Look to the West Volume VIII: The Bear and the Basilisk

Societist Carolina at long last!

Why did he use the Indoeuropean name for God?
I seem to vaguely recall elements of religious syncretism in Thande’s recounting of Sanchez’ reported works, not to mention the involvement of a Gallican bishop whose name escapes me in the initial Societist coup. Harkening back to a PIE term can be seen as a nod towards universality, since doing so revives something underlying modern divergences in language.

On a personal note, societist doctrine and iconography on religion and metaphysics strikes me as eerily similar to that which in OTL Auguste Compte fleshed out his “Positivist” views.
These recent updates have done a nice job of combining prose with historical narrative. The way volumes VI onwards are presented are a huge progress from the more uniform history book excerpts in the earliest volumes and much more fun. Or at least as fun as something like the Black Twenties can be. The stuff that happened in this volume makes the Pandoric War look tolerable. And there have been hints that Volume X will be an even wilder ride (assuming the present pattern of volumes continues and Volume IX covers the reprieve of the Second Interbellum).

You know, that might be another point in favour of the thing we keep hearing about how the Grey Societists are the thing that winds up doing the most damage to the Combine in the end. Their existence belies the Combine's claims to be purely united, and the fact that NovaLatina and Martial Latin are vaguely-related dialects instead of one language only drives it in further
I think the linguistic issue will be a secondary one. In the absence of more serious Combine-Danubian disputes it could be easily ignored. Novalatina is supposed to be just a temporary measure meant to last until the reconstruction of the language of the first humans isn't it?
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Or the fact that they were elected into power, providing an initially-popular or even populist societism.
That the Eternal state's language is non-latin will provide further rebuttal and its emphasis on Islam even more so.
Plot twist: the Eternal State adopts novalatina as well?


From: “Decade of Hell: The Black Twenties” by Michael P. T. Emmerson (1988)—

With the initial landing at, and break-out from, Pensacola achieved, the Societists had completed their first objective. Precisely how many Celatores landed on the first day (or night) of Operatio Libramendum remains a matter for debate; after some years of being accepted without question, the account of Dionysus Oderus has lately been criticised, with evidence that Lugallus Rivarius’ aide did not have access to the level of detailed documentation that he claimed. Estimates based on third party observation suggest perhaps between twenty and twenty-five thousand Celatores comprised the first wave. This represented the largest amphibious descent operation in modern history so far, though in time it would be surpassed. However, the important factor was not how many were involved in these first landings (which were tense and dangerous, as Garzius’ infiltrators and strike marine landing groups were still fighting to control the port at the time) but, once that port was secured, how rapidly the Societists could bring more men in through it. Holding only a single continental port would be a significant bottleneck, considering the level of shipping that the Societists could call on to transport reinforcements from Cuba. The next objective, therefore, was to secure additional ports.

Most strategically important of these was Maubela to the west. During the years of Meridian overlordship, while Pensacola had been a significant naval base, Maubela had principally been a trade port, and its dock facilities had continued to be maintained since the American conquest of Carolina in the Pandoric War.[22] Whereas the forts in Pensacola with its more defensible harbour had been allowed to fall into decay, Fort Eveleigh at the mouth of Maubela Bay had been maintained and the city enjoyed a well-equipped garrison of American regulars – hence why it had not been targeted for the initial Societist landings.[23] Most of Maubela’s defences faced seaward, suggesting the best way to attack it was from the back; hence, this was made a priority for one of the Societists’ three main axes of advance from Pensacola.

This westward axis force, commanded by the Batavian Dutch-born Lugallus Antonius Arminius, rapidly ran into problems. The American garrison in Maubela was unlike most of the lackadaisical occupation forces in Carolina, having close ties to the nearby Westernesse exclave of Nouvelle-Orléans and having developed informal supply lines through the titular Wragg Territory with that Confederation. Furthermore, Governor Joseph Hall of Westernesse (trusting in his Confderation’s distance from Fredericksburg and the Arc of Power) had quietly ignored President Gilmore’s orders and called up the Westernesse Confederal Guard anyway. While the regulars in Maubela bought time, forcing Arminius into a costly siege and showing the effectiveness of their counter-luft equipment and training, the Guard were being assembled and integrated with the regulars from the remaining forts within Westernesse’s borders. The result was that, while Maubela did fall on April 19th, by that time the Societists had missed their opportunity to push westward to the strategically vital Mississippi River. The forces from Westernesse, aided further by a mostly black Nouvelle-Orléans militia spontaneously raised by the wealthy businessman Barthelemy Lenoir, successfully held off the Societists from the east bank for the remainder of the war, undoubtedly preventing what could have been an even greater disaster for the Empire. The heroic actions of ‘Les Immortels du Barthelemy’ at the Second Battle of St. Pierre on July 12th, rescuing a force of Westernesse guardsmen including Governor Hall’s son David, would begin a shift in attitudes by the white Westernesse public towards the people of Nouvelle-Orléans.

It was this very resistance that shaped the Societists’ strategy and objectives. According to Oderus’ doubtful account, Dominikus and Rivarius had originally sought to land troops in Carolina out of pure opportunism, without any specific objective in mind. Striking while the Empire was weakened and distracted elsewhere, they allegedly sought to simply gain as much territory as possible – then, when the Empire managed to respond, they would dig in and trust that the current state of war technology favoured the defender (as in the infamous Oder pocket in Europe). This was only possible because the Sea Celatores’ hiveships could ensure naval and aero supremacy over the Gulf of Mexico, ensuring that the land Celatores in Carolina could not be cut off from resupply. The way Oderus describes it, there was a great deal of wishful thinking in this plan, which (given what we know of Dominikus from elsewhere) gives rise to doubts. Regardless, the fact that the Societists faced strong resistance to the west meant that their northern and eastern axes of advance received more attention. In these areas, for the most part, opposition seemed to melt away. The eastern seaports of Genoa and Venice fell without a fight as their auxiliary Mexican garrisons withdrew, and they were swiftly followed by the fall of Thomsonville.[24] Despite the slow advance in the west, by the end of March almost all of the province of West Florida was in Societist hands.

The central or northern axis was commanded by Lugallus Roberdus Kadarus, a political decision of the sort that good Sanchezistas were meant to be above. Kadarus was that rarity, an ethnic Aymara who supported Societism and enthusiastically embraced the cultural homogenisation of his own people – leading to him later widely being depicted as a Judas-like quintessential traitor by the NFL and native exiles in California. Naturally, his prominent position was meant to help persuade the Cherokee people to come over to the Societists’ side as his men marched on Nevadoheyadev. To their credit, it appears the Cherokee were singularly unenthusiastic, but they could also put up little resistance. Ever since the Pandoric War, the Cherokee government (which had already been pushed around by the Meridians before it) knew that if the Imperials ever came to a coherent decision about Carolina, they would likely face destruction. President Tayloe had already openly talked of flooding Cherokee lands with white settlers.[25] The city of Talugisi was the centre of a black state ruled by those who had successfully risen up against the Cherokee rule, under whom they had been slaves in all but name. Like the Neighbourly Societies further east, the lack of any coherent status for the region meant that the authority of any particular body, even the Cherokee Emperor Moytoy IX in Nevadoheyadev, was limited and geographically focused.

As a result, though many Cherokee did resist the Societist advance, they were no match for the Celatores. Disarmed themselves by the initial wave of Imperial occupation after the war, subject to suspicion that would lead to their villages being burned at the slightest sign of rebel activity (unreported by the Imperial news), after a quarter-century of limbo they were in no position to fight back. Knowing that their culture might well be particularly targeted by the Societists, many Cherokee fled west and joined up with the Westernesse armies.

With Kadarus having secured Nevadoheyadev by April 8th, Rivarius now considered his grand strategy (according to Oderus). The Americans were resisting strongly to the west, but they and their allies were crumbling to the east. Over the years of occupation Imperial and auxiliary garrisons had found a pattern of remaining holed up in their headquarters towns and cities, often falling into corruption as they extorted the surrounding countryside as a kind of tax farming, while not leaving their protected forts alone lest they be knifed in a back alley or shot by an angry farmer. While there had been many retaliations over the years, Carolina was still viewed as an unsafe place for garrison duty. The countryside had often been de facto left to the fragmentary control of the Neighbourly Societies (ranging from legitimate collective security groups to criminal syndicates). Nobody, not even experts on the region like John Wyatt, could have drawn a map representing the true situation on the ground, which was as fragmented and self-contradictory as the last days of the Holy Roman Empire. None of this helped the Americans present a coherent response to the advancing Celatores. The Celatores also had the advantage of still possessing the military maps of Carolina which their Meridian Fuerzas Armadas precursors had drawn up in the event of war – or to put down a rebellion. These might not have been so useful if Carolinian infrastructure had actually been updated since 1900; as it was, the main corrections the Celatores had to make (according to Garzius) was crossing off bridges that had collapsed ten years before and never been replaced, and the like.

The Celatores were heavily equipped with death-luft and used it without hesitation, initially usually in the form of artillery shells. America’s auxiliary allies, such as the Mexicans and Guatemalans, usually lacked the necessary equipment and training to resist the ‘Scientific Weapon’ and would break and flee. They were also singularly unenthusiastic for the war in general, particularly the Mexicans, while the Guatemalans were often keen to fight but would frequently desert to try to make it to their homeland and join those defending it against the Celatores in Costa Rica province. Even many of the American regulars were lacking in this equipment, which had been prioritised for the frontline troops fighting the Russians (especially after Shuvalov’s actions the year before had resulted in both sides using death-luft in Kamchatka).

Some garrisons were better-equipped and -trained, but when they held inland cities rather than the problematic coastal Maubela, the Societists had an answer for this. Typical was the attack by Lugallus Emilius Gonzalus (commanding the eastern axis) on Poplar Head [OTL Dothan, AL] on April 4th. The competent American garrison force, commanded by Colonel Stuart Bancombe, built trench networks to supplement their small fort and successfully resisted the use of death-luft when it was used against them. While the Celatores would risk civilian deaths from death-luft if they thought they could get away with it, they were also keen not to turn the largely apathetic locals against them, and city garrisons were particularly difficult to worm out – especially if, like Bancombe’s men, they had rubberised suits and filter masks. The solution in this case was an exercise of the form of modernised guerre d’éclair doctrine which has generally come to be called ‘isolate and reduce’ in English, or more colloquially ‘surround and pound’.[26] Armoured protgun (or ansukarrus) spearheads would avoid direct battle with the enemy force but go north and south (in the case of Poplar Head), pocket and isolate them from their supply lines, and then the pocket could be pounded to surrender using secondary attacks by infantry and so on. Indeed, after fighting on until he ran out of ammunition, Bancombe and his men surrendered two weeks after their isolation. Meanwhile, the Societist protguns they had been trying to stop had already made it on to Thronatic [OTL Albany, GA].

Contrary to popular belief, this was not a Societist invention; to a lesser degree of detail, it had been much-discussed before the Black Twenties and had formed the basis for the worry that the ‘Tsar’s Armart Legions’ could sweep over Europe in a matter of weeks. It had been seen little in the war thus far firstly because of the use of aero power to counter mass protgun formations, and then because the plague had severely undermined the ability of all armies to construct, amass and crew new protgun armies, instead favouring infantry forces which required little training. Now, with a Societist force largely vaccinated against the plague and fresh from years of relative peace, with an enemy already found largely in isolated pockets throughout occupied Carolina, it was finally being witnessed.

The Societists’ highly effective use of this doctrine was dependent on two things: aero supremacy so the Americans could not counter their protguns with aero power (as had stymied the ‘Tsar’s Armart Legions’ in the early part of the war) and supply lines. The former was achieved through effective use of the four hiveships, which were in turn constantly resupplied from Cuba with new aerocraft and pilots. The Societists also used longer-range Capybara level bombers based in Cuba to destroy the aeroports in West Florida faster than the Americans could repair them. Analysis after the fact suggests that this aero war was a lot closer than many reports at the time implied, and it might have been possible for the Americans to inflict enough damage on the Societists to free up dromes for better attacks on their protguns. But it was not to be.

The latter necessity, supply lines, was more of a headache for the Societists. Their doctrine had been envisaged as a modernised guerre de tonnere, in which supply lines would keep up with a rapid advance. Reflecting this, military mobile waggons and so on had been designed to keep pace with the frontline vehicles. However, while those waggons could bring up ammunition, food and so on, a problem was fuel. The Societists had designed their current vehicles around Mitchell sun-oil engines, using a fuel much more easily obtained in their lands than coal was, as well as having other advantages. However, transporting sun-oil in large quantities across a chaotic battlefield (where Carolinian farmers with guns might shoot an isolated Celator with the same indifference they would shoot an isolated American regular) proved highly difficult. It is likely that the Societist advance would have slowed to a crawl, had it not been for the fact that the Carolinians also used Mitchell engines for their agricultural equipment and many other civilian vehicles – after all, Mitchell himself had been a Carolinian. Rather than sun-oil, the Carolinians mostly still used the original intended fuel for Mitchell engines, peanut oil, which their agricultural industry made in vast quantities as what would otherwise have been mostly seen as a waste product. The Celatores commandeered countless Carolinian filling-stations to refuel their protguns and other vehicles.[27]

Meanwhile, their American opponents were using either older coal-fired steam vehicles like the PG-12 Long protgun, or the newer PG-20 Cushing, which had a Szikra spirit engine. As well as being far more restricted in its fuel source, one disadvantage of this choice was that the Cushings’ fuel would ignite far more violently if damaged in battle, leading to the Celatores nicknaming them ‘Septen-cookers’.[28] In addition to this advantage, the Societists’ Skipius protguns (or ansukarrii) possessed heavier cannon and coaxial cingular guns, innovations which were only present on the newest American PG-25 Knight protguns that had all been sent to the Russian front. The Societists’ Aniballus protcars were also among the first to use demi-tracks rather than just wheels, increasing their mobility and allowing them to keep up with protguns.[29]

Crucial to the Societists’ advance was their control over the Carolinian narrow-gauge railways, much of which fell into their hands unchallenged due to the incoherent American response. The work of sabotaging them was not started until too late due to a refusal to accept the gravity of the situation (both in Fredericksburg and among the local garrison leadership). When it was finally begun, it was often delegated to second-line troops, who were in turn often then too busy deserting to actually carry out their orders. Even when railways were cut, the Societists brought along sympathetic Cuban railway engineers they had recruited, who were used to operating the same system, to advise on repairing them. In addition to the railways, one rarity in being well-maintained in Carolina’s infrastructure was its road network, which had been crucial for the Americans supplying their garrisons; these modern roads were now used against them.

By contrast, the sabotage work achieved by Societist sympathisers against the Americans – not only in Carolina but across the whole Empire – catastrophically undermined Imperial attempts to counter the Societist advance. Modern analysts generally argue that without this, the Americans would have halted the Societists via aero supremacy, as the Societists outran the range of celagii from their hiveships and plunged deeper into the interior. In practice, the Societists and Americans faced comparable logistical nightmares in securing or rebuilding aero bases and bring up dromes, pilots and supplies; this left them close to evenly matched in the skies and left it to ground warfare, where the Societists had technological and tactical advantages. It may be reasonable to argue (as Macpherson did in his 1954 monogramme) that, despite geographic proximity to the Empire, Americans fighting Societists in Carolina was little different in practice from Americans fighting Societists in any randomly-chosen setting around the world; they could not claim any loyalty or support from the locals, after all. Nonetheless, to dismiss the strategic situation in such terms is to underestimate the sheer significance of the Societist infiltrators’ and sympathisers’ sabotage campaign. For interruptions to communications and transport to produce circumstances in which Imperial factories and army bases seemed to be tens of thousands of miles from the front, rather than mere hundreds, is a remarkable achievement.

Key to any further Societist advance would be the capture of the major hubs of the Carolinian railway network, where it transitioned to the broader-gauge Imperial system and would ultimately link to the rest of the Empire. These hubs were the old Carolinian capital of Ultima and the important Atlantic seaport of Savannah, both within Georgia Province. They were the two largest cities in old Carolina and naturally had played host to the largest and most professional American garrisons even before the Societists had attacked. Now, with Gilmore having assembled new armies there by rail, they were even more formidable targets. Furthermore, Ultima had been a fortress city since the Great American War, resisting two sieges during it; its fall in the Pandoric War had not occurred until Carolina collapsed altogether following the assassination of the King.

Perhaps the new weapon would make a difference. Rivarius and Dominikus (according to Oderus) were both conscious, however, of making the reveal of the Alkahest achieve as much as possible. They had studied the nightmarish quagmire of the past years in Poland, where many innovations had been wasted on small and easily-quashed attacks, after which point the enemy could study the innovation and counter it. Finally, by contrast, a breakthrough had been achieved due to the Italians resisting the desire to use their new rockets until they were ready. (The Societists were working on rockets of their own, though at this point the disassembled parts had yet to even arrive in Cuba). Rivarius was keen to ensure that the Alkahest was similarly used to secure a decisive victory, rather than being wasted on a sideshow and giving the Americans a chance to develop a countermeasure. For that reason, the Alkahest shells were only issued to chosen groups of Celator artillerymen carefully watched by their ensii political officers, holding them in reserve and with instructions to destroy them if they were overrun by an American counterattack.

This desire to make the most of the Alkahest dovetailed with Rivarius’ desire not to fight the Americans in their fortress cities, but to make them come to him. Formerly (again, according to Oderus), Rivarius had planned to sweep eastwards to take St. Augustine and cut off an American army in Florida. However, the Americans had moved more slowly than he had anticipated, and doing so would not cut off a significant number of troops. He revised this basic idea considerably and instead targeted his offensive theoretically at Charleston, and more realistically at Sophia [Augusta, GA]. Codenamed Operatio Damoklus, this would use its start point as the city of Creekville [Columbus, GA] which had fallen to Kasdrus (now a subordinate of Gonzalus) on May 1st.

Using the same isolate-and-reduce tactics as before, Damoklus would drive a thrust north-east to capture Hawkinsburgh and Corte [Macon and Milledgeville, GA] which would cut the direct narrow-gauge rail links between Ultima and Savannah. Rivarius’ goal was to lure the Americans into a trap; to make it seem as though he had overextended himself, and his perilously isolated spearhead could be easily cut off and isolated in turn – if the American forces in Ultima and Savannah left their cities and crushed him between them. He knew that the American newspapers had been clamouring for Gilmore to do something proactive since the first reports of Societist Celatores operating in Carolina had leaked out; now, would he take the bait...?

[22] Recall Maubela is OTL Mobile, AL. Also note the historiographic choice of words that it is not described as an American ‘re-conquest’ of Carolina, as though accepting implicitly that Carolina had always been distinct from the start.

[23] Fort Eveleigh is OTL Fort Morgan, formerly Fort Bowyer. Named by the Carolinians after a ‘spiritual founding father’, the Americans appear to have left it that way because Eveleigh, though widely despised later on, was still an ENA President.

[24] Genoa and Venice are OTL Valparaiso/Niceville and Freeport, respectively. Ironically in OTL Niceville was called Genoa at one point, whereas in TTL that name is applied to its neighbour; obviously the name-recognition comparison they’re going for in both cases is to a successful trading port on a balmy sea. Thomsonville is OTL Panama City, considerably smaller in TTL because it grew in OTL thanks to being geographically closest to the Panama Canal, and TTL’s canals weren’t built until after Carolina had already been conquered and fallen into economic malaise.

[25] See Part #266 in Volume VII.

[26] This is similar to OTL German blitzkrieg or Soviet ‘deep battle’ doctrine.

[27] The Germans did this with French petrol stations during the Fall of France in OTL, in particular when Rommel and Guderian ignored Hitler’s orders to stop and kept going, outrunning their own supply lines.

[28] The PG-number code indicates ‘ProtGun’ and the year it is intended to enter service (which often gets pushed back!) The two models are named after General Long, who defeated proto-Superior forces in 1830, and General Cushing, a commander in the Great American War. The frontline American troops in Asia have already been equipped with the newest PG-25 Knight, named after General Knight of the Pandoric War, as he had recently passed away from the plague. In OTL, the US-built Sherman tank received a similar nickname from the Germans for their habit of cooking British soldiers.

[29] The Skipius and Aniballus, designed together to complement each other, are named for the old enemies Scipio Africanus and Hannibal Barca to imply a coming together of old foes under Sanchezism. Note the typical Societist tendency (especially by the less literate Celatores) to slap a ‘more Latin-sounding’ ending on a name that was already Latin to start with. Demi-tracks is the TTL name for half-tracks.


As always, thanks for the comments and speculation everyone.

Looking ahead, I am going to try to complete this volume by Christmas, or failing that New Year's. At that point LTTW will go on hiatus, probably until September based on past experience, as I want to focus on other writing projects, review LTTW volume VI for publication, and continue developing ideas for Volume IX. Your comments and speculation are highly useful in that development of ideas, so please keep them up!


Gone Fishin'
Looks like Spain will be a matter for the next volume.

There must be a coup d'etat coming up in the ENA. Gilmore's career has only days left. There'll be a lot of troops moving into Virginia soon, and the government will likely be evacuated to a safer location once the Alkahest is out. The questions of what to do in Carolina, how much help can be spared for Mexico and Guatemala, how to transport troops back from Siberia all the way to the other side of the Empire-- all need a final answer that will not be disputed, at least not aboveground, no matter how unpopular the course taken ends up becoming. Above all, a response to the Alkahest must be developed and implemented throughout the country, no matter how much time, work, and resources that takes. Maybe there will be a chaotic attempt to cobble together a half-and-half government with cooperative civilian parties but the ENA's failure to prepare is more or less bipartisan and the press/civil society in general is far too diverse to support such a move, even the party's traditional supporters will hesitate to give their approval.

The opposition to a coup will of course be considerable but it's more frightening for an in-universe observer that Confederations like Westernesse are acting so independently in resisting the invader; the fear will then be that a government that feels no obligation to negotiate with other "national" governments will instead try to sign armistices with individual Confederations, creating different obligations among different parts of the country (and possibly different levels of willingness to go back to war), driving a wedge into the broader unity of the Empire.
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Question, but after reading about the ENA, during the paradox war, but it came to me that the ENA was similar to the USA, even though it had completely different origins and circumstances. So why is the ENA similar to the USA in terms of culture?
Question, but after reading about the ENA, during the paradox war, but it came to me that the ENA was similar to the USA, even though it had completely different origins and circumstances. So why is the ENA similar to the USA in terms of culture?
A lot of American culture and the American people as we know it in OTL was formed and gestated during the colonial period - well before the POD - when Britain left the colonies alone in local governance as long as profits kept coming. In TTL America got to continue de-facto running itself and tend to its local concerns with the declaration of the Empire in 1751 and de-facto local government in 1788 - and in OTL, America fought a war of independence to continue doing that.

Because this foundation was set pre-POD and America still got to be left alone in local matters by Britain without even a Revolutionary War to temporarily shake things up a bit, it ensured that its people, culture, and broad-strokes history happened if not exactly like OTL, then at least very similar to it where and when such concepts mattered. Westward expansion across the Ohio and Illinois Countries then past the Mississippi River, or southern slavery and its evolution into the core part of the southern economy and identity, still happened approximately like in reality from the fourth quarter of the 18th century into the entire 19th, even if southern expansion hit TTL roadblocks at the Cherokee and Louisianan lands. The north began and then continued to industrialize like in real life starting in the 1820s. The colonies united in the 1780s to form a common government that was broadly democratic, even if it was parliamentarian than presidential in terms of de-facto republican governance. Migration to America in the 19th century was still mostly Germanic (directly German, even) and combined with native British colonial stock that was multiplying exponentially.

Even some of the different aspects have clear parallels or divergences someone from OTL or TTL can easily trace - Yankees moved into empty *Quebec* (which suffered an Expulsion like the Cajuns) but this meant the exiled Hellfire Club members (from an invasion of Britain) and Metis tribes in Manitoba and Pembina had time to gestate into the Superian Confederacy without a mass of settlers from east overwhelming them in numbers. Deep Southern/Carolinian expansionists stuck at the said Cherokee and Louisianan borders instead turned their eyes southward and captured the French and Spanish West Indian islands during the Jacobin Wars of the 1800s, and in the Upper South/Virginians' case, settled captured western Australia (which is now an integral part of the Empire in TTL). The 1830s Virginian Crisis is a combined allusion to the 1830s being a troubled decade in North American history between the OTL Nullification Crisis (South Carolina), Nat Turner Rebellion (Virginia), and Canadian Rebellions. Indeed, I'd say it's not till the 1830s that many local butterflies finally pay off to begin making some major, permanent changes unique to TTL... but by then, again, the core of America's heartland in our world and theirs, the lands on both sides of the Mississippi watershed, have been settled by descendants of the Thirteen Colonies/eastern seaboard, and pieces that WEREN'T here and there in TTL (Louisiana, Alabama/Mississippi being Cherokee) have equally valuable replacements (Quebec is pretty much Anglicized-Americanized as much if not more so than OTL Louisiana State). Same for America being considered a land of opportunity and liberty due to local governance since time immemorial, an American Exceptionalism due to being left alone to develop by the world so long, etc. etc.
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So I've gotta say, end of volume by Christmas means we're a lot closer to the end of the war than I thought we were; then again, the Pandoric War volume ended with the Scientific Weapon being deployed, as opposed to strictly-speaking the end of the Pandoric War and it looks like the Societists are aiming to make lightning strike twice with the Alkahest.

Once all that's wrapped up, that'll put us squarely into the Second Interbellum, probably opening up with the establishment of the Eternal State and whatever it is the Grey Societists replace Danubia with. From there, I guess we'll see the establishment of whatever becomes the Assembly of Sovereign Nations, probably emerging out of what's left of the Cannes Mondiale and possibly China - although, that last point might actually be the start of the buildup to the Sunrise War. See, China sat out the Black Twenties and has a country we know is going to go Black eventually right there ie Yapon, and moreover I can see Feng China and the Combine both taking a go at Siam. That creates a hot-spot for international tension in the Second Interbellum, which I can totally see eventually going somewhere.

The thing is, there's a catch. Thande likes to end these recent volumes with "and then, the Combine used their new superweapon to win the war as part of the Doctrine of the Last Throw," but I suspect part of what's going to make the Sunrise War special is Combine non-involvement. We know they're going to enter into a period of anti-Alfaran purges led by the Biblioteka Mundial, although I forget what it's actually called, and that the next generation of Combine Societists is going to be marked by an obsession with "deviationists" like Alfarus. So, my bet would be that the Combine itself is going to be sitting out the third great wave of Societist expansion due to being focused on its own internal affairs and/or purging the Celatores, but that isn't going to stop the Kurohata and/or Eternal State from wanting to throw down with All The Russias with or without the Combine proper. So it's going to be the same pattern "and then the Societists used their new superweapon to end the war" but the Combine, nominal heart of World Societism, isn't going to be to blame this time.
Amazing updates as usual! I don’t comment as often as I should, but I ge excited every Sunday to see a new glimpse into this incredibly crafted world.

One thing that’s been on my mind recently. What’s the situation with Iceland. We haven’t heard much about it since it was transferred over to Hannover hands in the 1800s. I’m wondering what a hindered or so years of American/British influence, however hands off, has effected the island, or of there is some level of Scandinavian irredentism about the island.
Wasn't it assumed that the Kurohata would require the Combine's help to overthrow Russian rule?

Yeah, but we also know that at the height of the Quiet War the Diversitarians tend to see everything as a Societist plot even if they aren't actually involved. Garvius even comments on this in this volume, noting that the Septens launched the whole Black Scare without realizing the Combine had burned all their assets in order to pull off the invasion of Carolina. Also it's hard to know but I suspect the ASN knows very little about Societist internal politics, a bit like how during the early parts of the Cold War the NATO/Blue/Western side thought that the Communists were all one big monolithic entity so it'd be the same sort of thing here. Well, maybe the difference is that the Combine wants to be a big monolithic entity and isn't.
the Combine's zones being in Africa and Nusantara and Guntur and ... helps put a lot of these countries on the map at least


I am updating a day early as I've just had my Covid booster jab, just in case I get too lethargic from side effects to do it tomorrow.

Next week's update should be OK but may be slightly delayed, depending on how things go.