• 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

Dodge

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background yard.jpg


Here is an AAR written while playing 2.2.2 using all DLCs and some mods. The premise is the future humanity becomes some sort of quasi-mix between Communism and the Culture. With some assistance from aliens. There won't be a lot of sticking to gameplay so it's not too serious. Watch out for cliched Soviet jokes.

union.jpg

I've previously written some AARs so I'll definitely finish this, however it might take sometime since the new patch is good for about 200 years only, before PC grinds to a halt :)
 
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Dodge

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policies.jpg


State policies for the empire. Union rules are also heavily regulated. Some policies from the mod State of Lies 2.2
Thanks to all the modmakers, you are the best!
Mods used
!Gavius Ultimate AI
!TPRPF
NSC2 Season 2 (new classes of ships)
Advanced Ascension
Most scenic pictures from Background+ and Loading Screens
Gigastructures 2
Elves of Stellaris (didn't make it)
IFN1 flag backgrounds
Job Description
Megastructures Placement 2.2
Planetary Ringworlds
Remastered Human Portraits
Sci-Fi Loading Screens
The Zenith of Ancient Empires
and maybe more as game goes on....
 

stnylan

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I've been toying with the idea of a Culture inspired AAR at some point, though I think I will wait for them to introduce espionage to the game so I can have with Special Circumstances.
 

Dodge

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Prelude – the Crash

AD 1902.1.1 somewhere in Siberia
automated_dreadnought.jpg

An enormous space battlecruiser crashes into the mountain, causing widespread geological destruction. Fortunately, the place was sparsely populated, and no one was injured, except for the crew.
atmospheric_entry.jpg


The battlecruiser front end was entirely embedded into the mountain, being made of a metal non-existant on Earth – called the living metal. The superstructure was intact. However, its complement crew were not invulnerable, and many had died in hibernation chambers when it hit Earth. It took a while for the survivors to emerge, from the cryogenic caskets.
clones.jpg



Meanwhile, the ship’s AI activated a squadron of flying drones, which emerged from the wreckage and established a quick parameter around. Had there been natives around they would have seen a comet falling down from the skies, a bad omen. But they could not see the ship due to optical illusions employed by the drones’ mesh network.

And attempts to approach will be met with deadly force.

Eventually, the Navigator appeared, he was naked, but that was no problem. With a wave of his hands' drones appeared to give him a holographic attire that afforded his modesty. Until he found his real uniform, that is. He was just over 1.90 metres tall, slightly muscular but moved with a built-in grace. He was also grey-white skinned, with emerald eyes and pointed, movable outer ears. His expression was slightly disconcerted, from the crash no doubt, and he gave out a series of commands, telepathically.

“AI, look for survivors, resuscitate them.”

“Computer, collect the genetic materials of the deceased, we need to store them.”

Artificial Ship Intellect online. The words appeared on remote air, visible without the need of a screen.

You’re on GAC Haghanon the Ambassador, Falatira class battlecruiser, complement 4000, with its own marine brigade, estimated losses over 3870, location 42.03578°N / 80.12921°E local Greenwich system.

Also, we are at an altitude of approximately 6512 metres above sea level. 656 kilometres from Northwest Pacific Ocean.

“thanks, the status of our emergency shuttles? “ he’d need one to get out alive.

left bank shuttles intact, right bank bays destroyed in the crash.

The Navigator had to be psionic to navigate through the hyperplanes in the galaxies. Intergalactic travels became extremely common ten thousand years ago since the Great Disaster. The whole of his nation had to evacuate their home galaxy to another to keep their civilisation intact.

He found a drawer of supplies and took out an e-cig to enjoy quietly.

This is going to be a long journey. The Navigator had to get somehow the ship fixed or signal the Civilisation from another part of the galaxy.
space_station.gif

Or he could go native and live amongst the primitive humans. Until they became Enlightened, which could take centuries.

He took a long draw on the smokes and didn’t relish that idea. Humans are much more common than the People, in all dimensions and galaxies, we find them fascinating because we get to do all sorts of social experiments on their planets. Such as subverting them when they hit Space Age. They never change, and sometimes they became galactic powers.

We are more kindred than we realise. We don’t like strangers, and we go to war. What if we formed a society where everyone is equal and had a say in the future?

He symbolically paid respect to the crew of the Ambassador who perished in the crash.

He read them a poem from the Revolutionary War days.

Then he put away the pipe. And dreamed.

Day 2:

A group of specialist members emerged from the Hibernation, and they formed a committee deciding on the next to-do list. Some went to program the drones to collect information about their surroundings, while others analysed the data that came back. The Navigator was talking to the Doctor, the onboard med staff of 1.

“Hephanaira, how are you feeling?”

“Oh my head hurts, I’ve just sent a few of the crew to the medical bay for automatic treatment.”

He was making some light conversation when he remembered, wasn’t she and the Captain?

“Haha, thanks for being funny, remember I’m the doctor here. Just a tension headache, no big deal”.

He tried the empath approach. Yep, it did hurt a bit. Definitely headache.

When he reached out and touched her mind, at the same time, Hephanaira felt his mind too, and it's clear.

No, I mean how are you holding up? I understand you were close to the Captain? He touched her hand.

A torrent of grief came from her mind. He had wanted to reassure her, and in thinking, he did partially.

“I still have work to do, so if you could help with getting the AI to assess our stellar maps, that would be great”. She replied, suppressing her feelings. It’s going to be a long day.

If you need anyone I would be here, he thought to her gently.

Day 3

The Scout awoke with a start. He dreamt that he was the Grand Admiral in the War at the Heaven’s Gate several thousand years ago, and he lost against the overwhelming Imperialist forces. Not a good omen. Time to purge the bad feelings with some work. He touched his omni-tool and using the data the drones gathered, found out the probable timeframe of the engine repair.

And it’s not good.

With a plasma rifle slung over his shoulders and a stealth suit he jumped aboard a shuttle and headed out. Several hundred kilometres away from the battlecruiser. Just to confirm.

The crew helped with removing bodies from the ship and cremating them. This took several days.
cold_barren_planet.jpg


Day 4

“So Mr Huntsman” said the Historian, “is saying we are in the middle of Machine Age human-controlled Earth”. He looked to the Scout, a bit worse for wear.

He had a very calm and controlled air as if he was a professor from the Early Space Age.

The committee listened attentively, and the information would be discussed with rest of the crew after the meeting.

“specifically we are in AD 1902, for those not familiar with the period telegraph was invited, large-scale electrical machinery came into being, several large nations in Northern Europe industrialised, etc”

“Without intervention, it would take 300 years for their first FTL drive to be invented.”

“Metallurgy in this Age would not give us the rare crystals and exotic gases we need to move the Ambassador.”

He paused for questions, there was one coming from a marine.

“What’s a telegraph?”

Day 5

We need a plan. Thought the Radical. He was always overlooked in the committee because his ideas were too farfetched. Now he thought to himself quietly, making mental lists that happen to be quite impressed, like permanent markers writing on the brain.


We’ll help one of the industrialised powers to advance quickly through the ages. Don’t worry, I’ve got a relative in the Special Affairs Bureau who does just that: Subverting pre-FTL intelligent species. Now, his speciality is in large terrestrial mammals like giraffe-derived organisms, but Homo sapiens should do.

smugglers_in_bar.jpg

I’m not going to spend 200 years on this rock, will you?

He continued to list very specific steps that they could take to jumpstart this pre-FTL rock. Sometimes in too much detail, which is derived from historical knowledge of human society on Earth.

After he formulated his thoughts, he set it as a complete passage to the other minds on the ship. There’s exactly 128 of them, so they get to vote.

Day 6

Plan B

I forgot the Marines. Because the ships of the Civilisation is now too advanced and AI can take care of most jobs, the only reason to station this many crews on a ship is war. Apart from the Specialists, we have 110 crew members who are veterans of war. So to simplify the plan, we rush out and take over one of the capitals of the major industrial powers and declare the arrival of powerful aliens. The Radical thought about this furiously. We force them to construct a massive antenna which can broadcast to the nearest Civilisation battleship squadron which could easily overwhelm the planet’s defences and get us off this rock. Yes, we need to strip the ship for parts, and yes, there will be risks. Sometimes the most direct way is the best.

victorious_army.jpg

Day 7

As the Radical put forth his plans, the survivors voted on the process. Most had misgivings about the first, but the Plan 2 was unceremoniously turned down. It was thought that it won’t be ethically responsible and turn the inhabitants permanently xenophobic. The first plan seems a longshot and needs to have its details worked out.

Fierce arguments broke out, but at the end of a long meeting, a plan was hatched.

Then they relaxed for the rest of the day playing Bridge, which is hard if you are psionic.
 
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Kylia Quilor

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Seems like he came up with both plans so the people would come up around to the first. clever tactic.
 

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Playing bridge whilst Psionic sounds very interesting.
 

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it's 1000 stars, I managed to squeeze some more performance out of the PC using no gateways and portals and Admiral level AI (not Grand Admiral)

The psionic powers of the crew are considerable, but even they are not able to lift the battlecruiser which weighs millions of tons to the surface at sea level. It remains stuck in the mountain.
The race is imbued with psionic powers after many centuries of experimenting, of taking apart psionic species' brains to observe for the enigmatic organ -- the superthalamus. All under ethics approval of course. It was after species #14511 had been observed that their scientists had an epiphany, to genetically engineer such an organ into their species
It was a dangerous journey, and many went insane, but the result speaks for themselves. Telepathy has become the norm of the society, although vocal communications are preserved, as their brain structures are preserved. Their abilities now include telekinesis, telepathy, and reality bending, the latter is so mysterious that few mastered it. Now they have brought it on Earth, a psionically naive world.
 
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pre-Revolution: The Subversion

Dodge

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Several months later on the same rock from the Sun:

"Our soldiers got in touch with local revolutionary groups, under the guise of sympathisers. We have covertly given them a supply of our NZT-48T medication, which would improve their cognition skills significantly. They are now filled with revolutionary fervour and will seek to undermine the current Tsarist regime."

The Historian reported to the Committee.

"And those who disagreed with our plan, or running off with our drugs?" The Radical asked

"Absolutely not, we have read most of their thoughts, they are Red as Red gets."

"As a backup, we have modified several infants who are orphans. We have equipped them with capacity boosters and will transfer knowledge. They will emerge from the Revolution later after all the infighting has ceased."

"The Doc has ok'd the boosters to be adapted to human neurophysiology" He hastily added.

The Committee breathed a sign of relief, the Historian had shown them archives of human history, sees to be very heavy stuff. But they were like this many, many eons ago, so they were in no position to judge. Where there will be sentients, there will be war.

"Do we have an idea of the technology transfer we will be prepared to give to the humans once the Socialist State is established?" The Navigator asked.

"I was about to, please listen to the Weapons Officer." He pointed to an armoured figure beside him. The Weapons Officer prefer to wear a helmet to disguise his mammalian non-humanoid features.

"To reduce the amount of incongruence, we shall slightly tweak their technology by removing some of the defects, there will be no radical redesigns. "

Assistance would be given in dire circumstance, only.

The WO's voice had a very deep growl to it as if it came from a sabretooth tiger.

"We will not be offering them Civilisation technology that enables them to jump to FTL, that's a journey each race must take for themselves"

And we can avoid the ethics committee! Great, because they will examine our behaviour once we leave. He thought to himself.


Should we fail...That's a thought that echoed throughout the ship, literally.

"We won't fail. Worse comes to worst we would have to intervene directly" The Radical insisted.

He pointed to the floating map of Earth, it navigated from Eurasia to North America.

"Plan B, Nevada," He said, point to a desolate desert region.

"Also, our shuttle energy is not infinite, I think we need a base at sea level to save ourselves some travel," He said.


--------------------------

Several days later

The base was a flurry of action when Hephaniara appeared with a bundle to her chest.

"What is this? A baby? A human baby? " The Navigator was surprised at the bundle held by the Doctor.

"Yes, a baby, I think it wants some milk. Too bad our proteins and amino acids will kill him..." She smiled.

The Navigator was thinking about some breast jokes when he stopped. If she really wanted to know, she could pierce his occluded mind barrier. That would be awkward.

"I am going to adopt him." She said.

"That's crazy. What are we going to do with a baby? A human baby? We can't raise it on the ship! It will develop terrible social skills."

"It needs to stay in a human village."

"Trouble is, I think he's targeted for assassination." She replied. "The Marines found him near a village, which has been razed. There are dead bodies everywhere. He's found under the bed. See the blood on his hands?"

That is a big problem, he looked at the tiny paws. Red blood. Human blood.

"The funny thing is? We did some DNA analysis, none of the dead bodies belonged to his parents or relatives. He's ..displaced"

Well, it looks like we are both screwed, I am stuck on this rock, and you with some bounty hunter after you. The Navigator signed.

At this, the tiny eyes looked at him, an alien thought appeared in his mind space.

What's a bounty hunter?

Did you just sense my thoughts? He was surprised that this planet had psionics. But an undeveloped infant brain should not have mastered linguistics or thought patterns. This is getting interesting. He had to make his mind shield a little stronger. He waited a few minutes.

With no answers forthcoming, the baby went back to sleep.


"You sense him too?" Hephaniara said. "I think we have found a prodigy. Think about the research potentials! we could rewrite human history!"

"About that rewriting...."

"Sorry, I meant there are still unexplained occurrences in human history we haven't found an explanation for. Even though we've been through many intergalactic lanes and wormholes and L-Gates and visited so many human-Earths."

"History books, I meant... rewriting history books." She covered.

"You should probably talk to the Historian about that...." the Navigator was tired, but humouring her.

"We'll put it to a vote," he said, "But he's going back once he hit his teens."


Little did they know the decision that they made that day would give birth to one of the most influential star empires in this galaxy
 
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From humble beginnings ...

the modern/science equivalent of being found amongst the bullrushes.
 

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there will be a lot of leading up that reads like a heart of iron AAR but I promise it will be fun :)
 

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1937 Earth
The man woke up to a hang over, his rifle is by his side, and next to him was the naked body of a young woman. Alive, thankfully. He's been there for ... how long now? The cracks on the wall shook with each artillery shell the enemy fired, furniture were strewn all over the floor. The room was tiny but that was to be expected, they are in the middle of the bloody Spanish Civil War, in Madrid.
On the losing side.
Stukov silently moved out of the bed and he didn't want to wake the woman. Fun times. The defensive war sent emotions sky high, and he's only been with her for two years. He watched her from a wallflower to become a deadly warrior, with many kills. But he wasn't hung up on one person. The other girl who comically had myopia and couldn't fire at enemies, she was cute too. And a liability, which is why sensible heads prevailed and sent her back to France. She did leave an address for him to write to though.

Far from being a paramour of sorts, Stukov had a great secret. He was only in his thirties but a commissioner in the NKVD, the fearsome intelligence arm of the Soviet Union. Some would say the agency was its own nation, with head of government, ministers, and workers. He was middle management, but hopefully would move up soon.

He was son of an ordinary shoemaker, a subsidiary of a great chain of shoe stores owned by a wealthy businessman. Life was uneventful until the Russian bloody Revolution when his town was frequented by defeated White army and his family slaughtered, with only him and his sister surviving. Due to the fact he was out of the town working on telegraph lines.
He had a keen interest in communications which fascinated him, and because he could hear people's thoughts.

He called it the Gift, Power, or whatever it is. It only developed with age, and he could do many things with it. Like reading minds, or looking at weak points in the enemy's head

It came into great use during the Civil War, where soldiers frequently switched sides and revolted over conditions or pay. Any defectors in his company were extremely unlucky for he would inform on them and get them killed. This happened enough times that the Cheka offered him a job.
In his spare time he read the Marxist Leninist works and became a fervent revolutionary, utterly convinced in the righteousness of his actions, and believed in the world revolution. Through many years of hardwork he moved up, although he never killed a man who didn't betray the Union, unless its in self-defense. He had the code of honour which kind of shone through and his colleagues admired him if feared him in equal measure. He made networks, which is easy to make if you knew people's weaknesses, their likes and dislikes.

And women came and went, telepathy is deadly in the game of opposite sex attractions.
Collecting his thoughts, he dressed up in his business attire, which is a formal suit and tie. The situation demands it. He moved downstairs to the cellar silently. A man was tied on a chair, haggard, looking defeated. Stukov closed the door and reflexively touched his side arm. It's loaded, blood would be shed this day.

"Comrade Major Orlov, explain this thing about defecting to Capitalist America to me?"
"Go to hell"
"Who are your collaborators? " Stukov was unperturbed. He was a patient man, and didn't believe in unnecessary violence. Orlov was not sleep-deprived, which is a common practise. He didn't need to do that, however, due to his Gift. He had a legendary reputation for getting information out of the most hardcore Nazi or Special Capitalist Agents.
It was a rhetorical question, he didn't need to ask permission to bash down the doors to his enemy's mind.
Names, he mentally noted down names.
"I am sorry to hear that." He said. He was, sorry for all defectors, don't know what they've been thinking.
"Major Orlov the All-Union finds you guilty of treason, the punishment of which is death, any last words?"
"You! You are not a man! you are just a testicle!!"
"Oh, yeah, the stash of notes that you placed in the secret dropbox? well, its not secret"
with that he pulled out the side arm and fired decisively into his prisoner's head, turned and left. He would get a decent burial later, for being a previously loyal subject. And they don't volunteer information to their enemies.
Now, to task number 2.


civilwar_spain.jpg


On the other side of the world, the aliens' new base of operations.
"Our boy is in Spain, hope Franco doesn't lose his shit" the Radical sounded
"It is statistically impossible for the Republicans to win, they are too fragmented" said the Historian
'A telepath spy, I think the book writes itself."
"Guards, we need guards" the Doctor said. "Send a few Marines over just in case the situation get out of hand". She cared for her son, in fact she cared for him a great deal more than she would admit.
 
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Stukov came upstairs to find Anna awoke and lazily lying about on a couch.
"Could you please get dressed? Anna?" He was serious.
"Huh? " She probably had too much to drink last night, still in a stupor, but she followed his words and found her clothes. He turned about to afford her some modesty. They then sat down for a serious talk.
"What are your plans after this? " Stukov was serious. Again, emphasise on the sobriety. It almost make him sound like he didn't drink a truck load of Tequila last night, donated by the Mexican friends of the revolution.
"After the war? I'd figure we die? No, bad idea, I think I'll go to France." She was being random.
"Anna, there's something I need to tell you, have to listen carefully."
"My name is not Anton Antonovich Antonov, its Stukov, Eee---van Stukov" he stretched out the word. Looking for recognition on Anna's face. He was not sure if she heard of the NKVD.
"I am a spy."
After a while he was fishing for thoughts, hers. Then he asked "What do you think of that?"
"I am.. not sure, you told me you are a volunteer."
"So I've told you the truth, do you have anything to tell me about yourself?"
The crucible. The moment of truth. He was hoping for something, that doesn't make him regret his next action.
"No... I am not sure what you mean"
That was... the bad answer, he thought.
"Anna, you've told me your lastname is Plant and you came from London, that's not really true is it?"
He could sense her tense up now, he thought she reflexively touched her thigh.
Silly girl, there's no gun there, you were naked before, he thought. A..junior mistake.
"So I'll just continue with the monologue. Your lastname is Shrieber, you grew up in Berlin, possible member of Hitler's youth movement, then you moved to London to live with your aunt. You got the London accent from her, and you are a spy."
"What I want to know is have you passed the information of the freedom fighters in this building to the Fascists yet." There's a reason she wasn't activated in 2 years, she must have been looking for the bigger fish.
Anne's face is showing genuine fear now
He's a telepath but not prescient, and he can't read thoughts that's unformed, so he waited.
she's too green for a spy. But she could do a lot of harm.
"No, I have not" But she was thinking it. Conflicted. He could read that. Now he's going to win her over to the cause.
She's telling the truth, as to why, it's not important.
"You are only 19. There's a life after the Civil War. You could start over, in France, Britain, USA forget all of this ever happened." He was been ernest. She's probably not suited for the Union, great as it might be. "Are you still loyal to Hitler after" he looked outside the window, pointing to the damaged streets "all this destruction and death?"
She was conflicted. Images start flashing by, Hitler's Youth Movement, happy days, friends wearing Swastikas in huge rallies. Then Spain, the fighting, the rush, the desperate dash away from artillery strikes.
He knew the answer then, she said some words, but words are redundant now.
Other mental images started appearing in her mind, he didn't need to ask permission and reached out to kiss her.

---------
Several hours later
"I could get you a passport good enought for anywhere, just go, leave, before the Nationalists level this city." Stukov said.
Anne looks relieved, and happy, it would be a terrible burden to bear, that you are actually trying to kill your comrades after 2 years of fighting. You would be mentally scarred. He doesn't want that to happen.
On the other hand, if she was a fanatic Fascist, she would be seeing Karl Marx now.

Someone is knocking on the door
"Come in," he said.
Two sweaty men. One had a bottle in his hand.
"Ramon, Nathan" Stukov called out. Their comrade in arms, returning from guard duty.
"The Fascist pigs have stopped for now, come down for a drink or two with us?" Ramon offered.
"Be right there."

Kremlin
The man of steel: "Those agents who went to Spain are not to be trusted, they are tainted with unorthodox Leftist thoughts, possibly from Troskite scum"
The wolf of Kremlin: "Comrade Stalin, should we order a purge of the NKVD officers who went volunteering?"
Stalin: "Yes, but spare me this man, Ivan Stukov. Thanks to him we have gotten rid of the traitor Orlov and his cronies, they would have done tremendous damage."
Head of NKVD: "off the list, understood". He reached for a pen

Siberia, alien base of operations
"Technology level of planet rising, AI reporting increase of industrial production and advancement in warfare and theoretical physics."
"Excellent, on schedule" the Radical said. The rest of the crew members applauded.
 
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stnylan

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One of the few occasions when being crossed of a list is possibly a good thing.

But only possibly. It may, of course, just mean a longer sentance in hell.
 

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Moscow, several months later
Stukov returned to the capital to find the spy networks here a mess. Due to the Great Purge many of his former colleagues, friends and co-workers were dead or in Gulags in the desolate areas of Siberia. He had serous misgivings about the government for the first time. The death of his boss, head of NKVD, the Vanishing Commissar was another blow. Not only was he sentenced and executed, but all his images were meticulously wiped off the archive photos. He could not stand his new boss, Beria, who is a sycophant of Stalin's with very little initiatives of his own. The war in Winter is about to start and the Union knew very little of the enemy, the Finns. He could not stand the inefficiency, and hatched a plot to remove Beria for good.

Using his abilities, he made hundreds of NKVD officers give false evidence of Beria's involvement with the Nazi Gestapo system. While such collaborations are not unheard of, the content of the discovery that will make Stalin furious. He alleged the new NKVD boss of digging up information on files of Old Bolsheviks under the Kaiser's pay in the turn of the century, thus making them traitors. He did this deliberately to undermine Communism, it was said.

As far fetched as it was, Stalin's mind was inscrutable and paranoid at most of the times,and to him motives are optional. He ordered Beria arrested and shot, however Beria got wind of this and tried to poison Stalin first, a plot conveniently foiled by Stukov. Beria was arrested on the Soviet-Polish border, appearing to defect to Germany. He was secretly tried and executed. Stukov now had the ear of Stalin and became the new chief of NKVD, and his first task was to delay the Winter war.
He fed the Stavka with fabricated news about the Finnish defense, the famed Mannerheim line.
Until they were better prepared, the invasion was called off, and Molotov was sent to Finland to negotiate a Non-Aggression Treaty.

With a burning ambition in his chest, Stukov swore on a path of power that would place him beyond any harm, and on that day he set the sight on the job of General Secretary of the Soviet Union
 
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As time went on without the Winter War to distract the Man of Iron the Purge went on. This time however Stukov had his own plans. He made clandestine contact with a group of generals and disgruntled NKVD officers who conspired to topple Stalin's rule. He made a tacit deal with them that he would obstruct the killings in return for the generals to delay open revolt. A deal was struck. Because Stalin never actually visited executions, Stukov was able to get creative.

He sent those marked for execution to Siberia, and faked death certificates, photos of evidence, blood and grisly scenes of execution. His officers were complicit in this theatrics. In rare circumstances where Stalin suspected something death row inmates were used. He also sent their families away from Moscow out of harm's way.
At the same time he dealt ruthlessly with hardline Stalinists or those who could have exposed the plan, sending them to Siberia or making various 'vehicle accidents'. But he tried to avoid outright executions because they are easier to trace. He used bribery and coercion in equal measure to silence those who would talk. His words came with psychic compulsion and he was able to change a great many minds, or simply erased their memories of ever seeing anything untoward.

He was working three jobs at the same time, keeping an eye on Germany and the world, running a non-Purge, and doing day to day chores at the NKVD. It is starting to take a toll on him and he started having lucid dreams, about being aboard a giant ship, of unknown material, and talking to aliens. He was sure he was going insane, but he had to bring down the one in Kremlin first.

The spy network was impeccable, the German intelligence officers talk about an 'Iron Curtain' across Poland as nothing came out from the East. All good agents were silenced, which was ominious to the High Command. The NKVD sent all caught spies to Siberia to use as future bargaining chips.

In contrast to the perplexed Germans, Nazi Germany became like Swiss cheese to NKVD officers. Infiltration was very effective, all major movements were intercepted, however there was a delay in getting information out, as Stukov placed extra value on agent safety and did not compromise his spies needlessly. As spymaster he was truly in his element.

One day, he received a directive from Stalin's office itself, and it caught his eye because it involved his war buddy Ramon from Spain.
He was to assassinate Leon Trotsky in Mexico. Stukov was to provide the logistical assistance to make it happen
 
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Stukov was sure another failure to assassinate Trotsky would send Stalin over the edge, he's showing signs of instability already, mumbling something about Bukharin's ghost. However Ramon's plot as it stands would take a year to complete, he didn't know if he had that long. He deliberated many days before coming up with a break-fuse in the assassination, that way, he could kill Trotsky, or not, depending on the situation.

The original plan was for Ramon to befriend a woman who had access to Trotsky's inner circle (Stukov smiled at this since he thought the plan ingenious), then pretend to be a sympathiser to the Fourth International and find opportunities.

But now that he knew of the plan, Stukov thought he could make it fail spectacularly, and make Stalin lose face in front of the whole world. It was a risk he was willing to take.

Apart from the assassination team, he started training a beta team that would stop the assassination, in top secret. They need to act at the exact time that Ramon strikes.
The plot captured his full undivided attention for days and he felt very much alive, getting rid of the depression that plagued him for months.

He also instructed Ramon to speed up in his seduction as he didn't have a whole year. Stukov also corrected the flaw in the original plan by providing him with a genuine foreign passport. As good as one issued by the country itself

Having organised the plan, he thought about Ramon's face when caught red-handed, it would be priceless.

Siberia, alien base of operations:
"Ivan's progression exceeded expectations" the Radical said. "Congratulations, he is starting to remember"
"I'd hope we haven't put him through too much, " the Doctor said, slightly anxious.
"But no pressure no diamonds, the psychic awakening is a special event in our culture" The Historian said. "You must be pushed to the limits."
"We should prepare contact protocols" The Navigator said.
 
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the Fate of the World

Dodge

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For the next few months Stukov had many sleepless nights and took pills to stop the nightmares: The aliens, the ship, and the voices in his head. He was again sure that he was going crazy. He became wildly indulgent, hosting parties with sumptious food and drinks, making advances to women, going to Bolshoi, etc.

And things are getting pretty crazy, even without his help.
The world hinges on the love of a woman. If Ramon succeeds in wooing Sylvia, he gets access to Trotsky, attempts the assassination, fails in front of world media, Stalin gets a stroke.
Now, he's not going to let some second rate hack write the script, he'd ghostwrite a movie script himself. He thought when wildly drunk.

He'd made a deal with the generals to succeed as General Secretary if anything happens to Stalin in the next few months. He was so confident that he made a deadline. "Within one year". He was confident to talk about this as anyone found to be a snitch is going to the Gulags.

1939, the World

nap_japan.jpg


Hitler made his advances towards a general war in Europe, but this didn't faze Stukov, as the generals could handle this. And they handled it better when they didn't fear the Purge. Stukov was more interested in what happened in the United States. The Cambridge 5 became his job after his predecessor died.
In January 25th Uranium fission is achieved, he realised it's importance from conversations with nuclear scientists, who thanked him for not putting them in Gulags.
This could change everything, he thought.
And he had a funny sense of deja vu.

Siberia, Haghanon the Ambassador, Ship Core
"What's the result of our world similarity test?" the Historian asked the Engineer.
The Engineer, an operator of the massive Quantum Supercomputer at the heart of Ambassador, was a man of few words, and hence didn't participate in their meetings often. "We have ran data collected over 30 years and compared it to 10^10 Earths, apart from events of our direct interference, this world does not deviate away from the mean value in terms of history"
"That means no Aztecs invading, France conquering medieval Europe, Nazi Germany wins World War II, etc" the Historian interjected.
"that is correct"
"Good to hear as we are about to plunge into World War II, existing world data would be very useful".
"I was going to say hold on to your hats, pardon the expression"
 
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The Assassination plan:
Ramon: Ramon will act as Silvia's lover, infiltrate Trotsky's study and find a time to deliver a blow to the back of his head, using an ice axe.
Ramon has been hardened by the Spanish Civil War and should have no trouble landing the killing blow, as formidable as Trotsky is.

Team alpha: They will find ways to distract the policemen placed outside the compound, and storm the compound using heavy machine guns and bazookas.
That is if Ramon fails, they would not expect a second strike so soon.

Team beta: They will use newly invented helicopter to fire rockets at the Trotsky compound, at the same time as attack by team alpha.

But in reality, Ramon is the only assassin. Team alpha is the distractor, after Ramon went in they would start to fire at compound walls, alerting Trotsky to danger. They are not to fire at actual building itself. Team beta is the getaway plan, but only for the Alpha team. The perfect setup.

The Trotsky residence is outside of Mexico City and looks like an intimidating compound rather than a home. It had walls 4-5 m tall and many rooms and corridors. Outside security is managed by Mexican police while inside there's many volunteers, 4th International'ers acting as body guards. To get in the compound you need to pass an electronic gate that has a voice intercom, only known actors can enter. There was a flaw that Trotsky didn't require weapon checks before entering the inner compound. Had this been the case Ramon would need to use hand and fist to subdue the target which would be much more difficult.

1939, before the Czechoslovakia crisis
Ramon was cool and collected, he visited Trotsky many times and pretended to be a student of Marxist history, and asked for advice to complete his thesis on Communism. He was trained in the literature so managed not to sound like an idiot, and was somewhat shy and aloof and didn't appear to be overly eager. He had been in the study many times, memorising the layout and best position to strike. He always kept distance but was training for lunges at home, to close distance quickly. From information he got from NKVD Trotsky is considered quite tough from years as military Commissar, and if a single strike is not successful he should retreat to avoid capture. He was to exit the compound and wait for extraction by car, leave the suburbs and go to rendezvous area for helicopter extraction, which would leave Mexican soil quickly. The plan was well thought out and highly regarded.

He had a feeling that today would be the day, the hated Traitor of the Union was in a good mood and lectured him about some obscure Revolution detail, and he just acted straight and admitted ignorance. He got some praise for admitting his mistake, and the target turned to the desk and started writing, the heretical work on Comrade Stalin! He had placed his sweater on the nearby table, concealing an ice axe. In his European carry-all he also had a 9mm pistol which is a backup weapon that is loaded by the Alpha team with poisoned bullets. Grazing would kill.

His hand now reached under the sweater and touched the handle. He was slow, and silent, his hand steady from years of battle. His heart rate barely moved up. Now, to close distance, the lunge. Which he practised many times, on similar flooring in training sessions. in a second he was arm's length away from Trotsky, he raised the ice pick and aimed it at the midbrain region.

He was expecting a silent takedown, but it didn't happen that way.

The head of the axe fell off! the handle hit the old man like a club, but since the aim is off, at reduced strength. Trotsky let out a blood curdling scream, turned and grappled with him. He couldn't free his hand, but he had to, the pistol is so close! Just reach and fire. Alas it didn't come to pass.
The old man yelled "guards! guards!" and several of them came rushing in, grappling with him and pinning him down.

Meanwhile, gunfire broke out, large calibre bullets hitting the wall outside, followed by police sirens. Ramon knew the plot failed but was extremely confused, what went wrong?
 
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