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  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

InvisibleSandwi

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That's not a lot of centers of trade, and the last few installments make me feel bad for the poor Jarl. All he wanted was to have a good time... although the rise of Scandinavia should ensure the happiness of his people for a while.

Assuming you follow your list, this means Han China should be next. Have fun subjugating the Middle Kingdom if that's the case; what are you going to do about the Korean peninsula?
 

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That's not a lot of centers of trade, and the last few installments make me feel bad for the poor Jarl. All he wanted was to have a good time... although the rise of Scandinavia should ensure the happiness of his people for a while.

Assuming you follow your list, this means Han China should be next. Have fun subjugating the Middle Kingdom if that's the case; what are you going to do about the Korean peninsula?
FYI, good sir:)rofl:), i'ts pronounced Han Zhou.
 

blklizard

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That's not a lot of centers of trade, and the last few installments make me feel bad for the poor Jarl. All he wanted was to have a good time... although the rise of Scandinavia should ensure the happiness of his people for a while.

Assuming you follow your list, this means Han China should be next. Have fun subjugating the Middle Kingdom if that's the case; what are you going to do about the Korean peninsula?
The Jarl did had a hard time. However, he did perform his duties perfectly. I'm doing Han Zhou next and I will admit that this will be a lot tougher than the Vikings part. As for Korea, I'm not entirely sure what to do. My goals involve China and Japan and so I haven't decided what to do with Korea.

Han Zhao

Chapter 16


My son,

Remember the hardship our people have gone through. We have always viewed ourselves as the Chinese and yet they saw us as outsiders. Indeed, our ancestors were Xiongnu. They were once considered the enemies of the Chinese. Many conflicts arose between them and many lives were lost. I agree that there has been a lot of bad blood between the two people. However, that was a long time ago. With the defeat of the Xiongnu, a large group of them moved westwards while a number of them, our people, stayed. As time passed, our people has settled down to follow the ways of the Chinese. They began to see themselves as the Chinese and hoped to be integrated into the Chinese society as a whole.

They have experienced the highs and lows of China. With the fall of Han, China was thrown into chaos. Like everyone else, our people weren't spared the suffering. Our young men were recruited to fight in battles. We lost many good men then. Soon, China was divided into three kingdoms. Our people served under the kingdom called Wei. In return for loyalty, we were promised to be integrated into China. As a result, we fought the enemies of Wei hoping to be part of the Chinese society. Soon, Jin took over Wei and unified China. We thought that our days as outsiders were over. Little did we know that the emperor of Jin ignored us. With China under his grasp, he saw us as useless. We remained second class citizens.

As if our great god has blessed us, Jin was thrown into turmoil. Not long after the unification, a conflict between eight princes has created instability in the nation of Jin. While they fought amongst themselves, we saw the opportunity to rise up. For too long, we hoped to aid someone in return for their aid. We have learned that we cannot rely on anyone else except ourselves. Thus, my brother, after deceiving our enemies, managed to return to us. With the knowledge he obtained from our enemies, he led our people to many victories. Following a decade of fighting, he created our nation called Han Zhao. Our nation, along with Cheng Han, split Jin into two halves.

Unfortunately, the new Jin emperor has solidified his power in Jin. Despite being split in half, he has control over his entire nation. With many rich territory under his control, they still post a threat to our nation. Han Zhao has been created in times of chaos. Despite being a power in the region, it still cannot survive if she made too many enemies. That is where you come in, my son. My brother and I have both grown too old. We need a new successor to take over. You are that successor. You must lead our nation to victory. You must first conquer Jin. They are our rival in this region. Defeat them and China will be ours. This won't be an easy task and I doubt you can finish it in your lifetime. However, I know that you will make us proud. You are the new ruler of this nation. You have a difficult task ahead of you and your path will be bumpy. Remember this. You are also creating a home for our people. Our people have suffered long enough and they need a ruler who can give them a home.


 

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I can't go without commenting on the name of your Emperor... which I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce, by the way.

In lieu of a silly joke about his name, I can only offer you (again) good luck in your quest to reunite China.
 

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I just remembered, to play to the end, you MUST play after 872 due to a manner of bug which causes EVERY game in that year to CTD, or worse.:eek:

No pressure:)
 

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I can't go without commenting on the name of your Emperor... which I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce, by the way.

In lieu of a silly joke about his name, I can only offer you (again) good luck in your quest to reunite China.
I can help there,:happy:

hqdefault.jpg

AAOAO!:D
 

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After much thought, I have decided to revive this AAR. I've decided to change the writing style slightly while still using the original idea. There won't be any gameplay until later on and it will be ahistorical. I don't want to spoil too much so we will begin (or continue) with Han Zhao.

Chapter 17

[Pingyang, Han Zhao]

(June 2, 313)

Wu ran through the empty streets trying to get home without encountering any patrolling soldiers. As a Han, Wu feared what would happen to him if he was caught out in the streets. The Xiongnu has became the overlords following the chaos resulting from the War of Eight Princes. The Han, while making up the majority of the population, had little choice but submit to the vicious and warlike Xiongxu. Many months before, the soldiers that valiantly fought against these invaders were all massacred before the populace when the invaders broke through the gates. The ruler of the Xiongnu declared to the civilians that he wouldn't tolerate resistance or betrayal and, for those foolish enough to challenge him, would suffer the same fate as the soldiers. Since then, the Xiongnu had many soldiers patrolling the streets and, anyone that they suspected had connections with the enemy, would be executed at the spot without a trial. Those that tried to insult the soldiers often suffered a similar fate if not worse. The people have grown to fear the Xiongnu and, without a strong leader, they felt they cannot hope to challenge the invaders. Wu, like many youngsters at his age, were frustrated with their powerlessness in dealing with their enemy. The elders stated that they were fortunate to be spared a death but they argued back that the rise and fall of a nation concerned everyone.

Running through the streets, Wu used his sharpen senses to check if anyone was nearby. The new ruler of Pingyang, Liu Yuan, has proclaimed himself the King of Han. Wu didn't care what title the man chose as long as his family wasn't harmed. So far, his hopes were dashed many times with the many deaths happening everyday throughout the city. Since the Xiongnu took over the city, their soldiers patrolled the streets suspecting nearly any Han to be a spy. If anyone was foolish to catch their attention, they would be arrested and executed. Wu narrowly avoided that fate by hiding in the crowds but there was no one around now. Wu hated that he lost track of time at his friend's house and missed the bell signaling the curfew. The new ruler has set up a curfew and any civilian out at the stated hours would be executed. It seemed like the new ruler was paranoid but his decisions have made the lives of everyone harder. If someone was ill during curfew, the physician couldn't arrive in time to save lives. Just a few days ago, Wu's friend got real ill at home and, because of the curfew, he eventually succumbed to his illness. For that incident, along with many others, Wu couldn't forgive the Xiongnu and vowed to take part in expelling them from the city walls.

Wu thought back to a slightly better past when no one had to fear the idea of walking the streets. Those were happier times despite the fact that many were starving. Wu believed that having more freedom was a good price to pay, especially when his family could barely fill their bellies under the current ruler. Lives have gotten far worse and Wu couldn't do anything about it. The new ruler made things much worse by continuing his expansions against Jin. The conflict has directed much of the food to the soldiers and ordinary civilians had to compete for what little was left. Food supplies were low in all the cities under Xiongnu control and, for poor families like the one Wu was in, they could, assuming they were lucky, get one complete meal every other day. Wu was already used to poverty and he still grew up like all his friends. He never felt disgraced about his family's financial struggles and always wanted to help his family get ahead one day. Seeing his family members struggling more under the Xiongnu, Wu felt his heart broken. Wu's father was a soldier that defended the walls and Wu was unfortunate enough to see his execution. His grandparents had all starved to death as they saved their scraps of food for Wu and his siblings. Wu's mother seemed to age more and her once beautiful black hair has been turning to a light shade of grey.

Wu, preoccupied by his thoughts, tripped over a piece of wood and tumbled a short distance. Just as he was about to get up, he heard some voices nearby and decided to lay low. He crawled towards the voices to see what was happening. Making hardly any sound, Wu closed the distance and looked around the corner.

"What are you doing here? Did you not know about the curfew?" asked a soldier holding a torch.

Wu recognized the soldiers as part of the local patrol that terrorized the neighborhood. The unfortunate man to be caught out was Li who was Wu's neighbor.

"Well, I guess this one isn't willing to talk," said another soldier. "I would assume he is a spy."

Li was shaking in his boots and the soldiers laughed.

"Look at him! He's definitely a spy. We cannot risk him telling the enemy our secrets, right?" suggested someone in the patrol.

Wu wanted to look away but his eyes refused to close. He saw the soldiers all take out their swords before slashing away at the vulnerable man with his back to the wall. The man screamed from the pain but no one answered. At least, no one dared to answer. After a few minutes, the Xiongnu soldiers walked away from Li and Wu waited a few minutes before checking on his neighbor. As expected, Li was already dead and his body was hacked down. Wu was disgusted by the fact that Xiongnu soldiers killed a Han so easily and left the body behind like it was nothing. As much as he wanted to get his friend's corpse home, Wu didn't want to risk a similar fate.

"Goodbye, friend," said Wu before leaving behind the body.

Moving swiftly through the dark alleys, Wu made it to his home in good time. After checking the streets and finding no patrols, he dashed to the wall encircling his home and scaled it with ease. Wu was a mischievous child who liked to sneak out of the home at the middle of the night. To get back in, he learned how to quickly scale the wall while not making a single sound. Entering the courtyard, Wu took a deep breath and walked towards the compound his family was living in. Many compounds were cramped into the small space surrounded by the wall and each were above capacity. Each compounds were nearly touching each other and the families all shared the same washroom and kitchen. Fearful that he may awake his neighbors, Wu tiptoed to his compound when the door of the neighboring compound suddenly opened. Through the small crack, Wu saw Li's son, Tian. The creaking door also brought Li's wife, Hua, to the door.

"I'm sorry if he woke you up, Wu," Hua apologized.

"Hua, your husband was killed by the Xiongnu," Wu responded before quickly getting inside.

Wu stood against the door and heard Hua close the door. He then heard her weeping as quietly as she could. The compounds were so poorly made that sound travel easily through the walls. Hearing the weeping, Wu tightened his fist and wept himself. Li was always there for him but, when he was helpless, Wu failed to give him a hand. The combination of the weeping and the settling of the fatigue saw Wu fall asleep while leaning against the door. The streets were silent except for the occasional footsteps of the patrolling soldiers. Inside the compound, Wu felt safe and he slept without a care in the world.
 
Last edited:

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Chapter 18

[Pingyang, Han Zhao]

(June 3, 313)

Wu woke up with his back to the door. He got up slowly and heard a child crying next door. He quickly opened the door and ran to the open door in the neighboring compound. Wu saw Tian crying while pulling at her mother's feet. Wu knew immediately that Hua was dead and struggled to keep his tears from falling. The other neighbors, hearing the racket, all came over to the compound and were shocked by the scene.

"Why did she hang herself?" asked one man.

"Was she disloyal to her husband?" asked a woman.

Wu merely responded, "Li was killed yesterday by soldiers," before walking inside to get the corpse down.

The neighbors talked amongst themselves while Wu found a blanket to cover the corpse. When he stood up, he saw a neighbor, a woman called Sui, walking towards Tian.

"You can stay with us," she said as she took the child's hand.

The child, still in shock with his mother's death, allowed himself to be guided away to a neighboring compound. Wu waited until they were back inside before getting a few men to help him carry the corpse out. Trouble, however, awaited them the moment the door was opened. Before they knew what was happening, a group of soldiers entered into the courtyard with their weapons trained against them.

"You will all serve the Emperor by joining the army. Anyone who opposes will be executed immediately," announced the leader of the group.

Wu and the men looked at each other before looking back at their families. Before they have a chance to say goodbye, the soldiers already began herding them through the doorway onto the streets. On the streets, Wu realized that they weren't the only unfortunate souls. Many other young men were herded out from their homes as well and everyone eventually formed four long lines. Wu and everyone else made their way down the street towards the local barracks where they were broken into groups. Wu and his neighbors were separated in the process and he got herded into a cell with eleven other men. Considering the size of the cell, the men barely had any room to move, let alone sit. Wu worried about his family and his own future. He didn't like the idea of getting imprisoned and was looking for a way out before it was too late.

-several hours later-

Wu and his cellmates were getting cramps when they heard soldiers marching through. Two dozen soldiers stopped before their cell and one soldier opened the door. The dozen men were ordered to exit the cell and walk down the hallway. The dozen men passed many other cells that were already emptied of their prisoners. After walking a few minutes, the men found themselves on a large field and, following a few pokes from the spears, they got into formation. A general was standing atop a platform overlooking all the prisoners. He waited until everyone has assembled before he began his speech.

Hear me, peasants! I understand you are scared. I will reassure you that no harm will come to you if you obey our orders. You are conscripts for the great army led by our great Emperor. Instead of living your unproductive lives in the city, you will all be a part of something greater. You will be remembered by your children as the soldiers that carved out a brighter future. You will return as heroes. Your names will be remembered in the centuries to come. Our Emperor will reunite China and, when that feat is done, you will all return home with honor and wealth. Now, prepare yourself in making history!

The general waited but the cheer from the crowd never materialized. He gestured his right hand to come over and whispered into his ears. The prisoners waited a short while to see what was going to happen. Suddenly, everyone on the field heard the war drums in the distance. For the civilians, they knew the war drums only meant war was at hand. The general ordered his soldiers to prepare for battle when a messenger on horseback rode onto the field. He stopped below the platform, got off the horse and ran to the general. He gave a quick report and the general suddenly turned pale. The general immediately got onto his horse and ordered his men to follow him. Within minutes, all the soldiers were gone and the prisoners were left alone on the field. It took another minutes for the civilians to realize their situation and they ran for the city. Wu joined them and hoped he could return home in time.

[Los Angeles, USA]

(September 3, 2013)

-knock-

Chris stopped typing on his keyboard and looked out the doorway of his study.

-knock, knock-

Chris reluctantly got up from his chair and walked towards the door. He wasn't expecting anyone but it was rude to ignore people. He walked up to his door and looked through the peephole. He doesn't recognize the person and thought the man might have got the wrong suite. He opened the door only to find the man raising a gun at him. With two shots through a silencer, the man ended Chris' life. The man then entered the suite and headed to the kitchen where he began pouring the gasoline he had in a container he was holding. The man made his room through all the rooms until he returned to the doorway. He then placed a small explosive in the study before exiting the suite. The man chose to walk down the fire exit and exited the building without anyone noticing him. The moment he got into his car parked on the street, he pressed the detonation switch and an explosion can be heard above. People were screaming and ducking for cover but the man didn't notice anything. He picked up his phone and called a number. After two rings, he was told to leave a message. The message he left was: Target 1 is dead!
 
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Chapter 19

[Los Angeles, USA]

(September 3, 2013)

An officer left his vehicle and headed towards the condo entrance which was sealed off by police tape. He took a quick look at the streets and didn't like what he was seeing. Pieces of glass were scattered everywhere and many bystanders stood outside the police tape chatting amongst themselves. Making his way through the crowd, the officer ducked under the police tape after showing his ID to the unfortunate officer assigned to keep the crowd back. Through the entrance, the officer found himself in an empty lobby. With the officers standing guard outside, it would appear no one thought it was necessary to post anyone in the lobby. The officer made his way to the elevator but he changed his mind at the last minute. Instead, he walked over to the stairs where he would make his way to the tenth floor. When he reached the tenth floor, he worked up some sweat but it wasn't enough to get the attentions of other people. He opened the door leading to the hallway where he was confronted by two officers standing guard by the fire entrance. The officer showed his ID and was led to the crime scene. As expected, his partner has already arrived the scene and waiting outside the suite.

"Carl, what can you tell me about the scene?" asked the officer.

Carl turned around and shakes his head.

"Detective Jim, why are you never on time?" asked Carl.

Before Jim can answer, Carl took out his notepad and flipped to the appropriate page.

"Let's see," Carl said, "We have a large fire that roasted everything in this suite. Bystanders said that they heard a large explosion before a fire engulfed the suite."

"Sounds nasty. Did they find the cause for the explosion?" asked Jim.

"Well, that's the interesting thing. We believe the origin of the blast was located in the victim's study,"

"Study? How does the fire spread so quickly then? I believe you said the fire engulfed the suite quickly,"

"Yes, we are still looking into that. I would assume a catalyst was used to speed up the burning process,"

"What do we know about the victim?"

"The victim is a writer whose work isn't that well known. His records are clean and his family is coming over shortly. You can question them yourself."

"I appreciate that you left the honor for me."

"Just trying to do my job, detective."

"Do you find the fire suspicious?"

"If you are referring to the origin of the explosion, the quick spread of the fire and the location of the victim's remains, I would agree with you."

"The victim's remains? Where did you find them?"

"They were found by the doorway away his study."

Jim walked away from his partner and allowed himself to absorb the facts. He didn't like what he heard so far but he will need the victim's family to fill in some missing pieces. In addition, he needed to know what caused the explosion. For the next hour or so, he walked back and forth in the hallway preparing for his inevitable meeting with the victim's family.

-an hour later-

Jim was told that the family was in the lobby escorted by an officer. He took the elevator down and, when he reached the ground floor, stepped out to meet them. The victim's sister and his two children were all present. Prior to the meeting, Jim learned from someone at the office that all three of them were in San Diego when the accident happened. When the family members saw him exit the elevator, they approached him seeking answers. It took Jim a short while before he calmed them down to the point he could have a conversation with them.

"I have a few questions regarding the victim," said Jim.

"I'll answer them, detective," replied the victim's son.

"Is there a reason why he is alone in Los Angeles?" asked Jim.

"He said he want some peace and quiet. He was never a well known author but that hasn't stopped him from writing. He came here stating that he was starting a new project."

"What is this project about?"

"I heard he said he found someone over the internet that has similar interests as him. I believe he was implying they were going to work together."

"What do you know about this stranger over the internet?"

"We don't know anything. Could this person be responsible for my father's death?"

"I'm afraid I cannot answer that without any further investigation. By the way, was your father depressed or show signs of wanting to end his life?"

"No, detective. My father was a simple man and, when he left for Los Angeles, he was too excited about the project. There was no indication that he would end his life prematurely."

"What can you tell us then, detective?" asked the victim's daughter.

"There isn't much but I'm going to say that, from initial evaluation, it would seem that your father was murdered," replied Jim.

Jim waited for the fact to sink in before he asked, "Did he make any enemies? It doesn't matter how far back."

"He was a kind man, detective. He would hurt anyone or anything. Everyone who has met him like him. He was an easygoing guy," replied the victim's sister.

"I appreciate you taking time to answer my questions. We are still investigating and you three need to get some rest. I'll let the officer escort you out. If we make any developments, we will contact you with the number you provided to me earlier," said Jim.

The victim's family agreed with a nod and they left the lobby into the crowd of cameramen waiting outside. Jim took the elevators back up knowing that he got a few more pieces of the puzzle at his disposal. Thinking that his job was nearly done, Jim took a deep breath and walked out the elevator.
 
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Chapter 20

[Los Angeles, USA]

(September 7, 2013)

Jim yawned as he entered Carl's office. It was two in the morning and Jim hasn't had his coffee yet.

"This better be good. I'm not thrilled getting called up early," stated Jim.

"Don't worry. I'll make it worth your troubles. First, we have some coffee in the kitchen. You look like you desperately need some," replied Carl.

Without another word, Jim exited the office and headed for the kitchen where he found freshly brewed coffee. He filled his mug up and finished it in a few gulps before filling it up again. He returned to the officer in a slightly less cranky mood.

"So, what did you find?" asked Jim.

"First, we believe the explosion was caused by a bomb made from semtex. It was placed in the study and the victim's computer was fried. We couldn't salvage anything," said Carl.

"That is trouble, isn't it? Looks like this person is trying to go after the victim's computer. Is there a way to access the victim's files?"

"We did a quick check. I'm afraid that most of his files were stored in the hard disk and the hard disk is currently ashes. He doesn't store much information online which means we have limited resources to work with."

"Does the victim have a laptop?"

"Actually, he does. I discovered that, in San Diego, he left his laptop there. I asked his family and they claimed that the laptop was in use when he was moving to Los Angeles. There might be clues who he was contacting regarding the project."

"Excellent! Let's retrieve the laptop then."

"No need, look behind you."

Jim turned around and saw a laptop. He smiled and, after putting his mug down on Carl's desk, moved over to the laptop. The laptop was plugged into the wall and he simply turned it on. A minute later, the laptop requested a password. Before Jim could asked Carl, Carl called out: "EU3_Phoenix." Jim entered the password and found himself staring at the desktop.

"What's next?" Jim asked Carl.

"I only had enough time to figure out the password. You will have to do the rest."

"What is this EU3 this person speaks of?"

"Europa Universalis III."

"What's that?"

"It's a grand strategy video game."

"How old is this guy? Playing games like a child."

"I won't even comment on that."

"What's the Phoenix stand for?"

"It's a mod for the game."

"I think I see the game on the desktop."

"Excellent work, Sherlock."

"What do you expect me to do?"

"Check his emails. We might find out about his partner in the project."

"Alright, you wouldn't happen to know his email address, right?"

"Of course I do. Just turn on Hotmail and I'll do the rest."

Jim opened the web browser and typed in the Hotmail url. Carl suddenly appeared out of nowhere and typed in the email address and password. Carl returned to his desk leaving Jim to look through the emails. Most of the emails were subscriptions or advertisements that seem to clog up everyone's mailbox. Scrolling down, he noticed back and forth emails between the victim and someone else. He opened the most recent email and scrolled down until he got himself a name.

"Looks like the partner is called Matthew."

"Can you tell me the email address of this Matthew?"

Jim spelled out the email and Carl did a quick search.

"Interesting," said Carl.

"What?"

"The history seems to claim the partner of our victim is from Canada. Burnaby, to be exact."

"Where is the hell is Burnaby?"

"It's beside Vancouver."

"Just say Vancouver next time."

"There's a difference there. Anyways, how are we going to proceed?"

"I believed the family mentioned the victim as a writer. Maybe we should check out some of his work for clues."

"You amaze me today, detective. You normally have a very slow start this early in the day."

"The coffee helped."

Jim closed the web browser and looked through the shortcuts on the desktop. After some trial and error, he found the file he was looking for. The file was called EU3_compilations. Inside the file, there was a single word document. He opened it and started reading.
 

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A minor note to the readers. The mod developers didn't factor this into their mod but the nation of Rashidun was in power between 632 - 661 while the nation of Umayyad was in power between 661 and 750. Umayyad basically succeeded Rashidun so we'll treat it as one nation.

Chapter 21

[Damascus, Umayyad]

(April 7, 674)

To my descendants,

This is the story of your past. By the time you read this, I will be long gone. I will hopefully be in paradise where I can continue my works. Enough about me! I am writing this so you can remember your past. I understand that some of you may consider the past useless. I'm afraid I will disagree. Only those that learn from their past can move forward in life. That's what I hope you will all do. Learn from the mistakes of my generation so you don't repeat the same mistake. My generation has made many mistakes and that has cost us dearly. We look back but it's too late to correct our mistakes. The only option available to us is to prevent mistakes of our future generations. We cannot control the future but we hope to guide the future the best we could.

I guess I have gone off babbling again. Please forgive me for I am an old man. If my memory serves me right, I'm nearing eighty years. My time on Earth is nearly over and, with whatever time I have left, I wish to create something people will remember me with. Well, let's start with my birth. I was born in 594 AD. My home wasn't far from the holy city of Mecca. My family was lower class that struggled to get by. Living within the tribes wasn't easy as tribes fought amongst themselves for the few crucial resources for survival. I grew up with little hope of a future. There was only violence and death in our region and only the strong survives. I was a weathered warrior by then. Having survived numerous battles, I have lost faith in life when it's all blood and gore. That would all change with the arrival of a single man. The man would be the prophet, Muhammad.

Muhammad, at first, appeared like an ordinary man. One day, he began publicly preaching Islam. There were a few that believed him and I was one of them. However, there were many oppositions that stood in our way. Most of the local tribes weren't too tolerate when it came to a religion that threatened their own beliefs. Minor conflicts arose in many occasions but the battle to determine the fate of Islam would come soon enough. In 624 AD, the battle for Islam would be upon us. Our enemies wished to wipe us out completely and crush Islam before it could spread elsewhere. Muhammad rallied all of us in an effort to fight against the nonbelievers. We knew the odds were grim but we put out faith into our God. For Allah we have lived and for Allah we shall die. With Muhammad leading us, we marched out to face our enemies. We broke their lines and killed many of their leaders. We knew that, against an overwhelming enemy, Allah was with us and saw the victory as a omen for our eventual victory over all of our enemies.

Our strength grew gradually until Muhammad was leading a force ten thousand strong in 630 AD. Our march to Mecca saw us capture the city and the destruction of pagan idols that were corrupting people's minds. Our job wasn't done there as threat arose elsewhere in Arabia. Muhammad led us to put down the threats while destroying the remaining pagan idols in the region. We were successful and Arabia was united by Islam. Unfortunately, the unification of Arabia also saw the death of our great prophet in 632 AD. He was ill and left for the paradise Allah promised us followers. He has performed his duties flawlessly and the spread of Islam would rest on our shoulders. We vowed to not let the prophet down as we intended on spreading Islam to all of the known world. After burying the prophet, we began our quest of spreading Islam across the land to the nonbelievers.

For the next decade, we began a series of conquests that would see the formation of the Rashidun Caliphate. Byzantium and Sassanian empires were fight major campaigns that brought about pain and suffering for the inhabitants in the region. We would rescue these poor souls by bringing to the fight to the two mighty empires. From the Byzantines, we would capture their Syrian and Egyptian territories. The Sassanian would hand over Mesopotamia and large parts of Persia. Shortly after, the Sassanian empire would be completed absorbed into our nation. We went from a small nation to an empire capable of winning wars against other powerful empires. We felt that no one can stop our expansion with Allah by our side. We would continue to seek new conquests with the goal of spreading Islam far and wide. We first believed that foreign powers would become obstacles to our goals. However, we would soon learn that the most dangerous enemies are those within.

Internal struggle would show its ugly head in 656 AD in the form of the First Fitna, or civil war. The civil war was a result of a dispute over the caliph. The previous caliph was assassinated and revolts broke out throughout our nation. A nation that was once united by Islam was on the brink of collapse. I, like many other Muslims, must pick sides in the civil war. We could only hope the civil war wouldn't end with the fracture of our mighty empire that was built up over the decades. I picked to side with Muawiyah who came out victorious in the civil war. I felt he was a capable ruler and I was proven right when he was crowned the new caliph in 661 AD. His rise to power would see the founding of the Umayyad caliphate. A new chapter would begin with the new caliphate as we would spread Islam to places we never thought was possible.

To be continued ...
 
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Chapter 22

[Damascus, Umayyad]

(June 2, 717)

...

To those reading this history, the original historian, my great grandfather, has passed away. A terrible illness took his life and his work was left undone. Over the decades, his work remained forgotten in my grandfather's and, eventually, my father's study. When my father passed away, the study became mine and it was a pure coincidence that I came across this. I may not be as great a scholar as my great grandfather but I wish to complete his final dream. I will continue where he left off and use my best knowledge to fill in the latter parts of the history.

Under Muawiyah, Islam would find new roots in North Africa and Khorasan. Muawiyah was an ambitious man and wanted to take Constantinople as well. Despite his best efforts, the three year siege failed to yield any success. While the Caliph did make many great contributions to our nation, he did make a mistake of establishing hereditary succession as a norm for the caliphate. His seemingly harmless decision at the time would be the spark needed to cause the Second Fitna, or the Second Civil War. With Muawiyah's death in 680 AD, succession of his son, Yazid, saw disputes that would escalate into a fully blown civil war. Once again, Umayyads was facing the prospect of being fractured as two major rebellions rose up in Umayyads. Yazid's death, following a three year reign, would see Marwan as the next Caliph. Marwan, however, was Caliph for one year before he passed away as well. Marwan's son, Abd would succeed the throne in 685 and he would be the one to put down all the rebellions and reunite Umayyads under a single ruler.

Abd's rise to power would see order returning to Iraq and much of Arabia. In 692, the last rebel leader was defeated and that marked the conclusion of the civil war. The twelve years of civil war would take its toll on the nation but Umayyads would come out stronger and eager for new conquests. Under Abd's two sons, Umayyads would continue its expansion to the far west into Morocco. Last I've heard, Islam has spread into Europe as well. The people of Iberia Peninsula are being converted right this moment and our great religion is currently making its way to lands north of Iberia Peninsula. We have come a long way from the single city under Muhammad. Our religion has spread across much of the known world and it seems as though there are no limits. If Europe also gets converted to Islam, then we have accomplished our goals. Showing the people the true faith is the mission given to us by Allah.

We have accomplish much in one century. Our empire is so vast that it was unheard of. To our west, we have reached Iberia. To our east, we have reached India. For those living in Umayyads, they feel pride for being part of such a magnificent empire. We are tolerant of other religions and the people have better lives under our rule. Still, we mustn't overextend ourselves. Larger isn't always better and we need to made sure our administration can keep up with the expansion. There are many challenges ahead of us but we won't falter before them. We haven't come this far fearing our every step. We put our faith into Allah and proceed forward with confidence. We will earn our passage to paradise as long as we remain true to our faith. I don't have many years left to live but I cannot deny that I had a good life. Allah has been generous to me in this lifetime. I will be joining my ancestors soon enough.

Before I get ahead of myself, we must remember what history has taught us so far. First, we must have faith in Allah. It was faith that brought victory to Muhammad in the Battle of Badr. Against an overwhelming force, any other man would have lost that battle. Muhammad's faith was strong and he was rewarded for it. It was said that thousands of angels came down from heaven to aid him. Following the great victory, Muhammad would spread Islam across Arabia. Even when he passed away, our nation continued with a series of expansion. Unfortunately, there were those that lost their ways and our nation suffered for it. The two civil wars that took place over the century had a toll over our people and land. These civil wars are important lessons that we must take to heart. Men that allowed power to cloud their judgement were the root causes of the wars. We must put our faith first and our petty differences second. Only then can we remain on the right path.

In addition, we must remember why we expanded so rapidly. Yes, our military is powerful and can stand up against other nations. However, we won many of our victories because the other nations mistreated their citizens. Their citizens felt no loyalty towards them and were less willing to fight for their rulers. Seeing our treatment towards heathens, those people realized that living under our rule would benefit them the most. We must continue treating all of our people equally and fairly so they have little reason to rebel. It will take time but those people will eventually convert to the true faith. Give them time and they will see the light. If we lose our patience and choose to use force instead of words, there will be rebellions and even our armies cannot be everywhere at one time. Our nation would collapse from within and the century of hard work would be wasted.

This is the history my great grandfather hoped to leave behind. It may not seem much. Some of you may scoff at the length. We don't want to bore you with details. If you want details, there will be other scholars. As for my great grandfather and I, we just want to emphasis on the mistakes our people made in life. We wish our descendents to learn from the mistakes so they won't repeat it. Umayyads is a strong nation but even she has limits. Two civil wars were far too many and we doubt she could handle more. Treat the people well and rebellions won't be taking place. We could only guide the future with words. We hope that our descendents will lend an ear and hear us out. One can actually learn something from the babbling of two old men.

 

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Chapter 23

[Lisbon, Portugal]

(November 22, 1807)

John VI stormed out of the meeting with his adviser trying to keep up. He stopped by the garden and took a deep breath.

"Are you alright?" asked the adviser.

"Marcelo, leave me alone!" stated John.

"I'm worried about you, Duke."

"Don't worry. I won't be committing suicide, if that's what you are stating."

"I mean no such thing, Duke."

"I know."

"I understand it's difficult to accept the turn of events."

"Difficult? It's unbearable! We have to abandon our home because a madman decides to come knocking on our door."

"Not to mention the madman is a brilliant general."

"Do we really stand no chance against Napoleon?"

"Do you think our soldiers and generals can rival Austria's?"

"No."

"Then we stand no chance."

"I hate this helplessness. Sometimes I wonder if our alliance with United Kingdom is worth the trouble."

"Against any other nation, the alliance would be worth it. However, Napoleon isn't your average European. Even the British are struggling to contain his expansion."

"What I want to know is whether or not I can return back home."

"That is a question only God can answer."

"He hasn't answered my prayer to halt Napoleon's advances."

"Well, he might be busy right now."

The two men heard footsteps behind them and turned to look. They saw the British Admiral Sir Sidney Smith with his escort.

"I wish to speak with the Duke, if I may?" requested Smith.

Marcelo and Smith's escorts left the two men to talk amongst themselves.

"I understand your reaction, Duke," said Smith.

"Well, I may have to agree with this evacuation then," replied John.

"We will return one day. I promise you that. The scourge called Napoleon will be dealt with."

"When will he be dealt with?"

"Hopefully before his death. I heard he is still fit as a bull."

"He might outlive all of us at this rate."

"He will be crushed. His kind cannot live if we want the balance within Europe to be restored."

"What if he crosses the Channel?"

"He could try but he has to get through me."

"Good luck then. We've all seen what he could accomplish on the battlefield."

"He could win battles on land but he has no hope of winning on the seas. We, the British, command the seas."

"I pray that you are right. Otherwise, I may indeed never see my homeland ever again."

"When will your people be ready to set out? The date wasn't clear in the meeting."

"Give us a week. We will be cutting it close but we need to make sure the preparations are done."

"When do you think Napoleon will arrive outside Lisbon?"

"He'll be here in December. Hopefully, we'll be gone before his arrival."

"We could provide some bombardment support for your men."

"That's won't be necessary. Save your ammunition for crossing across the sea."

"I'm assuming you heard about the occasional pirates that still operate in the Americas."

"I have. I'm not in the mood to escape Napoleon only to be boarded by pirates."

"The pirates will cower when they see the British flag."

"We'll see about that."
 
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Chapter 24

[Lisbon, Portugal]

(January 20, 1808)

John moved above deck to breathe some fresh air with Marcelo following close behind.

"I believe that we will reach land soon," said Marcelo.

"How soon? I could barely tolerate the conditions below deck," replied John.

"The captain said that we might require another two days."

"Two days? I still have to be below deck for two more days?"

"I'm afraid that is the case."

"Were you not below deck? Did you not see how overcrowded and disgusting it is down there?"

"Yes, Duke. However, we got through much of the trip."

"God, I hate Napoleon. I hope he will die and rot in hell!"

"I'm sure he will, Duke. At the moment, he probably has Lisbon under his control."

"We'll take it back. Just you wait!"

"We are going to launch an attack?"

"Of course not. We will let the British do that work for us. Their little island is safe so they could actually focus on the war."

"What will we do?"

"I fear that the British willto take their time. We will develop Brazil."

"Develop? How?"

"The colonies are backwards. You and I both know that, right?"

"Yes, they haven't had the time to grow and prosper."

"With our home under occupation, we must turn Brazil into our new home."

"I can understand that."

"To make it worthy for the royal family, we have to make at least one city in Brazil rival Lisbon. Or, at the very least, be very close."

"Won't that be very expensive?"

"Ah, my friend. You cannot spare the expenses for a new capital. Imagine how other nations will view us?"

"They will think we are cheap."

"Correct! We lost our home but we mustn't lose our image of a powerful nation. Even if we bankrupt our nation, we must show that we are still a European power."

"Even though we are in the Americas."

"Brazil is part of the Portuguese Empire."

"How are we going to dig ourselves out of bankruptcy?"

"We'll find a way. Remember, the French will be defeated. We will demand a large reparation cost in the treaty."

"We might not get a say in the treaty."

"Don't be foolish! How could they negotiate the treaty without Portugal being a part of it?!"

"I hope we get a piece of the pie."

"The British know that we have sacrificed much in the war. They will let us be part of the negotiations."

"I still don't trust the British."

"I understand your feeling towards them. However, they are the only chance we have in reclaiming our capital."

"How low the Portuguese Empire has fallen?!"

"We will rise again! Just wait until I take the throne. I will outdo my predecessors."

"I wouldn't keep my hopes up."

"What did you say?"

"I said I will eagerly await that day."

[Los Angeles, USA]

(September 7, 2013)

Jim yawned as he finished another section in the word document.

"How many sections did this guy write?" he muttered.

"Jim!" called out Carl.

"Ya? What is it?"

"Can you pick up your cell?"

"My cell?"

Jim only just realized that his cell was ringing. He was so focused on reading the contents that he failed to hear the ringtone. He stretched a little before getting up from his seat. He walked over to his cell and pressed the answer key.
 

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Chapter 25

[Los Angeles, USA]

(September 7, 2013)

"Hello?" asked Jim.

"Is this Detective Jim?" asked the caller.

"Yes, I am him. Who is this?"

"I'm Jayce from the RCMP."

"RCMP? I hope I'm not in trouble with you Canadians up north."

"I'm calling regarding a man you are looking for."

"Are you referring to Matthew?"

"Yes, he's a person of interest here."

"He's a criminal then?"

"Sorry, I wasn't clear. Matthew is dead."

"Dead?"

"Yes, he was found dead on the 5th of September."

"What was his cause of death?"

"He took two shots to his heart."

"..."

"Are you still there, Detective Jim?"

"I'm still here."

"May I ask about the man you mentioned in your call?"

"What man?"

"I believe his name is Chris."

"Chris? Ah yes, he was apparently a partner of Matthew in a new project."

"What do you know about Chris?"

"Chris was killed. He, too, took two shots to his heart."

"Is there a chance that the two cases are related?"

"I'm not entirely sure ..."

Jim heard a couple of gunshots on his cell and some shuffling from Jayce.

"Are you there?!" shouted Jim.

Waiting for an answer, Jim quickly wrote down on a piece of paper and handed it to Carl. Carl looked at the paper and picked up his phone to make the call. While Carl made his call, Jim listened carefully and he soon heard some sounds. At first, he thought Jayce has returned but he wasn't sure enough to make a sound. A short while later, he heard the shuffling of paper and a click. It took him a few seconds to recognize the click as a lighter and realize that Jayce was dead. Whoever killed the RCMP was burning the evidence and Jim felt his gut tighten. Whoever he was looking for in the case intended on removing all witnesses.

Jim hanged up his cell and pondered on his next step. Carl finished his call and tapped Jim on the shoulder.

"I made the call," Carl said. "The rest is up to them."

"The RCMP is already dead. Whoever we are looking for doesn't mind getting his hands dirty."

"What should we do?"

"Simple, we'll call in the FBI."

"FBI?"

"Yes, I'm beginning to think things are going out of hand. The other person is a professional."

"We are only going off a hunch."

"Don't worry, I know someone in the FBI. He'll listen and take the case over for me."

"I guess. I still wouldn't mind solving it."

"Don't act like you're Sherlock Holmes. Is the fax machine warmed up?"

"It is."

"Good, I'll make the call and you get ready to fax everything we got so far."

"Alright."
 

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Chapter 26

[Los Angeles, USA]

(September 7, 2013)

Jim finished his call and Carl sent the fax.

"What do we do now?" asked Carl.

"Not sure about you but I'm going to finish reading through the word document," replied Jim. "I might get some clues about this gunman that killed RCMP officers."

"I might join you. How much content do you still need to read?"

"Luckily for us, Chris added some headers that may help. Let me see."

Jim scrolled through the remainder of the content quickly.

"There are two major sections left: Boer War in South Africa and World War 2 in Australia."

"I'll take the World War 2!"

"Darn it!"

Carl opened the word document on his computer and scrolled to the start of the World War 2 contents. As for Jim, he had to scroll back up until he got to the Boer War section.

[Somewhere in South Africa]

(September 8, 1901)

Dear diary,

I was once a young man eager to explore the world. As a journalist, I can travel while still remain productive with my time. I was such an eager man back then. I was innocent and thought I would see the glorious side of the British Empire. I would soon learn my mistake. What I would see changed my view forever. It changes my view of the empire I was once proud of. It also changed my view on the human race. I never thought that humans can be capable of so much darkness. I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let me start from the beginning.

It all began with a gold mine. Gold was the symbol for wealth and brought out the greed of many people. In response to the control of the gold, two major parties in South Africa would collide in their interests. An ultimatum was sent by the Transvaal and, upon the rejection of the British government, war was declared. Small skirmishes would take place in the early stages of the war and I, a foolish young man, chose to come over as a journalist. I wanted to report the success of our troops but I would soon learn that I got more than I bargained for.

I came just in time to report the many victories of our men. Victory followed one another as the rebels were pushed back. The enemy capitals were occupied and annexation would follow. There were still pockets of resistance but we thought the war was almost over. We were wrong as the most grueling part of the war has just begun. The enemy was using guerrilla tactics as they realized that they didn't stand a chance fighting us head on. The leader of the British forces, Lord Herbert Kitchener, would adopt a series of measures to end the war swiftly.

One of the measures taken was the "scorched earth" policy. The objective of this measure was to deprive the enemy of the resources they needed to continue the resistance. First, the enemy was deprived of shelter as our soldiers burned down many towns and farmsteads. Secondly, the enemy was deprived of food when their livestock and crops were burnt to the ground. Without shelter, they could survive in the elements for only so long. Without food, they couldn't hope to continue fighting on an empty stomach. The measure was brilliant and we believed that victory was right around the corner...

 
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Chapter 27

[Somewhere in South Africa]

(September 8, 1901)

....

However, we were wrong. The second measure would be so extreme that it would turn the citizens of Britain against the entire campaign in South Africa. On paper, the measure seemed like a viable strategy. Women and children, many of whom were from the towns and farmsteads that were burnt down, would be rounded up in "concentration camps." Not only would the women and children be unable to provide food and resources to the guerrillas but their "captivity" would force the enemy to choose between resistance and the well-being of their family members. The measure would speed up the surrender process of the enemy and the day of our victory would come sooner.

By then, I began to miss home. Great Britain seemed so far away and things seemed to be wrapping up nicely here. We were told that we could probably return to Britain by the New Years. It would seem that there was a nasty surprise waiting for us before our departure from South Africa. One day, many journalists, including me, decided to visit these concentration camps. We wanted to interview some of the women and children to get a complete picture of the story. Our seemingly harmless request was refused by the British soldiers standing guard and we were barred from entering. Every other journalist gave up but I allowed my curiosity to take over. I decided to find an opportunity to get into the camp to get a peek. My stay would be a short one and the guards won't even know I slipped in.

On the next day, I waited until nightfall before making my move. I hid in the shadows and sneaked through a small hole in the fence. I was excited to get the first scoop of the concentration camp and wondered about the fame I would acquire. I sneaked up to a tent and looked inside. What I saw terrified me because I was expecting normal human beings held in captive. Instead, I saw humanoid creatures that appear more like skeletons. They hardly have any meat on them and their skins stretched tightly over their bones and ribcage. Even the children weren't spared as many of them look nothing more than corpses. This wasn't what I expected. Because I could no longer bear the sight and I feared interaction with these "things," I quickly left the camp and returned to my temporary shelter.

I then met with the other journalists and shared with them what I saw. Many of the journalists were skeptic about my findings and told me I was crazy. My response was that they enter the camps and look for themselves. The fact that they were barred from entry meant the soldiers had something to hide. After much debate, all the journalists decided to band together to gain entry. We all gathered together and, due to someone having connections with someone high in command in the British military, we gained access. As soon as we entered, the skeptic journalists were stunned by the scene before them. The captives were severely malnourished and we learned that many diseases were spreading from captive to captive. Entering the concentration camps was like walking into hell.

All the journalists worked furiously the moment they left the concentration camp. We all wanted those back home to know about the atrocity. We were led to believe that we entered the war for a good cause yet the concentration camps shattered that image. Inside those camps were innocent women and children that were caught in the conflict. They didn't deserve the treatment they got from our soldiers and we wanted to put a stop to it. No one will listen here but we hope that our message can be heard in Britain. Ideally, the people that hear our message would openly oppose this conflict or, at the very least, help improve the conditions of these camps. We are simple journalists but we believed that we had the power to save lives that day. As for me, I'm no longer the same person because the camps changed my view of my nation and my fellow countrymen. I began to doubt the future seeing what brutality my people could afflict on other people...


[Los Angeles, USA]

(September 7, 2013)

"Well, how's your reading coming along?" asked Jim.

"I must admit this Chris person ain't too shabby," replied Carl.

"Do explain."

"His writing style is average but his ideas aren't bad. He did a good job thinking up a story of a family of Australians living in Northern Australia."

"Why would the story take place in Northern Australia?"

"Japan did attack Australia with naval forces and aerial bombardments. Much of it took place in Northern Australia."

"How did it end?"

"Chris never did finish it. He just put in a summary of his ideas."

"So, he never had a chance to start it?"

"I guess not. With his home computer in ashes, we might never know what he accomplished and what still needed work."

"Let me read the summary."

The date was July 3, 1942. The peace of a small town in Northern Australia would be shattered by Japanese aerial bombardments and naval forces. A family, having lived a tranquil life in the town for many generations, would soon be faced with many challenges. The home they knew so well would soon become a battlefield. With little savings, they couldn't hope to escape to other parts of Australia. Staying behind meant that they would face death every time a Japanese plane fly over or a Japanese warship fires. What will await them in the soon-to-be battlefield? Will they cower in bunkers until the enemy leave? Will tragedy strike and forever destroy the family? Or will the family all join the Australian military in a fight to protect their home?

"Imagine if this guy can actually write well," said Jim.

"I would then totally buy his books," replied Carl.

"I'll go through his other files to see if any of them can shed more light on our case."

"I'll go over his email to see if I missed anything else."
 
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For those that weren't aware, this AAR is being written in a timeline parallel with this AAR. I will be updating both. The plots for both will be different but they will eventually converge.

Chapter 28

[Stockholm, Sweden]

(September 8, 2013)

Vilken sat at his desk before a couple of monitors. He never liked late night shifts but he was assigned these shifts for the next few weeks. Taking a drink from his mug, he hoped that his coffee could get him through the night. Vilken would rather stay at home and cuddle with his girlfriend. Instead, he was stuck with his second favorite companion, a computer. Vilken made a couple of routine checks and found nothing abnormal in the local network. He was about to get up to fill his mug when he noticed a light blinking. He looked at his watch and was suspicious about the light. He sat back down and got on the phone and entered an extension number. Following a few rings, someone picked up the phone.

"This is Vilken."

"Vilken, is there a problem?" asked the other person.

"Is one of our firewalls down for maintenance?"

"Let me check. I don't think we have maintenance crew this late."

A few minutes before the person returned.

"Vilken, there isn't any scheduled maintenance. What did you find?"

"I've discovered one firewall down. Wait!"

Vilken quickly typed commands into the computer and was swearing into the phone.

"Vilken, what's wrong!"

"Someone's shutting down all of our firewalls."

"What?"

"I'm trying to take emergency measures but I fear whoever is hacking is good."

"How good?"

"I won't be able to stop the hacker before he or she could enter our mainframe."

"This is bad. You do whatever you can. I'll call our superiors."

The other person hanged up while Vilken focused on his work. Normally, Vilken wouldn't mind a challenge during the late hours. However, he knew what was at stake and worked as quickly as he could. The hacker has gotten through all the firewalls and probably started establishing links to steal data. Working through the procedures that he practiced for months before getting the job, Vilken was able to slowly, but steadily, reboot the firewalls and cut off the hacker from the mainframe. Half an hour later, Vilken managed to put an end to the hacking. He was, however, not foolish to assume that his job was done. The hacker, in that time span, has managed to steal valuable information from the mainframe. Vilken wasn't a man that liked to be beat and vowed to track down the hacker that dared to make the attempt during his shift. At the moment, he had to get back on the phone to report about the current situation. He entered another extension and gave a briefing about the situation on the phone. He then resumed his shift where he would perform the routine checks. For the remainder of his shift, nothing abnormal showed up on the monitors and Vilken, tense as he was, didn't even realize when the someone came to take over his shift. Vilken would make his way upstairs to give a more detailed report to his superiors. First, he needed more coffee in his system.

[Longhezhen, China]

(September 9, 2013)

A small Chinese patrol was traveling in a jeep when the jeep lights lit up some object up ahead. The driver stopped and one soldier got off the jeep to investigate. As he got closer, the soldier realized that the object was a human being but he wasn't sure if the person was alive or dead. He got closer and knelt beside it. Suddenly, he heard some noise behind him and turned around. He caught sight of a few dark figures just outside the jeep. Before he could warn the other soldiers, the person lying on the ground grabbed him and stuck a knife through his throat. The soldiers aboard the jeep saw the scene and rushed out to help. Unfortunately, they were caught off guard by the ambushers waiting outside the jeep who quickly disposed of them with a few firearms with silencers. The jeep was driven into a pit before the ignition was turned off. The bodies were left in the jeep and chances were they won't be found for another couple of hours. The group would proceed forward with their plans.
 

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Chapter 29

[Longhezhen, China]

(September 9, 2013)

It was still dark out and the team leader wanted it to stay that way. His team has been going through simulations for a month before coming to China and knew the area quite well. Despite being unable to see further than a meter, the team was moving quickly through the terrain to the intended destination. The team leader recalled the satellite images that was provided to him a month before the mission. He was told that the Chinese had an underground facility in the area where they kept many of their important armaments. The objective of the team was to eliminate the small force guarding the entrance to the facility before making contact with reinforcements. Moving quickly through the darkness, the team soon found itself not far from the facility entrance. Fences were erected that surrounded the entire area while two lookout towers stood on either sides of the entrance gate.

The team leader was surprised by the lack of guards considering what weapons were reported to be stored in the area. Of course, he had to give the Chinese credit in their overall fortification of the facility. The facility was located in the middle of nowhere making it difficult to get to by foot. In addition, they had an outer fence that was meant to deter entry of vehicles or aircrafts. Had the team not had the resources and intelligence available to them, it would be very difficult to get through the outer fence. Luckily, the Chinese thought the outer fence was impenetrable which explained the few soldiers guarding the inner fence. The team leader took out his infrared goggles and analyzed the positions of the guards. There was a soldier on each of the lookout towers while a soldier stood on either side of the entrance gate. A small camp was seen not far from the fences and it was assumed that, due to lack of light from the tents, everyone else was asleep.

The team leader double checked his analysis and signaled to his team the location of the four soldiers on duty. The team consisted of ten men including the leader. Out of the ten men, three were snipers that needed only a single shot to take out their targets. Two were specialists when it came to demolition and everyone else were well trained in sneaking behind enemy lines to take out the enemy silently. With the fences, the team had no option but to rely on their snipers. The team leader feared that the soldiers on the lookout tower had alarms available should they see anything. Thus, he ordered two of his snipers to take out those soldiers first. The sniper targeting the soldiers at the entrance must take them both out within seconds. With the order given, the snipers got in position and, upon seeing their signal, fired their first shot. The soldiers on the lookout towers were seen to collapse along with one of the soldier at the entrance. The remaining soldier, shocked by what he just witnessed, would have a bullet lodged in his brain moments later.

When all the soldiers were down, the team leader ordered everyone to follow him as he made his way to the entrance. Arriving before the entrance, one of the demolition specialists took out his tools and began with the removal of the alarm. In a minute, the entrance alarm was deactivated and he proceeded to forcibly opening the entrance by messing with the wiring. Soon, an opening wide enough for a man to squeeze through and the team went through it swiftly. Arriving inside the fences, the team leader directed everyone to a tent where they would permanently silence anyone sleeping inside. Few minutes later, all Chinese soldiers were killed and the entrance was left unguarded. The team leader went into the facility with two others to investigate the armaments that were stored in the facility. Meanwhile, the remaining men would set up the antennas and radios to establish communication links with the reinforcements waiting not far from the site.

[Stockholm, Sweden]

(September 9, 2013)

Vilken gulped down the coffee to calm his nerves. He wasn't sure if he was ready for the upcoming meeting. Someone tapped him on the shoulder and he nearly dropped his thermos.

"Are you alright?"

Vilken turned around and was relieved to see Kjell.

"You startled me," said Vilken.

"I can understand that you are nervous. Not many get to meet the higher ups of the Säpo."

"Will they blame me for what happened?"

"No, I checked and you followed the procedures flawlessly."

"What do I tell them?"

"I'm pretty sure you know."

"What will happen after the meeting?"

"I'm not sure. They will decide. You ready?"

"I'm as ready as I can be."
 

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Chapter 30

[Stockholm, Sweden]

(September 9, 2013)

Vilken stepped out of the room and took a deep breath. When he let out his breath, Kjell tapped him on his shoulder.

"You got to stop doing that," Vilken said. "I might get a heart attack one day."

"I was just trying to congratulate you."

"Sure, thanks!" Vilken said as he started making his way to the exit.

"You didn't do that bad. They were impressed."

"Really? Are you trying to comfort me?"

"I'm serious."

"I don't really care. I just glad that was all over."

"I know that you wish to track down the hacker."

"Are you telling me otherwise?"

"Well, the superiors wanted me to emphasis one point."

"Which is?"

"Stay out of this. There will be specialists taking care of all this nasty business."

"I'm assuming that they weren't too happy about my performance."

"I told you. You did everything by the book so they can't find any fault."

"Why don't they trust me to be a part of the investigations then?"

"I hope that you understand they have more experienced guys. It also doesn't help that you look like you're about to fall asleep standing."

"I guess you're right. I just want to head home. It's been a long day."

Vilken couldn't help but yawn out loud.

"I need more coffee," Vilken said as he and Kjell turned the corner.

"I think a nap would be a better idea. You at least have a girlfriend to keep you warm in bed."

"Jealous, are we?"

"Of course, I'm a lonely man in need of a female companion."

"With your attitude, I wish you luck."

"What's that suppose to mean?"

"Kjell!" Someone called from across the hall.

Kjell turned around to see who it was. Vilken used the opportunity to say goodbye to his friend and, after turning a few more corners, arrived before the fire exit. He descended quickly and was out the door in a minute. Heading over to the parking lot, he found his vehicle, got in and drove home. While driving, he checked his cell and noticed a text message from his girlfriend. He opened the message which read: "Was it an exciting night?" Vilken doesn't know how his girlfriend knew about everything but he was too tired to think about it. He focused on the road but he still narrowly avoided two collisions. He eventually got home and, when he exited the car, he saw his girlfriend waiting at the doorway. His thought was that life was great as he walked towards the woman he love.

[Longhezhen, China]

(September 9, 2013)

The team leader and his men entered the underground passageway leading to the Chinese weapons. He took out the map he was given and followed it until the small party arrived before a gate. Entering the appropriate code, the gate opened and allowed the party to enter. Inside, they saw a row of nuclear bombs lined along the table by the wall. Unlike the ones dropped in Japan during World War 2, these ones can be carried on a motorcycle and possessed more devastation overall. The team leader knew that he found what he was looking for and looked around the room. He saw two carts that were available in the corner for transportation of the bombs. He ordered his two men to carefully load the bombs onto the carts and take them to the entrance. The two men worked quickly and they managed to take all thirteen of the bombs with them. With care, they pushed the cart out the room and back the way they entered. When they emerged, one of the men setting up the antennas approached the team leader.

"Sir," he said, "The helicopters will arrive in ten minutes."

"Excellent, we have our cargo right here."

"When do we leave, sir?"

"As soon as the helicopters are out of sight."

"Understand."