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The Aeon of Strife: Prologue

Executive Minister

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I've been writing snippets of a greater story arc through a number of threads i've participated in - not through some sort convoluted scheme or purpose, but out of habit. With them came a number of characters i've created and killed, storylines that have been started just as fast as they were ended, and some that still hang in the balance. I've introduced new technologies, given a bit of insight into the inner workings of both the Aeon and Nod, and have dropped hints (that may or may not be as effective as i would have hoped) as to what is really going on inside the mess of a story line i've created with them.

I am not totally sure where the "Aeon of Strife" (going to refer to it as AoS from now on to make it sound less cheesy than it does in my head when I read it) is headed, and I don't think I've written a true start-to-finish arc worthy of everyone's time should they choose to read it. My last project, "Shattered Dreams" ended mid-way out of a lack of interest and changing RP priorities, and I'd hate to see the same fate befall AoS. This WILL be challenging. There WILL be technobabble (sorry Generalissimo, I really do love you), there WILL be exotic war machines, and there WILL be large scale battles, dragged down by the stories of individuals trading shots with the enemy or lamenting their loss of innocence or some other cliche war-fi tropes.

The AoS will be as gritty and cold as I can make it with regards to the tech and fighting, but I've definitely intermixed some fantastic spiritual elements in order to bring balance to the story and magic away any inconsistencies or impossibilities even, yes that's right, even TECHNOBABBLE can't solve.

You may notice that the first half-dozen or so posts are essentially unchanged from where i've gathered them. I'm putting them here to keep track of all the chaos amidst the clashing and intermixed storylines, while also showing their context within the AoS, separating them from the clutter i've originally inserted them in. Trry as I might, I probably have not gathered enough of the back story in order to make this arc accessible to everyone, heck i'm not sure its even accessible to me. I might try making a character list later on, but that's for later.

As always, [url="http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?showtopic=107785"]OOC in the AoS OOC thread[/url] - I think its still there somewhere. I know I said I'd let others in on the AoS, and it is my full intent to allow this to happen. I promised I'd rp out which ever side wins after the AoS, and I'm going to stay true to my word. But it will happen eventually. For now, I have the prologue.


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[u][b][url="http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?showtopic=94077&view=findpost&p=2507492"]Atlantic Ocean, 100 km West of the GUIK Gap, SSN-07 'The End'[/url]

It was the Petty Officer 2nd Class, assigned to the Enemy Search and Detection console within the Combat Information Center of the [i]'End'[/i] (essentially a cluster of consoles in a corner of the communal Bridge of the submarine) who first detected the tell-tale signs of the fleeing Irish vessels. The young woman had been listening intently to her hydrophone array and watching the passive sonar detector when a distinct hammering sound was heard. Immediately recognizing it for what it was - the active navigation sonar of a submersed vessel - she immediately placed a warning indicator on her OLED Overhead, immediately sending news to the Lieutenant-Junior Grade's [b](LTJG)[/b], own console several meters fore on the starboard side.

With a soundless indication of the sent information, the Officer swiveled in her chair to look at the [b]LTJG[/b], or 'Jay-Gee', apprehensively. The woman was her elder, yet not a day older than 25. Sporting the customary Officer's garb both the Enlisted and Non-enlisted personnel within the Naval Militant Command [b](NMC)[/b] wore - a white tunic embellished with black and rank insignias, as well as a matching skirt - she met her gaze and gave the girl a knowing look before fulfilling her duty as the Executive Officer of the [i]'End'[/i] and notifying the skipper of the news.

[i]"Three objects on an approach vector towards our position, captain... shall I inform the rest of the fleet?"[/i]

Lieutenant Commander L'Héraut [b](Lt. CDR)[/b] sighed from her elevated position above the Jay-Gee. The air was tense aboard the vessel, the faint scent of oil being repeatedly filtered throughout the boat's air system permeating throughout. All the women stationed within Gamma Group had known what they were getting themselves into - a hostile environment monitoring mission - yet they did not expect to be detected so soon, and in spite of their tedious preparations and routines.

"Inform Rear Admiral [b](RDML)[/b] Cauthorne at once," L'Héraut ordered.

",,,and Holtmeier..." she said looking down only to see the Jay-Gee's shock of black [url="http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PowerHair"]power hair[/url] turn itself up towards her, "...get this vessel to General Quarters."

Holtmeier nodded from her position below L'Héraut, as she placed a black, white-peaked [url="http://media.animevice.com/uploads/0/7595/177594-54_large.jpg"]cap[/url] on her head, and its accompanying ear piece, [i]"Aye-aye, Ma'am."[/i]

As if with the flip of a switch, the entire vessel was launched into action. The normal vanity lights that illuminated the confines of the [i]'End'[/i] were immediately shut down, instead replaced with red hazard lighting. Petty Officers and Crewmen ([sub]rank, not gender[/sub]) of both classes quickly filled vacated consoles. Indicators soon showed the Low Frequency Towed Array being silently deployed, yet not activated.

[i]"Commander,"[/i] Holtmeier began. [i]"We have an audio-visual from the Admiral on the closed Battle-net."[/i]

L'Héraut nodded, looking up from the LTJG to the image of Admiral Cauthorne, a woman who L'Héraut had often surmised would be the spitting image of a much elder Holtmeier. Both women were career military, both held a strict, by the book approach to operating a vessel, and both took care to remind L'Héraut that the 'team-mom' role she had adopted with regards to the other, often younger women on board was unprofessional.

<<Catherine... this is grave news indeed... yet, as always, we must press onwards - given the nature of our mission, we cannot afford to be engaged like this in International Waters.... the ramifications of a hostile encounter with ANY of the British combatants in this war are ones our nation cannot afford to face>>

L'Héraut kept a stern face, despite the personal address of the Admiral. The Nodic Navy, being the almost 100% female combat entity that it was, held a great sense of Sisterhood, with undertones of almost maternal respect permeating its upper ranks. L'Héraut and Cauthorne's relationship was no different.

"Do you suggest we allow the vessels to pass our immediate location on the hopes that they do not detect us?"

L'Héraut saw the Admiral sigh, shaking her head. Taking advantage of the momentary lapse of attention from the Admiral, she shot a glance down to her Second in Command. Holtmeier's arms were clasped lightly upon her lap, her knees leaning against an armrest. She said nothing as she watched the two elder Officers deliberate on the course of action, already with a firm battle plan set in her mind.

<<... and of course your boat is at General Quarters, no? Very well,>> she said, adjusting the communications so that it appeared throughout Group Gamma.

<<This is Vice Admiral Cauthorne. All vessels under my Command are to immediately break formation and prepare to intercept... [i]'Atramentous'[/i], do not move. Maintain your current holding position.>>

Holtmeier immediately sprung to action below the transmission, [i]"Valkyrie One and Valkyrie Two, launch now"[/i], she said, referring to the '[i]End's[/i]' compliment of Autonomous Torpedo Defense and Demolition Drones. The ROVs would keep a relatively loose formation with their host vessel, providing anti-Torpedo point defense via mine and decoy laying as well as a rudimentary offensive capability with their anti-submarine rockets.
"Prepare to engage Active Sonar Array, commence provisions for torpedo tubes one through four."[/i]

"Lieutenant," L'Héraut started, "I do not want weapons to be free as of yet."
"Of course, Mistress..." [/i]Holtmeier said ominously, before ordering [i]"Hard to port! Pull left 35, get us out of here!"[/i]

The Nuclear Attack Submarines immediately branched off under orders from Admiral Cauthorne, only to converge around the three Irish vessels at relatively close range. After coming into position, the trio would blast their Active Sonar Arrays at full power, leaving no question to the Irish that they were surrounded by overloading their passive auditory sensors with the banging. Immediately following that, the crews of the vessels would be treated to the sounds of eighteen torpedo tubes filling with water, the universal sound no crew wishes to hear in their hydrophone arrays.

Yet the Nodic vessels would not fire. Instead, the Commanding Officer of the lead vessel under the Irish would receive a signal from his or her Underwater telephone, or UQC.

[u][b]Ernakulam, Kerala, Kingdom of Cochin, Bolghatty Palace[/b][/u][/url]

Nyani Oshibutu, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Nation of Nod, sat pleasantly alongside her silent companion. The Bolghatty Palace, a quaint building set amidst well set lawns and leafy trees sat smack in the middle of the bustling Kochi Harbor. Both Sri Lankan and Nodic dignitaries alike landed at the Naval Air Station Kochi on Wellington Island and were whisked away on the waters towards the Palace in a Coast Guard launch. The atmosphere at the palace was extremely relaxed - the VIPs were set in luxurious suites, so as to ensure that they were relaxed and freshened up.

Nyani remembered Jessica's aversion to the opulent little room given to the pair of women. "Mattresses with actual springs in them, Gold garnished tables and a [i]mirror [/i]of all things?" Jessica had said incredulously.

Jessica was of the Nodic Militancy, back in the homeland, a militant had none of what was thrown so carelessly at them - except in the Ministers' homes and the Order of Medicine's Chapel complexes. Nyani had to chide Jessica - not every state was as martial or spartan as Nod was, this was an eventuality of the opulence weaker-minded populaces not enlightened by the Executive Minister's vision. The pair sat, awaiting King Varma for a casual meeting over tea.

"Perhaps, if we are successful in our endeavors, that will soon come to an end," Nyani quipped to herself as the King of Cochin arrived. Dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt, Nyani relied on her training to hide any distaste or disapproval while Jessica merely sulked.

"Thank you President Rajapaksa, Ms. Leclerc and Ms. Oshibutu for accepting our invitation. The recent agreement regarding the Air to Air missiles finalized by our armed forces have brought out a very salient point - that we are nations with some very core shared ideals and interests. For one we are all stakeholders in a peaceful and strong Indian Ocean region. We are more or less of similar geopolitical ideologies. The question is if we have so much things in common, why dont our nations work together for achieving our common goals?"

It appeared that Nyani's wheeling and dealing on the international playing field with normally forbidden Nodic technology was coming to fruition, despite the ire she received from those within the higher echelons of the Nodic Militancy, and the Military Industrial Complex that was MILAC, NMI and NDII. She remembered the fevered closed door meetings, the calm reassurances she gave in response to vehement protests against divulging 'state secrets' to outsiders.

[i]Is the Nodic Militancy really so enthralled by its pride and inhibitions?[/i] She would question herself on her superiors and equals within the Ministry.

Nyani sat, in all her rigidity, despite the... liberties King Varma took in making the setting as quaint and relaxed as possible. Such provisions were oft measures designed at disarming an intransigent opponent, seducing him or her to your own side. Nyani was not unfamiliar with such methods, her past life saw much of that. Looking to her side, she saw Jessica, her Lead Handmaiden sitting with head bowed in an almost prelatic posture. As her hooded tunic was draped carefully over her head, she remained an enigma to Nyani - she did not know her mind.

"Indeed, my nation recognizes the sympathy your Kingdom has given our people during our times of duress, seemingly disregarding the insalubrious political landscape such sympathies would bring upon you, Highness," she said, addressing the King of Cochin, "You have taken great risks at voicing concerns over African Aggression against the Nodic state, and for that I... We are eternally grateful."

Nyani leaned back in her seat with a smile, turning to the Sri Lankans.

"Mr. President, while we have not had personal relations in the past, I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank You, and the Sri Lankan people for so generously accepting the call of the Germans fleeing Nordern aggression. We understand the great undertaking it is to house such a large exodus of foreigners unto your own soil, treating them as you own not withstanding. Nod found itself in a similar vein when both the Repubblica Italiana and Italican Africa were destroyed in senseless 'anti-colonial' and 'anti-fascist' military actions against their states. Such a task of integrating such a large volume of Italians into our Brotherhood was difficult, both for our sakes, and theirs. To see another nation acting so selflessly like yours, and doing so successfully, is truely a heartwarming sight."

The deliberations continued, with no end in sight.

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[b][url="http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?showtopic=94077&view=findpost&p=2507492"]Atlantic Ocean, 100 km West of the GUIK Gap, SSN-07 'The End'[/url]

[/b]"Admiral O'Donnel of the Irish submarine H.M.S. Strongbowe. With who am I communicating with?"

It was well known the Brits had a stiff upper lip and a penchant for understatement. O'Donnel was not merely communicating with someone, he was on the brink of meeting his death in an instant. Already, Lt. CDR L'Héraut could sense the tension reaching its boiling point, with Holtmeier ignoring her superior's attempts at diplomacy, instead focusing on prepping the submarine for battle as ordered.

If the eyes on board the 'End' did not belong to either LTJG Holtmeier or Lt. CDR L'Héraut, then they were glued to console readings or Overhead OLED displays. All crews aboard the vessels comprising Hunter Killer Group Gamma worked with a frenzied fervor that was only amplified by the harsh audio disciplinary actions implemented. Only the most urgent messages were allowed to be spoken, in addition from Commands given by both L'Héraut and her Second, Holtmeier.

"Distance: 500," a young voice declared, "...Orange, mark two... three Alpha."

Holtmeier grunted in her seat at the foot of L'Héraut's raised command chair, [i]"Standby for Anti-ship combat! Ten to Starboard! Lower bow to pitch angle fifteen!"

[/i]L'Héraut smirked, [i]I wonder what's got that girl constantly chomping at the bit?[/i] she wondered. Receiving confirmation from the Crewman, 2nd Class stationed at the Communications Operations Console, she picked up a plain telephonesque device on her arm rest and began transmitting over an Encrypted Communications link mirroring the International Search and Rescue channel. The Irish would be sent the appropriate Encryption keys prior to the actual coded message, but the actual transmission would be broadcast on an unmistakably known frequency to eliminate any chance that the vital information would not be received securely, and properly.

[b]<<This is the captain* of the [i]'End'[/i] speaking... Lieutenant Commander Catherine L'Héraut of the Nodic Militant Naval Command.>>[/b]*[sub](ooc: not rank, the nautical term)[/sub]

A few eyes peeked up at the Lt. CDR, only to be quickly averted as LTJG Holtmeier continued on with combat preparatory orders. The crew was forced to work at a feverish pace, ensuring that the quickly declared queue of orders was properly relayed to the rest of the Submarine. Glancing at the Nodic Battle.net, one could see the other attack submarines undergoing similar conditions.

[i]"Activate Active Countermeasures! Target the first two enemy warships with the Hauteclere[font="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif"][size="3"][size="2"]s! I want torpedo tubes seven through ten loaded! Set the [/size][/size][/font]Naeglings' guidance systems to control pattern B! Target: Orange Alpha, seventeen through forty-two! Set firing angles at five points apart! Meanwhile!...Change course to Indigo, mark twenty Charlie! Maximum reactor output! Get ready to fire on my command!" [/i]

Smiling at the long string of orders, which the 'Jay Gee' gave with a single breath, L'Héraut continued.

[b]<<Admiral, do you read me?...... Our orders are clear. We are to operate in these international waters, unimpeded by vessels of ANY nation... If you continue to pursue your present approach vector, I am going to have to assume this to be a hostile act. Headquarters has tasked us with the destruction of any and all foreign vessels that enroach upon our immediate battle space. >>[/b]

She paused, so as to ensure the message's weight sank into the crew of the Irish vessels. Looking down, L'Héraut saw Holtmeier give an ominous and silent thumb's up. The moment had arrived, the actors assembled, and the final act about to play out.

[b]<<However... if your ship and its escorts now cease all combat operations and surrender, we will likewise halt the attack that is already underway. This IS your only warning. I personally guarantee the safety of your crews... I trust you will make the wise decision and will await a transmission of your current intentions... L'Héraut out. >>

[/b]The reply came quickly, baffling the Nodic crew-women.[b]

[/b]"Lieutenant Commander, this is Admiral O'Donnel - it is actually a coincidence meeting you here today as the H.M.S. Strongbowe was on her way to present a deal to your government, one that is mutually beneficial. I'm afraid I can not allow you to escort my wolfpack as they are do back in Ireland now that the war has ended. I will, however, allow you to escort my ship, the H.M.S. Strongbowe to your country without causing problems. As a sign of good faith, my ship will surface and I will transfer aboard one of your subs for the duration of the journey. Over and out."

[i]"Is he serious?"[/i] a baffled Holtmeier called upwards towards L'Héraut, [i]"is he really that eager to meet his maker?!"

[/i]L'Héraut was just as puzzled as Holtmeier was. Nod had no previous dealings with Ireland, or Europe for that matter, besides the occasional snide remark. To hear O'Donnel insinuate that Group Gamma's inadvertent interception of the Strongbowe was little more than an unannounced arrival did little to recompense the crew of the End that a naval battle was about to take place. While the Irishman offered to surface and be taken into custody (board) by Nodic Vessels, the nonchalant nature of his refusal for the other vessels under his command to cease operations was most unsettling.

"Lieutentant Holtmeier, please!" L'Héraut turned to the young communications Crewman, 2nd Class, "Please raise Admiral Cauthorne on a secure connection."

L'Héraut heard a quiet, 'Aye! Aye! Ma'am' before the visage of a concerned Cauthorne was displayed on her overhead OLED display.

"Admiral, this is the projected course of the Irish vessels," L'Héraut talked over a transmitted 3-d Battlespace projection of the current units involved in the crisis.

[b]<<It is unfortunate that the Irishman has declined your most generous- and dare I say dangerous - offer of clemency, you have permission to engage... >>[/b]

"Admiral," L'Héraut objected, "do you think it would not be prudent to assess their 'mutually beneficial' offer and ensure that we are not slaughtering innocent men?"[b]

<<Do you believe him?>>[/b]

"I do believe that this incident did not occur during a time of open war between our respective nations... Even WE believe that one must not make enemies of potential frien-"

[i]"Commander L'Héraut!"[/i] Holtmeier cried out in an exasperated, almost disappointed tone. Ignoring this, the two senior Officers continued.

"-friends... I would humbly recommend that we take up the Irish's offer and accept their Admiral onboard, where we can converse. We need to stall for time, assess the situation more carefully."
<<*sigh* Yes... very well then, proceed. Ascend to the surface alongside the Strongbowe and signal for your vessels to drift alongside... the rest of Group Gamma will take holding pattern Omega around the rest of the Irish fleet. Until we determine their true intentions, we will not allow their departure.>>[/b]

Edited by Executive Minister
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[b][url="http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?showtopic=94077&view=findpost&p=2507492"]Atlantic Ocean, 100 km West of the GUIK Gap, SSN-07 'The End'[/url]


The H.M.S. Strongbowe surfaced and proceeded to transfer Admiral O'Donnel to the Nodic ship.

[i]"Raise bow 45 degrees, 25 to starboard! Ascend to the surface alongside the Strongbowe!"[/i] ordered LTJG Holtmeier. As the Nodic vessel broke through the waves, she turned to look up at the Lt. CDR. L'Héraut, noticing Holtmeier's glare, responded with a question,

"Are we in contact with the Strongbowe?" her voice was Authoritarian, with a hint of warning, which elicited a quiet grunt from her subordinate.

[i]"Yes ma'am, as we speak, a smaller craft is debarking from the Irish vessel, presumably with the Irish Admiral onboard. Shall I send some armed personnel to esco-"[/i]

"Why are you so vehemently set against the Irish?" L'Héraut asked, with that same warning tone, interrupting the young LTJG.
"Ma'am, it is my duty as the acti-"[/i] she answered, only to be halted again.

"[i]Infact[/i], so against them that you see it prudent to question my every command...?" L'Héraut finished, letting her words linger in the air. She looked about the bridge of the [i]End[/i] as a roosting bird of prey would look at her brood. None of the women at the various consoles seemed to be paying their Officers' exchange any heed. Yet she could tell, with a smirk, that all were listening, rapt at attention while they busied themselves with their tasks.

Her musings interrupted by a loud sigh from the LTJG below her, L'Héraut looked down to see Holtmeier straight-backed, at attention, facing away from her superior.
"Commander L'Héraut," [/i]began Holtmeier, with all pomp and circumstance,[i] "you are in command of SSN- 07, the End, one of the most advanced and classified vessels under the command of the NMC. Few know of our vessel's capabilities and all Hunter-killer strike group locations are part of highly restricted information, as declared by our Executive Ministry. These Irish vessels deliberately, whether with good or ill intentions, intercepted our vessels against the strict directives of the NMC, which were to destroy all pursuers on the open seas without hesitation, lest our existence become known. These vessels, despite your rather compassionate command decision - have continued to disobey our orders and have belligerently left our battlespace. You are now allowing the direct transfer of foreign personnel onboard due to a simple request that should not have been allowed to be made in the first place. With all due respect, Commander, do you seriously think you should have given such permission to a foreign militant under these circumstances?"[/i]

L'Héraut raised an eyebrow, [i]The girl certainly has her gumption...[/i]

[i]"It is in my view that your actions are putting at risk all of the Executive Ministry's efforts to date,"[/i] she finished promptly.

Not skipping a beat, L'Héraut responded.

"I understand your concerns, Lieutenant Holtmeier," L'Héraut answered with a slight pause.

"But... in this situation I cannot just stand by and do nothing. I approved of this special case on my Authority."
"Are you 'sure', Commander?"[/i] was all Holtmeier responded with.

"As I have said before, the Irish and Nodic fleets were not, and are not currently at war. This is not a combat situation, Lieutenant. For our Nation's continued existence I believe the more friends we have behind us, the better."

Content with hearing no reply from her Second-in-Command, L'Héraut looked away from the back of Holtmeier's head to relay orders to her crew.
<<All hands, this is the captain. All personnel are to prepare for VIP boarding routines. I repeat, VIP boarding routines. I trust all of you will comply.>>[/b]

"Lieutenant Holtmeier, " L'Héraut once again turned focus to her subordinate. "This is all for the best... and you know how skilled the Irish are at repelling aggressors... a full on attack on the Irish squadron would prove most tragic for both parties involved, despite your expertise. I trust you understand?"

[i]"Yes, ma'am..."[/i] was all Holtmeier could bring herself to say.

OOC: Yes, I am RPing Yawoo's character. Again, simply a modified copy pasta.

Atlantic Ocean, Somewhere West of the GUIK Gap, Unknown Nodic vessel[/b][/u]

Leon O'Donnel was a career Navy man, raised in a strict Irish-Catholic family near Irish Naval HQ in Belfast. He had a family history of Naval participation - his father rose to the rank of Captain of the IN Destroyer Spitz, thought retired before he could sit for his Admiral's review board. Never married, O'Donnel considered the men and women serving below him as his immediate family. When news came they had been intercepted by this African vessels - he knew he had to act quickly in order to protect the ones he cared about the most.

He took a gamble, trading a decorated Irish Admiral for an entire Irish wolf-pack. He hoped his poker face and boyish charms would be enough to counter the Nodic Commander. With little more than his ceremonial sword, a pistol and his rucksack, Leon relied on his familiarity with the sea to stay his nerves.

"Skipper... are you sure about this?" a young Petty Officer tentatively spoke as he clutched the controls of the dinghy. In the distance, the pair could see the sleek outline of the 'End' grow larger as the small boat sped towards it.

"Son, if Naval Ops is correct, that hulk of titanium is filled to the brim with nothing but women... if there's one thing I know about women, its that I don't know one thing about women," the Admiral quipped.

As if to stop the Petty Officer's astonishment dead in its tracks, the two were greeted by the forms of row upon row of Nodic Officers. All of the women stood at attention on deck, their white and black tunic/skirt combinations standing crisp against the light salty air, golden insignias gleaming in the gentle sun. Slowing the dinghy to a crawl, the PO remarked, "Hell... I think I should have volunteered for this job."

"Don't be silly kid," O'Donnel answered, as who he believed was L'Héraut, flanked by some other Officer stepped forward to recieve the Admiral, "You're just a PO, women are interested in power."

"Good luck out there Skipper," the PO said without another word as he turned the craft back towards the Champagne. O'Donnel followed the dinghy until it became a speck in the distance, fighting the thoughts that maybe he'd need it.

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[u][b]Atlantic Ocean, Somewhere West of the GUIK Gap, Unknown Nodic vessel[/b]

The first thing that hit O'Donnel was that for once every few months or so, the Nodic navy must probably be the most feared fighting force in all the Seven Seas.

A submarine comprised of an entirely female crew? It would seem Belfast was right about Nod's unique Navy... I will have to remember to brief them in full length about this... unique system. I wonder what their Air Force is like? God, will the Kingdom have to work with an entirely female crew of nuclear scientists? One week per month we will have to ship in new personnel after the current personnel are slaughtered for not breathing quietly enough during work hours. Wait, what is she saying? Crap, listen O'Donnel![/i]

Admiral O'Donnel stood, trying his best to exert as much testosterone as he humanly could. He approached a rather elegant looking woman with shoulder length hair, whom he properly guessed as the Lt. CDR. Drawing his sword, he saluted the commanding officer before introducing himself. "Madame, I am Admiral Leon O'Donnel of the Irish Naval Command, recently assigned to supervise the H.M.S. Strongbowe and her wolfpack. I offer my sword for the duration of this journey, as befitting my current situation." As he said this, O'Donnel would held out both hands, his sword resting in his palms.

[b]"At long last, Admiral. My name is Catherine L'Héraut, Lieutenant Commander and captain of the SSN-07, the End. Alongside me is Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Natalie Holtmeier, my Second-in-Command. I hereby accept your weapon, and formally declare the Strongbowe and its crew to be granted the utmost security and protection during our trek to Africa."[/b]

"Thank you, Lieutenant Commander. I appreciate your assurances of protection for the Strongbowe and her crew. Will you be needing my side arm as well?" Admiral O'Donnel motioned towards his pistol. "For full disclosure, the sidearm is currently loaded, wouldn't want you thinking I was trying to pull a fast on or anything." O'Donnel smiled. "What a beauty of a ship you have. I rather like your boat's lines. It seems... ready for action, I guess."
"Thank you, Admiral,"[/b] she began, seeming to carefully select her words as she stared at the firearm, [b]"While I appreciate the gesture, I assure you that my crew and other members of this pack do not view you with hostility... this is not a combat situation, Admiral. You are to be treated as our guest for the duration of this [i]meeting[/i]." [/b]

[i]Hmm, the Lieutenant Commander and her J.G. are quite the lookers. I wonder if it would be treason to sleep with another nation's military personnel? Crap, I should know this question after that incident in Monaco. Really, who could blame me.... it was identical triplets! Stupid bureaucracy... Wait, she's talking again, pay attention![/i]

"Admiral, please, make yourself at home for the duration of our stay. If you wish to convene to me, finally, the nature of your encounter with us, please do not hesitate to ask. If you wish Lieutenant Holtmeier and myself would be humbled to meet with you in our Officer's mess." [/b]

"I would be happy to share my mission with you, though, once again I must admit that encountering your nation's vessels was quite the accident. A rather ingenious technique, replicating the whale's sounds in order to blend in with the pack. Belfast will be rather surprised at that. If you wouldn't mind showing me the way to your Officer's mess, I'll follow you and we can discuss business." Standing up, O'Donnel slung his sea bag over his shoulder and waited for the Lieutenant Commander. "Er, if on the way you could point me to the head I'd be appreciative."

[i]Alright O'Donnel, keep your mind on business, and not on the lady's assets. This is going to be a long trek back to Africa... I've been at sea way too long to be on a submarine full of women. Must. Not. Sleep. With. The. Foreigners. .... Yes, I'll just keep chanting that in my head. Thank god I haven't ever been tortured by naked, busty, foreign female tortures... I'd crack in an instant. Wait, no, what am I thinking. Crap, this really is going to be a long trek back to Africa. The King better give me a raise at the end of this, or promote me and give me a raise... Dammit. Must. Not. Sleep. With. The. Foreigners. I should have gone into accounting.

[/i]As if noticing O'Donnel's rather... distracted demeanor, L'Héraut cocked her head to the side in concern.

[b]"I am sorry," [/b]she began, [b]"but are you ill? Perhaps it would be wise if you simply rested for a moment. Our group is currently in a holding pattern several hundred kilometers from the GIUK gap... we can use that time to ready ourselves for the trip back to Port Tadjoura... we are to be debriefed by the MNC once this encounter is over and you are returned to the Strongbowe."[/b]

Glancing at a stone silent Holtmeier, whose eyes were hidden beneath the brim of her Officer's cap, she continued, [b]"I AM sure that Lieutenant Holtmeier would be glad to escort you to a warm cot. We can check up on you later, if you'd like... I imagine the stress of being set upon by a number of unknown assailants would be quite difficult for one to bear, and we would understand if you would like to take a moment to rest." [/b]

Brushing off their concerns, O'Donnel began talking, "It's nothing madame, simply a bit of lightheadedness due to not having much breakfast this morning. A lack of protein in the morning always does this to me, nothing something from the Officer's mess can't solve."

Pulling a manila folder with a small red dot on it from within the confines of his Admiral's coat, O'Donnel's eyes hardened a little before he began to speak, "Ladies, this is what my government refers to as Twinkle-Twinkle: the complete documentation regarding my government's offer to your government. If you would be so kind as to lock the doors once we reach the mess, I will begin outlying what is in this folder. Naturally, what this contains is for top level personnel only."

"I concur. I know very well that I simply cannot go without my protein in the morning. I can also assure you, Admiral, that the MNC has the finest kitchen personnel serving on the Seven Seas. We shall proceed to the Officer's mess at once. To discuss these important matters at once." [/b]

O'Donnel tried his best to keep a straight face as L'Héraut inadvertently stumbled into a perfect 'that's what she said moment'. At the mention of having the finest kitchen personnel on the Seven Seas being uttered by a captain of a vessel comprised entirely of women, Leon knew she had to be playing with him.

[i]Hooo boy... you've got the head honcho scrambling for your man meat. Hold it together long enough and maybe you'll finally see some action - [i]Dammit. Must. Not. Sleep. With. The. Foreigners... Oh crap, it isn't working! [/i][/i]

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