And yet, Wehihimana reflected as the scene of paradise was blotted out by a silhouette, that came with dangers as well as glories. By being strong, by putting themselves on the map with their empire-building, the Mauré were attracting more and more attention from their neighbours, great powers which thought nothing of planting their mana-kari, their flag, on a land and claiming it in the name of their Kawana. It mattered not whether that Kawana was named King-Emperor George IV or President-General Monterroso. Wehihimana was proud of his people and did not quake in fear at the thought of war with such a power. But he did assess the likelihood of victory soberly.
I'm getting a distinct Yamamoto vibe here...

“No, brave though your men are,” Hughes said baldly. “But we will help you. We will draw the Russian fleet out of Gavaji with a feint. Then you will move in and strike at their naval base at Jemchudgenia Haven.[5] Wreck their facilities so they cannot resupply and are forced to turn tail and return to Yapon.” The Welshman leaned forward earnestly. “And win back your ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.”
...yeah, like I was saying :)
 

Thande

Donor
Part #233: Harmonies

The country’s official name is: UNITED KINGDOM OF ITALY, short form ITALY. Occasionally called UNITED ITALY or KINGDOM OF THE ITALIES.
The people are known as: ITALIANS.
Capital: Rome (600,000) in the Roman State (formerly the Roman Republic)
Largest city: Naples, capital of the component Kingdom of Naples (700,000)
Flag: A horizontal tricolour where only the top red band is continuous; the middle band is divided into white on the left and gold on the right, and the bottom band is divided into green on the left and dark blue on the right. The state version of the flag is defaced with the royal coat of arms which hides the transition point. The flag emerged from simply taking one half of the former North Italian tricolour and one half of the former Neapolitan tricolour and putting them together.
Population: 29,000,000
Land area: 16,500 lcf
Economic ranking: Ranked 9th, 10th or 11th in the world depending on whom one asks. Italy is noted for its focus on using new technology to increase the efficiency of bespoke manufacturing rather than allowing it to be swept away by faceless mass production, and has remained a centre of production for desirable furniture, fittings etc. when the character of French, British and German manufacture is often criticised for having fallen victim to the anonymisation of mass production.
Form of government: Federal constitutional monarchy, consisting of the components North Italy, Naples, Tuscany and the Roman State. Following the Peninsular War, Italy was united under the joint rule of Leopold II of North Italy and his wife, Princess Carlotta of Naples. Prince Paolo Luigi, the defeated Neapolitan heir disinherited by his father Luigi, fled to Sicily and ruled it until he was overthrown in 1891 and a Republic declared. United Italy is governed similarly to a combination of Germany and Danubia: it has the geographically rather than ethnically defined federalism of Germany, but like Danubia allows constitutional parliamentary government only on the constituent state level, with the monarch(s) drawing their ministers from the four state parliaments rather than from a single representative national body. The intention is to appease the people who want representation without allowing a form of government that would allow the monarchs to be easily replaced by radicals who can claim to represent the whole of the country. The result has generally produced reasonably good domestic governance (aside from issues like agreeing on a common railway gauge) but has struggled somewhat with military provision as most military organisation is still in the hands of the state governments. Some parts of the existing states, notably Venetia, desire to split off as their own constituent states and elect deputies with that goal in mind.
Foreign relations: Italy has generally pursued a policy of neutrality since the Treaty of Florence in 1873, pursuing economic development and steering clear of entangling alliances. Claims to both Savoy (French since the Nightmare War of the 1830s) and the Italian-speaking parts of Danubian territory have generally been quieted. There remains Italian irredentism towards Sicily (with some extremists wanting Sardinia and Corsica too) and bitterness over the loss of Tunis to the Ottomans in the 1870s.
Military: As noted above, organisation of the Italian military is somewhat hampered by the federal structure. In practice, the vast majority of the military contributions come from Naples and North Italy. North Italy generally contributes the bulk of the Navy, while Naples contributes a larger portion of the Army (though North Italy still has important contributions, including specialised Alpine troops). Italy has quietly pursued a policy of investing in submersible research, including ironsharks at a time when they were controversial, and has some of the most advanced steelteeth in the world (although this is not widely known). What is better known is Italy’s research into heavier-than-air flying machines.
Current head of state: Jointly King Leopold and Queen Carlotta (generally referred to as ‘Leopold and Carlotta’, now in their seventies. A plan to hand over to their eldest son Charles in a controlled manner via abdication was curtailed by the outbreak of war.
Current head of government: President of the Council of Ministers (usually translated as Prime Minister in English) Pierluigi Borromeo

– Taken from APPENDIX: GUIDE TO THE WORLD’S NATIONS AT THE EVE OF THE PANDORIC WAR, OCTOBER 1896, from
The World At War: From The Pages of The Discerner VOLUME I: THE GATHERING STORM (1981)


*

From: The World At War: From The Pages of The Discerner VOLUME II: RETURN ENGAGEMENT (1983):

Nouvelle-Orléans, Ville libre de Nouvelle-Orléans
27th March 1897


Joseph Lafontaine navigated the maze of alleyways that threaded between the brightly gaslit streets of the city which had been his home for most of his twenty-six years. Nouvelle-Orléans had two faces, just like some of the half-remembered pagan gods les noirs now used as the basis for their Mardi Gras costumes. There were the open boulevards boasting of the city’s wares, trading mass goods that travelled up and down the mighty Mississippi in the unromantic smoke-belching screw steamers that were synonymous with the river in the popular imagination. It suited Nouvelle-Orléans’ powerful neighbours to leave the city independent in its strategic position, with a potential stranglehold over all the riverine trade—providing the city’s governing Senate never dared actually use that power. Providing that customs and taxes remained a cursory joke, Nouvelle-Orléans’ independence was assured. And even the thinnest skim from that vast volume of trade paid for roads and policemen and fine palaces for the old Creole aristocracy—supplemented, of course, by other shops on those wide streets which instead specialised in selling gimcrack souvenirs to rich idiot tourists from both the ENA, the UPSA and beyond.

Then there were the little alleyways, les ruelles, which Joseph had always preferred. Yes, the dark and windy passages, usually far from any gaslight and with only the occasional candle or oil lamp in a window, might be dangerous places. But so were those grand boulevards stocked with merchants ready to cheat you out of your money given the slightest opportunity. At least the denizens of les ruelles were more honest and open about it.

Of course, Joseph’s high-minded views were partly driven by the fact that he didn’t have to worry much about those fine ladies and gentlemen. Even for those who did not know he was his father’s son—and Joseph preferred not to advertise that fact—he remained a tall, wiry figure with a stride that spoke of strength without brutishness. Only the least observant of agresseurs would try to jump him on the off-chance that the case he held casually slung over one shoulder held something valuable. And unobservant muggers generally did not last long in the streets of Nouvelle-Orléans, a rich example of Monsieur Paley’s ‘competitive environment’.[1] For those who might have made it through that net of competition against the odds to threaten Joseph, like many gentlemen (and ladies) in the city he carried a small one-shot pistol in his jacket pocket. That, too, was part of Nouvelle-Orléans’ double nature: on the face, smiling aristocrats who if anything seemed more sophisticated than the East Coasters of the Empire of North America: yet underneath the smile, as ruthless as any Westernesse frontier settler. It was not only muggers who faced sharp competition. All the aristos who had thought that ‘Don’t you know who I am?!’ was sufficient protection were now alligator food in some bayou somewhere.

Joseph reached his destination. The Demilune Club was only one street away from the big boulevards with their hissing gaslights and steam carriages; indeed, it was barely five minutes’ walk from the Place d’Armes.[2] The club’s name and logo had been well chosen, for it occupied a carefully chosen location ‘on the edge’ in both geographic and figurative terms. The simple logo, a circle divided into a black half and white half, was not only prominently displayed at the front of the building but also dotted across every table, coaster, bottle of house wine and menu inside. Monsieur Meier, who owned the club, was a man with a keen eye for ‘product branding’, as the papers now called it in reference to a farmer branding his livestock.

Pascal Meier probably appreciated the analogy. He opened the door to Joseph—not the door at the impressive façade side of the building that could be tantalisingly glimpsed from the great tourist boulevards, but one at the back that opened onto one of Joseph’s back alleys. They wordlessly exchanged respectful nods. Meier was perhaps twice Joseph’s age, with his impressive black moustache now turning to salt and pepper. He was one of many descended from the Germans who had come to the old Louisiana Colony almost two centuries ago to farm. But the magnetic force of Nouvelle-Orléans seemed to claim everyone eventually, especially as the colony had gone through war and disaster and shrunk to its present size. Joseph didn’t know for sure, but he would guess that the Meier family’s old farm was probably part of the Carolinian Province of Wragg these days. At least on maps published at the start of this war…

Joseph brushed the thought aside. It wasn’t his business, thank the good God. “What’s the crowd like?” he asked Meier as the club owner directed him to his dressing room.

“A good crowd,” Meier said, his French barely accented—well, compared to the standard Creole French accent, anyway, goodness knows what a Parisian would say about it. There were not enough Germans left in the little republic for them to grandstand about language the way the Cajuns and Canajuns did about their peculiar dialects.

“Good numbers, or…?” Joseph inquired pointedly.

Meier laughed. “You know me, Jojo! No, I have not supplied you with – ah – what was it you said to my late colleague Monsieur Armand of the Pélican Noir Club?” He put on a snotty Canajun accent. “‘The biggest horde of Philistines since David chased the last one through the Gates of Ekron’?”

Joseph laughed along, a bit sulkily. “You don’t know what they were like—kids who think trance is what a broken door sign says—”

“Ha, you’ve got a way with words!” Meier sobered. “Well, in your line of work, I suppose you’d have to, ne pas?” He shook his head. “No, this lot know what they’re in for. And no suspicious long robes with two kids standing on each others’ shoulders.”

Joseph smiled. “Good. We have enough trouble with the police without bringing children into it.”

You have trouble with the police,” Meier muttered. Both men were exaggerating for effect. Nouvelle-Orléans was perhaps the only place trance music could have been born. One could talk about the genius of its musicians, or it being a crossroads of different cultural influences all of which were required to produce the magical alloy, but the real key requirement was a state whose priorities consisted of coming down like a ton of bricks on its citizens doing anything that might imperil trade, and being indifferent or even encouraging towards its citizens doing essentially anything else, no matter how illegal on paper.

Joseph met his band only about ten minutes before their set was due to begin. This didn’t matter too much, as he had worked with all of them before, aside from the little Cajun flautist who was new to him. That made him a little nervous (though that was a feeling that rarely survived a trance set) but the flute line was probably the least important part of the set. The two valve horn[3] players were old veterans, Louis Bechtel and Raymond Dufour, both about a decade older than Joseph. They had been in the business long before trance kicked off five or six years ago, and still played what Joseph regarded as the ‘dull old tunes’ in hotels for the wealthy tourists from New York or Buenos Aires: men and women who would drop their cigarette holders and faint in shock if they ever witnessed a trance performance. Bechtel and Dufour, too, had that Nouvelle-Orléannaisse duality to their lives. The drummer was a quiet boy from the mean streets of San Patricio who never seemed to be entirely alive till he gripped his sticks and beat his fine Turkish-made instrument into submission. His task was in some ways the hardest of all, but Joseph wasn’t worried. He’d seen him play before.

Before he went out on stage, Joseph changed to his trademark suit: black shirt, white jacket and trousers with a bloodred cravat and lace about the cuffs and feet of the same colour. A white gâteau d'anniversaire hat with a red band completed the ensemble.[4] No, not quite: not forgetting his smoked glasses. Sunglasses, indoors in a dark club at night. That would set tongues wagging. What was he hiding? The fact he genuinely was hiding something was irrelevant; it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Joseph’s father found out about his night life, but he would still keep up the air of mystery. It kept the punters interested.

Joseph scanned the cheering audience with one hand as he opened his black leather case with the easy, half-thinking skill of a consummate professional. Meier hadn’t lied or exaggerated; the man was honest about this sort of thing at least. The club wasn’t quite packed, but there weren’t many empty seats, either. There was the usual riotous mix of colours and incoherent gabble of tongues that only Nouvelle-Orléans could produce. Anywhere else, it would all have come down to colour, with les noirs seated all on one side if they were allowed to come at all. In Nouvelle-Orléans, blacks and whites (and natives, and combinations of them all—Joseph was probably one-quarter white and three-quarters black, if he believed his father) mixed throughout the club and gathered in groups based on whether they spoke Creole or Cajun or Canajun French or something else altogether. Arguments about who had stolen whose woman were held without reference to the the colour of the hand that had proffered the flowers, arguments which if held a hundred miles to the north and east would result in someone being hanged by an angry mob. (Although, Joseph reflected, these days the Meridian authorities would probably send the would-be vigilantes to the mines before they had a chance to hang the Negro in question for his alleged crimes).

It was a rowdy crowd, a healthy crowd, a crowd full of life but all too eager to throw that life away over some perceived slight that would be forgotten by tomorrow morning. Trance would solve that, Buddy Boussains always said. Joseph twisted his lip. He didn’t need a do-gooder justification for what he did. He did it because something inside him drove him to do it.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said in a soft drawl that nonetheless immediately commanded the attention of the room. As gently as though it were a newborn child, he raised his viola from its case, sat with his legs crossed and the instrument’s disused chin-rest resting against his right knee, strapped a customised short fragment of bow to his right hand as though it was a knuckle-duster. “Ladies and gentlemen…prepare to be…entranced.”

And in that moment, Joseph Lafontaine was gone. There was only Jojo Fontana, Jojo Sourd, the Wizard of Trance.

Meier did his part, twisting some valve at the back of the bar. Steam was released from the little engine around the back of the club, its chugging sound kept safely behind insulation lest it disrupt the piece. The drummer kid, Colbane, struck his instrument in a simple, regular rhythm. After several bars of that drumbeat alone, Jojo began to pluck his viola, its sound soft but penetrating. It was gentle, hypnotic, nothing complex, he might as well be practicing his scales. A few members of the crowd looked confused, clearly wondering what all the fuss was about, but as Meier had promised, there were none of the philistine kids who had disrupted the set at the Black Pelican. The trance greenhorns just waited to see what would happen.

Pretty soon, something did. The steam flowed through pipes around the club and emerged in gentle hisses from valves; Meier had redesigned them obsessively to make the sound less distracting. They were not just valves—they were filled with the same oil as the supplementary oil lamps Meier now lit with oddly flickering flames. The oil contained extracts from the peyote cactus that grew in the Mexican provinces of Tejas y Luisiana (Joseph would have muttered something about stolen land, Jojo didn’t care) and, especially, Coahuila and Nuevo Santander. The border had never been anything other than porous no matter where it was, with the former Louisianans on both sides continuing to trade quite casually despite every Mexican attempt to constrain them—which in time had been largely abandoned at Meridian insistence anyway, for the UPSA had long been ruled by those who regarded all trade as fundamentally positive regardless of any state control over it. Furthermore, the large Irish population of those Mexican provinces were also active in trade with Nouvelle-Orléans; little Colbane on the drums was hardly the first ‘New Irishman’ to come to the city. Many of those Irish colonists lived in areas where peyote grew naturally, and they knew a thing or two about farming…

The fumes spread across the musicians and crowd both. They had perhaps an hour before Meier ran through his supply of the cactus oil and its precious ingredient of oneirogen.[5] As reality slipped away from Jojo, he held onto the one thing he was sure was real: his viola. Colbane’s rhythm began to slow down, a deliberate and controlled act from the boy but one which deepened the trance of the crowd. Jojo looked across their blank eyes, felt the openness of their minds like a gulf that would suck him in if he did not fill it with something.

So he did.

“This is my lullaby,” he half-sang, half-spoke. “In my garden…there is peace. Come walk with me…”

Pluck. Pluck. Strum…the little bow wrapped around his hand traced its way across the strings as though without conscious input. The horn players began their hypnotic harmony, seemingly just out of synch with each other, yet in a way that fascinated rather than repelled. And finally, the flautist cut in. Jojo needn’t have worried himself. The little Cajun knew how to make his instrument sing. The flute line, cast into a haunting minor key, seemed to dart in and out of the drone of the horns like moonlight reflected on the sea, broken by waves. Jojo was half conscious that he wasn’t just thinking those comparisons. He was speaking them, singing them, thoughts turning into lyrics without any intervening agency. A sober man listening to the set would probably think it was an incoherent ramble. But the crowd were in the same trance. They shared Jojo’s dream. And they dreamed it along with him.

An hour. It might have been a minute. It might have been a year. Finally the mists began to clear. Pupils swollen to vast black gulfs began to narrow again. Some of the crowd clapped and cheered, others winced and shushed them as they came down to earth from their journey. “Thank you for joining me in my garden,” Jojo breathed enigmatically, “a place where the concerns of this world mean nothing. I’m going away now. We’re all going away. But we’ll see you again, soon.” As Meier (discreetly ditching his protective mask) handed around headache tonics, Jojo bowed and, for a miracle, managed to avoid pitching forwards. His viola returned to its case and the band left the stage as the crowd raised their arms as a less painful alternative to applause.

In his dressing room, Jojo took his own patent tonic and congratulated the others, in particular making time for the Cajun flautist who had surpassed expectations. The little man blushed in pleasure. Everyone knew Jojo Sourd Fontana was the king of trance in these parts, well, at least when Dents d’Acier Dominique was out of town. His word meant a lot.

The horn players were the first to leave, followed by the flautist. Colbane was just leaving, and Jojo was ready to transform himself again, when there was a knock at the door. Jojo muttered a curse to himself. Meier or one of his boys should know better than to let the punters through. But probably they were too busy cleaning out the steam valves or suspiciously holding Carolinian banknotes up to the light.

Jojo opened the door. Probably another starry-eyed girl who was convinced that she, and only she, was the one for him. He wouldn’t have minded too much, except his dual identity meant he could never actually bed them without the risk of a scandal—which just made it doubly frustrating. He picked up a large, ornate ear-horn and put it to his ear. “I’M SORRY, MISS – AH – SIR,” he said loudly in Creole French, noting the individual at the door was a man in his thirties, “BUT I NEED TO GO NOW—”

“I’m sure you can spare me a few minutes,” the red-haired man said quietly in, predictably, a New Irish accent: a brogue accentuated by several sounds being transformed by a Spanish-influenced lisp. “I have a bone to pick with you, Monsieur Joseph Lafontaine.”

“I’M SORRY, YOU’LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP—” Jojo said automatically before the words registered. He hesitated indecisively for a moment, realising that to respond to the quiet words with a denial would automatically blow his own identity and really he should just keep talking. But by the time he realised this it was too late and the pause had already stretched several seconds.

The New Irishman smiled unpleasantly. “I thought so. Jojo Sourd, they call you, isn’t it? ‘Deaf Joe’? Like that Danubian composer, what’s-his-face, Beethoven.[6] D’ you reckon he was actually deaf, or just putting it on, like you?”

Colbane, still visible behind the man, looked shocked. Jojo drew himself up to his full height. “I see no reason to respond to your vile allegations, good sir.”

He made to push past the man, but the New Irishman blocked him. “Just one moment, sir,” he said icily. “Unless you want to give me more of those fine words that the trance musician Jojo Sourd wouldn’t know. But the educated son of one of Nouvelle-Orléans’ wealthiest men probably would.” He folded his arms.

Jojo—no, Joseph—did likewise. “Very well, my would-be blackmailer. Do you really think this would be too embarrassing to M. Lafontaine of Lafontaine Logistique, the man who worked his way up from birth in slavery to be one of the greatest captains of industry of this continent? That his son moonlights as a trance musician in a club surrounded by, oh, the same class that his father was born into?” Joseph shook his head. “It would be a passing embarrassment, but rest assured that my father would much rather take that embarrassment and see you hang than pay you a single sou, Monsieur Nouveau-Irlandais.”

At those words, Colbane began to gesture frantically. Joseph realised that the red-haired man likely could not see his young fellow-countryman and was unaware he was stood to the right of the dressing-room door. Joseph tried not to look at the drummer lest he alert his tormentor to his existence, but he did try to glance at his lips as Colbane mouthed several words to him.

“You misunderstand,” the New Irishman said. “I am not here to threaten you with so petty a revelation, Monsieur Lafontaine. The fact that I know your little secret is nothing more than a trifle to draw your attention. By the way, why do you pretend to be deaf?”

“Everyone needs a gimmick,” Joseph murmured. “Air of mystery, how does he do it, does he feel the very music itself as it shapes the air…”

“Load of bollocks,” the New Irishman chortled. “You just want them to see a mediocre performance as exceptional because it’s coming from a deaf musician.”

Joseph bristled at that, but if his opponent’s intention was to draw him into a slanging match, it failed as his attention was drawn to Colbane’s lips. Joseph had made an effort to learn to lip-read to fit his persona, and he thought he could make out Colbane’s words as he silently mouthed them:

HE(‘S?) NOT A MEAL(?X) PEAL(?X) REAL NEW IRISHMAN

HE’S A GOLD(?X) AN OLD IRISHMAN

“I don’t have times to bandy words with you, Monsieur Nouveau-Irlandais, or should I say, Monseieur Vieux-Irlandais,” Joseph said coldly.

For the first time, this took the man aback. His eyes narrowed. “Thought I was better at this accent,” he muttered, then shook himself. “Anyway. You can call me Patrick Dublin.”

Joseph snorted. “You can insult my musicianship when you can come up with a better alias than that.”

“Shut up,” Dublin said calmly. “As you know, Joe, Nouvelle-Orléans has been a crossroads for both the northern and southern American powers for decades—”

“Novamundine,” Joseph corrected him.

“Whatever. Our ships and theirs have been mixing in the harbour for years, even when relations started cooling. Come the war, there were more of their ships than ours here so our lot had to beat a strategic retreat. But then Señor Torchy got bottled up here—”

“Yes, I know all this, I live here,” Joseph sighed.

“—and what with the action at Cuba a month ago,” Dublin continued, ignoring him, “they’ve been cut off from any chance of resupply. Sooner or later that fleet is going to make a break for it, especially with certain events near Rosalie which your papers may not have revealed to you yet.” He gave him a sardonic wink. “We know what ships are there, or at least we think we know, but we don’t know much about their condition. And the torchies are paranoid and rightly so right now, no chance of a Simple New Irish Trader like muggins here being allowed anywhere near their yards.”

Dublin smiled. “Unlike a convivial little trade run by Monsieur Lafontaine’s Logistics, perhaps spearheaded by his son, bringing precious wines and other luxuries to Admiral Valenzuela and the Provincias Unidas, not to mention his other ships.”

Joseph gave him a look. “You really think I’ll put my own derrière on the line for you Yankee spies just because you’ll tell my daddy about this gig otherwise?”

“No,” Dublin said, “I think you’ll do it because our troops are going to reach the border of the petit-république in a few weeks and then your Senate will have to make a decision.” He leaned forward, his expression hardening. “There are still plenty of MCPs in the Continental Parliament who want to annex this city directly to the Empire, you know.”

Joseph blanched at that. It hadn’t been a realistic possibility for years what with the Meridians holding the balance of power. But with the Carolinians in full retreat and the Meridian Armada defeated in the West Indies…

“Unless, of course,” Dublin continued, “if those who prefer to see you continue as a nominally independent state are given a shot in the arm, such as evidence that the great and the good citizens of Nouvelle-Orléans assisted in the destruction of the Meridian fleet which despotically had the city under its guns for months—which was, of course,” he added with an innocent expression, “the only reason why you did not join the ENA’s side in the first place.”

Joseph held his gaze for a long moment, then spat. “All right, damn you. This will take time.”

“You have a week,” Dublin said baldly. He handed over a crumpled piece of paper. “This is a Lectel address. Send the message ‘Another 12 orders of gumbo’ when you are ready and you will receive further instruction.”

Joseph reluctantly took the paper in his hand. “And if I don’t? You’ll do what?”

Dublin smiled unpleasantly as Colbane beat a hasty retreat. “Nothing. I’ll do exactly nothing. I’m not a vindictive man, you see. I won’t even tell the American armies to deliberately target you and your father’s business for confiscation without compensation.”

His eyes narrowed. “Because all the businesses in this city will be.”

Joseph closed his eyes. He had treasured the secret that he alone, he and other trance musicians, knew how to escape the war that was tearing the world apart.

How naïve he had been…

*

Zhemchuzhnaya Gavan / Vaimomij, Kingdom of Gavaji[7]
April 1st 1897


Corporal Igor Kuznetsov was bored.

On the face of it he had nothing to complain about. Compared to the postings most men in his position were faced with these days—marching headlong into German minefields in Poland or Danubian cingular guns in Wallachia, freezing to death in New Siberia against equally miserable Americans—this was paradise. That would have been true even if it had been a grey blockhouse in Yakutsk, never mind these sunlit isles with their warm seas.

There was something about Gavaji that meant he could never quite relax there. He had heard veterans of the RLPC say similar things about Yapon, but that seemed a little more rational to his mind. There were plenty of real examples of seemingly loyal Yapontsi servants slitting the throats of soldiers in the night, of Yapontsi secret societies aimed at restoring the islands’ independence, quite apart from their dramatic inflation by the rumour mill and fictitious half-rouble bloodies. By contrast, though there was certainly some melodramatic cannibalism in the background of Gavajski history, the Gavajskis had happily abandoned such barbarism when introduced to the pig (although it had taken Igor some time to get used to their love of eating pork with ananas).[8] Gavajskis could certainly be good warriors, some of them having joined the RLPC’s auxiliary troops and served around the Pacific, but Igor thought many of their young men preferred to impress women through their skill at the sport of cresting.[9] After a few too many coconut oil-laced vodkas, Igor had been persuaded to try attacking the waves with a crestboard, and had concluded that even if he had been sober he would never match the prowess of the natives.

Maybe that was it—the sense that behind the smiles and the lei flower-garlands they flung at any passing Russian, the natives were secretly laughing at the missteps, at the white man falling off the crestboard or over-indulging in the pineapple vodka cocktails, and at the merest sign of weakness they would strike. Which was ridiculous on the face of it. King Kamehameha III knew which side his bread was buttered. He knew that even if the Gavajski people threw off the Russians who, when one got down to it, imposed really quite a light colonial yoke, the Russians would only be replaced by other colonisers—and quite possibly less convivial ones—within a week. While some spoke of Africa and others even of Australia,[10] in Igor’s mind the Pacific was the last frontier. The colonisers of Europe and the Novamund were like a ravenous pack of sharks and would snap up an island prize at the slightest opportunity—if they thought they could get away with it, that is. There were of course those islands currently ruled by warlords of the Mauré; he wondered who would finally take those away from the tattooed savages of Autiaraux.

Igor accepted a drink from a beautiful Gavajski servant, giving her a playful swat on her scantily clad backside as she turned. She squeaked in mock outrage and almost dropped her tray of drinks. Laughing, Igor sipped his glass. There wasn’t much vodka in this one amid the orange and lemon juice; he was, after all, on duty.

He surveyed the curve of Zhemchuzhnaya Gavan from the limited view afforded by his fortress turret. The two big forts at Cape Goodman and Benyovsky Point[11] guarded the narrow entrance to the harbour, their big guns sweeping a wide arc. There was no way an enemy vessel could get close. And if a fleet arrived that the forts could not defeat alone, they would at least slow them down long enough for the Russian fleet in the harbour to be mobilised. It was an ideal position. Igor had looked down on the Kyuakhua Coast where most of the yards were based, leaving Mokhujumei Island to the Gavajskis for their pagan fertility rituals.[12] Over a dozen RLPC frigates and dentists were based there, including the recently refitted early lionheart Moritz Benyovsky. It was the largest concentration of modern naval armament in the Pacific, regardless of what the Meridians might claim about the Columbus Islands. An impregnable fleet in an impregnable base.

At least, Igor admitted, until someone built an airship long-range enough to just approach the shipyards from the back. But he was sure the Director and his men had thought of that.

Igor raised his binoculars to his eyes to make another perfunctory survey of the endless, lovely green seas of the horizon. Or at least he tried to. Somehow, his hands seemed to suddenly be made of that pineapple jelly they served here. They flopped uselessly on his binoculars.

“This one’s down,” said a voice in a language Igor recognised as French, though he only had the barest knowledge of it. It didn’t take a genius to work out what the woman was saying as he sluggishly turned his head.

The woman. The beautiful, scantily-clad servant. She was speaking to a man, a tattooed man, recognisably of the same race but darker-skinned...

A Mauré!

Igor tried to cry out, to warn his compatriots. All that came out was ‘Hnnngh!’

He attracted the woman’s attention. She smiled spitefully and switched to Russian. “Not quite dead yet? Don’t worry, gu acts quite quickly, at least according to Lord Wehihimana. You’ll be peaceably out of it by the time we blow the charges. Next time, you Russkies should learn to tell the difference between Gavajskis and girls from the Buen Viaje Islands like me.” The Mauré, quite sensibly Igor thought, impatiently ushered her out before she could pointlessly monologue to him any further.

Although the back of his mind ran through all the missed opportunities of his life, part of Igor was contemptuously smug. These idiotic savages. All right, they had poisoned him and presumably the rest of the fort. And they had ‘charges’. So they planned to blow up the fort. So what? They couldn’t poison all the crews of all the RLPC warships in Zhemchuzhnaya Gavan. Any attempt by Wehihimana (a name Igor vaguely recognised) to bring his primitive fleet of obsolete wooden sailships through the narrow gates of the harbour would be blown away in seconds—

The narrow gates of the harbour.

So narrow. Igor had seen a sounding chart of them once. The reefs surrounding the harbour made most of the waters outside it shallow, very shallow, single figures of feet shallow. Only a narrow passage was clear. Strategically useful, a narrow passage. Forced the enemy to come in in single file, as he had been musing. About three or four hundred arshins wide for most of its length.[13] And where the two forts rose above it was one of its narrower points.

The two forts. The two forts made of stone, with heavy iron cannon...

The girl (he never did learn her name) had been right. Igor was indeed peaceably elsewhere by the time the charges blew and the two forts toppled into the channel. Big forts. Narrow channel.

When the water spray and the stone dust had cleared, the channel was blocked by a great mass of broken stone walls laced with barrels bearing the Tsar’s initials.

The Mauré fleet didn’t need to defeat the far superior Russian one. They just had to render it temporarily irrelevant.

*


Sea south of Zhemchuzhnaya Gavan, Kingdom of Gavaji[7]
April 1st 1897


Wehihimana lowered his own binoculars, a worthwhile purchase from a Danubian adventurer several years before, and nodded. He smote the wheel of his flagship Apehimana. “God and the gods are with us!” he cried, carefully hedging his bets. “Now, to the capital! To Kailua!”













[1] An OTL publication would refer to Darwinian natural selection or ‘survival of the fittest’ in this context.

[2] In OTL this later became Jackson Square.

[3] Similar to an OTL French horn.

[4] ‘Birthday cake hat’. Similar to OTL’s pork pie hat but with a crown lower than the OTL average and a slightly wider brim.

[5] ‘Dream maker’ in Greek. Known in OTL as mescaline.

[6] Beethoven, like OTL, was born in Bonn in TTL (at the time in the Electorate of Cologne, in 1897 in the State of Low Saxony in the German Federal Empire) but did most of his work at the court in Vienna so in 1897 is thought of as ‘a Danubian’, even though he died years before the Confederation of Danubia was constitutionally created.

[7] OTL Pearl Harbour.

[8] Pineapple.

[9] Surfing – see Part #97.

[10] Confusingly, the TTL name for Antarctica.

[11] OTL Hammer Point and Holokahiki Point respectively.

[12] OTL spelled Kuahua and Moku’ume’ume respectively, the latter better being known as Ford Island today.

[13] Arshin is a contemporary Russian unit of measurement that is usually translated as ‘yard’ but is in fact equal to only two and one-third feet; note that the Russian foot is the same as the English.
 

Thande

Donor
I hope you enjoy this early New Year present - I have another project that has come to me over the Christmas period so I may be resting LTTW for a month or so while I pursue that, but I may update if the muse comes on me. Happy New Year!
 
Looks like, for all that it's changed, New Orleans is still recognizably New Orleans.

the way the Cajuns and Canajuns did about their peculiar dialects.
The distinction still exists? I'd think that the two would merge into one unified culture, with the Canadien element overpowering the Acadian one.

with ananas).
The way you write that makes it seem like they're perceived as an exotic food.

And I love the irony of Japanese people defending Pearl Harbour from eastern invaders hailing from an island chain.
 
Ham and pineapple and Hawaii is clearly an eternal combination.
I'll need to reread Louisianan history - last I remember I thought it was one of the last slaveholder states....
 
I'll need to reread Louisianan history - last I remember I thought it was one of the last slaveholder states....
It had an exceptionally loose slavery system in relation to the rest of the South. But yes, as large of it were under Union control by 1863, Lincoln could not free all of the state's slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation.
 
It had an exceptionally loose slavery system in relation to the rest of the South. But yes, as large of it were under Union control by 1863, Lincoln could not free all of the state's slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation.
I meant in LTTW, sorry.
 
There were of course those islands currently ruled by warlords of the Mauré; he wondered who would finally take those away from the tattooed savages of Autiaraux.
IRONY

New Orleans is going to be in a very difficult situation indeed- the question of course is whether they really have any choice if the ENA comes knocking.
 

Thande

Donor
I'll need to reread Louisianan history - last I remember I thought it was one of the last slaveholder states....
It was, but it dropped slavery after the 1870s when it became effectively an American-Meridian condominium. (As that was only a couple of decades ago, one can tell that the de facto and de jure views on race and slavery had already shifted quite a bit from each other by that point to have reached the situation one sees described here).
 
Aha.

So the French divisions of the city in terms of culture, whatever ethnicity they are, are swept up in Creole/Old Louisianan, Cajun/Acadian, and Canajun/Canadian/Quebecker.

FASCINATING. I'm just impressed Creole still seems to be in control and dominant in N'awlins.
 
To borrow that phrase so beloved of people pitching TV programmes, it's almost literally "jazz ON ACID".
This is your brain.

This is your brain on jazz.

This is your brain on drugs.

This is your brain on jazz AND drugs.


I can imagine now much of a backlash there is against it amongst the uber-moralistic killjoy types of TTL.

Mind you, considering that IOTL, people would be drinking absinthe and taking all manner of drugs (natural and synthetic) during this period as well.
 
I request more information on The Free City of New Orleans! :D Independent French Louisianas are a guilty pleasure of mine.

The Cajuns at least still have some of their OTL land within TTL's FCoNO, if I remember the map right. The Quebeckers lost Canada AND Texas, though. They must really be pissed. I'm also sad we'll never see Canajuns with ten-gallon hats or a fusion of Tex-Mex and poutine.... :p

EDIT: I've tracked all mentions of French settlement of Louisiana and FCoNO in LTTW. It's amazing how many subsets of colonial French there are in this world:

1. Original Settlers. Frenchmen found Louisiana and move to New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile and become white Creoles. 1698-1718 (Biloxi’s founding to New Orleans’s founding). OTL.
2. First Great Upheaval. Acadians move to south Louisiana and become Cajuns. 1755-1764. OTL.
3. Post-Supremacy Settlers. Two sets: the Falkland Acadians and a large contingent of Metropolitan French settlers. Falkland Acadians become Cajuns and Metropolitan French become Creoles. 1767-1779 (year after France gives Port Louis to Spain to beginning of Second Platinean War). TTL, with an OTL parallel (Falkland Scheme). *
4. Second Great Upheaval. French Canadians/Quebeckers move to southwest Louisiana and East Texas and become Canajuns. 1785-1794 (End of Canadian Rebellion to Act of Settlement opening Canada up to New Englander colonization). TTL.
5. *Haitian Revolution Creoles. White *Haitians move to New Orleans and become Creoles. 1800s. TTL with an OTL parallel (Haitian Revolution).

*Thande mentioned in the first LTTW thread that New Orleans was bigger in TTL by the 1780s due to France sending new settlers after the Third War of Supremacy and stated this before the Canajun revelation. I figure this is explainable by France wanting to bolster Louisiana’s population versus the ENA (which I remember didn't have a Proclamation of 1763 and had founded Transylvania, Vandalia, and *Ohio state/Province of Erie by 1776), and to accomplish this formulated a successor to Bougainville’s OTL plan to settle Acadian exiles in the Falklands. So I'll be cocky and assume in TTL France sent Bougainville’s Acadians to Acadiana (where they joined their Cajun brethren) with large shipments of Metropolitan French (who settled in New Orleans with their soon-to-be fellow Creoles) to buff the population enough to be noticeable.

I wonder if Louisiana got a ton of refugees from Lisieux's French Latin Republic, in which case add in another set of Creoles as number six in the list above. :D If that happened, the Post-Supremacy and Haitian Revolution settlers have probably overfilled New Orleans' local area and I can see the Lisieux refugees being considered Creole but settling north Louisiana (which in OTL was settled by Anglo-American-Southrons).

And of course, as this latest post revealed, post-Great American War a lot of Cajun and Canajun exiles got thrown into the FCoNO.

EDIT TWO: Questions!

1) How French or how assimilated are the lands Louisiana lost to the ENA, Carolina, and Mexico? A mention of "the former Louisianans on both sides continuing to trade quite casually" made me wonder.

2) Are the New Irish in Santander their own province by now or is it just an ethnic term the way we have 'Nuyoricans' as New York's Puerto Rican community?
 
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Thande

Donor
DIT TWO: Questions!

1) How French or how assimilated are the lands Louisiana lost to the ENA, Carolina, and Mexico? A mention of "the former Louisianans on both sides continuing to trade quite casually" made me wonder.

2) Are the New Irish in Santander their own province by now or is it just an ethnic term the way we have 'Nuyoricans' as New York's Puerto Rican community?
1) There's still quite a lot of French in them, especially in Mexican 'Tejas y Luisiana' which still has a lot of French place names - somewhat less so in the American bits as they were less densely settled before.

2) It's an ethnic term, they're an important minority in three provinces but the borders haven't changed. So the New Irish are politically significant but in a cross-border sense within Mexico and to a much lesser extent in Nouvelle-Orléans and the neighbouring Westernesse provinces, rather than having their own de jure polity per se. Consider it loosely analogous (albeit larger in numbers than) the Adelsverein (which, fun fact, I hadn't actually heard of at the time I came up with Irish Texas).

Also thanks to both you and others for the comments!
 
It feels like the Empire of North America is winning. What would be their ideal treaty, anyway?

Also, I loved the entire New Orleans piece. It definitely seemed like something a more decadent, prosperous, Nola would do.
 
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