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4 mos ago
Current Rest in peppered ponies cowboy.
12 mos ago
I haven't posted on here in two years. Whoops.
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3 yrs ago
This year I've managed to work through depression and actually get some posts out. Even though it's only a little, progress feels nice.
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4 yrs ago
Eeeghflebrgh.
5 yrs ago
Happeh birfday to me~
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Bio

I always knew, deep in my kokoro, that I was a big baka. I, of course, place the blame on kami-sama for not giving me a good senpai.

Most Recent Posts

Malacca, Japanese Indonesia


Hirano sat on a bench, staring up at the sky cloudwatching. It had been about a week since the incident at Tampin, and he, like most of the Liberation Force, had been put on standby while command figured out how to deal with the rebel situation. There supposedly were talks with the British over the surrender, but that could easily just be hopeful gossip. As Hirano had been taught, British soldiers were bloodthirsty invaders who couldn't be spoken with; the only way to get them out was to kill them all. Of course, the talk was also that the natives of Indonesia had done just that. Some said that there was a pile of British bodies piled outside of Tampin. Some said that the British Stronghold in Port Dickson was painted red with their blood, and that their heads hung from the rooftops like flags. Hirano, however, believed the least exciting story.

The British saw Indonesia as a lost cause, and were pulling out to let the natives and Japanese fight over the broken remains.

With a deep, drawn out sigh, he sat up, adjusting his round spectacles to sit properly on his nose, and stood. There was something he had been hoping to do, and, with the help of a good friend, today it was going to be possible. As he started to walk down the streets of Indonesia, he couldn't help but notice the looks he was getting from the locals. While normally, they avoided his gaze and stared at him in anger, today they were... Smiling. They looked confident. It left Hirano feeling uncomfortable. He tried to ignore it as he made his way to the makeshift prison that had been made out of an old school building. Upon reaching the entrance, he was greeted by a tall, slightly older soldier with a patchy, scraggly beard and dopey face.

“Hirano!” He exclaimed, jogging up to his friend. “I was wondering when you would arrive. Are you ready?”

“Ito! Sorry, I kind of spaced out.” Hirano replied with a sheepish grin. “Yes... I think so. Tell me Ito, have you seen him at all? The Brit?” As he asked his question, Hirano looked a bit upset... Scared, almost. Ito, noticing this, simply laughed at his friend. “Don't worry, Hirano. He's nothing like you're thinking. In fact, he looks weak, like you!” Another laugh escaped Ito, though Hirano didn't quite find the joke funny, giving his friend an elbow between the ribs along with a small “Hey!”

As soon as the laughter stopped, Ito turned and unlocked the building, showing Hirano in. “Alright, we have about ten minutes at this point. Make sure you're back to the door before then. I don't want to shoot my friend for getting caught colluding with the enemy.” Another laugh came from Ito as he turned, closing the door behind him and leaving Hirano alone in the makeshift prison. Silently, he began to walk around the large room, looking between the bard of the various cages. Some held British and Dutch PoW's, some held local insurrectionists, and a couple even held defectors who were caught hiding out, or trying to escape back home. Eventually, Hirano spotted the man he recognized from Tampin, and reached out, tapping the bars.

“I already told you bastards, that's everything I know.” Came the reply in English. “I don't know what my people are planning, nor do I even know what happened in that shithole of a town. I was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Now, can I...” He trailed off, looking up and seeing the confused, yet familiar, face of Hirano. “Oh. It's you.” Came the unamused reply. “What do you want?”

With a furrowed brow, Hirano tried to make sense of what he was saying but, not knowing much English...

“Do you speak Japanese?” He asked, brow still furrowed.

“No, I don't understand you.” The reply came in English again. “If you know any Chinese though, then we can talk.”

With a start, Hirano looked at the Brit, shocked. “Yes, I do. Why does a British soldier know Chinese?”

Looking up again, the soldier gave Hirano a quizzical look. “Because my father was from Hong Kong, and regularly visits China. The real question is why you speak Chinese. I thought you were supposed to hate China.”

This time, Hirano gave the quizzical look as he shook his head. “No, of course not. China and Japan have been on good terms for years. They also want your people out of Asia.” He then starts to take a bit of defensive posture, crossing his arms as he looks down at the Brit. “Why is that so hard for your people to understand? I'm sure if we occupied Ireland, you would want us out too.”

That reply prompted a small laugh from the Brit. “It might, if we still had Ireland. God, they really do have you lot brainwashed, don't they? Do you even know what's going on in the world, or do you only know Japan?” He let out a small sigh, glancing up at Hirano with a look of pity in his eyes. “Look, I don't mind answering your questions, but you need to stop looking at me like a dog. My name is Charlie. What's yours?”

Hirano stayed silent for a long while, prompting another sigh from Charlie. When he finally did move to respond, he stopped himself and stayed silent for a little while longer. Eventually, with a frown, he crouched down in front of the cage. “What do you mean by brainwashed?” He asked, ignoring nearly everything else.

“What I mean is... Your knowledge of the world seems outdated, and just wrong. You think you're buddy buddy with China. You think the King still has control over Ireland. You think the people of Indonesia want to be Japanese, for God's sake! Well let me tell you friend, the people who chased me out of Tampin weren't just burning British flags. They were burning Japanese flags, too. They don't like either of us, and if you lot aren't careful, Malacca is going to be the next Tampin. Just a hundred times more brutal.”

Hirano, again, stays quiet for a long while, Charlie's words echoing in his mind. After the looks he was getting earlier, the last thing Charlie said actually made some sense. Was everyone in the city at risk? Did Charlie tell this to his superiors? The other things were clearly propaganda, but this... This was something that might be real. Looking back to Charlie, Hirano gave a small bow of his head. “Hirano. Nice to meet you, and goodbye. I need to go.”

With the small sound of protest behind him as he got up, Charlie headed for the door, giving the small knock to let Ito know that he was ready to come out. After a small wait without any reply, he knocked again. Maybe Ito just didn't hear. However, yet again there was no reply. Curious, he moved over to one of the boarded up windows, peering through the cracks to try to spot his friend. Finally, his eyes focused, and he saw Ito sitting down in front of the door, lazily lounging.

“Ito, you bastard! Come on, let me out!” He jeered through the door with another series of knocks. However, Ito still wasn't letting him out. “What happened to not wanting to put me on the firing line? Ito, this joke isn't funny!” Actually annoyed now, Hirano peered through the window again. As he did, he heard the distant sound of a crowd. Knocking on the wood, he looked down to Ito again, and noticed exactly why his friend wasn't responding. Barely visible, in Ito's stomach, sat a knife buried in his gut. Staggering away from the window, Hirano stared at the door, eyes wide. Here he was, locked in a prison, while his friend with the keys was bleeding out on the other side. He started to bang loudly on the door, shouting in hopes that somebody would come to help.

“HEY! HEY, WE NEED HELP! HEY!” He shouted, hoping somebody might hear. He glanced back to the prison where, having taken note of his distress, some of the prisoners started making a ruckus, cheering and jeering. Trying his best to ignore them, Hirano kept pounding on the door, until he heard a key click in the lock. Stepping back, he readied to explain himself, and urge whoever came to help Ito. However, when the door opened, his eyes widened, and the cheering behind him turned into an excited howl.

In the door, with Ito's gun pointed at Hirano's chest, was an Indonesian woman sporting a cocky grin. Hirano could only look at her in shock and confusion, muttering something about saving Ito, that she shouldn't be at the door, that...

SMACK

Before he could finish his thoughts, or even form a proper sentence, she cracked the back of the gun against his temple, causing him to crumple and start to pass out. Before everything faded, he heard her shout, in her language, and then in surprisingly good Japanese, and then English, and Dutch.

“Death to the invaders! We take back our home!”

The call was immediately echoed by the Indonesians in the cages, before to woman grabbed the back of Hirano's collar, and moved to the cages.

Suwon-si, Korea


The sun sat high over the city of Suwon-si in Korea, where the Japanese military presence was much more lax than in Seoul to the North, but not quite as lax as Daejeon to the South. Despite that, for a select few in Korea, life continued on as it always had. A group of old ladies in particular, whether Japanese soldiers were around or not, sat in a park chatting around a radio. The only difference for them was, when the soldiers moved on, they would tune in to a rebel radio signal, rather than the folk music they let the Japanese overhear. The conversation however, stayed the same. It didn't matter. The soldiers didn't know Korean, and even if they did, they weren't going to bother eavesdropping on the latest gossip of a group of old women.

“...down in Indonesia, tension is still on the rise. Earlier today, the rebels pulled off their most successful attack against the Japanese yet, killing hundreds of soldiers in the city of Malacca, and taking many officers captive. News of this has yet to reach the Japanese mainland, where they are still celebrating the false victory in Tampin.”

“Heh. Serves them right.” One of the grannies scoffed at the radio, as she looked around to make sure they were still in the clear. “Hopefully they send more soldiers down South, so we can start doing the same.”

“Oh, I wouldn't worry, Seung.” The second woman chimed in. “My son, the one working with the resistance in Busan, told me that they're ready to strike at a moments notice. They're just waiting for the news of the Japanese Emperor.”

“Oh, that's right.” Said the third with a snicker. “The old man seems like he's finally ready to follow his brother to the grave, right? This is the fourth attack he's survived. He should really just keel over already. If not for us, at least for his family's sake.”

“Oh, you're awful!” Laughed the fourth. “Why would you care what happens to a family like that? I hope they're so distraught, they follow him to an early grave.”

“Oh, that reminds me. My granddaughter, the one with the resistance in Seoul, said she might get sent to ask China for aid when the Emperor dies.” The second woman adds again. “Imagine the look on their faces, if the Chinese invaded them.”

“It would serve them right!” Laughed Seung. “By the way, Kyung-Hee.” She said, turning to the first woman. “What's your bet? Sung-Min thinks the old bag will kick it sometime this week.” She says, pointing to the third woman. “Eun-Yeong thinks it will be tomorrow.” She says, pointing to the fourth. “I already lost. I thought he was going to be announced dead this morning.”

At that, all the women laughed, before Kyung-Hee spoke. “I think we'll be stuck with him a while yet. He's like a cockroach. No matter how many times you try to kill him, he still hangs on, determined to make a mess of everything, bother everyone, and live uselessly.”

That prompted another laugh from the group, who stayed silent for a moment afterwards, to continue listening to the radio.

“...Meanwhile, we have received word that the people of Taiwan managed to catch one of the islands major officers off guard. He was found with multiple knife wounds in his back, curled in a ditch on the side of the road. He was announced dead this morning, though it was officially reported as a hiking accident. More and more, we see the Empire falling apart, piece by piece. Day after day, our odds of success only increase. And now, word is that the Emperor's family has gathered at his hospital bed. None of the previous attacks prompted a familial visit, leading us to believe that the end of our sorrows will soon be upon us. Tune in again tomorrow at this time for the most important update to date.”

Again, the group started to howl, their laughter heard across the park, promoting a Japanese soldier to approach them, and demand they quiet down.

“Oh, quiet, invader.” Kyung-Hee said, soliciting shocked expressions from the rest of the group. “I've grown tired of you all walking around, bossing us around, and acting like you own the place! This is my country, and it's about time you got out! Now leave us alone, before I make you regret it!”

With a slacked jaw, the soldier stood in stunned silence, before eventually running off. As he did, the group looked to Kyung-Hee in silence, before eventually cheering her on for her outburst. Eventually, Eun-Yeong gave her a pat on the back. “You know he's likely getting help. We should probably get out of here.”

“No!” Shouted Kyung-Hee. “You heard them! This is it. We don't have to take it any more! By the end of the week, the Japanese flag won't be flying over Suwon anymore! What are they going to do to a little old lady, anyways? They have more important things to worry about.”

However, as Kyung-Hee celebrated, a group of six soldiers approached the group, whistles blowing and weapons out. The old women held their hands up, one by one, Kyung-Hee going last with a pained look on her face. Soon, they couldn't do this anymore. Soon...

Kirun, Taiwan


“Damnit!” Came an angry shout from the Japanese Headquarters in Kirun, Taiwan. “First Hidaka gets stabbed, now we're being asked to find a missing plane? Since when is it my job to search the oceans? What do we even have a navy for?” An old, grizzled looking man shouts to a young woman in military dress, before sighing, and slapping his hands on the desk, doubling over a bit. “Sorry, Sakiko.” He corrected himself. “This island is a curse. Everyone who gets assigned her goes to an early retirement, and I'm starting to see why.”

“Of course, sir.” The woman replied. “Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee?”

“Yes... Maybe a cup of tea, thank you.” the old man replied.

“Right away, General Mogami.” She said before disappearing from the room. Once she is gone, he moves to his chair, and collapses in it, making a call. “Yes. This is Mogami. I need you to scour the coast for an aircraft. It should be somewhere along the Northeastern coast. Yes. The sooner the better. Oh, and if you find anybody, alive or dead, bring them here.”

With a sigh, the general leans back, resting his head against the back of the plush European chair. “Damn Dutch... They're like rats. I was supposed to get a break, and then they go and pull something like this.” He then picks up the phone again, making another call. “Yes. This is Mogami. Yes. I need you to spread word to towns in the North. When you're ready then. Yes, of course.” He waits a moment. “Have the locals be on the lookout for an injured European. Tell them that if they turn him in to me, I will make them the richest person on this island. Yes. Make sure to emphasize the reward. Once they have something to gain, we'll see how loyal to their rebellion they are. Yes. Yes, of course.” Another sigh escapes his lips as he ends the call.

“That's somebody handling Hidaka's funeral, somebody searching the coast for the crash, and somebody spreading the message about the bounty. Maybe I can finally relax a bit.” As he speaks, he slides down in his chair some, before furrowing his brow, and calling out into the building. “Sakiko, is the tea ready?”
As the sun rises,
A thousand men march forward,
While red blossoms bloom.



Kyoto, Japan


海 勝 日
軍 利 本

り 日 強
! ! い


((Recommended Listening))

Lively fanfare, bombastic music, and the sounds of an excited crowd filled the air as Kyoto welcomed the Imperial Navy Festival to its streets. Thousands of men and women in uniform marched in tandem with the lively festival music, while the crowd watched on. Children hoisted upon their parents shoulders mesmerized by the show, while elders watched with a knowing reverence. Meanwhile, further along the parade route, the actual festival grounds were packed with people playing games, performers putting on shows, and naval officers hunting for individuals, hoping to embolden their ranks.

"Hey, you!" One of the officers shouted to a young man who looked to be alone. "Come here a moment."

The young man, barely out of school with a wispy mustache and shaved head, tried to avoid the gaze of the officer as best as possible and slip into the crowd. However, the recruiters had grown accustomed to this behaviour, and had help ready and waiting nearby. Just as the young man thought he had escaped, he bumped into a young woman about his age.

"Ah, excuse me." He muttered, a bit flustered at the sight of her. "I was distracted."

"Oh?" The young woman inquired with a smile. "What’ got you distracted?"

Sheepishly, he nodded over his shoulder, in the direction of the officer. "The headhunters were trying to get me. They're like sharks at these sorts of things." He gave an awkward chuckle, trying to keep the conversation light. "This is the fifth time this month they've tried to recruit me."

As he spoke, the young woman nodded along, furrowing her brow a bit. "Do you not want to serve?" She asked, looking him over. "You seem like the type who would be good at it."

With those words, he realized exactly what was going on. Ever since the navy started allowing women to serve in non-combat roles on ships, they’ve also been used to help officers recruit gullible young men. He knew he had to find a way to separate from her,though, he didn't want to make a scene and draw attention from any of the more conservative older folks. "Oh, no, no." He muttered. "I would love to but…" he stalled, thinking for a minute. "My back. Er, I hurt my back working in a factory. I'm afraid the navy wouldn’t have any use for me like this. It’s… Disappointing." As he spoke, he moved a hand to his lower back, feigning a phantom pain as he spoke. "At least I know my pain helped our soldiers down South." He feigned, hoping she wouldn’t catch the lie.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that!” She replied with a frown. “Though, I’m sure the officer would be understanding if you told him that, right?” She then paused, smiling. “I have an idea. Why don't we go over together, and explain. I'm sure the officer would understand." She said in a happy, helpful tone. "That way he doesn’t think you’re being rude or avoiding him. After all, people like him are the reason people like us can enjoy a festival like this. I want to thank him myself, so why not go together?”

With that, the young man lowered his head in defeat. There was no way he was talking his way out of that. With a nervous smile, he accompanied the woman over to the booth, where the officer was waiting, a smile on his face. He tried to explain, like the woman had managed to convince him to, though he was already in their trap. It only took a couple more minutes before the young man, with a grimace on his face, had been strong-armed into signing his name on some papers. They promised that, after an evaluation, if he was truly incapable of serving, that would be it. Of course, he knew they would find out he was fine, but… He’d have to figure that out later. Not wanting to go away completely empty handed, he turned to the woman and, with a smile of his own, asked if she would join him at the fair, since she seemed to be alone. She apologized, and said she was actually on her way out, running off before he could even respond.

As he waded back into the crowd, defeated, he heard the officers voice from behind him, calling out to the next unfortunate victim.

"Hey, you!"

Meanwhile, a bit further away at the imperial palace…

"… I'm afraid that, if things keep going this way, we may not have the supplies we need to keep things going at their current pace. We don't have enough men to man the front lines, the ships, and the factories. We either need some allies, fast, or…" the speaker trailed off, his gaze moving to the man seated in front of him.

"No, absolutely not!" The older man said, squinting from behind round spectacles. "I already allowed our men's wives and daughters onto our ships. I'm not letting them fight, I was very firm on this the last time you brought it up." As he spoke, there was a bit of a wheeze to his voice, making him sound much older than he actually was. "So long as I am emperor, I will not see my daughters put on the battlefield."

A solemn bow was the only response that was given by the man addressing the emperor. He knew there was no value in trying to argue this point any further. Raising himself, he turned to another in the room. A woman with extravagant hair and makeup, wearing traditional garb and sitting beside the emperor. Catching the glance, she nodded.

"Dear." She said in a soft voice. "You know that I agree with you on this matter fully. However… I think what Mr. Watanabe here is implying isn't the front lines, but instead, the factories. I know you've said they can be just as dangerous but… If we don't want to falter in this war, perhaps the danger closer to home wouldn't be so bad an idea…"

She was cut off as the emperor raised his hand to her, looking her in the eyes. “If you can honestly tell me that you would want yourself, or even one of our daughters working in a factory, then maybe I’ll consider letting this pass on to the Prime Minister. However, if you can’t tell me that, then why should I send anybody else’s daughter’s off to do it?” As he spoke, his eyes almost seemed to sink, as he paled a bit.

“Yasuhito…” The woman choked, trying to remain composed. “I understand what you are saying but…” She looked over, almost pleading for help from the members of the emperor’s cabinet present. “It’s not the same, dear. Me and our daughters… We’re not made for such things. It’s not fair to make such a comparison!”

As she was speaking, her eyes widened, looking to her husband. At first, she thought he was getting angry but… He began to reach for his throat and chest, and his face started to change from pale to almost purple. Panic in his eyes. It was clear he was struggling to breath.

"Go, get the doctors, now! Yasuhito is having another attack! Go!" She shouted to the cabinet members, many of whom were already rising to their feet at the sight of their emperor’s state. A couple lingered to ensure things were fine, but they followed the crowd when the prince, Nobushige, rushed to his father’s aid.

"Don't you dare, Chichibu!" The empress hissed through tears. "You'll make it through this one. Just like you have all the others.” She then turned to her son, watching as he started lifting his father to take him to his bed. “Be careful, Tatsu…” She mumbled, using her sons nickname.

“Of course, mother.” Was all he said as he disappeared into the hallways of the Kyoto palace, his footsteps joining with those of everyone else running about the castle, leaving the empress alone and sobbing in the meeting chamber.

Before long, an ambulance siren could be heard approaching the estate. A few minutes later, it began to fade, until it was drowned out entirely by the sounds of the lively festival n the distance. A sudden roar of cheers and laughter echoing through empty streets, as somebody managed to set off an early firework that briefly decorated the afternoon sky with hundreds of small, red blossoms of sparks. The people completely unaware of what was happening to the emperor only a short distance away.

Tampin, British Malaysia

A group of Japanese soldiers sat silent in underbrush, watching British guards patrol makeshift walls on the settlement ahead. Following their defeat at Malacca, the Brits retreated to Tampin, leaving a token force to buy time for their main force to properly set up defenses at Negeri Sembilan. In order to secure a victory, the Imperial Army would have to take Tampin quickly, and travel north along the road to Sembilan before the Brits could fully dig in. If they secured Sembilan, then there was nothing left between the Imperial Army and Britains final naval base on the mainland; Port Dickson.

With a quick conversation between two of the soldiers, one slinked away, to deliver the orders to advance to the main army, which was lying in wait a ways down the road. Returning their attention forward, all that was left for the scouts was to stay hidden and wait for the show to begin.

After about ten minutes of waiting, a gunshot rang out, followed by another, and another. However, the shots weren't coming from the road, nor were they coming from the Brits on the wall. Quickly fumbling for binoculars, the scout returned to looking at the Brits, just in time to see one fall forward over the shoddy walls, clutching a bleeding wound at their side. In the distance, faint yelling in English could be heard, but it was drowned out by a roar of shouts in Malay. Immediately, the Japanese soldier with the binoculars began hissing for one of the others to go and halt the army until they knew what was going on.

As yet another of their squad disappeared into the growth, the binoculared soldier watched on, as the Brits on the wall turned their backs to the road, and aimed their guns down into the town itself, opening fire on an unseen enemy.

Within minutes, bullets, stones, and assorted household items began flying at the soldiers on the walls. One rock pegged one of the Brits right on the left eye and dropped them to their knees, while another took a bullet to the shoulder. A third, watching this occur, backed up and practically threw themself off the wall, bloodying their hands as they did so before getting up and attempting to take cover in the underbrush; heading straight for the two scouts. Immediately, their hands went to the weapons at their sides,as they rose to greet the British soldier at gunpoint.

"Surrender!" The soldier who had been using the binoculars shouted at the Brit, who stared at the two like a deer in the headlights. "Stop!" The scout said, a bit clearer. Pausing, and looking over their shoulder at their falling comrades, the Brit raised their arms.

"Well hurry it up!" They spat, voice and legs shaking. "I'll take a Japanese prison over that bloody mess any day."

Almost hesitating out of confusion, the two Japanese scouts detained the British soldier, before hurrying along and taking them back to their CO, hoping that they could explain what the Japanese army was about to march into. As they march, they take note of just how shaken their prisoner is, and muse at what he must have seen peering into that settlement. However, neither are fluent enough to ask, so they march in silence, only breaking it to bark orders at the Brit.

When they finally make it to the main force, they find a messy assortment of vehicles pulled up on and alongside the single lane dirt road connecting the two settlements, confused and agitated soldiers strewn about between them all. From somewhere in the mess, an annoyed baritone called out over the crowd.

"Is Hirano here yet? I want to know what's going on! Hirano!"

Upon hearing his name, the binoculared scout called out in kind. "Hirano, reporting in." As he moves forward, he leaves their PoW with his squad mate, and weaves in the direction of the voice calling to him. "Excuse my delay, General Takeda. Something unexpected happened at Tampin. However…" He trailed as the general and his entourage came into sight, and have gave a firm salute.

"However, we managed to take an Englishman into custody. They can tell you more than we can. I think it's a local uprising, but I can't be certain."

As Hirano speaks, his partner eventually catches up, the Brit in tow.

"Very well, being him here. Return to your post, Hirano. I want to know if anything happens that we should be worried about." Takeda says, before turning his attention to the British soldier.

"I am going to talk to you." He says in accented English. "You will give me answers." As he speaks, he places his hand on the blade at his side. "Come." With that, he turns around and heads towards one of the vehicles pulled to the side of the road, and climbs into the back. The Brit is quickly escorted to the vehicle, and his hands tied to the seat to secure him.

"Now, tell me all you saw inside Tampin."

Realized I forgot to drop my sheet in the characters tab whoops.
The Empire of Japan




HISTORY


Post Catalogue


Characters
The Empire of Japan




You know what?

Fuck it.

I'm gonna try to do Japan again.


I was planning to include Japan invading British/Dutch territories as they're focused on the war in India. It's easy enough to leave out if you'd rather not though.
Slapping that Britain hold down.
Alrighty, finally got everything figured out, so here's my claim. Sweet, sweet Canadian Venice.
Moscow

Dark clouds loomed on the horizon as a storm prepared to batter Russia. New men had arrived all along Moscow's border with the remnants of the Russian Empire, finally giving them the strength to consider a move on their strongest enemy. Further East in the capital city itself, machines of war that had not been touched in years were being prepared for the move North, while citizens were being gathered in droves, and men and women alike were being prepared for the possibility of having to fight for their Tsar. At the heart of all of this, Tsar Wrangel sat drawing up battle plans with her best generals, for all possibilities. Whether Moscow sat triumphant, or was reduced to rubble, this would be the war to settle everything in Russia. Whoever won this war would win the right to call themselves Tsar of all of Russia, and Wrangel was determined to take it.

However, not everyone was in a frenzy at the prospect of “settling everything.” In a small camp along the Imperial border, one soldier was expecting the worst, and had no intention of sticking around for it.

“Shit shit shit!” muttered a short soldier bearing the Muscovite crest on his jacket. “Where the hell did I put it? I can't leave without it.”

The soldier began to dig through a trunk at the end of a small, ratty cot, with a look of fear on his face so intense, you'd think the entire camp was about to be bombed.

“There it is!” He shouted a bit too loud, as he grabbed a framed photo and stuffed it into a knapsack at his feet. “Now all I need is my gun.” he said as he turned for the entrance to the tent, only to see another soldier staring in at him. He froze, like a deer in the headlights, as the other soldier eyed him up and down, before finally opening his mouth to speak.

“Vasily... What are you doing? Going for a hike?” he asked, crossing his arms and moving to block the exit entirely.

“Shut up, Adrian. Now's not the time, so can you please go be a dick to somebody else?” pleaded Vasily, sounding exhausted. “I really need to get going.”

Adrian frowned, his heavy brow furrowing at his comrade's words. “Where are you going, Vasily. We're not supposed to go anywhere, until we get new orders. You know that.”

“Yes, yes! I know. I...” Vasily looked around, staring at a pair of shadows moving along the side of the tent, beofre continuing in a hushed voice. “I'm getting out of here, Adrian. I only took this stupid job because it paid well, and I was told I'd be stationed in the city to help with relief efforts. I never wanted to head to the front lines, let alone fight! If it were Austrians, sure, those bastards killed my grandpa, but Russians? Something about it doesn't sit right with me... Me and Niko were going to steal a car... Head down South to Rostov. Word is the people there are just riding this whole thing out, so we wanted to go there and do the same.”

The following silence was long and tense, and Vasily couldn't bring himself to look up at Adrian the entire time. When his friend finally inhaled to speak, he flinched, expecting the worst. “Vasily...” Adrian said in a hushed tone. “Help me pack my bag. I want in.”

Yaroslavl

“Welcome, welcome, friends of Moscow! Haha! Come, come!” a man shouted from a market stall as the first of the vehicles from Arkhangelsk made their way into Moscuvite territory from the now-open border, for the first time in years. “Please! All the foods you've missed! All the latest fashions! Whatever you are looking for, Viktor has it! Come, come!”

All along the main road, the scene was the same. People from Yaroslavl welcoming old friends and ally's into the nation. Families reuniting for the first time in years. People waving flags, whether it be Archangelsk's, Moscow's, or even the old Russian flag. Soldiers from both sides talking like old friends catching up at the border checkpoint, while music filled the air for miles, some would swear.

“Uncle? Uncle Andrei, is that you?” a woman with a mess of curly hair said, tapping the back of an older man who was looking lost. “Oh, Uncle Andrei, it is you! Come with me, mama will be so excited to see you again!” Clasping the old man's hand, the woman began to scurry off, accidentally stepping on the foot of somebody who was leaning against a nearby building, smoking. “Oh, sorry, sir.”

“No, no, it's fine. Go, enjoy your day. Do not worry about it.” the man said, putting the cigarette out, and watching the woman disappear into the crowds. He then turned, walking inside of the building, letting out a sigh of relief as the outside sounds faded with the closing door. Looking around, he spotted three other men sitting at a table, playing cards. When they noticed him walking over, one of them shouted out to him.

“Lev! How are the festivities? Are you going to go jump around like a little girl?” laughed a man who looked like he had been hit with a train, bombed, and then struck by lighting, and survived.

“Shut it, Igor. I just needed some fresh air. I really don't care about the festivities. In fact... Going out there ruined my shoe.” replied Lev, an annoyed twitch showing in his left eye. “So, shall we continue?” he said pulling up a seat and dropping into it.

“Yes, let's.” said a greying man with shaggy hair and a pointed beard. “Oh, and, eat it, Igor.” he said displaying a Royal Flush, and pulling a pile of money towards himself.

“Fuck!” shouted Igor, hands clawing at what hair he had left. “I'll get you next time Pyotr, you bastard!”

“Yes, yes, I'm sure you will Igor. Now, can you calm down so we can talk?” Pyotr said calmly, though the smug smile said something else entirely. Once Igor had finally ended his fit, Pyotr put a hand on the arm of the large, bald man who had been quiet the entire time. “Go ahead, Sergei. Let them in on the plan.”

With a loud screech, Sergei pushed back on his chair, and stood up, papers in hand, like a gradeschooler prepared to give a book report. “Hello gentlemen. As you know, things have been hard for us lately. We lost our route from Smolensk, and Nizhny has their border locked down tight. With no way to export or import, we have been preparing for the worst, but no more! The Tsar has done good for us with this deal! With access to Arkhangelsk comes access to ports! Because of this, Pyotr has scraped together all of our remaining funds, so that we can buy a boat, and sail for better shores.”

“No, no!” cut in Pyotr. “That is not what we are doing! I bought us a smuggler, who owns a boat, so that we have a new way to smuggle into and out of Moscow! All we have to do is give them a fair cut, and they will set us up to start making big money again. Especially with war on the horizon, people will pay big to get those foreign foods, and especially for those Western drugs. There have been so many complaints lately about quality that I was beginning to think people were realizing how little they were actually getting. Well, not anymore! This is going to have us swimming in money boys. Even if Moscow burns, we'll be sitting pretty.”

With a maniacal chuckle, Igor rubbed his hands together like a rat, nearly slobbering at the prospect. “Oh Pyotr, I could kiss you right now. This is fantastic! No, this is beyond fantastic! How soon until we get our first payment, huh?”

“Not for a couple months.” Pyotr replied calmly, which was quickly contrasted by the tantrum Igor erupted into.

“A couple months? Are you fucking kidding me, Pyotr?!? The money I have left won't last me a couple weeks! Are you trying to kill me, is that it???” Igor shouted, throwing himself from his chair and stomping off into an adjacent room. “Why do we follow you, when you are so dumb! His voice echoed from a distant location.

Stifling a laugh, Lev looked to Pyotr, who leaned in, and in a hushed tone said “His share, at least. We'll see ours within a fortnight. I know the rat has been taking a cut of the top of all of his sales. He's lucky he's a good salesmen, or I'd have big Sergei drown him in a well, or... Or cut off his squirmy little hands.”

“You could always set him on fire, see if he survives that, too. Maybe he's actually a cockroach disguised as a rat. You have to have survived some crazy shit to end up looking like him.” Lev replied with a chuckle.

“Okay, Pyotr!.” came Igor's voice as he reentered the room. “Okay. I get it. You're holding onto the money, waiting for a big payoff, right? You want to treat us good, give us a nice paycheck first thing, right? I get it! So let me say, thank you. I won't disappoint you. In fact, I'll go get you some money right now. If you would give me some of the product, I'll head out this moment.”

“Well, Igor, there is no product. That's why we have to wait.” Pyotr said, and watched with glee as the large vein in Igor's forehead nearly burst, before the little ratty man stormed out of the building, muttering profanities. Once he was gone, Pyotr looked to Lev once more. “Meet me in Moscow in three days. I have a job for you and Segei to do in the meantime. Oh and, here.” he said, digging into his coat and pulling out some money. “Buy yourself some new shoes.”
I'll update the map once our two new Russkies get the stamp of approval.
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