that number might be too stale so let me put it in kitchen terms,

Every day, A voss soldier is killed, but 3 kashir irregardless of whether or not they are a soldier is killed. But a valknyre family will lose a home.

Every week, a Division is sent out to suppress a Kashir held area, the above losses are incurred, and 2 out of 3 platoons of voss soldiers are lost. We gain roughly 10 hexares of territory with an average networth of 10 terror. Every week.

Every Month, about a dozen halberds, 20 or so tanks, and 100,000 tonnes of explosives are produced and then shipped out to the front. That is 100,000 tonnes, 100,000 times the weight of a small car And they are all expendable explosives. We will lose a third of them to attrition, and on top of that, the surviving vessels , tanks, and operators are given a resupply of materials equivalent to the losses we gain every week.

Every year, Kashir Produces MAYBE one deathgod, capable of doing the damage this war can do in a month - in a single day. And the Royal Guard will eventually kill them in twice that time. We are unsure of how many deathgods Kashir currently has or how many lives it costs them to make, but we can surmise that that number - considering the number we've defeated- has reached between 3-6 as of late. They are capable of destroying a whole town in a day, of which we have around a thousand, or a major city in a week, of which we have about 30. In terms of Arms sales, warbonds, industrial trades, we are barely paying for a third of that. Every year.

This then creates a debt that we have yet to account for that grows in size, every year. Which at this point will take us roughly 3 times that length in time to pay off... in about year, 666. A thrilling number but should no doubt influence how we do things.

As for these millitary expenditures, The Royal Guard holds the highest per- soldier networth. Even if they are servants of the state and are unpaid themselves, But have incurred very little personal losses in comparison, in fact every time they fight, advances your fighting by 1 month ... on average.... but with their loss on Kolstec...


The kashirn lines have begun to encroach more rapidly with the aide of the Desert, in fact all this within the 5 months where the Royal Guard have been decommissioned did the lines start to even grind our advances to a halt. If you take in the ground losses that has occured in total after those 5 months...

It's as if they have not fought at all. "

Before people break out into a boisterous murmur she holds up a hand and gives everyone a sharp glare.

" But I'm not done yet. "
The Voss State Army was formed just a year ago if I recall, with Dobious Pandemon installed at its head.

With that army they have incurred the same losses this war did, in 3 years. But with Pandemon's family contribution, that cost is covered... in full.

If that same money was available to us 3 years ago, we would technically be making money off this war right now.. . . "

A great laughter echoed across the procession, most of it coming from pandemon's side. And what seems like a great cheer hurrahing his efforts. The statesmen look pensive as they sip their cocoa.
B-but....While it's good that Pandemon's war effort is costing the state a big fat 0, isn't he losing more ground by yourself then any other regiment in the army? If that money was invested in us, or spread around for other use, we might have won that war by now...But instead we, the greatest army in current voss, are set aside while Pandemon, the most incompetent commander in the military according to Madame Quimbly, is still on the front right now losing fight after fight to Kashir and mercs.
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Kashir and Mercs.. that you CONSORT with !?

Truman: Stiglitz filing criminal charges and wild accusations like that is -

Stiglitz: It's NOT wild ! There are clues and connections ! Iceheart, dear. While you all tout yourselves to be the best Voss army on record, the Voss State Army may have lost 3 /years/ worth, but they've also reached Redemption gate and soon the backdoor to Kashir itself - a comparable feat for something that was ALSO paid for in full !

But guess what, While our brave men and women march forth with as much revere for voss as they would for our /soon/ Emperor, we were coordinated against by Mercenaries employed by the Kashir. You show interest in these Kashirn usurpers , but in truth you've already consorted with them.

Don't you happen to have a /sister/ In the Clovis millitary ? One that carries the name Konnair ?

If that information comes back solid, and it can be confirmed that you have consorted with her, then it's clear that you have also collaborated with Kashirn elements, and the Cloven ones to engineer a loss for the Voss State Army ! Now- Tell me ! Do you have a Sister working for the Clovis Federation !?
[The fact that he suspects an orphan to have a sister is troubling. It means that there are spies somewhere either on the Clovish end or ours.....everyone, don't use radio communication for now, pass notes and communicate with only one or two persons ]
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She smiles with the utmost confidence.

"I have no sisters, no family to speak of besides the Guard. Surely we have more important things to discuss instead of slinging accusations. Don't you have a real enemy to fight? Or would you rather the Kashir take advantage of us fighting within ourselves?"

Iceheart, just like the majority of the Terrible Children unit, are either volunteers or war orphans. Are you implying that your charges hinges on a relationship with this "sister" of hers ? I've checked this girl's records even down to her birth- I think I would know what my own are like, Stiglitz. And I'd have you held in contempt until you show me the basis of such a mockery. We're here to weigh our deciscions about a damnignly large war, not listen to your conspiracy theories you bloody handed street cop.
ORDER ! The Ten Of you ! ORDER !

If it comes to light Stiglitz's claim holds water, then we will acknowledge it and perhaps arrest a few people. But at the moment, Stiglitz is hereby silenced unless that slice of pie by his feet is requested of him........... "

" Anyways... we have acknowledged that Pandemon has been fully responsible with his losses, but we can say that his contributions to the war is about as dull as tuna sandwich.

And the Royal Guard while costly, have been a vital component to this war despite also causing damage for the state that is also comparable. It has occured to me that perhaps these two entities should share their assets and in fact distribute these boons for the state of Voss !

If that should be followed to it's fair conclusion then I shall propose the following !

> Propositions while we covet the lemon pie.
Proposition the First.

>Pandemon and his assets may be donated to the State who will then marshall a 3rd and final offensive push into Kashirn Territory, with the Royal Guard, touted as the "greatest Army in Voss " To lead this operation unimpeded without compromise to their autonomy under the Prince .[who must also give his blessing to send his own..]
Who, upon success will be cleared of their debt to the state and recognized as the soon-Emperor's true retinue. However should they fail- would surrender their hold on the crown and be charged with the war crime of perpetrating an uncalled for War against Kashir.

Proposition the Second,
The Royal Guard finding it in all fairness to contribute as much as they can for the State of Voss, will liquidate all or part of their assets under Madame Quimbly's specifications to relax their combat debt to the state of Voss for the gross elongation of this war. Reliable sources tell me that you have come across a rather lucrative science division, perhaps they may also be put to work...

Proposition, the Third.
The Royal Guard be disbanded, her soldiers reassigned to fight for the embetterment of the Voss State Army's success. Prince Vilkas Von Voss will then be re-educated to the state's proper level of prestige and be crowned Emperor when he has come of age.

I want you all to think of these three propositions, and since the Royal guard is the subject of debate I will leave it to them to decide if this matter should be voted on now or after a brief break ? Perhaps new information will bring light to this meeting yes ?

> Decide.
"I believe a brief break is in order, to allow us to collect our thoughts, and perhaps calm down a bit before such an important decisions." Her eyes flicker briefly over at Stiglitz. "Shall we recess then?"
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Agreed, I could really use some lemon pie !
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Iceheart pulls Vilkas, Beatrix, and some of the Royal Guard aside. "We need to decide this. Option three is out of the damn question. The only problem with the first is the high risk if we fail, but we won't fail. I am going to suggest to them we take the first, because we need that autonomy. In addition, we can perhaps soften the downside by taking part of the second proposal, as I was already planning on liquidating the assets we no longer use or need. Truman spoke of the science division, and I don't see any downside to allowing /some/ of their output being put to work as suggested."
If it's t-the only way...!

B-But what'll happen to Oddy !?
"Although I favor the second option more, I'll have to agree with you."

Zel slips a note to Iceheart- /Some of the statesmen may still wish to see us fail so that they need not share power. First option has many benefits, but could be a trap as well. We open ourselves up to sabotage by allowing Pandemon to participate in missions./
"Either he stays with us, or perhaps he'll find another place to contribute to Voss. Don't worry your Highness, I won't let anything bad happen to any of us, I promise."

She casually scribbles back, stealthily handing it back. /He's a pushover, I am not worried of him./
Another note-/It's his subordinates that concern me, as well as other statesmen that could act through him./
A nod in response. "We do this, we have to be as vicious as possible in the endgame against the Kashir, no mistakes, no holding back." She looks to her DeathMarshal and Vilkas, waiting to see if they say anything or respond.

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