Protect and Survive: A Timeline

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Macragge1, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. Macragge1 Banned

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    Operation Prospero [9]

    And the cities of Europe have burned before/ and they may well burn again

    But if they do I hope you understand that

    Washington will burn with them.

    Omaha will burn with them.

    Los Alamos will burn with them.


    It was easy to forget, sitting in the relative opulence of the Royal Court in Portsmouth, that the Prospero team were still out there, somewhere. What was less clear was the state that the erstwhile explorers were in - they could have been dead, alive or in some grim purgatory for all we knew. The radios remained manned every moment of the day and night but there were other issues springing up every moment that required our attention. The Failloubaz crew listened to the story of the expedition with rapt attention, if not, thanks to the language barrier, complete understanding.

    Although the airmen had little independent authority, we began to negotiate (with the King's occasional and sometimes contradictory input taken with good grace and then promptly ignored) the idea of combining forces with the Swiss, and any other remaining European forces, to gain a clearer picture of the state of the continent. Our navy, which was still one of the largest - for all we knew, was now the largest - on the face of the earth, was seen to be a great asset in this planned co-operation. The Swiss were especially enthused by the idea that their Red Cross, the headquarters of which had been turned to dust by the bombs, could be used as a symbol for the endeavour.

    All of these lofty plans were thrown into doubt, however, when we heard the news from Whitby.

    *

    There is nothing to do in this flying museum piece other than think or sleep.. It is no contest.

    The Co-Pilot does not dream - he never has and he never will. This is a blessing.

    The Scientist does not dream in binary, as was once joked about him in a college than no longer exists, but he is not far off. In sleep as in his waking hours he is full of diagrams and charts. Brown bursts and dead zones and lethal doses and category threes and sweet thoughts of it landing right on top of him and just bringing all the earth down and burying him and burying everything and then burying itself and then nothing nothing nothing.

    The Navigator dreams of flying through green valleys and red deserts. He dreams of glistening tundra and sightseeing in Europe - the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate, the Kremlin.

    Join the forces and see the world.

    The dreams always end the same way - he is standing naked in cold dust, in the middle of the night, deafened by a weeping wind. His shivering legs carry him through towards the milky light on the horizon. Now and again, looming and growing in front of him, comes masonry at sick and impossible angles. They grow and grow and grow until he is nothing inside them and they are everything.

    Each time, the same sickness brings him to his knees as he realises he has got his wish. He is sightseeing in Europe.

    The Pilot dreams in technicolor. He dreams of tarmac and then clouds and then white light like heaven. He dreams of a plane leaping as it loses weight and then all the weight going into his stomach and never, ever, leaving. He dreams of copper spires melting like butter and bricks burning. He dreams of faces - his brain tries to dream of half a million different eyes and noses and lives - he will never know this many people in his whole life ten times over but for the boys and girls in Leningrad he is the most important person that they never met. He dreams of babies on fire, from ignition to charcoal, over and over and over.

    He knows at this point that he is never going home.

    The Commando doesn't waste any time sleeping. He watches and waits as he sharpens his knives and cuts the fuses in his head.

    "Hey fellas..." the voice is hesitant - the first noise they've heard in hours that's not a helicopter.

    Everyone is instantaneously wide awake - these days have made light sleepers of them all.

    "You might wanna take a look at this."
     
    Artaxerxes likes this.
  2. Baron Bizarre Is probably thinking about his next meal...

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    "You might wanna take a look at this."

    Hmm, what could it be?
     
  3. JN1 No longer has the Lurgy

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    Another good update. The Pilot sounds like he is going through a really serious breakdown.

    Excuse my ignorance but where does the quote at the beginning come from?
     
  4. QuoProQuid Well-Known Member

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    I believe it is Help Save The Youth of America by Billy Bragg
     
  5. iainbhx Fold your hands child, you walk like a peasant Donor

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    It is indeed.
     
  6. bobinleipsic Well-Known Member

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    I suspect that Commando has already gone over the Edge. FAR over the Edge. VERY FAR over the Edge.

    bobinleipsic
     
  7. Lemon flavoured British Miami Dolphins fan

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    Yeah, it certainly appears that way.

    Good update as always. Interesting mention of what's going on in Whitby.
     
  8. Mario Rossi ███▐█▌█▌▌▌▌▌▌▌

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    Go Back Alternate History Discussion Board > Discussion > Alternate History Discu

    It's great to see an update, I hope that now your health is excellent as this TL. :)

    I agree with the choice of the British to studying together with the Swiss and any other nation survived a joint action to get the clearer possible picture of the European situation.

    BTW reading the author's lines, I wonder if the new King (that IIRC is now governing with just the advise of the PM, as the Parliament gone) is not exactly "liked" by everyone in the military. I'm also still curious about the mysterious ship with the red flag and that flash over the Hebrides.

    About the Prospero mission: very brilliant description of the trauma lived by the men and the consequences on their mental health. Obviusly looking forward to the object of the Commando's curiosity.

    Have a nice day and a nice year, Jack! :D
     
  9. Tovarich Lumpen Proletariat's Proliest Lump Banned

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    Am I the only one betting on Dracula turning up? :D
     
  10. Agentdark All glory to the Black Pharaoh

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    Its a Soviet Submarine. Gotta be.

    More updates!
     
  11. Lemon flavoured British Miami Dolphins fan

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    Almost certainly, but the question is what is it doing?
     
  12. Viscount Stanthorpe Well-Known Member

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    ...bump...
     
  13. Macragge1 Banned

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    Next update's tomorrow night, so I guess we'll all get to find out what the deal is with this vessel.
     
  14. JN1 No longer has the Lurgy

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    Looking forward to seeing the mystery resolved. Next chapter of TLW might be a bit longer, btw as I'm now back at work and I have a fact file on the UK fire service to finish first.
     
  15. modelcitizen note2self, no ranting ninjas

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    F*** YEAH :D
     
  16. Lord Brisbane Pam Poovey's stunt double

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    Maybe the sub has simply come to see if there is anything left, just trying to gather information, much like what everyone else is probably trying to do. But then again, I doubt many people are willing to give the ruskies much a look in these days..

    Or maybe its come to demand the British surrender?:eek:
     
  17. JN1 No longer has the Lurgy

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    In the later case it's crew will be shot full of holes by the nearest members of the Security Forces and the RN, or RAF summoned to deal with it.
     
  18. Macragge1 Banned

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    XVII - Blue Monday

    I see a ship in the harbour/ I can and shall obey

    Following the death of the army officer in de facto control of the Newcastle area (in circumstances which remain unclear to this day), the restored civilian controller was faced with the problem of a few die-hard army units refusing to accept the return of 'less efficient' rule. The most problematic of these groups was a company of Fusiliers stationed near the emergency airfield at Eshott. Having been isolated by distance from the nasty little war occurring in Newcastle, the hundred and fifty so soldiers stationed at the Northumberland airstrip refused to accept the return to conventional control, even with the news of the officer's death.

    The company believed that, given the valuable assets under their control, they would be able to negotiate - or rather, blackmail - their way towards a regression to military control and the continued suppression of the Irish issue.

    Especially enthusiastic about ending this stalemate were the security forces loyal to the correct authorities. Within two days, Eshott was surrounded and the rebels given until dawn to surrender their weapons.

    They did not.

    The following action was not given an operational title and does not appear upon the honour roll of any of the regiments involved. One minute after sunrise, the airport was bombarded with Yperite shells (which had been held in storage since at least the 1940s). The barrels of the guns positioned around the aerodrome were seen to glow as a sucking yellow pall crawled across the silent earth. Through the murk raced the black suits of the Special Air Service (who had arrived in the area before the military coup had been dealt with). On discovering that the rebels had razed the fuel stocks and destroyed six out of eight aircraft on the strip, the decision was made that no prisoners were to be taken.

    A Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel limps into Portsmouth and it reports that it has been harassed by Argentinian vessels whilst attempting to regain contact with the Falkland Islands. Three crewmen were buried at sea, having been killed by machine-gun fire.

    Tierra del Fuego and Buenos Aires are annihilated by nuclear weapons.

    Simultaneously, Operation NIGHTINGALE is launched by the Newcastle County Controller. The forces involved were chosen using a decommissioned raffle machine. They were to clear the Freeman Hospital in one fell swoop.

    Thanks to a logistical error, the bulldozers arrive a day early. When the patients at the Freemen see the pits being dug, they raise faint cheers.

    *

    The Rider is tired and cold. He was in Corsham for all of five minutes. He delivered his message, had a cup of cold tea and was turned around. Now, at least, he is nearing home and he is nearing his bed.

    He is taking the coast road, for it is the least damaged; the cold spray feels like a mask of needles upon his unshaven face. Now and then he has to turn his face away. It is like this that he sees it. Out of the mist it grows and grows. He brakes, dismounts and rubs his eyes, then looks again. He closes his eyes hard, turns around and then looks again. It's real.

    Oh fucking hell.

    Back on his motorcycle, he guns the throttle and screams down the little roads to the beach. His face is cut with bracken and the engine between his legs screams in protest but he just pushes it faster as the roads get narrower. Through the trees at speed he sees it growing as he jumps and slides his reluctant steed down towards the sand.

    The tiny bike and the huge vessel near about hit the beach at the same time. The sound is immense and agonised; the Rider can only liken it to one hundred locomotives crashing all at once; he chokes on the sandstorm thrown up by the beast.

    Typhoon.

    Suddenly silence - weeping saltwater, the craft lies still half up onto the beach. For a couple of minutes the Rider just stares numb. He is brought back to it all by the sound of the crowd gathering behind him. Fucking hell, no-one's even trying to stop them. He really has not been trained for a situation like this - he doesn't know whether they're going to try and loot the submarine or tear it open or what. All he knows is that it's his job to stop them.

    He grabs his Hi-Power with his right and the throttle with the left. He apologised to the poor machine before brutalising it into top gear. He races towards the oncoming crowd and fires a single warning shot straight into the sky. He can see the whites of their eyes by the time he shifts his whole weight right, forcing the bike perpendicular to the growing crowd. He races down to one end of the mob and then turns round and does the same, firing a warning shot here and there for good measure.

    There is no way that this should have worked, but, by the grace of God, the Rider managed to sheepdog the crowd into stillness and silence - fortune does, it seems, favour the bold. What now. He shouts at the crowd, telling them to keep back, keep back, keep back. He thanks his lucky stars when a couple of Land Rovers weave their way through the crowd.

    When the soldiers dismount, they are just as baffled as the Rider. No-one's entirely sure who's in charge, but the Rider was here first so why the hell not.

    It takes them about half an hour to find the recesses in the thing just to climb up on it. Once they're up there, they crawl on their hands and knees so that they don't slip and slide off the side of the craft. The Rider is so exhausted that he lies down on his stomach and just pants. His heart is beating so, so loudly.

    Christ. He's on the hatch. They're alive. He's on the hatch.

    'Lads!?'.

    *

    The crowd has swelled to almost a thousand people by the time the equipment arrives - the authorities aren't happy but they've no way to stop it and the local commander hasn't the stomach for a massacre. Besides, the authorities are rather more concerned by the 25,000 tons of hardware holding court at the seaside.

    When the blue flame starts burning through the metal, the tapping and scraping on the hatch gives way to nervous, disjointed cheers and laughter, punctuated by shouted arguments in gibberish.

    These are the ones who burned our towns.

    It is as if all that one can hear for miles is the oxy drill.

    These are the ones who killed our sons and our daughters.

    The Rider and friends ready their weapons and pretend they're shivering with the cold.

    These are the ones who turned the sky black.

    A crowbar and sparks as the hatch is opened.

    These are the men who ended the world.

    The hatch is opened and we see the enemy. The crowd covers its eyes at a massacre that does not come.

    It's dark in there, and for moments, all the soldiers can see is the lights in their eyes and a white flag. The ship is full of scarecrows. These can't be the enemy. Half dead, one of the Russians hazards a smile as he raises his hands. He begins to cry, as if to thank God that he gets to die on dry land.

    The Rider grabs the radio from the nearest trooper and near about screams into it - 'Hello zero this is - this is One- Two. I need every ambulance in the county here and I need them now!' He looks up at the stunned expressions of the rest of the lads on the sub and dares them to stop him. They do not.

    *

    It takes an age to help the enemy out of his weapon - they are the colour and strength of porcelain, and the troopers handle them accordingly. Bags of bones in black overalls and striped shirts, these simply cannot be the warriors who we are fighting. As they burst meekly into the bright air some cry, some laugh, some hug the armed men who help them up.

    By the time they are all onto the beach, it is clear that many have not made it - the Rider has no desire to go rummaging through this nuclear tomb just yet. There are ambulances here now - more accurately, holiday coaches filled with medical personnel. The Whitby Fifty (there are actually fifty four, including six officers) kiss the sand and breathe the air. They could die right here under their captor's guns and that would be just fine.

    The crowd stands silent - the policemen sent to keep them back just stand there equally agape. The Rider goes first, pushing through the crowd towards the buses. Where a sailor cannot walk, a soldier offers him a shoulder or a hand. Some of the Russians are using the trooper's rifles as sticks to keep themselves up. The crowd part as if Martians or Vampires have just made landfall.

    As they limp through the parted throng, a young girl pushes under the police cordon. From her tattered coat she pulls a bit of bread and some ham and presses it into the hands of one of the skeletons coming up the beach. The Russian can do nothing but kneel down and kiss her on the forehead in thanks and in sorrow; it is pure luck that a Police photographer captured this shot for future generations.

    Others come out, until the Police just stop trying to stop them; little things; bread, cheese, even a little chocolate are silently deposited into the bony hands of the sailors. Here and there, a hand is placed on a shoulder or a glance of sorrow exchanged.

    These are the men that ended the world.

    These are just men.

    As the sun goes down, the coaches head south towards Corsham and Whitelaw.


    The Battle of Whitby is the first victory of the Third World War.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011
  19. Unknown Member

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    Nice update, Macragge1. At least it didn't end badly (for now). Your description of the Russian sailors is realistic, given the situation. I wonder if The Rider lost family in the attacks on Britain.

    Someone ought to do a U.S. version of this TL.
     
  20. thedarkmaster i know your smiling

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    Fantastic update........the best of a cracking bunch, love the way a small battle of a couple of hundered men is covered in a paragraph but the deaths of 100,000s is a sentance, as i said fantastic