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Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-09-03 04:19pm
They're trying to get more dedicated anti-power armour rifled grenades into production, but Simon is roughly correct on the useage pattern. More updates coming soon! I hope. (out of it, heh, sorry.)
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-09-04 05:36pm
About those targets except the factory buildings would be more effectively attacked by HE-FRAG or DPICM. Thermobaric means trading almost all shattering effect and all fragmentation in favor of a larger radius of low over pressure and higher heat, that actually doesn't work that well on stuff that won't burn or crush easily. If 10psi of blast won't kill it, odds are you want a different sort of weapon. Since Kaetjhasti forces surely have no inhibitions about using cluster bombs they'd surely be the ammunition of choice for all weapons. All the more so 21st century types which could use much more advanced/expensive warheads like going to molybdenum or god help us, DU, lined shaped charges and reactive material based fragmentation. So I guess the real question is, will the brownskirts be organizing school children to cast DU bombs in backyards?
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-09-05 10:58pm
Sea Skimmer wrote:About those targets except the factory buildings would be more effectively attacked by HE-FRAG or DPICM. Thermobaric means trading almost all shattering effect and all fragmentation in favor of a larger radius of low over pressure and higher heat, that actually doesn't work that well on stuff that won't burn or crush easily. If 10psi of blast won't kill it, odds are you want a different sort of weapon. Since Kaetjhasti forces surely have no inhibitions about using cluster bombs they'd surely be the ammunition of choice for all weapons. All the more so 21st century types which could use much more advanced/expensive warheads like going to molybdenum or god help us, DU, lined shaped charges and reactive material based fragmentation. So I guess the real question is, will the brownskirts be organizing school children to cast DU bombs in backyards?
I'm pretty sure the basic problem was the short-notice having to retool from producing to fight the hordes of third-world armies in the ENU to having to fight the clans. Thermobaric munitions on a larger scale is ideal for a couple of elite European armies with the gaps filled by hordes of trained but marginally equipped Nigerians. They are, potentially, in fact, going to have school children building bombs... But not the DU ones, and hopefully not in back yards, rather with more safety considerations, heh. Such as it is. Cluster munitions for the artillery are coming in very large numbers.
Arguably the Kaetjhasti could have succeeded more to date with different weapons arrangements, but the removal of tacnukes created a hole in that system for such high intensity combat, and their primary opponent in their mobilization was the ENU. Now they have the clans to fight and they barely had more than a year to prepare for fighting them separate of the ENU. They almost wish the ENU had invaded too, the need to supply ENU leg infantry on a mass scale while providing easy targets to the massed artillery would likely hurt the Clans more than help them.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-09-11 06:23am
Since there are not that many replies from readers I thought I'd just say that I really enjoy reading your story and that im looking forward to more. Normaly im not a big fan of BT but this story just hit a nerv.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-09-15 04:43pm
Tak’aori District, Gylakha State.
27 November 2039/3059.
The process of his desperate offensive had become calmly methodical in a way that was both frustrating and satisfying: Cutting deep into the frontage of the corps before him, Star Captain Connor Rood had driven hard into his enemy’s rear areas and smashed all hope of recovery while the Army before him fell back. The successes that heralded, shattering one of the weaker corps that lacked heavy armour, were still trivial considering that the Area Army he was fighting had three such Armies. Regardless, it was another attack completed, and the Star Captain withdrew with his forces in two DropShips back to the base established by the third intact DropShip—another had been lost, and some severely damaged had been sent to orbit for repair as ground repairs were impossible in the circumstances, though the attacks on the way back up had been a sobering reminder of how far from beaten the enemy was—for their aerospace fighters.
Sixty-five Mechs were still in his main raiding group, the rest Elementals. A few Mechs and conventional infantry guarded the base, which itself relocated often. The numbers of Aerospace fighters were dwindling like grains of sand swept away in a windstorm, but at the same time they still served to completely suppress air attack. He still had his freedom of movement. That, and the rains still came from the sky.
He shook his head and laughed softly at that. Reports on how the Star Adders were doing with their other half of the bid were confusing, but the Kaetjhasti were supposedly counterattacking and it didn’t surprise him one bit. So far the fighting had given him an impression he was acutely aware of, that a fighting force less uniquely suited to keeping an enemy off balance than the Ice Hellion traditions allowed would fair very poorly indeed. Beforehand he would have mocked the idea of the Star Adders being defeated but now he was fairly sure it might even be likely. Only defeated by dezgra tactics, but the past days of fighting had just brought with them a tacit acknowledgement of the simple necessity of those tactics for his enemies: They could not help it, and the very fact they were forced into it demonstrated the rightness of their cause.
Nonetheless, the stricter terms of a batchall without Safcon worked to his advantage by preventing the enemy from bringing in reinforcements to the order of battle. He was reasonably confident still in his ability to win. They had suffered continued Mech attrition, and heavier losses in Elementals and Infantry—the worst losses were in Aerospace fighters, though—but in exchange he had delivered enormous losses to the enemy that they could not so effectively cope with due to their disrupted supply lines. There was certainly a very real lingering danger, but the situation had in material terms started to turn again in his favour.
He was more concerned about the personnel situation. With such heavy losses none of his remaining MechWarriors could rest, and though the Clansmen were expected to fight on regardless of physical ills, the biological limitations of humanity could be improved upon by selection of superiour genes, not eliminated entirely. Exhaustion from constant combat and continuous relocation of bases was starting to wear down, especially on the maintenance and support staff. He trusted his warriors to fight their way through it, but the lower castes, of course, were in a great deal of hardship, and though all the appropriate motivational methods were being applied he wasn’t stupid enough to think that it wouldn’t ultimately lead toward a negative impact in their fighting ability.
The single-minded focus of even the warrior could sometimes wander, though. Certainly in appreciating the terrain he needed to study to fight his enemies to begin with. There was something about this land—the endless avians flying everywhere, the wild boars in the woods, the tree ferns and endless evergreens—which was primordial and comforting despite the ceaselessness of the rains. They had churned the farmers’ fields into mud in the fighting, though, and it was wearing on them all, to fight again and again without decision over the same land. That utter lack of decision in this kind of warfare was certainly different, unexpected, and unwelcome. Their enemies scrupulously observed the terms of the batchall, but they were still such that the land seem covered in a swarm of locusts every time that they went forth to do battle.
He ate heartily while flipping through the last charts and estimates of enemy positions. There was no time to separate such functions, nor desire. Connor’s position had been won by brutal attrition of the upper ranks of the invasion force, and now he was working his hardest to prove himself worthy of it. Their objective was selected, and directives for the assault crisply worked out.
Two hours later they were underway, two DropShips thrusting their way up and back down to desant against the enemy rear areas. There was a desultory air combat between the defending Aerospace fighters and an incursion attempt, but they lost a single Aerospace fighter for eight enemy fighters shot down and the landing was made without further difficulty, the Ice Hellions rushing out of their DropShips to push forward toward their objective.
Immediately his command Star was brought under flanking fire by anti-tank guns dug into a copse of trees as they approached the rear areas. The Kaetjhasti had gotten much better at preparing ambushes for deep raids, and they used their limited complement of heavy Mechs to rain down fire on the enemy position, tearing through the forest though not initially silencing the guns. This would, of course, bring down artillery fire on them in turn.
And it did, the artillery being the easiest to redirect. The turrets of the corps level SP artillery and nearest divisional brigade in the area immediately swung around to open fire and take the pressure off of their sisters in battle in the rear areas while front line units redeployed. It was a game they had played several times before in the past days and now Connor was very confident in it. They did lack any kind of artillery of their own and their Aerospace fighters were not able to performa counterbattery due to the need to keep the sky clear above the Ice Hellion force, but by moving extremely rapidly they could evade the worst of the fire in the same way that the enemy artillery could evade counterbattery by moving quickly betwixt shots, and this was a suitable tactic for Clan Ice Hellion and one he was now sure they could execute well.
Then the artillery intensity essentially tripled itself. Connor knew where that was coming from, immediately: Army level artillery. That was an unfortunate prospect of bad luck, or perhaps an intentional or very rapid concentration to meet their desant operation, which showed the enemy was learning to rapidly reposition too. With it came some incredibly massive explosions from unidentified guns. As they closed on the light support troops guarding the rear areas of the corps and began to open fire, his databases corrolated the guns with railway mounted mortars and he instituted a general directive for sensor sweeps to scan across the battlefield and look for the usual terrain features associated with the steel rails crossing the vast plains.
“Our second objective! Now primary combat objective!” He snapped as the target was designed. “DropShips to relocate for fire support and recovery at that objective. We will cut the rail line and destroy the armoured equipment on it before retiring to prepare our next assault. All units follow command lead…” And so in typical Ice Hellion style he pressed forward, cutting through the enemy quartermaster stations, while Kaetjhasti shells continued to fall down around them.
Shells, that fell down around them, into their own rear areas. It was not something the Kaetjhasti were above, to their credit. What alerted him that something was wrong was when Connor realised the absence of noise, of nearly as many explosions from the shells firing down on the position as there should have been. Somewhere through all of the smoke and fire there was actually far less destruction being reaped upon the Ice Hellions and the enemy rear echelon troops they were now amongst than there should have been.
Obscuring the terrain all around them was the smoke, too, like they were intentionally laying down a smoke barrage rather than explosive shells. It seemed unusually compassionate for a people so willing to sacrifice themselves for victory, and Connor’s mind was alerted to trouble. He didn’t distinctly realize it, however, until the enemy’s infantry came in close enough to get, at high cost, several good hits on his Mechs with portable missile launchers. Their bravery was unquestionable…
But the masks they were wearing were quite out of sorts. He toggled his comm line once again. “All units! Star Captain Rood! The enemy may be resorting to dezgra chemical weapons. They are not fools and may have a weapon which is capable of working despite our filtration equipment. Be continuously prepared to switch to bottled oxygen without command or warning should symptoms or circumstances dictate.”
Scum. He did, though, recall that among the nations of this Scorched Counter-Earth, the Kaetjhasti were renowned for their willingness to use chemical weapons. Certainly their casual attitude toward nuclear annihilation made them noteworthy to begin with, and since even the Clans maintained chemical stockpiles unlike nuclear ones, it had not been unreasonable. Nor had it been banned by the terms of the batchall.
As they swept through the last of the resistance and destroyed the concentrations of supply trucks, the railroad provided the next objective. The clouds did not dissipate. Explosions, however, began to redouble and rocket artillery fire started to crash down and cause real casualties. This was enough to signal that their objective was close at hand and everyone pushed forward vigorously as the Cluster-strength remnants of two Galaxies proved their fighting mettle once again.
Then there was a sharp report echoing much louder than it should within his Mech, an internal explosion. It instantly filled with roiling clouds of fire-smoke, and more besides. Coughing vigorously, Connor immediately switched outside filtration to oxygen. That’s what it was! They’re doing something to our filters. Scum! Poisoning the very air. It enormously complicated the mission, too, since on bottled air they had to be successfully retrieved within a very fixed timeframe.
“All units to bottled oxygen immediately! Chemicals are causing explosions within our atmospheric systems; we cannot rely on any air filtration.” And now they get to dictate the length of the engagement. It was something that was not good, not good at all, for Ice Hellions. They trained, and lived, and breathed around being able to dictate the terms of engagement with their tempo. Having the enemy know exactly how long they could remain in action before they had to retire to preserve themselves from choking, from gas—Connor was becoming acutely aware he’d taken a whiff of something more than smoke—was a serious issue that put initiative firmly into the hands of the enemy.
He had to make up his mind quickly, and he did. Allowing the enemy to dictate the tempo was uancceptable, even if it meant giving them a respite. Looking through the map grid locations he spotted a suitable defile five miles to the south southwest and designated it as the new objective for all units. They quickly made it, receiving cover from the artillery, as he called down for the DropShips to arrive and commence immediate recovery, instead of the original plan. Unsurprisingly, the more junior Star Captains quickly enough realized that they were withdrawing, and the complaints started.
“Star Captain Rood, we are withdrawing from the battle even as we have just switched to bottled oxygen. Why are we presuming to abandon our objectives when we have plenty of time to accomplish them in?”
“Star Captain,” he addressed in return with a bitten off hint of disgust seeping through. That they were all of the same rank now was bad enough for command discipline; now the murmurs and challenges would surely start. “We are attempting to destroy the enemy. It is not the Ice Hellion way to do anything other than force the enemy to fight on the terms of our celerity and dexterity in battle. The enemy has forced us away from our principles and customs. We must find a way to restore the proper balance so that our abilities can bring victory. If we are forced into fights where the enemy knows exactly when we must finish engaging them because we have no sustained combat capability, we will be swiftly destroyed. These dezgra scum are highly effective at pouncing on even the slightest mistake or weakness and making you pay for it with your life and your unit. We do not have the reserves to accept such losses.
“They are now using chemical weapons, further cementing their stravag status and ways, but they are also destroying a vital piece of our equipment that allows us to function and succeed in this kind of combat environment. If we go into action with the enemy knowing exactly when our DropShips will have to show up by, each and every time, there will soon be no invasion force left, and the humiliation of our Clan will be complete.”
There was no immediate response, and even as they successfully evacuated, Connor was now quite sure of something: He would be facing a leadership challenge within days. Worse, too, there was no telling until the technicians with them had actually received samples what kind of chemical was being used and what kind of counter to it there was. Until then they would be strictly on the defensive, moving as rapidly as possible through the area of combat while the technicians worked on implementing a counter so that they could resume the offensive. It was however in his mind utterly necessary, and if there was a challenge that would be defeated, too, for he had earned his bloodname and would be quite pleased to remind all the others of it, that the glory from an ultimate victory based on wisdom and honour would be his, and on his return none would question it.
Then, as they completed loading, the Kaetjhasti fighters came in again, and surface to air missiles started firing into the Aerospace Fighters above. Connor Rood just laughed grimly at it. The losses they took in the skies above might trigger that leadership challenge even sooner, but it mattered little. He would worry about nothing but the ultimate victory of his Clan, and the fools who challenged the real wisdom of their ways could die like everyone else who had fallen here: Their enemy served like a vast and raging river, and the strong man could be confident in fording, but the slightest misstep was death. He did not plan on losing his footing, neither here nor ever, and the chance for honourable combat against one of his peers would just be a welcome respite from the endless hordes whose strength never seemed to wane.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-10-09 12:50am
I'm a little unclear - how much antiair capability have the Kaetjhasti got facing the Ice Hellions? It sounds like they're doing much better against the that Clan's aerospace fighters than against the Star Adders, and I'm wondering if that's because of overwhelming numbers or different quality levels or some third thing.
Also, this is a wonderful story and I hope to see much more of it. As much as possible, in fact.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-10-09 06:16am
Here's my take:
Quality should be pretty much comparable. But the Kaeties concentrated a LOT of AA weapons against the Ice Hellion drop zone. Remember, they deliberately gamed the terms of the battle so they'd be able to pound the Ice Hellion DropShips as they came in for a landing. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Ice Hellion landing, and the only reason they held off on that was because it had a nuclear warhead in and those are against the rules of the battle.
The Ice Hellion aerospace arm probably took a lot of casualties trying to protect the transports and get them through all that AA fire. Which now means there are fewer of them, and what the Kaeties have left can be concentrated heavily against that handful of planes.
If the enemy can shoot umpteen missiles at each of your planes, some of them are going to die, which might not die if you were only taking a few missiles each. If this were WWII with AA guns it wouldn't matter so much, but modern air defense missiles are long-ranged enough that basically everyone within a hundred miles of your position just MIGHT be able to shoot you down- an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
So the Hellions* have now fallen below a critical level of air strength at which they could hope to overawe the Kaetie defenses and deliver a big nasty punch without getting hammered for it. The Star Adders are still at that level in the air- they pay for their air support, but not at an unreasonably high price. But the Ice Hellions are now down to the level where every time they do anything in the air they risk heavy casualties.
*(who are pretty clearly in the process of losing, it's just taking a while because Connor Rood and friends don't give up easily)
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-10-09 07:52am
That was more or less my understanding as well, I just wanted to know what the balance of forces was between the Kaetjhasti armies facing the two clans. It's... well, funny isn't exactly the right word, but it'll have to do - almost funny to watch the Ice Hellions go along convinced of victory when we can see the cracks in their doctrine and strategic situation being discovered, wedged wider, and then used as munitions storage
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-10-18 12:33am
Simon's answer was more or less accurate, then. The batchalls were manipulated to allow a concentration of force against the Ice Hellions while removing operational strategic advantages from the Smoke Jaguars.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-11-17 01:18am
Blambangan District - Balinese Autonomous Province,
30 November 2039/3059.
Sometimes, of course, the world still seemed like a good place. There were flowers in Banyuwangi, and cheering crowds of people hoisting the swastika improvised into countless flags. There were smiling women throwing flowers at them and others standing beside the roads and looking shy; the men did not seem concerned. Their religion was the same, and with the city having been taken without heavy fighting, the Indonesians withdrawing to the west rather than falling back to the north to fight over it, there was a real sense of accomplishment.
They knew that the Swastika flew over the city of Denpasar and that landings had been effected on Lombok too. The whole old Balinese State was being liberated, and this westernmost Hindi state, long preserved in various stages of association and subordination to Indonesia and the Dutch by the threats and cajoling of Kaetjhasti state diplomacy rather than consigned to the dustbin of history, was now once again free. This time it was free for good—as part of Kaetjhasti, perhaps, but assuredly for good, reunited with the Hindi monarchy it had long ago birthed.
To the south of the city the tanks swung to the west while the mechanized infantry battalions quickly occupied the city and reserves were called for to press the lines ever onward to the north and other areas of Hindi population. Alas, but for the whole of the Marines forces on the island, their wish was that they could all be in happy, liberated Banyuwangi!
Hauptmann Renata Aorataki could only stand for her part of the world, far in spirit from Banyuwangi, for a tank company of Varunas descending hard on the Jalan Jemba road from the northeast, pouncing in as the second jaw of a pincer down onto the fleeing ENU truppen. They got into range around the village of Jambewangi while naval aviation reigned supreme overhead and gave them the top cover and air dominance that their sisters at home in the Army lacked.
It was something the captain was shamelessly grateful for. She flung her tanks across the farmers’ fields, muttering a prayer to be forgiven for the loss of crops. Religion was important, the Gods were real; life had given her the bounty of her own land, Ganesh had shown the state favour in keeping old Keroljhis alive to rally their independence. She was Maori and she was proud of it, but she was also Kaetjhasti and proud of it, as they all were: Rallied under the singular banner of the Rauhiranyah. Here, they had the right to reclaim the islands… And it seemed slightly wrong to make the damage worse than it needed to be.
Military necessity governed the lives of every Kaetjhasti now, and the destruction from their treads as they moved at maximum speed—and Varunas were very fast—was something she didn’t pay further heed to. They saw the enemy column ahead of them, marked by the vast pillars of black smoke and fire from all the burned out vehicles trying to escape on the single main road between the marsh and the mountains. It was a perfect caravan of death, artillery raining cluster bomblets down on the men who escaped the infernos of their trucks. It had been very welcome when they had started to receive fresh stocks of superior munitions as industry ramped up to fight more enemies than the vast hordes of ENU sepoys they had once feared; the old feeling of superiority was back with their breakout and unquestioned triumph over the defenders. Now they would make it a stronger triumph yet.
“Your Honour, we’ve lost our direct infantry support. How do we handle the enemy prisoners?”
“They’re not prisoners yet,” she answered shortly to the querying tanker—a young Chinese girl named Nu’ér--as they pressed on. “We don’t accept surrenders until the infantry is with us and we eliminate anyone who may continue to threaten them should we leave them in our wake.”
“Jawohl, Hauptmann.” A pause. The girl looked at her targeting readout in the turret nervously for a moment, pensively. “Your Honour, just between us now, and knowing that I’ll obey every order regardless, is it really legal for us to refuse surrenders?”
That brought Renata short. Of all the kinds of internal dissension their training of late had been preparing them for, and of her own training—hard won experience--in dealing with liberal girls conscripted out of the cities, for Renata was a highland woman and her family had always been simple mountain freehold farmers who voted for Bunker candidates of the National Union, she had not expected the question and its proviso. There was no dispute, no disrespectful sentiment. Just someone sincerely wondering how deeply the world had gone mad.
“We never signed the treaties,” she finally answered, forthright, “that made it a crime and tightened the rules over the old, honourable customs of Just War of Grotius and the other Westerners of centuries ago, of the age of Yasovati the Great. Some judges have said it is widely accepted enough to be part of international law… But the entire structure of international law died with the end of the Westphalian system at the rise of the ENU, and we must just accept that it is as it was in the days of old, as in Europe centuries ago, as in the Mahabharata, which is a better guide for law than any old European court, anyway. Think about it this way: We are not disarming them and killing them, they can keep fighting back if they wish to without sanction. Anyway, we are all islanders and even if they are Muslims, look at their great numbers of suicide bombers. Clearly they understand Puputan as well as we do. If they wish to simply stand in place without shooting back, why would I dishonour them by taking them prisoner?”
“Now, we don’t have anymore time for distractions, and we must simply do our duty. This army cannot be allowed to escape. Great Lakshmi have mercy on us all, and Durga bless our arms…” She flipped her radio commo to transmit.
“Shift heading due south and prepare to halt at phase line Demeter. All tanks prepare to engage.”
Lei Nu’ér fingered a Buddhist prayer bead and brought up her acquisition IR as she prepared to go into battle once again. A Korporal from Kaenura, she was as far removed from her Hauptmann’s life as any woman possibly could be within Kaetjhasti. Once upon a time, before the Bunker had severed the connections with the outside world on the rise of ENU propaganda and censorship, she had talked and chatted to people in Germany and Britain on the now-dead internet. Once upon a time, her parents—for she was one of those girls who saw herself as having two mothers rather than one--had smiled politely at the Indonesian customs guards who were the only representatives of the central government in autonomous Bali. They were all probably dead.
But there were also the sirens that had swept the city of Kaenura in the night, the old Prithvirani, yes, her!, even that old museum ship, sortieing out into the estuary as they were all huddled into the blast shelters below the subway. And the relentless combat robots tramping their way across her homeland. These things had been balanced in her mind, the Empress above all still peacefully ruling a dozen ethnicities united in sisterhood, against ten thousand peoples held together by the disappearances and the terror in the night of the VdO. She had seen battle, and she was not afraid, not hesitant, not ever again.
No, the question had just been borne out of a sense, vaguely present in her heart, that the world had seen an era unique, a flowering remnant of the old Golden Age of legend. That for a hundred years, peace had reigned and morality had been a going concern. Then, just like the memories of a childhood before the bombs fell on Russia and China, before the world spun away… Everything had slipped into nothing. A fleeting dream of a world where such things had mattered—washed away along with democracy and every other faded thing of the age of enlightenment, passing as all ages pass.
The Ultima Ratio Regina remained; she was its executor. Her mind followed the orders it processed without fully tracking them in conscious thought, until they were addressed to her, and her training recognized them as such and overrode everything else. She swung the IR trackers around; dialed home her range, and then,
“Take shot!” Nu’ér answered, and squeezed the triggers down firmly with her bore sighted to target. With a thunderous roar the pulse cannon pumped a twinshot of canister into the fleeing mass of infantry, and the battle was yet again joined. The ENU defenders would not make it to Jalan Jemba, and the pursuit was always bloodier than the battle.
In Banyuwangi the celebratory firecrackers at liberation from the VdO, from the oppressive central government that had crushed their autonomy were still ringing out in the streets; the celebrity gunfire of the Balinese Independence Army firing their rifles into the air joining with it despite the efforts of Kaetjhasti Gendarmes to get them to stop, it all drowned out the killing still going on 25 kilometres away. Nobody noticed, and the world had long before forgotten how to care. Kaetjhasti were Kaetjhasti, and Hindus were Hindus; they stood together, and the world could but burn, if the Swastika still flew! Sometimes the simplicity of war was quite seductive--and certainly in such hopeless times as these it was, for the lights of the world were going out, and this time there was nobody left to light them.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-11-19 02:29am
The bunker? Is this what everyone calls the government now? It is an amusing term.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-11-19 06:21am
They came into power on a wave of paranoia against the expanding (most of the) world government, promising a massive and expensive military buildup to defend against whatever the ENU could throw at it. ABM out the ears, mass mobilizations in case of ground invasion, giant monster navy, et cetera.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2012-11-20 12:01am
Actually the term dates way back to the 1980s when Keroljhis led the opposition to Reichskanzler Deralis' economic liberalization. Deralis (who was a friend of Reagan) called her rightwing opposition led by Keroljhis "the Búnkeristas" in English, directly referencing an event which was in the news at the time, the 23-F, which was organized in part by the Búnker
, through its mouthpiece newspaper "El Alcazar". The implication was that the real goal of the Bunker was a reprise of the March Days, when the National Integralist Movement tried to seize control of the government and bring Kaetjhasti into WW2 on the side of the Axis in early 1942 as part of a plot that actually in its failure led to Kaetjhasti entrance in favour of the allies. In response however Keroljhis and her political faction, which did in fact ally with the reformed Integralists in their first government of 1988 - 1990, started referring to themselves as "the Bunker" as a point of pride, though they never acted against the constitutional strictures of the government.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2013-01-13 12:06am
2 December 2039/3059.
It was December in Antarctica and Captain Reilly felt… Approximately as cold as anyone could ever be, in full winter service uniform (storage on submarines had improved even if accommodation was still terrible) with massive great coat and a fur ushanka that was decidedly not regulation, but the ear flaps helped enormously when also over ear muffs which the rest of her crew wore, prompting an incredulous statement from one of her officers:
“But Kapitan, we thought you were better suited for this than we!”
Alexandria just rolled her eyes. She had gotten used to the occasional innocent sort of stereotypicalism or ‘features racism’ that the Kaetjhasti showed, not prejudiced toward any one group but ascribing certain behaviours, positions, situations, and climates that they were surely better suited to. It was a representation of the still sometimes parochial strains of communalism in the great sisterhood of the Empire, and harmless enough—but sometimes irritating.
Nothing, however, was as irritating as the tense and dangerous task of bringing her charge alongside the great gray bulk of the submarine tender, her lines pinioned into a floating dock made out of a giant chunk of ice separated from the shore, but held in place with more lines and a metal bridge to the shore. The Wellenläufer, like most of the submarines named in German after fish or pelagic birds due to a tradition dating back to the Eila era when the Submarine force was a Navy within a Navy, was not exactly a nimble ship.
The well-protected big submarine tender, with her APAR silent for stealth and her missile banks hot (her IR signature against the background of Antarctica was somewhat hopeless) along with the rest of the ship, idled in contentment on her fuel-cell powered steam-electric drive. She was one of the newest non-nuclear ships in the fleet, and with a massive bulbuous icebreaking prow had been designed for this, reloading cruise missiles and SLBMs at the bottom of the world, nestled two thousand miles from the nearest hostile base in a desolate stretch of coast with no safe landing spots, just abandoned scientific stations, with the ironic image of a British submarine also surfaced nearby. Cooperation between the nations wasn’t official yet, but was already ongoing.
Alexandria, who got along better with the Brits than most of her sisters in the service, wasn’t unhappy to see them. The USV-tugs that the tender had deployed finished helping her nestle in, and the ships were rafted together with the cranes positioned to reload her cruise missile tubes. Then a gangway was swung over to the massive sail of the sub even as a gust of wind made her feel like she’d frozen solid for a moment.
“Urgh. They better have awesome steam heat on the Mayakata.” They had been diverted from heading directly here to hunt resupply vessels and trawlers around the French colony of Kerguelen, which had seemed ridiculous, but the French were trying to send a division to it apparently to stave off an invasion of the major island and some of the equipment for fortifying it had been nailed, a tanker and two small container ships nailed with torpedoes. They hadn’t sighted any fishing boats, which she would have found a waste of a torpedo anyway, and felt quite justified with the broom that was lashed to the periscope. It was well justified: The Brit across the ‘harbour’ had her jolly roger.
Their very tall captain led a shivering procession of Kaetjhasti aboard and into the almost glowing warmth of the ship. The heat was as hoped, and so, too, were the little cups of Nolet Distillery Dutch vodka—even if Alexandria shivered and blanched as she drank it. “I guess I looked like I needed anti-freeze, huh?”
“Herrin Schoutbynacht! But of course,” the Kapitanleutnant who greeted them bowed and grinned. “We understand you prefer the Mohito, but it seems so unsuited here. Anyway, tea will soothe the taste from your throat, ma’am. Welcome, please! Commander Briscowen is our guest, and is already with Admrial sri Vartutipi. You wiped out half of the Seppies’ mech production in one stroke, we’ve confirmed, and then you had your patrol extended—very unfair!—but we have the supplies to help you celebrate.”
“Thank you, then. It will be nice to meet the Commander. He has done well it seems.” She was loosening bits of clothing as fast as she could to avoid the horrible fate of sweating in them and then having to go back outside. Especially with the shot in her, now, and the rest of her officers like a row of lost ducklings following suit.
“Very well! We also got a resupply shipment in recently including supplies related to your next mission, though I don’t know what that is, of course. You’ll have to ask the Admiral, Herrin Schoutbynacht. But…. That you can do after the Commander is back to his ship.” She stopped, turning to one of the stewardesses ahead of them who opened the door to the big entertaining mess on the Tender, where the British officers in Red Sea Rig stood out against the German inspired blue-and-grays of the RKB officers around them.
Alexandria straightened to attention, but the admiral at the table just waved her hand. “Welcome, Schoutbynacht Reilly, and congratulations on the promotion. Verge of the Mess or not, no formalities! Just come in and sit with us. I know the weather is terrible by your standards for all I think it’s improved a lot lately—global warming, you know.” Sri Vartutipi had a noteworthy Antarctic operations record, and looked uniquely unbothered by the circumstances her tender was in as she continued. “We decided on the Irish and English food considering our guests—Shepherd’s pie of mutton and oyster stew all around—and baked potatoes with turkey gravy. I don’t know what to think of it myself, but that we have a chef able to put it out…”
“Well, it was an excellent gift for us, and all the better if you’ve not the taste for it yourself that you’d offer it to us,” Briscowen offered at that point, as the Admiral—sipping from a German beer and with the typical red-face of an Asian woman after even one drink—laughed lightly with him and the officers from the Wellenläufer filed in to sit around the tables.
“It’s a memory of old England we haven’t had for a while, at any rate, and she did do a very good job. Welcome, -- Ah, Captain Reilly, it is, or, should I say, Night Watchwoman, yes?”
“Just Captain,” she answered softly and smiled. “That sounds hardly related to the sea, anyway. Good to see you in the old Antarctic rig, Sirs, keeping the traditions of the Royal Navy alive. We will hope to see you home in good time.” The slight ridiculousness of how Red Sea Rig, created for the hottest Royal Navy station, ended up the tradition in the Antarctic, was another matter entirely, though.
“That would be nice. Hell, getting back to Fremantle would be nice. But the Fire Mandrills coming down on Australia, even that’s out now. We were operating against South African shipping to prevent a flanking operation against the Falklands the past three months,” he elaborated. “Last strongpoint we’ve got left in the Atlantic, if you don’t count the Newfies. Anyway, since they put the food on for you, we’re thankful one and all—that and for, we could roughly say, doubling our chances of getting home. A round for the Bomber of Pune, lads, a round all around!”
Alexandria blushed sharply as the ‘lads’, women included, raised their glasses and a beer was pushed over, the hot, piping, and very filling food presented to her by one of the Mess Stewardesses, spluttering at the epithet. “The Bomber of Pune? Oh Goddess? Is that what they’re calling me, or did someone at home get too caught up in the propaganda?”
“I don’t know quite how it started, but it seems to have caught on,” Briscowen answered with a chuckle. “Certainly I imagine they celebrated a lot in Fremantle, though more in the States. Nobody knows your name, of course; just that there is a Kaetjhasti sub skipper called the Bomber of Pune.”
“We didn’t want to make your family targets,” Admiral sri Vartutipi smiled broadly, settling in to the table as tea was brought around to wear off the effects of the alcohol from the toasts and the beer to go with the pie.
“…I, thank you. That is a very stressful issue for all of us, I imagine,” she replied, and looked delicately to the British crew. “Your boys especially, Commander.”
“Thank you, and that’s quite right,” he muttered, “fortunately for most of us we’re either from Singapore or Australia or the Andamans or Newfies or some other spot they haven’t occupied yet, but we’ve got families in Cyprus and Malta and of course most of us are from the UK. The Maidstone escaped Portsmouth and got into Bermuda having survived an SSM attack with a fair number of families aboard. Nine crew and six refugees were killed. But our darling Turbulent fights on for their memory, and that’s what counts. We won’t stop, pretty much, until the enemy is crushed and we hang MacPherson.”
“Tory or traitor!” one of the Leftenants called out, then, and glasses were raised. “Here, here!” It obliged a second toast for the evening with all rising, of “God save the Flag and God Save the King!”
Alexandria pursed her lips, and raised her glass in the next toast. “For the Maharani and the Red Swastika! Let England and Kaetjhasti now always stand as allies in War, just as it was in times before!”
“Times before!” The circle continued, the camaraderie sweeping away the fears from both sides, the shared risks to families that seemed so much more pressing than the risks to themselves in every circumstance.
“So, what else did you manage while you were out there, Your Honour?” A Leftenant smiled across the table daringly, one of the women officers on the improved-Astute, of Singaporean ethnicity. “We’ve got eight ships for six hundred thousand tons so far in this patrol. Nailed a couple of big container ships off Cape Town to run up the score.”
“We got a big container ship ourselves for about a hundred thousand tonnes off India and a Frog nuke boat,” Alexandria answered after a minute. “Then three merchants heading for Kerguelen.”
Briscowen looked surprised. “Well, Hells, ma’am, but in your big cruiser, you come back from writing that tale?”
“That’s why we’ve Tromp’s broom,” she answered, bemused and proud. “No hesitation, we made our shots count in the battle and we managed to use counter-torpedoes to defend ourselves.”
“Well, one less attacker hunting for us, then. Bloody good show, I dare say. Not many who could pull that one off. Would be like one of our D’s nailing a Frog. Or I suppose one of the Russkie or old Dago boats. The Indians haven’t come out much, I imagine because they mostly rely on you for spare parts, eh? ”
“I’d hope that would keep them firmly in port,” Alexandria replied. “I imagine otherwise we’d have a much busier time ofit in the Indian Ocean, hmm?”
“Oh, for sure.” A pause. “If I may, you seem very British, and I do mean that as a compliment. How long has your family been in Kaetjhasti?”
“…I’m a first generation immigrant, actually, but from America, not the Isles. I just always had an affectation for the culture. People back home said I spoke with an Ontario accent. But Cleveland born and raised.”
“Well, isn’t that so then. A round for Kaenura and a round for Cleveland, hey? I imagine the Americans wouldn’t know quite what to think of that, but I think it’s all good as long as we’re all hitting them hard, Lady Schoutbynacht!”
Alexandria laughed, and tried to avoid drinking too much. Ugh, hangover territory. For being the largest person on any boat she had usually been assigned to, she was usually the notorious lightweight of the pack. English apple pie and goat’s milk—a concession to the Kaetjhasti stomach—finished the meal to much praise, and ultimately the better part of the meeting, with fond wishes and invocations of luck and chance to be in their favour being roundly spread ‘round to both crews.
Finally, they were alone, and the Admiral rose, smiling. “Now, something between us. For your service to the Empire…”
Alexandria blushed, knowing something of what was coming now… “…I don’t deserve it if it’s for heroism, Your Honour.”
“Perhaps, but it isn’t.” A motherly smile. “The House Order of the Sri Prakriti e Kaniput in the Second Class for conspicious services to the Empire of Kaetjhasti in effecting the destruction of major enemy industrial and logistic assets in time of War.”
A Camerawoman had been strategically positioned and Schoutbynacht Reilly could only bow her head as the Admiral decorated her provisionally. The full medal would be given by the Empress on returning home, as was the custom, but the coat medal would be pinned at sea.
“And then there is the matter. Not for heroism, but the Naval Medal for Battle Merit, for the superlative handling of the Unterseekreuzerboot Wellenläufer such that she met in action a submarine designed for the hunting and destruction of her class, and overcame and sank said in undersea action at accordingly great odds.”
After the little awards ceremony drifted away, she turned. “Come on now. You couldn’t meet her before as we’re not letting the Brits know they’re aboard, but there’s some Marine Schützen aboard that you need to meet the commander of now in regard to your new orders.”
“What does a submariner have to do with Marine Schützen?” The U-boot skipper blushed and ducked, though the later was to avoid a hatch combing.
“A lot, it turns out.” The Admiral led her back to where there was a woman who did not meet the stereotype at all, even if she was lithe and tall by Chinese ethnicity standards--but that was Kaetjhasti features typicalism creeping in to her own thoughts. “Major Sui Lu, Schoutbynacht Alexandria Reilly.”
“Herrin Schoutbynacht!” She came to attention and saluted crisply. “A great pleasure to meet you. I’m going to be leading the Marines detachment aboard your ship.”
“Boat,” Alexandria corrected and stared at her Admiral with wide eyes. “Where are they going to fit and what are we going to do?”
“Well, there’s hotbunking, and for the rest, let’s just say… You are about to make us into one of the most important Mech producing nations in both universes.”
Alexandria stared as the Admiral strode to the front of the little room and started writing on a whiteboard: The RKB retained a snooty hatred of Powerpoint. The projector only showed the occasional picture as she went on.
“Essentially, we have enough intelligence agents and sympathizers in India that we were able to arrange for one of our friends in Cochin to successfully bid on the project for dismantling the destroyed remains of the ENU Mech factory in Pune. Since it is the most environmentally efficient method of transport, and the Indian government is notoriously corrupt, all of these remains—including the fully intact machine tools—are presently in final loading aboard a freighter intended to sail coastwise from Mumbai to Cochin for final recycling, where in theory any salvagable equipment will be recovered.
“We are going to use you to put a team aboard the freighter after the company representatives there—actually our intelligence agents—deal with her radios and bridge crew. With the Galileo constellation now completely destroyed and no ENU reconaissance satellites sweeping the Indian Ocean anymore, she will disappear at sea, locatable only by observation from aircraft or ship. You will get the Marines aboard and an operating crew and then sail south escorting the freighter with several attack boats joining in. A major fleet sortie against Kerguelen and a separate one against Sumatra will provide futher cover and finally a cruiser-destroyer force will take over escorting the freighter from you, deep into southern waters and then to Kali’s Island where we can establish the factory on land not subject to either batchall, giving us a building factory invulnerable to attack by the Clan laws and from which we would have some hope of regaining our homeland even in the worst case with the Army’s fighting, or proof from a loss in either continent.”
Alexandria took a deep breath. “And make ourselves indispensible as an independent state to the Inner Sphere powers by being able to construct Clan-quality Mechs on a very large scale using captured technicians to get the factory back up and running and repair any damage.”
“Exactly. You will leave in four days to make sure the timing is right, and here is the full briefing packet. The mission is exquisitely risky, but the payoff is beyond calculation. Our nation’s future truly depends upon it.”
Well, that’s a load of pressure I never thought I’d expect.
“The Reichskanzler personally requested you.”
Alexandria groaned. “She’d do that, wouldn’t she…”
She only got a diffidently bemused shrug in reply. “Women trust the girls they’ve mentored.”
It could still get a blush out of Alexandria.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2013-01-14 03:07pm
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.”
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2013-01-15 10:04pm
Standing off Katale,
In the Arabian Sea
14 December 2039/3059.
There had been a twelve day voyage north in unbelievably cramped conditions. Packing an entire platoon of Marines onboard of a submarine, even a 30,000-tonne SSGN, was terrifying in the extreme at its worst for what it did to morale and crew comfort. It was certainly uncomfortable as one could believe for something they were doing as free women. They were triple hotbunking the whole way, and Schoutbynacht Reilly found herself sharing even her captain’s cabin with Major Sui Lu. All in all, the Wellenläufer felt sort of like the black hole of Calcutta at that point. It had brought the boat to 130% capacity, and the time passed by like they were all sharing something about as charming together as a gulag.
Girls found ways to bond with each other despite it all, but Alexandria was much too old for that sort of thing in this sort of atmosphere, with the tension of a special mission for the Reichskanzler on which the fate of the Empire might well hang weighing her shoulders down. The absurdities of Kaetjhasti society she had to tolerate from time to time aside, the Empire was her life and love, one she could never dream of abandoning, and the weight of the mission and its future waxed great within her indeed.
About fifty nautical miles west southwest of Katale there was a seamount. Here, where the freighter they were waiting for had stood ‘well out’, making her starboard tack, working alone to the south and Cochin harbour, they waited in deep water. They were at low periscope depth, close enough to the surface to risk being rammed, and that was yet another important worry, as the torpedo tubes were loaded now with swimmers and their electric human torpedoes, not with weapons.
They were in a submarine. And Durga save them, they were going to conduct a boarding action. “The only redeeming feature of this entire plan is that we have inside agents on the ship,” Alexandria muttered for about the thirtieth time during the whole course of the operation. “She should have gotten here already, though.”
“Yes, Herrin Kapitan.” Leutnant Amara Maacha was humouring her at this point. “A Rotorjammer with a feathered screw, though, isn’t going to leave us much to go on until she’s very close.”
“Yeah, I know.” The ship had to be a Rotorjammer, of course, using a mix of two five-sail masts, four two-sail mast/cranes, and four short small Flettner rotors of the handy and low-visual-impact type prototyped by Scandlines some decades ago, with a bowsprit and four more sails rigged to it in this case—the other, more cumbersome but effective option was a drag kite—of a rig configuration pioneered in Kaetjhasti for minimum emissions. She was powered—otherwise the escape would be impossible—but to justify the course so far out to sea was certainly tacking under sails and rotors only with her screw feathered.
That made it very hard to actually succeed in the rendezvous. It would in fact require the timing and navigational skills of the bulker’s Captain to be excellent, though at least both of them were able to get a fix on the LORAN signal that the Indians had started broadcasting again after Magellan was shot down by ASAT. Otherwise Alexandria wasn’t sure her ability to shoot the sun through a periscope would have been sufficient.
The sub skipper sighed again. “I’ll be in my cabin for tea, Amara. You have the conn.” She stepped aside from the Ethiopian Leutnant and back into her tiny sea cabin, more of an office, right off of CIC. There, Major Sui Lu was waiting, quietly reading one of Alexandria’s novels. The Schoutbynacht had said that her guest could read any of her tiny library, though that one in particular still brought a bit of a flush to her cheeks to be sharing with someone else. She’d ordered her guest to be informal, too, so that she wasn’t constantly being saluted in her own cabin.
“Ah, Major. Our expected contact, the, ah Chamagupta Explorer, yes, appears to be late to the area. We’re looking for her with all passive equipment, but for the moment there’s not much I can do for your girls who already boarded the tubes. We haven’t flooded them yet, at least.”
“That is the important thing, or we’d be on a countdown to find her.” Sui Lu answered softly. “I imagine you feel as hapless as I do, then.”
“That’s to put it mildly.” She started brewing her tea, making it strong with more than a hint of coca, and soon enough, they were both sharing the pot as a matter of course. “I’m glad you brought as many anti-aircraft missiles as you did, at least. I know they’re nearly useless in this kind of situation… But I worry, and I want you to get home. I still can’t believe Kerjhi signed off on this mission…” Then she blushed harder at her little slip.
Sui Lu tossed her a very bemused look. “She was your Mentress, wasn’t she, Your Honour?”
“She’s always very, uhm, internationalist—not in the way the word’s being used these days, of course!—and took an interest in immigrant girls in those days, Major. It is… As alien as this sounds, it is a bit private, though.”
“I quite understand, Your Honour.” The tall Chinese woman took another sip from her Navy Tea. “Well, I expect we’ll manage it, if you can keep them off of us. We’re putting a portable military-grade radar detector on her, after all, so that we can datalink with enough warning time for you to launch fire and forgets from your tubes. That should cover a long range naval aviation strike by bombers.”
“Possibly. They pack a pretty heavy punch.” And I don’t like the idea of staying on the surface through that, which makes our communication much more complex. Nevermind the limited value of a radar detector… “I’m more gambling on the idea that the Indians don’t want to fight us just as much as we don’t want to fight them, and it will be like the last time I was in these waters at the very start of the war, with a perfunctory series of searches and depth-chargings quite far from us while we slip away. That would be ideal, anyway. Goddesses above, but what I wouldn’t do that there were no Indian men! That they were ruled by a Rauhiranyah as we are, that they had the freedom to be themselves and stand for themselves. That would be a sight worth dying for, Major, dying a thousand deaths. There’s almost a billion women in India and they’re all straining to be free.”
Sui Lu had the grace to be slightly embarrassed at the blatant expression of Hard-Búnker reactionary Integralism from the Schoutbynacht and duck her head into a proper gulp of her tea, that time. “Well, we’ll have our chance to free the ladies of Chamagupta Materials on that ship, though I daresay they’ll have done their own liberating if all goes well.”
“That’s what I hope, too.” Alexandria finished her tea and rubbed her hands together. “Well, back to the…”
And then her XO Marti brushed into the room without asking permission, which served to indicate a serious development in its own right. “Herrin Kapitan, we’ve got noises in the water. Vibrational and hull frictional. Consistent with a Rotorjammer under sails and rotors and her variable-pitch screw feathered. We’re trying to pin her down visually.”
“That’s my cue then. Stand ready, Major.” Alexandria rose and tossed a salute before following her second back into CIC. She took the periscope promptly and started to search. And search. The ship didn’t seem to be in the right quadrant at all and in fact was, based on the sound bearing, about due east—in the right quadrant where she was searching. Blast…
Finally, finally, Alexandria saw the glint of white from the light on her sails… About fifteen nautical miles east-southeast. Already got past us by accident! “I hope they found some way to disable their communications that wasn’t obvious...” She muttered softly. “We’re going to have to turn southeast and make eighteen—no, make it twenty knots to get back in position. This could take an hour, too, so we need to get all the girls out of the tubes and rested with some tea. They’ll be useless if they stay in them.”
“I’ll let Major Sui know, Herrin Kapitan,” Marti answered with a cheery tossed salute, and turned back to Alexandria’s cabin whilst the Schoutbynacht read off the bearing and heading of the Rotorjammer and the Wellenläufer’s twin screws started to bite water. Tension in CIC steadily ratcheted up at the delays, the nearness to shore, and the maneouvring required, but none of it could yet be helped if they were to complete their mission.
And they waited. That, after all, was all that they could do, until the dictates of geometry provided for them to be spitting-distance close. Then it was time to start loading the torpedo tubes again, with their living payloads.
“Bring us about—magnetic heading,” Alexandria grunted to herself at the maths, and they came out surprisingly well, but it was still a devil when working out two converging headings. “Due south now, and reduce speed to twelve knots.”
“Twelve knots, Herrin Kapitan, Aye!” Amara directed the helm over, and the Wellenläufer slowed and settled into position.
“Tubes are reloaded and sealed, Herrin Kapitan,” Marti stepped back into CIC from where she’d been supervising the reloading with the first wave commandoes.
“Stand by to flood the tubes, but don’t activate the pumps until my signal.” Alexandria replied tensely. She didn’t want those girls in the water until they were ready to swim out, but they had to be onto the merchant ship as absolutely fast as they could.
Marti took torpedo control herself. “Tubes standing ready.”
Amara glanced back. “Now we wait, Herrin Kapitan?”
“Now we wait. I know what the signal is… Just have to hope she can spot the periscope like she’s supposed to.” There was a backup plan, though it would make the Wellenläufer more visible. And it would be incredibly, incredibly risky if it involved the radios still being active over on the Chamagupta Explorer.
And then there was the signal. The sails of the Rotorjammer were luffed in and she abruptly lost headway as her carbon-fibre sail rig and her Flettner Rotors produced force in opposing directions and she quickly saw herself lose all forward thrust, mere momentum carrying the Rotorjammer forward still.
“Cut engines and flood the tubes. All stop!”
“All stop, aye!” The commands were triggered and at once the Wellenläufer’s big screws ceased to turn while a tap with a hammer was given to each of the torpedo tubes in warning to the girls inside that they were about to be flooded. And then they were…
“Open the ‘caps!”
Marti triggered the last control, and with a burst of compressed air, the women riding their electric human torpedoes were shoved out and clear of the Wellenläufer and immediately activated their drives, swinging around to the hull of the Chamagupta Explorer. They drove the noses of their human torpedoes into the hull of the bulk Rotorjammer, and magnets locked them firmly in. Grappling guns were brought up from the cargo compartments of their human torpedoes, and the marine boarding party fired magnetic grapples up the hull and immediately started to climb.
“Raise the gun mast!”
“Gun mast up, aye!”
Alexandria watched through the periscope at the most dangerous parts of the ship: The steam nozzles for defence against pirates, with the steam generated inside the fuel cell heat recycling boilers. They could easily kill the boarding party and there was no way to disable them except from on the ship.
But as part of the crew dashed forward and the sound of gunshots rang out, it was clear that the defectors had disabled them quite ably. Which left the loyalist crew with only one effective option left for fighting back. “Marti, take down that team going for the hoses!”
“On it, Herrin Kapitan!” She activated manual mode on the cannon and swung it around, auto-tracking disabled to avoid shooting the wrong people, and using the integral camera to focus in on the knot of Indian sailors bringing up a very high pressure trainable firehose. She dialed in right on them, and hit the firing toggle.
The 30mm three-chamber rotary automatic recoilless rifle spun up and put three rounds a second of explosive ammunition into the firehose position. Flame and shrapnel tore across the deck of the Rotorjammer. Advancing under cover, the lead team swept toward the bridge of the ship to secure it. When the cannon checked firing a half a minute later as Marti exhausted her list of targets, there was no visible opposition from the merchant mariners on the deck. The team rushed up to the bridge, and a minute later, lit a flare as the signal that there had not been a radio broadcast, at least per the report of their defectors.
And that was all they had to go on. They would have to be trusted.
“Surface the boat! Vent all ballast and bring us up! Stand by for action surface. Power up the radar and IR detectors and activate the defensive anti-air batteries.”
“All surface, aye!”
“Surface air defence suite, standing by, Herrin Kapitan.”
Then Alexandria turned toward her own cabin. “Major Sui, prepare your boarding party!”
“Of course, Your Honour!” She was up with combat webbing already on, and went jogging ahead toward the main egress trunk on the submarine’s sail to lead her teams up. They would go up before the surface bridge party. And that, Alexandria herself would have, by custom.
They followed the marines as they went hard-charging straight up to the airlock even as the submarine was still surfacing, opening it as soon as the switch flipped with an electrical crackle and a snap. “Lock snapped, go, go, go!” Major Sui ordered as blue light and jungle scents flooded into the Wellenläufer and the marines rushed up to get the RHIB ready to go and ferrying them across to the Rotorjammer. Now they were committed.
Amita Karanavar was the skipper of the Chamagupta Explorer, and only considering that the company was woman-owned was it possible for her to have achieved her position in the Indian Merchant Marine. One that she was about to lose. But she was a Tranvancore woman, from the proud lineage of Keralan matriarchy that had always been closest to the Kaetjhasti, and the cause was a very good one. Anyway, the woman who had always paid her bills was with her.
And if it had made Amita sick to shoot some people she had worked with for a long time, her boss Raakhi Hynala and her younger sister had done it for her, with the usual illegal pistols easily obtained by successful people in India. The sharp, flat crack of a Makarov and the first of them had toppled in the minute after the luffing of the sails. The radio shack smoking with overloaded electronics; and they were sailing under radio silence to avoid attack, besides. Nobody was listening.
Amita took the wheel herself with her Second Mate at her side as bodies sprawled across the deck, and the black skinsuited commandos of the Imperial Kaetjhasti Marines swung over the rail, waterproofed shotguns booming and thundering and grenade launchers clearing the deck. Part of her crew elected to fight… And then she ducked her head from the flash of explosions as a cannon swept the deck. Their damned mast-mounted recoilless guns!
It was over a heartbeat later. The Kaetjhasti were bring more troops over after the submarine rose, a massive ship in her own right, even if tradition called her a boat; thirty thousand tons of pride in the Rauhiranyah, shaking off the sea gladly. There was still resistance in engineering, but they didn’t have the tools to wreck the engine and the initial wave of commandos simply physically checked to make sure women were on the bridge before rushing onwards. Raakhi gave a thumbs up; that was that. They lit the flare, the sub started to surface, and they were heading across the lines of scrap-filled bulk compartments to deal with engineering.
Within five minutes the first RHIB load of reinforcements was sent over, but it wasn’t necessary; all resistance had already ceased. The intensity of the assault left Amita in shock, for all she had spent the past month, virtually, steeling herself for the moment. Combat she had not experienced before, and looking at the bodies torn and shredded across the deck by grenade and cannon fire—that was quite enough.
Only the adrenaline kept her stable. But the Marine boarding team was quite different from that, as she leaned, an arm around her even more seriously affected and young Second Officer. The Kaetjhasti were calm, and a Sinic woman of height and cool authority presented herself on the bridge as the clatter of the moment faded away.
“Miss Hynala, Captain Karanavar, I presume? I am Major Sui Lu, of the Imperial Marines. I know you’re not used to this, but we can’t afford to wait. My girls are competent as basic seawomen. Our course for the moment is Due West. Can you set it and bring us to best possible speed? This our lives now depend on, may Ganesh favour us all.”
Amita snapped upright and nodded, almost involuntarily. “Of course, Major. Due west. We can do that!” She turned to one of the consoles, trembling, missing the commands a few times, but finally resetting the sails and the Flettner rotors to take advantage of the south wind while the fuel cells went to full power and the boilers heated to provide sufficient electricity for their electric motors. As she did, Major Sui raced to the starboard bridge wing to signal the Wellenläufer and avoid the ignominy of a collision. The submarine managed to maneouvre in time with them, and the Kaetjhasti marines finished locking up the crew uninvolved in the plot for sorting later.
As the situation calmed and the terror and shock seemed to fade a bit, Amita looked back sternward from the bridge at the still visible traces of the battle on the deck—thank Saraswati that they’d at least removed the bodies, and she didn’t ask to where!—and shivered at what had happened to her proud ship. Now the battle for survival seemed to have just begun, not to have ended in this brutally short engagement, and minute blurred away into minute as they pushed the Chamagupta Explorer toward eighteen knots by motor and wind combined.
And beside them, Schoutbynacht Alexandria Reilly felt that her poor Wellenläufer was very, very inadequate in the task of an anti-aircraft escort, leaving her unable to resist--despite all the sensors they had trained skyward--the temptation to bring her binoculars to the task, too, standing with a small knot of officers on the open battle and docking bridge above the enclosed surface conning bridge. It was an anachronism for a modern submarine to be on the surface this long, and she felt the danger of it like an ache in every bone. But there was nothing to be done, if they were going to steal the greatest prize this war could offer. And she wasn’t about to let Kerjhi down.
Re: nMWSE: Panzerkampf.
Posted: 2013-01-24 01:55am
Near 65 East 13 North.
15 December 2039/3059.
Now they were finally heading south. Halfway between Arabia and Somalia and India, in the deeps of the central Arabian sea, cutting south where their course would hold them between the ENU garrisoned Seychelles and the British Maldives Protectorate, which was presently in the middle of being invaded by the Indian Army. It was possible the ENU had already gotten an airfield operational to the north of Malé, though there were two British fighter squadrons operating out of RAF Gan on Addu Atoll which were backed by the American squadrons still at Diego Garcia, so the Maldives seemed to offer more shelter than threat. Alexandria would still cut the middle course while further north, though. In this she had made up her mind long ago.
The last reports had said that there was a battalion of the Gurkha brigade still holding around Malé in the central part of the Protectorate, as well as a company of the Sultan’s personal guard. Together they were holding off the Indian invasion for the moment. Alexandria was well aware that the mission was important enough that the tacit truce with India would be breached by Kaetjhasti Air Force units from occupied Sri Lanka if the Indian forces in the Maldives had to be suppressed to enable their success.
Running due south, then, they were now making 18 - 19kts thanks to the favourable winds with the Rotorjammer’s propulsion systems distinctly helpful here. It was very nearly the maximum surfaced speed of the Wellenläufer herself, about 20kts. The unseasonably late wind from the south had finally broken and been replaced by the firm Northeast Monsoon, which was coming later these days but still very respectable. They would still, though, have to sail south for another day before angling toward the cover afforded by Diego Garcia. And Alexandria was uncertain as to how much assistance they’d actually be getting from the rest of the navy. The raid on Kerguelen had been a success, that much had come through, but whether or not naval forces would be pushing further north into the Indian Ocean was an open question. She liked to think so, considering the importance of the mission, but the RKB was not directly under the control of the Reichskanzler and the Admiralty might not fully share Kerjhi’s opinion of the mission.
One of the stewardesses from the mess came up to the open battle bridge with a massive pot of coca tea and refilled the glasses of the officers on watch. The Northeast Monsoon was blowing down off the Himalayas, across India and into the Arabian Sea, and not merely increasing their speed but cooling the air. It was the ‘retreating monsoon’, the cool air coming down from India, which among other things these days carried with it slightly elevated radiation levels for their detectors on the bridge. A brutally subtle reminder of the Sino-Russian nuclear war. Unfortunately, unlike the Southwest Monsoon which brought the rain…
All it really did was make them pull their greatcoats tighter, and drink their tea hotter. There were rain squalls, and they were thankful every time they occurred, but not as many as the endless clouds that the southwest monsoon would have offered. They still ducked into them every time they got the chance, letting the freighter lead and staying close in escort with every anti-air capable weapon they had operational. That they had somehow spent twenty hours on the surface in this exposed position without being sunk was already, in some respects, surprising.
Alexandria looked skyward again. For the moment, they had the cloud cover with them, and the lack of very effective navigational aids was reassuring. She wondered how much of their ability to execute this mission was simply due to how dependent everyone had been on satellite navigation: Maybe the enemy maritime patrol aircraft are just getting lost this far out to sea… The RKB had been ruthlessly retrograde, and she still remembered her first harrowing cruise as a Cadet, navigating the training ship all by herself, from deep ocean to a point off a rock-bound lighthouse, with dead reckoning, sextant and chronometer. Other than the poor quality emergency LORAN they were picking up from the Indian coast, it was all she had now. And she trusted the sextant more than the enemy’s radio direction finding, that was sure!
Amara stood at her side, gulping the tea a bit greedily. “This is actually as close as I have ever been able to get to my motherline’s homeland, Herrin Kapitan,” she spoke up abruptly. “They didn’t want to take me when I was too young to appreciate it, my mother and her sisters, and then… Well, then the ENU started to destroy our allies and put us in an impossible position to resist effectually. I hear the Emperor still fights with his loyalists in the hills northwest of Addis Adaba, though. So there is hope?”
“All of East Africa is still a brutal military campaign, Leutnant. There is still hope in that. Regular field armies standing against the ENU have as of yet not even been suppressed. The British are still holding Zanzibar, though it is blockaded. But the great sea of the Iron Legion conscripts in Tanganyika fighting from the countryside has been holding down twelve divisions of ENU troops for the past three years. They can’t free the cities, but neither can our enemies ever hope to hold the countryside against that. It’s the same in Ethiopia, even if some are disloyal to the Lion of Judah, his armies in the mountains can still take the field as armies, not simple bands of partisans. It’s a terrible war, though. I hear it’s like the Thirty Years War in old Europe… No discipline in the African armies of the Seppes. They just kill. We will have so much rebuilding to do when this war is over. They’ll need you, then, if you want to go to help.”
“I might, Herrin Kapitan. I might. It would be nice to survive to make the choice. It feels so naked, being on the surface, doesn’t it?”
“Damn right it does. Funny for me to say, too—I always liked surface ships more growing up, but…” A diffident shrug. “Circumstances intervened, and here I am, wishing I was a few hundred meters below the surface.”
“The crew’s saying that if we make it home, we could change the course of the war, though.”
“Unfortunately, the If is the biggest part of that statement, Leutnant. Keep your eyes sharp. We’ve got one chance to do this right.”
Malé Capitol District,
British Maldives Protectorate
16 December 2039/3059.
The capitol island of Malé was one kilometre by one-eighth of a kilometre. Captain Jonathan Beauchamp’s 3 Company, 3/ 4 Battalion Gurkha Brigade, was a force designed to normally hold quite a lot more ground than 80% of a square kilometre. But that little chunk of land had turned, for the past four months, into the bloodiest battle imaginable. There was not a single intact building in the city now, he imagined with some accuracy.
His men—and, these days, women—were ruthless, brutal, brave. They knew that the good Queen Shruti of Nepal was waging her guerrilla war in the high Himalayas on the same side they were. They knew, too, that the United States and Kaetjhasti and the Republic of China now all stood at their backs. The forlorn hope of fighting for the loyalist remnants of an occupied United Kingdom was anything but. The British Empire still stood; they still flew the Union Jack from St. John to the Falklands, from Zanzibar to Singapore, from Perth to the Andamans.
And south of them was Addu Atoll and RAF Gan. They were defending it in the best way possible: A Forward defence, linking up with the Sultan’s Company of the Maldives and taking the battle straight into Malé while the Sultan himself fled to the security of Gan. They were the forward line of defence for Diego Garcia, too, and they had been doing a good job. Here, they had made their stand, and a full strength brigade of Indian Army troops had not yet succeeded in dislodging them.
Hungry, poorly armed, and exhausted under the rain of the northeast Monsoon--trending south in December to sweep them again in endless torrents--they had fought on until this moment with complaint. And then this moment saw everything change: The Kaetjhasti, slow to act against their friends in India, had managed a Phony War with them, an unofficial truce after the initial blitzkrieg that saw them occupy all of Sri Lanka from their puppet state of Tamil Eelam and smash the Mech factory in Pune. That Phony War had just ended… And ended spectacularly.
One moment ago, the troops of the 3/ 4 Gurkhas had been under almost constant bombardment from Indian jets which could take off from Hanimaadhoo Airfield in the occupied northern Maldives and be over their positions within minutes. The only reason the island was still tenable at all was that the single-runway airfield was too small for all but the smallest light strike birds, and then only a squadron. Intermittent bombing runs by medium bombers had generally respected the SAM batteries they still had operational and which were less than adequate against light strike birds at very low altitude; the capitol airfield the next island over was non-functional, being in the range of the battery of 155’s they had smuggled up on small ferries and emplaced in the ruins of the Majeedhiyya Bus Station.
The next moment after that, though, they’d watched a series of small contrails rip through the sky above, and a flight of Indian fighters go into the drink. Then a swarm of HARM missiles had come in, as the Indian SAMs raced up to meet them, but the missiels came crashing down in a series of explosions that echoed through the entire island as they went after the limited number of anti-air batteries the Indians had been able to bring with them—Malé was a strictly light infantry affair. Minutes later, a big brace of swing-wing Kaety attack jets had gone in brutally low over the island, supersonic. Loud enough to make ears bleed, but all the glass in Malé was long before shattered. The district between the palace and the commercial port had erupted into flames as the Kaety jets laid napalm across the Indian positions, packed into a fifth a square kilometre around the vital harbour which had guaranteed that sooner or later they’d break out and finish off the defenders. The endless mortar fire from their attackers at once slackened.
Then a second group of jets came across the island, and this one bombed, too. But the amount of napalm they dropped was much smaller. Instead they could watch, watch so clearly at this close distance, as black cylinders tumbled down, stayed by parachutes, into the commercial harbour. Anti-shipping mines. There was a ragged cheer from ahead on the lines, and the Kaetjhasti came back again, first one squadron, then the other. They swept across the Indian positions red swastikas emblazoned across light blue roundels, 30mm cannon and unguided rockets ripping down into the brigade.
MANPADs went skyward in return, and the regular infantry battle quieted away as the duel between defender and attacked began in the sky. But that was, with their opponents really hurting and flames roaring up sharp even as the monsoon threatened to douse them with another trencher of rain, no real way to deal with the situation.
“Captain.” One of the Gurkha sergeants gestured forward. “Captain! Let’s attack. If we retake the Stock Exchange, we can silence their mortars in this entire sector, Sir!”
There were a hundred and nine men left in his company. Captain Beauchamp was one of—counting the artillerists—barely more than twenty sons of British soil left on the island. They were closer to the Gurkhas than their own countrymen now, and there was something of a carefree and brutal tone to that suggestion which pushed Captain Beauchamp to think ever further afield.
“I think we can do more than that, Sergeant! They aren’t getting any supplies in now—and they know it! What more demoralized group of men could you think of? Send word forward to the platoons. Prepare to attack! Fix Bayonets.”
“Prepare to attack! Suh! Fix Bayonets! Suh! Ayo Gorkhali!” The shout went up as the word was passed forward: “Ayo Gorkhali!”
Captain Beauchamp picked up his field phone. “3 Company Command for Headquarters.”
“Headquarters, stand by. Sending for Colonel Thompson, Sir.” A pause, and the familiar voice of Colonel Jack Thompson sounded back through the wire. “Captain, report.”
“The mortars around the Stock Exchange have been silenced by the Kaetjhasti air raid and my men want like nothing else to go in, Sir. I gave orders to fix bayonets and prepare to attack and unless you order me to countermand them, we’re going for it. I think we can take their mortars on the northeast flank before they can get them back into action. The Gurkhas are really gung-ho lads about an attack now, Sir, and I think if we take the Stock Exchange we’ll clear this sector for a general attack on the port that might just break free…” And put an end to the battle, he added to himself. It didn’t need to be spoken. They both knew that if they could just gain the large, open spaces of the commercial port they’d have functionally cut off and surrounded the numerically superiour Indians, and the Indians were not motivated enough to keep fighting in those circumstances.
“Give me ten minutes to get a platoon of the Palace Guards moving as your reserve, and dial the artillery in. We’ll give you six shells from each gun in support. Use all of the mortar ammunition you feel necessary to support the attack.”
“Understood, Sir. Ten minutes. I’ll get my mortars laid in.”
“Allright. Headquarters out.”
That left Jonathan to turn his unadultered attention on the mortar section before going forward with his men. A Captain in the British Army still led from the front. Heavy with body armour and grey dusted pixelated camo, he pushed ahead through the ruins of finery in the Sultan’s palace. The mortars started to lay down a steady barrage on the equally wrecked Stock Exchange across the street and up a block from their current position.
Ahead, the Gurkhas were affixing their bayonets to their rifles and loading under-barrel grenade launchers, counting their magazines for remaining ammunition and making sure their Kukris were ready, quick for the draw.
The clock ticked down, and as promised, the terrible whistle of shells overhead shook the very bones of the island to the core. Rubble cascaded down on their position as the shock pushed them back into walls, much, much too close to their own positions on the tiny island with the howitzers firing at reduced charge to be able to reach targets that close over the rubble of high-rises. In the space of two minutes, twenty-four rounds slapped down into and around the Maldives Stock Exchange.
Their mortars beat a quick suppressive drumbeat of fire and several machine-guns opened up to sweep the rubble-strewn promenade separating them from their objective. “Gurkhas—charge!”
“Ayo Gorkhali!!!” The Gurkhas are Coming. It was a self-explanatory battle cry and it was not lost in the moment, and they leapt up and in disciplined, swift rushes, covered by their comrades, a hundred men swept out and across the open streets under hurdled and shot grenades. A clatter of exploding frag grenades led the way, and men fell.But a hundred souls carried the charge, and Captain Beauchamp led his Gurkhas into the cover of the shattered walls of the Stock Exchange, bayonets soaked with blood to finish off wounded Indian defenders as the two sides met blade to blade and the Gurkhas swept on to seize positions in the critical building.
There, with their guns fired in disciplined single shots to conserve ammunition, the Gurkhas took to Kukri, bayonet and grenade at point-blank, all of it close quarters battle. The rush of the charge slammed into the Indian stronghold, and with flames behind them, shocked and shellshocked men were confronted with the ruthless fighting spirit of their foes. As surely as the sun rose at dawn, two Gurkhas stabbed a shattered length of metal awning pole into the rubble, and the Union Jack flew over the Stock Exchange.
500 nautical miles ESE
Four screws biting the water, the 40,000 ton anti-ballistic missile cruiser, built as a replacement for the Lahnajha-class, cut crisply north at 32kts under nuclear power toward Diego Garcia. She was leading Taskforce 43, two full carrier battlegroups which had just screened the major attacks on French Kerguelen by their older sisters. Four attack boats and one cruise missile submarine were laid out in a screening formation in front of the Taskforce.
The Kajhadaro herself was covered by a single AAW zerstroyer, and with her powerful anti-missile lasers and heavy missile batteries still managed to look somewhat anachronistic: She still had 210mm twin turrets forward for bombardment duties. Leading the surface ships, each carrier battle group was being screened by five nuclear powered AAW zerstroyers themselves. Carriers on missions of lesser danger, closer to home, would make due with dino-burners for escorts. Here, sustained speed was a premium, and the ability to sustain full speed indefinitely was a hallmark of only nuclear power.
Admiral Shrati sri Litanga sat in Flag CIC within the armour of the ship, holding true to the dignified countenance that mixed Malay-Aboriginal heritage could so forcefully project. She had no need for the theatrics of standing or inspecting stations. Even so, there was a momentary thrill of excitement in herself as Commander Mora, her staff communications officer, turned back to her. The Mora motherline had served the navy since the First World War, during the days of the adventures of the gallant commerce raiding Korvettenkapitan Damini Eila that seemed like a storybook now.
“We just got an encrypt on ULF from Third Fleet Hauptquartier, Your Honour. My crew is decoding it now.”
Shrati sucked in her breath and nodded. “Thank you, Commander Mora. Inform me soonest.”
“It should only be a few minutes, Your Honour.”
Another nod, and the Admiral activated the ship intercom to main CIC. “Captain Riabat, this is Admiral Litanga speaking. We’ve received an encrypt from Third Fleet. I believe we are going to be preparing for a major deck strike. Get your crews ready for Condition One and make sure we have laser coms LOS for both battlegroups.”
The destruction of virtually every satellite in Earth orbit had been a tremendous advantage for the navies of the world. Radio silence mattered again, and with it, the real possibility of surprise. The Clans had not come with ships outfitted for optical surveillance of the Earth, and they were not very good at coordinating with the ENU, anyway. The seas were free to be roamed by the stronger naval power, and the Kaetjhasti were taking full advantage of it, in no small part because their officers were still universally trained in dead reckoning and celestial navigation.
“Understood, Your Honour. One moment.” There was a pause as the Captain of the Kajhadaro checked another line, and then returned. “Your Honour, we have comms connections from the foremast to the outer pickets of both carrier battlegroups, and they are able to relay clear messages. We are standing by.”
Mora returned, now, also looking like she was about to burst with a mixture of excitement and terror. “Admiral, Your Honour. We’ve finished decrypting the message. It is a directive to launch a full strike on ENU airfields on Mauritius and Reunion in preparation for further penetration of the Indian Ocean. We are to be prepared for sustained combat with air and sea forces throughout the western Indian Ocean. Our objective is to secure a freighter with a very important cargo sailing out of the Arabian Sea right now and heading south to safety under the umbrella of our airgroups, with a single SSGN presently in company.
“Generaladmiral Hué says that we are to risk the entire Taskforce to bring this freighter with her cargo back to Kaetjhasti. Its approximate position has been provided.” She handed over the flimsy, and Litanga looked through it grimly. “Hué is not normally hysterical enough to say the future of the nation depends on an action. Two entire carrier battlegroups for the cargo of a single freighter?”
She turned her nose up slightly and looked around. No answer was going to be forthcoming, and orders were orders. “Transmit laser coms signals to both carriers directing them to begin preparing their full deck strikes at once. All Taskforce ships to Condition One. Stand by to alter course…”