The past few weeks had been eventful to say the least. The goal of generations of Kings and Queens of Macedon had finally been completed. The Greek and Balkan lands were reunified under a single dynasty. Their dynasty. From Istria to Kurdistan the Hellenic Gods reigned and the future of the Athenian Federation was as grand as it was exciting. After singlehandedly uniting an empire, the young Empress could be forgiven for taking a few days to take it all in. If anyone knew Athanasia however they knew she wasn’t going to do that anytime soon. As she was sitting in her chambers, considering her next moves she heard a door open followed by the sound of metal.
As she turned she saw the head of her personal guard. The Amazon Alexia. While essentially royalty herself (The Amazonian Free State was ruled by the population at large but they still had a symbolic line of Warrior Queens that assumed control in times of war), the Warrior Princess had pledged her loyalty to Athanasia almost a decade ago. Ever since she was the fiercest fighter in Athens. A hundred men would barely delay her.
“Your Imperial Majesty, forgive me for interrupting”
Athanasia smiled. “Alexia I told you this, my rank might have improved but as long as we’re alone nothing has changed between us. Just Athanasia is more than fine.”
“Of course, sorry. I wanted to inform you that the preparations for the religious coronation are complete. The temple will be the most secure place in the world” Alexia continued.
With a nod Athanasia stood up and approached her friend and guard. “I have no doubt about it. Please join me. I am meeting with the War Council and would like your input”
Alexia nodded as she followed her Empress to the Council Chambers. The War Council was composed of the heads of each of the branches of the Hellenic Forces, the heads of the Foreign and Military Intelligence Agencies, the Magistrate of Defence, the Magistrate of Foreign Affairs and the Chief Magistrate. The heavy integration of all elements of warfare had been key in the early successes of Macedon and even a major reason her own countrymen had lost in the Macedonian-Amazonian War of 2088.
As soon as Athanasia walked into the room everyone stood up and saluted. Even without her station and despite her young age, the Empress was highly respected by military and civilian command alike. Propaganda had been designed to create an image of a Greek goddess returned to Earth, but very little of it had been needed to convince the population.
“Stand down” She said as she took her seat at the round table in the centre, followed immediately by Alexia taking one of the few remaining seats. “Tell me something good” Athanasia added.
“Your Imperial Majesty, as you requested we did a strategic analysis of Europe. A more in depth report will be sent to your office. However to summarize. The rise of new governments provides us with both opportunities and major threats. The Kingdoms of Finland and Italy as well as the Polish Commonwealth seem harmless and possibly allied potential. The People’s Republic of the Netherlands is difficult to predict. They recently elected a communist government and appear intent on a policy of neutrality so likely they will not pose any threat either. The largest risk comes from the Kingdom of France. After decades of civil war the Kingdom has recently come together behind their new Queen. Jeanne Thérèse. This was however not a peaceful unification and our agents in country have reported a wide range of war crimes. Perhaps most notably the use of artillery against large parts of Paris. Their government form is highly feudal and the size of their armies strongly implies an intent to expand. Considering their location on the Mediterranean and the likelihood of overlapping expansion plans, they pose the largest threat to our security.” The Head of her Foreign Intelligence Agency outlined. They clearly had done their work.
Athanasia nodded as she listened. “Personally I was horrified when I saw the images from Paris, France is definitely a threat but likely one in the long term. As long as Italy stands in between us. Has any thought been given to our next operation?”
It was the head of the Hellenic Navy, speaking on behalf of all five branches, that would take the lead now.
“Your Imperial Majesty. Based on the size of our forces, likely resistance, likely political impact and potential for improving our strategic position we have formulated two plans in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Operation Pharaoh and Operation Apostle. Operation Pharaoh involves a naval and air strike against Malta followed by a Marine and paratrooper invasion of Valetta. The goal is to rapidly take down their defences and occupy their largest population centre as well as the centre of government. We expect that as their command and control collapses the country will implode and surrender. This plan would take four to five days at the most. Operation Apostle is an air and naval bombardment of Lebanon. Followed by a ground invasion from the North and East by the Hellenic Army and a naval blockade by the Hellenic Navy. Much like with Malta the goal of the initial strike is to incapacite their defences and logistics while clearing the way for the Hellenic Army to move from all sides and take their population centres. The naval blockade and likely lack of support from Israel will mean that Lebanon is cut off from reinforcements entirely.” the Admiral spoke.
Before Athanasia could ask a question, the Magistrate of Foreign Affairs took over. “Both plans carry with them significant political risks. Lebanon is the larger country and our earlier invasion of Syria has already turned the Arab world against us. Invading Lebanon could incite a significant retalliation. It also increases the risk of Islamic terrorism within our borders. The Arab world is however far from unified, and it is unlikely they could pose a major resistance. Israel has historically been in conflict with Lebanon so is more likely to choose our side than theirs. Especially after we formally recognized their full claims to their land. Malta carries the larger political risk. Europe is much more organized than the Middle East and annexing it would almost certainly anger the Italians. It could also incite more general fears among our European neighbours that we have further invasion plans for the continent. At the same time Italy also has to take into account the French soldiers on their border. Fears of a two front war make it less likely that they would interfere with our plans. Ideally the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to see neither plan executed. But if we must then we prefer Apostle.” She spoke.
Athanasia nodded before turning to the person sitting next to her. Ariadne had been a childhood friend and in many ways even an older sister to her. When she agreed to be her Magistrate of Defence it was probably the most ecstatic Athanasia had been in weeks. “Aria, what do you think?”
“I agree with the Magistrate of Foreign Affairs, your Majesty. Apostle is the more complicated plan but all risks are well accounted for. Pharaoh would be easier if all goes as planned but if Italy retalliates it would heavily strain our forces.” She responded.
“Really?” Everyone was shocked when they suddenly heard the sound coming from Alexia. She had remained silent so far and while the others tolerated her presence they didn’t expect a guard to speak up on matters of state and the military. “Your Imperial Majesty. You have never backed down from a fight because it might become difficult. If you had you would still be in Aegea. Our first major move on the international scene will show the world just who we are as a people. Who we are as a country. Who you are as an Empress. We want to send a clear message. The Athenian Federation will be the next superpower. By invading Malta first we send a clear message.”
While everyone was aghast, Athanasia smiled. This was why she liked having Alexia around. The hot Amazonian blood always delivered.
“Thank you all for your advice, but the Colonel of the Guard is correct. We have never taken the careful path. Lebanon too will one day be part of the Federation, but for now our focus is Malta. Begin preparations for Operation Pharaoh. And establish diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Italy to smooth any issues over.”