The Final Clash

While the Supreme Court ruling was supposed to bring peace and quiet to the politics of Syria and Athens, the opposite happened but then regardless of the outcome that would have been the case. At an abandoned facility for the first time in years multiple cars arrived. Back during the Great Anarchy this facility had been the military headquarters of the Kingdom of Syria. It was in these halls that the generals and admirals of the Kingdom had planned the desperate defence against the much stronger Greek horde, and after annexation as if to punish the facility for its defiance it had been left in disrepair. Now, however, it served just fine for the new purpose. A meeting site away from the surveillance grid that had prematurely ended so many other dissident lives. Syria really was the last place in the Federation where such a meeting could take place, the network that had been rolled out in all other parts of the Federation made sure that every device with a microphone or camera acted as an extension of state power. However, perhaps anticipating the future need for resistance, Prince Bashim had intentionally slow-walked the deployment of this security system inside his Kingdom.

While the automated surveillance system had been avoided, one could still not underestimate the capabilities of the human surveillance element. As such, while a much larger group than those invited here today was needed, the risk couldn’t be taken to invite more people without risking the exposure of the plan. Those in attendance would need to bring in those they trusted themselves to make the plan possible.

As Bashim walked into what was once the War Room he was pleased to be the first there. It always looked good for a host to not be late. He nodded approvingly at the Royal Guard positioned at all doors of the room before taking a seat at the round table.

Next would be Facil Nacar, son of the late Turkish President Ahmet Nacar. The treatment of the Turkish nation at the Greek hands had been especially cruel. Not satisfied to only annex the country, all traces of the empire that had once overthrown the Eastern Roman Empire needed to be erased. The west of the country had been made part of Greece, the Kurdish regions had been turned into Kurdistan, the North had been rendered into Trebizond and anything that was left was made Circassia. President Nacar himself had been boiled alive by his own soldiers as a peace offering to the conqueror as to avoid the complete annihilation of the Turkish army. Facil wanted revenge, but much more than that he wanted to restore the Turkish nation.

After he took his seat, the next person to enter would be Sheikh Yusuf al-Mufti. The Sheikh was an influential Sunni cleric in Iraq and after the annexation of that state he needed to flee quickly to avoid arrest by the Hellenic Army as part of the political oppression of the Sunni people. The past few months he had been in exile in the Kingdom of Jordan but now he felt safe enough to enter Syria and work to free his land from the abominations that had been left inside.

With al-Mufti came a man simply known as the ‘Jordanian’. No one knew his name but al-Mufti had pledged for him and it was pretty clear he was here to represent the Jordanian security services. Athens wasn’t exactly subtle about their plans, it was only a moment of time before they would strike at Jordan and Egypt and it seemed smart for Jordan do destabilize the monster as much as possible before it could unite its forces against them.

That brought the group to the final arrival. Jawad Abdulrashid, a wealthy Egyptian trader. While he had very few political or religious convictions that could get him into this room, he did have sorely needed money and connections to Cairo. Both of these would come in important if they were to fund the fight.

With all five men in attendance all the Royal Guard except two left the room and sealed the doors shut behind them. The ones remaining were the Prince’s direct security detail and personal protection even in this secure and small gathering.

“Gentlemen, welcome to my humble abode. We have all come here to, Allah willing, bring an end to the Greek plague and the harlot charge of it. The invader has killed our men, subjugated our women and humiliated our countries. They have spit in the Prophet’s face and we can no longer stand by and hope for better treatment. The time to strike has arrived and if we wait any longer we will only become weaker. As we speak the harlot has enlisted my own sister to act against me and turn this final sanctuary in just another part of their federation. While they thought we did not know their plans, in reality we have been building up our reserves and getting ready to fight for our land and faith with all that we have. I have invited each of you here because you all have something to offer that makes you irreplaceable. Together we can rally the Islamic world against the pagans and we can even recruit some of their own as well as the Christians to resist domination from Athens.”

Bashim would continue to outline his plan, a lively debate between the various attendees followed but in the end consensus was achieved. The plan had to work or all would be lost. With that unity they each returned to bring their own part into action.

Hellenic Air One
Over the Indian Ocean
0140 Hours Athens Time

After a multi-day state visit to the Republic of Nihon, all those in attendance were exhausted. The trip had been productive but it had also been so full of activity that it had left very little time for rest. It was because of this that Lieutenant Colonel Navid Boulos would find the space plane especially quiet as he walked from the Staff Quarters to the cockpit. The Empress was sleeping in her private bedroom and all but a few members of the civil service, reporters and guards were asleep. As he arrived at the cockpit door Navid pressed the intercom button.

“Colonel Boulos here to take over from Colonel Rossini. Purple Sheep” He announced his intent, as well as the pre-generated codeword to relay to the crew in the cockpit that Navid was alone and not under duress. After a few seconds the door to the cockpit unlocked and a red haired woman in her late 30s stepped out. “She’s in perfect shape, Colonel. Autopilot should take you straight to Athens” Colonel Naomi Rossini said before shaking Navid’s hand and heading for the staff quarters to get her own rest. Navid meanwhile would step inside and lock the door behind him. Besides him only the co-pilot Major Nicholas Mitsakis was there. As the Major reached out his hand to greet Navid, Navid instead grabbed a hidden sidearm from behind his waistbelt and shot the man through the chest. As Nicholas fell back into his chair Navid sat down and began entering commands on the console.

“Deactivating autopilot” The computer announced as Navid took over steering, instead of continuing the voyage to Athens he pressed the stick down heading for the Persian Gulf. With a bit of luck they would hit Iraq but regardless of what they hit the explosion would be catastrophic.

“Warning, irregular flight movements detected. Re-enabling autopilot” The computer announced only for Navid to enter additional commands.

“Warning, security systems disabled. Warning! Crash risk” The computer continued, by now lights throughout the plane would go red and an alert klaxon would sound, but there was nothing anyone outside the cockpit could do.

“Hellenic Air One, this is Kuwait Air Traffic Control. We have you on a dangerous heading and speed. Are you in distress?” The voice of the computer was now replaced by an air traffic controller over satellite communications.

“Hellenic Air One, Kuwait ATC, are you receiving this message? Please reply with current status” The sound now came over the radio in the emergency frequency.

Another voice would soon enter the mix.

“Hellenic Air One, this is Lieutenant Commander Michail Floros of the Hellenic Navy Air Force. We are on an intercept course to investigate the cause of your erratic behaviour”

After that however the now strangely comforting voice of the computer would return.

“Proximity alert! Alter course! Proximity alert!”

Just as Navid said his final prayers Major Mitsakis regained his consciousness long enough to struggle him for control of the plane, but at this point the crash was inevitable.

Now that the strike against the head of the dragon had been made, a rapidly decreasing countdown had started on their plans. Especially with the ISA unexpectedly fast at determining the suspect. It was only a matter of time know before investigations in his actions and contacts prior to that day were going to get to the larger network operating within Syria, Assyria and parts of ‘Circassia’ (or as they called it, Turkey). It admittedly wasn’t as large a support base as they had hoped, with many hoping Lebanon, Babylonia, and Kuwait would also join but the governments there were simply too loyal to Athens and the people there too happy with the new arrangement. No matter what Bashim tried, he would never be able to convince people with legitimate grievances after centuries of the Husseins.

Beyond the investigation there was also just a more general need to act swiftly, despite the emergency laws in place the Athenian government was now at the weakest point it had been since its formation. The government was built around the Empress. The people knew and loved her, the Hellenic Forces trusted her and she was the core of the comprehensive departmental network. Her sister could have been a worthy replacement but she was only just being groomed for a role as heir and the Chief Magistrate was highly impopular. Even in their own party. But as the emergency set in all these concerns would go to the wayside. Then there were their own foreign allies. It’s one thing to claim support but another for a government that holds onto power by oppressing their own population to openly back an assassination of a government leader. Even one they hated. Especially when if things went wrong, the Athenian beast would come for them with a vengeance. No, the time to act was now.

For months Bashim and his network had been smuggling in weapons through the ports of the Kingdom of Syria, by a special treaty regulation of the annexation not under Imperial jurisdiction like all other ports in the country. Combined with trainers from foreign supportive regimes the Islamic Liberation Army had been trained. While they did have some support within the ranks of the Hellenic Forces, even inside their own controlled territory this wasn’t nearly enough to launch a coup from inside the Athenians’ their own army. The prospect of Imperial citizenship for loyal service and brainwashing by the training had made sure many forgot their heritage and what those same Hellenic Forces did to their fathers and grandfathers. Even Turks shed with their ancestry and proclaimed themselves Greeks and loyal Imperial citizens. It was disgusting. No, while having a fully trained army with Imperial supplies would have been nice, their Jihad wasn’t going to be that easy. At least they did still have veterans from the Iraqi Army among the Assyrian contribution to the ILA.

Only three days after the plane crash the ILA would make their move. Early in the day the 200,000 strong army would leave the remote camps and facilities where they had trained and establish perimeters at the outer reaches of their territory, with the traitorous whore of a sister of Bashim unknowingly aiding the movement by having Athens pull back its forces from the country, they faced no opposition from the Hellenic Forces who while on alert weren’t expecting a knife in the back. Imperial Police and on the external borders the Imperial Border Protection Force did resist but with a few exceptions most of them surrendered as they saw what they were facing.

One force that wouldn’t be as accommodating were still the Hellenic Forces. While Athens had sized down their deployment after the Supreme Court ruling and pulled all remaining forces back to their bases, Syria was still home to multiple large Hellenic Army Bases, two major Hellenic Air Force bases and a significant presence of the Hellenic Navy’s Seventh Fleet. The Naval base was simply out of the question, the ILA had no means to defend against the coastal bombardment the ships were capable off and it was simply too heavily armoured. The air bases were a major risk but the prospect of getting their hands on intact Hellenic Air Force fighters, bombers and drones was undeniable. Even if they couldn’t control most of them, their foreign partners could certainly reverse engineer them for support in a protracted conflict. At the very least a strike at them would allow them the ability to position S-400s close enough that even the advanced stealth on the aircraft wouldn’t allow the Greeks to use them against the ILA. The Hellenic Army bases were also major risks, but they simply couldn’t risk having multiple Hellenic Army fully equipped and ready combat divisions behind their lines. Dealing with the ones soon on to their border would already be bad enough without anticipating knives in their own backs.

With all those considerations in mind, half of the ILA were redirected to strike at the Air Force and Army facilities before either branch had the chance to respond to what was unfolding. Luckily they did have enough support within those bases to get at least some information out. The forces committed to these operations would include the most elite and veteran units among their ranks. The plan was to force a quick entry along the peacetime security perimeters and use them to quickly gain control over on-base armouries and lock off central command functions as well as communications with HFHQ Ares.

From the remaining 100,000 forces 70,000 were placed on the foreign borders of the new ‘Caliphate’ to defend against the future Athenian response. 25,000 of them would be focused on maintaining security within their territory and act against any sabotage attempts by loyalists, finally a final group of 5,000 were assigned to a ‘political purge’. Targets of these considered Syrian loyalists in the government, Imperial employees and citizens, and any member of Imperial security forces. Basically the people who would resist the new regime. Final targets included Princess Lateefah and her loyalists but unfortunately for them by some divine intervention she was currently in Athens discussing the future of Syria with the Chief Magistrate. While storming the ISA office in Damascus they would also try to secure the family of the Martyr Boulos, both out of loyalty to him and to prevent them from saying anything they may have picked up, but they had unfortunately already been transferred to the ISA Headquarters in Athens for enhanced interrogation. By the end of the opening moves the ILA now had 60,000 prisoners, and more importantly hostages to use against Athens. With the opening moves in play hackers would take control of all Athenian channels to broadcast a message to both the public and the world.

As the screens turned to a green and white flag with Arab writing on it it was soon replaced by Prince Bashim sitting in front of a similar flag at a desk in what seemed a bunker. The broadcast indicated it was live.

"Citizens of the genocidal Athenian Empire, peace and freedom loving humans of this Earth,

I today come to you as one of the many victims of Athenian aggression. Aggression against our brothers in Turkey, aggression against our brothers in Malta, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait and future aggression against our brothers in Jordan and Egypt, and who knows how many more.

We will no longer be victims. Three days ago our brother, the martyr Boulos, Rahimahullah, made the first strike against the demoness that had victimised us. Now we defy the beast she created. I hereby proclaim the creation of the Caliphate and myself as its Caliph. And as Caliph I also proclaim a Jihad against the regime in Athens. We will expel you from Syria. We will expel you from Iraq. We will expel you from Turkey. We will put your heretical puppets in Kurdistan to the sword and as we stand over your grave we will celebrate a new unified Islamic world. A world made possible by the will of the Arab people, unified. From the mountains of Anatolia to the Nile, we are one." Bashim said, the last sentence added in to force their foreign supporters to commit as with Bashim’s own confession they could no longer feign innocence of supporting the assassination of the beloved Athenian empress and the subsequent rebellion.