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 Post subject: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2010-12-25 05:06pm
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Jedi Knight
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A/N: Yes, already. This first bit is more in the nature of a teaser, but since it popped into my head fully formed I decided to go with it. As always, I do not own the characters or situations of the Domination of the Draka, I am making no money from this story, and I will remove it from this site if requested by the copyright holder.

Just as a further warning, this isn't likely to make a whole helluva lot of sense if you haven't read Proof Through the Night.

Notice to Mariners 1/1/64

The International Quarantine Enforcement Agency has issued a Notice to Mariners pertaining to all navigation within 100 nautical miles of the island of Madagascar. Additional warnings may be issued by ships under IQEA remit, but are not guaranteed.

1. All vessels passing within the Control Zone (100 nm of the coast of Madagascar) are required to obtain prior clearance from the IQEA Traffic Center in Venta Bellagrium. Such permission will be granted only for transit, and not for fishing or any other commercial endeavor. It is the Master's responsibility to obtain the necessary permissions before entering the Zone.

2. Mariners are further advised that any vessel within the Control Zone, or having passed through in the last 24 hours, may be stopped and searched by warships operating under IQEA remit at the sole discretion of the Traffic Center or that warship's Captain. Ships that refuse to heave to when directed may be fired upon, disabled, seized, or sunk.

3. No commercial navigation is permitted within the 36 nm Exclusion Zone around Madagascar's coasts. Mariners wishing to enter the Exclusion Zone must obtain clearance from IQEA Traffic Control at least three months in advance. Permission will not be granted unless that vessel plans to enter a port in the Draka Archonate, possesses a Draka entry visa, and submits to a customs inspection in Venta Bellagrium before and after their visit to the Archonate. Vessels that violate the Exclusion Zone without permission will be fired on and sunk without warning.

4. The waters within 12 nm of the coast of Madagascar are territorial waters of the Draka Archonate. Although the IQEA does not have jurisdiction in that area, mariners are advised that Archonate policy is to fire upon and sink all unauthorized or unidentified vessels within their territorial waters.

It is your responsibility to know and abide by these regulations while navigating in the area of Madagascar, and to cooperate with all IQEA directives. Failure to abide by them will result in civil or criminal penalties including fines, loss of mariner's papers, jail time, seizure of vessel, and sinking. This means you.

-Issued by the Office of the Director, International Quarantine Enforcement Agency.



Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS


Last edited by ChaserGrey on 2010-12-26 12:15am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2010-12-25 05:08pm
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Jedi Knight
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Aargh, doublepost. Not sure how I did that, sorry. Would some kindly mod please delete one of the two? Thanks!

Edit: Danke, Mayabird.



Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS


Last edited by ChaserGrey on 2010-12-25 06:39pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2010-12-25 05:49pm
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No prob. Done.
[line 2]



DPDarkPrimus is my boyfriend!

SDNW4 Nation: The Refuge And, on Nova Terra, Al-Stan the Totally and Completely Honest and Legitimate Weapons Dealer and Used Starship Salesman slept on a bed made of money, with a blaster under his pillow and his sombrero pulled over his face. This is to say, he slept very well indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-01 08:17pm
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A/N: Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the forums. As promised, a sequel to "Proof Through the Night". This is what you all get for encouraging me...

Planned to be about six chapters. Of course, I said that for Proof too, so it may end up being a filthy, filthy lie. This one is a Prologue.

Breaking Strain: Prologue

August 4, 1964 2133 Hours
Aboard USS
Yarrow
Northwest of Madagascar

“Radar contact!” A half-dozen quick steps brought Lieutenant Commander Raymond Archer across the bridge of his destroyer escort and into the Combat Information Center on the heels of that call. The nineteen year old seaman hunched over the phosphor screen didn’t look up at his captain’s approach- he’d learned that much, in the six months he’d spent in the fleet. Out here you did your job, or the opposition did for you. Now he fiddled with the controls of his scope, working down the gain to refine the contact. “Multiple small surface contacts bearing three-one-five, range thirty miles and closing.”

“Speed?” Archer bent over the seaman’s shoulder, expertly picking out the dim dots against the background of the screen. The seaman shrugged.

“More than five knots, less than fifteen or twenty, Skipper. Can’t tell for sure yet. Got a course, though- straight for the Line.” Now he did look up, enthusiasm bubbling through tension and the starch and polish of a new-minted trainee. “Looks like you were right, Sir.”

“Uh huh.” Archer looked at the scope for a moment longer, then up at the big transparent board where a plotter was already entering the contact. “I thought if we dangled a predictable hole in coverage they’d try something cute on the new moon. That’s how we catch ‘em in the Africa Patrol, Mister Bartlett.” He patted the boy on the shoulder, then turned back to the bridge, pitching his voice to carry.

“Officer of the Deck, bring her fifteen degrees to port and go to flank speed. Tell Flag we are in hot pursuit. Sound general quarters for surface action, silent mode.” Moments after he heard the OOD repeat his orders, Archer felt the deck shifting under his feet as his command surged forward and heard the sounds of scrambling feet from the ship’s main deck and inside the CIC. He pulled his flotation vest and steel helmet from their locker and busied himself with buckling them on, listening with half an ear as the bridge talker repeated station reports. It took much longer for Yarrow to close up for action this way, with the word being passed by phone and messenger rather than by a screaming klaxon over the ship’s PA system, but it did have one advantage. On a clear night like this the sounds of sirens could carry a long way over water, and Archer didn’t want to chance spooking the game.

Twenty minutes later, Yarrow had slowed back down to a crawl, creeping up the last few miles towards her targets as they drew near the Line. She had managed to cut across their course, putting herself between the dozen or so small boats out there and their objective. Her big diesels were shut down, the ship creeping forward on electric drive. Forward of the bridge, the 3-inch rapid-fire mount was indexing towards unseen targets in the darkness, while forward of it the destroyer’s lone big 5” gun pointed at the sky. Along the sides of the ship, men stood ready behind splinter shields, aiming 40mm grenade launchers or 20mm Oerlikon cannon. The torpedo aiming stations were manned, although firing a fish at the size of craft that were out there would be like shooting a dragonfly with a .45. Aft on her fantail, beneath the muzzles of her second 3” rapid mount, her Marine boarding squad waited near their whaleboat while bluejackets stood by the depth charge racks. Yarrow was ready for whatever the night might bring to her.

“All stations set, Cap’n.” Lieutenant Delacour, his exec, puffed up from damage control central where he had been monitoring the ship’s progress towards battle stations. Delacour was the son of a fisherman from the U.S. state of Santo Domingo, soft-spoken and capable of improvising a magnificent steel drum set out of virtually anything on liberty days. Tonight he was all business as he peered out into the darkness, letting his eyes adjust from the dim red light of belowdecks. “Think we gettin’ some trade t’night?”

“Yeah.” Archer scanned the horizon with his binoculars, aware of the exec doing the same next to him. Delacour eschewed the use of artificial magnification, claiming that by cutting down your field of view you lost as much as you gained. Navy regulations and the laws of physics said he was wrong, but somehow he managed to pick out contacts in the dimness just as quickly as regular hands. “Right about…”

“…There.” Captain and XO spoke at the same moment, as a gaggle of small boats emerged from the darkness, cutting across Yarrow’s path on their way in towards the Line.

Archer swung himself down from his bridge chair. “Take the conn, XO. Nice and quiet.” No need for more direction than that. Delacour had been out on the Africa Patrol almost as long as he had and was more than ready for his own command. Ray Archer swung out onto the bridge wing, crowding the lookout who was already there, and leaned forward onto the railing with his binoculars up against his eyes. With the luxury of a few minutes in hand, he began to plot out how he would take his prey.

The boats would be built for speed with retrofitted aircraft engines, and would probably scatter as soon as he challenged them. They could outrun Yarrow, eventually, but not his shells. It was unlikely they’d carry anything that could hurt his ship, but the possibility always had to be allowed for. He’d try to drift close without letting them see him, get between them and the far shore they were trying to reach, and trust in his guns to smash anything that looked like too much of a threat. Very likely he’d smash them all to matchwood and bits of floating metal, with nothing worse on his ship than jangled nerves.

Wearily, Archer reached into his breast pocket and drew out a cigarette, stepping inside before he used his electric coil lighter to set it going. God damn these people anyway. Even if they made it past the Patrol, they’d get in no more than one or two fast raids ashore before the local reaction forces chased them out. Then there would be the Patrol again on the way out. Even if they made it, the most they would do would be to smash a few farms up, kill the families there, perhaps shoot up a town. Just enough to make the people there hate them even more while changing nothing at all.

Then again, the people who manned those boats had never forgotten their warrior heritage. This was about honor for them, and pride, and revenge for the world they’d lost. Archer didn’t see any of that changing soon.

Yarrow was pulling in front of the boats now, less than a mile away as they bore off her bow. Through his binoculars Archer could see one of them stop, perhaps trying to make out a half-there silhouette in their path. Time!

“Now!” Archer grabbed the loud-hailer microphone off its clips as the bridge talker repeated the word into his headset. The forward 5” mount let out a low, flat boom, then another. Star shells burst over the ocean with deadly radiance, and Ray Archer’s voice boomed over the water like an angry deity’s.

“Unidentified vessels, this is U.S. Navy warship operating under the International Quarantine Enforcement Authority! You are in violation of the Exlcusion Zone and are directed to heave to immediately! If you continue you will be fired upon and sunk without warning!” The boats stopped, and Archer’s lip curled. They were waiting for Yarrow to board one of them, so the rest could take off for their target. Well, he’d seen this one before.

“Launch the whaleboat. Tell ‘em to pick a big one and expect the usual.” The fast motorboat swung out from Yarrow’s quarterdeck and cut out towards one of the larger raiding craft. Its crew were all Marine Boarding Party men, piratical customers who favored automatic rifles, sawed-off shotguns and .45s, punch daggers and bush knives and the occasional cutlass, men who had never passed inspection or failed combat. If Archer had to leave them for an hour or two, he was confident they could hold off any three of the raiders- for that matter, if the rest of them somehow sank Yarrow they would probably capture a boat, sail to the flagship, and report him missing.

The whaleboat pulled up along the raider, and Archer tensed. Any minute now. Sometimes a very stupid or very canny flotilla master would let him take one or two boats, try to tempt him into pulling Yarrow up to speed up the boardings. That had worked, once.

The sounds of a scuffle carried across the water, muffled shots and a body that let out a long wail before plunging overboard from the captured raider into the warm Indian Ocean. As if that had been a signal, the dozen other boats roared their engines and burst apart like a knocked-over anthill, scattering away from the escort and heading for their goal. Archer didn’t need to give an order. The 5” mount boomed again, putting up fresh light to kill by, then swung its barrel down to track one of the targets. The three-inchers opened up with their high, flat crack sound, twin barrels pushing forward and back as they sent streams of shells out into the night. The first boat blew up, then another. One drew near their port side as they came around, wicking the air with machine gun tracers, and Archer heard the hollow thudding sound of the grenade launchers sweeping the open boat clean and the high chatter of the Oerlikons cutting it into driftwood. Delacour had already brought the bow around and had the diesels howling as they gave chase.

“Sonar contact!” The call from CIC brought Archer’s head whipping around. His voice was high, almost a scream as he cried back,

“Where? Whereaway?” An eternal moment, then the sonarman’s voice came back.

“Port quarter, solid contact! Range five hundred yards, depth about sixty feet!” Archer cursed, then waved to Delacour.

“Ring her down and bring her about, Ed. Sub on the port quarter. Stand by depth charges, sixty feet.” Yarrow heeled over into a turn, her forward 3” mount falling silent as her bow turned away from the fleeing targets. Archer cursed venomously under his breath. He’d heard reports that the raiders were starting to use midget submarines, but never encountered one up until now. If he let it go now odds were he’d never reacquire, but stopping to drop depth charges meant at least some of those boats would get away.

“Radio, get on the horn.” Archer looked over his shoulder, towards the last of the fleeting boats. As his ship’s bow swung around into her depth charge run, the 5” mount fired and one flared into a fireball, but four more headed in for the coast. “Tell the Snakes they have company coming.”

August 4, 1964 2157 Hours
Firebase Mamba, Northeast Madagascar


Centurion Pietr Ellis was out of his bunk and running across the open ground of the firebase before his mind had a chance to switch from asleep to awake. Around him his troopers were doing the same thing, pounding out of the thatch-roof reaction shelters and over to their vehicles. By the time Ellis finished strapping himself into the commander’s seat of his Hyena scout car, the entire column was showing their ready lights and the sentries were already sliding the perimeter gate aside. A tortured squealing of tires against cracked pavement, and Century D of the First Reaction Cohort went screaming off into the night.

Ellis fitted the microphone of his vehicle crewman’s helmet in front of his lips and slammed the plug jack home into the commander’s console. He keyed the mic.

“Jenny?”

“On line, Centurion.” Jenny White’s voice was cool as ever, though Ellis knew her heart had to be hammering just as hard as anyone’s. “Got Cohort on the line fo’ you.”

“Blessings. Patch me through.” There was a click, then Ellis started up again. “Mamba Den, this is Flashfire. Say again, Mamba Den, this is Flashfire. We are rollin’ and golden, what’s the emergency?”

“Flashfire, this is Mamba Den.” Sweet Nothing, that sounded like the bad old man himself. “Just got a flash off a damnyank destroyer. Bushmen comin’ in, four boats got past ‘em and headin fo’ the beach. Cuttin’ party, most like.” Ellis cursed venomously under his breath. Philosophically speaking, he found it hard to blame the former slaves of the Domination of the Draka and their children for wanting revenge on their former masters- were the positions reversed, he imagined he’d be after much the same. It was rather hard to take that view, though, when that impulse took concrete form and started sailing speedboats from the Sultanate of Greater Zanzibar to try for Draka ears. It had gotten especially hard over the past couple years, since the ongoing ratfuck in Indonesia had diverted the Yankees’ attention and weakened the Quarantine. Five years ago, not one raid in twenty would have gotten to the Draka enclave of Madagascar, and ten years before nobody had even been trying.

“Ah, roger that Mamba Den. Any eyeballs out there?”

“That’s a negative on that, Flashfire. We got the C50 on patrol and divertin’ to search, but nothin’ yet from the coastwatchers. The course we got from the Yankees indicates Sector III, anywhere from Dragon Green to Fox Red Sectors. Use your discretion.” Ellis grimaced. Among many other restrictions great and small, the Draka were forbidden by the Treaty of London to operate heavier than air craft. The Air Corps did the best they could with their blimps and a few rigids, but they couldn’t make them fast. Unless they got very lucky, he was going to have to guess where to put his men and hope to play catch up after the bushmen landed. Just what he needed.

“Roge-doge, wait one, Mamba Den.” He switched over to the century net and keyed his mic. “Flashfire Guides, this is Actual. Head to Eland Black dispersal point and start workin’ secondaries for Dragon Green to Fox Red.” A murmur of acknowledgements, his scouts fanning out to guide the Century to its goal. “Max Flashfire units, this is Actual. Company comin’. Get hot, Draka.” Click-click, and he was back on with Cohort. “We on the way, Den. Any mo’ good news?”

“Some.” The Cohortarch sounded darkly amused. “Alert Net workin’, all settlements in the area acknowledgin’ and mobilizin’. C Century mountin’ up now, B standin’ to, and yo’ have first call on artillery.” The old man sighed. “I know that ain’t much, Pete, but it’s all we got. Get it done.”

“We’ll get it done, Sir.” Not much else they could do.

Ten minutes later, they were all laagered at the rally point waiting for the first call to come through. The night was split open with the throaty growl of idling diesels from the armored cars, muffling the softer hiss of the steam-powered personnel carriers and the metallic clicks of weapons coming up to the ready. No one spoke unless they had to. Any minute now-

“Flashfire, Flashfire, this is Sentry Dragon Black. Two contacts comin’ in, heading fo’ the beach at my sector. Request backup.” Before Ellis could key his mic to reply, the emergency push sounded again. “All units, all units, we have a confirmed landing in Fox Green sector. Outlyin’ settlements report they under attack.” Shitfire. That was another problem- the bushmen had been getting better and better at coordinating their attacks lately.

“Right. Flashfire Fourth, head to Dragon Black. Hold ‘em and call up help from the reserves if yo’ need it.” With a squeal of tires, his four Scorpion combat cars pulled out of the laager and headed off for the beach. The Draka Archonate didn’t really have tanks or the need for them, but the Scorpions’ long-barrel 90mm guns should be able to deal with the incoming boats before they could land. “Flashfire First, Second, Third and Guides, Fox Green. Let’s go, people!”

Ellis could hear the cracking of small arms and the occasional burping rip of a machine gun long before the settlement of Fisherman’s Bend came into view up ahead. Sounded like a fair amount of fire, which was bad. Two boats left, which could have meant a Tetrarchy’s worth of raiders or considerably more, depending on how big they were and how close the raiders were willing to pack themselves for the run over to Madagascar. By the sound of it they were already in among the outlying farms and heading for the town center, mixing it up with the militia along the way. Have to do things the old-fashioned way, then.

“Max Flashfire units, this is Actual. Dismount an’ quick advance, Draka. Don’ let nobody by yo’, and don’ stop for nothin’ till we have these sumbitches back in the water. First and Second Tetrarchies up, Third back. Yo’ know the drill, now move!” As the Century pulled into the center of town, it seemed to break open and swarm like a shattered hornet’s nest. The two SP automortars, mounted on Hyena chassis, braked into the town center and started setting up. The big Buffalo halftrack transports stopped, molting infantry that quickly spread out into skirmish order, then started forward again with the muzzles of the heavy machine guns mounted on their cab roofs turning back and forth alertly. The Hyena scouts did the same, ready to lay heavy rocket-gun fire on any strong points that might present themselves. D Century plunged ahead into the burning night.

2231 Hours
Thorn Hollow Farm, Madagascar


Yolande Ingolfsson was very quiet. She had to be, because that was what Father and Mother had said when they put her down the hole. The Bushmen were coming and Father and Mother had to go fight to keep them away, but Yolande was only nine and a half and wasn’t allowed to do that yet. She was old enough to wait by herself, though, carrying the stiletto she’d gotten as a present last birthday, and Father said that was enough for now. Even if she couldn’t fight, she could free another Draka to fight, and that was all a nine and a half year old could do.

Yolande turned on her pen light and looked at her watch. That had been her other present when she turned nine, a real Forces-issue watch that Mother had helped her sink with her parents before they went away. Yolande wasn’t sure what it was supposed to sink into, but it made her feel good to know she was seeing the same time as her parents. They had told her to wait until they came back, or for three hours before she went for help. That sounded like a long time to her, but she had to be very sure the bushmen were gone before she came out.

She’d asked her parents why the bushmen came, a long time ago, but she hadn’t asked again. Father and Mother had both gotten hard looks on their faces, and said that it was because of bad things they did a long time ago, things that made the bushmen angry. Yolande wasn’t sure what her Father and Mother had done, but she hoped it was nothing too bad. Maybe the bushmen wouldn’t be too angry.

Thump. The floorboards above her head shook as someone stepped onto them, pacing through the house. Thump. Thump. Yolande looked up, wide-eyed. Was it Father and Mother already? It hadn’t even been one whole hour yet, and they’d said…

There was a loud crashing from up above, and a burst of quiet laughter. Bushmen! Bushmen were wrecking the house, and the thought made Yolande flush with anger. She remembered what Mother had said, though. Her job was to stay quiet, let the adults fight, and not cause problems. So she bit down on her lip and waited, while the crashing continued. Waited, while the floorboards kept creaking and she heard blades pushing into them, looking for any secret doors. Like the one to her shelter.

Waited, to see who would come to get her.

August 5, 1964 0530 Hours
Archona Nova, Madagascar


Sophie von Shrakenberg found her husband on the roof of the Archonal Residence, looking east out over the Indian Ocean as the sun rose. For a moment she remembered another morning, almost twenty years before, when she’d watched another sunrise with him in what seemed like another world. In the years since she’d learned that finding her husband absent from their bed when she woke was a bad thing. Eric came to watch the sunrise when he wanted to be alone, and that usually meant something bad had happened.

“Sophie.” He didn’t look back at her anymore- just knew she was there.

“Eric.” She settled in next to her, leaning against the wrought-iron railing. “What happened?” For a moment all she could think of was their little family, and a moment of fear gripped her heart. “Something happen to Anna? Marie or Johnny?” Eric shook his head.

“Not quite that near, but close. ‘Nother raid last night, up in the northeast.” A long pause, and Sophie felt her body clench as she realized what was coming. “They hit Thorn Hollow. Reaction Century pulled Yolande out of the shelter, but Johanna and Tom, they-“ He broke off, and Sophie wrapped her arms around him, silencing him before his grief could drive him to shame. After a moment she asked,

“How soon is she coming?” He looked over at her, shrugged.

“Well, I thought I would ask before I inflicted a nine year old-“

“And so yo’ did, Centurion.” Sophie shook her head, voice dry and bemused. “And thank yo’, but I am not going to make yo’ orphaned niece sleep on the streets. We’ll find a way.”

“Thank you.” Eric nodded, once, then looked off at the horizon. When he spoke again, his voice was full of tears.

“We’ve got to stop doing this to each other, Sophie. We can’t keep on doing this!” Sophie nodded, and kept her peace. It was the same thing Eric said after every raid, if a little more plaintive than usual. She was too wise to speak when she had no words that would help. He was too wise to expect words when there could be none.

And they were both too Draka to think that every problem had a solution.



Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-01 11:00pm
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Fascinating. Lots of threads to keep me interested, and the Draka Archonate sounds like it'll be fun to learn more about. I have to wonder, though, how fucked up are things in Zanzibar if the rulers are diverting attention to Madagascar this long after the war.



Stuart: The only problem is, I'm losing track of which universe I'm in.
You kinda look like Jesus. With a lightsaber.- Peregrin Toker
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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-02 01:35am
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As usual, it will be the children of the victims and the guilty who suffer the most senselessly.

I wonder how the other Draka did, the ones who wanted to hold out. Nuked? Slaughtered the old-fashioned way? Dispersed or exterminated?

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-02 01:55am
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I would guess destroyed or captured and sent home. Not sure anyone would permit Draka refugees. Which makes me wonder; How many Draka are living on Madagascar?



Stuart: The only problem is, I'm losing track of which universe I'm in.
You kinda look like Jesus. With a lightsaber.- Peregrin Toker
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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-02 07:55am
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Rocket-gun? Still using steam I see, is that because of problems getting enough fossil fuels?

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-02 08:28am
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Rocket-guns are a shout-out to Marching Through Georgia- the Domination's standard LAW was a weapon that used a ballistic charge to fire a projectile, then a rocket sustainer motor to carry it to the target. Bit of a Rube Goldberg design, I think, but there ya go...

Similarly, the Draka TL has heavy use of steam vehicles for applications where power-to-weight isn't all that important, so I thought I'd take the chance to drop them into the story.



Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-02 09:12am
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ChaserGrey wrote:
Rocket-guns are a shout-out to Marching Through Georgia- the Domination's standard LAW was a weapon that used a ballistic charge to fire a projectile, then a rocket sustainer motor to carry it to the target. Bit of a Rube Goldberg design, I think, but there ya go...


Ah, so it's a fairly bog standard rocket launcher then. I was thinking something along the lines of a recoilless rifle.

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-02 06:20pm
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Breaking Strain: Chapter One


November 19, 1964, 1300 Hours
USS
Reprisal, CVA-59
South of Madagascar


The right-hand waist catapult fired, and the Ryan A4R Retaliator attack bomber screamed down along the ship’s angle deck before hurling itself into the air on a pair of afterburning turbojets. As the nose came down and the aircraft accelerated towards Mach 1, its wings began sweeping backwards for high-speed flight, turning the clumsy-looking aircraft into a blunt-nosed arrowhead that screamed low over the ocean on its way towards the Madagascar coast.

In the cockpit, Captain Julius Rosemont turned his head to the right and grinned. The young man in the BN’s position next to him was wearing the same crash helmet and oxygen mask that Rosemont was, but he was still showing pale around the eyes and cheeks. Rosemont keyed the intercom.

“C’mon, Mad Dog. Admit it. That was fun.” Lieutenant Melvin Brown, three weeks out of the A4R Fleet Replacement Squadron at Norfolk and cursed with a face that made him look like a frightened mouse every time he was even a bit nervous, swallowed and shook his head as he bent down into the radar scope.

“I’ll let you know when it starts being fun, Sir. Hasn’t happened yet.” Weak as the joke was, Rosemont chuckled at it, making sure he had the intercom keyed when he did so. He’d seen a lot of nuggets come and go in the thirty-odd years he’d spent in the Navy, and from all appearances Brown was going to be okay. Not a whiner or a quitter, just hadn’t managed to quite adapt to the various and sundry insane things a U.S. Naval Aviator was expected to do as a matter of routine while he was in training. If he could keep that lack of confidence from breaking his nerve before he settled in Brown showed all signs of developing into a damn good BN, and his nascent sense of humor was a positive sign.

Rosemont kept the throttles pushed all the way forward as the coastline of Madagascar appeared on the horizon, low and lush green. His eyes picked out the folds of the terrain with the ease of long experience, and his hands casually floated the Retaliator up another few feet to make sure they would clear the first rise after crossing the beach. Moments like this were what he had always loved, what had kept him in the Navy even after it became clear that not even being the hero of Operation MONGOOSE and the Medal of Honor would allow him to have his own admiral’s flag. What he’d done instead had been a hell of a lot more fun- gone Restricted Line, served as a flight instructor and a test pilot wringing out new birds for the Fleet, and generally become an institution within the Navy’s attack squadrons. When the CO of Heavy Attack Squadron One broke his leg three days before the ship had been due to sail for the Quarantine, it had been an easy call for CAG to pull old “Rosie” off his staff and put him in place of the green XO. He was 53 years old and probably wouldn’t be able to hold off the damn flight surgeons for much longer, but by God he’d gotten to lead the Myrmidons of VAH-1 again. Didn’t get much better than that.

The Madagascar beach flashed white under their wings, and Rosemont keyed his radio.

“Warhammer 503 is feet dry, repeat feet dry.” Then the intercom: “Gimme a steer, Mad Dog.”

Instead of a verbal reply, the bombardier put a green steering bug up in the top of Rosemont’s HUD, and the pilot drew smoothly left to follow it. Their job for the day was a simple one- fly over the military installations at Trismestigus, about halfway down the island, and take some pictures to make sure the Snakes hadn’t gotten up to anything naughty since the last overflight of this section two weeks ago. Some of the squadron pilots would have taken that as a chance to set the autopilot and go cruising over at eight or ten thousand, but any time Rosemont wanted to be bored there was always plenty of paperwork waiting back in his office. Reprisal was operating under Quarantine authority, which meant they didn’t have to tell anyone they were making an overflight, and he didn’t like the damn Snakes that much anyway. Might as well rattle their cages a bit.

“Bit fast for the photo run, Sir.” Brown was keeping his voice pretty calm, all things considered.

“You worry too much, kid. Anybody ever tell you that?”

“Twice a day since I joined this goddam outfit, Sir.”

The Retaliator screamed out over the treetops, barely subsonic, and as they settled onto the heading for their photo run Rosemont expertly eased the stick back and chopped throttle. Just as Warhammer 503 flew over her initial point and Brown flicked on the camera pod in her bomb bay, the altimeter kissed 4000 feet and the airspeed indicator 450 knots- minimum altitude and maximum speed for the photo run. Rosemont grinned to himself. Not bad, Julie, not bad at all.

Rosemont and Brown flew three passes, south to north while easing themselves further to the west each time, “mowing the lawn” over their assigned sector. As they settled onto the fourth run, Rosemont fixed his eyes on a mountaintop up ahead. Have to try to slide over that without messing up the exposure-

The Retaliator’s threat panel screamed, and Julius Rosemont reacted with a lifetime’s trained reflexes. His eyes picked out the rising starburst coming up out of the valley and he slammed the plane off to the left, away from the climbing missile. The arrow shape turned to follow as Rosemont slammed Warhammer 503 into afterburner, holding down the manual override to keep the wings swept forward. He could hear them groan in protest as the stress built, but he’d need every bit of snap turn he could muster in five seconds or so. As the missile slid below the canopy rail and out of sight, he gasped out one word.

“Chaff!” Brown slammed his thumb down on the salvo button, and the Retaliator’s internal defense pod kicked out ten packets of chaff that burst into a thick cloud of metal strips. Rosemont snap-rolled 503 through a hundred and eighty degrees and yanked the stick back, reversing their turn. The threat horn stuttered and died, as he snatched the Retaliator away and the missile tracking radar switched to the chaff cloud.

“Jesus Christ, they shot at us!” For a minute Rosemont wanted to snap Brown down for that, but the kid’s reaction was understandable. The Draka understood very well that Quarantine overflights were not to be interfered with, and there hadn’t been any accidents like this for years. This was like going out your front door for the morning paper and stepping on a rattlesnake. Instead, he said,

“Call the ship.” As Brown keyed the radio and reported the attack with a forced calm, Rosemont pulled Warhammer 503 into a left turn, circling back towards the jungle below. As soon as Brown ended his transmission, he keyed the radio mic.

“Vendetta, 503. We’re going back in for another pass.” Brown’s eyes were wide as he looked over at his pilot, and the ship didn’t sound much less incredulous.

“Warhammer 503, you were just attacked in that area. Recommend you wait until we clarify the situation.” Rosemont grinned humorlessly beneath his mask.

“Vendetta, if this is some kind of mistake, you’re right. But if it’s not, by the time we call them and they apologize whatever they’re hiding will be long gone. We’re going back in.” A pause.

“Your call, Warhammer. Good luck.” Rosemont glanced over at the right hand seat.

“You with me on this, Mad Dog?” Brown’s eyes looked as big and wide as a cartoon chipmunk’s, but he nodded. “Allright. Set the camera for the fastest exposure you can and the widest field of view. We’re going to forget the flight parameters, do this low and fast, and trust the photo lab geniuses to pull something useful out of it.”

“Yessir.” The Retaliator’s nose came around and pointed down the valley again, bits of stray cloud wicking over the canopy as they pushed the Mach. Brown finished setting his panel and settled back into his seat, pulling the straps tight. “Hoooleee shit, I can’t believe we’re doing this…”

Warhammer 503 screamed over the valley again, the stick smoothing out under Rosemont’s hands as they cleared the first ridge and punched through the sound barrier. The green jungle canopy rushed by past the canopy and Rosemont felt his fingers tighten and his toes curling on the rudder pedals, expecting at any moment for another missile or a streamer of flak to come reaching up out of the jungle for him. It didn’t happen. The threat board stayed quiet as they finished their run, then climbed out and turned back for the sea. They still had another couple sweeps to finish in their sector, but Rosemont thought they’d pushed their luck enough for one day. They’d burned a lot of gas running around low and fast, and it was time they got this film back aboard the ship.

As they cleared the coast, Brown looked over at his pilot. “Sir, what do you think that was all about?”

Rosemont shook his head. “Kid, that’s a good question. I really wish I had a good answer for it.”

1420 Hours
Ragnarok Project Primary Site, Madagascar


Merarch Stonewall Jackson Bohner threw open the door to the Cobra missile launch control center and stood in the doorway. His voice was perfectly calm and controlled as he asked, “Who gave the order to fire?”

The battery commander, a young boy of twenty-odd years, raised his hand tentatively. “I did, Merarch. We know what Yankee recon runs look like. The profile indicated-“

The battery control van echoed with the thunderclap of Bohner’s 13mm Tolgren automatic, sending the three other operators diving to the floor and rolling around with their hands on their ears, trying to stop the ringing. The battery commander slumped in his seat, blood and brains covering his console. As the last echoes of the shot died away, Bohner spoke into the silence.

“What it indicated, son, is that today’s recon run was being flown by a Yankee who liked to show off. Since yo’ was entirely too stupid to realize that, this whole effort may be blown. ‘S all right, though. I know yo’ won’t let it happen again.” The other operators looked up at him, their eyes wide, and Bohner impatiently motioned them back to their stations. They’d been trained to shoot when the battery commander ordered them to shoot. Wasn’t their fault the battery commander was an idiot.

“As you were. Clean that up, and you-“ Bohner pointed at the senior tech, who barely managed not to flinch, “-congratulations, yo’ the new battery commander. I’ll send you a replacement soonest.” He turned on his heel, throwing the control van’s door shut behind him, and walked out to meet his two principal aides. His first question to them was characteristically direct.

“How bad?” Doctor Bryan Nesmith shrugged his shoulders and ran a hand through his short sand-colored hair. He wore a long-sleeved lab coat in defiance of both military protocol and the muggy tropical heat, but it was no affectation- the coat’s surface was frayed and stained a dozen exotic colors by the chemicals he worked with daily, and had half a dozen singed holes in it from various near-accidents.

“Can’t say, Merarch. First pass stopped short of the most important parts of the complex, and the second was very low and fast. Depends on how good the Yankee cameras are and how sharp their photo intel boys are. Might not have gotten anythin’. Might have gotten everythin’.”

“Shitfire.” Bohner kicked at the jungle mud, looking out across the valley. Years of work, here, done in painfully slow stages to make sure it passed unnoticed. Now they were weeks away from success, and one boy’s stupidity might have blown the whole thing.

Well. Might was a long way from certain, and he hadn’t come this far to have his Will thrwarted at the last instant. All he had to do was buy a little time- but first, he’d better make sure that he had to buy as little as possible. He turned to his other assistant and spoke.

“This could pose some difficulties. I would appreciate it if yo’ would communicate with yo’ people and see if the final shipment can be accelerated.”

Major Shoichi Ito of the Imperial Japanese Army raised his eyebrows slightly, and nodded. “I will raise the matter with Tokyo, Merarch. I believe under the circumstances they will regard our request…favorably.”

November 22, 1964 1400 Hours
Yamamoto Residence, Tokyo, Japan


Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was contemplating the beauty of his gardens when his household staff Prime Minister Masanobu Tsuji to see him. That irritated the Prime Minister immensely, because he knew Yamamoto didn’t give a damn about how beautiful his garden was- although it was immaculate, arranged with the greatest taste by the finest practitioners of the art. The admiral had always been much more at home in good restaurants and in the company of geisha then writing poetry or sipping tea, but now he was taking the opportunity to play the retired elder statesman, interrupted in his meditations by the younger generation. It was condescending as hell, and especially galling because Tsuji knew he’d have to ask Yamamoto for something during this interview- and he knew the old man knew it, too.

“Admiral.” Tusji bowed deeply from the waist, gritting his teeth. The old bastard might be trying to bait him, but damn if he was going to let it crack him. “Please forgive me for disturbing you. But events have compelled me here to seek your counsel.”

“Prime Minister.” Yamamoto stood and bowed in return, only fractionally less than Tsuji had. “Please do not apologize. Even now this old man is always at the disposal of His Majesty’s ministers.” Officially, that was all Yamamoto was- an old man retired from government service, living on his Navy pension in the house the Emperor had granted him on his retirement. Officially, there was no such thing as the genro, the loose body of elder statesmen without whose approval no Prime Minister could govern. Officially, Yamamoto could not be Tsuji’s mortal enemy, because he commanded no power. Both men were far too experienced to be deceived by how things worked on paper. “What matters have brought you here to seek my humble opinion?”

“There has been a problem with the Draka situation.”

“So I heard.” Yamamoto’s eyes flashed and fixed on the younger man’s face, and Tsuji felt his spine stiffening as though he were an officer cadet again. “I have heard that the Yankees may have spotted your little summer house down on Madagascar. I have heard that your preparations there are not yet complete. I have heard that you are in a great deal of trouble, Tsuji. If you wish my counsel, you know what it will be. Abandon this foolishness at once, before you lead us into ruin as Tojo so nearly did in 1941.”

“I see.” Tsuji had expected this, and kept his face carefully blank. “And yet, much as it pains me to contradict you, Sir, I have decided instead to accelerate the operation. The Akita Maru has completed refueling in Goa and is ready to sail. We can be ready in a matter of days, long before the Americans can have a response ready. They are distracted by matters in Indonesia, and slow to act.”

Yamamoto grunted laughter. “You Army boys never change, do you? It looks like you need to be kicked in the balls every twenty years, to remind you not to underestimate a foe.” His gutter language was deliberate, delivered in the coarse Nagaoka dialect of his youth. Tsuji flushed and fought to hold himself straight.

“Perhaps, Sir. But what I must know is whether you will advise His Majesty against this course of events.” Now he felt every muscle in his body tighten. If opposition was to come-

“No.” Yamamoto shook his head, turning halfway to look at a flowering bush. “No, I shall not. I am of a mind to, you understand. But Admiral Nagano and Lord Kido are of your counsel, and I would not wish to trouble them by contradicting them in front of the Emperor.” Tsuji let out a breath quietly. In other words, much as Yamamoto might want his political head on a platter, he hadn’t been able to persuade enough of his fellow genro to support his views. Tsuji had his free hand. He bowed at the waist, more deeply this time, trying to hide a smile.

“Thank you for your circumspection, Admiral. I am sorry that I cannot take your most wise counsel, and will occupy no more of your time.” Yamamoto returned the bow, but did not move. “I can find my own way out, thank you.” It was a deliberate snub for the Admiral not to walk him out, of course, but Tsuji could bear a hundred subtle insults in this moment. No matter how much Yamamoto might try to bait him, he’d won and they both knew it.

“Tsuji.” Yamamoto’s voice stopped him by the gate to the house. “For all our sakes, don’t take the Americans for granted. Not even for an instant.”

November 23, 1964 0600 Hours
Archonal Residence, Nova Archona


Eric von Shrakenberg watched the black limousine pull in through the gate of the Residence in a cloud of white steam, and made his way to the Residence’s main staircase. Sophie was waiting in the foyer with a silver tray filled with fluted crystal glasses, each holding no more than a thimbleful of watered wine out of consideration for the early hour. He fiddled with his collar for a moment, watching Sophie’s eyes laugh as he fumbled and she visibly fought the desire to set the tray down to help. His adult daughter Anna, her long apple-red hair done up in a long bun on the back of her head, stepped forward and helped straighten it as both women giggled. Then both women sobered.

“Papa, what do you think this is about?” It was Anna who asked, but they were all thinking it. Eric shook his head slowly.

“I don’ know, heart. I was hopin’ yo might.” Anna still had quite a number of contacts from the decades she’d spent in the United States, and gave him a valuable outsider’s eye on things as he tried to steer this damn Archonate into the 20th Century. “All we know is that fo’ days ago, the Yankee carrier on station started squawkin’ in a code we don’ know, back and forth a fair bit with they headquarters in Venta Bellagrium. Carrier headed west and landed somethin’, took what looks to be the IQEA Director onboard, and started headin’ back for Madagascar like it wasn’t goin’ be here when they got there. Now we got her landin’ at Regentropfen on a carrier delivery plane, and a request to meet me as soon as possible.” A request that was backed by the nuclear warheads onboard said carrier, of course, and it was hardly an accident which one the Yankees had forward based to enforce the quarantine. All other factors aside, the name Reprisal wasn’t one that any Draka was going to forget.

The doors to the Residence opened, and the IQEA Director walked in, trailed by a pair of military officers and an honor guard of Marines doubtless on loan from the U.S. Embassy, trailed by troopers of the Archonal Guard. The Marines carried fixed bayonets, and reload magazines in white leather pouches at their belts. This was bad. Eric straightened.

“Service to the State. Eric von Shrakenberg, Archon. My wife Sophie, and my daughter Anna. Be welcome in my house, Director.”

Buenos dias, Archon.” The slightly built, olive-skinned woman who had walked though the door first took a glass of wine from the tray and drained it along with the Draka, although the officers behind her refrained. “Carmen Ruiz de Vega y Hierro, Director of the International Quarantine Enforcement Agency. Thank you for receiving us.” Her voice was light but sharp, direct, much like the director herself. A woman and a quarter-Mayan mestizo besides, she had shouldered her way to the table alongside the old-fashioned patróns of Yucután State by sheer stubbornness and will- which made her disconcertingly good at dealing with the Draka. Eric broadened his smile.

“I am at yo’ disposal, Madam Director. Shall we go to my office and discuss whatever urgent matter brings yo’ here?” Sophie and Anna peeled off as they walked up the staircase, the Marine sentries and Guard troopers remaining behind. Maybe the social pleasantries had defused things a little.

Any hope of that, however, vanished as soon as the door to his working office swung shut behind them. No sooner had they all settled themselves into chairs than Director Ruiz tossed a series of photo prints on his desk. “We would very much like an explanation for these, Archon.”

Eric leaned forward, taking a magnifying glass out of his desk drawer and inspecting the first one. It was blurry, but he could still make out a jungle canopy. Camouflage nets. And underneath-

“Holy Thor, God of Thunder.” Eric tossed the first exposure aside, scanning the second. No doubt about it. They were mobile ballistic missiles, long narrow metallic cigar shapes strapped to the backs of heavy diesel trucks. For a moment his guts turned to water as he worked through the implications in his mind, wishing with all his heart that this might be some kind of ghastly practical joke. One look at the Yankees’ faces told him it wasn’t. “When were these taken? Where?”

“Captain Rosemont?” At the Director’s word, one of the two officers behind her stood. He was in a frost-white USN dress uniform, with aviator wings and a light blue ribbon leftmost on his medal rack. That made him-

That Rosemont?” Eric couldn’t stop the words from passing his lips, fists clenched tightly until his nails dug into his palms. Dear Gods. How bad things had to be to bring that man, here! The American smiled, humorlessly.

“Yes, Archon. That Rosemont.” Eric stared into those light brown eyes for a moment, taking in the permanent sun-squint around the corners and the uncannily tight focus. Tried to imagine those same eyes looking down at Marseilles and Genoa one March night in 1945, smashing his army’s supply bases to pieces. He forced his eyes back to the director, gritting his teeth as he tried to stop his heart from pounding.

“Well, Madam. If you wanted to put me off-balance, congratulations. Now just what the Eblis is all this about?”

Rosemont cleared his throat. “These pictures were taken four days ago, Archon, over Trismestigus Province in central Madagascar. I was the pilot for that mission, and we were fired on by a Draka Cobra-type surface to air missile while looking the area over.” He leaned forward and smiled. “If that hadn’t happened, might not have given the place a second look. Bad luck, hey?”

Eric sighed and leaned forward, burying his head in his hands. After a long moment, he looked up. “Madam Director. Gentlemen. Yo’ have to believe that I knew nothing about this until y’all showed me these just a minute ago. Whatever is goin’ on down there, it is not authorized by my government.” The other officer, a portly man in an Admiral’s unform, snorted and Eric looked over at him sharply. “It’s the truth. I swear it on my father’s name and the first von Shrakenberg’s grave. Sweet Loki, Admiral Wallis, I was commandin’ in Europe when y’all smashed us up in ’45. I know what happens to us, do we step out of line that far. Have I impressed yo’ so far as a suicidal man?” The Admiral glared back, but Ruiz raised her hand to cut him off.

“You haven’t, Archon, which is why we’re here and our Retaliators aren’t. Speaking personally, I’m inclined to believe you. But you must understand our…concern over these events.” Her voice was cool, the essence of understatement. “If you have any insight into these matters, it’s critical that you give it now.”

Eric opened his mouth to reply, then bolted to his feet as a rattling came from the office door. Before the Americans could finish whirling around, he had palmed the autopistol out of his desk drawer and flung the door open. The tow-headed young girl who had been standing behind it held up her hands and shrieked, tumbling backwards into the hall.

“Freya!” Eric stood there, chest heaving, then stood aside to let the Americans see who it was. “Ladies and gentlemen, my apologies. My niece, Yolande Ingolfsson, who apparently cherishes ambitions for our secret service.” He peeked down at the girl, who was still shaking, and sighed. “It’s okay, ‘Landa. Just go on down and see Anna fo’ a bit, and don’ come by here when I have guests?” Part of him wanted to read her the riot act, but that wasn’t something he was going to do in front of a bunch of Yankees- and besides, scaring the girl out of a year’s growth would probably drive the lesson home better than a dozen blows with a birch switch.

Yolande ran off, and Eric slid the door shut with a sigh. The Americans were just settling back into their chairs when he turned to face them, dropping the pistol on a side table and leaning against the door. “In a way, Yolande is the answer to yo’ questions, Madam Director. She’s been with us ‘bout three months now, ever since my sistah and her husband got killed by bushmen up north. We all know they been makin’ it through your patrols more often lately, and gettin’ better at coordinating they attacks.” He held his hands up. “I’m not sayin’ this is yo’ fault, just explainin’ the situation.

“Yo’ probably know as well as I that certain elements of our military aren’t happy about the details of our exile, particularly the bushman raids and the limitations on high technology we labor under. Merarch Bohner, the legate commandin’ the forces in the Trismestigus area, is a prominent member of that faction. He’s been agitatin’ fo’ us to build up our forces and retaliate for the raids, but I had no idea…” He trailed off, and Ruiz cleared her throat.

“Do you know what he plans, Archon?”

“No.” Eric stared sightlessly down at the photos. “But whatevah it is, it’s big and it’s goin’ to be soon. He wouldn’t risk assemblin’ major hardware like this unless everything was close to ready. Missiles and payloads both.”

“Nuclear?” Admiral Wallis’ voice was gruff as he folded his arms across his chest. Eric shook his head.

“Doubtful. No way we could assemble that ourselves. He has to be gettin’ some help from outside, but I know y’all still sweep all the cargoes comin’ in for radioactives. I’d say it’s impossible he could get a significant number of warheads in, even did he have a source.” Eric ran a hand through his hair. “No, probably chemical. We’ve always been good at that, and if yo’ tryin’ to threaten someone…”

“It’s just as good.” Rosemont leaned forward, and Eric nodded in grudging respect. There was a real brain turning behind those damned bombardier’s eyes. “Question is, how much have they got and where?”

“I don’t know.” Eric leaned back against the door, looking up at the ceiling. “But I think I can find out. Take maybe twenty four hours, maybe less.”

The Americans exchanged glances, and the Director spoke. “Archon, we are willing to believe that you have nothing to do with this, at least for now. We will give you time to gather information on this and try to work with you to defuse the situation. But you must understand. If any missiles launch from Madagascar-“

“Everybody here dies. I know.” Eric grinned, a death’s-head look. “Guess that makes me what yo’d call real motivated about it, hey?"



Lt. Brown, Mr. Grey, and Comrade Syeriy on Let's Play BARIS

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-02 09:37pm
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I'm very curious about what the Japanese have to gain from helping the Draka make trouble. The Yanks are involved in Indonesia, so maybe the Japanese want the Yanks to pull out and focus on the Draka, so they can take over?

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-03 03:20am
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That doesn't really make much sense though.

Hell, neither does this attack. The Snakes, despite being a couple of decades down the track, are still going to be hated with a passion beyond anything we could understand given what they did to so much of the world.
And if they do something as stupid as launching a gas attack with ballistic weapons...I mean, the call to 'Finish the fucking job!' is going to be huge, and the Reprisal can easily fulfill the destiny of her name once more.

And with that said, dealing with the Snakes is going to be just THAT simple, its not going to require a huge amount of resources or attention from the US that might work for Japan in giving them a
second shot at their South East Asia colony belt unless they have a huge nuclear stock with which to level a strategic threat against the United States...

Still, I was half expecting them to try something, given that they got off lightly compared to the OTL, not the crushing defeat they needed to actually change their culture.



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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-03 04:45am
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So what territory does Japan have right now? Is it just the Home Islands or do they have more then that?

I don't think it's just some good ole Sarin or even VX they've got for warheads. Either they've got nukes from the Japanese or they've got a really nasty chem or bio warhead. Also remember that sonar contact the DE got and they though it was a midget sub? I'd bet that was a Japanese either supply or attack sub. And the Japanese may be willing to help these certain Snakes by trying to break the naval quarantine. If Japan is going to war with the US anyway, why not try and sink some unsuspecting US naval assets.

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-03 05:40am
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On the other hand, Japan giving the Draka missiles gives them a presence in the western Indian Ocean. If they can take over the Indonesian operation and the straits of Malaca then the entire body of water belongs to them.



Stuart: The only problem is, I'm losing track of which universe I'm in.
You kinda look like Jesus. With a lightsaber.- Peregrin Toker
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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-03 08:16am
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CaptainChewbacca wrote:
On the other hand, Japan giving the Draka missiles gives them a presence in the western Indian Ocean. If they can take over the Indonesian operation and the straits of Malaca then the entire body of water belongs to them.


Perhaps...but its not really much of a presence, especially as the Snakes themselves are more or less undefended against even a modest nuclear strike, and are surrounded by a naval blockade.

I do have to admit some curiosity about how the societies on the African mainland are doing their raiding. Its one thing for a bunch of pirates to play hell in a busy shipping lane, occasionally get caught and released like we see today.

But a REAL blockade patrolled with warships that have clear 'one warning, then blow them out of the water' standing orders is a whole different thing.

But I can understand how the hate these cultures would have for the Draka might well lead them to taking the risks



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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-03 01:38pm
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I'm at work for the moment and can't write a whole lot, but some factors to aid your analysis:

- The U.S. and Japan are in a cold war. Japan does indeed have a strategic nuclear arsenal, as does the US. MAD is in full effect.

- Japan did hold on to a fair bit of overseas territory. The 1944 armistice basically had them withdrawing to their December 6, 1941 positions- which meant they held on to Korea, Manchuria, Taiwan, the Japanese Mandate Islands, and French Indochina (where they were technically invited in by the Vichy French government). Thailand, as in real history, is a Japanese satellite. The U.S. retains New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines in its sphere of influence. Indonesia, as mentioned, is a major "hot spot" as Japan and the U.S. try to spread their influence, as are the ex-Draka territories in China and the Soviet rump state in Siberia and the rest of Indochina. The British colonies of Hong Kong and Singapore are in a situation very much like West Berlin in our cold war...

Yes, this did mean the Americans stopped quite a bit short of unconditional surrender. Yamamoto essentially sat down and made a generous offer (withdrawal to prewar territory, reparations, and a formal apology for the "unlawful actions of the criminal Tojo government"), and basically asked if he thought it was worth letting the Draka overrun Europe to break the Japanese once and for all. FDR thought about it, and decided it wasn't.

- Soooo...the Snakes are pretty much undefended against nuclear bombing, unless they were somehow to get their own deterrent. Or end up underneath someone else's "umbrella".

- As people might well have gathered, the IQEA is "International" in a sense, but pretty much made up from the American/Alliance for Democracy power bloc. The Japanese take the whole thing a lot less seriously- the Draka never directly threatened them, remember, and in fact acted as a convenient distraction to stave off defeat. Imperial Navy warships help contribute to the Quarantine Patrol, and there's a Japanese presence on the IQEA Board, but that's about it.



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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-03 02:05pm
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Chris OFarrell wrote:
Still, I was half expecting them to try something, given that they got off lightly compared to the OTL, not the crushing defeat they needed to actually change their culture.
I think the culture *did* change, just not entirely. Or are there still huge serf plantations on Madagascar?

My bet is that the Draka have been forced to learn how to live without servants... but that intense racial consciousness and instinct towards militarization is still there. Which, given that it's only been one generation, probably isn't a surprise.

ChaserGrey wrote:
Indonesia, as mentioned, is a major "hot spot" as Japan and the U.S. try to spread their influence, as are the ex-Draka territories in China and the Soviet rump state in Siberia and the rest of Indochina.
What happened to the rest of Soviet territory? Between the Germans and the Draka there wouldn't be much left of the population, but the Draka for one would have had no intention of killing everyone- nor time to do so.

With the Nazis demolished by the Draka too, and their never really having had a viable claim to that territory in any event, I'd expect European Russia to be restored to the aforementioned Soviet rump state. Granted it'd be a lot of territory with practically nothing in the way of people and infrastructure, but it'd be theirs... and, potentially, an even more interesting battleground for Alliance/Japanese tension, because it's closer to the surviving Alliance positions that survived the war.

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-03 02:31pm
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Quote:
I think the culture *did* change, just not entirely. Or are there still huge serf plantations on Madagascar?

My bet is that the Draka have been forced to learn how to live without servants... but that intense racial consciousness and instinct towards militarization is still there. Which, given that it's only been one generation, probably isn't a surprise.


I think Chris O'Farrell was referring to the real-world Japanese Empire, not to the Draka. If what happened in Proof Through the Night doesn't count as a crushing Draka defeat, then what does, short of total extermination?

In this TL, the Japanese weren't hammered badly enough to shake them out of the arrogance that led to them launching an aggressive war in the first place, and the US didn't have seven years of formal occupation and the many decades of influence that came from protecting Japan from the USSR to remake Japanese culture into something different. The intensely militaristic Japanese culture of this TL wasn't decisively defeated, and thus discredited, as it was in our world. Remember that the scars of Hiroshima and Nagasaki run very deep - and those attacks didn't happen here.

Still, I don't really get what the Japanese are trying to do here. The Draka do not represent a significant distraction for the US. Reprisal alone could turn the whole of Madagascar into a car park in a matter of hours, and most of the world probably wouldn't bat an eye.



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Last edited by Diverball on 2011-01-04 03:14am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-03 05:23pm
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Ah, OK. You meant Japan.

Never mind then.

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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-04 02:33am
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CaptainChewbacca wrote:
Fascinating. Lots of threads to keep me interested, and the Draka Archonate sounds like it'll be fun to learn more about.

Things I would expect of a "Draka Archonate:"
  • A truly psychotic nationalist movement. One year, you are the lord and master of your own massive plantation; the next, you are pushing your own plow. That's some powerful humiliation. Not everyone would have seen the devastation of the nukes first-hand. I like when Merarch Bohner just straight-up shot that gunner, and then the way he talked to his corpse afterward - that scene had the kind of pathos I am thinking about.
  • Many attempts on Eric von Shrakenburg's life, for similar reasons to the above.
  • Racial violence against the children of the "Metic Citizens" mentioned at the end of the last story. The Draka are not accustomed to being working-class, and if any dark-skinned person manages to become better off than a group of Draka grunts, well...
  • As time goes on and the terrible memories of nuclear fire fade, a whole bunch of attempted historical revisionism to get over the cognitive dissonance of slowly-absorbed civilized values mixed with a longing for the glorious past where every single Draka was a member of the aristocracy. "We weren't going to enslave Europe - we were saving them from the Nazis! We treated our serfs real well! We never really wanted to conquer the world... FDR had no good reason to nuke us... Those Draka who fought to the bitter end were real brave... The darkies are animals anyway... You'll all see one day.... The Domination will rise again..."



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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-04 06:17am
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Yeah, whats up with a 'soviet rump state'? With the Domination smashed, there's nobody to reoccupy conquered Russian territory except Russia. I would imagine there's a ton of reconstruction there but Russia should still reach from Poland to the Pacific.

I also wonder if Drakan troops tried to sell their services to other nations to avoid returning home. There might be Drakan refugee/immigrant communities somewhere out there.



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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-04 08:46am
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Heh. So Whereas our TL had the Americans and Soviets sparring over the world in the aftermath of Nazism, we have the Japanese and the Americans eyeing each other uncomfortably after the Draka had been nearly obliterated. I suspect Breaking Strain's events are Proof-verse's equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Hell, it even happens around the same exact time.

Unlike the Russians, though, the Japanese got pretty badly pounded by the Americans and had to fall back or get nuked. Stalin's Russia never had that problem (other than the fact it got hammered by the Nazis, but in return, they got meaner).

As for a Russian state, it's debatable. We have a huge country and a people used to being ruled as a monolithic entity, but in return, Proof-verse's Russian government is a shadow of its former glory, which wasn't much to begin with already. It would have a hard time getting its act together until the mid-60's.

As for Draka mercs... really? You want people to hire the same bastards who massacred them and damn near enslaved them all? My guess is whatever Draka forces didn't run for cover to Madagascar or got slaughtered in glorious but damn foolish last stands like Louise's in Syria (we totally need to see that too, btw. Or at least I do :) ) are wandering around doing whatever mischief they can being pirates and insurgents until the local governments pick them off one by one. Those that surrendered were probably shipped off to the Archonate, those who the Alliance managed to find before the bushmen tore them apart anyways.

Speaking of bushmen - or rather, former serfs - we're looking at apartheid or Jim Crow laws being passed through discretely by hardliners in power. Proof-verse's Nelson Mandela would probably wind up living in a South Africa free of whites, but there would probably be an equivalent in Madagascar who'd fight long and hard for ex-serf rights. Or the equivalent of Martin Luther King trying to reach the same. IIRC, the USA no longer has segregation in Proof, right?

As a final note, I wonder what the internet trolls of Proof's future are going to use to insult their opponents. Are they going to call them Nazis or Snakes? :D



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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-04 08:53am
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A couple of points to add to my previous post:
  1. Okay, my bad. The Japanese didn't get hammered, they just got beaten enough to rethink their approach. Still, from ChaserGrey's description (and I didn't read March Through Georgia, nor do I think I ever will), the Japanese fleet did get nuked in a couple of places, which seems to have scared some sense into it, but not for long. Just wanted to adjust my above statement about the Japanese, that's all.
  2. What's Europe like? It took fifteen to twenty years for Europe to clean up after WW2 in our timeline, but in both SM Stirling's TL and Proof, they pretty much got burned to the ground. I'm guessing that right now, Europe's just agreed to settle things peacefully and head to a EU faster, seeing as how it has no energy left for squabbles or war. Even the Balkans are no longer a powder keg ready to blow. It's still probably a hole by Breaking Strain, however, with Britain the only standing nation in it. Least-ways, that's my analysis.
EDIT: Just remembered; Nationalist Spain is probably the only other European country still with a (more or less) standing government. Sure, it probably had a shitload to handle in light of all the French, German and other refugees from occupied Europe, but Erik never managed to get far beyond the Pyrenees as the Yanks nuked his chain of supply (and half his people), so I'm guessing it's still standing. There's also Portugal, but, well...

So would I be wrong in guessing that Proof's European Union will be commanded from Madrid rather than Paris or Bonn as it did in our world? True, both those cities got leveled in WW2, but the Draka probably did a more thorough job than the Nazis or Allies in wrecking them.



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 Post subject: Re: Breaking Strain: Sequel to Proof Through the Night PostPosted: 2011-01-04 01:02pm
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CaptainChewbacca wrote:
I also wonder if Drakan troops tried to sell their services to other nations to avoid returning home. There might be Drakan refugee/immigrant communities somewhere out there.
The biggest problem with that is that the Draka refugee populations have almost no marketable skills except warfare, and use of large numbers of Draka emigres in any conflict is liable to backfire politically.

The closest analogy I can think of is Waffen SS veterans joining the French Foreign Legion after World War II, and the French cracked down on that within a few years as it was. The Draka would if anything be more hated than the SS; they'd also be fairly easy to identify.

Saint_007 wrote:
As for a Russian state, it's debatable. We have a huge country and a people used to being ruled as a monolithic entity, but in return, Proof-verse's Russian government is a shadow of its former glory, which wasn't much to begin with already. It would have a hard time getting its act together until the mid-60's.
They won't be a big player; too much physical infrastructure and above all population was lost (though I think calling the prewar USSR "not much" is hard to justify). The point is that there's no reason for the lines-on-map Soviet government of this timeline to not control all or most of the former Soviet territory, having been liberated after the war. There won't be very many people or industry in it, but they'll own all the ground.

Especially since the regions most likely to try to break away from a Russian state (the 'fringe' SSRs in the Caucasus, for instance) were most heavily brutalized by the Draka and therefore least able to make a go of it as independent nations.

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