Axle Skov is Into the Fire (1987) (semi-open)

Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Beaconsviði
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1 June 1987
11:42 pm
On a Monday
Keris, Prydania


"You have the guns Colonel?" Ashur Aplaidi asked before taking a drag of his cigarette.

Colonel Gert Bendixen nodded as he addressed the Shavian.
"Everything Mr. Ventur paid for is in the crates."

"Excellent" Aplaidi replied, making his way past the Royal Prydanian Army officer to inspect the merchandise.
"Andrennian. Good, and proven in south Iteria. Mr. Ventur will be pleased."

"I'm just curious about one thing" Bendixen replied, trying to calm his nerves as he shot a glance at one of his soldiers, hoping the bastard knew what he was doing.
"What's Kurt Ventur going to do with crates of guns in Iteria? The Skandans and Iraelians are at peace and the Iterian League's still holding together."

Aplaidi laughed.
"Peace in Iteria is never permanent. Sometimes it just needs a bit of a push."

"So Kurt Ventur isn't just selling guns now? He's starting wars?"

Aplaidi just shrugged.
"Like all of us, he's just trying to make his way in the world. Besides. Getting Iraelia and Skanda to go to war is like convincing a Syrixian to colonize you. It's hardly a huge undertaking!" he laughed patting the colonel on the shoulder.

Skov, disguised as one of the Colonel's men, eyed the Shavian contact. It had taken months for ÖSU to track down the source selling off Army weaponry. The Colonel had been easy to turn, and now they had it. Proof Ventur was not only behind it but planning on trying to start another major Iterian war. He just needed to know how. And the Colonel's questioning was getting to the tipping point where anymore could give Aplaidi a reason to be suspicious.
He grit his teeth, angry they were unable to get the "how" but he'd made his mind up. He'd make his move.




Admiral Søren and the rest of the ÖSU top brass watched the transaction unfold thanks to night-vision camera-equipped snipers and a bug planted on their Skuggi Agent* operative.

"Come on S-77, let the Colonel talk" Søren muttered.




Skov glanced towards the city. The ÖSU snipers were ready. He was about to make his move when the Colonel spoke up.

"And just how is Ventur going to 'push' Iteria into war?"

"Fuck" Skov thought, hoping Aplaidi didn't get suspicious.

"You are awfully curious for a gun ru..." Skov didn't wait for him to finish, firing a shot into the Shavian...




"Hell!" Søren yelled.
"All snipers, now!"




...Skov and the rest of the Colonel's men opened fire as long ranger sniper support took out the rest of Ventur's agents in short order.

"I need a fucking line to HQ!" Skov yelled as the Colonel's men secured the area, one bringing him a bulky portable radio.

"You were supposed to wait, S-77!" Søren barked.
"We don't know what Ventur is planning and now he knows we may be onto him!"

Skov just smirked.
"I did what I had to do, Admiral. The Shavian was getting suspicious. Besides, we'd have to act fast either way. Iteria is about to be thrust into the fire."




*Skuggi is Prydanian Makari for "shadow." A Skuggi Agent is a black ops agent of the ÖSU who is authorized to kill over the course of a mission if deemed to be in the national interest. Skuggi Agents are assigned code names of "S" followed by a numerical designation.
 
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Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Beaconsviði
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ÖSU HQ
just outside Beaconsviði, Prydania

"He's waiting for you" Ms. Eyra Sælu said with a grin as Skov entered the reception area of Admiral Søren's office in Kamojis House.

"When is he not?" Axle replied as he leaned into Eyra's desk, a flirtatious smile across his lips.
"But coming in to see you always makes putting up with the old man worth it."

Eyra reached into her desk and pulled out a cigar.
"He wanted me to give you this, in the event of a successful mission."

Axle's eyebrow raised slightly as he smiled and reached for the cigar, only for Eyra pulled it back.
"Unfortunately" she added with a smirk, "he's not happy with how things turned out in Keris."
She tossed the cigar in the trashbin.
"Such a shame Axle, just like you and I. Close but no cigar."

Axle chuckled and stood back up straight.
"You and I, Ms. Sælu, I think we're destined to do this forever."

"Maybe" Eyra replied with a friendly smile.
"But first you'll have to talk to the Admiral" she pointed to Admiral Søren's office door.
"I hope it's not too painful" she added as Axle straightened out his herringbone sports jacket, with a resigned look on his face.

"It's rarely as bad as it could be, and often worse than it has to be" he chuckled, entering the ÖSU chief's office.

"S-77" Søren said as Skov entered, dressed in the uniform of a Royal Prydanian Navy admiral's uniform.
"Sit down."

Skov sat, trying to keep a cheery mood about him.

"We were hoping to figure out the means by which Ventur was planning on sparking another war between Iraelia and Skanda. Before you assassinated his man in Keris."

"It couldn't be helped Admiral, the Colonel was on the verge of being discovered. Aplaidi was getting suspicious."

"Yes, well" the Admiral responded, "we only know why, and not how."

"Isn't that enough? We can pass along what we know to the Iraelians and Skandans."

Søren, however, wasn't seeing that silver lining.
"The Skandans don't believe half of what we say because of our association with the Andrennians and our anti-socialist disposition. And the Iraelians believe less of that because of our government's general ethno-nationalist rhetoric."

Skov just rolled his eyes.
"Someone should have put a bullet between Toft's eyes a while ago."

"Be that as it may" Søren replied sympathetically, "we're stuck with the consequences of a Social Commonwealth government. We've passed along what we know, but neither are trusting us. And even if they did? Their respective governments would be unable to quell calls for war if Ventur's scheme, whatever it is, works. A scheme we know nothing about thanks to your rash actions."

"As I said Admiral..." Skov replied, his voice strained as he tried to remain respectful. Søren, however, wasn't having it, holding his hand up.

"It hardly matters. Ventur is a Prydanian national, and former Royal Army at that. All we can do now is to clean up our mess. That's why I'm dispatching you to Goyanean South Iteria. You'll check in at our consulate in Danstad. Thankfully there are some members of Goyanean intelligence that our government hasn't alienated entirely. They'll outfit you with what you'll need to cross into Skanda. Our intelligence places Ventur in the Epyrean Plains. Your mission is to find Kurt Ventur, neutralize his plans to escalate tensions between Skanda and Iraelia, and bring him back to Prydania alive for interrogation and trial."

Skov grinned slightly. Goyanean South Iteria. Well at least he'd get something out of this trip, personally speaking. He didn't dwell on that too much though.
"Of course, Admiral."

"You've been booked on a commercial flight that leaves in five hours. Check in with the Quartermaster before you leave. And good luck, S-77."

Skov nodded, taking the confidential file from the Admiral's desk. He paid the chief his farewell as he left, already planning his first move in Danstad.
 

Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Beaconsviði
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Danstad, Goyanean South Iteria

Yanmin Lysvand hummed to herself as she balanced keys, two bags of groceries, and the mail as she backed into her apartment. She grunted as she heard the tv playing. She knew she'd left it on before leaving! She switched it off as the GRK anchor went on about rising tensions between Iraelia and Skanda over Iraelia's annexation of part of what was once Kaandar.
"Neither of them are going to be happy until all of south Iteria's a radioactive heap" she thought to herself as she began to sort through the mail before remembering groceries.
"Ice cream!" she gasped, digging through the paper bag's contents before getting the carton of cherry vanilla into the freezer. It was one of those days. She'd have forgotten her head at the grocery store if it were possible. She just sighed and returned to sorting the mail.
"Junk...bills...bills...junk...entertaining junk" she said with a grin, setting aside her monthly gossip magazine.

"Ice cream and gossip rags? Ms. Lysvand, what's become of the woman I fell for?"
Yanmin turned around quickly, drawing a handgun from her sidebag on the counter.

"Axle!" she said relieved to see Axle Skov leaning against the wall.
"What the fuck are you doing here?"

"Nothing, my dear" he said with a smile as he approached her, placing a hand on her grip of the pistol, slowly lowering it, "that would require this" he said softly as he kissed her. She kissed him back, letting the tension from the scare he'd given her and the hectic day melt away.

"God I've missed you" he said with a gentle smile, looking into her eyes.

"Not enough to call" she smirked, separating from him as she set her gun down on the counter top.

"My letters aren't enough?" he asked with faux bemused offence.

"They're lovely Axle" she replied, "when the ÖSU finally gets around to sending them." Axle just chuckled.

"Well maybe that's why I'm here. To hand deliver one myself" he said, producing a postcard from the inside of his sports jacket, sliding it into Yanmin's hands. She smiled wickedly before looking it over.

"Axle...this is a postcard from the Danstad airport. What are you doing here?"

Axle, however, was still focused on the earlier observation, ignoring the question entirely.
"Well I don't see how that matters. It's quite a nice post card. I spent a lot of time picking it out!"

"Axle!" Yanmin insisted, causing him to chuckle and roll his eyes as he leaned one elbow on the kitchen counter.

"I came to see you of course, darling. Like I said, I've missed you terribly."
They kissed one more before Yanmin looked up at him, smiling.

"And I've missed you too."

"Is that why you pulled a gun on me?" he chuckled, only to earn him a playful punch on the shoulder.

"I can't be too careful, giving father's work."

"No, I suppose not. You never know dangers may lurk around every corner" he smiled, picking her up in both arms, eliciting a surprised yelp before she wrapped her arms around his neck. The two kissed once more before Axle carried her into the bedroom....




"You know something, Yanmin?" Axle asked as he lay in bed next to her.

"Hmm?" she asked as she cuddled up next to him.

"I don't think I've ever been truly happy, except when we're together."

"Axle..." she said softly, "not this again."

"I think I mean it this time" he replied, his voice devoid of stress.
"I look around, at the ÖSU, at Prydania. I've served my country, for what? More fascism? I'm done" he muttered.

"Oh my God...you're serious" Yamnin replied, propping herself up on her elbow to look at him.

"Yes, absolutely. Fuck them all. I don't need them. I just need you. You, me, South Iteria's beaches" he chuckled, kissing her once more, just before the phone began to ring.

"Let it go" he muttered, and Yanmin seemed inclined to agree, kissing him back...only the machine didn't pick up. And Axle felt a knot in his stomach forming. Someone was bypassing the machine. Because they knew he was here. And Yanmin knew it too, pulling back to stare daggers at him.

"You came here to see me because you missed me?" she gave him a slap across the face, answering the phone. She didn't even give the ÖSU office clerk time to answer, growling "he's right here" and tossing the receiver to Axle. He just sighed, taking it.

"Yes, yes, I'm in Danstad. Yes, the flight was on time. Yes...yes I'm aware. I'll be in shortly....I don't know, shortly!" he said, his voice laced with frustration as he hung up.

"Bloody hell.. Magnus won't rest until he's driven me mad" he joked as he came up behind Yanmin, now in a robe and looking out of her bedroom window.

"Came in just to see me, eh?" she remarked.

"Well I was supposed to meet Magnus at the Consulate. I came here instead. So I wasn't really lying" he answered, kissing her neck.

She sighed.
"Axle, did you mean it? What you said, before the call?"

"Every word" he answered with a grin.
"I need to do something very important here in Iteria, but I don't intend on returning to Prydania once it's done. Let Toft's thugs have the bloody place if they want it so badly. Like I said, I just need you" he kissed her neck again.

"And the beaches" she chuckled, turning around.
"We'll talk about this later, honey. But get dressed. Magnus awaits" she smirked.

"It's all he does" he laughed.
"I won't disappoint him. But it's worth it. Afterwards we'll have all the time in the world."

The two embraced once more, once more before duty imposed itself. Hopefully for the last time.




We Have all the Time in the World by John Barry, 4: 38
 
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Prydania

Það er alltaf sólríkt í Beaconsviði
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Prydanian Consulate, Danstad, Goyanean South Iteria

"Magnus!" Axle remarked cheerily as he passed through security.

"You're late" Magnus Brandt remarked, shaking his head and turning as he waved Skov after him. Skov just chuckled to himself, following the Foreign Affairs functionary down the halls of the Prydanian consulate, his cheery mood soured a bit seeing the Social Commonwealth Party flag hanging from one wall. That was one thing he could give Magnus. He wasn't SoComm. Brandt was a devoted Free Democrat, the party Toft and his thugs despised the most, save for the Syndicalists. He'd have been dismissed from his post here years ago when the SoComms came back into power had he not made himself essential. He wasn't sure what it was Magnus Brandt did, exactly. "Keeper of the Broomclosest of State" he had jokingly referred to his position as on occasion.
Still, he remained the ÖSU's primary contact in the government's Foreign office. The SoComms didn't trust the ÖSU and the ÖSU didn't trust the SoComms. Skov rarely held many passionate political opinions himself, other than hating fascists.

"I hope you enjoyed your visit with Ms. Lysvand" Magnus remarked as they entered his office.

"I did, thank you" Axle replied with a sort of overt pleasantness that was clearly intended to rile someone up.

"I don't think you understand the severity of the situation here in Southern Iteria."

"I think I do" Axle replied with more of an intentionally angering, yet pleasing, smile.

"So while you were meeting with Yanmin Lysvand..."

"Spare me" Axle replied, rolling his eyes.
"The world doesn't turn on one quick diversion."

"It very well could" Magnus shot back firmly.
"We know what Kurt Ventur is planning, broadly. We have no idea how though. Every minute wasted is a minute closer to all-out war in Iteria."

"Yes' Axle replied sharply.
"And that's why I'm here, and why I didn't tell Sören to fuck off. At least we're trying to fix a mess this time around. Increasingly a rarity for this government."

"This government, I'm afraid, couldn't care less. You really think Stephen Toft, or any of his lot, really care if Iraelians and Skandans blow each other to hell? Officially your mission is sanctioned by His Majesty's government, but in reality we're operating in uncharted waters. There are a few of us still around, scattered through the government, trying to hold back the tide."

"And Kurt Ventur..."

"Is a criminal and murderer. We're still going to do the right thing, so long as the government doesn't look too closely."

"So...how do I find him?"

"Kurt Ventur is located somewhere in the Epyrean Plains in Skanda" Magnus replied sliding a map of the Skandan-Iraelian border across the desk.
"Where, we don't know. What we do know is that his organization operates out of Danstad's port. Your mission is to infiltrate the organization, find Ventur in Skanda, capture him, and wait for extraction. The Goyaneans will help with that. One last favour I could call in. You'll bring him to Prydania, where he will stand trial. The government may not care about another Skandan-Iraelian war, but they'll have no choice but to prosecute Ventur if the ÖSU delivers him."
Magnus slid a series of folders across the desk.
"You'll find all you need on Ventur's operations in Danstad. Including your contact..."

"Shen Cai" Axle smirked.

"You know him?"

"I do, yes. Old associate of myself and Ms. Lysvand."

"Will this be a problem?"

"No" Axle replied, closing the folder. "Cai and I go back some ways. I trust him."

"Good. And good luck, Axle."

Skov just chuckled again, rising to his feet to give Brandt a cavalier wave."

"I always try."
 
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