"There is no need for such outright threats against a neutral vessel" Lürssen sounded angry over the radio, an angry he was. What were those people thinking? "We will inform our government of your blockade immediately. The international community of Lazarus will not stand for this. Lürssen out."
The Commander terminated the transmission and switched to the intercom: "Alle Maschinen STOP!" he ordered. The ship shuddered as the gas-turbine engine switched to idle power, then began to slow down.
Next he radioed the Imperial South Sea Command to inform them of the encounter. A single Protector class frigate might be able to inflict heavy damage on one or two of Mussoliniburg's ships before going down, but what for? They were not at war, although the risk of this happening had just increased. How would the General Staff react to this new situation?
The Imperial "South Sea Fleet" was still in the vicinity and probably able to break the blockade. A smarter move would be to diplomatically condemn Mussoliniburg internationally, possibly calling for sanctions that might result in a blockade of the country itself in retaliation. The Imperial Navy was well positioned to carry out such a blockade.
It was unclear however how much support there was for sanctions on Mussoliniburg. Great powers reliant on international trade, such as Hycronesia, Mzeusia, Snoodum or even the nearby Cossack Peoples might be inclined to side with the Imperium. Allies such as Cianlandia or Loftegen 3 would probably offer support if asked, although Loftegen was less reliant on maritime trade than many others, being a landlocked nation.
Lürssen wondered what African sisters had done to Mussoliniburg to justify the blockade. It might be prudent to find out more about that first.
On a whim, the Commander ordered the frigate's H19 naval helicopter to launch and fly around the blockade, surveying their strength and fleet composition while remaining outside their formation so as to not provoke them further. If the General Staff back home reacted as expected, Raumwaffe R44 fighters would probably appear at very high altitudes soon and also start to monitor the blockade fleet. The Imperium would not leave this challenge to their freedom of navigation unanswered.
But what about the freighters? Fully laden with industrial and consumer goods, they might be welcome in other, nearby ports. Maybe Glorious Society or Cossack Peoples were interested in an impromptu deal?
OOC: I need to make this snappy but here is my response.
Outside the Telumasian Residence:
The cameras flashed as Sirakles prepared to give his statement.
"There is no need for a dance around this particular issue. Mzeusia strongly condemns any attempt at hindering international trade by any nation. We live in a globalised world where free trade is vital and we urge the Mussoliniburg government to allow all shipping through the blockade as it is clear that they pose no threat to anyone. We hope for a swift end to this incident.
Oh, I hadn't noticed this !
Gotta think about it.
Hello Lazarenes! The contest is over and we have our winner and runner ups! All submissions are displayed below, and everyone is welcome to read the work of members in our community. The winner's submission will be posted in the regional newspaper and sent worldwide for everyone to read. Thanks to everyone to took the time to submit something. We really enjoyed reading what you wrote, and Mzeusia and I really enjoyed working on this project. If we decide to do this again, we hope everyone will submit their works in the future. Without any further delay, here are the winners!
The winning of the contest is Spottilogic! Congratulations!
(Recommended listening: Talking Heads “This Must Be the Place”)
“Camden. Roam the golden valley in search of that perfect Chardonnay. Explore antiquities shops filled with artifacts from yesterday and yesterwhere. Skip a stone on a tranquil lake or surf the waves that crash on unspoiled beaches. Have an IPA with friendly locals or discover farm-to-table delights in a different restaurant every night. Camden. Whatever you choose, it’s your perfect adventure in the countryside. Get on the train today!”
Perry smirked to himself as he watched the tourist advert repeat itself endlessly on the in-seat screen in front of him. He was certainly on a train to Camden and certainly headed for an adventure in the countryside, but there would be no surfing or antique shop trolling for him. He was here on an assignment.
In this case calling it an assignment was absurdly optimistic. It would be more accurate to think of it as a fool’s errand. But as with most fool’s errands there was always a slim chance that the fool (Perry in this case) would get lucky and best the one who sent him in the first place. At stake in this game was perhaps a bigger assignment next time or more likely, getting bumped down to the traffic accidents desk.
Perry’s opponent in the game and the one who assigned him was the editor of the San Oclax Post Trumpet, one Mister Robert Allen. Allen needed a story that could keep an online reader engaged for two-minutes-and-thirty-seconds, entice them to scroll past two 300x250 pixel adverts and maybe, just maybe, get them to hit the subscribe button.
In Allen’s view Perry was the best choice for the task because as a new journalist he was fairly worthless when it came to digging in to the corrupt and byzantine politics of the city. He just didn’t have the cunning cynicism it takes to play verbal chess with even an admin-assistant-to-an-assistant-something-or-other. But he was a decent writer and had gotten a few hits with character pieces, so Allen sent Perry off to the country to get the common man’s perspective of the smoldering political divide between urban and rural Pacifica.
And Camden was an ideal choice to represent the countryside. Everyone in the city knew where Camden was. They all dreamed of a week of serenity and sanitized adventure it offered. Just putting the name Camden three lines down in an article would assure enough curiosity to register a hit with the advertisers. The simple interviews would no doubt have just the right blend of naïve bluster and superficial political perspective that anyone could relate to – or disagree with. But neither Perry nor Mister Allen nor the advertisers could guess that for one thing, Camden was not nearly as placid as the adverts made it seem, and for another thing, Perry was mortified at the thought of covering traffic accidents for the foreseeable future and for yet another thing, Allen could never back away from a story that had another installment built into it.
The train began to slow as it climbed the last big grade before dropping over the ridge into Camden Valley. Perry looked out the window and began to compose mental notes for his article. It played out in his mind with the opening words, “From atop Quest Grade, Camden Valley looks like a slice of heaven on Earth…”
(Recommended listening: Talking Heads “Crosseyed and Painless”)
Meet the Devs: Zoomers. Millenials. Ancient Gen Xers. Urban dropouts. They earn obscene salaries and live in converted garages and garden sheds on Camden’s ugly backstreets. And don’t get me started on the organic farmers and SMB corporate-owned vineyards further up the valley. Perry will find these people and he won’t be able to ignore their un-Camden-like ideologies. Example statement from Grayson, a 19 year old software engineer: “It’s like a cancer that has cancer and they’re using cancer to try to cure it.”
Our second place winner is Snoodum!
Jorina padded over, her big blue and green eyes staring at Kerig for a second before she settled down beside him, head on her paws. Kerig looked from the dog to the tea he’d just made and back again. Smiling, he set the tea down on the porch and went back inside the log cabin.
He took his ISASR-11 Huntsmaster from its place in the gun cabinet and grabbed a couple extra magazines. He needed to go hunting anyway and Jorina was restless. Checking his sights as he walked over to the edge of the outcropping in front of the house, Kerig crouched down looking through the trees for the distinctive horns and dull yellow-brown streaked fur of his quarry. Spotting a Yellow Moose munching on some moss far below, he rubbed Jorina’s head, pointing down to the moose. She nodded, looking at him with a grin. Raising the sniper sent her running down the outcrop, dark grey and pure white fur blurring as she raced towards the animal. The moose was in Kerig’s sights, still chewing, blissfully unaware of the danger. Kerig counted down the seconds it would take Jorina to get down to the forest floor before taking the shot. The spray of blood and thump of moose would alert her to the animal’s position. He’d prepare it later that night.
Squeezing the trigger, the animal dropped as the loud retort of the gun reverberated off the cliffs and trees. Birds scattered and other moose looked up in surprise. Those who were near the now dead Yellow Moose had scattered. They had enough sense to not wait for Jorina’s excited form to run them down for the sheer pleasure of the chase.
A few minutes later, Jorina guarding his kill, Kerig reached the moose. The shot wasn’t as clean as last time. Still, Kerig reasoned, there wasn’t much meat around the head anyway. An excited bark from Jorina made Kerig smiled as he knelt to pick up the carcass scanning the horizon for more prey.
Bang! A shot rang out, wood exploding from a nearby tree. Jorina barked angrily until Kerig silenced her, lifting his sniper. A woman in a ski mask stared back, half buried behind a tree and a sniper scope. Thinking quickly, Kerig set off towards her at a run. She couldn’t be out hunting; the animal was already dead. She might just be a terrible shot though? He wasn’t sure and he hated not being sure, so he was going to find out. The woman stood up, taking off her ski mask to reveal a shock of red hair, lit by the setting sun. She reached into a backpack, taking out a sleek green IACS-09-Shredder SMG, she pointed it directly at him. Diving to the floor, he rolled behind a tree as wood and dirt was torn to pieces around him. Definitely not hunting then. A slow smile spread over his face even as he made out four more figures approaching from the surrounding trees. It would take a few minutes for them to get here but the Green Mean Biker Boys would come. Taking his ham radio from his pocket he punched the numbers in and a gruff voice sounded on the other end. ‘K-man you need somethin’?’
‘Bit of trouble Big Bear. Five hostiles, four unknown one with a sniper and SMG. How long you taking?’
‘Umm…give us ten mins K-man. This can be that favour payed back eh?’
Kerig ended the call. Now he needed to get moving. The radio would give his coordinates to the GMBB, he just needed to not get shot for ten minutes.
And our third place winner is Cossack Peoples!
Snow-filled valleys and hills stretched out into the horizon, speckled by patches of sickly green, as if the papery snow had holes burned into it by the licking flames of the sun. And the sun was awfully bright today; it hurt to even look in the direction it shined, filling the mildly blue dome of the heavens with some kind of unholy light.
With that flamboyant luminosity beating down on his face, Ippolit Koltsov retreated from the dining table onto a nearby countertop with his paperwork. Ippolit knew that he had quite a winter ahead of him; he needed to budget his farm, purchase his seed, and somehow juggle the heavy taxes put on him for the land he owned.
Ippolit didn’t understand why land was taxed so heavily; the plot he lived on was in the underpopulated reaches of the FRCP, hardly within the town limits of Pavylov, where people and property were sparse and the growing soil was crummy and chilly at best. Dwelling on these thoughts and growing upset, Ippolit decided he needed a walk. Creaking down the porch of his family home and onto the salted gravel path down his farm, while wrapped tightly with layers of wool and leather and bunny boots around his feet, he noticed yet again how bleak winter was.
There were no squirrels dancing up and down the pines at the edge of his property, no birds singing in the breeze; only the howl of the winds on the flat landscape and the rustling of tall grasses and pine branches in response. Thankfully, the winds never reached Ippolit with his bushy beard and thick coating, but he worried about his daughters, who would’ve been in the small elementary school down in Pavylov, and his wife, who took a train to a steel mill god-knows-where. He made a silent vow to save money for some decent clothing for them, money that he should be using to pay off his taxes.
As he turned back to the home to see how far he’d walked, Ippolit noticed to the periphery a single dark car speeding down the country road, a sharp black icon against the snow-covered fields behind it. Stopping, he saw that it turned onto the road his house was on, he nearly fell back as the car stopped just three meters from where he had stood.
An armored figure, looking ready for warfare but with the underwhelming logo of the Pavylov Police Department stenciled on the helmet, stepped out of the vehicle and surged towards him.
He shouted first in surprise, then as he was brought into the car he cursed in anger. An official sitting in the front read him the reasons for his arrest as handcuffs were rudely clipped around his wrists and a blindfold pulled against his face.
Ippolit Koltsov, you are under arrest for unpatriotic acts against the Federal Republic. You have been sentenced to life without parole if you cooperate with authorities.
Here are the rest of the submissions! Please enjoy the fabulous work of our community!
By Loftegen 3.
The canton of Bridgewater is know, as are many others, for its extensive canal network. These canals were dug, starting in the early years of the 18th century, as a means of moving large amounts of raw materials to burgeoning industrial centers, and the products of those centers to market. The canal network expanded until the middle of the 19th century, when the rise of railroads slowed and then stopped that expansion. There was still some progress. The canal boats, once drawn by one or two horses, or even pushed along by men with poles, gained steam power, then petrol and diesel power.
A long, slow decline followed, until the canal network was all but abandoned by the the mid 20th century. Fortunately, the canals saw a rebirth as a recreational asset and major tourist attraction. Nowadays the canals are busier than ever, with many thousands of narrow and wide beamed boats 'cruising the cut', as it is sometimes known.
One major tourist attraction with a strong connection to the canals is the Bridgewater Delve, a massive underground coal mine. Consisting of 52 miles (84 km) of tunnels on four levels, the mine was served by underground canals and boats, rather than ponies and carts. The mine ceased working commercially in the 1920's, and was opened to the public (on a limited basis) in the 1960's. Explorers, spelunkers, and other enthusiasts visit in the scores of thousands every year. A small amount of coal is still produced in the course of demonstrations of various mining techniques, and boat tours of the mine are extremely popular.
Stacked stone fences wander over Free Shellian's mountainsides, only surpassed in number by the rivulets of ice water that flicker down from the icy peaks. A flock of sheep, thirty strong in ewes, has settled on a hillock overlooking Fairvalley, and one can hear their sharp bleats of conversation from the farmer's house.
I sit on one of the rough-hewn benches in front of the residence and wrap my hands around a cup of just purchased hot chocolate. Handing over a number of dollars for just a trifle to drink didn't make me feel economical, but these people can surely use the money better than I. Farms like this used to be greatly subsidized by the government in an effort to conserve Free Shellian's rich rural culture, but that had changed in recent years; laissez-faire rhetoric now ruled on the political scene, leaving farms that couldn't pull their own weight out in the cold. Small scale farmers had adapted by turning to tourism for extra lift.
My drink had grown cold faster than I could sip it, so I hurriedly finish it off and take it back inside. Time to keep hiking!
Nikita Kazakov states that he feels that they are obliged to aid such an amiable friend to our government---before being cut off and the recorded message apparently being taken over by what seemed to be an intern, who apparently had direct orders from the Principle Chairman. The message is then subverted to a policy of non-interference with foreign powers, then segued into a rant about the interference of powers in the North into affairs they have no business in.
OOC: The blockade is profitable for us if the submarine is able to smuggle products in, and it is going under the nose of the FRCP proper, so not a lot of high-ranking government officials know.
My nation has some serious beef with the The lesbian sisterhood you must not have been active when she admitted kidnapping men and milking them for sperm or when she did not allow for white people to procreate so they could get a better diversity. or maybe you missed when they were selling their women into slavery you can ask Cossack Peoples about that one.
IC: The Mzeusian government in another statement had the following to say.
"It is extremely disappointing that some members in this family of nations would support the restriction of free trade, especially given the contents of the container ships requesting access. Regardless of what the government of the blockaded nation has done in the past, not allowing ships from Leonism or any other nation which pose absolutely no threat is an inflammatory and highly unnecessary act. For the most part, nations should be free to trade with one another. They should be allowed to do this without being policed by another nation. Such heavy handed methods should have no place in the international scene, and no nation can in good conscience support them.
Opinions are divided in Fluffiness, as news of the blockade of African sisters by Mussoliniburg reach the media. Rumours of human-right breaching actions from the African Sisters are spreading. However, it is clear that a fascist state will never receive any support from Fluffiness, and no political party (even the right-wing Liberty for Everyone) did speak in favor of Mussoliniburg.
The Assembly is still waiting for more information to take any action. The two main propositions are either not to act upon the blockade, or take indirect action, such as sending goods to the African Sisters by air, to avoid food or medical supplies shortage. The Anarchist Federation is divided. The International Communist Party is well in favor of providing help to the African Sisters. While the LfE hasn't taken any official position yet, comments from insiders suggest they will try to avoid any intervention. The feminist branch of the Acknillan Worker Party has already stated they were even willing to fight for African Sisters. It is expected that the rest of the party will be more moderated, but would still offer supplies.
Lance Wolfee, The Turnal Post, 2020-01-22