Wow! I just spent the better part of the last week reading through thus amazing TL. The feat has tired me out some, though, so I can't think of any meaningful commentary to spouse, other than saying well done, Thande!
Also whats happening in the Delhi-Agra government there at all?
If memory serves me right, Delhi is the only city not to be ravaged in a land totally destroyed by the Great Jihad.

Hell, even the Taj Mahal is destroyed.
I think we're going to see a neo-Jacobin revolution in the UPSA after the war that will allow the Societists to present an anti racist alternative.
The Societist "Last Revolution" in the UPSA, caused by the Pandoric War, has been foreshadowed for a while now.


Thanks for the comments everyone.

Some of you already made comments to this effect, but I was going to ask if there were any parts of the world you particularly wanted to see in these Pandoric War segments. Even if nothing much is happening in some areas war-wise, there are segments which basically amount to 'guy reads newspaper about event elsewhere' which could happen anywhere, so if you think any particular area deserves fleshing out, let me know.

edit: I have also added the Carolina population figure.
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Thanks for the comments everyone.

Some of you already made comments to this effect, but I was going to ask if there were any parts of the world you particularly wanted to see in these Pandoric War segments. Even if nothing much is happening in some areas war-wise, there are segments which basically amount to 'guy reads newspaper about event elsewhere' which could happen anywhere, so if you think any particular area deserves fleshing out, let me know.
I would like to know more about the front in eastern Europe, with all those steampunk tanks.
Some of you already made comments to this effect, but I was going to ask if there were any parts of the world you particularly wanted to see in these Pandoric War segments. Even if nothing much is happening in some areas war-wise, there are segments which basically amount to 'guy reads newspaper about event elsewhere' which could happen anywhere, so if you think any particular area deserves fleshing out, let me know.
Definitely Corea. As I mentioned before:

Finally read the entire thing over three days. What a ride. One thing that stood out to me:

“2 x turkey dhansaks with rice, one with coriander dip and one without = 12R.4f.-m
1 x jiaozi vegetable sharing platter with side order of kimchi borsht = 4R.3f.2m
1 x garlic naan with cocoa dip = 2R.1f.-m
Delivery charge = 1R.-f.-m
Total 19R.8f.2m”
So let's see, we have

- A localized (turkey) Parsi Zoroastrian dish
- Korean style dumplings with what is likely Russian-influenced kimchi-jjigae
- Otherwise common garlic naan with cocoa dip.

Damn, this is a holy combination of cuisine. Just how much as the Russia-centric clique infiltrated South Asia for this insanity to appear?!?!?! This is what makes LTTW great.

While Thande is away, I figured I'll use the country data from post-"return" updates to compare with OTL to see how population differences might show the immigration patterns.

Finally, a small request: I know it's a relatively smaller player, but a factsheet of Corea would be appreciated. This is the one AH where I see a Korea that rose without BS time travel/slip or absolute massacre of butterflies to bring about.
This sort of cultural spread indicates that Corea is no mere client of Russia, even if we take into consideration Diversitarianism. Please tell us "Corea's Place in the Sun".
Some of you already made comments to this effect, but I was going to ask if there were any parts of the world you particularly wanted to see in these Pandoric War segments. Even if nothing much is happening in some areas war-wise, there are segments which basically amount to 'guy reads newspaper about event elsewhere' which could happen anywhere, so if you think any particular area deserves fleshing out, let me know.
I'm certainly not the only one who now wants to know what's going on in Britain at the moment.

As for other places, Antipodia. New Holland is supposed to get partitioned between Cygnia and La Perouse's Land this year, 1897, if I remember correctly.

Have we had a Norden-centric update lately? I don't remember. I'd like to know what's going on with them. Or just someone remind me in a comment if I'm just forgetting something. :D #FreeJutland

EDIT: Britain must be doing gloriously, now that I think about it. ;)
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Outlined against the violent violet was an equally eye-hurting series of large capital letters ‘P’: not only the traditional card in the brim of his hat, but stitched all over his jacket and britches as well. The overall effect was of a particularly unoriginal melodramatic sequent villain.
This is probably far too obscure to be deliberate, but could that be a reference to this guy? (His outfit's grey in the picture there, but I think was sometimes purple in the original comics.)

now Britain is under martial law…”

“What?!” Harding barked in surprise. “What was that last part?”
What he said. :eek:
Also when did the New Spain empire really collapse and Prussia, etc....i seem to have missed some plot somewhere o,.o
New Spain didn't really collapse so much as decentralize, while Prussia fell into civil war during the Jacobin Wars.
Thanks for the comments everyone.

Some of you already made comments to this effect, but I was going to ask if there were any parts of the world you particularly wanted to see in these Pandoric War segments. Even if nothing much is happening in some areas war-wise, there are segments which basically amount to 'guy reads newspaper about event elsewhere' which could happen anywhere, so if you think any particular area deserves fleshing out, let me know.
Mount Royal, Fort North (Noochaland), New London (Niagara), Cornubia (Ontario)


Part #237: Shocks

The country’s official name is: SCANDINAVIAN EMPIRE or NORDIC EMPIRE (SKANDINAVISKE IMPERIUM or NORDISKE IMPERIUM); the two terms are now used almost interchangeably. The short form is SCANDINAVIA or NORDEN.
The people are known as: SCANDINAVIANS or NORDICS (more commonly the former).
Capital and largest city: Copenhagen (0.6 million)
Flag: A red Scandinavian cross on gold (derived from that of the old Union of Kalmar) with the canton filled with a union mark combining the Danish and Swedish flags (white on red and yellow on blue respectively).
Population: 9 million (excluding colonies).
Land area: 34,222 lcf.
Economic ranking: Outside the top ten, otherwise debatable.
Form of government: Federal constitutional monarchy. A single Emperor reigns in Copenhagen, with his sons appointed kings of Denmark and Sweden (and, since 1881, Norway) in order of age precedence. Those kings reign in Malmö, Stockholm and Christiania respectively; these cities also play host to devolved parliaments for those nations governing domestic policy, while the Imperial Folketing in Copenhagen manages foreign policy. The national parliaments have the most democratic franchise in Europe outside of Great Britain (including limited female suffrage), whereas the Imperial Folketing has a more restrictive franchise, with paternalistic justifications about how only the wealthy and educated can make informed decisions about foreign and trade policy. The Imperial Folketing has three major parties (the party system is wholly different on the national level), the conservative Gyldenparti, the agrarian Sølvparti and the free-trader Liberale Folkeparti. As those names imply, though there have been attempts to set up a neutral ‘Standard Scandinavian’ language for official business, generally Danish takes precedence.
Foreign relations: Since the loss of Jutland and Lapland in the Unification War, to many Scandinavians the only real question has been which one to have a bigger nationalist grudge about. With Russia and Germany increasingly opposed, there is an air of which devil to sell the country’s soul to in order to defeat the other. Generally speaking, more people are concerned about Jutland, not just because Danes are more in the driving seat than Swedes or Norwegians but also because of the well-publicised controversies of the German Kulturkrieg there. The Liberals argue for participation in free trade with the ENA and UPSA and a European alignment with France, but they are generally consigned to opposition due to agreements between the Gold and Silver parties to govern.
Military: Scandinavia has been criticised by some as ‘the Prussia of the nineteenth century’ in that since the Unification War, it has become known as a small country with an oversized army and militaristic policies.[1] Given that even conscription can only do so much in a country of less than ten million people, Scandinavia has also become known for investing in scientific research relevant to military aims, and in dice-loading[2] weapons, most controversially being an earlier adopter of the ironshark.
Current head of state: King Valdemar II (since 1880) (House of Oldenburg)
Current head of government: Council President Fredrik von Blücher[3] (since 1893) (Gyldenparti)

The World At War: From The Pages of The Discerner VOLUME I: THE GATHERING STORM (1981)


East of McClintock Island, Novaya Moskva Krai, Russian Empire[4]
June 14th 1897 (N.S.)

Ivan Petrovich Vasiliev shook his head as he stared out on the turbulent deep blue waters of the Noocha Narrows, a sight which he had had quite enough of since arriving in Alyeska all those months ago. He felt a bitter urge to laugh as he thought back to Major Kurakin’s grand military parade in the streets of Dobryanka. He had thought himself so wise beyond his years, so properly cynical about what war was, volunteering now so as to escape his family being targeted by a later sweep when the process of expanding Russia’s army ceased to be optional.

And, to be fair, he and his family had not been wrong. Two weeks ago the Captain had read out a long Lectel message sent from the people of Dobryanka to their brave boys, a forgettable bit of propaganda fluff from Governor Fanbranglov tacked on to brief messages from the soldiers’ families. Judging by the disjointed way in which Captain Zalyotin read out those messages, the censors’ knives had been active; but Ivan could still read between the lines. Fanbranglov’s vague pronouncements of the army gloriously advancing on all fronts could not hide the fact that the same Polish and Danubian town names kept popping up over and over again as the sites of those same majestic victories. The war on the western front[4] was clearly being bitterly and indecisively fought, which probably meant that both sides were promptly ladling more and more men into the meat grinder. Ivan had read enough novels of the Great American War in his grandfather’s day to know what that meant. Even the most skilful authors struggled to romanticise trench warfare.

So, he and the other pioneers had managed to avoid being called up and thrust straight into the muzzle of some trigger-happy Saxon’s cingular gun. But at least some of those poor blighters might get to see a Perun in action, Ivan thought with a wry smile. After all of Major Kurakin’s majestic parade, the only armarts the Second Perm Rifles had seen so far were a couple of old proto-Kresniks with boilers and turrets that constantly broke down. And that had been in training exercises, of course.

“Can’t complain,” he muttered to himself. “Nychevo.” But, perversely, he wanted to. He’d known war could be hell. He hadn’t realised it could be dull.

It did seem silly when he confronted the thought, of course. After all, all the volunteers were still alive. Well, except poor Viktor Dmitrovich Klenov, who had split his head open two weeks ago during one of those training exercises when he fell from the gangplank. And Alexei Lavrentevich Mironov, who had been swept up in an outbreak of consumption back in Fort Frederik Yuri.[5] Fortunately it had been caught early and he had been quarantined along with the locals affected, but Ivan doubted he would recover. He was probably already dead, come to think of it.

All the same, plenty of units in this war would probably trade anything to have a record of only two casualties, and those outside combat. But, if that was an advantage, it was about to come to an end.

Agitated, Ivan felt the urge to pac back and forth, but these volatile waters made him fear losing his footing. It was only his tenseness that likely saved him from losing his dinner as well. At least this was a relatively stable platform. The Kosatka-class troopship certainly lived up to its name, wallowing in the cool Pacific waters like some bloated whale that had been unwilling to stop at swallowing one Jonah. Even Ivan would grudgingly admit that it was well-made, though: all-iron construction like a lionheart, at a time when most mere troopships were lucky to even be armourclad over wooden hulls, with no exposed rivets or cut corners. One of the Company men, a chap with a Lithuanian name and suspiciously half-slanted eyes, had told him that the Kosatkas were being built at a frenetic pace in the shipyards of Dolgorukovsk.[6] Say what you like about those savage Yapontsi natives, Ivan thought, but they knew how to weld and rivet.

He wondered if those shipyards really were still building troopships, or if the Tsar and his Governor had decided that the war effort required full-blown warships to be constructed too. Ever since the rebellion almost twenty years before, the Empire had been wary about allowing the Yapontsi too much access to weapons, but desperate times bred desperate measures.

And they were desperate. If not, perhaps, for Peter V, or even for men like Father Dmitry and Full State Councillor Ulyanov back in Dobryanka, they certainly were for Ivan and his comrades.

Because this time, the Kosatka was not merely ferrying men back and forth between two of the islands of the Benyovsky Archipelago, watched by nonplussed Gaida natives.[7] This time, they were heading into enemy territory.

Ivan realised, absurdly, that he was mentally expecting there to be a giant black dotted line floating on top of the ocean to let him know when they passed from the seas ruled by the Tsar to those over whom His Imperial Septentrian and Royal Britannic Majesty, Emperor-King George IV, reigned. Real life was not so neat. He supposed that even all the best surveyors that Petrograd and Fredericksburg could field would probably argue about it if they were transported here. And so, a treacherous voice in the back of his head insisted, what was the point of it all? Why were men dying to shift this line if nobody could even say exactly where it was right now?

He pushed that thought aside. Now was not the time. This was, however, a time in which the Americans were purportedly throwing everything at Carolina, scratching an old itch. Even the New Spanish front was, according to rumour, considered secondary by their President, never mind the distant Northwest Frontier. And so, high-minded strategists back in Petrograd (or Fyodorsk in Yapon) had doubtless concluded, now was an ideal time for the RLPC to concentrate its forces and win a coup that would secure the American trade for decades to come.

The trouble with that sort of strategic thinking was that, oddly enough, its proponents usually managed to forget little matters like logistics; or, more precisely, the tendency for deadlines to slip and estimates to inflate. The plan would probably have been a good one if the Russians had been able to strike at the start of the campaign season, which came surprisingly early in the southern part of New Muscovy, with a milder climate than Ivan had expected. As it was, a combination of the need to train new recruits and issues with supplies meant that they were not setting out until June—by which time the Americans probably knew they were coming even if their spies had formerly worked as Optel recorders.[8]

Ivan gripped the rail again as a particularly violent wave hit the Kosatka. He felt a presence to his side. “Slava,” he said without looking. They had already been friends, but bitter weeks of military training had strengthened their bond.

“Vanya.” Months ago, Vyacheslav Fyodorovich Mozorov had been a bit less cynical, a bit more happy-go-lucky perhaps, than his friend. This was no longer the case. He could not afford to be. He joined him in staring at the horizon, squinting. “But surely that’s it?”

“That’s it,” Ivan confirmed tightly. Just a smudge right now, but a growing one. “Noochaland. At long last.

“We’re landing north of Enterprize, aren’t we?” Slava asked. Not that the officers told them, of course, but both men were well read enough to make guesses.

“I certainly hope so,” Ivan said, with a slightly stronger word than ‘certainly’. “If they throw us straight into the Dzhonatans’ guns…”

“Well, all that training will have been a waste of time,” Slava said dryly.

“That’s one way to look at it,” Ivan agreed. “And—well, here they come.”

Here they came indeed; but the Russians’ planning had not been entirely flawed, it seemed. The naval patrol force the Americans sent consisted only of three older frigates and a modern dentist. Clearly there had been some justice to the intelligence that much of the Northwest Fleet had been sent to bombard the western ports in Mexico’s Arizpe province. Presumably the Americans had expected the Russians to focus on the German front: or perhaps they had just not foreseen this degree of escalation. Certainly Ivan struggled to keep track of how the alliance systems had worked out across the globe, alloyed of course to a healthy degree of opportunism.

The four Kosatka troopships lacked heavy weapons, of course, but at least their all-iron construction rendered them almost invulnerable from many smaller and more obsolete enemy guns. Therefore, although the American commander gamely and audaciously plunged his ships straight under the guns of the Russian armourclad Direktor Pozharsky to risk an attack on the transports, he failed to make much impact. That was a relative term, of course; it would be little comfort to the dozen or so comrades of Ivan’s who were turned into a very large cloud of red mist when one of the frigates managed to plant a shot in between two of the protective railings on the second Kosatka. In an age when so much naval warfare was being reduced to arm’s-length duels between lionhearts with solution engines, that shot was nothing more than human skill. It was particularly notable considering how the notoriously chaotic tidal forces in the Narrows affected ships’ stability.[9] In other circumstances, Ivan would have been impressed. Right now, of course, he was coldly furious. “More than two casualties now,” he bit out.

“But there won’t be many more,” Slava said, pointing. Despite the bloody evidence of the risk they were running, neither of them obeyed the calls from the Company officers to go below. If they were going to have to go to war, they were damn well going to see it at least. “At least not on the sea.”

Ivan nodded. The courageous American officer, his plan largely defeated by the iron Kosatkas, now saw his four ships surrounded and pounded by the Pozharsky, the smaller lineship Delphin and six of the heavy escort frigates that the RLPC operated to protect its convoys. Rather than try to flee, the American fought on and kept his men with him, doing their best to hurt the Russians before they took him down.

Ivan and Slava watched for a full half-hour, occasionally plugging their ears with a wince, as the battle raged. The dentist, her red-blue ensign flapping defiantly at its purely aesthetic mast, planted itself between two of the Company frigates as though it was a ship of a century ago about to launch a broadside. At the last moment, the dentist’s engines roared and she turned hard to port, presenting her stern to one of the frigates, unmindful of the Company turrets firing away. “What are those tube things on her stern—” Slava began.


The two Russians only saw it because they were looking carefully: a black cylinder shooting up from the tube, then immediately crashing down. Not into the sea, but right in the middle of the Company frigate’s wooden deck. The cylinder was—

“A dive bomb,” Slava breathed. “Of course. How the hell did they launch it like that—”

“It sounded like a message tube,” Ivan said, thinking of the pneumatic tubes that shot message cylinders around the offices of Volodin Potash at which he worked. Had worked. It felt now like that was someone else’s life. “A giant message tube…”

“Right. And a dive bomb is meant to send its blast downwards, to hit an ironshark,” Slava said. “So…”

The two men winced in mutual realisation and looked at the frigate as the smoke cleared. The dive bomb had clearly punched down through the deck, and rather than protecting it, the frigate’s armour cladding had only reflected and refocused the blast. The ship now looked like a metal container filled with an excerpt from some Old Believer’s notion of Hell. Even as they watched, the hull mercifully parted and the frigate began to sink beneath the waves, quenching the smoky flames as it did.

Slava swore softly. “That Dzhonatan commander is a genius. A madman, but a genius.”

“Was,” Ivan said. The Americans had managed to damage a second frigate—some wooden debris from the shattered mast whizzed past the Kosatka uncomfortably close—but now the concentrated fire from the Russian lineships had taken its toll. All three American frigates were gone. The dentist tried to repeat its dive bomb trick, but now the Pozharsky’s captain was wise to him and planted a shot in his stern at point-blank range. Not only did the shot disable the launch tubes, but it appeared to set off one of the dive bombs prematurely. Ivan and Slava stuffed their fingers into their ears again as the whole poop deck of the dentist exploded. Soon the mad American had joined his comrades on the restless sea bed of the Narrows.

Then, there was ‘only’ the matter of the troopships being ran aground at the closest thing to a harbour they could use without having to take fortified Enterprize[10] to the south—Ivan thought he could already hear guns blazing from the fort—and trying to avoid joining Viktor Klenov in falling from the gangplanks. Minutes later, Ivan and Slava found themselves with their cheap standard-issue boots biting into some of Emperor-King George’s finest sand.

Russia had invaded Noochaland.


North of San Marcos, Province of Tejas y Luisiana, Kingdom of Mexico
June 16th 1897

Patricio O’Rourke narrowed his eyes against the summer light of Mexico, sharp and blinding even in these northern provinces. Especially, even. He had smoked glasses in his pack, but he resisted the temptation to use them except in extremis. He had absolute confidence in his eyes alone, but introduce devices such as glasses and telescopes to the mix and he began to doubt himself. Doubt could be far worse for his performance than any objective, technical misalignment. It was the sort of entirely non-intuitive fact a man only picked up through hard experience in his chosen field. In Pat’s case, the role of sniper.

Not that he saw himself that way in peacetime, of course. He had served his time as a mercenary, as so many young men among the Nuevo Irlandeses had among the pseudopuissant corporations of the Hermandad. Fifteen years ago, when Nueva Irlanda had briefly protested against the government in Veracruz and there had been scattered skirmishes between militias and state regulars, he had worn the armband bearing the entwined shamrock of Ireland and primrose of Tejas. Fortunately, that tension had been resolved when the Meridians put pressure on the Mexican government to split the province of Nuevo Santander and give Nuevo Irlanda self-rule as a captaincy-general. Ever since that time, Pat had used his skills not against men—other than the occasional bandido—but to protect some of the vast cattle ranches that Meridian investors and others had established in the wilds of Tejas y Luisiana. Technically he supposed he was a groundskeeper, but his cousins over in the old country who had that job would scarcely recognise what he did, ranging over hundreds of miles of pasture, scrubland and desert in his steam mobile or on horseback, shooting down coyotes and other predators from long range.

Now, the call had come again. For a while after the war had broken out, the Mexican government had attempted to thread the needle of its incompatible international commitments, pursuing a wait-and-see policy similar to that of Cuba. But Cuba was an island surrounded by a naval war zone and could get away with things that Mexico could not. Though of all the Hermandad nations, Mexico’s economy was arguably the most entwined with that of the ENA, this political tendency had been defeated by the military force that the UPSA could apply more directly and threateningly. A small part of it had come from Emperor Charles VI’s desire to avoid the ‘Empire’ of New Spain being split into opposite sides and making his title even more of a farce than it was already. If Antonio III had seen fit to disagree with his impotent cousin in the City of Mexico, though, things might have been different.

However, Mexico had eventually been brought into the war effort—though for the first weeks and months it seemed like this meant little in reality. Ships sailed from Veracruz, Tampico and Galvesville: too many of them returned with damaged hulls and casualty lists, or did not return at all. Along the long border between Mexico and the ENA, there had been little action beyond duelling cavalry and light protgun strikes between Crossville and El Paso del Norte.[11]

But recently, as the Imperial Army began to bog down in the bitter trench warfare of Carolina, apparently Emperor-King George and President Jamison had decided they needed some quick and easy victories to boast of. They had pushed down through Carolina’s Wragg Territory and into the extended territory of the Free City of Nouvelle-Orléans; though the Hermandad papers wouldn’t admit it, O’Rourke had heard a rumour that the city itself had just surrendered without a fight, its leaders clearly having been approached for a settlement by the Americans beforehand. True or not, that would allow the Americans’ western armies to refocus on Mexico and join the tentative probe which had marched south from Crowninshield[12] through the little-inhabited lands and now threatened San Marcos. Pat could do nothing about those other armies which, unsatisfied with Nouvelle-Orléans alone, would doubtless now seek to roll up the former French Louisianan lands which had been under Mexican rule since the Great American War. He could, however, do something about the Crowninshield spearhead.

He watched again from his perch atop a disused Optel tower, built by some optimist at a time when it should already have been obvious that Lectel was the wave of the future. Despite Tejas y Luisiana’s often wild weather, the tower had been sheltered by a handy rock formation and remained secure enough. On the horizon was what at first looked like nothing more than a greyish-green smudge, the camouflage colours of the cool north not blending in so well in these lands. Pat watched with the patience of the hunter as that smudge resolved itself into individual soldiers. Unlike the last two groups he had seen, these seemed to lack any steam mobiles, even the usual tractors pulling the supply waggons: they were isolated from their supply chain. Probably just one of those typical military cock-ups with orders having gone awry, and the thirsty soldiers would rendezvous with their supply train later.

Most of them, anyway.

Pat scribbled a quick, cyphered message on a piece of paper and carefully inserted it into the holder on the leg of his fourth and final homing pigeon, Mateo. The bird gave him a beady-eyed look as he checked it was secure. “Godspeed, little one,” he told Mateo, opening his cage. The pigeon surged into the air and took off for his home over in San Marcos proper. Hopefully he would dodge the numerous hawks that this part of Tejas y Luisiana played host to.

With a final, unselfconscious wave to the brave grey bird, Pat turned back to business. He disassembled and reassembled his rifle in an action that was half sensible preparation, half nervous tic. Reluctantly, he included the telescopic scope. Despite his own instincts against such things, it would make a difference here and now, especially as there was little wind.

Why am I doing this? a little voice whispered in his ear. He didn’t feel any especial loyalty to the Mexican government; he had taken up arms against it not so long ago. The Hermandad and its companies were overbearing and arrogant. Did he fear the ENA? There was an ancestral dislike for how parts of the British and American governments had been a little too eager to encourage his Catholic great-grandparents to leave Ireland during the famine, but that was more reflexive than meaningful. Having seen asimcons and kaleidoliths of the real Ireland, he wasn’t sure he didn’t prefer Nueva Irlanda: at least it had sun.

Yes, that was it: Nueva Irlanda. If the Americans took Tejas y Luisiana, Nueva Irlanda would be next: and there were still occasional horror stories about what happened to Catholics under American rule, in the isolated backwoods regions where the Imperial government had little power. Perhaps those were exaggerated: regardless, Pat did not want to see the Starry George fly over Laredo or Nueva Dublin.

Distracted by his thoughts, at first he thought he was seeing things when he first looked through the scope. He blinked. Surely—no, it was true! The grey-green clad Imperial troops marched under two flags. One was the expected Starry George he had expected, but the other…

The other was a white field with a green shamrock entwined with a purple evening primrose, the iconic flower of Nueva Irlanda. The flag of the abortive New Irish revolt—if it could be called that—of his youth.

Now, as he focused, he recognised some of the regimental trappings of these soldiers. They were not American, not except a few of the officers who looked rather worried at their troops’ wrong turn. The cap badges had red saltires defaced with golden harps, red hands, golden crowns or black eagles wielding silver swords—or at least that was what a squinting Pat thought he could see.

He lowered his gun. “Irishmen,” he muttered. “Old Irishmen. This is bad. This is very bad.”

Now what was he supposed to do?


West of Winehouse, Noochaland Province, Confederation of Drakesland, Empire of North America (contested with Russian Empire) [13]
June 20th 1897 (N.S.)

Ivan hastily tucked away the much-battered, dog-eared paperback copy of Belinsky the Younger’s Sad Piotr, the version with the Unauthorised Ending. In civilian life it would have been tame stuff, but out here at the end of the world, you took what you could get.

He got it under wraps just in time as Captain Zalyotin appeared in the opening of the tent. Judging by the officer’s pensive, preoccupied expression, though, perhaps he wouldn’t have noticed anyway. “Sergeant Vasiliev. You have my telescope, do you not?”

Da, Captain,” Ivan said, quickly bringing the case out from the inside of his makeshift pillow. The Company had provided them with tents and supplies, but they were designed for different terrain than that of Noochaland. At least the place was warmer than he had feared: swelteringly hot in this summer night, even. Ivan opened the case and handed Zalyotin the telescope.

Spasibo,” the captain said distractedly, another sign of his preoccupation: usually the chain of command would mean he would avoid openly giving verbal thanks for an order carried out by a noncommissioned officer. Zalyotin stepped out of the tent, telescope in hand; a cool breeze mercifully wafted by as he did.

Despite himself, Ivan was curious. He prodded a snoring Slava, stripped away the cheap Beiqing-made blankets the Company had given them, and followed Zalyotin. He was, of course, still dressed in his uniform, and like all of them was reeking: barring a couple of dips in rivers, the hard fighting since they had landed had not allowed much time for washing and cleaning clothes. Instead Company auxiliaries often went around fumigating tents and uniforms, which didn’t help. There did seem to be fewer mosquitoes around than he had expected, though.[14]

The Second Perm Rifles’ tents were pitched on the lower slopes of Mount Wakesiah, the big conifer-swathed mountain overlooking the enemy-held city of Winehouse.[15] Several other units were positioned around them, including a number of artillery batteries firing down on the city’s protective fort. The Americans were shooting back, of course, but suffered from the fact that Winehouse’s defences had clearly been designed with the assumption that they would be repelling an attack from the sea. Though all the large American settlements on Noochaland were similarly defended, their strategic planners appeared to have missed the sheer size of the island. It looked small on a map showing the whole of the ENA, but was still large enough and had sufficiently few inhabitants that one could just find a random natural harbour and land troops there to attack the towns from the landward side. As indeed the Russians had.

The Starry George still flew over the Winehouse fort, but even without Zalyotin’s telescope, even with the vague light of the early morning (the sun a mere glow on the eastern horizon beyond the Rosario Strait[16]), Ivan thought he could discern the big flag was looking a bit ragged from the artillery fire. As of yet the Russians were still leery about a direct attack, though. This was not the trench warfare of the west against the Germans: regardless of whether Zalyotin’s superiors had any compassion for their men, they simply did not have the numbers to pour them into a meat grinder to secure a victory. The Russians were fighting Company-style, that is, how the Company men fought when they did not have mercenaries to rely upon: a mobile style of warfare, hit and run, neutralise the enemy and move on. There would hopefully be no need to spend men on occupying the American settlements, either. Currently (or so Ivan had gathered) the Dzhonatan civilians seemed too stunned by the rapidity of the Russian advance to offer much resistance. If they could drive all the way south to Fort North, defeat the whole of the American military forces on the island, then there would be time later to secure control.

Ivan shook his head in something like embarrassment. There went his cynical, calculating view of war again. Because things were going well, he had been swept up into the excitement of the moment, the glory of war. He was, after all, still quite a young man. He had to remind himself of the comrades they had already lost, even though the Second Perm Rifles had avoided much of the brunt of the fighting so far.

That would change, he knew, when the guns opened a breach in the Winehouse fort’s wall.

Captain Zalyotin made a small sound. Startled, Ivan turned—and saw that Slava, rubbing his eyes with his kunckles, had arrived as well. He had forgotten the original purpose he’d come out here.

Zalyotin, his telescope screwed firmly to one eye, muttered something else that sounded far too pungent to come out of an officer’s mouth. “I wasn’t seeing things. Bozhemoi!

“What is it, sir?” Ivan asked cautiously.

Zalyotin gestured wildly towards Winehouse and the columns of smoke rising over the artillery targets. “Over there!”

“What about Winehouse, sir?” Ivan said.

“Not Winehouse!” Both men pronounced the English name more like ‘Vin-khovs’. “In the Rosario Strait! Look!” He impatiently handed the spyglass back to Ivan. “Tell me I am not seeing what I am seeing, Sergeant!”

Ivan focused the device and, forgetting himself, swore. Only just visible through the smoke from Winehouse, spewing steam from their funnels to add to the mix, were ships. Several ships, large and small. One flew a purple cross flag that had to be British, another a flag he did not recognise at all. But the biggest ship of all, scarred with a few hastily repaired battle marks but still impressively devastating-looking, flew the Starry George. “That’s her, isn’t it?” he murmured. “Admiral Hughes’ lionheart?”

“HIMS Constitution,” Zalyotin agreed. He kicked a stone angrily and it went over a small cliff edge, hopefully not to crack open the head of someone in one of the regiments camped farther down the slopes of Mount Wakesiah. “The one that was damaged in the fight with the Meridians in the Pacific. But now she’s here!” He shook his head. “That was over a month ago…but how did we miss this?”

Ivan did not point out that it was not ‘we’ who had missed this, it was the Tsar’s spies. Instead he asked a useful question. “What can we do now?”

Zalyotin nodded, running his hand through his brown hair. Despite his rank, he was not much older than the two sergeants, his position stemming from an aristocratic rather than aspirational upper-working class bourgeois background. “Of course. We need to get on the Lectel—if it’s working yet, or the heliograph, or—get a message over to Enterprize—”

“Enterprize, sir?” Slava asked in surprise. “Aren’t they going to attack us here?”

Zalyotin shook his head. “I can’t see any troopships. All Hughes could do is bombard us a bit. But if he finds our fleet…”

Ivan thought of the brave but crazy American dentist captain who had hurt the Russians, imagined the vengeance that would be wrought in his name. “We’d better warn them.”

Indeed, the American-led force headed north after only a few token potshots aimed at the Russians encamped on Mount Wakesiah. Hughes was looking for something.

Later that day, the First Tomsk Howitzers managed to open the desired breach in the Winehouse fort’s walls. Once again, Ivan and Slava lucked out: while the Second Perm Rifles were involved in forcing the breach, it was the Irkutsk Light Infantry who drew the short straw and formed the forlorn hope. In the end, though bloody in places, the fight went more easily than Ivan had expected, and soon the white, blue and red of Russia flew over the fort instead.

Captain Zalyotin seemed surprised as well. “I expected the arrival of Hughes’ ships to embolden the Americans here and give them courage,” he said. “Perhaps they were disheartened that he did not stop to aid them much?”

“Perhaps, sir,” Ivan said, but behind his sergeant’s diplomatic mask, he was not certain he agreed. The American soldiers they had captured here, men of the Second Pittsylvania Medium Infantry, seemed rather relaxed about their fate, not depressed. Perhaps because they no longer saw the Russian conquest of the island as a whole as inevitable; and, as Ivan himself had mused, it was that all-or-nothing factor that would count.

Though by midnight both Russian and American artillery had been silenced in and around Winehouse, distant echoing booms still resounded from the slopes of Mount Wakesiah. Ivan had a horrible feeling that the Russian fleet, so much stronger than the small American force they had defeated a week earlier, had in turn been surpassed by what was left of Admiral Hughes’ Pacific fleet…

When he had first bitten into some of the dry ship’s biscuit and salt pork that the Company issued as rations, he had thought he would never be hungry enough for them to taste good to him.

As it turned out, he had been wrong.


Eveleigh Square, Ultima, Kingdom of Carolina
June 23rd 1897

King William V Daniel looked at the crowd amassed in the square, butterflies fluttering in his stomach. This had all been carefully organised and timed. Darius Wragg was giving a speech of his own in Nevadoheyadev to reassure the jittery Cherokee as fighting intensified around Talugisgi. Thomas McCain, along with the rest of the MGAs, was deep in a top-secret General Assembly session involving that same fighting. Having been in the same military planning room as McCain and Wragg when the latest information had come through, William could guess how it was going: lots of complaints about how some hotshot damnyankee general had abandoned guerre de tonnerre doctrine and was racing ahead of his supply lines like some dishonourable Jacobin. Yes, all right, as he was using steam mobiles and protguns rather than horses, this tactic did mean that his force had effectively surrounded Talugisgi and pocketed the remaining Carolinian and Meridian forces there, trapping them and preventing them from being resupplied. But it was still cheating.

Yes, Wragg and McCain were consumed with that catastrophe, while Lorenzo Almada was down in Maubela, allegedly inspecting the Carolinian naval forces there. William had a cynical suspicion that he was actually making his plans for how he would escape from the kingdom, perhaps with a part of those naval forces, when it was inevitably conquered.

And it was looking inevitable now, inevitable to the point that William had wondered if his Imperial contacts had abandoned the idea of a deal as unnecessary. Fortunately, it had just turned out that they had had difficulties contacting him for a while after one of their spies had turned his coat. At least that spy had only known enough to expose other spies; he had not been aware of the deal William had forged. He wondered what on earth Wragg and McCain would have done if they had learned of his plans. They couldn’t exactly lock up their own King.

Or could they? He thought of the reports he had seen from Great Britain. Despite the UPSA attempting to worm its tentacles into subverting every aspect of Carolina’s ability to act independently, the fact that Carolina was an English-speaking country meant that she had always had an edge over the UPSA in getting spies into the ENA and Britain. And those spies reported to William, Wragg and McCain, not to Almada and the Meridians. Though most of what they found was passed on, the Carolinian triad had always jealously guarded some scraps of this precious privilege.

It appeared that there had been big public protests in Britain, probably ultimately caused by discontent over the effects of Meridian ironsharks sinking food shipments and the resulting rationing, but more directly triggered by the outcome of Admiral Hughes’ Pyrrhic victory in the Pacific. All sorts of exaggerated rumours had circulated about Americans deliberately abandoning British sailors to their deaths, and these had coalesced into the protests taking on a distinctly anti-American tone. They could still have been managed, but President Herriott had taken a typically mulish approach in locking up large numbers of protestors and even attempting to enforce the death penalty against some ringleaders. This naturally had only turned protests into full-blown riots. The Lord Deputy, the Duke of York, had attempted to intervene and had managed to get those ringleaders off, but this had only made him an enemy of Herriott. Even the unexpurgated spies’ reports were confused about what was happening next, but there were definite rumours of unofficial house arrest of the Duke. And that was without considering the sketchier reports of what was happening in Scotland—always restless—and Cornwall. Oddly enough, Cornwall would probably be the one that would cause bigger ructions. William knew that the Imperial and Royal House had always felt a particular connection to Cornwall due to its dukedom being the last honour Frederick I had been left with in his exile. But HMS President’s dead captain had been a Cornishman named Humphry Penhaligon. All the resentment the rest of Britain felt more generally towards the fate of President and her crew was, allegedly, being channelled into a much more personal vendetta concerning the death of Captain Penhaligon.

Interesting times. William was aware that most of the people in Eveleigh Square would cheer for troubles in Britain, which was after all now one of Carolina’s enemies. He could not bring himself to do so. It all seemed so pointless. Britain, scarcely less than Carolina it felt sometimes, was a country being dragged around on a leash by a bigger nation and fighting its wars on its behalf. It only added insult to injury that Britain had once been the master of the colonies that became the ENA. At least Prussia never established any colonies, he thought bitterly.

Now, of course, he was working for that same American bully, rather than the Meridian bully in the south. There was little about it that could be called noble or principled, no matter what he might try to tell himself. Perhaps that was the reason why he was doing what he was doing now. The American agents (whose names he carefully did not know) had expressed surprise that he had plumped for this plan. They had probably expected him to accede to being quietly smuggled out and then giving speeches on American soil which would be published and distributed to Carolinians. William knew that would be pointless: too easy to dismiss as forgeries, or for people to say he was writing under duress. If he was to achieve anything, he would have to do it here and now, in Carolina’s capital city, speaking unambiguously of his own accord.

He did not expect to leave the square alive. So be it. At least it would ensure his words would never be forgotten. The Americans had done their part. His wife Marie, daughter of old Grand Duke Jean-Luc of Louisiana, and his three children had all been quietly smuggled away. He had received confirmation, including the code phrase only Marie knew, that they had successfully made the last leg in an innocent-looking fishing boat, crossing from the Georgian coast around the intense naval battles around Savannah to arrive in American-occupied Charleston. Soon they would be out of the danger zone altogether, sent up to the Empire’s quiet northern provinces.

So be it. He hoped he would see them again, but he did not expect it. And Marie had seen that in his eyes. She knew. She understood. He prayed the children would one day as well.

“…ladies and gentlemen of the free and independent Kingdom of Carolina, I give you His Majesty King William the Fifth! I give you your King!” The master of ceremonies, the rather smarmy mayor of Ultima, gave way as William ascended the dais.

As he did, of course, a nearby band blared out the Carolinian national anthem, a tune William had grown heartily sick of in the course of his reign:

O Carolina, Land of the Free
True to thy heart I ever shall be
When shadows fall and hope shall fade
I shall think on thy name, and not be afraid…

It went on in a similar vein, and had always struck him as being much more a song about what people wished the country was rather than what it actually was, and always had been. The lines about freedom had always been…questionable given the circumstances of the country’s founding, of course, but the ones about independence seemed if anything even more laughable in a land that felt like a simple extension of Meridian power.

Which was a shame, because it was quite catchy.

The band faded and the people cheered, applauding and whooping with a lack of decorum that would have been frowned upon in the ENA, never mind Europe. William forced a smile and made the minimalist wave of the constitutional monarch. Wishing he had imbibed in a little Dutch courage—wishing there was a way beyond the acoustics of the square to amplify his voice—he began.

“O my brave and loyal people,” he licked his lips, suddenly dry, “I stand here before you not to take your praise, but to give it to those who deserve it far more than I. It is you who have fought so hard since the war began. Not merely the soldier in the trench, the sailor in his ship or the aeronaut in his steerable, but so too the worker in the factory or the plantation, the housewife at home managing with so little, the child saving waste paper and metal to help the war effort. All of you have fought longer and harder than any King could have asked for his subjects, and you have no cause to be ashamed.”

He paused as the people, so downtrodden with the continuous bad news of the war, let out ragged cheers. There were so many of them crammed into the square, more women than men to be sure, though not all men were fighting on the front line: there were some of those factory workers he had mentioned, some so filthy they looked scarcely distinguishable from the group of Negro civil servants standing carefully apart from the rest of the crowd. “But now the war situation has developed not necessarily to Carolina’s advantage, and the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest. I do not relish the message I will give to you. I will not claim it is good or desirable news. I wish only to prevent unnecessary bloodshed, to ensure that there will be a Carolina tomorrow for my children and yours to grow up in—”

There had been so much intermittent noise from the crowd that William barely heard the report. He almost carried on speaking, and then the stabbing pain in his chest made itself known. He looked down and saw the red stain spreading across his tan ceremonial uniform.

He didn’t remember collapsing to the dais. Suddenly there were shocked faces above him, the blue summer sky behind them, clouded only by factory fumes. He heard policemen dragging away a spitting and swearing figure, though the voices seemed to grow fainter in his ear all the time. He heard enough of what the man was saying between the swearwords: “…illegitimate! ’Twere always wrong to break away from good Emperor Fred the Second! Now he’s gone we need to make George the Fourth our King, like he always should’ve been!”

“Traitor!” snapped the Mayor of Ultima as an aide attempted with game futility to staunch William’s wound. “And everyone heard that. Don’t worry, Your Majesty, your speech will stand against that. After that act of treachery, these people will fight to the death for you against the Yankees!”

Despite the blurriness and fading of his vision, William managed to roll his eyes around to stare at the Mayor.

And then he laughed.

He laughed and laughed, a great wheezing laugh, unmindful of the pain in his lungs, until his motion dislodged the bullet and the last King of Carolina was gone.

And then what?

[1] Of course, in TTL, a militaristic country being compared to Prussia is an insult, because it is effectively saying their efforts to punch above their weight are doomed to fail.

[2] Game-changing.

[3] This is the ATL great-great-grandson of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who in TTL became a general in the Swedish army (see Part #63). The family have been in Sweden so long that not even the most anti-German Scandinavians would think of them as anything other than Swedes. Note that there is a gentleman’s agreement, not always followed, to rotate roles like council president (prime minister), foreign minister and finance minister between members representing the three nations.

[4] From a Russian perspective, that is.

[5] OTL Prince George, British Columbia. In TTL this was founded as Fort Frederick George (named after Henry IX’s older brother who was slain in the Jacobin Wars) and was operated by the Hudson’s Bay Company (which absorbed the North West Company in TTL) and later abandoned when the HBC was nationalised by the ENA government. The remains of the fort were taken over by the RLPC some years later for trade purposes and it has since grown into a medium-sized settlement.

[6] OTL Osaka.

[7] The Benyovsky Archipelago (one of many, many, many things named after Moritz Benyovsky in Russian Amerika) is the TTL name for the Queen Charlotte Islands, or as they are now officially known, the Haida Gwaii—Gaida being the Russian rendering of Haida.

[8] I.e., because Optel has both been largely obsoleted by this point and Optel companies often employed blind men as recorders—see Interlude #16—by the 1890s ‘Optel recorders’ is a euphemism for ‘blind old men’.

[9] The Nootka Narrows are called the Seymour Narrows in OTL and were described by George Vancouver as ‘one of the vilest stretches of water in the world’.

[10] OTL Campbell River, Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

[11] OTL Las Cruces, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, respectively.

[12] OTL Fort Worth, Texas.

[13] Winehouse is OTL Nanaimo, British Columbia.

[14] Unbeknownst to Vasiliev (and perhaps the writer of this part), Vancouver Island is notable for its relative paucity of mosquitoes in the first place.

[15] This is usually known in OTL as Mount Benson; Wakesiah is a native name.

[16] Known in OTL as the Strait of Georgia. The name Rosario is a contraction of the Spanish name for the same body.