Part #225: Heading for the End

(Dr. David Wostyn)

I’m afraid I cannot delay any longer. Lt. Tindale has successfully opened the Portal. I will dump these last few fragments I half prepared from the Daniels book into the digitiser and then join him. I repeat, it has now been one hour twenty minutes since Captain MacCauley’s team went through the Portal into Snowdrop House and we have yet to hear them check in. If it were up to Lt. Tindale and myself we would stay longer and hope against hope, but Captain MacCauley’s orders are quite clear. I hope the Thande Institute will sent a rescue mission – to rescue the rescuers, yes, Lieutenant, I am quite aware of the irony – but until that point all we can do is retreat. Do you need any help dismantling that camouflage barrier?


From “Great Lives” by Patricia Daniels (1979)—

Infante Dom Henrique of Portugal, Duke of Beja and of Minas Gerais, is better known to the English-speaking world as “Henrique de Braganza” or by the same epithet as the ancestor he grew up idolising – Prince Henry the Navigator.[1] Henrique was born in exile in 1853, the second son of King Pedro (Peter) V of Portugal who had been sent as a young man by his father John VI to Brazil before the Portuguese Revolution overthrew the monarchy. Like many young men in the second half of the nineteenth century, particularly those of (at least partially) dispossessed aristocratic lineage, Henrique embraced a life of adventure. However, unlike many he looked back as well as forward, taking inspiration from Portugal’s glorious past and his namesake in particular. With the Kingdom of Portugal reduced to a remnant of Brazil, taking orders from the same hated republic that had been responsible for that very colonial reduction two generations before, it was time to reach out once again into the world and win glory through exploration. Unlike the exiled Spanish infantes of the beginning of the century, Henrique did not see his destiny (or that of his brother the Prince of Brazil) as that of conquerors reclaiming Portugal’s home territory. Portugal had effectively vanished from the map before, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, before her independence had been reclaimed from the Spaniards. This was little different. Let renown be won on the high seas and then, after years of suffering under the brutal Neo-Jacobin regime in Lisbon, the Portuguese people would welcome back their rightful King with open arms.

Naturally things did not go entirely to plan on that score; in 1867, when Henrique was fourteen years old, the Portuguese Latin Republic was indeed overthrown, but by a military junta which replaced it with a non-Jacobin Republic rather than calling for the return of the Crown. Nonetheless, Henrique remained firm to the ambitions he developed even as a child, and served overseas with the remnants of the Portuguese East India Company leading expeditions. Like his namesake he found himself drawn to Africa. The Meridians had seized the opportunity immediately after his father’s overthrow to bully Brazil into its subordinate Hermandad position, and then had promptly decided to try to gain some form of influence over those Portuguese colonies seen as particularly desirable and accessible – which mostly meant Angola. However, Meridian explorers and corporate exploiters who had had great success in Asia and the Americas were inexperienced with the very different methods and challenges of Africa, and often ran into countless preventable conflicts with the native states (and the existing Portuguese colonials). It has been observed that Martin Hiedler (q.v.) was nearly sent to the Congo at this time and could perhaps have been one of the many Meridian and allied adventurers to be so slain. Many would argue the world would be a better place if he had been.

Regardless, Henrique and the old Portuguese EIC hands he relied on as advisors and lieutenants were able to make breakthroughs which the Meridians could not. The Congo (or Kongo) Empire had had close relations with the Portuguese for centuries, as evidenced by the Catholic faith practiced (if erratically and not all classes) and the name of the current, young Manikongo (King or Emperor), Henrique V. First meeting in 1882, the two Henriques struck up a rapport that led to a renewing of friendship between Congolese and Portuguese, not least because both groups regarded the Meridians with suspicion and had a mutual interest in helping one another avoid exploitation. Thus the ambitions of both the politicians in Córdoba and their corporate friends (and, increasingly, masters) were frustrated in Congo and Angola. The Manikongo’s suzerainty expanded over a wider area, including deeper into the still mysterious African interior than ever before, while to the south the Portuguese mapped and acquired new tracts of land and trading contracts by mutual agreement with the Congolese. Both worked to conceal part of what they discovered from the Meridians. While Meridian corporations such as García & Denoailles succeeded in establishing cinchona plantations in the Congo to rival the Royal Africa Company ones just to the north in Duala, they often remained maddeningly ignorant of the full details of what the two Henriques and their men were using that quinine to discover in the malarial forests of the interior.

A decade later in 1894, the Congress of Rome met with the intention of resolving conflicting colonial and corporate claims to what many still called the Dark Continent. Henrique boldly argued for Brazil (or, as he saw it, Portugal) at the conference and it was his insights into the interior—together with those of the Persian and Scandinavian explorers Mirza Kermani and Trygve Bjerknes—which resulted in the ‘250 League Rule’. This (quite vague and much-exploited) rule suggested that whichever nation or other entity had authority over an area of coastline would see its sphere of influence internationally recognised for a distance extending 250 French leagues into the African interior.[2] Because maps of Africa still had many blank and debatable areas away from the coastline, this agreement provided ample excuse for straying out of the areas just assigned—after all, without new and accurate maps, how could a nation know if it was keeping within its limits? This was typical of the kind of slapdash international diplomacy and agreement seen in the immediate lead-up to the Pandoric War, a far cry from the (at least semi-) united conservative reaction of the Congress of Copenhagen at the start of the century. It is easy to see how it could be exploited by interests like Henrique’s.

However, not everything went Henrique’s way at the Congress. To his shock, the French sided with the Portuguese Republic when the latter demanded the return of the Azores and Cape Verde islands, which had been de facto Brazilian (or Royal Portuguese) since the Revolution in 1851. This move was made by France’s Foreign Minister Napoleon Leclerc—the son of Georges Leclerc, grandson of the Comte de Buffon, and Horatie Bonaparte, daughter of Napoleon ‘Leo Bone’ Bonaparte and a fighter for political Cythereanism who had been one of the first femmes de robe to sit in the Paris Parlement in 1871 at the age of sixty.[3] Leclerc’s move set tongues a-wagging across Europe, violating the informal isolationsgebiet[4] that republican Portugal had been placed in for the last forty years. To be sure, the pigheaded and corrupt regime that ruled Lisbon these days was a far cry from the almost farcically brutal one that had overthrown John VI in 1851, but...

It would be a peacemaking move by Leclerc’s German counterpart, Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau,[5] that awarded the Azores to Portugal while Brazil retained Cape Verde. Nonetheless the whole affair, in particular the Meridians’ slowness to defend the Brazilian claim (consumed with their own internal problems of the Priestley presidency at the time) left a bad taste in Henrique’s mouth. The resentment he had felt against the Meridians all his life only intensified...

* 1878, the Kingdom of Gavaji (or Hawaii) had been the most distant vassal of the Emperor of All Russias for seventy years, longer than almost any of its inhabitants could remember. On the whole, this relationship had been good for the Gavajski people (though doubtless a Heritage Point of Controversy could be made of any objections to this). Gavaji was simply too far away for the Russians to exert much authority there. Some would argue that its paradisical climate was also scarcely amenable to bloody civil war, but to do so is to ignore the islands’ own earlier history and the fact that it had been just such a civil war that had brought the Russians – with assistance from the freebooter John Goodman – into such a position of power in the first place.[6] Regardless, the Russians had introduced valuable new crops, some traded from the Novamund and some from Asia. Some Russians, Yapontsi, Coreans and others had settled on the islands to farm there, though by agreement with the King their numbers were controlled lest the Gavajski people be outnumbered in their own islands. The Russians were not too concerned about such a restriction providing that the Gavajskis agreed to maintain a naval base for the Russian fleet—particularly important as coal began to displace sail. This base was constructed at a natural lagoon harbour named Vaimomij (‘water/harbour of pearls’) by the Gavajskis, translated to Zhemchuzhnaya Gavan by the Russians. Gavajski legendary history said that the ancient king Keaunui, Keau the Great, had been responsible for cutting the channel into the lagoon that made it into a harbour. The Russians probably did not dream that such legends could have any bearing on the present day, but they would be badly mistaken.

Four years before this, the great Mauré leader Tamahimana had returned to Autiaraux after his distinguished career in China and had talked, fought and intrigued his way up to the top of the Hira Hui assembly. He became the leader of a powerful faction generally rendered with inexact grammar by western sources as the Raupatou Party, meaningly approximately ‘conquest’ or ‘expansion’. Following in his father Apehima’s footsteps, he sought to push the bounds of the United Mauré ever further. His motivations were diverse, but among the more altruistic of them was the fact that he believed the Mauré would only remain united so long as they found common enemies to push against. Relations with the French at the time were generally quite cordial and the Meridians had finally started cracking down on their traders who did not keep the Mauré law (though there was always the excuse of them being ‘actually from Peru’ or another Hermandad state). Tamahimana’s experiences in China had exposed him to how Europeans behaved and acted when in the context of trading with the vast and powerful Feng state, and he was concerned that a single moment of weakness could doom Mauré independence. To this point, the Mauré had always benefited from the fact that they had never faced a concerted effort from a European or Novamundine colonial power seeking to impose its will on Autiaraux, only individual actors and small groups whom they had overcome. But this was a time when the European and Novamundine powers, together with Persia, Corea and the Ottoman Empire, were seeking to carve up the remaining parts of the map into colonies and spheres of influences, often for bragging rights as much as to make money. Tamahimana believed the best defence was a good offence, and like the story of Alexander the Great a French trader had told him in Hanjing, he sought more worlds to conquer.

Tamahimana himself had played a role in the Mauré conquest of Tonga by his father in 1827. In 1829 Apehimana had encountered the larger neighbouring islands of Fiji (often called the Cannibal Isles by Europeans) but found their people too numerous and skilled in the arts of war to conquer alone. It would not be until 1844 that the more organised United Mauré forced the Fijians, lacking any unified government to organise their unquestionably brave and capable defenders, to bow the knee. When Tetumate had become Kawana (first among equals of the chiefs of the Hira Hui) he had brought all these scattered Mauré conquests under centralised control, along with the Mauréville settlement in Antipodea. The precise legal status of the latter formed a bone of contention with the French in Antipodea, who regarded them as part of the territory of the Crown of France, and this was already leading to tensions before Tamahimana became Kawana himself in 1876. Tamahimana also pursued a policy of secretly trading with the rebels on the Île du Dufresne [OTL Tasmania] who, not unlike the men of Susan-Mary in the ENA, had escaped the penal colony the French had established there decades ago. As the young Mauré captain Aratoro remarked (recording his thoughts in writing using the Mauré alphabet originally developed by the kéroi tohunga Philippe Galvin from La Pérouse’s original crew), his grandfather’s grandfather had purchased firearms from Frenchmen, but now it was Frenchmen who were buying Mauré-made firearms. The world had changed.

Though suspicious, the French authorities in Antipodea did not prove any connection between the Mauré and the Dusfresne rebels for several years. In the meantime, Tamahimana and his allies pursued further expansion. There had been desultory Mauré explorations of the Solomon Islands[7] before but now there were organised colonial efforts, sending the new Kokowaka (wind-canoe) sailships to stake a claim to the islands. The Mauré literally began to plant the flag, another of Tamahimana’s innovations from his experience with Europeans in China: Europeans respected the mana of a flag. The Mauré flag adopted at this time was a simple black banner decorated with the white, spiralling koru silver fern coil patterns often used in Mauré art, with four koru intersecting to form a cross. Though Tamahimana himself had not even partially and syncretically adopted Christianity like many Mauré had, he was acutely aware that many Europeans were less willing to conquer and enslave fellow Christians (if only because of what the newspapers back home would say).

In this expansionary phase the Mauré did not reach so far as New Guinea, their westernmost point being the island named Neubrandenburg [OTL New Ireland/Neumecklenburg] by the Germans—who were at this point engaged in planting their own flag across most of the parts of New Guinea which the Batavians and their Meridian backers didn’t want in one of the rather pointless colonial boasting exercises that characterised the Wittenberg chancellorship of the 1870s. Although Tamahimana was keen to test Mauré mettle against Europeans, he was wise to the capabilities of a modern European navy if riled and sought to avoid asymmetric confrontations. Mauré wooden Kokowakas were hugely impressive feats of engineering compared to the canoes of a century ago, and La Pérouse would doubtless have been shocked to be confronted with a vessel not too dissimilar to his own d’Estaing in capabilities if somewhat smaller, more like Columbus’ caravels—but then what had he achieved with those? Nonetheless, they would not last long against modern European armourclads, as the Siamese would discover at French hands in the Battle of Penang a few years later. Illustrating the increasing communication of the Mauré with the wider world, news of this confrontation did filter through and the Hira Hui got cold feet about Tamahimana’s reckless schemes. They voted him out of the office of Kawana and he was replaced, though only with a somewhat more cautious member of the same Raupatou Party, the rangatira Kaikuro from one of the Tavay Pocnamoo [South Island] iwis.

Tamahimana was disgruntled but supported Kaikuro, illustrating he was more committed to the goals he felt the Mauré must embrace rather than his own self-aggrandisement. Instead he lived vicariously through his sons’ ambitions as they served as captains of the expansionary fleet. Carefully avoiding the interests of the French and dialling down Mauré involvement in the Dufresne rebels’ raids, expansion under Kaikuro focused on pushing to the north and east across the Pacific. The Buen Viaje Islands [Gilbert Islands/Kiribati] would be annexed next in 1885: the Mauré Empire included an ever more diverse group of South Sea islanders from many different ethnic backgrounds. Nonetheless, a part of the expansion would always be for religious or spiritual reasons as well as Tamahimana’s urge to push back against European colonisers. Mauré history and legends said that the original canoes that had founded Autiaraux and begun the iwis, centuries ago, had come from a lost homeland named Hawaiki. Since the Mauré had begun to explore the Pacific, discovering some islands which did not appear on European charts, some religious leaders in Autiaraux spoke of the idea of rediscovering that lost homeland in their voyages.

It would have been a harmless enough idea, save for the fact that the islands nowadays usually rendered as Gavaji through Russian transliteration could also be spelled Hawaii. A coincidence, or else the islands were also named after the same vanished homeland, modern linguists would say. Some Mauré had already heard of Gavaji and even been there to trade. Those Mauré knew that Gavaji was a large and desirable but distant island chain, but otherwise had nothing especially profound about it But when the name was revealed to the wider masses by a prophet in 1890...well.

In 1897, as the Pandoric War raged elsewhere, the Mauré captain Wehihimana – son of the now deceased Tamahimana – would bring a fleet of Kokowaka ships to the mouth of Zhemchuzhnaya harbour...


The Mitchell engine was first patented in 1890 by Gordon Mitchell of Hawkinsburgh, Georgia Province, Carolina. It was not the first experimental engine to be studied in that era when steam was being pushed to its limits and other possibilities were being studied, especially in the coal-poor UPSA and its satellites. Mitchell’s engine injected a liquid fuel into the piston chamber and used hot compressed air (or heated the chamber itself in some earlier versions) to ignite the fuel without using a spark. One advantage of the Mitchell engine over competitors was that it could function with a number of potential fuels: Mitchell built it with the peanut oil mass produced in his native Georgia in mind, but it would work just as well with animal oils or some fractions of mineral oil extracted from the earth. Mitchell’s invention was initially suppressed by the Trenck-Fernandez Rail Company which monopolised railways in Carolina and had a vested interest in preventing competition. Nonetheless Mitchell’s paper was circulated by engineering colleagues in both the ENA and in Germany, who selflessly ensured his name remained associated with it. The whole affair became a major talking point for both Raúl Caraíbas and Joaquím Aléman during the early years of the Pandoric War—if the company had not acted so selfishly, the Meridians could have had a key advantage over their foe as the latter sought to destroy the coal supply lines...


Although there is some evidence that the African Great Lakes had been partially mapped by Arab traders many years before, Lake Cyrus [OTL Lake Victoria] was first revealed to European eyes when the Persian cartographer Massoud Beheshti published his seminal African Atlas in a bilingual Persian/Latin edition in 1878. Like most such works the Atlas could never be only a work of disinterested cartography, being created on the Shah-Advocate’s orders and deliberately favouring the Persian claims to influence on Buganda and the other native kingdoms bordering the lake. Naturally, this could not be allowed to stand by Persia’s ancient foe and continuing rival, and in 1881 the Ottoman government would reply with its own set of maps saying the opposite. The irony was that neither power was strictly claiming territory as some European powers were in Africa; the Ottomans expressed their claim through their vassal of Sennar, while the Persians’ claim was based on the Zanguebar possessions titularly held by their Omani ally, though the reality was quite different. It is true that both powers had enjoyed historical influence over the subordinates in question, but it was only now that they used that to push into the African interior in a serious and organised manner...the blank area at the centre of the African map continued to shrink, and it would not only be Europeans responsible for it...


Several colonies were dubbed ‘Wittenberg’s Folly’, but the German Chancellor’s crowning achievement has to be German Somaliland, or as he insisted on calling it, German Puntland. At a time when most of Europe’s enthusiasm for archaeology was taken up with the Babylonian excavations of Matthews, Hosseini, Ducasse and indeed Thalbach, Wittenberg was obsessed with the claims that Egyptian hieroglyphs had been translated at long last and saw ‘Puntland’ as a way of connecting German civilisation with a country mentioned both in the Bible and by the Egyptians. Quite apart from the fact that the hieroglyph translations turned out to be a hoax (real ones would have to wait until the archaeological discoveries of the 1910s) and that scholars still argue about the real location of the ancient Kingdom of Punt, here and now to most Germans their new colonial possession looked like a large beach full of angry natives and not much else. One unintentional consequence of Wittenberg’s move was that Abyssinia (or Ethiopia) found an opportunity to expand into the Ogaden region due to the disunited nature of the Somali states following the Germans’ move. Abyssinia would be the only nation of the Horn of Africa not to be colonised at this point, as Scandinavia also claimed the land of Obock [Djibouti] to partner with their influence in Yemen. However, Abyssinia benefited from the religious kinship and fascination expressed by the Russians, who aided Abyssinian expansion from their own colony in Erythrea. When one speaks of Abyssinia, though, in the short term one truly means Gondar, neighbouring the Russians in Erythyrea; it was a Gondarine who overthrew the puppet emperor, had himself crowned Emperor Demetros II and through a series of conquests ended the so-called Zemene Mesafint (Era of the Princes) in which warlords had been the real power in much of the country. Demetros’ conquests were highly successful but ultimately stored up trouble for the future, as the expanded Abyssinia now had an Oromo majority resentful of an Amharic-dominated ruling class. Nonetheless, so long as the Ottomans and European colonisers were breathing down the empire’s neck, internal dissent could be kept in line...


Njabulo, known to Europeans as Enjabulo of the Spear, was a Matetwa warrior who rose to the rank of General in the new military system adopted by King Mpande (Embanda) who sought to ensure respect from Europeans by emulating some of their practices. It was also at this point that the Matetwa began to use a flag, similar to the Mauré on the other side of the world; theirs was red with a black and white representation of an oval oxhide shield and two crossed spears, the Matetwa’s signature weapons.

Njabulo’s career saw him fight against Britons and Americans as well as some escaped Bengali Natalese indentured workers who sought to fight as maroons rather than seek rights through politics like some of their comrades; against Cape Dutch, Boertrekkers and Meridians; and against latecomer Scandinavian and Italian colonisers in the former Portuguese Mozambique. This was an era when most of the Matetwa imperial expansion at the expense of their neighbours was past, and so modern Matetwa can celebrate Njabulo without any of the awkward questions concerning what some of their earlier military leaders did to Xhosa or Bechuana would-be subjects.

Both his courage and his tactical skill won him respect from his opponents and in 1891 he was even invited to tour Britain and Belgium and speak at military events held there. While at a dinner at Horse Guards, a reporter from The Register incautiously asked him if he hoped the white man would go back where he came from. “No,” Njabulo replied diplomatically in his excellent English, “but I do wish the white man would have so many difficulties at home as the rest of us. It is not your engines or your ships that make you dangerous—it is the fact that you seem so reluctant to fight one another at home. No wonder you all get so bored and have to go somewhere else.”

Njabulo’s remarks were laughed off at the time. Few would dream that only five years later, he would get his wish...


It was only an accident of history that Martin Hiedler found himself, rather bored, responsible for a group of soldiers employed by the Ayutthai Railway Company (headquarters: Valdivia) assigned to guard some Pegulese railway workers (rights: not many) as they laid part of a railway line through the northern interior reaches of the Siamese Empire, to a part of Asia still considered part of Yunnan Province by the annoyed Feng Dynasty.[8]

It was only an accident of history that in the troubled UPSA of the time, companies had grown powerful enough that nobody had thought to raise questions at the idea of the ARC using mostly ex-Fuerzas Armadas troops and Meridian engineers to build a track clearly designed to help the Siamese—only four years after putting on the WorldFest in their capital to show how inclusive they were—send troops to the front line if war broke out again with China. A far cry from the period of American-Meridian rapproachment when the two countries’ companies, under their governments’ authority, had build railways along the coasts of China and Siam with a common gauge to link up.

It was only an accident of history that the Americans were performing joint manoeuvres with Feng troops in the same part of Yunnan province, on the other side of the mountain called Zhangqihe – a name then obscure, but now a name that will live forever in infamy.

What if the ARC had sent someone less hotblooded than Hiedler, someone whose grandfather had not drenched a country in blood? What if the Americans and Chinese had been less experienced with the terrain and had taken cover in a way that more obviously said they were regular troops rather than confirming an expression they were local bandits? What if the relationship between Siam and the UPSA and Hermandad had ever been explicitly defined in treaty? What if Hiedler had decided he didn’t actually need to bring those old Great American War-era cycloguns his superior at the ARC had unwisely bought to protect his workers?

These are questions which the world would constantly ask itself even if the result of October 24th, 1896 had ‘only’ been a bitter global war in which millions lost their lives. But of course it was far worse than that. The war was only the beginning. The war would open a Pandora’s box that would unleash the most dangerous idea the world had ever seen.

In a hail of bullets, on the side of an obscure mountain on a disputed border between two Asian empires, the Long Peace of Europe and the Americas came to an end—


(Dr. David Wostyn)

Hello? Hello?

Yes – sir – sir – I know I said I would – but – if you could just let me get – a word in –

Yes, Lieutenant Tindale is here as well. As I was saying—

No, we haven’t heard from Captain MacCauley.


--if you’ll let me finish—

--we’ve not had a message from Captain MacCauley...



[1] Note that in both OTL and TTL this epithet is actually an Anglo-German invention not used in Portugal itself.

[2] The now standardised French league used by the Kingdom of the French is equal to 2,000 toises or approximately 3,900 OTL metres – hence this influence penetration limit is a shade under 1,000 OTL kilometres.

[3] The Paris Parlement was revived and put on the same footing as the Parlements-Provincial when these were recreated in the ‘Federalist Backlash’ of the 1850s (see interlude #19).

[4] Note how the capital-I Isolationsgebiet popularised the term generically – recall it is the German equivalent of ‘cordon sanitaire’.

[5] A lot of the former small German states absorbed in either the Jacobin-era Mediatisation or later Saxon expansion ended up with their rulers being bought off with soothingly inflated titles and positions at the court in Dresden. A few of those families continued to produce people who would be significant even in an increasingly democratic Germany; despite his pedigree, this scion of the House of Ascania is actually a member of the Populist Alliance party.

[6] See Part #86.

[7] This name was first given in the sixteenth century.

[8] See Part #218.
Interesting implications on how the study of the Polynesians is less successful than OTL, final decryption of hieroglyphs (though the hoax and Punt thing confuses me - Punt is mentioned in some Egyptian records, isn't it?), the beginnings of the Pandoric War, and the most dramatic bit of the frame story since Part 100....
All adds up to something rather amazing. A hundred likes would not be enough.


Thanks chaps. We've been a long time getting here haven't we.

Before AE asks, there will be a map in a while, I was working with it alongside this update and using it to check what bits of the world needed briefly bringing up to speed.
Finally, the coal and steel of the Empire of North America can crush the Cotton Kingdom, securing the continent for .... umm. Limited constitutional monarchy?
Well, my Zanguebar query has been answered, and it's as beautiful as I could have ever imagined! Persian East Africa, hurrah!

Continuing from that, interesting to see how the world is shaping out, particular with OTL's theme of Western powers having all the luck in the 19th century blatantly not being true (SEE: Persia, Corea, Feng China, Maure...freaking Maure attack on Pearl Harbor!). The Pandoric War, at least at the set up, looks a lot like the Great War from JE's Male Rising, at least in terms of non-Western theaters being big.

I'd be curious to ponder more about how Europe will choose sides...France seems like it's poised against the Hermandad after the Congress of Rome decision, and Germany v. Scandinavia seems likely...Franco-German alliance? That seems like something you'd do Thande.
OMG OMG OMG OMG it's finally happening! (!!1!1)

Seeing how the ENA seems to be aligning with the Feng Chinese and the Beiqing Chinese becoming a Russian puppet, are we seeing a Russo-Meridian alliance agains the ENA? That's assuming we have two alliance systems of course.

the Congress of Rome met with the intention of resolving conflicting colonial and corporate claims
Were corporate claims a thing in OTL?
OMG OMG OMG OMG it's finally happening! (!!1!1)

Seeing how the ENA seems to be aligning with the Feng Chinese and the Beiqing Chinese becoming a Russian puppet, are we seeing a Russo-Meridian alliance agains the ENA? That's assuming we have two alliance systems of course.
So adding that in, we've got:

ENA/Hanoverian realms, Feng China, Germany (?), France/Spain/Portugal (I want this...?) vs Hermandad, Russia/Beiqing/Corea/Scandinavia (Vitebesk?)

And then the wild cards of Danubia, Ottoman Empire, Persia, Maure...this is getting fun.
I get the feeling the alliance system will be:

ENA/Hannverian realms minus Britain, Scottish rebels, Feng China, France, Spain, Germany, Ottoman Empire, what is left of New Spain, Scandanavia vs. Hermandad, Russia (and its vassals), Britain, Danbuia, Poland, Corea

It would be nice to get an update on how the alliance system develops of course...

It would be nice to get an update on how the alliance system develops of course...
Along that same line, if Thande has the time for it, I would be quite appreciative of a review of the world and the major players so that I can remember how everything stands before the Pandoric War shakes it up.
Rupert's Land of the Hudson Bay Company and various East India Companies, when you think on it.
Oh, I forgot about those. :D But I meant in Africa and on large scale. (Which I should have said there earlier, my fault.)

So adding that in, we've got:

ENA/Hanoverian realms, Feng China, Germany (?), France/Spain/Portugal (I want this...?) vs Hermandad, Russia/Beiqing/Corea/Scandinavia (Vitebesk?)

And then the wild cards of Danubia, Ottoman Empire, Persia, Maure...this is getting fun.
Danubia and the Ottoman Empire are supposed to be on the same side IIRC and Poland is close to Danubia. But if Germany and Russia are on the opposite sides, Poland isn't going to like that.

I also want Belgium to participate in some way. Mauré are seemingly going for *Pearl Harbor so that makes it clearer (knowing Thande it doesn't :D ). And who knows what the Brazilians/Royal Portuguese and the British are going to do about the UPSA and the ENA respectively.
Is the world during the Pandoric War already Volume VI or are we staying at Volume V ?

Given the way you've briefly described the Pandoric War, I get the feeling that the 20th century might become even worse than our OTL one. Some have argued that 1914-1989 was one long period of political and military upheaval, so I'm guessing this leaves the realm of theorising and becomes fact in LTTW's version of the 20th century.