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High Ideals

Markus Wilding

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After returning from the Congress of Riga, Karoline Dressler and Markus Wilding met almost as soon as her plane touched down in Vienna. The discussions had lasted nearly a month, and it was definitely warmer than usual in Vienna the day she returned. Whether this meant the new Congress had improved or divided Europe was still soon to be seen. Karoline soon regretted keeping her hair long, with Vienna's heat it clung to her face like a toddler. Edmund Tresler went his own way once the convoy delivered the two to the Schönbrunn Palace, while Karoline headed into Wilding's office as per his request. She cautiously opened the large oak door to his office, half-expecting him to be arguing with a military commander. Wilding intervening in the workings of the military weren't uncommon - after the Great Collapse, he and several other soldiers of the former Austrian Army had been caught in an ambush by a marauding anarchist militia, of which Wilding was one of the only two survivors. He never spoke of who the other man was or what happened to him, and so nobody ever asked.


"Director Wilding?" Karoline asked as she entered. She saw now that he was not on the phone arguing, but instead writing. If it was personal or government-related, she couldn't tell. He looked up as she entered, saying "Come in, come in. Take a seat. How was Riga?"


"Beautiful as usual. I believe this Congress will be the basis of many a good thing to come."


"I see. So, tell me, what do you think of the French?"


Karoline froze. She wasn't expecting this. "The French? As far as their overseas empire is concerned, I believe it should be curtailed. Mainland France I do not believe we should tangle with, especially not now."


"Why not?"


"While the Wehrmacht is strong, Herr Direktor, I do not feel obliged to believe it can take on the French Army singlehandedly."


"Very true. However, something to consider - should a war between Alvonia and France happen, for whatever reason, a military decapitation?"


"As in, leadership? Decimate the leadership in the opening moves?"




"But why?"


"Decapitating the civilian government will only add fuel to the military's fire, they will fight harder. Destroy the military leadership, and the people will say that it was a risk they knew of when they signed up to join the French military." Pausing for a few moments, Wilding added, "No need to destroy Marianne. Just need to break her arms." Marianne, of course, referring to the common French Republic personification.


"I believe I see your point, Herr Direktor."


"Good. The flight must have been long. Take the rest of today off, see your family, Dressler."


Standing up now and slightly smiling, Dressler said "Thank you, Director. I'll give you a full report on the Congress of Riga in the morning."


"Don't worry about that. I'll have Tresler do it. Thank you for the offer, though."


Nodding in agreement, Dressler left Wilding's office, then true to his suggestion, went home for the day.

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"The Hawaiians refuse to return the traitors. They say something about...letting sleeping dogs lie."


Wilding shut his eyes and sighed as he heard this news. "And here I thought those social sovereignty fools would actually understand the idea of honor."


Opposite of him and standing was Edmund Tresler, still looking through the report. "Well, if it makes any difference to you, Herr Direktor, we have informed them to either return the traitors or we will come and get them ourselves. We already know what they look like, all we need to do is find them on that island...given the size of it, it shouldn't be terribly hard."


Wilding looked at his foreign minister, nodded, then waved him away. "Please inform General Vlasák I wish to see her." Tresler nodded in response, and within fifteen minutes Vlasák appeared at Wilding's office. "Come in, General, we have much to discuss." Wilding stood up and moved over to the map of the world on the office wall, with Vlasák soon joining him.


"What are we looking at, Herr Direktor?"


"Other than the world map? A problem. Reports have indicated the Hawaiians have at the minimum some naval presence, although exactly what is impossible to tell at this time. And, of course, that doesn't account for the fact that there's no easy way for us to transport any sort of sizeable task force to retrieve the traitors."


"Yes, I remember reading the report on them. Slezak red-flagged them a few months ago, but until now we didn't see a reason to restrict them."


"A large mistake, and one that I trust won't happen again, General?"


"The Wehrmacht for one will make it clear to any soldier who is leaving the service he is not to join another nation's military. But that's not what we're really here to talk about, is it?"


"No." Wilding pointed to the area surrounding the Pacific. "Work with the Kriegsmarine, find an island close enough that we can launch a strike, but not close enough that it can be easily detected. Do I make myself clear?"


"Crystal, Herr Direktor. I will speak to Groβadmiral Bohn as soon as possible."


"That's what I like to hear. Dismissed, General."

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"I expect an answer for this, and it had better be a damn good one."


The Joint Chiefs of Staff were all present in Wilding's office now; Wiktor Pakulski, Zdislava Slezak, Vlastimila Vlasák, Simon Breisacher, and Friedrich Bohn. Neither of the men and women looked particularly thrilled to be there, between the mutual suspicion and Wilding's cold stare of pure anger.


Pakulski was first to speak. "Herr Direktor, this is not the Security Bureau's fault-"


"Bull*&%$." Wilding retorted. "Was it not the report from you that informed us those three were in Hawaii?"


"Wehrmacht records indicated that as well, sir."


"So you're saying it was OKW's fault?" Wilding's gaze turned to Vlastimila, who swallowed after brushing her hair aside. "Negative, sir. The Wehrmacht's records are sound. Those three did previously serve in the Heer, Kriegsmarine and Schwarze Korps."


Wilding leaned back in his chair, clearly displeased with what he was hearing. "So, we have three former soldiers, all of which whose records are intact and valid...next question. Where are they exactly? For real, this time."


Slezak flipped through a set of notes he had brought with him on a tablet and said, "According to police last known records, one returned to the Czech states, while the other two are living in different parts of Bayern."


"You're saying not only did we mislocate our own citizens, we also accused them of violating their oaths upon leaving the Wehrmacht? Who was the fool who got the testimonials and IP addresses from the families?"


Pakaluski nervously raised his hand. "You personally got them?" "No, sir, one of the BfV agents did." Wilding scowled. "I want that agent's name. Now. Until such time as we can all determine who or what caused this gross lack of competence in our own intelligence agency, I want every operative pulled back and their missions reset. Should there be a leak, I want it plugged before it causes any damage. Do I make myself clear?"


The officers said in unison, "Yes, Herr Direktor."


"You are all dismissed."

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It had been a month now since the fiasco with the internal intelligence agencies, and so far nothing had turned up. The various agents that reported to Pakulski had all been vetted, and showed no signs of wrongdoing. By this time, only the one that got the testimonials remained.


"Herr Direktor," Pakulski said as he entered Wilding's office.




"Herr Direktor, we have just found Agent Jakub Pokorny, he was the one who obtained the testimonials."




"He says that it was handled through a contact of his."


"Does this contact have a name?"


"We can't find the contact, sir. All we know is that he's around 6'1, brown hair, and is of Eastern European descent."




"No, sir. farther east. Maybe Ukrainian, Belarussian, Baltic or Russian."


"Tell the BfV to keep an eye out. If this contact reveals himself again I want him arrested and interrogated immediately."


"Yes sir."


Pakulski left the office, leaving Wilding alone with his thoughts. The first thought was that this contact was actually a foreign service operative on a deliberate misinformation mission, but for what purpose? Why would any of the nations in Eastern Europe have a reason to want Alvonia to divert her attention elsewhere? The only reasonable one might have been the Ukraine, but they had remained silent for some time in regards to Alvonia. Of course, that assumed the operative actually was from any of these countries and wasn't simply putting on an accent. That broadened the potential list some, but still left no reasonable or logical options. Maybe when this contact is found, Wilding should just shoot him himself.

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The contact had slipped up and revealed himself, leading to an almost immediate arrest by the Wehrmacht. After being taken in by elements of the Schwarze Korps, he was swiftly transported to a secure location, a villa in the Austrian mountains, to be interrogated. Wilding himself soon arrived at the location, noting that it was starting to rain heavily. A Heer corporal stood next to him, holding an umbrella above Wilding's head as Pakulski emerged from the villa with his own aide with an umbrella. "Director Wilding, we have not begun interrogating him yet."


"I know." he replied monotone. "I want to watch him break. Do we know anything about him?"


"Ukrainian," Pakulski said as he flipped through a dossier folder. "name's Mykola Alexey Chownyk, born in Kiev on 18 December 1991. Just a few short days before the Soviets collapsed."


"I don't care about the Soviets. They're long dead. What is he doing here?"


"With information from the Ukrainian government, we determined his cover was to work for one of our timber companies out in Vorpommern. No other records indicate what he was doing, though."


"What company hired him?"


"Polish Lumber National. New upstart, they're mainly looking for people to secure cutting rights in the forests we have."


"That's an easy way to get access to government offices."


"But not a way to get citizen records."


"Anyone can get anything if they're smart enough. Where is he?"


Pakulski led Wilding into the basement of the villa, which he noted was rather damp. Mykola was sitting in a corner, trapped in a plexiglass room.


"He can't hear us, but we can both see each other."


"Hm. Let me know when you start interrogating him."


"Yes sir."

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After several minutes of preparation, a certain Agent Rudolf Jordan entered the plexiglass room and began to interrogate the Ukrainian. Agent Jordan introduced himself to Director Wilding as an agent with nearly 5 years of experience working in the intelligence community, and greatly thanked Director Wilding for the opportunity to work for the Alvonian government. According to him, Jordan was fluent in German, Ukrainian, Russian and Finnish, although his Finnish was not as good as the others.


"So, let's start easy," Agent Jordan began, "tell me your name, all for the record."


"Mykola Alexey Chownyk."


"And where are you from?"




"I see, and Mr. Chownyk, please tell me, how did you get access to records of former Wehrmacht soldiers?"


"I don't know what you're talking about."


"Don't lie to me, Mr. Chownyk. We know what you were doing. You have a contact in our agency, an Agent Jakub Pokorny, is it?"


"I don't know him."


"Yes you do, see, you're lying to me again, Mr. Chownyk. I don't like liars."


"You can't do anything to me."


"Oh really? Why is that?"


"Because I'm protected by law."


Agent Jordan laughed at this. "No, you are not, Mr. Chownyk. According to Alvonian law, you have absolutely zero rights. I can do whatever I want to you."


Chownyk looked very concerned at this. "What does that mean?"


"Ludwig, if you would."


Ludwig, a Schwarze Korps soldier in the room, took out a police baton and began hitting Mr. Chownyk over the head with it. Jordan held up a hand motioning for his to stop.


"Now, I'll ask again - and answer me honestly this time - how did you get access to former Wehrmacht records?"


"I bribed a man."


"Who? Give me a name."


"Edmund Ackermann."


"Was your purpose to manufacture a war between Alvonia and Hawaii?"




"Who sent you to falsify reports on the whereabouts of our citizens?"


"Nobody." Another beating. "I'm telling the truth!"


"I don't believe you. Convince me otherwise."


"I can't."


"Why not?"


"Because..." A third beating. "Alright! Alright! The Ukrainian government sent me! Is that what you want to hear?!?"


"I think I've heard enough." Jordan stood, then exited the room, turning to Ludwig as he did so. "Shoot him." Ludwig nodded and pulled out his service Glock 19 pistol, sending a single round through Mykola Chownyk's head. His body would later be burned and buried discreetly somewhere in Bayern.


Director Wilding had much to ponder indeed.

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Taxenbach, Austria

9 June, 2001

Four months after the Great Collapse


Don't worry too much, they said. Routine patrol. Routine patrols didn't often involve wondering if when you got back, would the base welcome you or shoot you. It seemed these days, everyone was switching sides and any two-bit public speaker with a pretty smile and nice voice was fighting to take control. Vienna was the big one, of course, but every city Wilding walked into there was a new Communist, fascist, socialist, utopian, or worse, Nazi, fanatic trying to set up shop to take control of all of Austria.


"Sir!" That voice was Wachtmeister Justus Gutermuth, one of the sergeants under Wilding's command. "Scouts reported possible enemies ahead."


"How many?"


"Maybe ten, fifteen hostiles."


"Alright, let's flank around them. I don't want to run into too much trouble."


Wachtmeister Gutermuth nodded and made a motion to his squad to follow him. Wilding fell in with them, and the unit moved around the main road to the city into the forest that flanked the river. They soon came upon a road that seemed to be clear. "Let's get on the road," Wilding ordered, prompting the squad to speed up their pace. They had made it barely ten meters down the road when the gunfire started. A Gefreiter that Wilding had never gotten to know was first to fall, the crack of a sniper rifle destroying the calm around them.


"Scheiβe! Where are they?!?" shouted a Korporal. More gunfire, this time automatic. The squad fired back instantly at the treeline as Wachtmeister Gutermuth rushed forward to drag the Gefreiter to safety, even though everyone knew he was already dead. Wilding himself now opened fire, and saw at least one confirmed kill by his weapon. "Wachtmeister! We have to fall back!"


"What?!" Gutermuth called. The young Korporal went down next, releasing a wild spray of bullets as he fell to the asphalt. The gunfire sounded heavier now - did they have a .50 caliber machine gun? Obviously whoever "they" were did, as another Gefreiter was killed, losing his arm and collapsing in shock. Three more were killed by the hands of the unknown enemy, and soon Wachtmeister Gutermuth, a Gefreiter Raffael Krauß, and Wilding himself, began to run as fast as they could back into the forest. Evading gunfire, they eventually made it into the forest and stopped to catch their breath. "Mein Gott," Raffael said, "how the hell did they know?!"


"Probably had that set up for weeks....damn it all." Wilding said, angry that both the Army had not given this intelligence and that so many had died because of him.


"Well..." Gutermuth said, "at least it can't get any worse, right?" Just as he said that, another shot from a sniper rifle. Gutermuth's helmet pinged, and he fell to the forest floor, dead. Both Wilding and Raffael swore loudly and jumped back, then took off running. As far as Wilding knew, nobody else died that day. The base welcomed him and Raffael back, and upon hearing their story, sent an armored unit that remained with them to destroy what was determined to be neo-Nazis.


That was the same day Wilding decided this would never happen to anyone in his country ever again.

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Wilding didn't know why he suddenly remembered the day he was ambushed. He pulled himself back and looked at his desk - the T-34/76 model he had built still sat on it, the commander waving a red flag as a signal to the invisible members of his platoon. On his right, his office phone and a picture of his unit from before Alvonia had formed. Many of the officers he knew then were long dead, killed by the ensuing chaos of world collapse. The center of his desk caught Wilding's attention now. War plans. Detailed instructions for a quick and forceful strike into Hungary-Slovakia, then the Ukraine, to enact a government change. The European Community would never allow it, of course, but Wilding was further distancing himself from the goings-on in Brussels lately. Wilding gingerly opened the folder to what was aptly named Operation Uprising and examined its contents.


Wilding instantly recognized his own seal of approval. When did he sign off on this? It must have been when he was in the middle of reminiscing the Taxenbach ambush. The plan was decent, at least. It only had one flaw, that being it failed to account for the Belorussian response. Their armies would overwhelm the 1. Gepanzerte Kavallerie-Division and 8. Infanterie-Division as they made their way to the Hungarian capital, and then eventually overwhelm and destroy Alvonia. This was nowhere near enough to drive to the capital and force change. Wilding picked up his phone and dialed Vlastimila Vlasák.


"Hello, Chief of Staff Vlastimila Vlasák speaking."


"This is Director Wilding."


"What can I do for you, Herr Direktor?"


"Call off Operation Uprising."




"Tell the troops to return to their bases. It was just an exercise."


"Yes, sir. At once, sir."


Wilding hung up after that, then retrieved a bottle of scotch from a cabinet underneath his desk. Taking out a single glass, Wilding poured himself a drink, then turned to face the window. Storm clouds gathered in Vienna now. Soon it would be raining.


Damn it all.

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