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When the Hero becomes...


Sarah Tintagyl
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"Chancellor Saenger," said Sebastian Eberhardt, Bridgette's friend who had become one of her most trusted aides over the months of hiding and secret speech making in the Austrian Underground. "It's time to begin. You have the stage in five minutes."

Bridgette sat on a wooden stool back stage of the Symphony Hall in Salzburg. Just beyond the dropped curtains she could hear the murmuring of one thousand people or more, all crowded into that building to listen to her words and place her hands on the mantle of Revolution. Over the months she had spent in hiding, in cities from Innsbruck, St. Andra, and Salzburg, her voice had carried to thousands of Austrians. They came in droves, veterans from the Austrian Civil War, some who had fought for Nordic Supremacy, others who felt that the Royalists had betrayed them for allowing the Communists to take over with little more than a gunshot. There were older men and women who remembered the glory of the Austrian regime from prior years and they had watched as the state collapsed only to find the Empress continuing to sell out towards her allies. Young students from the universities were also there, up in arms that democracy was being squashed by an Imperial Family who cared more to expand their personal power than to listen to the voices of the people. Bridgette had promised all those things, first she did so peacefully, but when Maria von Hapsburg had her hunted down, the Former Chancellor of Austria became immersed in rallying the people behind an ancient cause...

...the curtain rose...

...televisions across the world would see...

...the people cheered...

"And the first act begins."

[img]http://www.aboutgundamwing.com/GlossaryImages/ep44_Dorothy.jpg[/img]

[quote]

Greetings Austria! My Brothers and Sisters! Greetings Maria Magdalena, Empress of my people oppressed! Greetings to the world!

Many of you know me, but many of you do not, so let me take this moment to introduce myself and the cause that begins today. My name is Bridgette Saenger, I was Chancellor of the Austrian Empire, until Her Imperial Majesty stripped me of my title and sent me away from my country under penalty of death. My people, you know why she did this though, because she feared the storm that is approaching and that will finally break through the clouds today. For the past months, we have spoken out in Parliament and on the streets. We have told Vienna that we do not appreciate our country being run, by proxy, from Athens and Beijing. We have said that the people do not desire for the state to spread across the world, but we have territory in the far off Pacific Ocean, territory that we, without a proper navy can, in no way, uphold without the help from the Chinese. The people have said they desire no part in extensive foreign alliances and blocs that will send young Austrian men and women across the seas to die in foreign lands. Europe is already a powder-keg of immature leaders who know nothing of governance and Austria alone has been the nation to hold this continent together through her voice of reason. But now when we expect the same reason from our Empress? We, the people, are turned away!

Maria! I know that you can hear me and are watching this and I have only one thing to tell you that the storm that you have tried to prevent with your pretty looks and powerful allies will finally rain down from the Alps. Instead of reform, you ignored us. Instead of handling our protests amicably you turned Austrian brothers against their own. And when those in government spoke out against the polices of you and your allies, we were removed and I was personally hunted. Austria will not allow this continue and that is why I must ask my brothers and sisters to join me for a campaign to right these wrongs.

Today begins Austria's fight for independence and a new regime will be created in the fires of revolution. Maria Magdalena may not have listened to petitions and protests, but I am willing to bet my life that she will listen to force. If I am wrong, then I will gladly lay dead in the puddles of blood, shared with those of my brothers and sisters who are willing to fight for the chance to be free! At this moment, those cities of Western Austria swear no more allegiance to "Her Imperial Majesty", we fight for the Republic of Austria and will not stop until Vienna is in our hands.

To the world, I implore you to stay away from our affairs, this is an Austrian problem, not yours. All nations that openly aid the Imperial Forces will be considered enemies of the Republic and will be brought to justice by our forces in the future.

Now! My brothers and sisters! We rise! We rise to take back what was ours, what was always ours, and what has been stolen from us! Our destiny!

For Austria! For the Republic!
[/quote]

The crowd in the hall erupted into cheers and across Western Austria, the case was similar. Burning occurred in the streets as military installations were attacked. Mayors who were not attached to Bridgette's movement were usurped by armed, angry mobs and armor divisions baring the new crest of the Republic of Austria took to the streets in celebration. Once the army, what little air divisions were available, and armor was organized, Bridgette's campaign towards Vienna would begin and she would see just how much Maria wanted to keep her empire and how much Athens and China wanted to keep it as well.

"You were marvelous, Bridgette," said Sebastian as she came off the stage. He was flanked by Alek and other members of her personal guard. "I think we scared Maria to death."

"Well, I'll let her be the judge of that." The Former Chancellor said as she turned back to the crowd. "Alek, when will things be organized to begin our movements?"

"In a few days, Chancellor, until then I think it is best to build up our defenses, we'll see if the Royalists attack."

Bridgette frowned. "When the troops are ready to move out, Alek, we move them out, is that understood?"

"Of course Chancellor, I'm sure Vienna will be in your hands in a few weeks. We guards will be with you all the way."

"Or until your money runs out," she smiled and tapped him on the shoulder. "But come, we have to prepare, the Slovenes are still in rebellion. We have two fish to fry."

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The Sovereign was in his private home on Vecanti Island, engaging in his usual ritual of reading late-day press digests during dinner. He was at the end of a long dining table, of which he was the only occupant. In his office, they usually came in a thick manila folder, but in his home, it was acceptable to just stack them on the table. As he finished leafing through them, he focused on his dinner, and it was quiet for several minutes.

Then, a handsome Hispanic man entered the room, with a piece of paper in his hands. He was dressed in simple office attire, and handed the paper to Vedran. "News from Austria," he said simply, and stood there patiently while Vedran read the transcript of the "Chancellor's" announcement. He set it down when he was done and took a sip of wine, then chuckled. "Interesting, Carlo. Have you read it?"

"I have."

Vedran sighed in a kind of skeptically hopeful manner. "I really hope these people are the real thing. Europe has been through far too much suffering for this to be another selfish dictator." He smiled and shook his head. "I bet more than a few departments in the Tower are going to start a betting pool over this. What are you thinking, Carlo?"

"I wouldn't know, sir. I'm not very involved in the political arena."

"You're a head of state's assistant, you're more involved than most people."

"If you say so, sir. Will there be anything else?"

"No, Carlo, you can go home now. I won't keep you any longer. See you tomorrow." As Carlo was putting on his jacket and preparing to leave, he looked back into the dining room. "By the way, sir. I'm putting 20 down on her being no better than the others. And if I'm not out of line, it's always the pretty ones you have to watch out for."

"God, do I know. Good night, Carlo."


-------

The next morning, the Foreign Minister gave a simple address. "We do not, at this time, recognize the Austrian opposition movement as the legitimate representatives of the Austrian people. We will review this position when free and fair elections are held on a national level."

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[Private]

Laura was watching the broadcast, sighed once it was over. "You see that? Yet another civil war."
"Austria lost its stability when it lost Leclerc. Only he could have held it together."
"Or we."
"But the communists had to go overboard with things."
"Good times."
"Yes. Now, I wonder how this will end. Do we aid one of the two factions?"
"Why not both?"
"That...would be interesting to see. Interesting, indeed."
He chuckled. She smiled.

_____________

[Public]

"We hope that this internal struggle will be resolved soon, and with as little bloodshed as possible.
Austria has endured enough in its time."

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“We must review our position in Europe, the coalition has come to the conclusion that our position in Northern…” Due to someone knocking on the door of the conference room Hektor couldn’t finish his sentence. The announcement had aired just as the new Chief Magistrate was talking to the monarchs about the plans of the new coalition in parliament.

“Come in” Ariadne said at which point an aide came running in exhausted.

“Your Imperial Highnesses, your eminence. I apologize for coming in like this but something has happened.”

Before anyone could respond the aide turned on the large television in the room showing the announcement of the former Austrian chancellor.

“My god, I thought they were hunting down that woman” Ariadne said slightly shocked, the others just kept looking silently until it ended.

“Guess you won’t get the chance to finish that sentence Hektor. We should call the Imperial War Cabinet Ariadne, get the opinion of the commanders” Valerio said after having taken some notes on the announcement.

“I agree, also call Magistrate Picard to work out our exact secret. I will order my office to issue a formal announcement”

---

[quote][center][img]http://data.treksimming.com/athenian-federation/iannouncement.png[/img]

[b]Announcement from the Office of the Eastern Empress[/b][/center]

It is no secret that the Austrian people have resisted, it is nothing new that ignorant and reactionary opportunists gain the support of people who do not know better.

At this point we consider this movement what it truly is. A terrorist group of backwards individuals most likely with foreign support. This office has today ordered the Hellenic Navy to close the Straits of Otranto to foreign ships with the exceptions of the Greater Nordic Empire of Dalmatia and friendly Austrian ships. Ships heading for and coming from Austria will be subject to inspections at the hands of the Hellenic Navy and Hellenic Coast Guard.[/quote]

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Noting the situation in Austria, any and all shipments to and from Austria are hereby banned passage through the Suez and Straits of Gibraltar, with the exception of allied nations. Those who try to circumvent this ban by declaring their destination to be another nation, but instead go to Austria, will be considered to have committed an act of aggression and thus war upon Rebel Army.

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[i]The Imperial Cabin, Chengde, United Federation of the East[/i]

It was beginnings of Summer in China, and much of the government had taken leave of Beijing and Qingyuan, the Imperial Cabin north near the Zargathian Border was generally a quiet place. Development of the Beijing-Tianjin megapolis had been purposefully blocked. Its cool mountain air was a refreshing change from the combination of humidity and smog which permeated most of the UFEs major cities.

Jia was enjoying coffee and watching the reindeer drink at the lake, beasts which the Manchu had brought down from the North to keep their horse back hunting skills sharp centuries earlier.

Qi handed Jia a message, "From Mr. Ryu." Qi said simply.

Jia opened the message:

[quote]August Imperator:

While Hong Kong appears to be Kang's base of operations, this seems to be only sometimes the case. I have tracked him move by silent helicopter several times at night, and there does not seem to be correspondence with the company. I believe he seems to be traveling to Macau, and from there who knows. Additionally, I have forwarded the Imperial Guard Special Forensics unit several key accounts which seem to have discrepancies. I believe your forensic accountants may have better luck with this than I.

Something seems to be going on in the South. Private air travel between Thailand and Hong Kong is up. How are things in Malaysia, I suspect there may be a distraction going on there? I await further instructions.

Regards,

Ryu Hayabusa[/quote]

Jia nodded, "Yeah, I want Ding to begin quietly redeploying two drone squadrons down there. Also, pull an Imperial Guard Company from Ehestadt, move it down there with sufficient assets to hit any facilities we may need to quietly."

Qi shook his head, "I can do the first, but the latter may not be smart."

Behind Qi, Wei had arrived, "Wei what are you doing here, I thought there was work to be done in Qingyuan?" Jia asked surprised to see the Grand Vizier here.

"Is the Imperatrix around?" Wei asked somewhat tensely.

"She's meditating at the Lake Pagoda, why do you... Austria?" Jia said realizing and having a frown come to his face.

"The Chancellor seems to be making her move, although the population of Austrians in Ehestadt is quite small compared to Russians, Japanese, and Chinese, and also tends to be the Imperatrix's supporters, Ehestadt was singled out in the speech. If there are political radicals, acts of terrorism could be an issue there. An Imperial Guard company there to perform counter terrorism operations would be the most preferable versus using the regular army." Wei explained.

"Agreed. And in Austria?" Jia asked.

Qi cut in, "We think that a direct UFE intervention could provoke nationalist back lash. Parts of Europe still retain bitter memories of the Grand Army, especially in the parts of Austria where Saenger is strongest."

Jia rubbed his chin, as he looked off at the pagoda where his wife was in the distance, it was a hard call, "Begin scaling back our embassy staff in Vienna to the essentials and silently move in the necessary capabilities to get both our key personnel, and my wife's family out of Vienna if it comes to that. Also make clear to Empress Maria, that we'll offer all the necessary assistance that she and her political advisers feel would be needed without further inflaming the situation."

Wei nodded, "Ok."

"Back to the other issue, I guess we're going to have to prioritize, begin raising three more black operations imperial guard companies, in the mean time pull one from the group tracking Ming and tell it to mobilize for operations in Thailand. I want the Malay issue resolved soon too, if it means we gotta kill with a couple radical clerics without much plausible deniability, than that is what we are going to do." Jia ordered.

Both Qi and Wei nodded. As Wei walked away Qi spoke up, "About the Imperatrix's family, it is fine when its just Wei and I, but you should refer to them as the legitimate government of Austria, make sure not to make this personal when speaking to the military."

Jia sighed, "... Right."

"Shall I inform her. You have a briefing on Defense Procurement Efficiency." Qi asked.

"Yeah... go ahead." Jia said dreading the upcoming wave of numbers and factoids about to be thrown his way.

Qi walked off to inform Theresia while Jia continued to stare at the letter from Ryu, he had a gut feeling about these problems, and he didn't like what his gut was telling him.

================================================

[i]Austria[/i]

Dr. Y had been working around the clock on his creations for Saenger. Political events were moving faster than he would have liked for construction purposes. He was not thrilled about the fact that he would be unable to report rapid progress. In reality he'd have liked to have gotten more resources from Kang, but it was harder and harder to get things into the country, or even to contact Kang.

"Aren't you ready yet?" demanded a gruff voice in German.

Dr. Y turned, it was one of Saenger's men. A Austro-German who had clearly the view that eastern Europeans were inferior to him, despite the fact that he was at best a muscle man and had no real intelligence to speak of.

"This takes time. We put these systems together carelessly and everyone here gets killed and the Chancellor has no army." he replied annoyed.

The man scowled. "What can you report done?" he said.

"You mean what can your report done?" Dr. Y retorted back at him. "Inform the Chancellor that before the blockade was completed by the Sovereign Initiative, we had successfully transferred a mercenary air force known as the Jade Eagles. They'll be ready for her when the time comes. As for her metal army. [i]It will be ready when its ready.[/i]" Dr. Y proclaimed annoyed. "Now go before you cause a static build up that kills us all!"

Turning white the thuggish man scurried off as Doctor Y continued on his work.

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Kaiser Frederick was eating his evening meal in the grand halls of the imperial palace in Karlsbad, when he heard the news about Austria and her rebellious citizens. He felt disappointed that his dear cousin Maria had failed in her task to govern the Austrian people. Even so, his loyalty lay with Maria and her imperial government. Frederick quickly bounced off his chair and prepared to plan how he will save Hapsburg rule in Austria, and prevent Maria losing her title. Announcement: Deutsche-Bohemia's support lies with the Imperial government of Austria. The Kaiser will supply any support he can to save Empress Maria and Austria.

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Passau


Passau is known as the Dreiflüssestadt or "City of Three Rivers," because the Danube is joined at Passau by the Inn from the south and the Ilz from the north. This geographical environment made it an important stepping stone between Germany and Austria, and here were gathered about 50 citizens of Greater Korea. Officially part of the weaon research team that was sent in the past, they were actually made up of two companies from the Chosun Reconnaissance Brigade and the Daehan 707th 'White Tiger' Special Mission Battalion, and were part of the KCIA operations in Europe.

A Volkswagen Phaeton came up to safe house, with two silently getting out and entering. All the members bowed deeply toward the taller visitor with red eyes. The commander saluted, "We are honored you have come all the way here, Director."

"Situation?"

"We are ready to start direct action into Austria when to order comes down, with preparations for decapitation strikes."

"No, we're not going to off the rebels or attempt to interfere with the general flow of war. Our objective is very simple: protect the Hapsburgs from capture or harm."

The mission objectives was given out, and the other person, a certain girl, who came with Director Kei became vice commander of the Combined Special Warfare Forces Germany.

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[b]Embassy of the Athenian Federation, Vienna[/b]

While the Emperor had returned safely the orders to prepare for an evacuation were still fully in effect, at some points they had even been improved. There now were 100 Imperial Guard in the embassy and 2 Mounted Combat Systems had been transported there. By now all vehicles had also been equipped with diplomatic plates to make it less of a tempting target, however the weapon systems themselves were very well at defending themselves.

Likewise one Hermes class helicopter was by now standing by on the grounds at any time to make a quick evacuation possible.

Friedrich Felbiger, the Ambassador to Austria, had become quite tense under the amount of forces. The fact the Ministry had pulled back more than half of his normal staff didn’t help much either. By now the embassy would only let in citizens of Athenian nationality with all else being held back at the gate. A telephone he had never heard ring before rang now.


With a sigh he took the horn and placed it at his ear.

“Your Imperial Highness, how can I help you today?”

“Ambassador, the situation is growing outside of its limits. I want you to make the documents ready and I will be faxing you a letter to be handed to the Empress of Austria in person. “

“Yes, sir.”

A few hours later a senior aide to the ambassador would deliver the letter, escorted by 2 Imperial Guard until the gates for his own safety, once let in he’d deliver the letter to be delivered for Maria.

[quote]Dear Maria,

While I know you wanted to go down fighting this can not be allowed to happen. Your people need you, the world needs you and finally I need you. I have informed my ambassador to grant you and all members of your government and family a special status which will allow you full access.

I hope you do well, even under the circumstances, and I can’t wait until I hold you in my arms again.

Yours sincerely,
Valerio[/quote]

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Joaquim Francisco da Silva sat in his office on the 20th floor of Hourglass International's high-rise headquarters. Smoke from his cigar filled the air around him, and he crossed his legs as he looked over afternoon Antananarivo. The cars passed by below, and pedestrians went about their business in Madagascar's second city and historical capital of the island.

Da Silva turned his swivel chair around at the entrance of his secretary, who was carrying a stack of papers. He took the cigar out of his mouth and deposited the ash in a small ashtray as he received the papers. "Call Mr. De Witt down here, please." The secretary nodded and walked out. Da Silva had time to read through the reports and finish his cigar by the time his COO entered and sat on the chair opposite his desk. "Good afternoon, Joaquim. What do you have for me today?"

Da Silva passed the papers across the desk and spoke while his colleague looked over them. "The report on the civil war in Austria. It looks very lucrative, but you should take a glance at the risk analysis on the last page."

De Witt flipped back to the last page, but before he began reading it, he looked up at Da Silva curiously. "Which faction are we helping?"

"The rebels seem to stand a chance of winning, politically. However, if you'll read that risk report..."

The Afrikaner skimmed through the page. "High level of foreign involvement. Potential intervention. Chance of high asset loss inflicted by Royalist faction...Joaquim, this seems quite risky for our first combat contract. Are you sure you want to go through with this?"

"I already have the message typed up, I'm just waiting on your advice to decide if I'm going to send it or delete it."

Marthinus smiled wolfishly, taking another look at the page before focusing his gaze on Da Silva. "The risk involved does provide a potential for being very lucrative. If we add all these variables of risk into the contract, and if they win - or at least survive long enough to come through - they'll be paying out the ass, and we'll have an excellent advertising point."

"On the other hand," Da Silva continued, half reading what De Witt was thinking and half playing devil's advocate, "if we fail, for whatever reason...our operators get wiped out, the rebels turn out to be committing war crimes, or the international media condemns us for it...we'll have a stain on our history and a notorious reputation." Although that last one wasn't as bad as the others, depending on who you asked.

Marthinus thought it over, and dropped the papers back on the desk. "May God help us if we're wrong about this."

------

[quote]From: Hourglass International, Inc.
To: The office of Bridgette Saenger

Madame Saenger,

I am writing to you to discuss a proposition of mutual benefit. We understand that your movement is currently undergoing difficulties with the current government of Austria as well as receiving pressure from the international community. We are prepared to aid your movement in its struggle. If you are interested, we will send a representative to Austria to discuss terms.

Regards,

Marthinus de Witt, Chief Operating Officer[/quote]

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At the other side of the border, Austrians may be able to detect, if they still had the means to do so considering the anarchy, a significant yet not overwhelming number of Germanic Union troops arranged in a series of groups. Their position was ambiguous, it was not easy to determine if they were there to invade Austria or to defend it if needed be. The Union was also deployed on many other areas at the moment, hence why the divisions were not so many...

Media followed it all closely, as did the Althing.

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The proclamation from Germany and the sighting of Athenian troops across Austria's southern border could not have come soon enough for the Republican Forces. Bridgette jumped in glee at the scenario presented to her and in a small speech delivered back to the German Althing along with being broadcast across Austria, the Republican ranks began to swell. It seemed at least to the Austrian people that the Former Chancellor had been right all along, the Hapsburgs would always been in power and if Austria attempted to change such a regime, Athens and Germany would involve themselves. Bridgette's Cause, to not only free Austria from the despotism of the monarchy, but the foreign occupation of Germany, Athens, and China blessed her with an army of about eighty thousand men and one that was pointed directly at Vienna.

Salzburg became alive with activity over the next week as men and women volunteering to serve in the Republican Army donned their black uniforms and filled into the various divisions and brigades that made up Bridgette's force. Armor and aircraft would be hard to acquire and the Chancellor did worry that only having a fourth of the Imperial Army's armor power and nearly none of it's air support would make the battle nearly impossible to win.

"We have forty thousand men spread out across our border," said General Ralf Lemann, commander of the Republican First Corps stationed in Innsbruck. "My corps here in the mountains and then General Fruehauf's Corp defending Salzburg from an enemy attack." The two corps commanders stood along side Bridgette and many of her division commanders as they looked over the map of Austria spread out in front of them. "Needless to say, Chancellor, I don't believe it is practical to move out of the Western Regions of the country, we have mountain cover, we have the high ground. If we begin moving towards Vienna, Linz, and Graz, the Imperials will have ground of their choosing. Without proper air and armor support, we'd be wiped out."

"So you're suggesting we bury ourselves in the mountains?" Bridgette said cocking an eyebrow.

"Any attack against us, sans Salzburg, we would have the advantage Madame Chancellor. Guerrilla tactics against the Imperials could even out their forces until the time came for us to attack."

"You forget Herr General that Maria will get the support from Athens and Germany within a few weeks. I'm sure that foreign nationals have already initiated plans to protec-" She clenched her fists and slammed them against the table. "Listen, we are not just going to sit in the mountains and wait to be starved out. It's why the Nordlanders lost the First Civil War, because they sat on their asses and waited for Germany to help them." Bridgette laughed, "Well if that is what Maria is going to do then we'll turn the tables on her." The Chancellor bent down over the map again and bit her knuckles. "What we need to do then is make sure that we have the high ground when the time comes to battle." She said tracing her fingers over the Alps towards the center of the country. "The central mountains nearly extend all the way east towards St. Potten, laying right in between Vienna, Graz, and Linz. If we could take St. Potten we could cut Maria's supply lines in half."

"We would also be completely surrounded by Imperial Forces, Madame Chancellor." Said General Fruehauf. "High ground or not, we don't have the fire power to defend against a massive strike from Imperial Forces."

"You misunderstand me General. The goal would not be to capture St. Potten, only to divide Maria's forces who are also engaged in Slovenia. We would have the decision from that point to either capture Linz or Graz. In addition to threatening Vienna directly from St. Potten. General Schroder, is your division ready to move?"

"Yes Madame, my division can move whenever you find it practical."

"You will take your twenty thousand men from Innsbruck and begin moving towards St. Potten, use the mountains to screen your movements as best as you can, understood?"

"Yes Ma'am."

"General Lemann, you and I will take the combined First and Second Corps and move from Salzburg towards Linz once St. Potten is under attack. The move is going to be fast, with what little supplies we have, armor and air, the strike will be quick and hopefully we can demoralize any defenders. I'll speak to Dr. Y if he can do anything about aerial warfare in the next week. Maybe at least have a few fighters in the sky. Anything would work."

"Will that be all then Madame Chancellor?" Said Lemann as he scanned the map one last time.

"Yes, I think that will be good, you have your orders. General Schroder, good luck."

Schroder snapped to attention and saluted. "With any luck, the Republican Army will be in Vienna within the month."

As the war council began to clear, Sebastian came out from from his position in the back of the room. "I trust that everything is going well then, I'm not going to pretend that I know much about military strategy."

Bridgette smiled and sat down in her chair across from the map. "As best as it could be, I suppose. We're taking a huge risk with this, if Maria doesn't bite, Linz is going to be a tough nut to crack and we don't have expendable forces."

"Perhaps," Sebastian smiled and took a letter from his coat. "This came in the morning, from an Hourglass International."

"Mercenaries?"

"From Artica no less."

"Oh that's no good Sebastian, it would be as bad as Maria's hiring of those Muslim guards who defend her. This entire war is based on the idea of keeping foreigners out and we're going to buy mercenaries?"

"The men know that we're outgunned Bridgette, I think having a few engineers on hand, who could even the odds would be a blessing. Dr. Y is a foreigner after all and he's taken quite a liking to the campaign, the men who work with him appreciate his services to your Republic as well."

"All right, give me the letter." Bridgette said reaching for the paper and leaned back in her chair as she scanned the words. "Well," she said after finishing and throwing the letter on the table. "They seem innocent enough. I'll have a reply in a few hours, meanwhile, go and tell Dr. Y to see what he can do with fixing up a few fighters. They don't need to be effective, just enough to pepper Maria's air force and maybe distract them for a bit while we move towards Linz."

"Of course Bridgette."

After Sebastian had left, Bridgette pushed herself up from the chair and walked back over to the map. With one of the figures to represent Schroder's division she moved it across the mountains towards the outskirts of St. Potten. Then with her baton, she slow moved the white Austrian figures to come around the city, while her own force of sixty thousand men pushed into Linz. "But then what will you do Maria? What will you do after I have cut you off from the North? With the Slovenes still in rebellion in the south, will you sacrifice Slovenia to destroy me? Or will you continue to divide your forces further so that Vienna is open to me? What will you do Maria? What will you do?"

---

[code]
To: Marthinus de Witt of Hourglass International Inc.
From: Chancellor Bridgette Saenger of the Republic of Austria
Subject: Meeting

Herr de Witt,

I appreciate your concern and ambition to involve yourself in the
terrible affairs that have come to pass in my country. I am sure
you and your countrymen mean well in declaring your support for
my movement, however, I have gotten to the position I am in at
the moment from being a suspicious woman, especially of foreigners.
Unlike many people in this world, I choose not to hide my
xenophoibia and if you were a German or Athenian, this meeting
would not happen. However I know of Artica's own dealing with
the Nationalists in Transvaal and the fighting prowess of your
countrymen is something to be proud of and therefore I would
be happy to host a meeting, if you are able to get through the
Athenian and German blockades over my country. Their princess is
about to be thrown from power and they are none too appreciative.

I would love for the chance to even the odds and if you can make it
to Austria, I am anxious for our meeting.

~Bridgette Saenger
[/code]

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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The Kaiser Frederick was in the DBA Headquarters in Karlsbad. The room was full of women and men dressed in fine military uniforms, from their medals you could tell they were all experienced and all high ranking senior officials. They were all gathered around a table in the centre of the room, a fire was glistening in the far off corner and a dark figure over shadowed it with its arm stretched out over the mantelpiece. It was Frederick, gazing into the core of the fire, hypnotized by its ever dancing flames.

He was deep in thought, thinking about the crisis in Austria which turned into a civil war. On one side it was his cousin, and on the other side a radical politician who just wants peace, freedom, and equality for her brothers and sisters in Austria. Frederick knew what was right from wrong in the Austrian situation but he was not prepared to let his family honour be stained. [i]"The Hapsburg's are a proud family and they will not be over thrown by a few enlightened individuals thinking their cause is just and right!"[/i] Frederick thought to himself.

He had made up his mind and now it was time to take action. He turned from the fire reluctantly and slowly approached the centre table. Everyone stopped and watched the Kaiser approached. A stern look was fixed on his face, he knew what was to be done. [i]"Ladies and Gentlemen, it is time to take action and help our allies in Austria. We must not only help the people but my dear cousin Maria and our common family, and our hereditary rule over the peoples of Austria, Bohemia, and Hungary."[/i]

Frederick turned to his secretary and said [i]"Send a message to Maria and ask her for permission to aid her in Austria's cause and to move forces into Austria to help the Imperial army."[/i] The secretary immediately went about doing so. Frederick then turned his attention to the men and women around the table once more and said [i]"Put the air force on high alert along with the army. Prepare to load troops into the Gotha Go 244 transports, and our artillery, tanks and trucks. If Maria accepts our request then I want to move at least 10,000 men into Upper Austria, understand?"[/i]

The men and women ran off to deliver their orders to the air force and military units which were to be mobilized to take off. Soon enough Frederick was alone in the room, he returned to the fire and began anticipate what just might happen.

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[center][size="6"][b]Southern Cross Foreign Office Official Statement[/b][/size]

[IMG]http://i1192.photobucket.com/albums/aa325/VictorDeltaRomeo/AUSflag3.png[/IMG][/center]

"The Union of the Southern Cross sends tidings and urges calm on both sides so that mediation may keep the Austrian people from slaying their brothers and sisters. We know all too well how political instability can cost a nation, and hope this problem is quickly resolved peacefully. We also hope that the international community shares this sentiment, and tries to be supportive in this effort for political mediation between both sides.

We are willing to provide a non-regional venue for both sides to send delegates so that they may mediate away from conflict, as well.

With the opening of hostilities in Austria, we are also putting a mandatory travel alert for Southern Cross tourists, businessmen and women, as well as workers and students abroad in Europe. Anyone who is located in Austria, or near the borders of the Austrian state, should try to leave these areas. If assistance is requested, the Foreign Office can provide monetary, transportation, or other assistance."

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[quote]Madame Saenger,

Your commendation of the Arctican military's ability is appreciated. As you likely know from our recent announcement, all of our operators are military veterans, and not all of them Arctican. Nearly half are Transvalers, and as a result of that nation's wars, they are quite experienced.

However, you must understand that our company is not able to provide something like a division-sized, well-balanced force to engage in frontal combat on your opponents. In total, we have twenty light infantry companies numbering 120 men and women each. We are able to transport, over time, substantial numbers of infantry by air, but due to the sea blockade you will not be able to utilize our heavier equipment, such as our helicopters and infantry fighting vehicles.

You will be able to hire our infantry as full groups or half-groups, and they will prove useful to you in tasks best suited for smaller units of light infantry. Of course, due to the great risk involved in a potential contract with your movement, extras fees will need to be levied to cover hazard pay and possible asset loss.

I will travel to Austria with some assistants and a few operators for a presentation, and if you are satisfied, I have authorization to draw up a contract then and there. There are two conditions I must ask for if I am to personally visit you. While in Republican-controlled airspace, my transport, a civilian aircraft, must be guaranteed safety and, if needed, protection by your forces. And as long as I am in Republican territory, visiting on behalf of my corporation and adhering to rules set forth by your security, your office will be held liable for any injury or death suffered by myself or my associates.

If this is acceptable, I will travel to Austria at my earliest opportunity.

Regards,

Marthinus de Witt, Chief Operating Officer[/quote]

If this was indeed acceptable, Marthinus would board the next flight to Lusaka. From there, one of the company's Bombardier Global Express business jets would take off and travel to Europe. It would not take any steps to conceal its identity or origin; the transponder code it broadcasted would not be anomalous in any way. If it was intercepted by one of the blockading nations and ordered to turn back, it would do so, as it would if any neutral nation refused it entrance to its airspace.

If, in the end, the Hourglass plane got through all this, it would land in Republican territory at whichever airport was specified by their hosts.

------

The late afternoon sun shone down on the tarmac, and with a low squeak, the Global Express came to a stop. Its ramp was quickly extended, and two men exited. They were both in their thirties, tough and built, their eyes flicking around the immediate area to get accustomed with their surroundings. Their outfits were simple woodland camouflage, with their names over their right breast pockets and a simple shoulder patch showing a stylized red "H" as in the company logo, on a plain black field, a golden border completing the ensemble.

After them came Marthinus de Witt, trailed by three smartly dressed assistants, clerical workers.

De Witt himself was dressed in a dark suit and tie, tame business clothes which contrasted with the Transvaler's tanned and weather-worn face. He clasped his hands behind his back and stood straight, awaiting their hosts.

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[b]Welthauptstadt Tbilisi[/b]
[b]Imperial Advisory Council[/b]

Councilor Gunsteling: This situation in Austria threatens the very stability of Europe. I believe we should support our allies, and quell it once and for all...

Councilor Kuisma: One cannot deny that peace in Europe will be disrupted for a short bit. However, Gunsteling, you seem to forget where we, as a nation, have come from. We once fought for the same thing that Bridgette Saenger is fighting for. Our very ideology is based upon those values!

Councilor Gunsteling: So we support those values at the risk of angering our allies?? Party Comrade Kuisma, that very train of thought will be the death of this nation!

Jorhan Stahl: Silence! Enough of this bickering. Councilor Kuisma brings up a valid point. The same values that Bridgette Saenger is fighting for are still our own. We cannot deny that. However, we must also look at the current stance of our allies. They are against the revolution. That does not mean that we should be.

Councilor Gunsteling: We must depend on our allies..

Jorhan Stahl: We must depend on no one but ourselves. As a Nordic Socialist, you should know this Gunsteling. I am highly disappointed, and I'm..

Michael Visari: Silence! This has gone on long enough. I summoned this Council to discuss one thing and that is to discuss the situation in Austria. Since it seems you can't all come to an agreement, then I will. We will be supporting our ideological friends in Austria. There must be no traces of our support. Do I make myself clear?

Everyone: Yes, Autarch

Michael Visari: Good

--

A message was soon crafted and sent to Austria. Of course, the message was to be heavily encoded using various frequencies, binary codes, et cetera. If intercepted, the message would appear to be a organized mess of computer language

[quote][b][center]**Secure Data Burst**[/center][/b]

To: Chancellor Bridgette Saenger of the Republic of Austria
From: Jorhan Stahl, Imperial Regent of the Greater Nordic Empire of Dalmatia

Comrade,

The plight and struggles of your people have been heard.

We'd be willing to supply anything you need in your struggle for freedom and equality.

We await your response.[/quote]

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[code]
To: Jorhan Stahl, Imperial Regent of the Greater Nordic Empire of Dalmatia
From: Bridgette Saenger, Chancellor of the Republic of Austria
Subject: Aid

Comrade,

Dalmatia has the Republic's thanks in aiding us in our fight
against tyranny and oppression. It would appear that all of
Europe seeks to impose monarchist rule on Austria, against
the wishes of the people themselves. Yet I believe with
Dalmatia's support there is hope for our movement, not only
in this war for freedom but when our sun rises on Europe as
well. The Republic will accept any and all aid Dalmatia is
willing to send and I will have my forces attempt to make
a corridor for easy travel between my forces and the
Dalmatian Border. Until then, if air travel is practical
that may be of use.

In addition Comrade, I know that Michael Visari is Autarch
of you nation. After this accursed war is over, I would
like a personal audience with him. I have a matter that needs
to be privately discussed.

Regards,

Bridgette Saenger
[/code]

---

Meanwhile the Hourglass aircraft would arrive in Austria under a stroke of luck, not being found by the blockades set up by Anti-Republican Foreign Forces. Bridgette had sent a quick reply to De Witt alerting to him that if he would be injured on the way into Austria, over say, Athenian airspace, she would not claim any responsibility to his safety, however, when he would arrive in Salzburg, the Transvaler would find that security was heavy and danger to his person was nearly impossible. When he and his associates would arrive in the Republican Capital, they were greeted by detachment of guards who then escorted the Articans to a few waiting jeeps and from there drove towards the City Hall in the center of town. Reaching the hall, De Witt would be escorted to the council room of the building where Bridgette was already meeting with many of the northern division commanders who would be leading the attack into Linz. When the doors finally opened, Sebastian would lead De Witt inside.

"Madame Chancellor. May I introduce, Marthinus de Witt of Hourglass International."

Bridgette's head popped over the other commanders and a grin cross her face. "Ah, Herr de Witt, welcome to Salzburg." She said crossing the room and extending her hand. "I apologize that I wasn't able to meet you at the airport, but I'm sure you understand the trying hours that it takes to conduct a war." Placing her hand over his shoulder, Bridgette began to lead Marthinus away from the table and the other commanders. "If you gentlemen will excuse me, I have personal business to take care of."

The Republican Commanders saluted and clicked their heels while Bridgette led the Transvaaler to a small, but cozy backroom that over looked the streets of the city. She poured coffee and cream into two mugs and sat them down on the table in the middle of the room before making herself comfortable on a faded gray chair.

"So, Herr de Witt, now that we have some peace and quiet I would like to see I appreciate you coming all this way to speak with me. However, I would like to make a few things very clear before we begin. This contract will end immediately after hostilities between the Republican and Imperial forces cease. That is not to say that you may not be rehired, but the Hapsburgs have employed their own mercenaries who were then granted almost immediate citizenship. I don't want to seem like I'm selling my principles for victory. In truth I would rather die than lose the greater cause of this war. Call me a zealot, but people have become rather lax in their beliefs in the world."

She took a long sip from her mug and tapped her fingers against her lips. "That said, I would like the full package that you can offer Austria, my movement has spooked a few of the Great Powers, Germany and Athens have made it rather clear who they support in this conflict and I have a feeling that before the end of this war we will be fighting for Austria's very independence. If it comes to that, I would be happy to attempt to break the blockade over my territory, but at the cost of a larger war, right now we're going to have to maneuver. However I can tell you that any costs will be covered for the transportation and potential danger of your men."

Her smile widened as the Chancellor leaned back in the chair. "The rest is up to you."

---

Meanwhile General Steffan Schroder and the twenty thousand men of the sixth and seventh Republican divisions were beginning their trek through the lower mountain region of Central Austria. The force could only boast forty tanks and a handful of heavy artillery that slowly moved across the mountain roads towards the objective at St. Polten. Personally Schroder believed the entire campaign to be risky, while he would have the high ground through his entire march, he would also be moving through the center of Imperial territory, nearly besieging Vienna itself. The General contemplated, rather correctly, that by the time the first artillery pieced fired on his objective, half of the Imperial Army, if not more would already have his two divisions surrounded and ready to attack. Nevertheless, he stayed to the southern side of the mountains, moving slowly across the rocky and snowy terrain towards Mallnitz, then from there to Mauterndorf, and then advanced on Kapfenberg.

The problem that Schroder encountered, however, was that his entire march towards Kapfenberg was beset by harassing Imperial Militia attacks, coming from both sides of the mountain range. His march was slow, bogged down by bad weather and the need to send skirmishers out into wildness to destroy militia positions. In a week's time, he had only advanced to Mauterndorf and was not more than sixty miles of the Southern Imperial Army in Graz.

"Maybe it would be smart to attack Graz then?" Said General Ulrich Weiss, one of the brigade commanders in Schroder's division. "We'd still have the high ground from the mountains and it would still separate the Imperial Forces between our attack and the unrest occurring in Slovenia."

"It would separate the forces in Linz and Vienna though, which is where Chancellor Saenger's main force will be attacking. Across open fields," Schroder shook his head. "She'll be slaughtered."

"Steffan, we've already taken casualties and we haven't even reached Kapfenberg." Began Maximilian Koring, the commander of the Seventh Division. "If we keep at this, we're going to arrive in St. Polten with one division, with Graz and Vienna on our backs. They know Saenger is in Salzburg, they're not going to evacuate Linz."

Schroder ran his fingers across his brown eyes and sighed. "We could try to bombard Graz, I don't know how much that will do, maybe give the Slovenes hope to advance, but they're not going to advance into Austria itself, we'd still be sitting ducks."

"What if we pulled them out of Graz?" Said Koring, "Made them pursue us, maybe if they think we're heading to Vienna, they might give us a chase."

"That's what we want anyways Max, what's your point?"

"My point is, that we the feigned attack could be against Linz, not St. Polten and we could tell Saenger to move her force towards the south. It would open a corridor to Dalmatia as well. Think," Koring ran his finger down the center of Austria. "We hold the central mountains. We put skirmishers throughout, in Rottenmann and Haus, we'd control the flow of traffic, the Imperials would have to go around the mountains, through Vienna, we could flank them."

Schroder nodded and scratched his chin. "You think they'd take the bait?"

"It's worth a shot, put ourselves in between Graz and the capital, they'd have to hit us."

"But can we defend ourselves?"

"We don't have a choice Steffan."

"All right," Schroder nodded, "Let the men sleep a bit longer, they're going to need it if were going to head towards Fohnsdorf in a day and then north. With any luck we won't be intercepted."

"Yes sir."

---

[quote]
[b]To: Bohemian Central Command
From: Maximilian von Hess, General in Chief of Her Imperial Majesty's Army
Subject: Aid[/b]
[i]
Cousins,

Your message to send aid in the form of soldiers and munitions seems to be a double-edge sword to the Austrian people. For while help is appreciated, foreign involvement on the Imperial Side will only serve to bolster Saenger's Republican Campaign. I implore you that if you wish to help the Imperial Cause to make your work fast and effective, or join up with detachments of the Imperial Army. I fear that our enemy may grow or dissipate depending on the times and the recent political changes throughout Europe have only helped the Former Chancellor's cause. If you do send soldiers, I look forward to seeing the Bohemians in battle, together we shall crush this rebellion and make sure that Imperial Austria survives for years to come.

The Imperial Objective at the current time is to capture Salzburg, the "Capital of the Republic of Austria", in addition to capturing Bridgette Saenger, dead or alive. If possible, begin to move your forces towards our garrison in Linz, from there we will plan for an invasion of Republican territory and end this upstart movement before it gains momentum.

Sincerely,

Maximilian von Hess
General-in-Chief[/i]
[/quote]

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De Witt nodded politely to the commanders as he was ushered into the room, and despite his civilian attire gave off the impression that he was at least somewhat accustomed to the sorts of things they were undoubtedly discussing. He took the Chancellor's hand when it was offered and shook it firmly. "It is good to meet you, Chancellor," he said in his accented English, using her formal title here, not wanting to make the leader lose face in front of her generals. As he was led into the back room, his guards stayed in the anteroom outside of the council room. Originally just for looks, they became even less necessary with the considerable security of the place, and it was only the three assistants that followed him inside.

As they got settled in, he took the coffee from the table and put the cup to his lips, taking a few sips before moving away and holding it in both hands while he listened.

[quote]"So, Herr de Witt, now that we have some peace and quiet I would like to see I appreciate you coming all this way to speak with me. However, I would like to make a few things very clear before we begin. This contract will end immediately after hostilities between the Republican and Imperial forces cease. That is not to say that you may not be rehired, but the Hapsburgs have employed their own mercenaries who were then granted almost immediate citizenship. I don't want to seem like I'm selling my principles for victory. In truth I would rather die than lose the greater cause of this war. Call me a zealot, but people have become rather lax in their beliefs in the world."[/quote]

De Witt nodded. "I understand clearly. This will not present a problem. Unlike some PMCs, there is no grand cause that we attempt to further, whether political or ideological. We are here to conduct our business and will not place undue influence on our contractual partners. Our allegiance is simply this: we obey Arctican law as every honest corporation does, and we accept, or in this case seek, contracts with a favorable intermix of profit and risk. Ours is like any business, only different in the type of service we provide.

So I assure you, Chancellor, you need not worry about our intentions. We are here as long as both parties adhere to the terms of a contract, and we will leave when you no longer want us. It is that simple." He smiled reassuringly, and waited for Bridgette to continue. He took a sip of his own coffee, and there was a pause before the Chancellor resumed speaking.

[quote]She took a long sip from her mug and tapped her fingers against her lips. "That said, I would like the full package that you can offer Austria, my movement has spooked a few of the Great Powers, Germany and Athens have made it rather clear who they support in this conflict and I have a feeling that before the end of this war we will be fighting for Austria's very independence. If it comes to that, I would be happy to attempt to break the blockade over my territory, but at the cost of a larger war, right now we're going to have to maneuver. However I can tell you that any costs will be covered for the transportation and potential danger of your men."

Her smile widened as the Chancellor leaned back in the chair. "The rest is up to you."[/quote]

De Witt considered this for a moment, wondering just how big this war was going to get, and just how many of his operators he could afford to risk: not only risk to lose through combat, but even the deployment. The blockade could expand to airspace at any time.

He gestured to an assistant. A young black-haired woman set a laptop on the coffee table, with informational graphics about the company on it. Much of it, such as the organization of the merc units, Bridgette was probably accustomed to. She would probably need to scroll halfway down the page to look at what she needed to see: prices. It appeared that the base cost for one light infantry 'group', or company, was $250,000 per month. Of course, with additional risks added in, especially those faced by forces working for the Austrian rebels, the price came up to $400,000 per month per company. This was all laid out in reader-friendly tables along with some simple math already spelled out for her. Once the Chancellor indicated that she was finished looking at it, De Witt spoke up.

"If this is all acceptable to you, I wish to add some terms of my own. One, while the details of our contracts are all confidential, there will be a clause specifying that if your movement - and I'm not saying this will happen - if your movement is found by Hourglass to be committing acts that violate the Sydney Accords, we may withdraw our operators and end the contract. Any violations will certainly not be advertised by us, but if our operators are later discovered to be complicit in such acts, it would harm our reputation." He gave her a silent look that seemed to say, [i]so if you are doing these things, don't let us see them.[/i]

"Additionally, due to the risk involved, I am only authorized to deploy a maximum of 12 groups for this contract, given the possibility of high asset loss."

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Bridgette chuckled, resting her hand on her smile and looked down at the table before glancing up to De Wiit. "Sir, I am not some petty dictator or renegade. I am fighting my brothers and sisters and I can assure anyone who would ask me that when the bullets begin to fly they will not fall cold hearts. This war is to remove a despot from power and foreign influence from running Austria's affairs. Though I will say I find the Sydney Accords a paper tiger as there are war crimes being committed daily across the world and no signatories do a lick about them. But I digress, there is nothing that Hourglass needs to worry about, morally, on our end."

Glancing back over at the laptop she sighed, "As for price however and it is reasonable, I think it would be safe to purchase six of your proposed units. I am anticipating a great deal of foreign intervention on the Imperial Side. Austria is not a technological giant but Artican prowess could help even the odds against foreign intervention. To be quite honest with you Herr de Witt, I would even be interested in purchasing war material that might give my forces the edge in open combat. Hell I would say I'd rather have a steady trade of weapons and what have you, for the strength of your units. But anyone, mercenary or not, is helpful for the campaign."

The Chancellor leaned back and folded her hands across her lap. "But six units and whatever weapons can be spared, the Republic will be willing to spend the necessary funds. As to the units themselves, I can have the money wired upon their arrival to Republican territory. Would that be sufficient for you, Herr de Witt?"

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[left][b]OFFICAL ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF CANADA[/b][/left]
[center][img]http://i909.photobucket.com/albums/ac292/aggressivenutmeg/Canadian-CommonwealthFlag2.png[/img][/center]

The Commonwealth of Canada, publicaly declares our support for the Republican faction, and their persuit of Democracy, Freedom and Equality. Despite this statement, Canada will not become involved militarily in an internal Austrian affair. We do hope, that this can be resolved without bloodshed and that the will of the people will be heard by Austria's leaders.

Edited by Chernarussia
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[center][URL=http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/29/flagg.png/][IMG]http://img29.imageshack.us/img29/1341/flagg.png[/IMG][/URL][/center]

Eastern France hereby declares support for the revolutionary faction and Bridgette Saenger in toppling the outdated, oppressive monarchical regime. Kings and queens, emperors and empresses, they have no place in a modern government and can no longer efficiently serve the people.

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