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What will you trade for iron(y)?

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  • What will you trade for iron(y)?

    (Author's Note: what can ruin worlds faster than nuclear weapons? Mod packs, of course!)

    Vovchanchyn hadn't joined the navy with the expectation of ending up face down in the mud outside of Leningrad, hiding from fascist bullets, to say nothing of errant communist bullets. "Join the navy, see foreign lands," he muttered as gunfire whistled past his head, prompting him to push himself deeper into the slimy mud of the crude trench.

    The world had changed irrevocably five years earlier, and now ripples of the change were threatening to drown people like Vovchanchyn. Five years ago saw the arrival of new, undreamed of units. Before 1876 there had only been two types of tanks, and one type of infantry. It was as if someone had somehow broken into the "rules" of the world and made sweeping, capricious changes, just to see what would happen. Now Germans called themselves "Fascists." Panther and Tiger tanks stalked the Russian steppes, rapidly overruning Kiev and Smolensk. The Russians were hard pressed to counter. Beloved Catherine had simply vanished one day, replaced with a man named "Stalin." He didn't seem as well animated as Catherine, but that was hardly Russia's top concern.

    The patter of gunfire fell silent, allowing the cries of the dying to be heard clearly. "There's one thing that hasn't changed," muttered Vovchanchyn.

    Vovchanchyn drew a breath and peaked above the lip of the trench. Corpses of men and horses covered the wounded earth like a horrific carpeting. "Cossacks." Vovchanchyn remembered their boasts. "We'll turn back the infantry! If we start losing we can just retreat and reform!" Arrogance, impotent arrogance. For some reason the tactical retreats had failed, for the first time in the storied history of the Cossack Cavalry.

    Nightfall signaled the end of another day of killing and dying. "Ivan Aronovich! I didn't think any naval soliders were still alive!" Vovchanchyn was greeted by his patronym by an erstwhile cossack, Boris Daronkov. Boris, like Igor, had been reassigned to the infantry when his previous role proved unnecessary. The two were behind the lines, taking a well deserved break from the madness of war.

    "What a world," muttered Igor, taking a cigarette from his friend. "What a world."

    Boris laughed. "God must be laughing at us. Those fascists have the same government we have, I mean when you get past the rhetoric, but they are twice as productive. Who's minding things anyway?"

    "Governments. I'm not worried about Governments these days. I'm worried that more new German units are going to show up overnight again."

    Boris allowed a thin smile. "You need to think globally! We are citizens of the world, you know." The two men laughed bitterly, their cigarettes glowing like fireflies in the darkness.


    Zhukov usually imagined himself as having roughly a 90% chance of surviving a meeting with Stalin. Today, he figured his odds were perhaps even.

    "What news do you have of the Heroic War, Georgi Mikhailovich?"
    Stalin demanded in his Georgian accent.

    Zhukov collected himself from the floor where he had been prostrating himself. "Grim news, comrade leader. Fascist artillery has completely destroyed two infantry units at Kaluga. Moscow is in very real danger." Zhukov prepared for the expolsion.

    The explosion occured. "Artillery! Killed a unit! That can't happen! Talk sense man!" Stalin's face flushed red with rage.

    Zhukov swallowed a sigh. "Our experts believed that to be true based on the history of past wars. It's just things have changed so much in the last five years."

    "I don't need you to tell me that! Idiot!"

    Zhukov set his jaw. It was a good thing he hadn't mentioned the Battleship sunk by a German bomber near Sevastopol. At least the bomber had somehow crashed after finishing the job.

    "Imbecile! The only reason you leave here alive is because I'm a wise and genorous man!"

    Zhukov missed Catherine, even if the memory of her attempts to seduce him caused involuntary wincing to this day. He was not unambitious, but there were some things he wouldn't do, and she was one of them.

    "You will lead the armies at Kaluga. If you fail, I'll assign you to rushing a wonder so fast..."

    Zhukov cringed. He knew that was a death sentence for even a great leader, let alone a mere two-star general.

    "Thank you, comrade leader. You are too good to me." Zhukov prostated himself.

    "Get out of my sight. If I see you again with bad news..." Stalin let the sentence hang in the air. There was no doubt he'd let Zhukov hang that way too, should he fail. Zuhkov hurried out of the office, the weight of his new tasks bearing down on him. How could he win a war when everything he thought was right was now wrong?"

    I'd love to hear comments, criticisms, etc.
    Last edited by Rotten999; April 1, 2002, 23:30.

  • #2
    I like the beggining!
    Traigo sueños, tristezas, alegrías, mansedumbres, democracias quebradas como cántaros,
    religiones mohosas hasta el alma...


    • #3
      I love it.


      • #4
        Guderian studied the tactical map of England. The blue pins were starting to outnumber the orange pins, as landings continued and Bristish units fell before German armour. Guderian allowed himself a small smile, which for him was completely unrestrained emotionalism. Things were going well, as if someone was manipulating things in the background, solely for German benefit.

        He remembered English arrogance at the start of the war. They had wrongly believed their navy would prevent a land invasion. It seemed reasonable, the Germans had only a handful of obsolete ships. No one suspected that planes could win a naval war, but it happened. Guderian remembered Churchill's histrionics, talking about fighting to the last British citizen and so on. Guderian frowned, an expression that fit his face like a glove. Whisky Churchhill, he thought. Alcoholic. Pathetic. Guderian kept his life in strict order, and had no respect for anyone who didn't.

        "Mr. Carter will see you, sir." Guderian was pulled from his musings by the arrival of the British envoy.

        "What can I do for you Mr. Carter?" Guderian's face was a mask of scorn.

        "I bring word from our President." Guderian sneered at the word. Democracy. It was less productive than his glorious Fascist state, and had the additional problems of civilian unrest. The idea of a "free" nation was hypocritical nonsense anyway, thought Guderian. Someone has to be the hammer and someone the anvil.

        "As you know we are commited to fighting to the man, and using every possible weapon and tactic, legal or no, to defend our homeland and way of life. Our American allies have announced that aid is on the way. The garrison of Southhampton demands that you withdraw your soldiers and discuss peace like a civilized nation." Carter's thin body shook as he spoke. He was intimidated by Guderian's baleful stare.

        Another smile crept over Guderian's hard face, in spite of himself. "You need to keep up with current events, Mr. Carter. Southhampton has ALREADY fallen."

        Cater stared at him in wide-eyed horror, his adam's apple quivering.

        "Your pathetic nation will soon bow before the German eagle. Our forces move on London. Tell Churchhill to have a drink on me in the meantime." The witticism was very unusual for Guderian, but he was in a good mood.

        "I'll tell him that." Carter fought to recover his dignity, and to his credit was largely successful. He hurried out of the office.

        Guderian returned to the tactical map. Five years of war, nothing but victories. Rome reduced to a client state, Greece utterly eliminated, Zulus forced into peace. Now England would fall, and America would soon be humbled as well. In the East Mannstien had his hands around the neck of Leningrad, and was starting to squeeze. Rommel was advancing on Moscow, and Keitel would soon take Sevastopol. Soon there would only be one nation, thought Guderian. It was a pleasing thought.


        American Generals George Patton and Omar Bradley were discussing logistics aboard the USS South Dakota when a bomber attack forced them to run for cover.

        "Those sons of b----s!" shouted Patton over the explosions of the bombs. The battleship was helpless to defend itself against the bomber, as indeed all ships were.

        Out of bombs, the bomber turned to return to its point of origin, probably distant France. The ability to hit, and suddenly sink, ships a thousand miles away was a good reason to fear them. "Here's one for the road you magnificent b-----d!" shouted Patton, firing his ivory handled revolver futillly at the retreating bomber. It was just pure anger, he knew it would be futile. A ship or ground unit had never shot down a plane, ever.

        Too late the American fighters scrambled from a nearby carrier. Patton watched in disgust. The USS Montana was slowly sinking behind them.

        The two generals resumed their conversation, as though the bombing had been nothing but a mild annoyance. Bradley watched the German bomber crash into the sea near the horizon. That always happened when a bomber sunk a ship, for some reason. It was small consolation.

        "If only they could point a cannon at the sky." Patton was in his 'great ideas' phase. His last great idea had been tri-colored uniforms for tankmen: Red, Orange, and Blue. Bradley had joked that maybe they could draw a yellow target on the Uniform over the chest, too. Only once, though. Patton seemed genuinly hurt at having the idea criticized.

        "I don't follow you, George." Bradley enjoyed Patton's company, surprising considering he was very soft-spoken next to Patton's bluster.

        "Like Anti-tank guns, only..." Patton struggled for the word.

        "Anti-Aircraft?" Bradley offered.

        "That's why I keep you around Brad. Yes, exactly."

        "If it were possible our scientists would have done it by now George. Plus, what would be the point of fighters if we had these guns?" Omar Bradley was probably the US army's best problem solver, while Patton didn't like to be bothered with the details.

        "'re probably right." It was the same tone he used when his tanker uniforms had been laughed at.

        "It was a good thought though. I wish it were possible too."

        "If wishes were horses, Brad, they would be traded as strategic resources."

        "And Russians would die on them." the friends laughed at the wit.

        "What are the plans for England? We just got word that London is under seige." Bradley was worried about this development.

        "We go in and kick a--, Brad. We kill those b-----ds, then we go into France, punish them for that right-of-passage nonsense, cut out the rotten heart of Germany, and than settle the Russians too, probably." Patton was dead serious.

        "We may need to expand some of the details, George."

        "That's why I keep you around Brad, that's why I keep you around."

        More to come. Thanks for the kind words!
        Last edited by Rotten999; March 21, 2002, 20:19.


        • #5
          Jim Bowman carefully painted a black eagle on the side of his Spitfire, to the right of three matching eagles that he had acquired over the past month. It seemed rather morbid to him to be keeping score, but everyone else in the RAF did, and he couldn't afford to be more different than he was already.

          Bowman was an American, of Zulu descent, serving as a volunteer in the RAF. It sounded confusing, and indeed his life had been anything but simple. The Zulus in the USA had been taken as slave labor in a war Amercia had with Zululand in the 1300s. While general manumission had occured in 1776, actual equality was a long way off. Bowman had learned to fly at the Tuskegee Institute, and had honed his trade in the US Airforce. The USA kept him in a segregated regiment, only allowing him to practice in obsolete fighters. Nevertheless, he was one of their best fliers. You really couldn't teach reflexes or intuition, and he had plenty of both.

          The war prompted Bowman to volunteer with the RAF. Quality pilots were a premium, especially with air power suddenly coming to the fore. It wasn't just for action that he volunteered. He had a deep hatred for fascism. Maybe the US and Britain had their problems, but they were enlightenment personified set against Germany, he thought.

          He remembered his first day with the RAF. A corporal had said to him "Let me help you with those bags, boy." Bowman had exploded on him, grabbing his collar and yelling at him. "You got some kind of problem with me cuz my skin's a little darker than yours?" he'd shouted. He remembered how abashed he'd been when he learned the corporal called everyone "boy" in an affectionate way. Growing up an outsider made Bowman a guarded person. Nevertheless, he rapidly gained the respect of the British.

          "Get ready Jim. Radar's picked up Jerries flying on London." It was Mark Solemn Bear, one of many Iroquis-British. The Iroquis had been conquered by Britain early in their history, and they were now completely integrated. Jim envyed that, but it also gave him hope.

          "Let's get it on." Jim strapped on his helmet as he climbed into the cockpit of the spitfire. Moments later, he was airbourne with the squadron.

          "Leader here. Check in." The voice of Captain Wallace sounded nervous even over the white noise of the radio. The men checked in: "Johnston...Clearwater....Baker...Solemn Bear...Jones...Parker...Bowman."

          Moments later the fighters were engaging German fighter-bombers over London. Bowman had a German in his sights, but a wild tail roll saved the German. They had some skill, there was no denying it.

          "Need some help, mates." Parker had picked up a German. Bowman sighted the Me-112 and made a diving attack. The German plane exploded. "Thanks, whoever that was," breathed Parker.

          Even as the RAF fought the air-battle, more German planes made their bombing runs. Much of London was in flames. Attacks had already destroyed a temple and a Bank. Incredibly, London only had one of each.

          The air battle ended as darkness descended. The Germans had lost eight planes against Bowman's 18th Squadron, but the damage was done. The 18th lost Jones and Clearwater. Such was war. Bowman sighed as he flew back over a badly scarred London. Would these sacrifices ultimately be in vain?


          Albert Speer entered Bismarck's chamber in Berlin. Unlike many of the national leaders, Bismarck had not been replaced in the bizarre change of five years ago. Perhaps the potential replacement was such a vile man that God himself had vetoed the change. Who knows? Bismarck wasn't exactly an easy man.

          "I'm worried about our culture." Speer got right to the point.

          "How so?" Bismarck was in an unusually contempletive mood. With nothing but good news and victory pouring in from all fronts, trouble was something of a novelty.

          "Factories are actually causing cities to lose it. By that, I mean they are making the people unappreciative of the arts, discouraging potential authors and musicians, and generally lowering the quality of life."

          "They're doing all that?" Bismarck laughed. "You must be joking."

          "I didn't believe it either, but I have the numbers. We could potentially lose territory from this. Perhaps we should end these wars and build up something that will enrich the people."

          "Butter makes the people fat, Speer."

          "Iron makes them strong." Speer bitterly completed the quote for the iron chancellor.

          "I have another concern."

          "Well, I'm dying to hear it." Bismarck turned his back on Speer to look out the window.

          "Remember how we suddenly gained the ability to build those new units for no apparent reason?" Speer took Bismarck's silence as agreement. "And remember when the Fascism replaced the Republic overnight?" More silent agreement.

          "Our experts think its possible that the same forces that unbalanced things to our benefit may try to restore the balance by aiding are enemies."

          "You mean God or spirits? Talk sense, man." Bismarck had little faith in a higher power, despite the bizarre evidence for one that had occured five years ago.

          "Call it that if you want. Our experts are calling him "The Player." He seems to be altering our reality. It's complicated, but the numbers bear it out." Speer himself had a hard time grasping the idea, and he doubted Bismarck would appreciate this complex theory. It was too important not to mention, though.

          "You're a man of reason, Speer. Don't waste your time with this obvious nonsense. A man makes his own fate."

          "If you'd just look at the findings!"

          "That will be all Speer. You'd better go while I'm still in a good mood."

          Speer left the Chancellor's chambers. He was a man of reason, but reason pointed toward the fantastic. Something was going on, and it was something beyond the understanding of even his nation's wisest advisors. If only Bismarck would listen!


          More to come, feedback is encouraged!


          • #6
            Very good story,
            I am still laughing about "the Player"
            Alea iacta est!


            • #7
              Vovchancyn huddled in what had once been a building, but now resembled several giant concrete teeth. He peered around one of the jagged teeth, into the street. Behind him were a half-dozen red infantry men and his friend Boris, who was in the late stages of typhus. Disease was rampant in Leningrad now, and just as deadly as bullets and bombs, just as random and heartless.

              The Germans had entered Leningrad a week earlier, overruning the outside defenders. Here in the city, the battle was house-to-house. Now the Germans had less of an advantage, although their Panthers and Tigers were still nearly unstoppable. The Russians were pulling out every trick they could to defend Russia's traditional capital.

              Another red infantry man joined the group, sheparding several dogs with him. Smiles came to the other men's faces, involuntarily. Most of the soldiers had grown up on farms. The smiles disappeared as each man realized the likely fate of the dogs.

              Maybe an hour later, Vovchanchyn spotted a German patrol moving up the ruined street toward the crude position. A tiger tank rolled forward, surrounded by perhaps two dozen wehrmacht infantry. Vovchancyn turned to the others and clenched his right hand into a fist.

              The Germans were suprised to see five very friendly looking mongrel dogs run into the street toward them. The tank commander looked to the infantry sergeant with disbelief and amusement on his face. "Who let the dogs out?" he asked, as if the other man knew.

              The explosion threw several of the wehrmacht soldiers like strawmen in a hurricane. The Russians had strapped the dogs with explosives. As much as it pained them to do it, it was a grim necessity. The tank was undamaged, and the men who were unhurt began firing into the ruined buildings. "Over there!" They had been spotted.

              "Let's move!" Vovchancyn helped Boris as the men hurried from their position. The Tiger's main gun turned toward the position, and than the Tiger pounced. The cement teeth were extracted, crushed to powder.

              The Russians, minus two men killed by shrapnel from the Tiger's attack, squated in a damaged warehouse. They'd saved one of the dogs, and now it was their supper. It was better than starvation, something all the men had become familiar with.
              Boris wouldn't eat.

              "Looks like this is it, Igor Aronovich."

              "Don't be stupid. You have to eat."

              "No, I'm done," Vovchanchyn could tell his friend was not going to survive.

              "I think of happier times, Igor. The farm I grew up on. The most beautiful little village. Visit it when this is over, Igor. Tell my family." Boris coughed and rolled on his side.

              "You didn't tell me the name of the village."

              "Chernobyl. Beautiful Chernobyl. How I wish I was there." Boris stared wistfully into space, and than the stare became empty. Igor closed his eyes. He was thankful they had just eaten dog, or someone might suggest they eat...war, it was unthinkable. He wondered how much longer he would last. Not long, probably.


              Guderian carefully inserted several light blue pins into the western coast of the tactical map of England. He glowered at the pins, as if that made a difference. His dark blue pins circled London, but there were so many orange pins clustered in the British capital it resembled a porcupine.

              His aide, Klaus Schultz, interrupted his glowering. "Sir, what are the orders?"

              "Americans." Guderian muttered it more to himself than Schultz.

              Bismarck had promised him that the combined efforts of the Luftwaffe and the U-Boat fleet would keep the Americans from crossing the Atlantic. Recent events had proved him wrong. The USA had made a massive landing, and were now moving to lift the seige on London.

              "We're giving up on London."

              The aide didn't question this, of course, but his expression soured. They'd been fighting for the capital for weeks, and victory seemed inevitable. Artillery were gradually eliminating British infantry, and they had no chance of an effective counter-attack. On the other hand, the Americans had changed everything.

              "That's right," added Guderian. "We move offensively but fight defensively. Force them to do something stupid, than grind them up."

              The aide frowned. "The American have 15 tank units and 30 infantry. Add the British forces, and we're badly outnumbered."

              "We still have the advantage. The so-called "tanks" they field aren't even worthy of the name, and our wehrmacht infantry is stronger than their's as well. If our tactics are sound, numbers mean nothing. We drive north, taking lightly defended industrial cities. The British have moved everything they have into London. We'll make them pay for that."

              "You mean raze cities, sir?" Bismarck frowned at his aide. Where did they find these people?

              "We both know that's impossible. An army can't destroy a city overnight, that's just ridiculous. What we can do is destroy the infrastructure, leaving useless husks for our enemies."

              The aide noted the plan.

              "Tell me about the American commander." Guderian felt he'd earned some entertainment. He liked to smirk at the feckless pretentions of foreign leaders.

              "His name is George S. Patton. Age 43. Attended California University at Los Angeles. Majored in...philosophy. First in class at their military school, West Point. Eight years in the US army..."

              "You're not really telling me anything I couldn't figure out on my own. What else?"

              Schultz sighed as he flipped to the last page of the file, the personal details. "Writes poetry. Believes in reincarnation. Reads Bible daily. Reputed to be a hothead. Likes to fight aggressively. Considered an armour expert." Guderian suppressed a laugh at the last detail. There was only one real armour expert in the world, namely him.

              "Enough. We'll see how this strange barbarian fares against someone who knows lightening warfare. You are dismissed."

              Guderian took a seat and thought. Somehow this Patton sounded more dangerous than anyone else he'd ever fought. He had the numbers, too. No matter, he wouldn't have an answer for the German tanks. Guderian turned to the tactical map, visualizing the dark blue pins moving north, destroying everything in their path.


              No where near finished. Thoughts always welcome!
              Last edited by Rotten999; March 22, 2002, 14:03.


              • #8
                "Here's to the Yanks!" Captain Wallace raised his glass.

                The surviving men of the 18th RAF squadron were drinking Guiness at one of London's few surviving pubs, celebrating the German withdrawal. "Here, here," chorused Jim Bowman, Parker, Solemn Bear, and Baker.

                "Tell me Jim," slurred Parker, "will you be going back to a Yank unit, now that they're here?"

                "I hope not." Bowman wasn't as festive as the other men. This war was still a long way from over, he knew. "I put in a request to stay in the 18th."

                "It must be love!" declared Baker, nearly falling out of his chair.

                "You're too ugly for me, Baker." Bowman relaxed a little, aided by the ale. "Besides, the Americans would make me a cook or stevedore instead of letting me fly."

                "Even after all the experience you have? You're an ace, for crying out loud!" Solemn Bear found the idea of holding back a qualified man to be baffling.

                "I'll fly for the Americans the day after Wallace gets promoted." All five men laughed, even Wallace. An unfortunate incident between him and a general's daughter insured he'd never advance past captain. That was just as well as far as he was concerned, he wanted to lead men in battle, not push papers.

                "Hey Jim, you've got two on your tail," laughed Parker. Sure enough, a blonde and brunette at the next table were checking Bowman out. When he turned to look, the blonde slinked over. She was nearly spilling out of a small black dress, a detail not lost on the men.

                "Hey handsome, you're not from around here." She smiled a flirtatous, drunken smile.

                "No, I'm new. I like it so far, though." Bowman smiled back. Yes, the ale worked wonders.

                "Is it true what they say about Zulu men?" Her eyes glanced at Bowman's lap.

                "Would you like to find out first hand?" Bowman smiled and his comrades began shouting bawdy comments.

                "All right, luv."

                Bowman hooked his arm around her waist and headed for the door of the pub, the men seranding him with a rather profane bar song. Yes, he was starting to like Britain. The possible fall of the free world to totalitarianism could wait until noon tomorrow.


                "I've got it!" Einstein clapped his hands together with satisfaction. The last time he had been this pleased with himself was when he had completed his theory of relativity, or maybe the time in his twenties with two any case, it was a breakthrough moment.

                The American Manhattan Project had been working hard to solve the mystery of the changes that occured five years previous. The original purpose of the project, creating a fission bomb, was abandoned when the scientists discovered that as soon as one research group discovered such a weapon, all nations would somehow gain the same knowledge overnight. It didn't make much sense, but what else was new in this world?

                The American scientists, many of whom were actually Germans or Russians who had fled those oppressive regimes, were about as far along as the Germans in their secretive research. Both sides had already advanced "The Player" hypothesis and were well on their way to proving it. Einstein had just seen there was even a bigger picture than that, just as he'd seen the bigger picture behind Newtonian physics.

                Einstein was still in his bathrobe and slippers when he arrived at the project headquarters, beneath the University of Illinois at Chicago. His wild hair was an uncombed mess, as always. His fellow scientists didn't bat an eye at this, they were used to his eccentricities.

                "There is an even greater force than The Player!" It was a bombshell. The scientists looked at Einstein in hushed awe.

                "We already agreed that The Player has certain powers at his disposal, an ability to almost "edit," if you like, our reality." Nods all around the table, that had been proven weeks ago.

                "Well, it now seems that even greater changes have been occuring, changes to the very fabric of our world. It's one thing for new knowledge to appear overnight, but yet another for natural constants to change." You could hear a pin drop in the underground conference room.

                "In fact, I've confirmed that such changes took place before the anomalies five years ago. I call these changes "Patches."
                Stunned silence.

                "It seems the force behind what I call Patches is even stronger than the player, and seems to operate outside the constraints we theorize control the whims of The Player. This has gone unnoticed because these Patches seem to have occured in more primitive times. Only recently, when obvious alterations to reality occured, did anyone have reason to believe that the rules of the world could abruptly and permanently change. Now we know better, and my study of past anomalies seems to confirm it. I trust that you men will review my writings and scour them for errors and possible alternative explanations." The scientists nodded grimly.

                "I call it the Firaxis Theory." The hushed appreciation broke into dozens of excited conversations around the table. This was huge.


                Next up: Zhukov and Patton. I always love hearing feedback.


                • #9
                  I love this!!!


                  • #10
                    love it!


                    • #11
                      God was watching out for fools and drunks, thought Zhukov as he watched several T-34 tanks roll past his Kaluga office. Two weeks earlier the Kirov tank works had unexpectedly announced that they were now able to build these new tanks, and they had no idea how they'd gained the knowledge. It was well known that Russian science had been working on Space Flight since before the war. "Sputnik this, space dog that," thought Zhukov. As far as he could tell, these new tanks were manna from heaven.

                      Even so, it was largely luck that saved the Red Army at the gates of Moscow. A lone infantry unit had defeated three panzers and a tiger tank. If war had taught Zhukov one thing, it was to be ready for anything. He remembered hearing a story growing up about three Cossack cavalry units being defeated by a Japanese spearman in the Russo-Japanese war of 1812. After the 1812 defeat, the Russians made an overture for peace.

                      Rommel had been discouraged by the shocking failure of his vaunted "blitzkreig" and had decided to win a war of attrition with artillery. It was a good plan, and probably would have worked, but a new Russian tank had "fallen from heaven" for all practical purposes. The T-34s had pushed the Germans back to Kursk, where they seemed to be consolidating.

                      Zhukov was relieved to have his head out of the noose. He was relaxing in his office, burning a stick of sandalwood. He couldn't say why, but the incense always made him happy.

                      The local governor entered the room. "We've got a problem, comrade general."

                      "Well, let's have it." Zhukov sighed.

                      "A large part of our population, at least a fifth, considers themselves German citizens." The governor was clearly embarassed with this developement.

                      "What? How is that even possible?"

                      "Apparently the city grew during German occupation. Now we've got people who think they're German. It's ridiculous." The Governor shifted on his feet.

                      "Listen, I'm a military man. My skills are limited to blowing things up and marching in time with others. Besides, this sounds like a problem that will solve itself. They can't stay German forever, not in a Russian city."

                      "Well, thanks anyway comrade general. Just think about it." The governor left, less than thrilled with the reception he'd gotten.

                      Zhukov leaned back in his chair. If the worst problem was civilian oddities, then they were doing great.


                      "They want me to do WHAT!" Patton was enraged. He'd been in Britain for less than a month, and he already hated most of the British high command.

                      "General Montgomery requests that the AEF garrison the cities of Southhampton and London, while his forces surround and defeat the Germans." Tom Carter, liason to the Americans and sometime envoy to the Germans, tried unsuccessfully to smooth things over.

                      "The only thing I'm interested in holding on to is the enemy! No son-of-a-b---h ever won a war by holding territory. You win a war by going out into the field and killing the other b-----d!"

                      "With all do respect, sir, we believe that the German supply lines have been cut, and it's only a matter of time before they surrender. We just need to wait them out." It made perfect sense to Carter. What was wrong with this crazy yankee?

                      "You know as much about real combat as you probably know about fornicating! This isn't a game of cricket! Guderian isn't going to shake hands and say 'You win, good game' you silly b*st*rd! He's going to pillage, burn, and take what he needs from the countryside. If Montgomery and I would move together, we could catch the Germans in a pincher and kick their a-- something awful!"

                      Carter stiffened to full attention. "While your men are in our territory they will obey our orders! I'll pass your opinions on to General Montgomery, but it's ultimately his decision." Carter saluted, did a textbook turn, and left.

                      Patton stared out the window of the London office, stewing. "Monty thinks he's a hero," he thought bitterly. "Doesn't he understand that there are no heroes anymore?"


                      Up next, Speer and Guderian. More, "Firaxis" updates, as well!
                      Last edited by Rotten999; March 23, 2002, 15:02.


                      • #12
                        Albert Speer was not the kind of person to say "I told you so," especially not to Bismarck, but the fact remained that he had.

                        "What is the meaning of this report!" Bismarck threw the papers across his desk with contempt.

                        "Our Government is suddenly not gaining the extra trade we're used to. There doesn't seem to be any explanation for it, other then..."

                        "I do not want to hear that nonsense about The Player!" Bismarck resembled the world's most dissatisfied walrus.

                        "There seems to be more to it than that, I'm told." Speer kept his cool. He was too important to be replaced, and he knew it.

                        "What did I just say!" Bismarck looked ready to drop to his knees and begin devouring the room's carpet.

                        Speer had seen enough of this. "You can live in your fantasy world of iron and blood and heroic Germany and all that horses--t or you can listen to reason! New units don't appear out of nowhere. Economic situations don't change overnight. Something is going on, and you need to pull your head out of the sand!" Speer was shocked at himself. It had to be said, regardless of the price.

                        Thankfully for him Bismarck was snapped out of his rage by the unexpected counter-tirade. He sat down, now looking very sad, suddenly. "Talk to me, Speer."

                        "The Player seems to be readjusting the world again, possibly to regain a balance." Bismarck stared back sadly at Speer and nodded. "Perhaps The Player was bored with the situation." The attempt at levity was rather inappropriate, and Speer immediately regretted it.

                        "What does this all mean?"

                        "It means that the current situation could change at any moment, in ways we can't imagine. Worse, there seemed to be an entity even stronger than the Player. It would seem we're finding out about our Gods." Neither man was thrilled with it, but there it was.

                        "What do you recommend?"

                        "We need to restore our balance, end the wars, and try to get more information. The race to understand and control these forces will be bigger than the space race and atomic race combined."

                        "You've certainly given me a lot to think about." Bismarck collected the papers. "Go."

                        Speer walked out of the office. He'd done what he could. The fate of the German people now was in the hands of the Iron Chancellor. Suddenly, that wasn't as much of a comfort as it once was.


                        Guderian looked at the flaming ruins of Birmingham with satisfaction. His armoured car cruised north down the highway. A few miles behind him, wehrmacht infantry were pillaging the road, meaning they were tearing it up. With the roads ruined, the German armour could bring their superior abilities fully to bear.

                        The armoured car was only traveling at a speed of twenty miles an hour or so, despite the clear road. The bulk of the German forces were clearing the road for Guderian ahead, but the car was handling like it was driving through a cornfield, as opposed to a modern highway. It was an oddity of war, thought Guderian. For some reason enemy roads never helped movement. "There are so many oddities in this world." muttered Guderian.

                        A more imaginative man might have made the logical leap that some of the world's best scientists were currently making. Guderian's creativity was limited entirely to war, though, and he cared little for idle philosophical musings. Even less now, with the British and a small detachment of Americans, in pursuit of his forces across the British countryside.

                        "What was that, sir." the driver turned around.

                        "Nothing, Klaus. It's so odd how roads work, that's what I was thinking."

                        Klaus shrugged. "No point worrying about what can't be changed."

                        Guderian nodded silently. Two hours later he arrived at a temporary headquarters to discuss strategy. It really was more of a lecture than a discussion, of course.

                        "We've got the enemy streched out. Now we can start hammering them. Intelligence reports three American Tanks units," the men chuckled derisively at the use of the word "tank" to describe the American armour, "and four infantry off our western flank. England is streched out to the south-east, and has been slowed quite well by our pillaging. The Americans are now too far ahead for them to aid." Guderian allowed himself a smile.

                        "We encircle the Americans with our entire forces, making a hooking move to the west. Once these savages have been humbled, we can continue pushing North."

                        "Yes sir!" There were no objections.

                        Guderian left his Generals feeling very pleased with himself. He was sending elite forces against inexperienced Americans, who had inferior equipment and would be badly outnumbered to boot. He liked those odds.


                        Next up: Vovchanchyn and Patton.


                        • #13
                          better and better


                          • #14
                            Vovchanchyn thought his new Red Guard uniform was uncomfortable, and pretty poorly designed on top of that. He missed his naval whites, and even the tasseled cap. The only good thing about the new uniform was a second stripe was now on his arm.

                            He had been one of the few survivors of the lengthy seige of Leningrad. The seige had finally been lifted by a massive counter-offensive of T-34s from Siberia. Stalin himself had made an appearance, declaring Leningrad the "Soviet Hero City" prior to purging some more of the leadership, of course. Vovchanchyn's experience in the city led to a promotion and an appointment to a Guards unit. "One step closer to general," he thought bitterly as he helped to push an armoured car that had become bogged down in the muddy road outside of Riga.

                            "I bet you'd do as well as the ones we've had, Igor Aronovich." Fellow Guard corporal Mikhail Bolkonov laughed at his wit as the car escaped the rut in the road, covering both men in mud.

                            Igor looked at his soaked uniform, pleased. "Now it's broken in. I couldn't stand being clean." It was true. He'd grown so used to filth during the battles in and around Leningrad, that being clean seemed unhealthy and wrong.

                            "We're Guards, Igor. Looking good is our main job now." Bolkonov wiped mud from his eyes.

                            "You're in deep trouble, then." Both men laughed. They'd fought together in the city-fighting in Leningrad, and had an understanding.

                            The Guard corporals returned to their men. The last few days of marching was almost a vacation, after weeks of combat. Just a pleasant little walk.

                            "Look alive, men!" The Captain in charge of the division, being the division's highest ranking man on the right side of the topsoil, was going from group to group with an announcement. "We've got word that the Germans are defending a hill position a few miles ahead. It is our job to help fulfill the dialetic by defeating the reactionairy fascist forces." Like many Russian Officers, he was mainly skilled in party rhetoric and fairly clueless about the horrors of war. His uniform was still spotless.

                            Vovchanchyn and Bolkonov gave each other a "here we go again" look. "So many times I've tried to commit suicide," said Vovchanchyn in a whisper. "And I just never got the job done. Maybe this time I finally get it right." Bolkonov looked back sympathetically. It just never seemed to end.


                            Patton had spent maybe ten non-angry minutes since he arrived in Britain. "That d--n fool. That crazy b-----d! I knew it."

                            Omar Bradley listened sympathetically. He didn't share Patton's colorful verbiage, but he agreed with his points. In an ill-conceived decision to mollify Patton, Montgomery had allowed a small detachment of Americans to act as a "Recon in Force." The result was disaster. Guderian had encircled the out-numbered AEF forces, and basically slaughtered them. Only remnants of the divisions remained when the British finally arrived.

                            "The greatest war, a once in a lifetime chance for glory, and they won't let me fight!"

                            "Do you want to hear the reports I've gathered from the survivors?"

                            "Go ahead, Brad." Patton took a seat.

                            "The men report that our tanks were badly outclassed by German armour, both in mobility and firepower. The men are calling our tanks 'rolling coffins.' Our recon wasn't there, and the promised air support failed to materialize. I've been told the men panicked." Bradley stared sadly out the window. "What a waste, George. What a waste."

                            "That d--n Montgomery is going to have to listen to me now. We have the numbers, all we need is aggression to win! But no, he has us protecting tactically meaningless sites while Guderian beats us like a government mule. And were's Montgomery? Running like a scalded dog, the sorry b-----d. He actually falls back, when he's supposed to rescue our forces. I still can't believe it."

                            "We have another job, George. We have to deal with some unhappiness here in London."

                            "Unhappiness? What the h-ll are you talking about?"

                            "Some of the people have been rioting becuase they're, how should I say it, weary of war. Our army has tried to act as police, but it doesn't seem to be helping. For some reason a democratic government seems to embolden the people against law enforcement. We're not sure why."

                            "D--n it. What else?"

                            "We have one of the leaders of the dissidents. Would you like to talk with him?" Patton nodded.

                            Two MPs hustled a dirty-looking man into the office. Patton stood next to the man. A smile slowly came to his lips as the man cowered. "What's your story?"

                            "We just can't take this war anymore." The man spoke in a pitiful whining voice. "The city has too many people, and we're at war, and the dyes and furs stopped coming in...I just can't take it anymore." Patton's smile turned cruel.

                            "You're nothing but a d--n coward! I won't suffer a coward!" Patton began striking the man in the face with his open right hand, over and over. The man was crying.

                            "George, stop!" The MPs and Bradley had been standing in shocked immobility for several seconds. The MPs hurried the rioter out of the room. Patton was screaming at him. "Get that man a uniform! Send him to the front! Send him to the front!"

                            It was at least a minute before Patton got control of his emotions. Bradley looked on with sad disappproval. "I just get so mad at these cowards, Brad." Patton leaned against the wall, drained. "This is no time for cowards." Bradley sighed. This incident was not going to improve the popularity of the Americans.


                            Next: Bowman and Einstein.


                            • #15
                              "At ease, Lieutenant Bowman. Take a seat." General Conway of the RAF motioned to a chair. Bowman's file rested on Conway's desk.

                              " sounds very familiar. Are you Babylonian?"

                              "No. Zulu-American."

                              "Of course you are. Very Good." Conway glanced through Bowman's file again.

                              "With your squad, ahem, disbanded, you're being reassigned to the American forces." Bowman sighed. He knew this day was coming. The 18th RAF had been reduced in an air batte near Manchester. Wallace, Baker, and five new guys had been shot down. Parker had been transferred, and now...the 18th was no more.

                              "Is there anything I can say that will make you change your mind, sir?"

                              Conway laughed. "No, I'm afraid not. With our relations with the Americans as they are we're returning all the American volunteers, not just you."

                              "Yes sir."

                              "You've done a lot for us. Eleven kills, six months of combat experience...we're going to miss you, and I really mean that. I'm sure the Americans will be happy to have a quality flier like yourself."

                              "Yes sir." Bowman sighed. He imagined presenting his credentials to the American commander, and then being handed a mop or a frying pan.

                              "Again, the British Empire thanks you." Conway dug in his desk. "Attention!"

                              Bowman sprung to his feet. Conway walked over to him, carefully pinned an RAF medal to Bowman's chest, and saluted. Bowman returned the salute. "Good luck, Bowman."

                              "Thank you, sir." Bowman saluted, turned sharpely, and exited. He was sure his adventures were over and that he'd spend the remainder of the war peeling off old paint or hauling heavy objects.


                              Abraham Lincoln rubbed his temples. He was getting quite a headache listening to Einstein. He hadn't expected his presidential role to include having highly theoretical conversations with arguably the world's most intelligent man. The world's most intelligent people did not gravitate to politics, after all.

                              Einstein himself was rather uncomfortable in a tuxedo and dress shoes. His hair had been neatly slicked back. He had wanted to visit the president in his bathrobe and slippers, but that request had been refused.

                              "Our research points to the existence of both The Player and a larger more powerful force I call Firaxis. Firaxis can make sweeping changes to our reality, but they seem to do so only very rarely. We also the believe that The Player is not always pleased with this involvement. In fact, The Player's relation to Firaxis seems to be almost adversarial. It's hard to believe, but we've checked the numbers a thousand times."

                              Lincoln's sad features twitched somewhat as he tried to comprehend the situation. "Could there be more than one Player, Mr. Einstein?"

                              "We have looked into that possiblity. So far it looks like there is only one Player. In fact, this may be one of the reasons for the Player's hostility to Firaxis."

                              "He wants others to play with him." Lincoln shook his head. What little he did understand scared him to death. "Are we making any headway toward contacting these entities."

                              Einstein matched Lincoln's frown. "Our research seems to indicate that this is impossible. At least with the technology we have. Worse, we think The Player might even be guiding Germany behind the scenes. If that's true...we're in deep trouble."

                              Lincoln nodded grimly. He then allowed himself a small smile. "It seems the only benefit of this research is being able to see more problems."

                              "We haven't given up. One never knows when a discovery could occur."

                              Lincoln considered the whole of the message. "Let's talk something I can understand. How much money do you think we can get for these discoveries?"

                              "What?" Lincoln smiled at Einstein's surprise. He'd forgotten the scientist wasn't a 5900 year-old head of state.

                              "When a nation obtains new knowledge," Lincoln explained, enjoying the idea of educating Einstein, "it's customary to immediately sell that knowledge to everyone. We made quite a pretty penny on our "Radar" research ten years ago."

                              It was Einstein's turn to fail to understand. "Don't you think scientific advances would do us more good if we hoarded the actual knowledge and just sold the material fruits of it?"

                              Lincoln looked at Einstein with even more respect. "That's...brilliant. But it's not how the world community does business. Everyone sells their knowledge. It helps move us all forward."

                              "You may be right," Einstein allowed, but it still sounded ridiculous to him that every new discovery was immediately given a dollar value and freely sold to everyone. On the other hand, he thought of the original goal of The Manhattan Project. If they had completed the research, everyone would have gained the knowledge, somehow. It didn't make sense, but now that he knew about Firaxis and The Player, at least he knew why it didn't make sense.

                              "I would advise you not to, ah, sell, as you say, this knowledge. If this became common knowledge imagine what would happen to the average person. Think of how the religions would take this. We have to keep this secret, at least until we understand it better."

                              "You're the genuis." Lincoln smiled at Einstein. "I'll defer to you...for now."

                              Einstein left the oval office relieved that the president had understood. He'd be even more relieved when he could "fix" his hair and put on something more comfortable, of course.


                              Next: New character (hint: France), Zhukov.
                              Last edited by Rotten999; March 27, 2002, 17:41.