Kaenura Inner Harbour,
Imperial Capital Territory.
14 December 2039/3059.
“Flying is risky for old women,” Keroljhis answered to one of the American reporters, “And it’s the Rauhiranyah’s job to command the Army, not mine! I just do strategic coordination. Come along, girl.” An imperious wave of a hand. “You’ve just gotten yourself the interview that you were looking for.”
The woman exchanged a glance with her photographer and then hastened up the gangplank to the big, elderly battlecruiser. Traveling with the Reichskanzler of Kaetjhasti on some unknown mission was the story of a lifetime even if she was censored, and she hastily shot off a message to the AP headquarters in Kaenura that she wouldn’t be coming back quickly.
Keroljhis had always been something of an enigma in America, with her first term having been that of a young firebreather who took office in late 1988 and lost everything in the election of 1990 for the party due to her tumultuous break with US policy, endorsement of the Tamil Eelam secessionists that had led to their successful war against Sri Lanka, a staredown with Indonesia that nearly resulted in war over Timor.. Well, all of that was very important. But of all, there was, seared in the public memory, the vicious battle with Japan that collapsed the Pacific Treaty Organisation over her refusal to apologize for the brutal assassination of Shiro Ishii with ricin in 1951 by agents of the Gendarmerie Foreign Bureau and her leading the Reichstagasti in voting the thanks of the Reichstagasti to the assassins—which was done in the famed ‘keris’ speech where she waved a drawn blade on live television at the podium.
Then, she returned in the 2013 elections to lead the country through five years as a mature stateswoman who seemed completely at odds with her prior image. The darling of Rousseff in Brazil and Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina, she proposed the ‘alliance of the south of fair trade and integralist anti-capitalism’ which for a while with the Bank for Foreign Development as competition to the World Bank and IMF formed a serious run for the money of the north. She strode the world stage, proclaiming boldly the idea of economics tied to the GINI rather than the GDP, and cultures and societies rooted in tradition and localist vertical integration of capital and labour. It was darkly said to be the rise of a second fascism, and indeed, some would later say that her two terms as Reichskanzler would set the stage for the general rise of the ENU.
World tension went to high levels as Keroljhis supported the Putinist government of Russia against the People’s Republic of China in support of independent Yunnan, and the localist-integralist “third way” rose to challenge international capitalism. But the National Union – Integralist coalition governments of Keroljhis’ mature decade in power ultimately could not prevent the economy from slumping into a second recession which brought its fall over mundane economic reasons. The Social Consciousness Party took power at the same time that the leftist faction of Keroljhis’ third way was breaking violently from the rightist faction she had stood for, proclaiming internationalism as preferable to localism and humanity as preferable to patriotism.
That was the rise if Giuseppe which had subsequently become inevitable, with Indian intellectuals at the forefront as they extended naturally, as they claimed, what Keroljhis had given birth to, into a doctrine of peace rather than suspicious nationalism that was the hallmark of her rightist integralism. The SCP government however was devoted to internationalism, both letting allies slip away into Giuseppe’s orbit and trying to conciliate between the remnant capitalist states of the north and Giuseppe’s New Way and in the end being alienated and distanced from both. When the nuclear war between Russia and China erupted in 2031, the government was finally fully discredited, but the National Union’s more traditionally conservative wing wrested out in the internal leadership wars with Keroljhis officially retired. The result was eight years of military buildup in combination with tentative engagement with the rising Giuseppist movement, refusing to commit to its international plan but cooperating with it economically.
This ironically gave more and more power to the integralists, not as supporters of Giuseppism, but rather as its most vocal opponents, sharpening despite their economic similarities the difference between patriotism and internationalism into a violent and bloodthirsty movement. The NUP backbenchers who still hewed to Keroljhis’ vision of the world chafed at the cautiousness of the government. Finally, the tension had clearly become too great: As the US and ENU faced off, the moment to reassert full national independence was at hand. A parliamentary maneouvre thrust the NUP’s frontbenchers into a leadership fight that they lost, and the Integralist Brownskirts cleared the streets of Giuseppists. The elderly Keroljhis had reinvented herself a third time, as the right woman for the task of leading Kaetjhasti into a war with the whole world for the sake of her nationhood.
This was the enigma of a woman that Rachel Glisner had been abruptly given the chance to interview at length as she hastened up the gangplank while a group of military officers stood at the top, some technicians scanning her and her cameraman down, dirty looks to him—the RKB was notorious about that sort of thing—as the ancient ship, laid down in the Second World War, looked wonderfully fit, if in reality she was only just a very fast hull with bolted-on automatic self defences, a museum ship asked merely to serve as a fast transport in this war. In this case, a fast transport for the Reichskanzler of the nation.
With a young naval Kapitaleutnant on her arm, Keroljhis shuffled her way toward the deckhouse. She was an intensely old woman, though she seemed to bear the burden of state almost gladly now that she was aboard ship once more, and they were immediately to cast off. There was no chance to be taken, no risk to be permitted of the ENU proving less honourable than the Clans in launching attacks on the civil leadership of the State here, that much was very clear.
“Come, come, we’ll have some tea, dear, and I’ll let you ask all the questions that the American populace are doubtless burning to have about their latest co-belligerent.”
“Not ally, Your Excellency?”
“Heh, well, that’s to be decided where we’re going, and as to where we’re going, I think it best to just call it Shangra-La right now.”
“..You’ll have to explain that too, Your Excellency.”
“Heh. I suppose I will. Come, then!” Her english, for someone oft-times said to hate America, was so surprisingly good, and then there was, shortly enough, a smiling old woman all piled around with blankets in a padded metal chair, the padding enough to make it look cozy, settled into the Admiral’s cabin of the great old battlecruiser, nursing a mug of tea in her hands, and one of the same for Rachel as she sat across from the Reichskanzler while the ship creaked and groaned with her engines working up to speed.
“She is older than I am, and expected this war to be her’s by much less,” Keroljhis remarked. “But, we kept the engines good in her museum fugue, and so why not sortie the ships? Then it became a question of using the tonnage, and thirty knots is still a precious commodity. So they live as high speed transports, at least, with some ability to defend themselves with bolt-on modern weapons. I was always a navy girl, you know.”
“I did not, actually, Reichskanzler.” She looked up attentively. “What is the story behind that, if I may?”
“Ah, heh.” A long pause, and incredibly old eyes fixed in with the stolid strength of the very well known orator across from her. “It’s been a hundred years since Hitler sent his divisions rolling across the Posen frontier, since the Schleswig-Holstein pounded Polish soil with her twenty-eights. A HUNDRED YEARS. Soon I’ll be dead, Miss Glisner. Soon I’ll be dead. She died a very long time ago—the year two thousand. She put her wife’s affairs in order, and then she died, too. They were both veterans of the war who had suffered very much.”
“She was a big, strong woman, with arms and thighs like trees, she could swing a net line of a ‘seiner with her raw strength, womanhandle cast iron engine blocks on old Burmeister and Wain diesels, leap into the water to pass a chain ‘round a sheared rudder post to rig block and tackle in the middle of Sea State Four and come back up alive aboard.
“I was a young, dissolute kid, interested in western culture, listening to pirated tapes of the Beatles and divorced from my family’s life, lonely, out there at the end of the world where my mother had been assigned in the civil service, two thousand klicks from our motherline home, confused by the presence of men in our State, in our lives. Seaside fishing town—her name was Laoaitika Ui’oiala. Maori woman, as strong as they come…” Her eyes looked off. “You know, she could make you feel like you were there. Japs, Japs. The Japs came. It was nineteen forty-three and they were escorting a convoy filled with, oh, fifty thousand troops north for a flanking landing on Papua in the big conteroffensive. She was the Chief Warrant Officer on the second four-torpedo mount of the Grosstorpedobooten Kaliantra. They ran into a Jap night attack, turned and charged the Jap destroyers. Little boat, less than a thousand tons, wouldn’t even be a frigate these days. Took three Long Lances, big Jap fish. Torpedoes, you know, that's what they're called. Fish.”
A hearty gulp of her tea. “The surviving escorts had to form back up with the convoy. No time to look for survivors. There were about two hundred in the water that night. The next day the Japs came looking for damaged stragglers. Strafed them in the water. The blood ran out in gouts from the wounded, chopped up the corpses, killed twenty more.”
“That attracted the sharks.” Another gulp. “They came in for the next three days, no food, no water, just drifting in the summer Pacific sun. Sometimes you’d drive them back, sometimes you wouldn’t. Another twenty or thirty from that and an equal number from the dehydration and heat stroke and going mad and all those things.”
“About a hundred and thirty left. The Japs found them before we did. Machine-gunned about fifty in the water. Picked the rest up to interrogate them. Took them back to Chuuk. Truk, they called it in those days.” Her eyes weren’t blinking, now, just drilling into the wall past Rachel as she stared, enthralled in a way a reporter really wasn’t supposed to be by the kind of story almost forgotten in the American collective consciousness of 2039.
“Shot another twelve.” A pause. “Beheaded fifteen more. Crammed the rest into the hold of a freighter. Didn’t give them more than three rice balls a day, sometimes just one or two. A cup of water each. Thirty-six died there, they could keep count then. Let the bodies fester for days in the hold before the Japs would come down, beating people with the butts of their rifles, to make the survivors carry them up on deck and dump them overboard.”
“Then they got to Japan. They were put in a prisoner of war camp… The Japs used them for labour, didn’t feed them enough. So, we did what Hindus and Buddhists who believe in dharma do. Some of them starved themselves to death so the food could be redistributed to the rest. Others were randomly executed. Some died of disease. Seventy left when they went into that prisoner of war camp. Thirty-one came home.”
“But, they got their troops where they were going, that convoy, they did. The Army girls died on land, fighting back, the way they deserved, the way it was the Navy’s duty to insure. Hard, iron duty. And the Americans did the Japs in finally. We got to gas them on Formosa, and the Americans got to Hellburn their cities. That’s what she called the bomb, the Hellburner, it’s what all Kaetjhasti did in her generation when they didn’t understand what it actually was. Hellburner. I like it so much.” A laugh, then, bitter. “Ah, if there were only men in Japan, I’d find some way to put a few more Hellburners in the country by the time this war is over.”
“Laoaitika took me in when I was in trouble, in diversion for a couple of misdemeanour pranks around town as a fourteen year old. She got permission from my mother, a worried civil servant, when she saw me staring all miserable down into the water by the dockside after my visits to the magistrate. Took me out with her. Shouted at me some times, taught me how to be a woman mostly. Taught me how to work with my hands in the way my mommies never could, from their backgrounds. Taught me how to be a fisherwoman. Taught me how to respect the intellectual bent of my family which I hadn’t learned how to respect from my own family.
“She told me that story, and in more detail than I’m telling it to you, on a haunted, creaking night as we swung with every anchor set in a bay on the Zealandian coast, riding out a gale, drinking hard, bitter, black milkaffee while her wife stood the watch above us. It burned into my soul, Miss Glisner. It burned into my soul, and it changed who I was.
“I learned that the only way to defend my nation was with my body, with my soul, with all of that spiritual strength behind the steel and iron at the point of the spear on the shield wall of the State. I became the first woman in my family to join the military as a volunteer and to enter the academies… I somehow passed through the Naval Academy, became an officer, served the honourable profession of being a sailor in the midst of the Cold War. I wasn’t truly good at it, but I was committed, and that was enough to get me through to Korvettenkapitan.
“In the meanwhile, I got angry at how the government was ignoring our native strength for the alliances with the Americans that were withering away our native spirit, our ability to be independently strong, to build our own weapons and live our own way and defend ourselves independent of others. So, when I had clearly gotten as far as I could in the service, I resigned my commission and entered politics, young, and full of pride and rage and a burning sense that I could make things better.”
A twinkling smile, more like a kindly old grandmother than the firey dead witch who had told the tale before. “Well, of course, when you approach politics that way, it so happens that you lead your party into the second-biggest electoral defeat in its history.”
It brought an uncomfortable laugh out of Rachel as she tried to process the abrupt shift, and thought of something to say. “Did you see action yourself?”
“Yes, though it scarcely counts. I was on a Trivandhai-class missile cruiser during the Indonesian invasion of the Republic of Great Timor. When we landed our troops on Sandalwood Island—Sumba—and Roti, we were supporting the Fallschirmjaeger landings while the Indonesians pushed onto Timor proper. A group of Su-7s came in to try and attack us. We shot one of them down with a Kulkarna missile at very long range while they were still high up, then the rest of them dropped low and got within close range of us, the missiles in those days couldn’t intercept them effectively. We had our Srimarta batteries but they could barely track. Fired off a bunch of missiles with no effect. “
A thin and wry smile. “But we still had six fifteen-five automatic naval cannon forward, too, she was a single-ender missile ship, a converted Second World War cruiser. Those tracked and fired as fast as the darts of Indra, and we had old 4cm bofors too. Between the two of them they shook those green Indonesian pilots pretty damned well and threw off their aim. The bombs skipped clear. We took a couple of air to ground rockets in the side of the ship, lucky, that, just exploded harmlessly on the belt. Another Su-7 splashed by a Srimarta firing from behind as they passed. They never came back to bother us again, and I never saw action again. I was inside the entire time in CIC, of course, so it was something fo a battle of blips to me.”
“Now, that’s all my claim to war, and that’s all it will ever be for combat, but it was enough, between that and Laoaitika’s stories, that I know exactly what I’m putting people through. But I know what the enemy puts them through, too. So I don’t much see it as anything except what is absolutely necessary. We’ll crush them, we’ll grind them up, and we won’t ever surrender, because we’ve learned the hard way what surrender gives to us.”
“Then why the batchall agreements with the Clans?”
“We’ll see if they can play by the rules first,” Keroljhis answered simply. “And perhaps I just believe in a more civilized sort of warfare at heart, because I know where uncivilized warfare leads. And I’ll fight it if I must, but why should I, unless I truly must?”
“…I understand that, Your Excellency. So, you are an integralist, some say that some of you theories encouraged Giuseppe. Why did you stand against his movement?”
“Because I am Kaetjhasti. Because I still believe in what my mentress suffered and endured to uphold before me. Because – Faith, Motherland, Empress – is still worth dying for. Because I can’t disassociate myself from my nationhood. We’re each and all part of the organic whole of our countries, we can’t be taken from it without losing who are…. We are integrated, mind, culture, body, spirit, with the land we were raised in and with the soul of the state we were raised in. Quite simply, unlike in America, we don’t believe in individuality… We believe in the State being an organic gestalt of all the individuals within it. So, to become part of the international Earth National Union, we would have to kill our State, kill our MOTHER, and then, kill a little bit of each and every one of us, crush our souls and identity. We’ll all die first, because we still love, we still see ourselves as more than what we are.
“Ironically, you know, the resistance the United States shows is a condemnation of individualism and a proof of the rightness of my National Integralism. And that is all that it really seems suitable to say on that matter now, Miss Glisner.”
Some hours later, as she was preparing for bed, a fresh-faced young Kapitanleutnant stepped politely into the Reichskanzler’s quarters. “Your Excellency!”
“Go ahead, Aineki.”
“We got the burst transmission from Third Fleet Headquarters. Fall Glasburg is on schedule.”
The old woman sighed very fervently, and lowered her head to the idol of Durga in her quarters. “Oh thank you, blessed Mother of War. Oh thank you.” A tight smile on wizened lips. “To have that success to put before the Inner Sphere powers and the United States at the Samoa Conference would be quite the incredible feather to dictate the tone of this alliance. Between halting the enemy offensives with gas—at least for the moment—and this, for our long range strategic power, well, we may, may, just have turned the corner. The end of the beginning, perhaps.”
“I will pray for it, Your Excellency. With your permission?”
“You are dismissed. Pray, and pray heartily, and never be shaken, for we fight for the Gods of our foremothers and the hearths of our motherlines, and compared to that—ah, compared to that, forget death. We can endure worse than death.”
The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth.
-- Wikipedia's No Original Research policy page.In 1966 the Soviets find something on the dark side of the Moon. In 2104 they come back.
-- Red Banner / White Star
, a nBSG continuation story. Updated to Chapter 4.0 -- 14 January 2013.