((Well, unstable, posting "He continued to wait" helps nobody. Spain will be present at the meeting or will at least reply before it begins. As for the whole naval battle, I will agree to what you said. As shoots began to land on the Canadian fleet we retreated up the coastline, away from the battle))
After suffering friendly fire from the NWC and quite possibly Spain the fleets main objective was switched to getting the hell out. The ships moved up shore, the faster ships were forming a circle around the ships that were noticeably damaged, protecting them from any more 'accidental fire'. Once the fleet had reached a zone where they were far enough away from the battle a regroup finally had begun.
"First, make sure all ships are checked and being repaired, that is of up most importance. Second, make sure the government knows we have been fired at, I am sure they may know but things must always be confirmed. Lastly, I would like you to fire a round as close to a NWC ship you can, make sure you do not hit them, but make sure they know we got hit. Bitches."
After days of raiding and conflict, the troops were low on morale and supplies. Finally, the city fell. The troops got to the center of Rajshahi, and overthrew the local authority. Riots erupted, but were suppressed by the jubilant soldiers. Parties were thrown by pro-Indian groups. But the war wasn't over. This was just a small victory in an invasion that could last months. They had only just crossed the border, after all. Any town that could potentially provide the Bangladeshi with an advantage had to be removed. Any town that could disrupt the plan had to be suppressed. A few generals stood over a detailed map of the region. Puthia was tantalizingly close to Rajshahi, and would almost certainly require removal. The attack on Rajshahi would have alerted the Bangladeshi, and large resistance would undoubtedly appear at Puthia. Supplies were too low to launch a crippling attack on the city, so a counter plan was proposed. The troops would leech off of the land and city for a few days, gathering strength for the attack. It seemed a little too similar to the attack on Paris during the Hundred Year's War. Biding your time and strengthening yourself while the enemy gets more time to prepare. But this time, it would hopefully end differently. Because the attackers were also gaining strength, it would be an even match. The Bangladeshi had support of the people, but the UFI had uncanny intelligence. Mahatma Sarvodaya was one of the greatest military geniuses India had produced. He wasn't put into office for nothing. The lack of aircraft had made the mission difficult. None had been found in Delhi, to everyone's great dismay. Hopefully the Bangladeshi would have some, though it was entirely possible the Chinese would supply some during the advance on Dhaka. The plan was working its magic slowly. Once Puthia fell, the troops would cross the Jamuna river to get to Madhupur, then Kishoreganj, and finally Mymensingh. Once that much had been taken, the Chinese would have a route to supply support if all went well. If it didn't, the troops would use the captured areas to deliver a crushing blow to the southern parts of Bangladesh. The entire north would have been taken by then, and Savar would be the only boundary between them and Dhaka. If all went well, of course. They were still at Rajshahi. But after a quick speech, the troops had begun looting the city and nearby farms. How long would this take, one general thought. Battles are quick, but war is slow. And this is war.
"Captain Bao," a coated man said, striding into the barracks the Indian traveler had set up shop in, "How was India?"
"It was pleasant sir," Bao Yinong said with smooth sarcasm, "plenty of anarchy going around still."
"Yes, well. With Jaipur on the move it'll end." the gentleman said, "So I got your briefing to the office in Lhasa and their ready to engage in the next step. With the promise of cooperation with Jaipur they've secured a copy of the Treaty of Beijing, the official document of the Asian Socialist Bloc."
Bao was handed a briefcase, "Several pages of legally binding contract is within that case. Outlining the promises and procedures for lending military aid and for receiving military aid themselves. As well as varying levels of basic trade; agricultural surplus, mineral wealth, etc. Not to mention the additional promises and placement of respectable embassies in our capital."
Bao looked inside and nodded. A small book was located there-in, bound cheaply with glue. No doubt the copy of the treaty. "I'm no diplomat." he said, "So I don't think you'll need to tell me everything. But I'll have this on Mahatma's desk for review in short time."
"Good, good. For now you can rest. But I want you back in India tomorrow morning."
Mudada made his way back into the government offices where he had proposed the deal only days before. Making his way through the maze of hallways and cubicles, he found himself in another conference room.
" Ah, Mr. Mudada! It's good to see you again! " the agent, James Walsh, welcomed Mudada with pleasure, shaking his hand as he entered the conference room. " Please, take a seat! " he added, gesturing to an empty space at the end of a long table where the different agents of various bureaus waited. Once settled in, the agent continued, " As I'm sure you're aware, we've discussed your government's proposal and have come to an agreement amongst ourselves. " the agent said, pausing to let another agent continue. " We are very interested in this deal you've proposed, and as you may or not know, a temporary agreement between Canada and New England was established at the beginning of our.. separation from the USSA. New England is to hand over 8% of the nations agricultural income to Canada is exchange for military protection and supplies, which include weapons. We are willing to trade the bigger portion of those weapons in exchange for the gold. By the time the deal with Canada is no longer in effect, our economy should be stable enough that we may begin purchasing the weapons in larger quantities, which should benefit both of our nations. Now that we've agreed, the question is when will all this begin? "
(For ease of use, and likely familiarity I'll be using USD in this post. Mostly because there's no one strong power with a strong currency that dominates the world market. The British Pound Sterling would be a candidate if the Brits didn't blow themselves up several years ago).
Several days before
A man strode down through the halls of the central Intelligence Bureau office in Beijing. Looking dapper in the old suit he got from his father before he passed the nerdy looking accountant strode with a mission and strong purpose. His back straight and a tattered briefcase held under his arm.
On second thought, it was probably also some military training that had him work in such a way.
He exited the hall he strolled through and entered a large, simple chamber. The extent of his privileges in his work-place. The ceiling went two stories up, a row of windows looked down onto the reception area below. But knowing them, the man knew they were a lie. He walked by them several times a week. From the other-side they were mirrors. Only the receptionist and the few guards in this area could watch as the lower-level officer workers milled about.
The room was also as silent as it was large. The great emptiness of the chamber compounded only by the echoes of the scratching from the receptionist's desk as she processed the movement of orders from one level of command to the other. The boots of the guards in the room thudded gently of the stone-work floor as the three armed brutes in the room turned to the twig who had just entered. The only decoration of note in here was the NPC banner that hung on the far end.
"I'd like to make an appointment to meet with General Sing." the twig said, fighting to hold his composer and from choking up in front of the lady behind the desk (who was equally frightening as the guards, her dropping face and thin features reminding the accountant of a kind of rat. She no doubt had a pistol hidden under her desk too, as well as a variety of silent alarms).
"Provide proper admissions from your superior officer." she croaked, turning her eyes up from the paper she was copying and processing to him. He shuddered as those devilish pupils scoured over his face.
"Yes comrade." he said, opening his briefcase over the desk and producing a slip of paper.
The lady nodded. Then handed him another piece of paper, "Sit on the chairs over there, fill this form out and give a reason for this meeting." she scowled, "And next time you open anything on my desk wait for one of the guards to stand next to you. Orders. You understand?"
He gave a nervous nod and took the application form from the desk. Simply turning from the receptionist produced a sigh of relief. Keeping himself turned away was avoiding the silent and hard scrutiny and judgement that was the figure behind the desk. But the subtle paranoia of examination remained so long as he remained in the room.
Hunching over the application he scribbled in the correct information. Name, contact information, department, personal Id number, reason for being. Finishing, he attached a short brief and quickly handed it to the receptionist. "We'll give you a call should Sing agree." she crooned.
"Now Mr. Bangjibou," Sing cooed on the far side of the table. The man in question, the nerdy, geeky, and awkward Wen Bangjibou from the accountancy department was barely in the room when the general began addressing him, "It's come to my attention that you have a rather interesting proposition."
"Yes sir." Bangjibou stuttered, raising his hand to his fore-head for a quick salute. To tell the truth, the almost skeletal and alert figure that was General Yan Sing was more frightening than the receptionist. He had a certain air around him. A way he watched everything in the room from behind those squinted brown eyes. The hair on his head combed back across his scalp.
Perhaps it was also the personal effects of a smoldering cigarette butt in front of him and the large revolved next to it that made his presence more like seeing both the judge and executioner at the same time. As Bangjibou took his seat Sing's eyes went down to the paper in front of him.
"Involving diamonds." he said.
The general looked up, "Well, explain."
"Well, as you've probably read we've got some holes coming up in the long-term and it's best we fill them. I believe an investment in obtaining, cutting, and selling diamonds for any variety of purpose will be the best step for the department should we choose to continue the course. From what portfolios we have that I could read, they sell very well throughout the world with plenty of clientele in Western Europe. Not only for the purposes of show-casing their power or wealth, but also for a variety of industrial applications. There's a near-constant demand for them, and we need to jump on this opportunity.
"Maybe not competing directly with the European market, which is ran heavily by DeBeers. But there's little to no competition in the Asian market. The Russian industry is still far to infantile to tend to the whole of the ASB's industrial demands. An-"
"Comrade." Sing added, "If Russia has diamond stocks of its own. Why don't they develop it. Unless you having something to save this plan with then this is a case better suited to sending it to Nikolov Nitski himself. Come to think of it I could get it to him directly."
"Well if they developed their sector then we wouldn't get anything. And there's only one place with the most diamonds that would be well worth getting more involved in."
Sing leaned back tentatively in his chair, "And much will this cost us?"
"It shouldn't at all. At its average, a single caret diamond can rake in 172 USD. Added with the variety of other diamonds we could obtain we will be paying for him very well while additionally earning more revenue for ourselves. It's a massive market opportunity and competitive. Sir, the buyers here name the price. All we got to do is make sure it doesn't go below DeBeer's or our own minimum and pick the most worth-while buyer. I'm sure with industries sure to blossom here, Russia, Indochina, and if Hou ever decides too: the US then we'll have an optimal platform to build off of."
"Right." Sing nodded, "Two questions: when'd you get so attempt at economic affairs and where are we doing this?"
"I crunch numbers all day general." Wen added with trace pride, "And I have a lot of time for reading. I couldn't help myself when I started finding all the right leads.
"As per where this will be operated from: Africa. They have the largest pits and the current state of the region means security will be low. And with Yaqob on our soil we can take advantage of the Ethiopian Situation to recruit Hassan as our manufacturers.
"It'll benefit the both of us. We fund their group in return to the resources to fund ours. Excess can be sold on the black-market with our weapons with mark-ups as high as one a half to two times the cost we purchased the diamonds at.
"Along with the revenue we support someone to make a friend of Ethiopia again, curtail European influence in Africa, and pay for Kannshou, Herring, and other projects."
Sing nodded in deep interest.
"And if we need to sweeten the deal more for Hassan we can slip him some personnel for advisory-training and some equipment they may need. A bag of gemstones can easily off-set the cost."
"I'm liking this." Sing said with a wide smile, giving Wen his tobacco stained teeth, "But my last concern is security. How easy is this to get around?"
"Incredibly." Wen added, his hopes rising, "Diamonds possess no scent nor do they produce a magnetic field making them barely detectable to searches by dog or magnets. In addition only very-weak X-rays can detect them. I could pass a bag of diamonds through the X-ray and metal detectors in the front office and no one would be the wiser. Unless they directly searched my person or effects they'd never find them.
"They're the ghost of all illicit goods. Light and undetectable. Any fine-dressed man with a brief-case anchored to his wrist can easily be considered a wealthy bourgeoisie carrying some vital identification, an heirloom, or anything bet kept close. The only way they'd be able to find out is if there was a rat in the chain. Otherwise it would take direct control and operation of a mine to know where they're going and a strict observation of the mine-to-market life-line.
"No one but us will know."
Sing didn't need to ponder it very long. At the drop of the last sentence to leave the lowly accountant's line the idea was become steadily more tantalizing in his mind. "Do you have a full written report?"
"Complete with additional research notes." Wen said.
"Good! Give them here and I'll send them to Hou. He'll want to see this. And he'll need to sign the permissions to do this.
"This has probably been the better idea I heard this last year. You can enjoy the remainder of the day off."
(For reference, 172 USD is equal to approximately 1000$ today.)
"Excellent!" Mudada beamed, pleasantly surprised at how easy the whole process had been. "Now, the schedule of these shipments would be... tentative. The civil war in our mining territory would make the shipments unpredictable. I have been made aware that a decent potential shipment, roughly 5mil USD worth of gold, that is available now. It will arrive by boat, probably in roughly a month of when I contact them, so you will want to make preparations. An assessor working for my people will arrive ahead by plane sometime in the next few days to replace me, he will be your contact in the future. In the future, when we have secured a shipment, you will be notified and required to put together the equal worth of weapons before it is sent out."
Mudada paused after his brief monologue, looking around the room at the gathered agents.
The speech had worked perfectly. Thousands of men that had been unemployed rushed to sign up with the British Work Corp, building government funded farms, shops, and factories, along with being trained to build weapons and ships for the British military. British women that had seen their families starve due to unemployment were encouraged to use the new money gained from their husbands to buy British items, enhancing the economy even more. Women were told to have more children, and families with eight or more children are not uncommon.
The British government continued to take steps to pump up the economy by outlawing alcohol and cigarettes, adding much productivity to the lesser populations, but also by increasing the number of televised programs and radio, which is very popular in Britain. Overall Britain was flourishing even after the terrible Great Anarchy, but it had a long way to go to be in the big leagues of the world again.
As the sun set over Hassan's camp, the dark of the jungle's heart embraced the landscape, welcomed by the sound of nocturnal animals and birds and only staved off by a handful of low light oil lamps and the glow of candlelight inside the makeshift tents. Hassan sat in his own tent, on his bed with his feet propped up on a stump. In his right hand was a cigar, the cheap sort cultivated locally but of poor quality. In his left hand was a notebook left by Zaire, the smuggler who had taken the stolen gold to port. The notebook was in the handwriting of Dr. Sisi, an eccentric psychoanalytic neurologist who sat at the center of the Congolese smuggling system. It was notes on smuggling actions relevant to Hassan; weapons coming from benefactors in Austria, notes on a mission sent to the New England Republic to secure a weapons trade, some bits about the movements of the black market; the ultimate in seedy bedtime reading.
Hassan's bedtime story was interrupted by a knock at the tree that stood at the front of his tent.
"Come in" he grunted, taking his legs off the stump.
Following the invitation, a camp guard peaked in his tent.
"Sir, the prisoner has cracked."
Hassan leaped up, following the guard out of the tent and into the darkened camp. As they briskly walked across the camp, they approached a structure that was similar to a traditional hut; a cylindrical structure made of sticks around a wooden frame, at the center of which was a solid supporting pole. In front of the hut stood three figures; another guard, a man in civilian clothing, and a chimpanzee.
"Tchicaya, you have something for me?" bluntly stated Hassan, directing his attention toward the man in civilian clothes.
"Mhm, I believe the prisoner has cracked." Started Tchicaya, "By spiking his food, I have been administering sodium pentothal in increasing doses since we received him. I have been mixing this with constant small doses of lysergic acid diethylamide in order to disorient him. I have been asking questions every day at a random time after each dose. Some of these questions have been harmless, like "What is your favorite color", or, "What was your mother like.", while others have pertained to his missions here. Over the last couple of days, he has started to spill details regarding the handover of German posts to the Belgians and how those operations will be handled."
Hassan slapped Tchicaya on the back and smiled, "I'll make sure Sisi knows you're successes..." his head then turned down to the zoned looking chimp, a camp mascot of sorts which had been given the name Coujoe.
"Why is the monkey here?" asked Hassan
"Well... the guards have been slipping it lysergic acid diethylamide just to watch it react. It's been hanging out here a lot because of it." replied Tchicaya.
Hassan frowned momentarily, "They've been tricking the ****ing monkey into tripping?"
Tchicaya smirked, "I think it was the monkey's idea"
Hassan laughed, directing his attention to the hut. "Let's see your work."
The entourage entered the tent, though the chimp stayed behind. The room was nearly empty, save for a wooden pole sticking out of the center of the dirt floor. On the pole was tied the Belgian scout Ludolf. Ludolf was sitting on the ground, covered in sweat and breathing rapidly as if under stress. Tchicaya started the interrogation.
"Ludolf, can you repeat what you told me earlier about the Belgian hand-over."
Ludolf struggled, willingly answering between breaths. "The take over... of the coast... is to complete by the end of June... Kinshasha... will hand over... in July..."
Hassan posed the next question. "What happens to the Germans?"
"In July... Rhine-Dawn plan..." struggled Ludolf.
"What is Rhine-Dawn?" asked Hassan.
"Rhine-Dawn... German forces split... two pronged attack up Kasai and Congo rivers..." Ludolf forced, passing out afterwards.
Hassan turned to Tchicaya, "When he comes to, see what else you can get. I will bring up what we have learned here at the next officers meeting."
(Nichu, after reading your post it sounds like you got a bit too much happening in such a short space of time. A post isn't a year, certainly not enough time to declare the establishment of a program and then quickly bringing up its effects on the nation.
And I doubt it's been more than nine months since the speech, so it's not like the family demographics have changed.)
"So we're going to be dealing diamonds." Hou said, "And we're going to Africa."
Sing nodded in confirmation. True, true. "I know Yaqob will particularly enjoy stepping up restoring him to power in Ethiopia. Setting into motion a program to fund Hassan and get his group some revenue to boost his operation will be most advantageous."
"Alright, so when do you want to present this to Yaqob?"
"Tomorrow at best." Sing said, "I got plenty of time on my hands."
"Works for me." Hou nodded, "Send him a message that we'll be speaking with him. I'll get with my chief of security to get us some travel."
"Now, if this call from South Africa would continue - and consider how long they've been on hold, I doubt it's them - that would be peachy. I'll need to wire it to Mang if they ever decide to continue tomorrow."
" That about covers everything. " an agent responded, with a smile. They were satisfied and more than eager to begin dealing with Mudada's superiors. The gold would only accelerate and strengthen New England's economy. Where the weapons would end up, however, was not of their concern, as harsh as it sounded.
" I suppose this means your government will handle the shipments? Great, then we are done here. We look forward to doing business with your contact. " an agent finished, wrapping things up rather quickly. They all said their farewells, shaking Mudada's hand before exiting the room. Now only James Walsh was left.
" Excellent, eh? " he walked over to Mudada, shaking his hand and showing his appreciation. " I hope New England treated you well, friend. I know things are rough at the moment, but I believe this deal we've made will make things better for the both of us. Best of luck to you and your people. "
The small sail-rigged fishing boats of Mindelo parted with the arrival of modern freighters flying under the colors of Spain. The four ships, sporting the insignia of the Compania Petrolera Espanola on their bows, seemed as if they had traveled two hundred years back in time in addition to the several thousand miles from Malaga to the Portuguese enclave of Cape Verde some 100 miles off the coast of Western Africa. The ships, here in Cape Verde to refuel and resupply before arriving at their destination in Dakar, Liberia, carried a small army of geologists, oil prospectors, and more than a few gun-toting goons hired to keep corporate assets safe from the countless dangers of the Dark Continent. Upon returning to Spain from Ethiopia, Spanish diplomat Marcos del Pinar explained to the heads of the Spanish oil corporations that Ethiopia no longer had any control over their territories outside of Ethiopia proper and Sudan. The riches of Africa were now open to European adventurism once more. This however, did not mean the Spanish quest for oil in this part of the world would be a safe venture. Yaqob, the exiled emperor of Ethiopia, had eyes, ears, and guns all over the continent. Prospecting would likely be confined to the coast, within reach of the Spanish mercenaries brought along with the prospecting crews. Forays deep into the continent would be at the mercy of the Ethiopian warlord Hassan or any number of native hostiles.
The coast of Western Africa, however, would likely be all that the Spaniards would have to search. The British Petroleum Company had done similar prospecting in Africa in the earlier half of the century and it was rumored that the British even discovered viable pockets of oil in the deltas of Nigeria. The implosion of the British Empire, however, put British oil prospecting in Africa to a screeching halt. The Compania Petrolera Espanola, recognizing that it would be prudent to have someone experienced in prospecting in Western Africa, hired former BP and Royal Dutch Shell prospector Adrian Collaer to advise the Spaniards in their search for African oil.
Off the coast of New England
The failure of the USSA to pursue the Spanish fleet had complicated Admiral Santiago Santin's plan to utterly destroy the American armada. He had sailed back towards Boston to engage the Americans again, only to find that now the American fleet was retreating. Unsure if this was a trap, he had several fighters take off from the Mirmidas and fly over the harbor to search for signs of submarines or mines. After finding nothing, Santin ordered the Andalucia and the rest of the Spanish flotilla to sail into Boston's harbor at long last. With the skyline of Boston in sight, Admiral Santin finally hailed the New English directly.
//This is Admiral Santiago Santin, representing the Armada Espanola and the Spanish Republic, requesting a line of contact with the office of President Holland.// The admiral also radioed Madrid to announce that his fleet had at last arrived in Boston and was awaiting orders.
A thunderous beast barreled through the Chinese country-side. Passing fields of rice and much more in its route. Small farming villages sat along its route. But of all the sights out there many of the passengers rarely made a passing glance.
Especially since most were content to keeping tabs on the well-being of its important passenger.
In a spacious car situated at the rear of the train sat Hou and the intelligence general Yan Sing.
"All the correct notifications have been made." Sing said again, gazing down into a small book he held. Light reading. A rather shitty story too. "Yaqob's house as been promptly notified as well as the station we'll be arriving at. It'll be empty for ten minutes. During which we'll arrive and be off in a car parked in the cargo warehouse. The only men present are police officers and military personnel."
Hou nodded absent mindedly. There wasn't much else to do.
"Oh," Sing said, "I forgot to say earlier but the communal overseer at Hengyang has requested that you join him for dinner, since you're in town. The provincial governor said she'll be present."
Hou let out a vexed sigh, "A little last minute."
"Yes," Sing said, "But when you request a quarter of the metro police and a detachment of military guard word spreads fast. I imagine they'll also want you to say a few words for the papers."
"I guess I'll need to think of something to say." he said agitated, "Or delay our meeting with Yaqob for so long I won't have time."
Sing nodded in agreement.
"Need anything to drink good comrade?" a waiter asked, strolling through the cabin.
"You know, it's a funny thing having the most powerful man on the continent over for tea" quipped Yaqob. The estate was in a hectic rush, guards and maids alike scrambling to get prepared for the visit of Chairman Hou and his retinue.
"Do you think they're ready to help liberate the motherland?" asked Akanni, flipping through notes he had taken during previous meetings with China.
"I would be surprised... but I didn't expect a visit at all, at least not from Hou... it has to be of some importance." replied Yaqob. "If he isn't down here to discuss liberation, we could always..."
Yaqob was cut off by a ringing phone. He picked it up, and was greeted by a very Chinese voice. Yaqob responded...
"Yes? They are? Ok, thanks Lin."
"What was that?" asked Akanni as Yaqob hung up. Yaqob grabbed a small booklet and faced Akanni...
"Their train has arrived in station. They'll be here soon."
Eight miles outside of Mbandaka, Congo
The officers had gathered in the larger Headquarters tent for a Breakfast meeting just after sunrise, before the equatorial heat had set in. In contrast to the military offices in Addis Ababa, the humble tent lacked any of the trappings of a proper headquarters; The mahogany tables traded in for a cheap folding one, and the western cushioned chairs traded in for wooden stools. Their breakfast was equally simple, flatbread with bananas and coffee. With everyone gathered, Hassan strolled in the room.
"Gentelman, we have new information to discuss. Our Belgian guest has divulged the enemy battle plan for the upcoming months, and it is my opinion we will need to act quickly to thwart it. Belgian forces are being handed the land the Germans have conquered. Once this handover is complete, the German forces would be freed from policing against local militias and could advance on us. We will need to put pressure on them to keep this from happening. We need a real battle."
Hassan laid down a rough map on the table...
"We can't afford to push toward Kinshasha at this point." continued Hassan. "We could theoretically push south, but there is little in the way of tactical gains to be had in doing that. Instead, I believe we should hit the north flank." Hassan pointed to the city of Bouar.
Colonel Jomo spoke up. "They have a fairly solid hold there. It could take months, and even then we could lose."
"I am aware." replied Hassan, "But we don't necessarily need to win. We just need to hold them up. I predict it will devolve into trench warfare, but it would do the trick."
"So what is the plan?" asked another officer.
"Motogusinile and the rest of Sentwala's corp would advance toward Bouar." Started Hassan, "That would be the focal point of the attack. Zayed would put pressure on the supply lines to the city by advancing his corp on Berbarati. The Germans will be required to send reinforcements up there, which will put them on the defensive."
A representative of Sentwala spoke up. "The north hasn't seen much action yet, it will be a joy for us to finally send those bastards back to Germany in caskets!"
Hassan smiled. "I'm glad we are on the same page."
The car rumbled down the road. A small police escort followed suit. The atmosphere was of patient silence. Only the engine of the two-decades old staff car. It's black carapace emblazoned with a small red star towards the front.
The departure from the Hengyang train station had been quick and without issue. As soon as they arrived they had left. The station was returned to its normal functions. And when the car had long since left people were milling about to get on the next train.
The scenery had gone from urban grey to healthy green. The Xiang River below followed them like a snake. Disappearing occasionally behind one or two small hills. But throughout the venture it was ever present. A band of silver in the warm early-spring air. Hou had left Beijing with much of the season's snow just beginning to melt.
The trip made a turn, and the cabin rumbled as it turned off onto a dirt-road breaking from the main. Patches of trees dotted a steadily lowering field. Several yards off the bricked and plastered wall that marked Yaqob's Chinese property stood between stands of Kmeria. Behind the multistory former Opium palace stood. A strange blending of Chinese and Western architecture.
The car rolled up to a stop at the front gate. He didn't need to check their IDs and he acted quickly to pull open the iron gates.
Dimitrov sat with his aides. You see, after he completed his speech, he had work to do in order to set this nation together. He was the president, after all! And so now he was discussing current affairs with his advisors and generals.
"So," said General Kamivi, "our first order of business is to get those damn Siberians and Chinese away from our oil reserves so we can start using them again!"
"Right, comrade, that is our top ordeal that we must take care of!" agreed Dimitrov. He motioned to the general and ordered, "If you would be so kind as to show us the map of the oil stations?"
And that he did. Kamivi spread the map out on the table, and pointed to an area with a very stretched out oval around it, nearing the Eastern border. "These are the stations that we have been attacked at, sir."
"I see..." he said, thinking on the matter. The Russian President then said, "How often do they attack?"
"It varies. Sometimes it is a matter of months, sometimes it's a matter of weeks. We don't know when exactly they'll attack, but we do know that there was one recent attack, so we should be fine for now," informed the General.
The President then asked, "How much oil do we currently have? Enough to power a force of anti-air turrets?"
"Well, yes, but it might take a while to set them up! And besides, we are low enough as it is! If your defensive line fails, then we will be in an even worse situation!" warned the General.
"So what? If we're protecting a line of oil stations, then surely we can continue shipping oil out of them. And you did say that they attacked recently, did you not? The next attack will come when it comes, but when it comes, we'll be ready. Now, General, I want you to send your men down to those stations with the proper tools to set up a line of defense and to extract the fuels from those stations!"
And that the General did. He sent a few trucks to each station to follow the President's orders. At one particular station, men were already setting up the place. Meanwhile, two of the soldiers--Pvt. Peter Veneshik and Cpl. Ivan Krutovschy--were going about the interior of the station in search for the place were the oil itself was extracted.
"Damn, this place is big," said the Private.
"Yeah, I know, I know," replied the Corporal, looking for the controls to this place. He then spotted a few rusted levers up ahead up some stairs. "Oh, look! Here they are!" he said, and proceeded to climb upstairs. He then looked at them and scratched his head.
"What's wrong?" asked Veneshik.
"I'm not quite sure which one gets the thing to start," replied Krutovschy.
He then spotted what appeared to be an arrow with words under it. He wiped the dust away to see the Russian word for "start" under the arrow. The arrow itself was pointing to the leftmost lever, which looked to be an aged colour of green. He had to put some effort into pulling it down, yet even at that much force it was just barely budging down.
"I knew it! I knew you weren't strong enough to be in the army, Ivan!" joked the Private.
"Well, about three years rusting away will make any lever difficult to move!" replied the Corporal, grunting as he spoke. Finally, it jolted down, and the hum of the station returned. "There we go!" said Ivan.
"Hey boys! You can connect the tubes to the tanks now!" Peter called out to the soldiers standing by the fuel trucks.
And that's just what they did. All across the Eastern front, there were trucks filling up with oil, ready to deliver the much-needed fuels to the people. Finally, it looked as if the fuel crisis was coming to an end. Yet the threat of the Far East still loomed dangerously over them, and would continue to do so until Russia could make a stand against the Chinese/Siberian bombers....
The security that came with Hou was, in itself, a show of power that intimidated the Ethiopians. It was almost reminiscent of an invasion force rolling into newly conquered territory, but it being a friendly sort of invasion gave a very unique vibe. Of course, it didn't help these were the type of situations that Yaqob felt uncomfortable in. Even though he had dressed in a way that he felt was properly imperial; A white suit with a thin black tie and long white cape; he felt more like a child who had been dressed up by their mother to go to a wedding then he did a head of state. And why should he not? He was only twenty three; the same age his brother had been when he had been caught eating caviar out of the navel of a nude street hooker in Copenhagen in a limousine payed for by the Danish government in 1969; a scandal that had been an international embarrassment for the Ethiopian government. Twenty three just wasn't an age for foresite and wisdom.
Though to be fair, his brother would probably commit the same faux paus today if he was in that position again.
As the Chinese retinue parked, Yaqob and Akanni shook hands and greeted their fair share of Chinese politicians before the group retired inside to talk business.
Following orders that came straight from Hassan, Motogusinile had began to advance his division on the German position near Bouar, an otherwise quiet market town who's only strategic importance was being both a meeting place of several main roads and being on the German left flank. The headquarters in Bozoum were busy with radio chatter, as the town outside flooded with the movements of soldiers and supplies moving toward the inevitable front. With battle inevitable, Motogusinile had gathered his strategists and corp officers to discuss the approach. On the wall was a map with unit markers pinned to their respective locations...
Motogusinile picked up a short stick and pointed toward the map, "We have our orders to engage as soon as possible. Their forces are roughly equal but they have the advantage of defense. Our goal will be to do what we can to take control of the junction in town as to complicate their supply."
One of the officers spoke up, "What is the rang on their guns?"
"Reports suggest 15-20 miles" answered Motogusinile, "At this point our infantry is well out of range. Our infantry regiments include a few battalions of mortars, which aside from our one artillery battery is the best we have against their guns."
"The mortars only have a quarter of the range though." retorted one of the officers.
"I know. We'll have to get up close and personal to get within firing distance." replied Motogusinile.
"I suggest we advance our left flank first then." replied an officer, "If we can get our artillery in position it might help lessen the damage the right will take coming in."
"Good afternoon comrade," Hou said with a smile, "I hope you've been doing well these few month."
"We have some matters we'd like," Sing added from behind, admiring a nearby coat rack with feigned interest, "so perhaps we can step aside, out of he foyer perhaps?"
RMSM Advanced-10 Forward Base (East of where Novy Urengoy would be, should it exist)
The northern outpost has been no stranger to heated activity. Being on the border between Siberia and Komi it has been a contested hold. To those stationed here it was almost as if three forces wanted their position: The Komians, themselves, and nature.
But a battalion from the Chinese 12th artillery kept the Komi forces this far north from re-considering storming the river they sat on. And the NSF-15 and NSF-20 scout planes kept their targeting to the nose.
But now in the arctic darkness there was a different kind of energy. A new kind. The orders had been made. Mobilization was being prepared. Burdened with not only the normal gear, officers and privates laden in winter gear hustled about. Their assault rifles hugged close to their bodies.
They assembled at the rough bridge outside of camp. At the head, a line of China Tiě guī's sat. Their engines giving a dragon's rumble. The front most carried heavy plows that were more a resemblance to heavy iron shields than they were proper plows. The curved teeth at the bottom rested on the frozen terra-firma, hungering the ground they wished to chew.
"Comrade!" a figure cheered, marching through to the front of the assembled force, "Button up your coat. Or Hell will be paid should you freeze!"
"Yes sir!" the private shouted, giving a salute and fumbling the buttons on his coat to properly close it.
"Colonel Dmitri, sir!" an officer said, stepping out to cut off his superior in his march, "Role-call is made. All thousand of us are present."
"Radio correspondence made with the rest?" Dmitri shouted over the now louder tank rumbling.
"Yes sir, they're awaiting final word Novosibirsk. The air scouts have already scrambled and are scouring the next hundred kilometers for signs of activity."
Dmitri checked his watch. "How long ago was that?"
"It hit the radio seven minutes ago. They crossed the border a minute ago. The two NSF's of ours set out to follow them."
Dmitri nodded, "We got five minutes ago. Where's Major Shawyi?"
"He's waiting in the TG-501."
"Good, I'd like a talk with him." Dmitri looked out at the assembled tanks. There had to be at most sixty played out ahead.
"He's in the rear most." the sergeant said, "Figured you'd like to have something to ride on for at least the first ten."
"Thank you." Dmitri added, turning and bolting for the tank furthest from the back. It looked identical to those around it, save for the lack of plow and mine-digger-contraption. He jumped up onto its back and knocked on the hatch. It was thrown open and a man pocked his head out.
"Ah!" he said with relief, "Dmitri you made it."
His Russian wasn't perfect and was marred by a heavy accent from somewhere in the south. Didn't he say he was from Beijing, Dmitri recalled, one of those types that needed to talk slower for his own country-men to understand him? "You ready?" he asked.
"I've been ready for several days, weeks!" the China man in the tin can barked, "I've had orders to be this way for a while now."
"Certainly not here."
"****ing know it." the tank commander said.
"Well then, you'll be accompanying us as far as Old Nadym?" Dmitri asked, "And then what?"
"You a really good reader," Shawyi laughed, "Yes, we'll be going as far as the Nadym river. Afterwords we'll be joining the rest of the brigade in Noyabrsk. I think that's where the lot of the action will be. Can't tell, the orders were vague and just told me to get you as far as Nadym. By the time we reach there you'll have support from a carrier passing by who should assist you in Salekhard. Don't expect it to stay though, the orders said it was ordered to keep moving west.
And I hope you don't mind we dig you a nice road." Shawyi added, "Not like there's anything going that way."
"Very good, and very pleased you will." Dmitri said looking over at the mammoth "plows" on most of the tanks. He checked his watch and giving an anxious sigh. "For the glory of the revolution, yes?"
"For all the glory and good fun." Shawyi agreed, ducking back into his tank. "Now it's getting too cold out there." he added before shutting the lid.
Just two more minutes. Dmitri stood up and addressed the men waiting before him. "Well comrades!" he hollered above the tanks. His voice carrying a certain thunderous tone, "I hope you love a good walk! Strap your gear close because we will soon be raining hell-fire on the Boyars in these northern lands! Surely, the lot of you remember the Western Campaign that one us this station. So you will know it is futile to resist.
"We carry the warmth of our hearts and the love of our people in our chests and our coat pockets. But I ask that you turn it to fury against those who resist! For fury now will win you more glory than a letter about how your girlfriends love you!" this solicited a light chuckle from the assembly.
"Now then, we are brothers of the North, just as they are! But, we are the better brothers! They lie crippled! We have picked the right friends, some of whom are here to fight and die and win alongside of us! A united cause, aiming to bring a swift truth. The truth of revolution!"
A sergeant on the radio perked up. He rose his hand and Dmitri paused his speech for the moment it took for him to flag a go. "So now it is the hour!"
He kicked the soul of his boots on the tank hull and seconds later the engine began to roar louder as it was brought into gear. Ahead the others did the same. As the coffins began to roll a symphony of whistling and shouting erupted from behind as the column moved forward.
West to Nadym. West to the Kara Sea. Or south of it.
All along the line a mobilization that was in the works for the past month was being put into action. Thirty-thousand of the stationed Chinese soldiers were on the move with forty-thousand RMSM soldiers. Nikolov and his generals hoped that even if they weren't aiming to take the whole province in one swing, that their waiting and building up would cover for them.
Events along the line were not uniform and in the southern reaches artillery embedded along the line were turning their guns into distributors of heavy shelling. Cities like Nizhnevartosk receiving a heavy shelling.
The northern line was ordered to be the most aggressive and push for more ground. Much of the RMSM/Eastern Russian force was bulked there. The southern lines would delay a day before making their move.
Several days prior the men still stationed in Turkistan were notified of the invasion. For five-years they sat anticipating a Turkish invasion of the state and were ordered to move along the north-west border and act as a reserve. The move came as a breath of fresh-air for the Turkistanian government who were recently becoming concerned with the Chinese on their soil, arguing that recent events have shown the Turks were not as much of a threat as they were before and that the events of Dagestan were not about to repeat in their home-land.
President Dimitrov sat at his desk when an informant ran in. "Mr. President!" he said. Dimitrov looked up and replied, "Yes? Is there something you need?"
"We've got a bad situation coming up," replied the informant. "Our scouts have spotted a large force of Chinese and Siberians heading for the Eastern Border! It's a full-fledged invasion, sir!"
Dimitrov kept his cool and asked, "You say there's a large force? How many are we talking about?"
"About seventy thousand, maybe more!" replied the informant.
"And how many do we have defending the oil stations?" he asked.
"We only have around a thousand, maybe two thousand, not nearly enough to defend them for long!"
"They can hold out enough with their turrets, I'm sure, but not for long..." agreed the President, thinking. He then asked, "Tell me, since the end of martial law, how much have our boys been itching for a fight?"
"Um...a lot, I guess?" replied the confused informant.
"Then give the order to send them in. I'll have General Kamivi direct the defensive," he said.
"Yes, Mr. President!" said the informant, who then ran off.
Dimitrov sighed. This was bad news; they were hardly prepared for an invasion. They had plenty of men, yes, but in this case, they would have to fight with quantity over quality. Some could be shipped with trucks; others would have to go by horse. Each would have a gun, of course, but if the invading force had tanks, then they would surely be outmatched.
General Kamivi looked at the map on the table. The informant--the same who'd discussed this matter with the President--was now pointing out the areas the scouts had stated to be at a terrible position.
"...and up here, we have the largest force approaching the northeastern stations. To the southeast, we are receiving some slightly uncoordinated yet altogether brutal artillery. What do you make of this?" he finished, looking to the General.
Kamivi replied, "Well, in my opinion, I do believe that they could coordinate their attacks better. I think they don't quite realize that we are about to bite back--and bite back hard...well, as long as it's just soldiers we're dealing with. Now, the fighting force we'll need depends ultimately if we are simply on the defensive, or if we are to do that and go on the offensive and push forwards. I say we'll need about 35% of our total military force to defend, and we'll need about 43% to go on the offensive. That 35%--around sixty-five thousand soldiers--will be fine for defending, but we'll need more if we wish to ultimately decimate our enemy. For now, seeing as we'll need a defense in both situations, we shall send those sixty-five thousand to join the two thousand already stationed in the north and center. As for the artillery coming down at the south, simply send supplies for them to use against them."
"Also, sir," added the informant, "it should be noted that the Turkistanians are gathering at the border, not necessarily preparing for an attack, but still there."
"Do not worry about them," said the General. "They wouldn't dare to make an attack. It is no secret that they've had plenty of Chinese on their soil lately, and in the event that the Turks invade and possibly take over this nation, then they would be subject to the abuse of Siberia and China. Face it; if they conquered us, which is unlikely, seeing as their military is almost worse than ours, then they'd simply be putting themselves in our shoes. Now, send those men in!"
"Right!" said the informant, dashing off. As he was gone, the General thought of what he'd just said. Was he really so sure that the Turks wouldn't attack? Perhaps the Chinese would be kind to them, and reward them for helping with the invasion. But then, if that was the case, they would have invaded as well. Curious....
Meanwhile, the reinforcements were being sent, some in trucks, some mounted on horses, all heading for the oil stations to prepare to defend the nation from the Eastern threats of Siberia and China.
(Gonna borrow Vilage's concept here for a bit. If only because it makes things easy. Orange indicates East Russia, Red is China, Cyan is Komi, and yellow indicates a city that I don't think exists in this time-line (it was founded in 1975 under the Soviets).)
Several uniformed gentlemen stood at a table. A map of the invasion spread out before them. "Comrade Nikolov," said one, Afanasi Yeltz, "You can be assured that swift progress will be made in the north. There's hardly anything there to slow down our advance. A few drilling rigs, but hardly fortresses. And from our recon most of them are nearest Nadym."
"You can be assured too that China's tanks are behind your men." General Gou said, "Lou had other matters to attend to but sends his own regards. He's left orders with his lieutenant general here to launch our main force tomorrow or several days time. He wants the North to get some head way."
"Now I know we've been over this several times already," Nikolov sighed, "and now it's in action. What of the reports right now?"
"A 10-FB has just launched itself for Nadym." General Yeltz droned, "They've reported little resistance thus far, unless you count snow as being a defensive factor. But much of it has been cleared as they move. A 7-FB is preparing to mobilize and will be out of the gate in several hours time. And of course the Chinese in Novosibirsk are waiting for their cue."
Yeltz turned towards his Gou, "Although even from here it may take them a day to reach the border."
"I know." Gou said, "If we get any **** we got Major General Weibu in Turkistan who'll enter the fray. Largely infantry and light armor. But it will be enough."
"The Chinese air-force is waiting to deploy a little more than recon air-craft and has bombers on hold." Dmitri added, almost as if playing a rather dull role in a play, "the Shun Youyu-shi last I heard was just passing Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. It'll take a while. But she'll arrive. Depending on how Nadym goes it'll synch up with the forces moving there. If not, we can always radio them to hold still and rest. We can probably move some men in there to bolster them if that's the case while the tanks swing south and rip up anything between there and Noyabrisk."
Nikolov nodded. He was feeling a little better, but there was still a lump in his chest. There was something different about this. Maybe because it was different than Western Siberia in that it wasn't totally empty all the way.