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Sodrakron was not the capital of Vynmark, but it was inarguably a more splendorous crown jewel upon the sovereignty. The Marcraesk river sent goods south on barges, and from the sea, the treasures of the world, including illicit goods that were specially licensed from the free ports of the Southern Cities of Sosaldt, came through, then north to the continent, or out once more through the harbors after the foreign or criminal taint had been supposedly washed away. It was home to many a wealthy entrepreneur, whom operated their own governance without much care by the Landgrafs, the nobility whom ruled the nation of Vynmark, Nauk in spite of the Republican tendencies of their northern brethren.

It was by far the wealthiest city in these times, when the other southern ports either belonged to xenophobic Twaryi or were not nearly as close to the sea routes to the east and southeast. When the southern maelstrom let up, Zeeland’s trade would flood north once more, but for now, Sodrakron commanded what trade sailed the southern seas, and guaranteed that the Southern Cities of Sosaldt continued to have their great markets, protecting both trades with Vynmark’s Grand Fleet, which now rested gallantly in its own special harbor. They were a motley mix of old ships and newer ships, some of them quite fresh constructions from Naukland’s naval shipyards, but even the elder hulls had been lovingly refitted- or repurposed into fearsome coastal battlecraft. From the Horizon Suites, one could see it in the distance. These luxury condos hosted a particularly wealthy Caelussian entrepreneur, one Pavel Comnirisov, whom had journeyed to the continent and used his eastern connections to found a business empire. He had been in the trust of the Landgrafs for years- after all, Caelus was ever too distant to be overly concerned with, and Twaryi was but a band of barking dogs until their recent shocking rise in fortunes.

One of those fortunate yappy dogs was a guest of the capitalist, today, though he disguised himself well both in dress and voice, he was a military man of Twaryi from the hairs of his scalp to the soles of his feet.

“Colonel Suvarin,” Comnirisov sat slowly across from his guest in a plush armchair across from the brazier, close to the top of the Horizon Suites, on a corner where one could face both inland and out to the ocean. “I would have expected somebody else, more appreciative of the comforts of luxury. What brings you out to a place so wary of our people as of late?” He took a contemplative sip of fine old world extra-old aged eau de vie, called Comniak, where his father hailed from. A fun thing to mock Emreans with, but a fine display of what he was to his guest, as well. “Unless you are here for some fun?”
>>
Suvarin’s icy blue stare did not falter, nor did its coy leer across from him. “No,” he said in unaccented New Nauk, “You have received our messages. We hardly need to pretend that you need to be told everything once again.”

“I thought it would be a nice setting to do that,” Comnirisov gestured to the warm glow of the firepit, the snow wafting through their air in thick clumps all about, “Theatrical, dramatic, a grand view of all we will stand victorious over. But I see you’re as no-nonsense as I’ve heard. Andrej would have indulged.”

“That Captain indulged in far too much, and now he is a prisoner of the heretic as much as he was a prisoner to his whimsy,” Suvarin said with a voice heavy in disdain, “You are certain there is no one listening? The operations have been extremely careful to preserve secrecy.”

“They tried to bug the room,” Comnirisov said smugly, “I allowed them a different space with the cooperation of my mistress and a few trusted conspirators. Any spies will hear what I wish them to, and none of anything between us. Come now, Colonel, did you think I would have embedded myself so deeply in this continent if I lacked some basic competence?”

The Twaryian officer did not lower his guard, but let the matter lay. “The Free Ports will do their best to disrupt our efforts the moment we make our move. There is suspicion that they have preemptively prepared. You know of this?”

“Of course I do. They’ve most certainly prepared, and they’re going to do what they can, but even though the manipulations of the Southron City States can terribly damage the nations of this continent,” the merchant illustratively took a small handful of snow and tossed it into the firepit, which crackled and sputtered but blazed no less brightly and hot, “You may not have a Wossehn, but the Southerner's best efforts cannot hope to subvert Caelus. Lean upon them. Even if I were to tell you some of their plans action- which, in keeping trust with them, I will not, trust that you would not be able to foil all of the infiltrations. So, allow the Old World to bear the weight of the damages, yes?”

“…Hmph.” Suvarin would have much rather not merely allowed that, but he’d been informed of trying to debate Comnirisov on this subject. He’d merely look a fool in the end. Best to keep to matters he was well apprised and informed upon. “There is, then, the subject of Vynmark’s Grand Fleet. In the state our navy is in, even with the donations of the Old World, we would be hard pressed to gain victory, let alone one decisive enough to enforce a blockade afterwards. Naukland has warned the Caelussian Federation against direct naval intervention. As it stands, Caelus is barely permitted to respond to piracy and Ellowian raiders. The operation to damage the fleet’s heavier ships in port- you have it all in place?”
>>
A long drink of Comniak, and a deep sigh. “Of course, dear Colonel. If you believe that Naukland will tolerate a blockade for overlong, though, you will be grievously mistaken. They may hide behind their mountains, but they have no hesitance to embark upon a voyage over the seas. If Vynmark’s Grand Fleet makes your commanders nervous, Naukland’s retaliatory naval expedition will thrash you so terribly that there will no longer be a Twaryian navy. Caelus will not commit either, knowing this- they will be no shield against a sea power whom are fully capable of bludgeoning them into a stupor whilst their roads into the continent are still so rough, and their sea lanes rather limited should Naukland combine their naval forces with that of their southern acquaintance.”

“High Command will not wish to hear that.”

“Your generals,” Comnirisov said smugly, “For all their attempts at appearing austere, have a tightness in the pants for a grand and glorious victory on all fronts, and I cannot blame them, after their great victory in Ellowie was followed by bitter insurgency the likes of which they were accustomed to being the perpetrators of, historically. Trust me, Colonel, one victory does not an Empire make.”

“The Generals do lack your attention to the affairs of the west,” Suvarin gave a backhanded admission.

If Comnirisov was offended, he only showed it in a smile. “Vynmark cannot win a war against Twaryi without Ellowie, and Naukland hesitates to venture beyond their mountains and step out of their ships unless they believe it absolutely critical. Tell your generals this, Colonel, as I already have tried to. You will find this country cooperative as long as they are allowed some measure of freedom, unlike your hideous egotistical blunder in Ellowie. Tell them to cool their heads in the snow and remember to put on their trousers and boots before walking into the nettles. If I don’t like the reply, then I will force my hand. Is that understood?”

Suvarin bit his lip and suppressed a bark into a growl. “You are but an upstart merchant…”

“An extremely successful one.”

“The High Command will disapprove of your disrespect.”

“On the contrary,” Comnirisov said with a slow, creeping, wide smile, “I expect them to thank me personally after their victory parade, and I expect them to be much more welcoming of my hospitality than cold, harsh snowman Suvarin. Take care, now. I understand you have much to arrange in not much time…”

-----
>>
Geroldt Von Tracht stirred an Old Fashioned he had made in a glass for himself, and settled down at his office desk in his home, a place with no windows and one door, a fan, and full-to-the-brim filing cabinets made of dark mahogany, themselves fitted with intricate locks. In here, it could be the morning, or the dead of night, and one would not know- all there was in here, was his Mystery. One he pored over for years, and could not find the center of- not until his son had brought back a message from Geroldt’s brother Heller, a package he had lost hope upon ever receiving. Since then, there had been much to try and uncover- enough that he needed the buoyance of that glass of whiskey clear as the crystal glass, and bitters and sugar, and a single cherry. A low piano and brass played on a record in the same room, for similar reinforcement.

He didn’t know how long he worked, but eventually, when the glass was near finished, the door’s handle turned, and his wife appeared. She was in her sleepwear, a long, light, close-clinging slip dress- almost twenty five years, they’d been married. At a young age, but from Geroldt’s view, Eda had only grown lovelier since the day he had made her his woman without a mote of shame.

“Dear,” she said as she sidled by the desk, trailing a finger across it. She picked the cherry from his glass and put it in her mouth, before going to his side and sitting in his lap, putting her arms around Gerold’s neck, “Won’t you come to bed early tonight?”

Geroldt brushed Eda’s hair from her face and kissed her for a brief moment, then another. They traded the cherry one way, then the other. “We’ve a guest, my flower.”

“She’s gone out fishing again, she will not be back for some time,” Eda leaned in and kissed Geroldt again, though she had swallowed the berry now, the taste was still on her lips. “She’s gotten me nostalgic. I’ve not grown too old yet. Do you want to try to give our Richter a brother?”

“Oh, my rose,” Geroldt said as he hugged his wife closely, “You know Richter wouldn’t be able to stand that.”

“But he will be leaving the house soon,” Eda said, accepting the close embrace eagerly.

“We spent years, dearest, when we were both young. I do not want to hurt you again, forcing you to grow my family. Not again.”

“You have never hurt me,” Eda whispered, “Not ever.” She looked back to the desk, the papers, and frowned as she skimmed through it. “…This again, is it? Will it bring you any happiness to expose the answer? This is so far above us. I will not pry, but I have enough a brain to know that much.”

“My family helped to bring this Archduchy into being,” Geroldt said, “I have some obligation to its continuance, in spite of its many flaws. To try and guide it by my principles, where I can.”
>>
“I married too wonderful a man,” Eda said quietly near Geroldt’s ear, “This country has disowned my blood. It has made me selfish, and I want you more than it could you. Put away your work for just a little while, will you? The Archduchy is strong enough to stand long enough for us to have our times together. Our brave, strong son fights for it all he can.” She stroked Geroldt’s hair, rested her forehead against his and brushed her nose against her husband’s, “He may be but a boy still, but he is a strong boy. You tell me to have faith in his strength- let yourself rest a while. He can bear such a weight upon his shoulders, can he not?”

Gerold sighed deeply. “I would hope to resolve a matter as this so that the next generation need not bear it upon their shoulders.”

“Richter is our baby. But he is a man, now. I of all people wouldn’t want to admit it, but…” Eda gave her own small exhalation, “Your blood is strong, dear. He can take a small burden. Come rest. You make me weary by laboring so, when I can do so little for it.”

Geroldt stared into his wife’s amber eyes, to the Mystery, then back to his wife. He might have considered the Mystery, but Eda was ever too beautiful to not smile at whenever he looked at her. Strong as she might claim he was, he was not nearly strong enough to refuse her.

-----
February 19, 1933
Northern Sosaldt


Once again, the Silver Lances were on the move proper. Or, at least, you, Richter Von Tracht, were, along with another member of your platoon, Stevan Von Rotehof, known as Little Von Rotehof. The two senior members of your platoon had been left behind, not by choice, but by command- Lieutenant Colonel Von Silbertau, your company commander, was relaying a command from Colonel Jagdmeister, battalion commander, to scrape up what he could of his combat-capable units and reform them forward. The delays were causing the Netillians to slip between the fingers of the alliance of Republics you fought for, all over the front, and a gamble was being made that despite the reduction in strength from splitting off from your units, you could try and regain the mad pace earlier with a small amount of effort, but the unit had to advance for such a small effort to even matter.

None of you were happy about having to leave behind half the platoon, but some consolation was had in that this was likely to be temporary. So long as you and Little Von Rotehof didn’t perish in the new fighting to come.
>>
At least the rendezvous at the battalion headquarters being moved up would let you send your mail straightaway- you had plenty of letters to have sped back home, as well as an odd exception within the country itself. Would a letter to your old comrade Hiedler find its way to him? You didn’t know much about the infrastructure of Mittelsosalia or how much things might have changed, but couriers always claimed substantial reliability. The ones to your fiancée and to your family (and Hilda) would be in good hands for certain.

Maddalyn would be receiving a portrait of you, as well. Von Rotehof was modest- he said the sketch wasn’t that special when he gave it to you, but you thought it was on par with better street artists, the only thing separating any of them from a lord’s collection merely being time investment and oil paint. Your fiancée would be pleased- even if you sent in the letter as well a mention of your dream-episode. A response to that might not be short in coming, if it was something she felt she couldn’t address anywhere but in person.

There was also, though the question of her personal projects- very carefully worded. Not much more than an insistence, that she could trust you. The shade of Viska in your dream claimed she did not trust you- the advice of a ghost of the past was a strange thing to take, but if it was from within your head the whole time…maybe she was right in that you were fooling yourself about this. Nevertheless, that would have to be resolved when you returned home.

Much like Hilda, if only to give her some support. Your mother’s comments about her were reassuring, at least. If she could indeed cook, then that would make any search for a husband much easier. By your reckoning. Vehrlors thought it was essential that a woman could cook, and Stevan did not. Differing perspectives from differing classes. Would you have preferred a woman who did her own cooking? Maybe. Yet a territorial lord’s daughter did not do her own cooking. Not unless, you thought, it was a personal hobby, a pursuance of an art, and Maddalyn’s interests were…decidedly elsewhere than that.

If Hilda needed buoyance, though, your fiancée did even more so. You managed to avoid any blatant threats of untoward lewd acts, thankfully, but did constantly wonder if you were piling it all on too thick at the end. Nonsense. She was your lovely wife, she had a peerless posterior, and you wanted badly to see her again after all of this.
>>
However long there was left of the campaign. Were the worst days behind you? The infamous Crown-Taker Stalker was still at large, and you were not even in Netilland yet. Would the war continue even there? Elder Von Rotehof believed so- he had endured the Vitelian Campaign with the Paellans, then the campaign against Kallec with the same allies, as had Elder Von Rotehof, and probably Van Halm, as well, though with the lastmost you were unsure of his seniority compared to the other two. Elder Von Rotehof had said that if this campaign was anything like that series of events, not only were you nowhere near done, but the worst was yet to come. Though, by his measure, the Revolutionaries in Vitelia rated well below the Netillians, and the Kalleans were not too far above the Netillians when factoring in materiel that the Netillians had to compare against Kallean ferocity.

Frankly, you just hoped that the Defense Party and the Netillian militarists gave up as soon as you crossed the border, and things didn’t turn out like the Elder Von Rotehof’s most dire predictions, where the only one of you that would be around by the end of this would be whoever was luckiest.

Because you certainly did not feel lucky any more.

All that had been yesterday, as reaching the company rendezvous was only the first part of reorganization. There was plenty of hurrying up merely to wait, but that did at least mean that you heard of plenty from the battalion, and those that had coalesced around it, which included Republic troops of a type you hadn’t seen in a long time- the (supposed) elite that formed the Republic Mechanized Regiment, though their heavy usage in the campaign had depleted them badly. Colonel Jagdmeister was apparently teaming up with the Republic commander (not Hiedler, apparently- perhaps he had advanced higher, or was elsewhere) to bring both units’ numbers back to a strength where they could participate in the coming operation in a direct role- the operation to encircle and besiege the Northern Sosaldtian city of Sundersschirm.
>>
The details of that operation were not being passed about, even though all knew it was the last substantial obstacle before approaching the Netillian border- you’d gone quite a distance since the start of all this, even if it was far from your longest trek. What was readily apparent was how much everybody had been battered up to this point. The Republic Mechanized Regiment could not properly be called such with what it had been reduced to. It had been a valuable unit, and fought in as many places as could be demanded of them, mostly against formations with superior armor and weapons, and paying the price for such- what remained were stony troopers crewing beaten vehicles (nearly all of which were not their original equipment) who spoke little with anybody, but least of all with the new recruits given to them as replacements, or new mercenaries hired on that very well could have formerly worked for the northerners (a nice deal had been offered, apparently, for anybody who wanted to turn their coat after the last battle, and many had taken up the offer). They all found more camaraderie with the Silver Lances than with one another. None had a good idea of how much of the regiment was left, but the impression was that even the depleted Reserve Battalion exceeded the Mechanized Regiment in number of personnel and amount of equipment.

Most were assigned their position. However, you had gained some notoriety in the battalion now, as Von Silbertau had apparently spread word of your exploits for him to others in higher command. Thus, you and Little Von Rotehof were given some flexibility and freedom in where you might be assigned…

>Forming another platoon with other Silver Lances was your best option and first choice. They might not be your true platoon, but other Strossvalders could be trusted well.
>Some platoons had to combine with Republic armor. Some still had to be requisitioned, but you had no problem with that. In a way, working with Republic troops was more your thing now anyways.
>The Mechanized Infantry had requested dedicated armor support- an easy task for a reduced armor platoon. Much was demanded of these troops, but relatively little of you, besides backing them up.
>Other? (Nothing too out there. Be realistic, you’re respected, not spoiler)

Anything else you're curious of can be included. You'll be here a little bit before you get kicked back into the fire.

Pastebin for past threads- https://pastebin.com/UagT0hnh
Twitter for announcements and shitposts is @scheissfunker

I'm going to be trying to do two updates a day at least. My work schedule has increased my hours, and even though it's only an hour more per day, that is less time still. I'll have to try and compensate by being faster, really.
>>
>>4926337
>The Mechanized Infantry had requested dedicated armor support- an easy task for a reduced armor platoon. Much was demanded of these troops, but relatively little of you, besides backing them up.
According to German armor doctrine this is basically the best thing you can do with an understrength armor platoon.

I can't believe Richter gets the lewd letter thing from his mother. Not that I would suspect his father, I just didn't think it came from anywhere in particular.
>>
>>4926337
>The Mechanized Infantry had requested dedicated armor support- an easy task for a reduced armor platoon. Much was demanded of these troops, but relatively little of you, besides backing them up.
>>
>>4926337
>>Forming another platoon with other Silver Lances was your best option and first choice. They might not be your true platoon, but other Strossvalders could be trusted well.
>>
>>4926337
>>Some platoons had to combine with Republic armor. Some still had to be requisitioned, but you had no problem with that. In a way, working with Republic troops was more your thing now anyways.
Sorry Republic tanks, you get to share the field with Sosaldt's most eligible tank destroyer target.

These new mercs might be interesting, we could bother them to see if they know anything about what the coming fights could look like, enemy strength and makeup, defensive positions and ambush points to look out for and the like. Might want to see if any have some blackflower to barter, some of our candied portions to trade for more of the rawer stuff. Quantity is all that's needed to keep away our special friend, hopefully.
>>
>>4926337
>The Mechanized Infantry had requested dedicated armor support- an easy task for a reduced armor platoon. Much was demanded of these troops, but relatively little of you, besides backing them up.

What an opportunity for networking!
>>
>>4926337
>The Mechanized Infantry had requested dedicated armor support- an easy task for a reduced armor platoon. Much was demanded of these troops, but relatively little of you, besides backing them up.

The legends of the Kommandant ring true amongst the Republic. At least until they can see how he shoots.
>>
>>4926337
>The Mechanized Infantry had requested dedicated armor support- an easy task for a reduced armor platoon. Much was demanded of these troops, but relatively little of you, besides backing them up.

Combined arms ftw, Richter definitely knows how useful it is from Ellowie
>>
>>4926337
>Some platoons had to combine with Republic armor. Some still had to be requisitioned, but you had no problem with that. In a way, working with Republic troops was more your thing now anyways.
>>
>>4926353
>>4926364
>>4926402
>>4926411
>>4926463
Cozy up with the truckers.

>>4926372
Familiar company.

>>4926379
>>4926467
Get in with the secondhand scrap.

Writing!

>>4926353
Mrs. Von Tracht-Blutenstein (Names are not often referred to in compound but they are often such legally in the case of nobility, especially when one family is superior in holdings) is not a particularly lewd woman. One might say instead that she is particularly so with a man whose idea of a response to a refused marriage proposal was to bend her over a bed (still in maidservant's dress) and have his way with her and then claim to the courts that it was a rape (it was not) to make prestige no matter of the course.

>>4926379
>Quantity is all that's needed to keep away our special friend, hopefully.
Quantity hasn't really been a problem in the past, from Richter's experience. The difference here was that he was crashing after running on pervitin. Not that speculative preventative measures are not an option.
>>
>>4926630
Mama Von Tract just knows what her man's wants.
Simple as.
>>
>>4926630
>Mrs. Von Tracht-Blutenstein (Names are not often referred to in compound but they are often such legally in the case of nobility, especially when one family is superior in holdings) is not a particularly lewd woman. One might say instead that she is particularly so with a man whose idea of a response to a refused marriage proposal was to bend her over a bed (still in maidservant's dress) and have his way with her and then claim to the courts that it was a rape (it was not) to make prestige no matter of the course.
I really can't believe he got it from his father then.
>>
>>4926630
So Papa Von Tracht has a criminal record for rape?
>>
the virgin richter: "Nooo please don't court martial me for desertion, *fingers fall off* I'll become a spook and I'll do whatever you want, just let me keep my reputation!"
The Chad Geroldt: "Yes my Lord, you may tell the courts I have raped a maid and I intend to continue raping until my demands are met."
>>
>>4927150
An absolute legend.
>>
-----
The South Assembly Railyard- only thirty kilometers north of the border of Sosaldt, this installation is the logistical heart of anything coming or going south, as well as east and west, but the railyard has found greatest significance with the operations to its south, as supplies and materiel and men went through it to the conflict down in Sosaldt, but more recently, as much was set to return through it…in rather short time.

It would be an important objective for any enemy to the south, but they were still relatively far. It had come under air attack by Ellowian aircraft, true enough, but attacks had not been concentrated enough to severely damage the railyard. About the only people vigilant around it were the (now numerous) anti-aircraft crews, who complained of how their air force was allowing the enemy aircraft of a nation that was supposed to be defeated fly about and bomb them.

None were vigilant of an off-schedule locomotive, a relatively small train, with but three freight cars behind it. Who was going to question it in these times? The administrations were hopelessly tangled all over. Perhaps a Kommissariat Officer needed something delivered quickly and permissions would be cleared retroactively, as they sometimes were.

Ignorant of this train too was an armored patrol car, railway wheels replacing its normal tires. The car had been one of a team newly assigned to head south and patrol the railways going into Sosaldt, to prevent potential disruption by enemy raiders. This one had broken down, but the patches to the damage were made, and it hurried to catch up to its brethren…only to break down once more in front of the northern gates of the South Assembly Railyard. Frustrated attempts to fix it again were finally given up, and another railcar was brought up to tow it in, where it would not obstruct the rails anymore. At the very least, no trains were scheduled to come soon, all thought as the car was towed inside just past the gates.

Then the unscheduled train began to approach at high speed- and it was not slowing down.

The armored car and its tow were both knocked away and wrecked, with the effect of derailing the rogue train, as well, and with a hideous wrenching of steel and screeching, mechanical parts flying all about, the train slid to a stop on its side, just within the station.

A minute passed, then two, and while inspectors surveyed the damage, and the concerning fact that nobody was coming from the derailed train, the train and all three of its freight cars disappeared in a flash of flame, a deafening crack and roar, a plume of smoke and debris that was thrown up as though a volcano had been birthed on the spot- a colossal explosion that turned the northern section of the railyard into little more than a smoking crater.
>>
Two kilometers distant, upon a small slope, a team of plainly clothed surveyors watched through spyglasses. Among them, a woman who was unusually tall made a click of her tongue and a growl through her teeth.

“Damn it all to hell,” she swore, “The train was supposed to reach further than that. There was not supposed to be any obstructions.” She flashed a glare at one of the other men.

“That car was late,” one of the men said defensively, “Extremely late. It might have been stuck even longer than it was late. We were just unlucky.”

“Look at the damage still,” another man pointed out, “The way north will be worthless for weeks, at least.”

“It isn’t enough,” the woman closed her spyglass again, “It had to blow up in the center to completely disable the railyard. They can send traffic west and east. There will be a disruption, but not nearly the one I hoped for. Damn it.”

“Orders, Major,” one of her men prompted. “They’ll be in plenty of shock. The TGS teams can attempt to place demolition charges to increase the damage.”

“No,” the woman shook her head and put on dark sunglasses, “Too risky. We’re done here. We’ll have our headquarters transmit this and then proceed with complete extraction. We’ve done all we can.”

The group, none in the land aware of just who and what they were, piled into a pair of automobiles and drove away in different directions.
-----
>>
Little Von Rotehof and you were the same rank, but you had more experience, and, what mattered, the actual prestige. He wasn’t fond of the idea that you were in command, per se (and depending on assignments you might not have been) but you did have all of the influence in regards to where you would be placed.

After review of your options, you chose to join up with an interesting prospect- one of the Mechanized Regiment’s infantry formations had requested armor support. A company, though it had been reduced to two platoons of forty eight after reorganization, with more sections as supporting elements. The Mechanized Regiment was no equivalent of a Netillian formation of the same name, though- it was a eclectic mix of infantry mounted upon trucks and various armored vehicles much like the Battalion you had organized when you were the Kommandant, and the demi-company you volunteered to work alongside was such mounted infantry very similar to the Silver Lances panzergrenadier, though near certainly less well equipped, despite having preferential materiel allocation in their role as the Republic’s premier units.

What was most different about them at a glance was not armament or uniform, but that they possessed steel helmets painted in splotches of light and dark brown, with shapes near assuredly adopted from mining helmets (Sosaldt, rich in natural resources, had no shortage of mines) with wide front brims, where most Republic troops had field caps or the wide brimmed campaign hats rather than helmets. Many of them recognizably carried Netillian weapons, though the valuable munitions caster was unfortunately not to be found, not for lack of favor but for lack of its distinctive ammunition to use after their acquisition.

Among their equipment had been whatever towed guns could be provided, both in the form of anti-tank guns and light artillery, but most of those had been lost or replaced in fighting, and ammunition stocks for them all had run low. Their need for armored support was clear- the Republic’s war industry was inexperienced with providing everything needed, and if this unit was to have a role in making an offensive push, they would need more than they had left. The particular demi-company you were placed into had a few mortars as support, and an appropriated trio of 2.5 centimeter anti-tank guns, wholly inadequate against the frontal armor of more common Netillian tanks, though they were extremely portable, had a low silhouette, and could be readily underestimated. What they sorely lacked the most was heavy direct-fire support, something you and Stevan’s m/32s would have to provide, as well as presumably actual anti-tank capability.
>>
“You know,” Little Von Rotehof said skeptically as you both surveyed the demi-company from a respectful distance, “I think those are the dirtiest panzergrenadier I’ve ever seen.” A queer statement considering both of you were caked enough in dust and grime to be as reddish-brown with Sosaldtian dust as they were, though today had started out with a sprinkling of snow. “I hope we inspire confidence, because they don’t of me.”
They were a nostalgic sight. Evolutions of the men you had led both outside and into Todesfelsen. How many of them were people who might be seeing you once more, you wondered?

The night came with the waiting, and water was brought forward for cleaning both men and vehicles. A short time after the sun rose on the next day, no longer was anybody the dirtiest anything in this camp, but you noticed plenty of dour looks that no water or soap was able to wash away, snowflakes floating through the air, sparkling in the light of dawn, and melting into the ground as they landed in the dust. Von Rotehof commented on the beauty of it, but few seemed to be appreciative of the scene.

In that morning, assignments finally went through, as did orders. Everybody was to be acquainted with one another and moving by noon at the absolute latest as the last reinforcement came around, and combat was to begin anew by that night if not sooner in the new operations to secure positions around the city-state of Sundersschirm, including villages, a few townships, and most importantly, a pair of airfields and roads that might threaten to keep a meager supply stream into the city. Far too little to sustain a population, but the Netillian aircraft remaining there also impeded close air support.

You learned your demi-company was assigned to capture one of the townships on the perimeter of the city, and secure it in order to provide a potential supply base to an artillery position able to shell the city’s defenders. Not as vital an operation as capturing the airfield, but it did have a dirt road that went to the airfield, and thus was a potential route of supply to said airfield as well, even if the assault upon it was supposed to take place simultaneously to your own maneuvers.

An odd old man happened upon you as you reviewed your orders, leaning against your tank. He had the look of a mountain man, though not the hair- unless green turned grey the same as any other hair.

“Excuse me, young man,” he said to you in an apologetic tone, “I am looking for my granddaughter, and…” he paused as he squinted at your mask, “The Republic men told me to ask one of you. Can you help me? She is thirteen years old, and has long blonde hair, her name is Patrizia…”
>>
Your crew gathered about hearing about this, and you looked to them all. They shrugged. “I am sorry,” you said to the old man, “We haven’t seen anybody like that.” Vagrants and strays were not uncommon both in places on the front, and all over behind it, mixes of aspiring camp followers, scrapper and looters, and refugees alike. You’d seen a few, but the flow had slowed recently as the movement of units had stagnated.

“Can you help me find her?” The elder man pressed.

“No,” Schafer said for you in a gruff response, “We aren’t constables. Find them, or volunteers. We’re heading to the front line in a few hours. We don’t have time to help you.”

“But-“

“Our superiors are that way,” Schafer pointed into the Battalion HQ’s tents, “look there.” The old man was happy to follow the route of foisted responsibility, and left you all alone.

“Poor fellow,” Hausen said, “This isn’t a good territory for a lost child.”

“Sahleng es dey don’ trae to rob us,” Jorgen said snarkily, taking a hatchet from his coat and twirling it once in his hand. Hausen and Schafer both gave him a confused glance.

Another visitor had ambled up as the distraction of the old man passed, though.

“This fuckin’ thing,” a low drawl said from around the tank, as a man in a Republic uniform paced around it. He paced around your m/32, his eyes on it the whole time, paying no attention to you or your crew. “Never thought I’d see this thing again.”

“Hello?” you addressed the man, who only looked at you once addressed. “Who are you?”

“You’re the Kommandant, huh,” the man said, though he had less reverence. A scar lay right above his right eye and went to the side of his head- he had black hair and amber eyes, and he seemed only somewhat older than you, but more notably, the cap on his head was a familiar pattern of black with white trim, with a silver skull set in its center. “…Huh. Not really ready for this, honestly. You don’t happen to remember me from anywhere, do you? I'm the leader of the demi-company, but, before that.”

…No. You didn’t. But there was one trait you could discern in particular…

>A glint in the eye and a sharpness of his squint. A marksman, surely.
>A smell of grease and kerosene. A familiar wrinkling in his clothes, and a jumpsuit under his uniform jacket. A tanker, perhaps?
>Other?
>>
>>4927343
>A smell of grease and kerosene. A familiar wrinkling in his clothes, and a jumpsuit under his uniform jacket. A tanker, perhaps?
>>
>>4927343
>>A glint in the eye and a sharpness of his squint. A marksman, surely.
Glad to meet you Drachen 2, hope we didn't give you that scar.
>"Sahleng es dey don’ trae to rob us,"
Brutal.
>>
>>4927343
Are we choosing who he was before this?
>A glint in the eye and a sharpness of his squint. A marksman, surely.

My guesses being he was either the sniper who actually shot us before Maddy magicked away the damage or the Deaths Head officer we captured at the stronghold and 'convinced' with a possible commission/pardon to tell us about Todesfelsen.
>>
>>4927343
>>A smell of grease and kerosene. A familiar wrinkling in his clothes, and a jumpsuit under his uniform jacket. A tanker, perhaps?
>>
>>4927343
>A smell of grease and kerosene. A familiar wrinkling in his clothes, and a jumpsuit under his uniform jacket. A tanker, perhaps?

Also nice to see that girl's family made it
>>
>>4927781
Did I miss a reference here?
>>
>>4927783
The girl that Anya stumbled across last thread, that's her grandfather.
>>
Didn't have the moment to answer this earlier-
>>4927036
>So Papa Von Tracht has a criminal record for rape?
As far as reputation may go? Yes. As far as actual legal definition goes? Well, the exact charge he plead for was not rape (punishment for a rapist being to marry his victim would be quite strange), but for Coerced Sexual Congress, which has the small difference of being a crime of honor and thus something to be repaid with future commitment rather than, say, prison time. It isn't something that comes up often in its own right- more frequently as something to wave away a more severe sentence.
It's easier for the rumormongers to say rape, though, as many don't particularly care about the difference in means of coercion.

>>4927346
>>4927778
>>4927781
This guy looks greasy and he dresses like a slob.

>>4927396
>>4927694
Hey, did you shoot me?

Writing. Later today than desired, but I felt pretty groggy most of the day.
>>
“I recognize your uniform pieces.” Republic troops often kept keepsakes or markers identifying their origins. It had not even been a year since the Republic’s founding, after all. “The Death Heads. You’re also…” you looked up and down the man. There were familiar wrinkles and wear in his clothes, a single piece boiler suit beneath his uniform jacket, stains of oil, the faint scent of kerosene and lubricant, and ones distinct from those sticking to you. “Are you a tanker, maybe?”

“Yeah. Yeah…” the man sighed, and leaned on your tank sideways. “You probably don’t remember me, hell, I hardly remember you, if it weren’t for all the talk and all.”

“I hope I didn’t give you that scar,” you said apologetically, even though any fight between the two of you was long over.

“Don’t worry about it,” the man said with a shrug, “The story got me laid once, and now it’s only the first time I’ve been knocked out of a tank. As long as you aren’t going to shoot me I don’t really care.”

“Eykommandaer,” Jorgen snickered, “Gimme aecaeht.”

“No.” You said immediately, practically expecting that comment. “Where, though..? The dust storm?”

“Nah, nah, I was in Trench Face’s toon. In Lark.”

“Who?” You wrinkled your nose.

“You know. Blonde shrew with a nasty face and a worse attitude.”

“Oh.” Trench Face was a nasty name for her. “You mean Anya. You were there?”

“Mmyeah. When Cranick went down, Man, if only…” he thought about adding on to that, but he squinted at you and decided you didn’t want a story, “Anyhow. Trench Face-“

“Anya.”

“Whatever. She wants to get out for a bit while the city’s sure to go to hell and come back when everybody’s figured out what’s what. Me, I just wanted to see her sister. Mmm. She’s got everything her older sis don’t. No attitude, a nice face, and big round milk jugs. Instead of seein’ her, you and your boys roll up and blow us away. Maybe we had it easy. Heard shit went so south that it went into the Maelstrom and beyond. Didn’t see Todesfelsen again for a few weeks after, and by then, my girlfriend left me.” He sighed, “You got somethin’ with One-Day? Only person I see stick up for her were Cranick, her sis, and herself.”
>>
“One-Day?” You prompted. That name required an explanation.

“Oh. Well, see, I mean…well, better than Trench Face, yeah? So. I dated her once.”

What?” You couldn’t even imagine it.

“Jeez, calm down,” the man said defensively, “It was only for a day, and I got ditched like everybody else. That’s why they called her One-Day. You go for her thinkin’ ugly girls are easy, she makes you pay for food then leaves. Never so much as held anybody’s hand. Got plenty of guys that way, and any of ‘em who tried to sneak in a touch got a trip to the clinic for it. It was a game, sometimes. Get a new guy in, have ‘em take on One-Day, and laugh at him when he gets back. Was fun until somebody told her what was going on. What’s the deal, though? I didn’t think you knew each other.”

She didn’t like any of them? How picky. Then again, the phrasing of, ugly girls are easy, was probably indicated something she was well aware of, and didn’t like at all. That, and from what you remembered, she hadn’t particularly wanted to be where you’d found her…there was a readiness to simply leave, even if there was a lingering sense of responsibility for her command, such as it was then.

“Anya Nowicki is my…Retinue,” you said, for some reason, but he seemed to understand what that actually was, so you didn’t hang on it. “Anyways. We have other business.”

“Oh, Judge Above drop me right into Hell,” the man slapped his head with the back of his hand, straightened, and saluted slowly but steady. “I’ve been rambling. Corporal Barret Planckner, Kalderhaus Grenzwacht. Lieutenant, acting commander of the 2nd Mechanized Company.”

He had a name and rank from before- perhaps he didn’t go by an alias anymore. Further, though, there was an indication that he was a deserter. How were you supposed to react to that? Were you supposed to?

You chose not to, not right away, at least, as you returned the salute. “Lieutenant Richter Von Tracht. Second Platoon, Fourth Company, of the Reserve Panzer Battalion of the Silver Lances.” Only your present title would do right now- after all, this man had your assistance, not the other way around, and he seemed like he wouldn’t be as impressed by your prior record here. At least, not the way that would be beneficial.
>>
“Right. So, the men are already prepared to move. We came in the way we are now, but the problem’s going to be, even though we have our maps and our objective, we don’t have much intelligence about the area. We’ll have more time to go over it later once we’re actually at the place, but, we’ll definitely need to scout the objective out before tomorrow, then we can even think of making a go at it.” He rolled his head around and cracked his neck. “Ah, not that that’s much you have to care about. Once we know what’s there, it’ll be easy to tell you what to shoot. You can take on those Netillian tanks, right?”

Not all of them, necessarily. The majority were inferior to the m/32B, even if the NfK-7t performed comparatively to the baseline m/32 in regards to weapons and protection. “My own vehicle and that of my second,” you gestured over some way to Von Rotehof’s tank, “are capable of engaging most Netillian materiel we’ve encountered.” With some notable exceptions, however, “We can handle anything that you would expect armor to.”

“Not ours,” Planckner said lowly, “This shouldn’t be too hard anyways, long as we don’t just plow in like a shagherd in a porcelain shop. Sundersschirm and the Twice Damned have had plenty a’ time to get ready, and even though they didn’t mine things up before ‘cause of the traffic, they might have now. Your guys want to hurry, I hear, but we don’t have something that’s that important anyways. We’re waiting until tomorrow so that the sheepdogs’ planes can get coordinated and set up for a big strike. I sure as hell don’t want to be doing this when the Nets can sling their own planes at us. I had enough of that shit back in the Cauldron.”

You’d thankfully avoided serious grief from above that had managed to make too terrible of strikes, and you couldn’t say you wanted even that repeated if you could help it.

“So I came here to see who I was working with. Either me or one of my toon bosses’ll be saying what needs to be done. We’re lucky enough to have the means to talk to you. Radios, you know. You people aren’t driving around shit box guntracks, to say the least, so if you want to ask me anything that you haven’t been told already, go ahead, though,” He rolled slightly to the side and leaned on his back on your tank, “Don’t ask me inventory shit, I’m not the quartermaster. We’ve got bullets and bread, gas and guns. Enough for what we’re being told to do, and I’ll say right off we’re the best in brown on the front. So. Yeah.”

>Ask about anything from Planckner?
>Do anything else at camp before you head off north? (You don’t need to be reminded to eat or care for your hygiene)
>>
>>4929252
I cant remember if Strossvald had smoke shells, but if they do, maybe see if we can scrounge some up.

Also while they might not have maps of the area handy, see if our command does and try to familiarize ourselves with the town layout.

When the fuck was this new catchpa added
>>
>>4929252
>Ask about anything from Planckner?
How is the morale and cohesiveness of the Republic troops holding up as a unified national army? He mentioned they don't feel the same pressure we do to advance quickly, but is that because not all of the troops agree with the importance of the conflict? Will they continue fighting for the Republic all the way into Nettiland?
>>
>>4929445
>>4929261
I'll support these, it's important to know how far they're willing to go, and Judge Above I wish Strossvald took to smoke beyond candles at this point.
>>
>>4929445
+1
Also ask a question about their fighting style and engagement strategies.
>>
>>4929445
Supporting
>>
>>4929252
>Ask about anything from Planckner?
Ask if he knows or could speak about the Von Kalderhauses possible involvement in the current conflict. We've heard their name from some vagabonds, did his time with them give him any indication they may be giving us any support? Also ask if he has had to fight any of the crack Netillian infantry. If we come up on any of those guys its going to be a real pain and they shouldn't be underestimated at all.
>>
Back from work. Today was real busy.

>>4929261
>>4929560
Map and cigars.

>>4929445
>>4929560
>>4929610
>>4929704
Ask about this army- their resolve, their drive. How they fight and why.

>>4929787
Ask about Kalderhaus, and how they might be involved. Also his take on the enemy.

Writing.
>>
I cut my writing time too close, and posting everything will take more time than I've left. So an update won't come til late. Sorry guys.

On a side note though, it took a while since I've already been running into writer's block. It might help if I write an aside. Not a long one, or an extended side perspective, but a different view. If there's anything you'd like to see, go ahead and say.
As well as drawings, of course.
>>
>>4931400
Its all good boss. Noone would hold it against you if you needed to take the summer off to reset.
>>
>>4931400
I think it might be nice to see what our weapon development is like, there's certainly been a lot of feedback, and it must have been sent back.

Might be a cool interlude
>>
>>4931400
>It might help if I write an aside. Not a long one, or an extended side perspective, but a different view.
Aw sweet, Flottepanzer Quest is coming.
>>
>>4931488
This, I want to see what new toys the Army is coming up with
>>
>>4931400
I think it would be a nice change of pace to see a naval cannon that's actually attached to a naval craft. Round out the represented service branches with the navy or coastguard. Or Space Force
>>
There was something you wanted to know from experienced (relatively) Republic leadership- it hadn’t been a concern yet, but it was apparent that the Army of the Republic of Mittelsosalia was not a match by itself for other armies, not yet. Most of the front, you knew, was actually being fought by the Ellowian Army, but the Silver Lances had been divided between the Republics’ shares. The exact amount of Mittelsosalian troops was unclear- you couldn’t have presumed there were that many of them. Wild as it had been, Sosaldt had not been known for a dense population save in various city states, and even those tended to be smaller than cities elsewhere, from what you’d heard, and that was without going into materiel woes.

“How do you feel about the Army of the Republic? Of Mittelsosalia,” you started. It was descended from your command as Kommandant- it wasn’t an inquiry motivated solely by the present situation. “Do you feel, I suppose, unified? Does this war feel important enough for what all of you have to do? When we get to Netilland, would you still want to be fighting?”

“…Ah, that’s a long one, and not what I was expecting…you want me to ramble, huh?” Planckner drew a deep breath, “Hoo. Well. I mean,” He gestured to the remains of his Death Heads garb on him, “Everybody remembers how things were before, what we were doing and did. Thing is…things’re better. A lot of the training of new people into what’d be the army that Mittelsosalia has now? Securing all the land in it. Making sure everybody answers to the Minister of the People and the Assemblies. Before, it was…well, y’know how it was. Now there’s Republic Army outposts all over, but they’re mostly the old militias, working together instead of against each other. It’s not perfect, but things are a lot quieter, a whole lot safer, and there’s safe enough travel for there to be people from other countries comin’ through. I don’t know what Wossehn’s been feeding the Assemblies and the Ministers, besides himself, he’s the Minister of Economy, but nobody has to be in some sort of gang or inn to make cash anymore. Everybody’s richer, overnight. Not that the sheepdogs’ve been helping with that, they came in and we had to tighten our belts again, but…” Plackner shook his head, “They owe us, big time. Point is, things didn’t go to shit. So everybody’s sure this will go good. Won’t it? So many of the Northern Lords got their pants beat off them. They have to join up with the Republic one way or another. Then they’ll see how it’s better. I don’t even care that the Assemblies aren’t full since we haven’t had a proper election yet. As long as the Ministers still have the say-so, things should keep going fine.”

That didn’t sound like a democracy, a republic, to you, but the times were extreme.
>>
“Maybe we didn’t feel so sure about how important this was starting out, but the Minister of the Army…a guy from across the ocean east, he led some rebellion of a part of Caelus against the rest of the Federation and fled here after he lost. He talked about how Mittelsosalia had to prove that it could fight in order to stand as an equal. If we can’t show we can fight, we’ll just have everything taken away from us. See, I was just doing the only job I knew after losing my girl and thinking I got another only to see I got a One Night to go with my One Day record, but I gave a shit after. If we fuck this up, we’re messing things up for everybody after, you know. And everything that’s before. Dunno if everybody thinks the same way, but I think a lot of people do. This is so everything can be better, not so somebody else can get their country back.”

“Maybe more hope th’n you ought’a have,” Schafer said gruffly, from the turret where you didn’t think he was listening. He still didn’t seem to be.

“They’re what a lot of people got.”

Schafer made a dismissive grunt.

“Anyways. I know we look tired and beat. It’s not ‘cause we don’t want to fight anymore. I mean, it is, but…we want to win.” Planckner seemed rather proud of that last presumption. Maybe he believed that his victories thus far, brutal as they were, meant that such a win surely awaited at the end of it all, as a just destiny.

“So you see yourself stopping at the Netillian border?” you asked.

Planckner blinked at you. “If we don’t beat the Netillians bad enough, they’ll just come right back.”

“Yes. Yes they will.” A fair point that gave you a strange amount of dread. “You mentioned the Ministers of Economy and the Army, what about the Minister of the People?”

“Cyclops? I used to think she was just some power hungry warlord hiding what she wanted. Guys get retarded because they want to stick their dicks in girls, they don’t end up thinking about how they can be just as cold and greedy as any man, worse sometimes. She’d be far from the only woman who’s grabbed power around these parts. Then she dove into that last big battle, and I hear we ended up winning because she used herself as bait. Got wounded too, but she’s recovering.”

That small sequence of words made your blood pool in your feet before trying to fuzz out through your head. A steadying hand went to the tank. “…So she’s alright?”
>>
“They kept the news low for a while. I get it. If the Minister of the People got killed, well, things would be a real mess right now. Maybe it was a little reckless of her, but it convinced me she believes in this. In us.” He tapped his cap, “I wear this because I like it, but I dunno how much I like of it anymore besides how it looks.”

Reckless, brave Signy. The distractions of the front had kept you from knowing what might have happened to her, besides an assumption, a self-assurance, that she’d be alright, perhaps only to keep yourself from fretting. Yet, if she had been wounded, then she had come altogether too close to death…

“Allow me a moment,” you said. You had turned your back as Planckner had been talking, and then leaned forward onto the tank, resting your head on its hull.



“Sorry,” you said as you pushed yourself back up, “I felt lightheaded. Maybe I need water.”

“Keep hydrated even when it’s cold,” Schafer said unnecessarily. “Especially in front of the people you’re supposed t’ inspire.”

Yes, yes, you thought, you weren’t the most impressive figure right now. If you had your mask and prosthetic taken away, and your uniform, maybe you’d look rather pathetic, but for now, you were a Silver Lance. “You mentioned that you fought the Netillian Elite?” You got back on track, “I want to know how you managed.”

“Well. We didn’t,” Planckner said readily, an admission with no shame, “Frankly we got our asses kicked up and down the hills, but they couldn’t rout us, and they couldn’t destroy us. We outlasted them. They didn’t know the ground as well as we did, and they liked to overcompensate with their firepower. Once we figured out they blew off a lot of steam at once, we’d only fight them a little at a time. It was rough, but when they started losing energy, we’d hit them back. That tended to work good…on the defense. When we had to attack them, they pulled out every trick they had. They underestimated us when they had us on the back foot, but they used our tactics against us just as well, and they could do them even better ‘cause they’ve got all sorts of fancy toys. Their elites adapt quick. It’s hard for them to straight up lose more than once. I’d be happy never fightin’ them again, honestly. They’re constantly moving, and they’re hard to pin down. The only thing I can say works well is if you can trick them well enough that you’re making a big attack that you make them move because you want them to, not because they’re bobbing and weaving around you like a boxer.”

That sounded about right- your experience with them had them being so squirrely that you practically felt forced to set half the field aflame to deprive them of their maneuvers.
>>
“Thankfully, we shouldn’t have to fight them anymore,” Plancker said with a sigh of relief. An assumption you didn’t so readily share- you were ready for them to appear again, however inexplicably. “They were the first people who got the hell out when the Netillians started sprinting north again. Their normal guys are pretty tough too, but they’re not as clean and coordinated. You can catch them. They don’t learn as quick, they’re not so fast to see you’ve got a weakness so that you have to keep changing up what you’re doing. They die when they’re shot. I’ve heard plenty about the Twice Damned being tough too, but there’s no way they’re stronger than those guys in the dish helmets and armor and fast firing rifles.” Netillian Mechanized guards- they had newer helmets, newer uniforms with camouflage, many advantages. “They’re probably just on the level of those normal Nets. Which is to say, when we hit them hard, they’ll swing back real damn hard, but we’ll have time to react and prepare. Maybe even hit them where they aren’t ready. They like to throw everything into a critical point as hard as they can, the Nets. If they can. That was most of the Mechanized Regiment’s battles. Having to hit those critical points head on. It wasn’t so long ago that we didn’t have any tanks left at all.”

“You’ve been through quite a lot,” you felt the need to say. Yes, he’d said as much, but how much Plancker had been through had been abstract until he detailed how the enemy moved, how they attacked.

Planckner smiled weakly. “Like I said. We’re the toughest around in brown.” It was believable. Even if they were likely still second to Silver Lance Panzergrenadier.

“I’ve yet to see contention.” You said, “You said you were of Von Kalderhaus’s territories? Do you know if they’re involved with this?”

Planckner’s smile vanished. “I dunno, Lieutenant. I dipped out…about two years ago or so. I don’t know what they might be doing, just that we’re pretty far from the Cauldron for them to care. Why would you think they have something to do with this?”

“I heard tell of their name’s involvement from some vagabonds.” Really, it was a mote of curiosity concerning one of its scions- one you’d recently met, as a completely different person from the one you were now. Territorial Lords were forbidden from sending out support from their local concerns or Archducal obligations- only the Silver Lances, technically swords for hire, officially ventured out. For the Von Kalderhauses to directly intervene would be seen as being as much as Strossvald directly intervening as a nation, unless such actions were rebuked harshly by the Archduke and the Capital.
>>
“That’d make no damn sense at all,” Planckner shook his head, “Sounds like bullshit, honestly. They’re good folks, for high nobles. Knew one called Vars that was about as good as I’ve seen, both in a fight and in how he acted.”

…Was that so? What might have changed, you wondered, but not too much. Planckner probably couldn’t tell you much, and inquiring about Vars Von Kalderhaus for seemingly no reason went a little beyond idle chatter. “That’s about all I had to ask,” you said, “Was there anything else you wanted from us?”

“Nah. Besides, to be ready to go when it’s time, but I don’t think that’s needed, huh?”

With that, Planckner and you exchanged salutes again, and he let you be. There were a few more things you tried to do in camp- hoping against hope, you searched for smoke munitions that might be shot from your cannon. A lack of memory indicated it was a possibility, yes? Alas, no. Mortars had smoke, artillery fired smoke, even some new eight centimeter howitzer armed vehicles, but your own direct fire cannon lacked such a munition (to be quite fair, your own gun was so unique it shared ammunition with the anti-tank cannons, not other tanks). The people asked even gave you a strange look- though you insisted that a direct fire smoke munition would be very useful, no? Maybe you just wanted a munitions caster, really. You remembered the Netillian armored cars from when you played the part of Sleepwalker- it had multiple direct fire smoke tubes. If only you could scrounge up enough munitions casters…or perhaps run it by enough people. You certainly brought up a vague “hearing of it” enough.

Area maps were readily available, but they lacked much of the smaller details you hoped for. Things you hoped would be filled out by Planckner’s planned reconnaissance mission. It was better than nothing, of course, but the reconstructions of high altitude aerial photographs only suggested so much when it came to fighting in those blurry shapes in close quarters.

It came time to leave, and with little ceremony, the entire camp uprooted itself in a cloud of frosty dust and went off in all different directions- it was awful, initially, but the kickup became tolerable once the groups divided up more. Clouds both on your level and above hid any planes- but you heard them droning nevertheless. At least you could count on a swarm of friendly ones the next day…
>>
As the sky darkened and camp was made again, much closer to the front lines, where the sounds of meager battle were audible, and sentries advised to be much more alert- and numerous. You and Von Rotehof made your camp in the midst of the demi-company you were to support, burrows dug under the tanks and lean-tos of oilcloth and poles made against the tanks as makeshift tents. They might keep out most of the snow falling, as the ground grew cold enough to not melt them upon touchdown. As you took out a piece of blackflower confection (Kissing Candy, as it was called), Hausen took notice.

“Been meaning to ask,” he said, “Lieutenant, why’ve you got Discounts up your sleeve? Where’d you get them? Pretty hard to use them here, especially if you’re only set to use ‘em on your wife.”

“Er,” you didn’t put away the Blackflower. “It helps me relax.” They did have a mild relaxing effect, of course, but the truth was rather…complicated.

“Cigarettes are a lot cheaper. Or liquor.” He was far from incorrect. Blackflower was a regulated substance, but also, one difficult to properly prevent from being made. Blackflower defied attempts to cultivate it or grow it domestically- it only sprouted in seemingly random places, not even necessarily in the wild, and that made it both hard to find and thus expensive, but also remarkably easy to discover by mere chance.
“I don’t smoke, and I don’t want to become an alcoholic. Blackflower does not have a debilitating effect upon health or mind.”

Hausen sensed a secret, and narrowed his eyes. “You know why they’re called discounts, yeah? Go to a lady of the night with a controlled dose, so they know it won’t just put them to sleep, and they’ll see a real good time. They’ll do it for free, even. Those are expensive enough that it’s not worth using on some street trollop, though.”

“I will tragically be unable to utilize this information,” you said dully.

“We can share these things with one another, you know.”

“I know,” you said, “It’s not anything you might think, it’s…very strange. I have bad dreams without it. It’s nothing…sexy.”

“Save one for your sweetheart. She’ll thank you.”

“Hmm.”

“Anyways. You didn’t say back then. You like the grass long or cut?”

“What?”

“Down below, on girls.”

“…” you delayed on that as you put away the bag of candies and rolled over. You’d thought to negotiate for blackflower of a cheaper sort, but more of it, but that seemed unlikely, with no apparent uses.

>Tell your other crewmen a more detailed truth of your Blackflower habit?
Also-
>Your gardening preferences. “I’m not answering that” or the like is acceptable.
>>
>>4931791
>Nope, bad dreams and that's that.
>The best grass is the one growing on a woman you love.
>>
>>4931791
>Nope.Without it I get nightmares, with it I don't
>Cut
>>
>>4931791
>Tell them about the demiphantom.
>Shaven
>>
>>4931791
>Tell him a ghost story about the Demiphantom and use that as you explanation.
>Bush
>>
>>4931791
First
>A more detailed truth but not necessarily the whole truth. A wizard did it
Second, a compromise
>"A garden without greenery is no garden at all, yes? However, how might one tend said garden without the necessity of some orderly path cleared about the place?"
>>
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1.72 MB PNG
>>4931791
>Keep it vague, bad sleep and such.
>Bush
>>
>>4931791
>Nightmares. Voices in the dark, Phantoms from the deep. Poltergiests and spirits.
>Shaven
>>
>>4931791
>Keep it vague, bad sleep and such.
>Trimmed
>>
>>4931791
>It helps keep a dreamless sleep, devoid of dead men and monsters.
>Stick me in a turret and call me a Bushmaster.
>>
>>4932313
Seconding
>>
Rolled 1 (1d3)

>>4931824
>>4931827
>>4932197
>>4932266
>>4932313
>>4932381
>>4932375
Be vague. The whole truth is unnecessary as it is troublesome.

>>4931842
>>4931880
>>4931973
Rumors of sorcery.

The other...was more contentious than I would have thought.

>>4931824
The estate matters more than the foliage.

>>4931827
>>4931842
>>4932266
A pebble from the bottom of a stream.

>>4931880
>>4932197
>>4932375
As wooly as a sheep.

>>4931973
>>4932313
>>4932381
Cut into shape as a hedge in a garden.

We can knit these together. Sort of. Though for fun, we'll see what a roll gives from the first through last trio for a slight inclination whether realized or not. Though the slight inclinations will always be chaos as they sway with the vote.

Writing.

>>4931488
Weapons development at home.

>>4931651
Soggy men in the water.

>>4931485
>if you needed to take the summer off to reset.
I'd prefer not to take quite that long a period unless it's to set up another side quest. Which I'm intending to do once you actually go back home and marry your fiancee. Or perhaps, if.
>>
“…” You had to think about it, for some reason. Maddalyn was…smooth down there, whenever you’d spent time with her thighs on your shoulders. It was how she was, and you liked it, but would you mind different? You had heard tell of the “fiery flower” that was the gift of red haired women, and the thought of what was atop her head sprouting between her legs wasn’t unpleasant at all. Though, if you had to pick one…you couldn’t. What mattered was her, not the length of hair.
“I’d say that the best grass grows on the woman you love.”

“Cop out,” Hausen said dully, “Boring. Pick one.”

“I can’t,” you said back, equally flat, “She’d look good with anything.”

“You do know how she keeps herself, right?”

“Yes.”

“And?”

“I’m not saying.”

“Bald is better,” Hausen stated when you didn’t budge, “Everything’s in proper view, and it means you don’t get hair stuck in your teeth. You do go down, yeah?”

“That is a private matter.”

“C’mon, Lieutenant. We’re both men, we’re out in the middle of an icy dust bin getting blown up and shot. I’m not asking you to map her out. I can give you some advice.”

“I don’t need advice,” you said roughly. “She knows best and I do what I tell her.” Yet you couldn’t help but be intrigued- after all, the depth of your wisdom on the matter was nothing to boast about.

“That’s good. Communication is good. But you want to surprise her sometimes, right? If you just do what she says, she’ll just tell you how she does things when her hands are below the sheets, which she sounds like she does plenty of, if she knows well enough to tell. Look over here.” Hausen made a lewd shape with his hands in the dim red electric lamplight, “You know all the bits here, yeah?”

“I can’t believe this conversation is continuing.”

“I’m helping you out, Lieutenant. You’re helping out your sweetheart. Bite the bullet, and let’s talk pussy. Now, it might not hit you naturally, but if you move things like this, like this…”
>>
You didn’t come out of this lecture with appreciation for the uninvited enlightenment, but…well, you’d find out when you got back home. If you didn’t forget this, which you were hoping you’d do until your radioman handed you a little sucker.

“Practice makes perfect. This is bigger than what’s being worked with, but the important thing is to get the tongue movement down.”

“No thank you,” you evaded in a masterful fashion, “I already have candy. It’s for sleep. Truly.” It was, even if the deeper truth was more uncomfortable. “My dreams conjure up dark things. I’d rather not see them, and blackflower keeps my sleep peaceful and devoid of dead men and monsters.”

“They’ll bother you less if you talk about them outside your dreams, you know.”

“I understand,” you said, “But maybe later.” You put a candy in your mouth. “For now, I’ll have my quiet dark.”

-----

In Strosstadt, a quiet meeting took place in the office of the Minister of Defense of the Archduchy, Keidel Von Stropfe. Though to be true, it was less a meeting and more an audience to him reviewing and signing pages, which rested in a great stack in an attendant’s hands.

“These evaluations and proposals are to be viewed and approved by the Archduke himself, my lord Von Stropfe…” the attendant said nervously, “Should he not be…well. Convinced to cease socializing with that young woman with him?”

“They are for the Archduke to pass his judgment upon,” Von Stropfe agreed tiredly, “But Siegfried has decided to place such duties upon myself instead whilst he entertains the Von Blum.” A young woman barely over eighteen years of age. He hoped he would not do anything foolish. “I am well apprised of these proposals. We will go through them nevertheless. At the very least, that will make these decisions quick.”
>>
Firstly, were matters of the infantry. For some time, it was known that the Grossreich of Czeiss equipped their troops with automatic loading rifles, in numbers to replace their old weapons near entirely in many units. Candidates for a similar replacement had been laid out- Von Stropfe denied them nevertheless. The territories could arm their elite how they wished, but replacement of all infantry rifles would be a massive project, with partial measures sure to show little for the logistical complication. Obligating all the territories to rearm according to Capital standards, for such an expense as this, would not go well at all. The Von Muse machine gun was serviceable- the only proposal was to issue alternative parts to improve its durability, as had been seeing some success abroad. Similarly, an increase in production of the Von Muse submachineguns, to start replacing the rather old models still in service. The new guns were not more powerful, but they were far less archaically designed than the Old Messer and more reliable than the Esterfabrik knockoffs somehow still in armories. Less exciting minutiae such as communications equipment were approved- the Battle Line was made far stronger by improvements to its rear line structure and nerve system than by individual weapons, even if their expense was significant.

Interesting weapons had been encountered in Sosaldt by the Silver Lances, and examples had been sent back with advise to reverse engineer them, both devices called Munitions Casters, and another bizarre electronic device retrieved under dubious circumstances. Such things were still quite secret projects- Von Stropfe nevertheless used the Archduke’s approval in absentia to look deeper into them. Especially the odd device- there were flaws in the Archduchy’s armed forces that might necessitate an advantage like it might give, even if the Munitions Casters might be more cheaply imitated through proliferation of simpler light mortars, though maybe improved through study of the Netillian device.

Artillery was still sufficient. As the backbone of the Battle Line, an effort had been made years back to utilize various methods to give the Archduchy’s howitzers a range advantage, even if slight, over the most common enemies. A new proposal to further extend range using larger and longer bores with incrementally sized projectiles (differences of rather few millimeters made quite a difference) were thus not signed off upon. There was already argument between theorists and the troops who had to handle the guns that they ill needed the guns to be even larger, and potentially difficult to handle, without suitable expansive mechanization. An expense such that it was not even brought up now.
>>
On the subject of mechanization, however- the Armored Corps. Panzer theorists had grim projections based off of the performance of their equipment in recent wars. Though the m/28 and m/32 had been performing well for themselves, the former was obsolete, and the latter seeming to have reached its best potential earlier than expected. The m/32 could bear the burden of the five centimeter gun, which improved its effectiveness to be able to pierce the armor of most foes’ armored vehicles, but its own armor did not protect it against guns of similar caliber to its own at combat ranges, and the weight of extra armor was detrimental to performance. The Von Blum territory had produced their own variant, whose record in the Valsten conflict recently had been remarkable, but they had not elected to share it with the rest of the Archduchy, nor what they had learned about its weight tolerances and engine issues, which were only now being addressed in the wider Armored Corps. Proposals were multifaceted- hull conversions of the m/28 and m/32 both to accommodate larger guns and armor in self-propelled gun variants, adaptations of the m/28-31 turret to improve the smaller, older tanks’ lifespans, but the most radical proposals involved simply accelerating native engineering projects in order to replace the Naukland designs once and for all.

One such project was the Roland II Tank, which Von Stropfe himself oversaw. Procurement of equipment for a branch such as the armored forces had been problematic, since a native design, though Strossvald’s industry could produce it, was feared to carry the risk of competition and rivalry between the territories. Yet, in secret, a Capital design had been in development anyways, anticipating further centralization measures where the Territorial Lords would grumble less at not having their own special models or being made to use another Lord’s creation. Named for the first Archduke, it was a larger vehicle than the m/32, better armored, as maneuverable, and much better armed, as direct-fire experience from the Silver Lances had prompted the remark of putting a high-velocity eight centimeter cannon upon a proper tank. The vehicle had been in development for almost two years, now, and though it would likely not be ready for proper production for another year still…it was the Minister of Defense’s favorite child. It was given priority over proposals for new medium tank development. The m/32 would do for some time, he thought, but the principle of the Battle Line favored stronger tanks, able to efficiently devastate their opponents, rather than a vast swarm of armor that the rest of the line could not keep up with anyways.
>>
Then, the air forces. What a mess that the Minister did not want to deal with whatsoever. The Bomber Corps was well organized and equipped, but the fighters were a motley mess of different designs piloted by hotshots who didn’t fit in with authority. In Valsten, the initial momentum of the preemptive offensive managed to throw the Valstener air force off balance, but signs from then as well as observations of the renewed conflict between Ellowie’s expatriates and Netilland showed how inferior the Archduchy’s air power truly was. Yet any change would be excruciating- the fighter corps had not gone through the extensive standardization and chain of command centralization that the armies had gone through, and their present authorities would loath to be “shackled” in such a way now.
Yet there was no choice. Anti-aircraft ground weapons surrendered the initiative and no matter how effective they were, they were observed to be weapons of attrition rather than instruments of decisive victory. Something would have to be done, but it was a political and logistical tangle such that it couldn’t be resolved here. All Von Stropfe could do was arrange an assembly for discussion of the problem, and discretely purchase newer models of fighter craft as preparation for less complicated times.

All in all, it had taken the rest of the evening to go over everything before Von Stropfe dismissed the aide with everything signed off on, or not. Yet, as the young man saluted and left the office, the Minister of Defense couldn’t help but think of how much easier this was, while the Archduke was distracted with drowning his misery in vices…

…He also thought then, of how many others had come to the same realization.

-----
>>
You had hoped your dreams would indeed be dark. Yet, when you found yourself asleep, you also found yourself aware. In the comfortable void of rest, but ahead, you saw…what must have been doors. A familiar door was one- a steel vault door, the entry to the laboratory in the Blumlands- you strayed towards it, and it cleaved itself in twain, and spun slowly out into two other doors.
This was certainly a dream, you thought, as both open doors came closer, slowly. Yet, they would pass by if you did not move. Perhaps that would be preferable- to close your eyes again, and refuse this new dream, but you somehow knew the names of these doors, if not where they led.

To the left was the Door of the World’s Memories. Beyond it, was the past. To the right was the Door of Ghosts. There, in the mists of the forgotten, were the souls of those passed. Neither were precise- their paths meandered and wandered, but they beckoned gently- a voice of a familiar multitude from each. Would these not be more restful than mere darkness, the numerous questioned in silence, or would you be stubborn still? You could deafen and blind yourself, if you liked, but the hand reached out, patiently, and would wait for you to take hold nevertheless, if only you wished to.

>Go to the Door of the World’s Memories
>Go to the Door of Ghosts
>Turn your back. The dark is what you desire.
>Other?
>>
>>4932610
>Other?
Open both doors and see what comes out of each?


>imitated through proliferation of simpler light mortars
Cant wait for Infantry Mortars to be a squad level asset
>>
>>4932610
>Go to the Door of the World’s Memories

>Military developments
Well, modernisation seems to be coming along, even if it's pretty mixed (no semi-autos, boo).
The Roland II looks really interesting; wonder if the von Blums are doing anything of their own (something to explore if/when we get back?)
Also Matilda with the Archduke is...concerning. I guess losing both his sons under incredibly suspicious circumstances just broke the man.
>>
>>4932631
>Open both doors and see what comes out of each?
They are both already open. You may only pass through one.
>>
>>4932610
>>Go to the Door of the World’s Memories
>>
>>4932692
Well in that case,
>Turn your back. The dark is what you desire.

Better to confront the Demiphantom now then wait till its to late
>>
>>4932610
>>Go to the Door of the World’s Memories
>>
>>4932610
>Go to the Door of the World’s Memories
>>
>>4932610
>>Go to the Door of Ghosts
>>
>>4932610
>Go to the Door of the World’s Memories

I am disappointed the Battle Line continues but not surprised. Thank christ we'll get some kind of infantry launcher/mortar out of this.
I am hesitant to think the radar we plundered will help much if Archduchy fighter air doctrine is just Aces doing Ace things instead of team coordination.

If Matilda carries a bastard...is that what's going to cause it all to touch off?
>>
>>4932610
>Go to the Door of the World’s Memories
>>
>>4932610
>Go to the Door of the World’s Memories
Semi-auto rifles are a huge paradigm shift. You're making a mistake, Von Stropfe.
>>
I don't know if anyone mentioned this OP, but the consistent quality of the writing and scheduling makes me truly believe you will see this quest through. And by golly I love every moment of it.
>>
>>4932689
>>4932694
>>4932698
>>4932700
>>4932944
>>4933035
>>4933146
Stand from atop the summit of present, and look back upon the mists of the past.

>>4932695
Turn about and face the night once more. It is a familiar and comfortable embrace.

>>4932885
Look back on those who have passed, yet remain still.

So we'll need a few things before we progress to writing. I will need 3 sets of 1dX, where the X is any number, up to three thousand, and a location. Then after those, I need a 1d3 to pick from one of them. The X rolled is going to be the number of years you'll peek back- keep in mind that the recorded history of Vinstraga cuts off at roughly two thousand or so years, with the calendar year being based upon the supposed landing date of the Nauk, or, depending on who you ask, the founding of the Cathedra on the new continent.

You're going to be off target unless you get very lucky. Don't worry too much about it. I know a lot of people aren't going to have a firm idea of the historical timeline of things, but Richter had half his knowledge fly off anyways. If it's something you think you really ought to know nevertheless though, like relatively common knowledge rather than a guess, I can inform you of the rough date.

>>4932944
There is indeed only so much one can do when the organization and state in general are resistant to change when it comes to centralization and standardization- though things are certainly better than they used to be, Strossvald has generally shifted in its economic institutions far before military or governmental ones, so it has managed to grow and gain wealth rather well in spite of appearances, though it does vary on the territory. Personal property rights were principle among the changes made by the rebellion led by the first Archduke Strossvald in order to get the popular support needed to take back the land.
>bastard
Bastards are forbidden from inheriting, generally, especially if there are other heirs or pretenders, and the Archduke has been known for licentiousness. Though really, any aspiring court socialite knows how to avoid such a controversy unless they'd like one...

>>4932689
The question of succession is extremely controversial now- and the Archduke's options are limited on top of his grief. He might want to chase away his misery- as far as many might be concerned, all young noblewomen are cut from similar cloth of cunning, but Mathilda Von Blum does have a particular history, doesn't she?


>>4933165
I appreciate it, though the scheduling might be...well, it was better in the past. I'm glad you're enjoying it.
>>
Rolled 1189 (1d3000)

>>4933291
Strossvald, and let the dice decide.
>>
>>4933291
How long ago was the first Archduke (and our ancestor's) time?
>>
Rolled 793 (1d2581)

>>4933291
>>
Rolled 26 (1d33)

>>4933291
Aiming for the Emrean War
>>
Rolled 3 (1d3)

>>4933291
>>
>>4933313
I ended up passing out before I saw this and could answer this, but, the The Duke's Revolt, before anybody knew it would result in an Archduchy, was taking place in 1837. Helman (who would be dubed Von Tracht) was in his forties then, and a rather full family to ride along with his mercenary band.
It's an important enough event to be elucidated upon at some point. Enough that I may be planning an aside for something involving blackpowder and bayonet, if it isn't just something brief, depending.

>>4933307
>>4933333
Big rollers. Nice quints. Looking real far back.

>>4933336
>>4933358
Though it seems it's modern history time.

Writing.
>>
To the left you went- with a vague idea of where it went. An uncertain desire. A place you hadn’t been, but you knew of. Your feet carried you through, and forth, and where there was nothing, you felt somebody else take your place, as the mists coalesced into a reality.

It was 1907, in the Republic of Emre, in its cool midlands, away from the front to the south and the Reich holdouts and their navy’s raids in the north, from the large island, Geant Solitaire- twenty six years ago, before you were even born. Two years from the beginning of the Emrean War, though for the first seven months, from August of 1905 it was countryman against countryman in the north in a continuance from minor insurgency and resistance months even before the Rebel took to the field as a significant force. Now, however, the Emreans stood together, as the protectorate and the former authorities under the Reich found themselves disillusioned with their Imperial masters, and inspired by the stubbornness of the Revolutionaries, and joined forces with their former enemies. Through March of 1906 to now, early in 1907, The Grossreich of Czeiss had been foiled in putting down this rebellion, much to their puzzlement and frustration. Half a year of fighting one another had given the Emreans harsh lessons in modern warfare, lessons the Reich should have been aware of, but had to learn for themselves over the past year as they struggled to break the deadlock of trenches and subjugate the north once more, when the sheer mass of manpower and materiel failed to work. Now, even the once chaotic mess of Protectorate and Reich troops had become stern and blooded- no longer did they haphazardly smash themselves against prepared defenses in vain attempts to force their way through with will alone.

The Emreans were not particularly more united, however. There were two armies, two nations, in technicality, working as one. The former Emrean Protectorate administration and were the most unified, the most experienced in handling domestic affairs, and their forces made up roughly two fifths of the cause, calling themselves the Garde Nationale. The majority of fighters and a goodly share of Emre was of the Revolution, who followed the principles of Anton Ange, though the division between belief in the message of independence and nationalism, and the cause of Utopia, further divided the Revolutionaries. As the beginning of the war had set the Protectorate and the Revolutionaries against one another, the alliance was a begrudging one for many in the beginning, but now the Emreans had been battling the Reich for longer than one another.
>>
Far off in town, the lamp posts glowed, unafraid of airships for now, and far away from the front, where no blasts of artillery echoed. The only sounds were of revelry. The night air was chilly- your grey-blue longcoat was comfortingly warm, a new uniform piece to replace the old colors of the Protectorate, and the weight of your rifle slung over your back was reassuring. The Revolutionaries were innovators in the extreme, sometimes for political reasons, and their image of “Rafael the Rebel” was such that they preferred to make their own guns anew rather than arm themselves from Reich stock, if they could. Something the Garde Nationale had no qualms with. Yet, you’d chosen a newer model of rifle, anyways. Was it not better that way?

“Hey, Martin,” a voice said in Emrean. For some reason, you could understand it. You knew the meaning, though not the words. “Quit standing about with your cock in your hand, you fat duck. We need to check if anybody’s out there still screwing around.”

He was a quiet type. You might have responded, but this Martin was not you. Martin was in training, and many of his mates had gone to town and back to have fun. Martin did not know the muck of mud, the stink of chemicals, the stench of old and new death mixing in miasma. He was from Lunaire, the capital of the Protectorate and the Capital of Emre now, and had only been conscripted a few months ago, as the new Republic of Emre was forced to recognize that a war against the Reich would require more than volunteers to defend it, even if Emre was a territory so prosperous and populated that they were stronger than several other pieces of the Reich put together.

Martin was proud and vain, very much an Emrean stereotype. Yet, his mind was also yours, though you did not sink completely into his being. Why would he not be proud? He was not a Utopian, but he considered himself Revolutionary nevertheless, as the former Protectorate forces all claimed when they switched sides. Emrean culture was the greatest in the world, his home of Lunaire was a beating heart of art and culture and invention, where man had (supposedly) first taken flight in powered craft but fourteen years ago. Many had thought the Reich might be an insurmountable opponent, but they had failed to crush Emre for a year, now, and that was after the country had battered itself badly in a war against its own people.

He did not know there would be three more years and eight months until armistice. Much could happen in that amount of time.

You went with the Emreans and dragged out your comrades from brothels, from bars, and picked them off the streets where some stumbled about. You were all to be deployed to the front in a few days. Maybe you should have gone out tonight…it wasn’t like the Lieutenant or the Sergeant liked you much anyways. They held you in contempt, while the tavernkeepers and girls loved you and all like you, heroes, ready to go forth and defeat the Kaiser and his dogs…
>>
You blinked, shook your head, but Martin’s didn’t move, until he left you behind, and you felt as though you were floating in but air, recollecting who you were, quickly. Yet, with things from Martin’s knowledge sticking about. You still knew no Emrean, of course, but the awareness of his history, this situation…there were things maybe you hadn’t even known before, and certainly things you were reminded of. Yet, was this also but your imagination? It felt quite real, though the experience was brief…

”Do you like to see this? To experience it? It is offered unto you…”

“Who..?” You breathed, and whirled about, but the voice came from nowhere. “How?”

”In time…we will be one. This and more, are offered unto you…You have lost much. Much may be given, as a gift unto you…lost memories, lost friends, time and soul, gifts…”

The voice of a multitude. You recognized it now- it was…the Demiphantom. It was much more articulate than you remembered…but, for that, it was not so overpowering. The world around you began to fade- if you closed your eyes, as it were, you felt that you could simply will it all away. There was no power over you.

Yet…

>Reject this offering. Sever yourself from this unwanted entangling. Maybe it will return, but you do not wish to hear these voices, no matter their gifts.
>Accept this. Could you deny that you might need something like this? Maybe there would be more…
>Speak to the voices. Even as you thought to reject them. They spoke, now they will listen…(Ask what?)
>Other?
>>
>>4933699
>Speak to the voices. Even as you thought to reject them. They spoke, now they will listen…
>Why? Will I not lose myself in a past that is not mine?
>>
>>4933699
>Accept this. Could you deny that you might need something like this? Maybe there would be more…
>>
>>4933699
>Speak to the voices. Even as you thought to reject them. They spoke, now they will listen…(Ask what?)

And what of the other multitude that are clearly one with you? Do they speak alone or are they subservient to your will?

Tell it that it doesn't matter what the Demiphantom wants, a being more powerful will soon come to take it away from us and there will never be a joining.
>>
>>4933699
>Reject this offering. Sever yourself from this unwanted entangling. Maybe it will return, but you do not wish to hear these voices, no matter their gifts.
>>
>>4933699
>>Accept this. Could you deny that you might need something like this? Maybe there would be more…
>>
>>4933699
>>Reject this offering. Sever yourself from this unwanted entangling. Maybe it will return, but you do not wish to hear these voices, no matter their gifts.
aaaaah, I want the lore, really I do, but I think Richter functions just fine as he is with only one amalgamated group of idiots living in his head. No more room in here for Emreans or demons.
>>
>>4933699
>Reject this offering. Sever yourself from this unwanted entangling. Maybe it will return, but you do not wish to hear these voices, no matter their gifts.
No contracts with demons, even if the gift is pretty cool
>>
>>4933699
>Reject this offering. Sever yourself from this unwanted entangling. Maybe it will return, but you do not wish to hear these voices, no matter their gifts.
>>
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>>4933734
>>4933904
What if I lose myself? What are all of you? Are they alone or many?
Also fuk ur becoming one.

>>4933781
>>4934040
A tempting offer. One you might just take, for its potential...

>>4933922
>>4934142
>>4934166
>>4934197
No thanks, "Bro."

Calling vote here before I go to work today. In the meantime, this is a relatively older drawing of Anya's sister in her (non-nurse) wear. Reminder that I do take requests if desired, even if the deliveries are not timely.
>>
>>4934263
If we get another Anya outfit, I would like to put forward the suggestion of an office lady outfit. Frankly given her penchant for paperwork I'm surprised I haven't seen her like that already.
>>
>>4934263
More tonk drawings if you can. Maybe the Roland II prototype or some Reich design
>>
>>4934263
Draw a man
>>
>>4934263
>Reminder that I do take requests if desired
You've done it now. I think bringing to life Little Von Rotehof's watercolour of the Lances in the dustbowl would make a nice OP image.
>>4934671
inb4 featherless biped
>>
>>4935033
Uwaaa, debating the greeks is too easy~
>>
Alright, an unannounced day off later, I think I'm rejuvenated some. Update on the way.

>>4934392
Is it surprising that this has been asked for in the past? It really isn't, is it. Though, this would be an in-universe uniform. And not some forgotten quick sketch, I suppose.
>Frankly given her penchant for paperwork I'm surprised I haven't seen her like that already.
Mostly because, despite her talent for it, she (at least claims that she) hates being locked in an office doing files and reports rather than being in the field. One might say she's very good at it just so she can escape the office work more quickly.

>>4934566
The Roland II is a secret! Though there are Reich tanks I have but haven't depicted.
Honestly there's quite a bit that I've either had or have had in extended preparation that just doesn't have an excuse to get depicted. Probably something I'll amend at some point, even if it's just in the style of those illustrations in books where it's a bunch of different soldiers with little descriptive blurbs attached.

>>4934671
You must be specific! Though the idea I had described earlier might do for this...

>>4935033
>I think bringing to life Little Von Rotehof's watercolour of the Lances in the dustbowl would make a nice OP image.
Oh dear. While this would be fun, admittedly, when I think of art in-setting, I think of it being done by people more talented than I am, so reproducing it would probably not be a fair measure of what it's actually supposed to look like. It is doable still, I suppose.
>>
>>4936858
>Honestly there's quite a bit that I've either had or have had in extended preparation that just doesn't have an excuse to get depicted. Probably something I'll amend at some point, even if it's just in the style of those illustrations in books where it's a bunch of different soldiers with little descriptive blurbs attached.

Richter flipping through some IO tank identification guide to regain his knowledge seems like a good excuse
>>
The offer was a tempting one. What a resource this could be- what a spring of knowledge, of the sort you’d so regrettably lost. From the perspective and mind of the people in the time, even- you could know things that were but speculated. Yet. This “offering” was held out by a monstrosity and an abomination. What could it be but a temptation tailored for what you desired? There was no way you could make a deal with this horror.

“Why would I accept this gift?” You spoke to nothing, “Will I not lose myself in these pasts not mine?”

”Your being has flesh…These memories have not a drop of blood…you cannot be lost in a place not yours.” The voice had no emotion to it, no impatience. It was a recitation.

“How can I trust you?” You challenged next, “You speak with many voices, but can they speak alone? Or are they subservient to you, whatever you are?”

”We are a Well of Souls. We are many as one, as the Great Etz Hekal, the Tree of Life. I am one, as one day, we shall be.”

The Great Etz Hekal? you wanted to ask, but there were sources of knowledge besides this demon’s temptation. “Well,” you turned your back, though the voice came from everywhere, and closed your eyes. It was dark, as sleep should be. “It doesn’t matter what you want. Somebody stronger than you will come to take you away. There will never be a joining. Begone.”

Closing your eyes must have closed your ears, as well, at least to the Demiphantom. You heard nothing. No protests, no pleas, no bizarre predictions. What a kind gift of it, to banish itself without a fuss, you thought with a relieved slip into unconsciousness once more.

-----
>>
The surface of the pond was still, glass, the faint morning stars shining in its surface, save for when a breeze rippled it all away. A float upon a line swayed with the wind when it came- and up the line, a figure sat motionless on the bank of the cold water, a shawl over her shoulders, a hood that would normally be over her head, pulled back. She liked to feel the cool air upon her face, to hear the night as clear as a glass bell’s tone. She had fished in the past, along a river, and she had found the hobby again, after she’d established herself well enough in her new (hopefully temporary) home.

One wasn’t supposed to fish at it, but she threw her catches back when she came here, anyways. The fish were not the reward- that was the calm, the quiet, the contemplation and focus. Sometimes, while waiting for a tug on the line or the bob of the floater, she’d lose herself in peaceful blankness, and idle thought.

She laid a hand across her stomach, tried to reassure the new life growing within. A name hadn’t been thought of yet. When the woman had considered the question in the past, years before she was actually with child, she had assumed that she would simply name the child after her father or mother. Or what the father might want.

Yet. She couldn’t think of that last option. That brought to mind thoughts of…him.

He had been kind to her, in the end, hadn’t he?

No. She couldn’t spare a single thought. She could only forget. Else she might think of how else her life might have gone, if she hadn’t obsessed over but a single person. A look in the water- her ugly face stared back. It was so easy to forget what something looked like when you never saw it, wasn’t it? It was easy to think one’s feelings were beautiful and pure, until one considered what another person might think of them…it was easy to fall into a comfortable lie, where the object of affection felt exactly the same way in return, or perhaps, that they would merely given time.

“Hey,” a voice said, of a boy, “You’re the scary lady, aren’t you?”

The “scary lady” had heard him coming. She hadn’t cared, she didn’t feel threatened. There were no enemies here. “Yeah.” She said flatly.

“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be mean.”

“I’m scary looking. It’s not mean. It’s the truth.” A cold eye crept to the boy- probably thirteen or so, a cute one with dark curly locks. “Do you think I’m scary.”

“Well…” the boy hesitated, “What are you doing here so late? The signs say no fishing.”

“I’m not stealing any fish.”

“I don’t think the constables will believe you saying that if they come around.”

“They won’t catch me. I’m not taking anything. What’s the harm.” A pause, as a breeze blew through. “What time is it, boy. You should be asleep. What are you doing here.”

“I…came to see the scary lady.”
>>
“…” She was used to it. There just wasn’t anything to say. “Well. You saw her.”

“Some of the other boys think you’re a ghost. You only show up late at night and stay here for hours.”

“Maybe I am a ghost.”

“Others think you’re a witch who catches children up past their bedtime. Some kids snuck out here, then they started seeing you.”

The scary lady was losing interest. “What do you think I am.”

“Why do you keep rubbing your belly? Are you hungry?”

Yes, and now I’m going to eat you. “Yes. I’m pregnant, I’m always hungry.” There was no reason to share that, but she wanted to, nevertheless. It was reflexive, whenever she was introduced to men, to say at some point. Something she thought needed to be known, as much as the scarring and discoloration on her face and body. They needed to know the whole truth of her- though those she was staying with had convinced her to say she was a widow. A small lie for the sake of her son or daughter.

“You are?” The boy was befuddled and leaned in to look at her stomach, “Can a ghost get pregnant?”

The scary lady made an annoyed glance at the boy. “I don’t know. A witch can’t get pregnant. They can only bear the children of devils. That’s how I heard, anyways.”

“I guess you’re just a lady, then.”

“Yeah. Now quiet. You’ll scare the fish.”

She didn’t expect the boy to sit with her, but he did. Until it became uncomfortable.

“I have to go,” the scary lady said, reeling in her line, “Go to bed, kid.” She left him, and though he tried to follow, there was no way he could pursue somebody who had experienced what the woman had been through.

-----

It was dark when you woke up- a look at your watch after a fumbling flick of a red lamp to shine a tiny glow told you it’d be an hour before you were required to wake. It wasn’t worth trying to sleep again- you felt rested enough, anyways.

“Caedn’t slaep, bahss?” Jorgen said as you crept out of the lean-to and watched the dark horizon. Your loader was sitting on the front of the hull.

“I slept fine enough,” you said, “What about you?”

“Ahh,” Jorgen shook his head, “Draemed ahf mae waefe.”

“I don’t need the details,” you quickly said.

“Nae, nah,” Jorgen said sharply, “Naetlehk dat. Saeer faece an’ I caen’t slaep. Messer taemuch.”

“…You don’t act like you miss her, with how you are around women,” you observed.

“I claesemy aeys, an’ they caen try to beaer,” Jorgen said wistfully, “Caen’t saettle, caese naenarr gaednuff. Gaenfer ever.”
>>
Then go back, you might want to say, but the circumstances behind Jorgen’s self-imposed exile were more complicated than that- a mistake with identical twins, involving the bizarre Yaegir courtship rituals of…it was almost ritualized rape when described by the mere actions taken, but no Yaegir, man or woman, would see it that way. Regardless, many Yaegir never returned to their forest home, and somehow, you guessed your loader would not be different in that.

…The story of a spouse and her twin set you ill at east, considering your own fiancée and her younger sister. Even more so now that the difference between them you had assumed was actually a false one.

“You want coffee?” You asked Jorgen.

“Yeh. Yae?”

“No.”

“Yaes yedae.”

There was no arguing against it. Like medicine, your crew said, right up to the time where Malachi and Jorgen had betrayed you by holding you down and pinching your nose while dumping lukewarm coffee into your mouth. Negotiations had taken place merely to avert a repeat of that, rather than the vain hope that you’d never have to touch that burnt bean water again. At the very least, the foul tar-like substance was a reminder of where you were now. Away from the ghosts, away from the devils. Even if you were in a war zone, there was an odd pleasantness to merely having your feet firmly in what you knew was true. There were no strange mysteries here, nothing beyond your eyes, ears, and fingers. A simple and easy purpose. A lovely future to look forward to, once you were beyond these trials, and with a peerless piece of equipment and a skilled crew to see you through, even if you could not hope to match any of them, you were the commander keeping man and machine in unity.

With the dim prelude to sunrise, came Planckner, as well as a couple other Republic officers as grizzled as he was. His platoon commanders- he’d want you and Little Von Rotehof as well, you could already tell. Your fellow platoon member was roused readily enough, and all of you had convened at Planckner’s truck before the sun peeked up in dawn- a vehicle so beaten up it was like it had been fished up from the bottom of a river after rolling down a hill, but it still moved, so it must have worked significantly better than it looked.

“Second toon’s scouting parties came back with these reports,” Planckner said, pointing at markings on a map, “They ran into resistance. The enemy wants to know about us coming up as much as we do about them, and they’ve been harassing the line ahead of us more. This stuff didn’t come easy. We’re lucky we only had some guys hurt gathering it, and they all came back in one piece, at least.”
>>
The Second Platoon commander, a Lieutenant Ulfey, a spikey haired man whose nose looked like it had been flattened out and yanked back out of his head the wrong way, pointed to a particular place- the northern part of the spread out township. “They couldn’t get far enough to see what was here with much precision. The scouting party got flushed out and had to pull back. Something big enough to be trouble.” His finger went to several places on the map, a blown up aerial photograph of the town, reproduced in print. “There are machine gun nests here, here, and here. No cannon that could be identified, unless they’re tiny. Those little two and a half centimeter ones could be hidden in a building easy enough, if they wanted, but they didn’t have their own positions. I’d count on at least two of them, and they’ll be mobile as can be, even if nobody special’s on them. There’s probably thirty or so enemies around here, from what we could see of their support trail. This town’s not that important, the coke furnaces and water pumps aren’t worth enough for them to make an effort to keep it in particular, and neither the Twice Damned or the Netillians would stack more in this place if they could help it. We’ve just got more than then, simple as.”

“There shouldn’t be many locals around,” Lieutenant Erykia of First platoon said, a deeply sun-darkened fellow with an equal shadow on his chin and cheeks as on his head, “If there are, it’s their own fault. The Republic dropped papers all over a couple days ago saying we were coming. Anybody that isn’t us and is armed ought to be considered a threat. Local militia doesn’t always dress special. Better to shoot first and ask questions later here.” Dressing special referred to having a uniform at all. The Twice-Damned had one, of course- maroon and black, usually with some symbology of a flame within flames upon them, two surrounding one.

“The odds aren’t in their favor at all,” Little Von Rotehof commented, “If we show with what we have, maybe they’d be convinced to retreat or surrender? Our objective is to command the ground, not to destroy the enemy, if this is to be a siege, yes? With the Ellowian Air Force at our back, the defenders here couldn’t realistically hope to fend us off.”

“They’ll probably try to delay us, yeah,” Planckner agreed, “But there’s no better way to delay than to throw off an attack. That’s why I’m concerned about whatever that thing was in the back part of town that the scouts couldn’t get a good eye on. Ulfey, you say one of the squads thought it might be a vehicle?”

“Yeah,” the strange nosed man nodded firmly, “It chased them some, too quick for it to be a stationary piece.”

“Only one?” Planckner pressed.

“Most likely.” Ulfey wasn’t sure enough to make it a definite.
>>
“Good thing you have a pair of Silver Lances to deal with whatever it is then,” Von Rotehof said confidently, “We’ve beaten Netillian steel in the past. What could one piece of it do to threaten us?”

“Don’t think it’s Netillian, actually,” Planckner said, “I’ve heard they’re either pushing all of their best stuff north, or moving it to defend the airfields. This must be something that belongs to the Twice Damned. Or a local, I suppose. It could be anything. Though, if it’s the Twice Damned, if what they did down south was any clue, they’re keeping their best either saved up, or putting it all where it matters most. If this is a single vehicle and it sticks around…”
“They must have a motivated individual in command of it?” you offered a conclusion.

“Déjà vu, sure,” Planckner shrugged, ”The Twice Damned are rich enough that nothing would be a surprise, though, and some of their guys range out far enough that they’ll know of things from anywhere. Nothing’ll be a surprise.”

“Then maybe it won’t be anything special, either,” Von Rotehof said optimistically.

“No matter what it is, this is the plan,” Planckner put a couple of marked paper tokens on the map, and drew on it with a felt pen. “All the ground before this is flat and even, so we’re getting smoke laid down for our initial approach from some howitzers, and a bomber flight will drop some hell all over it too. We’ll get a foothold in the south end of town, and from here, I want the tanks to provide support where they can, with second platoon supporting as well from that position, while first platoon moves forward to the north end. We’ll be able to set up our anti-tank guns once the tanks are in place long enough, and then, they can move to support where needed, and our mortars will be able to reach all over from that position as well."
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Planckner straightened up again and put his hands confidently behind his back. "We’ll have to be fast and forceful, but taking this position quickly will mean we’ll have won before the enemy knows it. So to do that, before the smoke comes down, the howitzers will hit the south end of town, and right as the smoke spreads, everything we have will converge on the south end, establish a crossfire, and move in as soon as we can. Simple and easy. The biggest risk will be if that unknown factor is right in our faces from the start, but this should happen fast enough that it won’t matter that they know where we’re going to attack. We’ll be there before they can react. We’ll still have to deal with whatever the scouts spotted and didn’t identify, but we’ll be able to do it from a strong point instead of being trapped in the open. Any questions? Suggested changes? Announcements to claim I'm retarded? I know this isn’t tactical genius here, but it’s too straightforward to fail as long as we don’t trip over our bootlaces and choke to death on the dirt.”

>Any questions or concerns?
>Any particularly large buildings will be two or three stories- they’ll have a different shade on top to denote this. Fortifications are invariably machine gun nests or at least decent earthworks- though they can certainly hold something larger.
>>
>>4937409
Any reports of mines? Otherwise it sounds good, the major risk is whatever that unknown vehicle is but we'll deal with it as it happens.
>>
>>4937409
>Any questions or concerns?
Just to confirm they saw a mix of Twice Damned and Nets right? Not just Damned?

Do the howitzers mean our mortars or is this a separate unit we have access to?
If they are separate what will the howitzers do after the initial smoke bombardment? Can we call down some support during the battle?

I'd almost want to coordinate with the bombers and have them drop their payload a little after the smoke went out, might force the enemy to duck and make them scramble back from cover when we poke our heads through the smoke.

If these were dive bombers it'd be fun for them to buzz the enemy after the first payload and make them duck for a fake second strike.
>>
>>4937434
>Any reports of mines?
No. While they'd be quite nice to lay back in the midst of a retreat, the Twice-Damned and their home of Sundersschirm are very much against laying traps in their lands, as they normally make a lot of their prosperity off of free trade and travel through very much mine and brigand free territory. The Netillians would probably try and leave behind mines regardless, but this area is not a critical one stuffed with them.
Does this mean there are no mines anywhere? Not necessarily, but not being prepared to do so on top of not really having the time to set up extensive minefields means that one can gamble safely, especially when scouts have surveyed the terrain and approaches already.

>>4937499
>Just to confirm they saw a mix of Twice Damned and Nets right? Not just Damned?
Uncomfirmed. There's much in the way of stray Netillian troops who failed to keep up with the general withdrawal or who got delayed in one way or another, and they'd try to make a stand at the first friendly place they could find if need be.

>Do the howitzers mean our mortars or is this a separate unit we have access to?
Your mortars are mortars. The howitzers are from regimental support- specifically the Republic Mechanized's support. Basically, they're over your head. If things last long enough, they might have more shells called down, but artillery is presently in high demand and short supply for your section of the front in particular.

While there is high demand for air strikes as well, some coordination is possible as any place with air to ground strikes is going to have an Ellowian ground coordinator along, sticking out like a sore thumb.
>>
>>4937409
>Any questions or concerns?
How do we feel about slinging Bertholite around in here? The Twice Born might be a tougher breed of Sosaldt strongmen, but I doubt they are kitted out for chemical warfare. I don't want to be slinging chemical weapons around our own troops though if it's liable to spread around and affect them, seems best to bring it up now as a possibility. Also does someone want to man the mounted mg? Could be fun up there.
>A witch can’t get pregnant. They can only bear the children of devils.
I'm sure this is just crazy superstition, and is not at all relevant to the possible effects of real magic on children.





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