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#1
11 June 2028
Pons Ferrata
Free Land of Pons Ferrata, Ixnay​

The collapse of an ever-expanding colonial nation earlier this month has been the talk of the entire world. Its former colonies lay abandoned and entered a state of complete anarchy. Councillor Robertus Cattio (Roberto Cato) had been elected by the High Councillor himself to speak in the House of Councillors about a delicate matter: Intervention. He nerviously fidgetted with his pen while the Chamber Speaker announced the opening of today's session. "And for the first and probably most important intervention of the day. The discussion of Ferratan intervention in the island of Sudland, whose colonial overlord collapsed recently. Councillor Robertus Cattio, please take up the speaker's stand."

Roberto got up and walked to the stand, making sure that all of his papers were in order. He licked his lips and looked around the chamber. He knew that this was his test to see if he had the mettle to become Regent Councillor, the High Councillor's most important protegé, whenever Alberto Stefano stepped down from his High Councillorship. "Welcome, Councillors of the Free Land. To the meeting which will determine wether the Ferratan nation renounces its policy of splendid isolation, in favor of helping the peoples of the world regain their dignity and pride."

The man looked to the Councillors spread around the House. The councillors of the Unionist Party looked at him warily, preparing their negative response. They were the first and foremost protectors of the isolationist policies of the Free Land, which they thought was the safest way to protect themselves from foreign powers during these unstable times. The councillors of the WRPF, the socialist party, were the most undecided of the whole House, as its plethora of factions had united themselves into the approval and denial faction for that day. Meanwhile, the Ferratan Patriotic Party's Councillors were soon to grow impatient, as their approval had been confirmed again and again.

"The island of Sudland, once the posession of an important colonial nation, has fallen into a state of utter anarchy. Their governors have abandoned them and their peoples have formed warbands to take control of various sections of the island. Already, many repressive nations look at the island greedily, ready to conquer them, impose martial law, and colonize it. This island has a history, it's greek-slavic peoples yearn for freedom and self-determination and the democracies of the world have a duty to help them in their struggle, and we must be the democracy that steps up to aid them." Roberto continued on, seeing Alberto look at him with approval.

As Roberto finished, he stepped down from the speaker's stand and returned to his seat. The Chamber Speaker nodded, and called for Lucius Callistus (Lucio Calisto) of the Unionist Party to take up the speaker's stand for rebuttal. The Unionists called the intervention a "warmongering cry for attention" by the Conservative Union and the Patriotic Party, and proposed a system of foreign aid and advisorship for the formation of a new government. The socialists followed, and proclaimed that "unless the Conservative Union promises an equal and fair treatment of the island's workers", the WRPF would never approve of the motion. The Patriotic Party got up to the stand and said that this was an "unique opportunity" for the Free Land to reassert its presence in the world in the face of external threats and that the island functioned as the "perfect waypoint" to bring civilization to the east.

The debate lasted for hours, but by the end of it the Conservative Union had successfully obtained the approval of most of the WPRF along with the total approval of the Patriotic Party. The vote was passed with 240 approvals VS 150 denials. The plan would be set in motion in the following day. And Roberto would be the Conservative Union's representative during the Armed Forces' takeover of the island. He got home and went through a cold shower before going over details of the island of Skopiros' (Sudland) inhabitants and the current situation within it. Some warlords had to be pleased, others had to be squashed under the Iron Boot. There was no way around it, blood would be shed. And the operation's success or failure could make or break the people's confidence in the Conservative Union for years to come.
 
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#2
12 June 2028
Military Port of Purdella
Free Land of Pons Ferrata, Ixnay
Roberto was playing around with his tie nervously. Men clad in combat fatigues came and went with various supplies to board onto the dedicated transport ships, the mood seemed cheerful and active. Decades had passed since Ferratan troops had left the mainland to undertake offensive maneuvers, and now, one infantry regiment, one mechanized regiment, and one armor regiment would be moving out to take over the island of Skopiros, way to the east, aided by elements of the Navy and Airforce. Over 25.000 men and women had been mobilized for this undertaking, and the movement in and around the port of Purdella did demonstrate this.

Finally, the man who Roberto was waiting for arrived. General Lucius Quintus (Lucio Quinto) was the Senator Regent, the successor to the grand senator. Now in his 40s, Lucio is a respected army veteran who always took his job seriously, even if it was during the times of peace. Roberto shook his hand. "Greetings, General Quintus, it is an honor to see you." Lucio smiled, "The honor is all mine, Councillor Cattio."

Lucio asked Roberto if he would like to tour the military installations of the port of Purdella, the main military port of the Free Land, Roberto agreed. Shortly after starting their walk, Roberto spoke of the invasion. "General Quintus, we've been planning the invasion of Skopiros for weeks now, but let us go over this once more, you and I." Lucio nodded. "I agree, Councillor. Our victory is of the outmost importance."

Roberto thought over what he studied yesterday. The island of Skopiros has been divided into 4 warlord states: The Democratic Front of Skopiros (DFS), who is our first and foremost ally in the ground, and who we've been keeping contact for the last few weeks to know the situation over at the island; The Colonial Garrison of Skopiros (CGS), a military junta which wanted to hold a tight grip on the island until their overlord could come back to save the day, sadly for them, that is not happening and now they simply seek to unify the island and govern it themselves; The Skopiros People's Front (SPF), a ragtag band of socialists with heavy factionalism, if we listed each faction, we could add at least 3 or 4 other warlord states to the list, we do know that two of these factions could find agreement with the DFS, while the rest will probably hold out; Then there's the Skopiros Orthodox Alliance (SOA), who might sound like religious extremists, but they're more like a bunch of desperate peasants rallied around the Orthodox church who do not want to fight for any of the fronts, and merely keep their lands and farmsteads safe from looting militias. These could also become easily agreeable, so long as they're not told to go fight in the front.

The DFS held the western town of Heratras, the bigger trade port of the island, and the surrounding villages, having formed a more or less stable militia force with looted weaponry and officials who defected from the colonial garrison. The CGS had a strong hold over the island's capital, Nikarna, which stood as the island's only industrial and urban center in its very center. The SPF had taken up many towns and villages across the island with looted weaponry and anarchic militias behaving with near complete independence from their overlord, the ones who respected some form of authority were those who professed loyalty to the Communist Front. Meanwhile the SOA held its positions in the South, giving warning shots to any would-be looter, but with no formal organization apart from a few priests and larger landowners.

The plan was simple, land in the port of Heratras and deploy the troops along its border. From there on, negotiations would begin with the more agreeable parts of the SPF, the CGS, and the SOA. There was not much hope for success with the stubborn CGS, but a quick display of might would probably make them lay down their arms, which are not ready to fight against a modern army. The hardcore members of the SPF would probably rather die than surrender, if push came to shove, their dream would become a reality.

As the Councillor and the General pondered over the minute details of the plan, they realized that the preparations were nearing completion, and the transport ships and the navy would be sailing out soon. Arriving and settling down in the island would take a day or two, the negotiations would begin on the third day and proceed until necessary. Armed confrontation would be initiated only if absolutely necessary.

The councillor proceeded to the ship where the 2nd Infantry Regiment, the "Puño di Ferro" or "Iron Fist" regiment, was. The voyage was slow and steady, but seeing the navy and transport ships sail off into the first military venture in generations filled the young councillor with patriotic pride. The Free Land would make its voice heard in the world, and by doing so would save an island from possible tyranny. After a few hours of travel, a soldier knocked on the cabin door, and announced that the island of Skopiros had been sighted.
 
#3
12 June 2028
Heratras
Anarchic island of Skopiros, Solisbury Archipelago
It was late afternoon when the ships had reached the port of Heratras, Roberto had a bit of seasickness, but he succesfully dressed up and left from the ship. Armed men of the 2nd Infantry Regiment were already standing guard and were cordoning off the half of the port which was dedicated to the arriving Ferratan navy. The port was not big enough to house a fleet, which limited the logistics of the Armed Forces. A soldier approached Roberto, "Councillor Cattio? I am Michaelus Ferrus, in common: Miguel Hierro. I am to stand as your bodyguard for the duration of your stay in Heratras." Roberto nodded, and asked the man to follow him. They were in dangerous territory, and attacks could spring up at any moment.

Roberto reunited with Lucio, who guided him to the main headquarters of the DFS. There he saw the first components of the armed militias of the DFS. Lucio spoke to Roberto, "Their equipment situation is a bit dire. Automatic weapons from decades ago, some machine guns also as old, and sometimes set up on pick-up trucks. There's even a few bolt action rifles, we're talking about a century old type of rifle. But they do have ammo for the guns, seems like their old overlords dumped spare equipment in Heratras, and brought the finer stuff to the capital of the island, Nikarna."

The councillor nodded to Lucio and waited for him to finish his smoke before entering the building. The General dropped his cigarrete and stepped on it. "Let's go in, sir. You'll meet the boss of the DFS, Antiphates Loukas."
As they entered, Roberto noticed that most of the government officials were clad in fatigues, necessities of the times they were in. The officials were busy with their own matters, but most if not all of them stopped to take a look at the two men entering the building. They all knew who they were.

Going up a flight of stairs and entering what seemed to be the largest office of what was once the colonial government building was a bit tiring. The weather is warm and humid here, and a suit is not the most appropriate dressing for such conditions, maybe that was why the officials dropped them completely? The only exception to the norm was the man who was sitting at this grand room's desk. An old man, 59 years old, according to his dossier, but he was physically fit for his age. He got up to welcome the two visitors, talking to them in a good latin, but with a strong Greek accent.

"Councillor Cattio, I presume. And General Quintus. It is good to see you. With the strength of the Free Land of Pons Ferrata by our side, we will make this war turn to our favor." He offered them a seat in front of his desk, and two responded in kind.

"Tomorrow will be a grand day, as representatives of all of the fronts will be coming to Heratras to negotiate an end to the bloodshed. Who we convince that day, and who we do not convince, will truly mark the amount of blood that will be shed in the following days. Though with your help, I am sure most of the fronts would surrender in but a few days."

General Quintus agreed with "Governor Loukas", as he called him. It was already agreed that, until Skopiros was able to proceed to free and open elections, Mr. Loukas would work as the head of its government. Roberto only hoped that Loukas would not trouble the Ferratan administration when his term is up. Cattio questioned Loukas on the representatives they would be meeting. A well-liked socialist representative, some old army corporal, and a priest. It sounded like the beginning of a bad joke from the early 20th century.

The socialist representative would have to be sweet-talked about the many social measures that the Ferratan overlordship would bring to the island, it would probably make more than half of the socialist cliques defect to the DFS, seeing the desperate situation they were in; the old army corporal would seek only one thing, amnesty and the possibility of travelling out of the island unscathed, to go wherever they wished; then the priest would merely ask for their customs and traditions to be respected, along with the current, rather archaic land ownership system in the Skopiros farmlands. Something the socialists would not appreciate but then again, change could only come with free and fair elections.

The plan was set, Governor Loukas shook hands with the Roberto and Lucio, and said Ferratan overlordship would be welcome in Skopiros for years to come if they got the island out of trouble with as little bloodshed as possible. The three seemed quite pleased with themselves, this would be an easy victory, and slowly but surely, the island would one day find itself well incorporated as a Free Territory of Pons Ferrata.

Tomorrow would be an important day for the fate of the people of Skopiros.
 
#4
13 June 2028
Heratras
Anarchic Island of Sudland, Solisbury Archipelago
Roberto spent the night in an unusual room. It was obvious that the members of the DSF had done the best they could to outfit a room for a foreign dignitary, but the war had caused an influx of refugees to the port city. Some seeking to join the DSF, others simply looking for a way out of the island. Nevertheless, these people needed food, care, and a place to sleep in, an arduous task for a hastily scrambled militia front whose capital city was constantly harassed by communist militias and remnants of the old military. The Councillor respected the DSF for their efforts, and was glad his country would support their endeavors as the freedom fighters of Skopiros.

As the councillor finished putting on his suit, he heard a knock on the door. A Ferratan soldier asked if he was ready from the other side. The councillor opened the door and nodded, asking the soldier to lead him to General Quintus. As the two headed down, he noticed that the other 11 soldiers tasked with guarding him were on duty and wary, many of the Ferratans had a hard time trusting the militias, as insurgents could be hiding and militias could switch their allegiance fast.

After a small walk through the newer, more embellished parts of the town -a gift of their overlords before they went down in fire- Roberto met with General Quintus, they spoke rather casually, considering their careers were a few hours away from reaching glory or falling into the pit of failure. They were guarded by 24 Ferratans, who had formed around them as a protective measure. On the way to the government building, all types of scenes appeared before them. Hungry beggars asking anyone around him for a dinar, the local currency; militias escorting refugees, widows and orphans to rundown hotels; Ferratan soldiers teaching the militias how to handle their weapons; convoy trucks driving supplies and troops around the city. The small town of Heratras was mobilizing, a large-scale offensive to conquer the whole island was near.

They reached the DSF headquarters safely. A military car with the CGS initials on its side, a rather run-down jeep with the initials of the SPF and an old car displaying an orthodox cross on its door were parked in front of it. The dignitaries had arrived on time. Militias from the four fronts eyed each other warily, looking for any hint of hostility or evil intent. The Ferratan envoys were allowed to pass, and the soldiers took position in and around the government building. Roberto and Lucio went up to Loukas' office, where the meeting would take place.

Roberto gulped one last time as a DSF militia opened the door to the meeting. A well-dressed middle-aged man with a hammer and sickle badge, an old captain with military fatigues and a long beard and an orthodox priest sat around a large round table with Loukas. The envoys shook hands with the Ferratan councillor and general, presenting themselves. Roberto thought again of how much this looked like an old joke his grand father used to tell him. "A socialist, a soldier, and a priest walked into a bar..."

"Well met, men of the Iron Bridge."
said the middle-aged man. "You come to our island willing to bring to peace, it is always good."

Roberto nodded, and spoke to all three of the envoys. "Representatives of the Skopiros Fronts. We must come to an understanding today, lest we bleed an already bloodied nation. Talk to us, what could have Skopiros working in peace again?"

The priest was unmoving, his facial features were worn out yet stern and tranquil. "Our people have ages old traditions. Our trust in God and these traditions have allowed us to survive calamities worse than this, and will allow us to survive this one. The Orthodox Alliance's request are as follow: Respect our faith, respect our land."

The suited SPF representative twitched at the priest's words. "Πας καλά ρε μαλάκα? That faith of yours and your corrupt desire to keep the people's lands in your and your lackeys' grubby hands are what brought us into this mess in the first place. You surrendered us to our old overlords!"

The priest stared at the SPF man, a stare cold like ice who looked at a man burning with revolutionary fervor. "It would do you good to think with your head, and not with your fist. Not all 'peoples', as you call them, wish for your silly ideas to come to fruition. Otherwise they would've joined you. We brought safety to their lands, families, and homes."

The bearded military man coughed a bit. "You could at least keep a hold of your communist friends, μαλάκα. We've received enough intel about purges of 'non-revolutionary' elements. I thought you boys were all about helping the poor and downtrodden, not murdering them by the hundreds in cold blood, that's supposed to be our job in your books of fairy tales."

Loukas spoke before the SPF representative could respond. "Now, my friends. We are here to parley, not to repeat the disaster of our negotiations weeks ago. I must remind you of the new Ferratan element, and what they are here to offer us."

Cattio looked all the representatives, all eyes were on him and Lucio. "We all have the good of Skopiros' peoples as our foremost objective. But what is this good that we offer if we do not even receive their support in free and fair elections. Is there good in bloodletting and killing your enemies?"

The SPF representative did not seem convinced, the priest icy, and the bearded armyman sighed. But Cattio continued. "You may think that I speak empty words, but the Free Land is a nation with old traditions, both religious and not. The Free Land's people enjoy equity of opportunity, and the downtrodden are taken care of so they can rise again in further strength. Our armed forces are the pride and work of more than 10 generations of soldiers. All of these things that you bicker upon, we have united into a single strong element through democracy."

As the SPF man's eyes seemed to shine in a friendlier way, and the priest showed the hint of a smile off the tip of his lip, the army man remained bored. "If you know of our history, our division over these elements caused a decade long civil war in our land many many years ago, we survived and prospered, and understood the uselessness of a brother killing fellow patriots. All of you were born on this land, bred in it, in one or another condition, would you see it crumple down and burn into an useless pile of ash as you fought each other?"

The SPF man provided a "no" with his head, the priest looked down at the table, then at the bearded armyman. "What do you think of this? I see good purpose in the councillor's words."

The army man let out a long, winded sigh. "So do I, priest. But good purpose and beautiful words may inflame our hearts, but will it inflame the hearts of cruel men who use these times to murder and plunder as they see fit? There will be bloodletting anyway. The communists around, and the CGS' junta has a few desperate generals from our old overlords willing to do anything to keep their control on the island. I will participate with you, move a few chess pieces back in Nikarna, when your tanks come rolling, more than half of the CGS militia will defect, the rest will resist a few hours at most. If you can, send the hydra's heads tumbling down into the sea, they're more dumps of trash than men."

The SPF representative looked at the two, and saw accord in their eyes. "You promise fairness and democracy, man of the Iron Bridge. Uphold it, and many of ours will be with you, those that refuse to join you must be given amnesty, unless they decide to take violent means against your people. But if you bring us slavery and authoritarianism, like our old overlords did, you will see a much more organized revolution in your hands."

Cattio nodded, many details had to be ironed out, but the presence of a whole division of the land army was convincing enough for the SOA to surrender, along with large parts of the SPF and CGS. The times ahead would be arduous, but the few remaining rebels would be easily squashed through direct intervention.

At the end of the council. The six representatives of the many sides of the negotiation had come to an accord. The Free Island of Skopiros would be formed as territory of the Free Land of Pons Ferrata. The island would be unified before elections were held, and would have both a senate and a house of councillors, just as the Free Land did. After the elections, the two houses would then form a civilian government with the help of Ferratan advisors and the Ferratan Army.

The next few weeks would be Quintus' time to shine, as elements of both the communist faction of the SPF and maddened generals of the CGS declared the agreement null and took up arms.
 
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