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Secrets and Rumors


Markus Wilding
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Ever since the election of President Apolline Margrand, the Overwatch Officers had disappeared. Their robes had been abandoned, thrown into closets or stuffed in trunks, their weapons kept under lock and key in their homes. Apolline had made no attempt to enforce the disbandment, and as such the more dangerous weapons, such as the poison-seeped knives, were still in the hands of those who were deemed by the current regime as "nationalistic rebels". They now hid in the crowd, did not make any mention to anyone that they had been part of the Overwatch Officer corps. Since most of the Officers were unmarried and had little or no family, it wasn't hard. The hardest for those who had appeared on television or had spoken on radio to disguise their voices, for they were sure to be hunted by Apolline.

Everyone remembered how fiercely loyal to Frontino these men were, especially Thomas Garnier. Garnier, more than anyone, made sure that the Overwatch Officers wouldn't attempt a rebellion against the newly elected regime. The Commonwealth Center of Intelligence Agency kept tabs on known former Overwatch Officers, but could not detect anything that would indicate they would attempt something. Perhaps if they dug deeper, they would find that these men, and others, met in the DMZ, barely outside of where the false attack had been orchestrated. There were rumors in speakeasys and underground clubs about Frontino's return. Most dismissed it as speculation, believing he wouldn't dare leave Germany so long as the PRA was still top dog in Africa. Still others thought he would come and incite a revolution in PRA-controlled Niger, and those loyal to him, the Overwatch Officers and the citizens who didn't want to see him leave, knew that he would return, PRA or no.

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The Overwatch Officers met in the DMZ, as usual. It was near midnight, away from the Commonwealth [i]Police militaire de DMZ[/i] patrols. Here they began to finalize the details of their plot.

"The need for a leader is imperative. We must find a man suitable enough to lead the Commonwealth back to prosperity."

The others murmured their agreement, however nobody offered to take up the position of "Vanguard of Revolution".

"Our plan will fail if there is no unified leadership!" The speaker slammed his fist on the table, awakening those who were too weak to keep themselves awake.

"Sir, with all due respect, we do not know if we have the numbers capable of bringing this about. Need I remind you that we only have Ghost Division on our side in this event?" So far, only a small portion of the military would support a revolution of President Apolline. The rest seemed to want only peace.

"That will change, my friends...that will change. I am sure of it, as sure as I am of the Director's return."

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As time went on, the Overwatch Officers abandoned the idea of revolution. It was not the time, they decided. Ghost Division soldiers were looking inward, reevaluating their tactics and ideals, and the rest of the military seemed apathetic. President Apolline, however, made a grave mistake that sealed her fate.

She began to hunt actively for the Overwatch Officers. Once one was tipped off, they all knew and began to evade police and the military, who had been sent to find them in Sarnunga and Niamey. The people were opposed to this extreme measure. Political commentators called it a "witch hunt" of epic proportions.

The meetings in the DMZ resumed. Since the military was legally bound to not enter the zone, the police (who were easy to evade) could only attempt to find the Officers contained in it. The final plan was set. President Apolline Margrand would be assassinated. The problem of a central leader still stood in the faces of the Officers, though. Even though galvanized into action by the crackdown, nobody wanted to lead. It was on one of these nights that this problem would be solved.

The men were arguing, their voices carrying slightly into the evening wind. A small light was on, illuminating the small shack they were holed up in. "Which one of you will be the leader?!" one asked rhetorically. After a moment of silence, he slammed his fist down on the table and swore. "I can guarantee if nobody steps up to lead, we will all DIE!" The door opened, and a familiar voice spoke. "That will not happen, Officer." Everyone turned to look at the new arrival.

Director Frontino had returned. He wore a shemagh on his face, but the officers all knew it was Frontino. They all instantly rose and saluted, like perfect Marines. "We always knew you would return, Director."

Frontino removed the shemagh, setting it on the table. "Let's get to work. The traitors will pay for what they've done to my father's country."

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The event was picked to be as public as possible. President Apolline weaved her way to popularity by holding public speeches and rallies for her cause. Frontino had finalized the plan and it was set in motion. In layman's terms, the stage was set for chaos and insanity.

Apolline was in the middle of denouncing the actions Frontino had taken against the PRA when a shot rang out. Seconds later a spurt of blood appeared behind her chest as she fell backwards into the chairs behind her. Bodyguards raced to find the location of the shooter as well as stabilize Apolline. An Army medic rushed onto the stage and tried to stop the bleeding, but he shook his head and made a cross over his heart when he realized nothing could be done. About an hour later, the area had been evacuated and nothing had been found. The round that had killed Apolline was from a Commonwealth-issue AK-74, something easily obtained. No brass was located from any possible sniper location, and nobody had reported seeing anything.

Days later, General Garnier was named President. On that same day, Frontino took over the airwaves and television stations and began to play a prerecorded message. He wore a shemagh and was dressed in a regular Commonwealth infantryman's uniform, the flag of the Commonwealth and several weapons behind him.

[quote]People of the Commonwealth,

You have been led down a road of lies and deceit. Our former president, the traitor Apolline Margrand, promised us a life without poverty and without terror. And yet, she preached these ideals while attacking and prosecuting the Overwatch Officers, who have proven themselves to be guardians of peace and stability. Without the Overwatch Officers, our lives have fallen to shambles.

I come to you with a promise, a promise from God. Join me in my revolution, join me to overthrow the traitors who collaborated with our enemies, help me to restore the glory of the Commonwealth, and we will enjoy divine supremacy for years to come.

It is time to make a choice - join God and myself in this noble crusade, or pair yourself with traitors, opportunists and the Devil. Do not make the wrong decision.[/quote]

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The effect Frontino's message had was massive. With Ghost Division, seven other Army units joined with Frontino, revolting against their base commanders and claiming their bases for Frontino. Civilians grabbed rifles and prepared to defend themselves from each other and the Army should they be on the "wrong side". Families were divided as the older supported Frontino, but the younger supported Garnier and democracy. The city of Sarnunga became a battlefield as civilian rebels from both sides clashed with police in protests. Eventually, the army had been split into the Loyalists - those loyal to Frontino - and the Republicans. Although Frontino had the advantage of the highly-trained Ghost Division, Garnier held the advantage in armored corps with a majority of the BM-21s and Sturmtigers.

Soon, the Overwatch Officers were seen as fast as they had disappeared. They prowled the streets of Loyalist-held Sarnunga, executing anyone who did not accept that Frontino was blessed by God, Loyalist or not.

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*Private*
"Öh the irony. When Ghana had a revolution, the Commonwealth of Africa felt it needed to interfere in its neighbor's business for the sake of their safety, and now they have a revolution of their own." Said by a parliament member.


PRA troops have been put on high alert due to the violence

Edited by Axolotlia
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[size="3"][u][b]Classified[/b][/u][/size]

The West African Military went onto high alert, with all leave cancelled and all forces going to full readiness. The West African Navy was also deployed with three Snake Class Attack Submarines patrolling on stations just outside Commonwealth waters.


[size="3"][u][b]Public[/b][/u][/size]

"The West African Republic is saddened by the events in Commonwealth of Africa. I personally thought that the country would turn onto a path of peace. But it seems that i am mistaken. We will not stand for this un-necessary violence and campaign of terror. The people of the Commonwealth of Africa should not be living in fear, but in hope. This Director Frontio is making false promises and is a threat to the stability of the region. I ask that other nations join in condemning him. I call on him to leave power in twenty four hours....or suffer the consequences. This is your only warning."

[i]Statement by President Thérèse Sitrase[/i]

Edited by Curristan
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President Garnier burst into the "War Room" in the Sarnunga Parliament Building, with two aides behind him trying to get his attention. "SITREP, NOW!" he shouted as he walked down the rows of tables, each with a map on it and small tokens to represent troops. A staff sergeant saluted and addressed him. Garnier took his saluting arm and threw it down. "Cram it with the formalities and tell me what the hell is going on, dammit!" The staff sergeants nervously pointed to the map and attempted to explain.

Garnier sighed and headed for the larger map of the Commonwealth laid out in the center of the room. His generals began to point out nearly half of the Army had defected to Fontino's rebels, the Loyalists. With that, several hundred armored vehicles had defected, along with the highly experienced and trained Ghost Division. That was where the center of Frontino's armored corps was, though, and Garnier knew he had the advantage in both armor and defensive lines. Frontino only held the outer fringes of the Commonwealth in Niger and Togo, with some parts of Nigeria. Garnier could effectively pull his forces back and lure Frontino into a war of attrition, assuming the West Africans didn't intervene.

Garnier decided that only indirect intervention would help, just in case direct intervention added fuel to the fire Frontino had started. He already accused the entire Republican government of being traitors and collaborating with the PRA, a highly sensitive subject in the Commonwealth already. If the PRA or West Africans intervened, it might only help to give Frontino more numbers. "Send a message to the West Africans."

[quote]TO: President Thérèse Sitrase, West African Republic
FROM: President Thomas Garnier, Commonwealth of Africa
SUBJ: Commonwealth Civil War

President,

I fear that the ultimatum delivered may only serve to further Frontino's power and strength. I urge you, the best thing that we can do at this point is to collaborate to defeat him. I request to purchase two "Oka" class missile systems, conventional warheads. In addition, if allowed by the West African Parliament, I request an expeditionary force consisting of a special operations team to hunt down and capture or kill the Overwatch Officers and "Director" Frontino. Only by this method can we stop this madness. If I know Frontino like I do, he will try every trick in his book to defeat us both.

Regards, President Thomas Garnier[/quote]

---
In Niamey, Frontino had been doing practically the exact movements as Garnier did. His exception lied in the Austrian government.

[quote]TO: Austrian Vice Royalty of Morocco
FROM: Director Frontino
SUBJ: Arms

Dear Sir or Madame,

I come to you in a time of great distress. As I speak, my country is being run into the ground by my former friend, who has collaborated with the PRA to impose harsh and unjust terms on an innocent peoples. At the present time, I am in the process of toppling this idiosyncratic regime, but I cannot do it against a well-armed enemy.

Therefore, I humbly request the purchase of armaments of all types, so that I can succeed in preventing further destruction of a once beautiful country.

God be with you,
Director Frontino[/quote]

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[quote]
TO: President Thomas Garnier, Commonwealth of Africa
FROM: President Thérèse Sitrase, West African Republic
SUBJ: Commonwealth Civil War

Mr President,

We shall send the two "Oka" class missile systems you requested immediately, with option to buy the remaining fifty eight missiles we have in storage. In regards to the deployment of special forces, we will need more time to put this before the West African Senate. We will get back to you on the decision very soon.

Regards,
President Thérèse Sitrase
[/quote]

Edited by Curristan
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[i]Now hear this! Now hear this! All troops to Phase Line Delta! All troops to phase line Delta![/i]

Frontino had attacked the defensive lines in Benin with the 1st African Mechanized and the 1st Motorized. Defending this key point were the men of the severely depleted 1st Independent Mixed Brigade. With half of their engineering corps defecting to Frontino and 13,000 of the soldiers defecting as well, their section had only 7,000 soldiers and 6,000 engineers against 20,000 soldiers and armored vehicles. It was said reinforcements from the equally shattered 4th Infantry would be coming, but until then, they needed to dig in and kill as many Loyalists for as long as humanely possible.

"Sergeant!"

Sergeant Cloridan Mazuret was one of the few in his squad that hadn't defected to the Loyalists, and was helping an engineer repair a 155mm gun that had been damaged by a Loyalist saboteur. "What do you need?"

The caller was a Lt. Ganelon Hervé. "The Loyalists are coming, Sergeant. Their armor will be here in mere minutes, what are you doing?!" Sergeant Mazuret stiffened as he realized who he was talking to. "Sir, I was assisting Corporal Meaux with the 155mm, sir!" The LT pointed to the horizon, where several dust clouds had gathered. "It's too late, Sergeant! GET TO YOUR POSITION!"

With that, Sergeant Mazuret grabbed his M8G and took up a firing position in the bunker. He watched as the dust clouds gave way to four hundred STRYKER and ASLAV armored vehicles, all probably with infantry inside. A soldier with an RPG-29 stood by him, aiming for one of them and adjusting for range. The solid thumps of artillery began to pound in his ears as they drew closer. As the armor drew closer, Mazuret realized the safety of hundreds upon thousands of Republican-supporting citizens laid in his hands - if the Loyalists took this position, the Overwatch Officers would surely blast through and execute anyone who wasn't a Loyalist.

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[quote]
[b]To: Director Frontino
From: Karolina Žigo, Viceroy of Austrian Morocco
Re: Arms[/b]

[i]Excellency,

Austria would be happy to provide your regime with the armaments it requires to withstand the attacks that come at you. I am afraid that at the moment Austria would rather it's aid to your regime be kept secret until a time when we deem it acceptable to aid you in the open. You must provide a list of friendly ports that our nation can use in shipping guns and munitions. In addition, I have passed your message along to the Empress and she has approved the positioning of several small battalions of soldiers under the command of the Countess of Trent, Lady Valeria Tyrannia. Treat her as you would Her Imperial Majesty and Austria will do everything in her power to restore your version of order to the Commonwealth.

Hopefully this will lead to a long lasting friendship.

Sincerely,

Karolina Žigo
Viceroy of Austrian Morocco [/i]
[/quote]

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[quote]To: Karolina Žigo, Viceroy of Austrian Morocco
From: Director Frontino
Re: Re: Arms

Excellency,

The following ports are clear for transporting armaments and munitions:

Lome
Grand Popo

I would recommend mainly using the port at Lome, as Grand Popo is on the outer fringes of control at the moment. I shall be waiting for Lady Tyrannia.

Sincerely,

Director Frontino[/quote]

---
In the east, Sergeant Mazuret had been dodging fire from the armored vehicles left and right for the good part of fifteen minutes. Battalion claimed the 4th was on their way, but they were still in N'Dali, more than fifty miles away from the frontlines. As Mazuret popped back up to fire on some Loyalist infantry, he heard a gurgling sound next to him. When he went back down to change his magazine, he saw the man with the RPG-29 next to him fall. It was him making the gurgling sound. He had been hit in the neck and was lying on the floor, vain attempts to call out for his mother. Someone started shouting in French, a dialect Mazuret didn't understand. Another sergeant ordered them to shut up and keep shooting, and Mazuret quickly set his sights back on the Loyalist infantry in front of him. The RPG-29 either had missed the armor or didn't have any effect, as they continued to rain down fire on the bunker. Another burst from his M8G and one more Loyalist dead. A private next to him opened up with an MK43, forcing the Loyalists to take whatever cover they could find. He heard more shouting in French, then the clatter of an old Imperial AK-74. He turned to his left just in time to see Lt. Hervé get stabbed by a shemagh-wearing Loyalist with a bayonet on his AK-74. He drew the bayonet out and looked Mazuret in the eye, then screamed something in French and charged, bayonet high. Mazuret pulled the trigger - a click. He dropped the M8G and pulled his pistol out, and aimed. One shot entered the man's shemagh, killing him instantly. He took his M8G again and reloaded, knowing that the Loyalists will need to kill every last man to take Togo.

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[i]Lome, Commonwealth of Africa[/i]

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3yca48VZB8"]The Arrival of Lady Tyrannia[/url]

Having set out from Morocco the moment the letter to Frontino had been sent, the Austrian Transport Fleet slowly began to make its way down the African coast towards the port of Lome. Aboard the ships were countless mutations, small artillery pieces, along with medical supplies and rations to be distributed to the Director's forces upon arrival. However, the true gift were the ten thousand grenadiers led by the Countess of Trent. Valeria Tyrannia had come from an unfortunate display of foreign affairs in the United States of the Islands, though it seemed that the new regimes in England would make their survival nearly impossible and it was probably for the best that Austria excused herself from the Isles. Instead, Empress Theresia had briefed the Countess on Austria's major campaign throughout West Africa. The Commonwealth and the West African Republic were the friendlier nations, susceptible to help and Austrian aid and through them the consolidation of the continent could be secured.

As the ships began to dock, Tyrannia pulled white coat tight over her body and looked over at the city in front of her. One of the captains walked up to her and saluted. "Your Grace, we're ready to begin the landing operations. Director Frontino is in the city and has requested an audience with you."

"Have the landing commanders to deploy throughout the city, get our living conditions in order and prepare to march out. I don't want to waste time in Lome, the quicker this war ends, the faster the next phase of Her Majesty's plan can begin. Understood, Captain?"

"Yes, of course Your Grace, right away."

Watching the disembarkation of the Austrian Expeditionary Force, Tyrannia made her way down into Lome's harbor and from there she was asked to be escorted to meet with Director Frontino. She was eager to be briefed on the situation in the Commonwealth and she knew the Empress would be landing with General Alexander Mahler in the West African Republic to discuss Austria's prospects in the south. If everything worked, Africa would come together like a neatly arranged jigsaw puzzle.

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Lady Tyrannia would probably be met by an Overwatch Officer, bowing as he introduced himself. He indicated an armored car behind him as he said "Shall we move on to meet the Director?" The car itself was driven by two soldiers in full BDUs, pistols at their sides.

Upon arrival at Frontino's headquarters, Lady Tyrannia would be confronted with a mass of staff soldiers trying to relay information and make sense of said information. Almost as if showcasing himself, Frontino sat at a desk in the back, right in aisle between the rows of staff desks. Behind him [url="http://i.imgur.com/XhJvo.png"]a flag[/url] was hung up sideways. Frontino himself was dressed in the same garb as he had been in his video earlier in the week. He shooed away a staff sergeant before he noticed Lady Tyrannia. "My apologies, Countess." he stood, removing the shemagh. "I was not aware you would be arriving so soon." He cleared his throat as he peered down on the map. "Is there anything I can do for you, Countess?" In the corner, the radio began crackling, shouts in French and explosions.

---
The calls from the radio were transmissions from the second headquarters in Niamey. Garnier had attacked the central defensive lines in the border of Niger and Nigeria.

Garnier had attacked these lines with the 2nd Motorized and the 1st Mixed Armored, who both had not suffered losses due to desertions. With a full 20,000 soldiers and over 500 armored vehicles attacking, Frontino had to put everything he possibly could into the defense. This came down to the soldiers of both Ghost Division, the 1st Motorized and 1st Half-Fireteam. The 4th Armored was put on reserve, but half of their armor was pulled to augment the Ghost Division soldiers. Frontino also had an advantage in being able to control the air, something Garnier would never dare to contest. With Frontino being able to pull all crews of the 9K22s to the Loyalists, Garnier couldn't possibly try to contest the skies even if he held most, if not all, of the nation's air force. Nonetheless, Garnier still attempted to begin his attack with a bombing run, something Frontino had hoped for. The 9K22s locked onto the aircraft and fired off missiles, making sure none of the crews lived to bomb another Loyalist target. Garnier's artillery opened up next, the Sturmtigers blasting the bunkers just like the Legion and PRA had done before. Thanks to his own designing, however, Garnier couldn't hope to crumble the defenses unless he tried to strike it with artillery day and night, something he wasn't willing to do. Frontino's artillery began counter-battery fire, and the Ghost Division Pave Lows began to mobilize for anti-armor operations. Commanders in the field began to place the Leopard 2 MBTs onto hill crests and moved the BMP-2F APCs into position to set up a deadly ambush for advancing infantry. Officially, the BMP-2F had not seen combat before. The BMP-2F would get a literal trial by fire in this case.

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"It is for the stability of Africa and Austria's influence on the continent that I have come. In addition to the munitions that the Empress has given your regime, I have also arrived with thirty-thousand Imperial Grenadiers. I'm a woman that likes to get right down to what needs to be done, Director, so if you would let me know where my expeditionary force can begin to move so that we can end this war as soon as possible, I would be very appreciative. At the moment, my government will be meeting with the West African Government to try and keep this continent from exploding yet again. Her Majesty's government believes you regime can be trusted to agree with our policies, so I would hope you will to your part to remain in Austria's favor."

Tyrannia smiled. "But hopefully, after this is over, Director, your enemies will be states of the past."

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"Of course, of course. At the moment, I believe the Imperial Grenadiers would be best suited to join in with the attack on Benin." He pointed to a green line on a [url="http://i.imgur.com/7vO1S.png"]map[/url]. "From there, they should be able to advance along the coast to help back up the militia soldiers in Sarnunga. The Loyalist army will be operating in the north to eliminate any resistance outside of Sarnunga before we liberate it." He looked at the city of Sarnunga, a black blot on the coast. "I'm afraid the city of Sarnunga will be harder than any other battle. Entire districts are divided by Loyalist and Republican families, and firefights are a near-constant hazard. No matter which army is invading, they'll have to fight for every street."

---

In the north, the Republicans had abandoned their artillery assault and were now directly attacking the bunkers. Loyalist Leopard 2s began to fire upon the advancing T-80s and Sturmtigers as they attempted to get into a position to fire more effectively on the bunkers. From their bunkers, Loyalist infantry could fire upon the advancing Republicans with relative immunity, assuming none of the enemy managed to place a burst in the right spot. Casualties were high for the Republicans, as the 1st Mixed lost nearly twenty attacking Sturmtigers and one hundred T-80s. The infantry lost over six thousand men, and for the Loyalists only about twenty men were wounded, another twenty killed. Demoralized and suffering large casualties, it was decided to fall back to a better defensive position. Another three thousand were lost in the retreat with no armored losses.

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OOC: Just saying, I won't recognize Sarnunga as that large, unless all it consists of is one massive slum, because a city that size with anyone in CNRP's strength or numbers is impractical. I'll recognize it as a New York style city, or Shanghai or Mexico City, but not Couresant.

IC:

Tyrannia looked over the map and nodded, tracing her finger from Conotou in the west, across the coast to Sarnunga in the west. "The best possible move we can make here, Director, is to cut off your enemy's access to the sea. Without port access and other foreign nations closing their borders to you nation, we can essentially starve them out of supplies. Once the coast is taken, our march can commence northward and hopefully this war will be over quickly after it started. I would say, hold off any attack on the north, strictly playing defense while we commit as many troops as possible to the south and capture the coast."

Straightening her posture, Tyrannia bowed at the Director with a wicked smile. "I will march to Conotou this afternoon and assault the city on the morrow. Once we capture the port I'll send work back to Lome and we can proceed with the advance on Sarnunga." She said and clicked her heels with a salute, her white ponytail bobbing to the left and right. "Good day, Director."

Once the Countess had left her audience, the Austrian Grenadiers were called up from their rest in Lome and told to form regiments and that they would be heading out to assault the city of Conotou. The entire march would only take about one afternoon, but the Austrians had brought with them dozens of small artillery pieces to join with the Loyalist Armies already fighting outside the city. Tyrannia hoped that once these shock troops would join with the Africans, the Republicans could be beaten back at least to the point that Frontino's soldiers could manage on their own.

With the sun in the air, Austrian musicians brought out trumpets and drums as the Grenadier force began marching through the central streets of Lome with their banners waving high.

Positioned comfortably in her motorcar, Tyrannia sat on the side of the road watching as men and artillery moved through the streets and onto the jungle roads outside of port.

"Well Your Grace," said Colonel Schuhmacher as he sat in the passenger seat of the motorcar. "One can only hope that this will be a short engagement and we'll whip these Africans back into order. Though I have to say, I worry about marching down jungle roads. The potential for ambush is too high for my liking. We don't want to turn this into a land war that throws Austria out of the game as soon as we arrive."

"I've already told Captain Grantresh to place scouts on the outside of the line, at least three miles apart and on the coast. It's a shame that our navy isn't ready for deployment yet. We could blockade the damn Republicans and have Sarnunga secured by this time tomorrow."

"We could request the Admiralty to send the fleet."

"No, Her Majesty wants to keep this operation in the dark for as long as possible. Though hopefully Zigo will think about sending a bit more soldiers and supplies, I don't think thirty-thousand will be sufficient. Not for the entire war."

"Well, let's see how they hold up." Schuhmacher nodded to the driver and the motorcar rumbled as they took to the streets with the marching columns.

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[quote name='Sarah Tintagyl' timestamp='1316464514' post='2803918']
OOC: Just saying, I won't recognize Sarnunga as that large, unless all it consists of is one massive slum, because a city that size with anyone in CNRP's strength or numbers is impractical. I'll recognize it as a New York style city, or Shanghai or Mexico City, but not Couresant.
[/quote]
OOC: That's basically how it is: the centermost part is like New York, with the outer fringes the slums. Think Rio de Janiero.

IC: Acting on orders from Frontino, the northern Loyalist army did not attempt to press a counter-attack on the Republicans, instead allowing them to suffer a loss and demoralize them. Garnier did not attempt a second attack, but instead began to mobilize the four Oka class missiles. Their target would be the headquarters in Niamey.

In the south, the attack continued into the night. On the Loyalist side, machine gunners armed with old PKMs began to lay down suppressing fire, their tracer rounds illuminating the pathway for their comrades. The Republicans couldn't effectively return fire, since popping up would mean a Loyalist armed with a Dragunov with night-vision scope would eliminate that man. Pinned down and demoralized from news of a Loyalist victory in the north, talk began among the newer soldiers. They began to talk of surrender, retreat. Sergeants, Mazuret especially, would promptly tell that man to shut it. Reinforcements from the 4th were due to arrive in a few hours, at midnight.

Mazuret had decided, amid the gunfire and explosions, to take a nap of all things. He was awoken at midnight precisely by the sound of crumbling concrete. He grabbed his M8G and tried to assess the situation - sergeants, lieutenants and privates alike were shouting in French and English, calls for medics and mothers, prayers to God and desperate pleas for help. A well-placed artillery shell had knocked out a good part of the bunker, probably a part that hadn't been repaired since Operation Just Cause. The 1st Mixed was cut off from each other, and the 4th was walking into a death trap. With a breach in the bunker, the Loyalists began to pour in, distinguished only by a black band on their left arm with some phrase written on it in French. They were armed with old AK-74s, PKMs, G36Cs, even the odd M60 or two. They raced in and began to shoot at anything without an armband, which only made the 1st Mixed's situation worse. Mazuret tried to get a burst off with his M8G, but his rifle clicked again. Mazuret's M8G had misfired. A Loyalist smiled menacingly and raised his PKM. A burst, and Mazuret fell backwards, shot in the chest. As he looked up, too weak to do anything else, he watched this man rifle through his person, searching for a trophy of some kind. He then realized this same man was his former friend, who had deserted the Republicans to join with Frontino's Loyalists. He weakly muttered "How could you" before Mazuret drew his final breath and died.

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"The PRA looks to the unrest among its neighbor with concern and hopes that they may resolve their conflict in a more peaceful manner than what is currently taking place. The PRA offers assistance in terms of negotiation space in order to further this hope, should either party wish to try to attain such."

Edited by Axolotlia
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"Fire!"

Tyrannia stood on top of a cleared section of jungle hill looking over the port city of Conotou as Austrian artillery bombarded the Republican defenders within the port. Below her command post she watched as lines of Austrian Grenadiers began to make their way through the forested terrain and the coast. Together with the barrage the land assault was deemed to be enough to take the entire port city and then allow for further reinforcements to be brought in from Morocco. Zigo had denied her further reinforcements until there was clear evidence that Frontino would have a secured victory and that some Austrian influence had been seeded within the Commonwealth's government.

"If only the Viceroy could see what we're doing here, eh Colonel?"

Schuhmacher rubbed his small green eyes and stared out across the smokey waste that was billowing up into the sky. "The troops do look magnificent, don't they, Your Grace."

She looked ahead once again as the bombardment of the city continued, on the ground the Austrians advanced slowly under the cover of the barrage. Without armor support, the Grenadiers relied on heavy machine guns, anti-tank weapons, and rocket launches to push their charge across the sands, plains, and jungles around the city. It was impossible to tell without sending spies into the city what the Republican strength was, how well trained they were, and what supplies they had access to, thus the charge would continue until it was stalled or the port city fell to Imperial hands. Whatever the case, Tyrannia kept a keen observation on the hill. Imagining the capital so close, yet still in the distance.

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With the bunkers in Togo secured, the soldiers of the 1st Loyalist Mixed, 1st Mechanized and the 2nd Armored began to move to secure Togo completely. With the thirty thousand Austrians in the south, the decision was made to send fifty T-80s from the captured 3rd Armored. The rest of the 3rd Armored would be integrated into the 2nd, and the march would continue to annihilate the Republican 4th and 5th African Infantry. Resistance was surprisingly low until the 2nd AACR showed up, although without their anti-air vehicles. The two armored units were evenly matched, with the exception of the 2nd Armored having the more experienced veteran tank crewmen. News of the successful attack in the south reached Garnier's ears, and he prepped the missiles again, this time aiming two of them at the ongoing battle outside Parakou. Frontino's forces had in two days nearly closed the gap between the north and south fronts, allowing the greater co-ordination of arms, maneuvers and supplies to the two areas.

In Conotou, Republican forces held fast to their positions, trying to rearrange their defenses as falling artillery shells raised hell in the city, scattering soldiers and civilians alike. The 3rd Half-Fireteam attempted to counter-attack through the artillery, a charge straight into Austrian hands. The depleted soldiers from the 4th Motorized and 13th Infantry stayed back, providing MMG support and the occasional sniper fire. Both divisions had only about five thousand men still in the city - the rest were either in Sarnunga or had deserted. The 3rd Half-Fireteam began to pop smoke to cover their advance, while soldiers in Conotou itself set up 120mm mortars to begin a counter-bombardment.

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"Signal the ground commander to pull back their forces a few meters beyond the city, Colonel." Tyrannia watched as the Republican forces, a smaller force than the Grenadiers who opposed them ran out in hasty charge to drive the Austrians back. It wouldn't work however, for as Tyrannia's forces pulled back and the enemy attack surged ahead they would find themselves nearly surrounded by a centered barrage, zoning in on their location and leaving the city for a small window of time, to escape bombing. The sandy ground where the Republicans stood was soon an inferno and a patchwork of ashy holes that covered the landscape. This barrage went on for some twenty minutes, while sporadic fire shot down enemy soldiers who broke through to safety.

After the barrage, the order was given for a frontal assault by the Grenadiers on the forward positions of the Republican Army. It was easy to tell at this point that the defenses of Conotou were breaking down and once the charge was forced back, the Austrian army began to slow work of encircling the port city while Tyrannia drafted a small notice demanding the surrender of the port town. The message was laconic and fit the Countess' personality to a fine point.

[code]
Surrender or die.
[/code]

At the answer to this letter, the barrage would either continue and the Austrian forces begin to slowly more towards Conotou's center. Or the port would be taken and correspondence sent back to both Lome and Rabat, asking for orders and reinforcements.

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Upon receiving the notice, the commander in charge of the defense of Conotou ordered a surrender. The defenders laid their arms down and held their hands up, awaiting an inevitable transfer to a Loyalist POW camp. Once word was sent back to Frontino's HQ, the following message was sent to Lady Tyrannia.

[quote]Continue advance to Sarnunga, pause outside city. Reinforcements in the form of fifty T-80 main battle tanks will be at your position in six hours approximately. 9th Infantry and 150 BMP-2F APCs will assist in one day's time.[/quote]

In the north, the Loyalist forces began to push the attackers backwards. Soon, the 2nd Armored Cavalry was retreating to the Kainji Lake Marine Reserve, with the infantry completely destroyed. With the Republicans pushed out of Togo completely, Frontino called his forces to form a defensive line as the assault on Sarnunga began to set itself up.

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True to word, the 9th Infantry and BMP-2Fs arrived in time. The 9th and BMP-2Fs began to set up outside the city, and the APC crews made a spectacle of the flamethrowers attached in place of the standard gun. 120mm mortars were placed to begin firing upon the city, while the infantry dug small trenches to protect themselves from a counter-barrage.

In the north, the counter-attack began again. With renewed vigor and an appetite for Republican blood, the replenished men of the 1st Loyalist Mixed, 1st Mechanized, 2nd Armored and every Ghost Division soldier began to move out, their hearts set on destroying any Republican soldier that stood in their path. The Ghost Division soldiers pushed north, towards Kano. The 1st Loyalist Mixed and 1st Mechanized pushed along the centermost part of the nation, eventually capturing two of the four Oka class missiles from Garnier. With the technicians too afraid of prison camp, they offered to help the Loyalists in exchange for leniency. With the operators on hand, the missile caps were replaced with a slight amount of sarin - enough to kill, but not enough to blanket the entire area. These missiles were in turn reaimed toward the Republican stronghold in Sarnunga and Kano. If the area could not be captured fast, the missiles would be used.

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"REPORT!" Garnier bellowed as he burst into the command center again.

Colonel Fortin saluted before speaking. "Sir, the Loyalists have begun advancing toward Kano and are outside the slums of Sarnunga as we speak. I believe they will surround the city in seven days."

"What of the Austrians?"

"They too are outside the slums of Sarnunga."

"Prepare two of the Oka class missiles to launch at the Austrians and the Loyalists. Relocate the other two to Sarnunga as soon as possible."

The colonel and his staff nervously glanced at each other. Garnier noticed this.

"President...The Loyalists...captured two of the Oka class missiles. The convoy guarding them was intercepted by a Loyalist armored unit."

Garnier bowed his head and placed a hand on his brow. "Order a general withdrawal to Kano and Sarnunga, whichever is closest. The Loyalists will have hell to pay if they try to take this city."

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