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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Tom D.

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Education had heavily invested in bilingualism and a majority of the children born after the war were now fluent in both Dutch and French. This resulted in public radio channels and tv channels also being bilingual. Flemish nationalist parties were marginal, with the biggest being the Vlaamse Volksunie (VVU) with only an average of 3 seats in parliament.
I see some wishful thinking in these lines ;), but I do wonder how bilingual radio and tv channels would work to be honest, one person speaking Dutch whilst the other speaks French or a mix of both at the same time? Seems quite confusing to listen or watch to if you ask me :p. Besides that, a great AAR that has come to an end, I'm already looking forward to your next one :)!
 

SibCDC

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I see some wishful thinking in these lines ;), but I do wonder how bilingual radio and tv channels would work to be honest, one person speaking Dutch whilst the other speaks French or a mix of both at the same time? Seems quite confusing to listen or watch to if you ask me :p. Besides that, a great AAR that has come to an end, I'm already looking forward to your next one :)!
If Belgians know both languages, there's no need for translating everything. Imagine just TV shows in both French and Dutch or one or the other and everyone understands it because they are bilingual. Kind of confusing, I know.
 

stnylan

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I think a very rosy-looking future for Belgium here.
 

HIMDogson

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Under the cover of night, the small boat enters the bay. On board are several men. One of them is Fred, a 32 year old man from New York. Fred risked everything in the Civil War and he lost it all, everything. Everything his father had built since he arrived in the US from Germany, everything Fred had built on that legacy, gone. The only thing he now had left was a small portion of his father’s fortune which was invested in real estate in Cuba. The worst was that he had to drag his wife out of her bed and leave in a hurry with her. Mary certainly wasn’t happy with her husband and didn’t talk to him for four days. They were almost there now, Fred was sure that Mary’s mood would turn around once she saw the beauty of this country. Following the boss in his escape was important for his success in Cuba, Fred’s connections in Cuba were vital for the plan. And as it would turn out, Fred would become a very rich men and his family would reach the top of the top. But now, that was still far on the horizon, where a Caribbean sunrise was waiting to announce its arrival.
...Trump?
 

SibCDC

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I think a very rosy-looking future for Belgium here.
Some positive elements are maybe a bit exaggerated, but history is always written by the victors.
And so it ends with a big bang. Which nation is the next?
My next one will cover Cuba, but it will also show us a couple of important things about other nations in the world.
...Trump?
Was it the mention of a small fortune from his father that did it for you? :p
 

Nikolai

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So it's over. It was a very nice read, thanks a lot. :)
 

SibCDC

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So it's over. It was a very nice read, thanks a lot. :)
Thank you, and all the rest, for reading and taking the time to leave a message. :)
 

diskoerekto

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good job, good AAR :) thanks for writing
 

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The Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece: Chapter I

SibCDC

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Ever since the beginning of my Kaiserreich Connected Universe, I had the idea to write short stories set in that universe, going on in the background. Some of the post-credit scenes heavily hinted at some of them. But I've never gone through with finishing them fully. That is why I'll post my most complete short story, chapter per chapter, to force myself into finishing it. I'd say about 75% of it was already done, with the full plot lined out. I've been debating whether or not to start a new thread for this, but as the story is set in Belgium and can serve as a sort of sequel, I thought it would be more than fitting to continue in this thread. So without further ado, here is the story of the Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece.

The Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece
Chapter I



Late at night, 3rd of March, 1940, Paris, France.

The Belgian Army had to move quickly. German High Command was on its way to claim the most valuable pieces of art in the Louvre. Soldiers and museum employees did everything they could to hide the most prestigious works of art. In return for the help the Belgians provided, they would get their stolen artwork back. Finally, after a hundred years, the art stolen by Napoleon during the French Revolution would return to its rightful place. Sure the Germans would be angry, but these were the explicit orders of King Albert: “Return as much Belgian art as possible and keep as much French art out of German hands.” After a few hours of hard work, most of the Belgian art was already on its way to Brussels, while the walls of the Louvre where empty except for a few minor works. The most important works were safely stored in catacombs underneath the museum. Only a few people knew of their existence. The Germans would not find them and the French art was safe for the rest of the war. Around midnight, Jacques Pirenne arrived. Pirenne was one of the most trusted advisors of the King. He came with a special task: find the Golden Fleece.

The Golden Fleece was an artefact of myth and legend, but it did in fact exist. A long time ago, a golden ram was sent by the gods to rescue the twins Phrixus and Helle from their evil stepmother. But while flying over a strait of water, Helle fell from the ram and drowned. Said strait of water was from then on called the Hellespont. The golden ram managed to safely bring Phrixus to Colchis, modern day Georgia. In honour of the god Poseidon, Phrixus sacrificed the golden ram and hung its fleece on a tree. The Golden Fleece remained there until the hero Jason and his Argonauts arrived in the land of Colchis. Jason was on a quest to retrieve the powerful artefact and succeeded after performing three tasks with the help of the princess of Colchis, Medea. Together they escaped from Medea’s father, Aietes, King of Colchis, and arrived safely with the Golden Fleece in Greece. There it remained for centuries, even as Romans and Byzantines conquered the land. Then came the Turks, a rampant and heathen people, and the Golden Fleece was taken to safety to the North Sea port of Bruges. There, Philips the Good, Duke of Burgundy, founded the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1430 to protect the artefact from malevolent forces. Over the years, the Order expanded and moved the Fleece to its treasury in Brussels. Once again, the Golden Fleece had found a safe place to remain hidden, but when the French Revolution broke out and French troops were heading towards Brussels, the treasury was moved to Vienna. But before the Golden Fleece could be transported, it was stolen by a French spy and taken to Paris.

Now, Pirenne suspected the Fleece to be underneath the Louvre, in the very same hidden catacombs which were now used to store the French art. When in the wrong hands, the Golden Fleece could be a powerful weapon. It is said the artefact can give its user the power to fly, just like the golden ram all those centuries ago. Pirenne, as a man of facts and science, had to see it for himself to believe it. That is why he accepted this task. While walking through the torch-lit hallways, Pirenne could feel something calling to him. As he came closer and closer, he could hear the centuries of history the Golden Fleece had endured. Behind a big wooden door, he finally found what he had never thought to see. A bright light blinded his eyes. Hung up on the wall in front of him, the Golden Fleece was shining in all its glory. Pirenne admired the object before he put it in a blanket and took it back upstairs. It was time to leave, the Germans were close. He would not want to be seen here, after all he was just a civilian. The Golden Fleece must never fall into the wrong hands.
 
The Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece: Chapter II

SibCDC

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The Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece
Chapter II


10th of October, 1940, Pokigron, Belgian Guyana.

It was a hot and humid evening, when a new load of Belgian workers and their families came in. This time, five trucks filled with people and their belongings arrived to Pokigron, a small village on the Suriname River. In one of those trucks, Leo Meunier firmly held on to his dad, as the vehicle was rocking left and right on the unpaved jungle road. Leo had no idea why he and his family were here. His father had said something about serving the country. Leo knew they were at war, the priest of his village back in Belgium made sure of that. In his services, he was always ranting about the syndicalist danger, even though Leo and all of the other kids didn’t even know what that was. Before the war, Leo’s dad was an engineer and a good one to say the least. A couple of weeks ago, these men in military uniform, one of which a German, turned up at their door. Leo’s dad was excited and started packing some important stuff. Before they knew it, they were on a ship heading towards Belgian Guyana.

The five trucks stopped at a rather large building. Soldiers opened the back and let the people out. Leo could now see the building properly. It looked like some kind of barracks. One by one, the families, with their trunks, headed inside and settled themselves in their own respective rooms. This was their new life now, living in these barracks. Leo’s dad, along with the dads of other children, worked day and night in another building on the other side of town, while Leo and the children were schooled. Some of the other children spoke Flemish, something Leo had never heard before, but soon he picked up the new language and even taught French to his new friends. Everything went well and Leo adjusted to his new life. But nothing good ever lasts forever.

One day, Leo and some of the other kids were wondering what exactly their dads were doing inside of the building on the other side of town. So they sneaked out of school and headed for the other side of town. As expected, the compound was heavily guarded by soldiers, but kids always find a way in, especially when Belgian soldiers are guarding the place. Leo and his friends walked through the long hallways and ducked behind cover whenever an adult walked by. It’s remarkable how stealthy kids can be. Suddenly, they passed by a door with a weird symbol on it. Leo’s interest was sparked and he tried to enter. The door was locked, of course. Leo tried again, this time using his Swiss army knife. The door opened, but at the same time, soldiers came around the corner. Leo snuck in the room and closed the door behind him, leaving his friends defenceless in the corridor. In the room stood a big table with all sorts of scientific equipment on it. Leo was taken in by the weird looking instruments before him. Not thinking about the guards and his friends anymore, he started playing with the various objects. He recognized some of them, his father had showed him things like a microscope before. Others were so weird that Leo thought they came straight out of the 1931 film about Frankenstein.

One thing in particular drew his attention. A vial containing a liquid was calling out to Leo. The curious boy picked it up and started shaking it. All of a sudden, the machine in the corner of the room turned on and made a ghastly sound. Struck by fear, Leo dropped the vial on the floor, where it shattered in a thousand pieces, the liquid now spread out on the floor. Leo’s attention was taken by the machine, which caused him a considerable headache. Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, the light turned off. The machine consumed so much power that soon, there wouldn’t be any power left to keep itself running. After a minute or so, the awful sound stopped and the machine powered down. The lights slowly turned back on and Leo could see his hands again. The liquid on the floor was nowhere to be seen. The boy had no time to worry as a soldier entered the room, followed by Leo’s father. “Leo, what were you thinking?”, the boy’s father asked angrily. “Why did you turn on that machine?”, he continued. Leo dared not to speak as he was still shaken by what had happened. “You could have been hurt! Now, son, come with me, we must not let your mother know about this. She would be even more angry than I already am”, Leo’s father continued, as he took Leo by the arm and took him out of the room.
 

Nikolai

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Ooops. That sounds bad.
 

SibCDC

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Ooops. That sounds bad.
As an origin story it's relatively harmless compared to being blasted by gamma radiation or being held captive by terrorists.
 
The Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece: Chapter III

SibCDC

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The Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece
Chapter III



23rd of December, 1967, Leuven, Belgium

Leo had just finished the last stack of files on his desk. He had been working as an assistant on the criminology department of the university for five years now and still every case spiked his interest. Today was a special day. For the first time in years, he would see his parents again. They had finally returned from the Congo, where they had lived since they moved out of Belgian Guyana. Christmas is the ideal occasion to reunite with family. By the time the sun was setting, Leo was in front of the famous library on the Ladeuze Square, waiting for his parents to arrive by taxi. He didn’t have to wait long. Soon, a cab turned around the corner and stopped in front of Leo. As his parents stepped out, Leo took their luggage out of the trunk. “Leo, don’t tire yourself out. Come here, give me a hug!”, his mother said. In the freezing cold of winter, the embrace felt like a cosy fireplace warming the house. After his mother gave him a hug, his father took Leo’s hand firmly and said: “After all these years, I finally see my son again. You’ve made it in life, you’ve got a good job, boy. I’m proud of you. Before we go to your house, your mother and I need to make a stop at the bank though.” “No problem, there’s a bank on this square. I’ll take you there”, Leo replied.

The Kredietbank was not far away from where the taxi had stopped and Leo had no trouble carrying his parents’ baggage. While they went to the counter to arrange their financial affairs, Leo stood in the waiting area, guarding their baggage. While he was looking around the room, he noticed a lonely box in the corner of the room. Curious to what it was, Leo made his way to the clearly out-of-place box. He could hear a weird noise from inside the box. On the lid was an icon resembling a yellow lion. But before he could open or even lift the box, it exploded, throwing Leo against the wall and knocking him unconscious. The blast resulting from the explosion expanded quickly through the building, breaking the windows of the Kredietbank and the neighbouring buildings.

The first police officers, firefighters and medical personnel turned up just a few minutes after the explosion. The ground floor of the Kredietbank seemed to be where the explosion originated from. Police had learnt this from eyewitnesses. Firefighters came to this conclusion after examining the scene. What was most astonishing, however, was the man who was being treated by the medical personnel. From what it looked like, he survived the explosion even though he was found at the epicentre. They had not been able to talk to him yet. Eventually, he was brought to the local hospital, where a detective would await his return to consciousness.

A bright light was making it difficult for Leo to open his eyes. His body hurt all over, as if his skin had been torn to shreds. After a while, Leo could open his eyes without the light hurting his eyes. “Ah, you’re awake, I see,” the man by his bed said, “How are you feeling?” Leo was confused, how did he get here, in this hospital bed? “I hurt all over”, he eventually answered. Coming to the full realisation that he was in a hospital, Leo worryingly asked: “Where are my parents? Are they okay?” This was always the hardest part to a detective’s job. “I’m sorry. If they were in the building with you, they are most likely dead. But let’s start from the beginning, what is your name?”, the detective continued. “Leopold Meunier,” Leo answered. “Ok Leopold, tell me, what happened in the bank?” “My parents needed to arrange their banking affairs, so we went to the Kredietbank. While I was waiting on them, I noticed a box that was out of place. I went to look and then everything went black”, Leo said in a sad voice. “Did you notice anything in particular about the box?”, the detective asked. “Well in fact I did. There was a yellow lion symbol on the lid. It resembled a lion that you could find on a coat of arms.” The detective thanked Leo: “Thanks for your help. I promise, I will find whoever did this and bring them to justice.” As the detective left his room, Leo shouted after him: “Hey, I didn’t even get your name!” The detective looked back and said: “Don’t worry, we’ll meet again.”
 

Nikolai

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Quite interesting. Seems like we have a Wolverine. :p
 

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The Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece: Chapter IV

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The Crimson Lion and the Golden Fleece
Chapter IV


27th of December, 1967, Waterloo, Belgium.

Snowflakes were slowly falling onto Leo’s shoulders while he was standing above his parents grave in tears. The pastor, along with Leo’s friends and family had left hours ago, but he was still standing in the cold, mourning. Suddenly, a voice came from behind him: “Are you going to stand there all day?” It was the detective from a few days ago in the hospital. “Hey, I never got your name”, Leo said. “Michael Roberts is the name”, the detective answered. “I knew that was an American accent I heard in your French”, Leo said, a smile slowly returning to his face. “You’ve caught me. Last year, the Belgian government asked my government for someone specialized in counter-terrorism to help them in an investigation. Given my expertise, the CIA sent me”, the detective explained. “Why are you here?”, Leo asked. “After you told me your name, I looked into your history. You’re an interesting man, Leopold. Your father was a brilliant scientist, working on the Solvay Project. You’ve lived in Guyana and Congo before you began your education at the University in Leuven. Apparently you’re an excellent criminologist. Such skills could be very useful in this investigation. The Belgian government should’ve brought you onto the case from the very beginning.” “Is that why you came looking for me? To recruit me?”, Leo asked somewhat in disbelief. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I belief this investigation could greatly benefit from your expertise”, Michael replied.

Leo was unsure what to say. He wanted to find out who killed his parents more than anyone. He wanted them to be brought to justice. But he wasn’t sure if he would be able to help the investigation. His personal feelings could cloud his judgement. The entire investigation could fail if he would do something wrong. But then again, as the detective said, Leo would be a valuable asset to the investigation. After thinking about it for a while, Leo agreed to help Michael: “All right, I’ll help you. I want to see justice. Now, what do you already know?” “We’re dealing with a terrorist organisation called the Order of Flemish Militants,” Michael began, “They’re Flemish nationalists and for the last couple of months, they’ve been trying to hit targets which represent the Belgian nation. We’ve prevented their attempt at disrupting the national holiday, but they’ve caught us by surprise with their most recent bombing. We suspect they might’ve been after something at the bank, but we’re not sure what.” “What if they weren’t after something?”, Leo asked. “What do you mean?” “Well, what if they weren’t after something but after someone”, Leo explained. “Then that someone must’ve crossed the Militants in one way or another. The problem is that we have not identified all casualties yet. The damage done to some bodies has made it impossible to identify them.” “Maybe you could use the bank’s security camera footage”, Leo proposed. “We have considered that. But the footage was not recorded, so we must rely on the account of the security officer of the bank. The problem is, he’s still unconscious in the hospital as a result of the explosion. You know, I’m still amazed by how you managed to end up completely unharmed in that blast,” the detective said. “It must have been a miracle”, Leo said somewhat jokingly. “Yeah, it must’ve been”, Michael said in an uncertain manner. The two men continued to discuss the case as they made their way back to their cars. Leo agreed to follow Michael back to Leuven, where they would read the case files.

Back in Leuven, in the police station, Michael briefed his special task force, along with Leo, about their next mission. According to reports, the Flemish Militants were preparing for their next action. A reported manifestation was planned for the 15th of January. Flemish students at the University were planning to protest at what they saw as the Frenchification of Flanders. The Militants reportedly planned to use this manifestation to recruit more young people into their ranks. Michael’s plan to counter this was to closely observe and identify possible recruiters. Strategically placed policemen would then take these men into custody as the manifestation passed by. The mayor of Leuven explicitly asked to keep this manifestation as peaceful as possible, in order to not give in to the narrative of police brutality and oppression of the freedom of speech. Michael recognized the mayor’s concern, but lives were at stake here. These young people protesting should be protected from a life as terrorist with all means possible and Michael would make sure of that.
 

Nikolai

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Interesting. So they recruited him. But was it solely for the reasons mentioned? Or to keep tabs on him?
 

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Interesting. So they recruited him. But was it solely for the reasons mentioned? Or to keep tabs on him?
It's probably a combination of the two. His skills would contribute to the investigation, but with the suspicious circumstances surrounding the attack, they'd definitely want to keep an eye on him.