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He was almost there.. one more leg of the journey to the summit of Everest.. almost there.. when the black hawk sat down at the camp. "No.. no no no no no.... damnit!"

Maelstrom's guide Chuck spoke up, "What's up boss?"

He rumbled, "They're here for me.. someone must be pissing fire in some far off part of the world again..." He started walking as duty called.. towards the Black Hawk..

"Talisman.." The AF Colonel got off the plane and saluted his commander and chief.

"You only call me that when there's a war afoot.. what's going on?" Maelstrom half barked with a growl..

"Africa's in flames and we've invaded Arabia..." Colonel Peters informed him.

"Invaded.. where?"

"Arabia, sir.."

"What the hell happened to cause that?" He hissed.

"Nod tried to seize land sir and the people rose up against them. Somal moved to support them." Peters stated, swallowing at the grilling he was being given.. Maelstrom was in his face, practically eye to eye with him...

"Nod you say?" He grumbled.. "Call Tango base.. have them get Nosferatu ready..."

"Sir.. you're going in personally?" He blinked..

"They interrupted my vacation and one of the highlights of my life. I am pissed off..." He rumbled..

"Uhhh.. Very well sir." He signaled to the pilot who started to radio in the instructions even as the Chairman was boarding the black hawk.

"We're quite lucky we got to you at base camp sir. Any higher and you would have been above the service Ceiling." Peters would continue as they were taking off.

"Lucky?" He laughed sarcastically. "If I was lucky you would have been to late. I had been planning that ascent for a very.. very long time." The chairman watched out his window. "Can't this wreck go any faster"

"We're at top speed, Sir." The pilot shouted back over the rotors.

"Which side is Rebel Army on..." Was his first diplomatic.. semi-reasonable response...

The Colonel chuckled, "Davis called em. They're on our side. We have Aerial clearance. We're going to drop you off at the nearest airbase and have you taxi'd by fighter to Tango Base in Cochin where our forces have been forward deployed."

"What about the rest of the world?"

"Aether is on Nod's side, Sir.. that's all so far. That's why we landed in Oman." He noted.

"Well done Anthony.. I will almost feel comfortable leaving my legacy in your hands at the rate you're going." He sighed and popped his knuckles.

The Colonel continued, "It's an honor sir..."

"Eh. What is?"

"Meeting you, Sir. You're a living legend in my family. We live near the Indian Ocean in the South, but I and the wife were dating back when you lead us out of Antarctica. Oh.. by the way. Promised Land released us from protectorate status."

"Hrmm.. I felt that coming a very.. very long time. Anthony has paid our respects and kindness?" He inquired.

"That he did Sir, quite nobly. He's trying to get Promised Land an honorary vote in the Legislature." The Colonel continued, handing the Chairman a recent newspaper.

"It may be a bit far for the others who don't owe him as much, but I would have done the same... he is starting to read me like a book." He chuckled

"That is his job Sir, when you are away, isn't it?" The colonel asked.

"No, I prefer he think on his own. Honestly though, I probably wouldn't have even thought of this.. maybe I am getting old. A last tribute to our guardian and provider." Maelstrom watched the world spin beneath him.. the iced over mountains slid by rapidly. He would have to continue his tour of the Melvin Republic and Andonia after he finished this geopolitical nonsense...

"You have the Imperial Command and Control interface package set up in the Nosferatu already correct?" He inquired.

"Aye sir, you'll have communications with the rest of the Empire from your $@pit along with the traditional avionics package which you prefer. Base is wanting to know if you want hold, cold, and light.. or dark?" He asked.

"I hate coffee, tell them to have a Draco Cola waiting." He muttered. "I'm going to need the caffeine."

"Very will, Sir."

"And Sergeant?"

"Yes, Sir?"

"Well done."

"Thank you, Sir."

#### 4 hours later.. Tango Base ####

Maelstrom disembarked the executive jet. On the way in he had been briefed about the approach of Greater Aotearoa regarding Tasmania. He issued this response to the beast, "We're going to have to do three party talks. Promised Land who gifted us the Island will by necessity need to be part of these proceedings. Is this okay with you?" He sent the letter.. knowing that by the time it got back he was going to be a very busy person.

He suited up.. the flight personnel checked him. He approached the CFA-44 Nosferatu Prototype B. It was an aircraft that hybridized two systems.. the Electromagnetic rail gun System the empire had gotten via the UFE in the days of the first empire.. and the multi-missiles package utilized by AAM/ASM hybrid Tiamat missile packages. It was a wicked little toy.. and the Chairman's favorite aircraft.

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