Chapter 17

  • Chapter 17

    The American hegemony of the 10s and 20s was the brainchild of President Adam Dixon of the United States, formerly Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Carter Administration (no relation) that guided America through the straits of the World War. As secretary it was Dixon who opened the Dublin Peace Conference, and as President it was he who supervised its conclusion in 1915. The goal that he had campaigned on, and that he would strive to achieve for the next eight years, was to create the New Order of the Ages. The first southern President since the civil war shared a region of birth with Woodrow Wilson but very little else. Dixon was a fascist, a member of the multiracial “readjusted” Virginia State Whig Party that relied on African American votes to win statewide offices and despite his support for a watered-down form of segregation (all-black school boards with the power to determine curriculum and funding on par with white ones, private business permitted to self-segregate but not required to) he appointed the first African-American to a cabinet office (Harvey Pearce, Secretary of Peace-TTL’s Secretary of Education plus some health and welfare responsibilities) along with the first Hispanic (Samuel Vargas, Postmaster General, a Criollo from the State of Guerrerro). While Dixon would have been repulsed at the suggestion that he screen a film akin to Birth of a Nation in the White House, he would have showed little more enthusiasm to Woodrow Wilson’s concept of the League of Nations.

    President Dixon’s New Order of the Ages was not designed to be a brotherhood of countries, working together to promote peace, democracy and self-determination. He did not trust other countries with such responsibilities- look how Europe had plunged the world into a war of unprecedented suffering and brutality. Look at the authoritarianism of Peru and Colombia (never mind that America was supporting the Colombian dictatorship), the theocratic despotism of Tian China, and the totalitarianism of Drakia, Russia, and Spain. The violence that followed independence and the end of minority rule in India, the East Indies, and Borneo only reinforced his conviction that only one country was suitable to be “Big Brother” to the world, shepherding it towards peace and freedom, and that one country was America. Central to the novus ordo seclorum was the Grand Alliance- sort of a global version of NATO, but with an explicit role as an international peacekeeper to conduct “police actions” against countries that threatened the “peace and stability” of the world. The Grand Alliance was headed by the Allied Council, a body permanently chaired by its American representative who held a veto over any decisions it made. There was also the International Trade Organization, a smaller and less explicitly American-dominated institution whose members shared a common free market. While all members of the IOT were theoretically equal, the United States had the world’s largest economy (two and a half times the size of Drakia’s in second place) and the organization’s primary effect was to grant American businesses access to foreign markets. “The Seven Ducklings” were an informal group of seven American protectorates- Ireland, Dubai, Malaya, Nam Viet, Borneo, the Philippines, and Insulindia- who were nominally independent republics with full domestic sovereignty and American control only over their foreign policies. All hosted American military bases and all used the US dollar as their official currency.


    I suck at editing pictures.

    Of course, no description of the New Order would be complete without noting America’s new global colonial presence.

    Before the World War the only notable American colonial possessions outside of North America were the territories of Hawaii and Sabha and a couple of leased military bases in the Philippines. The Dublin Peace Conference left it with a new string of small ex-British territories that spanned the globe; Gibraltar, Singapore, the Seychelles, the Andaman Islands, and a couple of others. These colonies were generally of little economic importance (Singapore was an exception) but were of great strategic value as tools to project military power. Most were run by United States Naval Governors (similar to the US Virgin Islands and Guam in OTL) and it was under the New Order of the Ages that the USN became the pre-eminent branch of the American military. In an age when America shared no hostile land borders but had extensive overseas responsibilities, the Army declined in importance compared to the Navy. By 1925 the US Army had only 300,000~ personnel (mostly focused on fighting insurgencies in Central America) while the Navy had a million men (and women in support positions) in service and a fleet of over 1,500 vessels. Responsible for the defense of most of America’s overseas colonies and the military support of the Seven Ducklings, it could mobilize over 400,000 Marines, colonial troops, and nominally foreign “Duckling” units under Marine officers if necessary. Both the Army and the Navy had air arms- the Navy’s was larger and more advanced.

    (The only time IOTL that either the USN or the US Marines reached these sizes was during World War II)


    The USS William Lyon Mackenzie, one of the modern drakenflieger carriers built since the end of the World War and high effectiveness of seeflieger carriers in that conflict.

    Much of this was due to the efforts of Fleet Admiral Arthur Klein.

    President Dixon may have been the primary architect of the New Order of the Ages, but it was the United States Navy under Klein and the Federal Intelligence Office (aka the Black Chamber) under Director Franklin Richardson that became its most important custodians as presidents came and went. Klein was a Reform Jew from a military family and a graduate of TTL’s version of the US Naval Academy who rose quickly on the strength of his political connections, personal bravery, genuine ability, impressive intelligence, and incredible charisma. A household name for his actions in the World War (particularly his role in the pivotal Battle of the Celtic Sea), Klein hired a public relations staff to promote his image and legend even before he became fleet admiral, a practice that he maintained and expanded when he rose in rank. A “supremely egotistical man” he had ambitions towards the Presidency and was once referred to by Vice-President Gerald Wilcox as “the most dangerous man in America”. The pharaonic navy that Klein constructed gave the United States the ability to effectively project power to almost every part of the globe and he ruthlessly kept the 7 Ducklings in line.

    Franklin Richardson was a far less visible figure- not acquiring much of a reputation until his death- who had served as a section head for Northern Europe in the original Black Chamber during the World War (“Black Chamber” is a traditional name for agencies intended to monitor communications). When Congress reorganized the intelligence agency after the war, renaming it and granting it a more limited remit to spy on scientific research overseas (part of the Separate-verse’s ongoing technological race), Richardson became the FIO’s first director (not that its personnel ever stopped calling it the “Black Chamber”). He promptly used the excuse of the Anglo-Drakian War to dramatically expand his department’s capabilities, smuggling weapons and providing military advisors to Native rebels in Drakia. Richardson later directed the agents of the Chamber towards combating Rodinaism, Pobladismo, and Societism, seeking to keep Drakia and the radical Geoist powers diplomatically isolated and commercially quarantined. Unlike Klein (who strongly disliked the other man) Richardson hid from the spotlight and sought a legacy not through political power, but through the ultimate victory of the Grand Alliance and the New Order of the Ages that he believed in.

    To those who might suggest that republican democracy is somehow handicapped in its ability to recognize foreign threats and prepare for them- incapable of striking first when necessary- the Fleet Admiral and the Master Spy- were proof that America had the grit to create and maintain a global hegemony.

    But of course, it could never be so simple.


    Franklin Richardson out for the day with his wife Alice in Elizabethtown, New Jersey which hosted the headquarters of the Black Chamber.

    President Dixon served two terms, and by the time his unprecedented bid for a third term was shot down by his fellow Whigs in convention the cracks were already starting to present themselves in his new order.

    It was clear that Drakia- now the Drakian Empire- was not going to collapse under its own weight as had been optimistically predicted. Nor were Spain and the “Homeland Earth” going to vanish despite the flaws of Geoist extremism. This meant that there were three great powers (well, two major powers and Spain) that were actively hostile towards the New Order of the Ages, not to mention two other powers (Germany and Scandinavia) that were neutral and declined to participate. The Grand Alliance attempted to encompass countries that had deep-seated rivalries towards each other- Italy and Rhomania for instance, or Turkey and Rhomania, or India and Portugal, or Britain and America itself. America struggled unsuccessfully to restrain the newly independent post-colonial nations from pursuing vendettas against former ethnic groups that had collaborated with British rule, and found itself incapable of halting Japanese encroachment against Tian China (not a member of the Grand Alliance and as far behind OTL’s China as Japan was ahead of OTL’s Japan). The 7 Ducklings initially welcomed the Americans as liberators, but it soon became apparent that while the American boot trod more lightly that the British or Drakian one it was still a boot, and they still weren’t fully independent. The absence of their own foreign policy meant that the Ducklings were economic appendages of the United States, subject to meddling in their domestic politics, and in extreme cases coups orchestrated conducted by the US Navy at the behest of New York (or on a couple occasions by Arthur Klein acting independently). The Ducklings didn’t turn on America universally, but the United States found itself fighting insurgencies in six of its seven protectorates (Dubai remained quiet) to differing degrees (the insurgents were a small underground in Insulindia, and had little support outside of the Protestant minority in Ireland), mostly in Southeast Asia.

    Underlying everything was a generalized resentment of the United States’ position on top of the world.

    In the New Order of the Ages countries other than America were junior partners at best, and that grated on New York’s allies. The downside to being on top of the heap is that you become a target for everyone further down, and the United States hadn’t exactly been circumspect in its hegemonic ambitions. Jubilantly victorious at last over the British Empire- America’s bogeyman for over a century- they perceived no true existential threats, only regional competitors and threats to their allies, and the possibly that another alliance might emerge at some point to genuinely challenge the Land of the Free seemed remote. Meanwhile various countries, from neutrals to ostensible members of the Grand Alliance, chafed against the New Order and began to consider alternatives.

    Japanese expansionism collided with American interests in the Pacific, while Japanese Pan-Asianism set it in ideological opposition to American imperialism in Southeast Asia. Ultra-nationalism reared its head in France and Italy where patriots resented their respective homelands’ loss of territory despite being on the winning side of the World War. A new variant of Societism reared its head in a Kingdom of Britain (no cross of St. Patrick on the flag anymore) whose economy had cratered without its empire. India and Indonesia, with their history of exploitation by white English-speakers with a red, white, and blue flag grew more and more skeptical of New York’s leadership.

    America domestic politics also played a role in the increasingly shaky state of the New Order.


    Edo, Japan in 1928. Japan modernized no less frantically in the Seperate-verse than OTL, and this time it had concerted support from the United States which wanted a strong ally in the western Pacific. By the twenties Japan had a larger economy and industrial base than OTL, but was no longer quite so friendly with New York. After a brief Sino-Japanese War in 1924-25 Japan forced Tian China to make territorial concessions and accept its status as a Japanese Protectorate- threatening American interests in China.

    The end of the World War saw the return of large numbers of Mexican-American draftees, many of whom had only learned English in the service or came from working-class, non-Criollo backgrounds. They brought with them a spreading political consciousness, a social rebellion against the American suppression of Hispanic language and culture that had existed since the annexation of the Mexican Empire. The result was a mass-movement energizing the Hispanophone majority that still existed in Old Mexico- even in Hidalgo, the sole state of Old Mexico with an Anglophone (simple) majority, many of the Anglophones identified more with La Tierra Azteca than the Land of Opportunity. The resurgent Mexican identity embraced Native American symbolism and cultural traditions instead of the legacy of Spain- unsurprising given that its supporters were generally Mestizo and wanted to distinguish themselves from the whiter Criollo elites who were loyal to America and saw their ancestral culture as European. Support for the Movimiento de Mexicanidad was not universal, there were enough Criollos, assimilated Mestizos, and Anglos in Old Mexico that even in the State of Oaxaca over a quarter of the population regarded itself as American, but enough embraced Mexicanidad to break the old system of political and economic dominance by the Criollos wide open. Intellectuals like Juan Pablo Galán- who once famously taught three hundred Hispanophone laborers enough English to successfully pass the literacy test and vote in Guerrero in just six weeks- led the way, and for once the masses followed.

    North of Old Mexico there was a similar movement building among Native Americans across the United States that rejected the generations-long push towards assimilation and the elimination of Native culture. Yes, unlike in OTL Native Americans who adopted European culture could count on having their civil and political rights as American citizens respected, but now Natives from the Cherokee to the Maidu were asking why abandoning their customs and religion needed to be a pre-requisite for basic human rights. The First Americans Campaign sought to encourage dying practices and revive cultures and religions that had been under siege for centuries. American ethnic communities from Europe and Asia experienced cultural revivals as well. For a long time, the strongest (not necessarily dominant, but certainly the most influential) paradigm in the United States had pushed for cultural uniformity and now multiculturalism was pushing back.

    Even as insurgencies raged in the utterly unassimilated Central America (the most peaceful part was Panama, which had been annexed before it could experience independence, but they were an outlier) the heavy commitment in taxes and lives needed to maintain the New Order of the Ages grew heavier.


    A child, holding the old Mexican Republican flag as part of La Mexicanidad.

    Ultimately this culminated in the election of President Charles Perdue of the National Party.

    Charles Perdue (of the Tejaneaux community of Texas) was not the first Nationalist president, or even the second, but the Nationalist wave that accompanied his landslide election in 1924 signaled the end of dominance by a Whig Party that had benefited from being the party that won the Civil War, won the World War, and was on the correct side of the Green Panic over Geoism. The Fascists with their mono-cultural, multi-racial approach had been replaced by the Nationalists with their multi-cultural, and, well…

    Calling the Nationalists racists would be unfair, but they had issues. Certainly the National Party was unconcerned with the interests of African-Americans (who remained firm Whigs), or Asian-Americans (whose own cultural revival at this time received little sympathy from the Perdue Administration), and the reorientation of the party by Perdue’s wing to be accepting of La Mexicanidad and the First Americans was extremely controversial (the fact that American racists had long paradoxically advocated on behalf of Native Americans helped). They were eager to defend the rights of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, less so those from China, Japan, the Philippines, or Africa. The national platform of the Party of Progress (a nickname a la the OTL Republican GOP moniker) duly condemned racism of the Confederate or Drakian sort, but there were members of the Republican Party (TTL’s regional Jim Crow* party that lacked a national presence), which was explicitly racist, who identified as Nationalists at the Federal level, and National-Republican electoral alliances were common in many places. The POP fought for the cultural autonomy of Francophone Quebec and Red River (but not Haiti), and Hispanophone Cuba and Santo Domingo, (after Perdue the Old Mexican states too), but they also wanted to protect the rich and unique “Southron” culture of the Southern United States.

    Not that the South doesn’t have a rich and vibrant culture both OTL and ITTL, but the Nationalist definition of Southron culture was very white and very… exclusive.

    Hem, hem.

    On the other hand, the Nationalists were fairly liberal when it came to welfare, the result of their Christian Populist members pushing for assistance for the poor and needy in the name of Christ. They also had backing from the large American labor brotherhoods (one recalls how many white unions in OTL were hostile to African-America civil rights while still being pro-(white)workers’ rights) and an economic platform borrowed in many parts from a version of moderate Geoism. The POP waged war on laws and institutions- such as English-only laws and the boarding schools for children of new immigrants- designed to force the assimilation of other cultures. It was a social crisis- not an economic one- that propelled Charles Perdue and the National Party to power, and so he lacked the mandate to truly transform America’s economy, but there were quite a few reforms nonetheless. Basic protections for labor that the laisse faire Whigs had long fought against were expanded or created for the first time, the beginnings of a social safety net, a national land value tax (that didn’t replace all other forms of taxes as in Orthodox Geoism, but it paid for some of the new social programs), crop insurance and protections for farmers were introduced. There was federal investment in education, a new interstate highway project, and even some very basic Geoist environmental regulations. The most radical of the Perdue Administration’s programs was the introduction of the Citizen’s Dividend, a sort of UBI funded by severance taxes on mining, logging, and fishing, plus fees collected from filing patents, private use of federal land, licenses for the use of radio and television frequencies (the latter technology emerged two decades ahead of OTL and matured faster), and tolls to use the federal highway system. You couldn’t live on the CD, but it made life easier and was fairly popular.


    American loggers in Oregon in the 1920s. Logging is one of the sources of economic rent identified by Geoism as a category of "land", the benefits of should rightfully accrue to the community.

    The big problem (from the perspective of supporters of the New Order of the Ages) was that the Nationalists were relatively isolationist compared to the Whigs. Perdue didn’t want to spend money on a giant million-man navy and expensive commitments abroad, he wanted to spend it on domestic programs at home. He was also generally anti-imperialist. The President’s attempts to bring the insurgency in Central America (which was slowly spreading into the southern parts of Old Mexico among the nationalist elements of La Mexicanidad) to an end went nowhere- the rebels would accept nothing less than independence, and the United States never surrendered contiguous territory- but the Seven Ducklings were far more doable.

    Cue a power struggle between President Charles Perdue and US Navy Chief of Staff Arthur Klein.

    Klein by this point was so heavily entrenched that he could not simply be dismissed from his position. He was too popular with the general public, had too many powerful connections in Washington, and his sailors and marines adored him. Perdue got Congress to make cuts (not drastic ones to his disappointment, but substantive cuts) to the navy budget, and Klein arranged for alternate sources of income diverted (sometimes illegally) from puppet governments in the Ducklings and the Navy-run colonies. Orders from New York arrived in Singapore (the Admiral’s unofficial headquarters where he spent most of his time) garbled or so delayed that actions they were intended to prevent had often been completed before they could be officially recieved. Sometimes the President’s instructions were “lost” entirely. The Administration could negotiate treaties with the 7 Ducklings, granting them total independence on paper, but Naval influence was deeply rooted in those countries and the political factions, dictators, and American-trained militaries (often with American officers) there pushed back with active support from Klein’s power base.

    It was evident however, that Perdue held the upper hand. He was President of the United States of America, an even more powerful figure than OTL presidents had been during the same time period- the product of an Imperial Presidency that developed in response to the threat of the British Empire and the demands of Reconstruction after the Civil War. He was re-elected in 1928 and Klein’s eventual dismissal seemed only a matter of time. In desperation the Fleet Admiral reached out to Franklin Richardson. Whatever their personal animosities, the two men were both at odds with the Perdue Administration and Richardson was growing increasingly frustrated with cuts to the Black Chamber’s funding and resources (his department lacked the prestige and political clout of the US Navy). The spymaster was convinced as to the real threat posed by the Geoist Powers and the Drakian Empire- a threat he was unable to persuade the President and Congress of- and saw his effectiveness at combating those threats steadily degraded. Richardson was a patriot who believed sincerely in the moral good of American hegemony and the necessity of the New Order to combat the evils of Societism and Radical Geoism. He could not sit idly by while these things were dismantled.

    By 1929 it had been 18 years- a whole generation- since hostilities had ceased in the World War. For the good of the nation, to preserve their respective services, and to remind the American people of the dangerous world out there and why they needed to be protected from it, the country had to have a war. In a private meeting in The Istana Klein and Richardson agreed that the Drakian Empire- already deeply unpopular in America for its brutal de facto slavery and ruthless eugenic policies- made the ideal bogeyman. The Black Chamber had contacts among insurgent groups there, and had recently made a very significant breakthrough in securing a secret alliance with one of Drakia’s Princely States. They need not liberate the whole of the Country of the Dragon, but a short, clear, decisive victory would reinforce the New Order of the Ages, restore their domestic position back home, and generate a nice, patriotic, “rally-round-the-flag” effect.

    All they needed was an excuse.
     
    Chapter 18

  • Chapter 18

    Japan. The Land of the Rising Sun. One of the more popular countries to use in AH either as a protagonist or antagonist (I blame anime).

    In OTL the United States at first regarded Japan as a convenient new market for American goods, later shifting to a sort of “isn’t that adorable?” attitude as it began modernizing, followed by a period of relative friendship in the early 20th century before colliding American and Japanese interests led to cooling relations and ultimately war. In the Separate-verse America identified Japan as a potential target for either British or Russian colonial expansion, and New York intervened in TTL’s version of the Boshin War in an attempt to contain the growing influence of its enemies. Once the American-backed Imperial Restorationists had defeated the British-backed Shogunate and elevated the Emperor to ruler-in-truth Japan became the recipient of a concerted campaign of American assistance in modernizing and industrializing. The United States considered Great Britain a potential existential threat and Japan a potentially valuable ally in the inevitable coming war with the British (which it ultimately was). The subsequent differences can be seen; in OTL Japan sent out missions to learn from Europe and America how to modernize, ITTL the United States sent missions to Japan to assist Japan in its modernization. It was American military missions- not British or German ones- that trained the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. The American government invested in Japanese industry, establishing munitions factories in Japan with the idea that they would greatly simplify logistics for American forces in the western Pacific and East Asia by removing the need to bring supplies all the way from North America through Royal Navy opposition. Japan was influenced culturally by the United States in OTL- witness the Japanese adoption of baseball and the influence of early American cartoons and animation- but American influence ITTL was more profound and affected different areas. Fascism had a major impact on Japanese political thought, as did American democratic ideas, and the experience of fighting alongside the Americans during the World War- particularly in the Liberations of the Philippines and Ireland- shaped Japanese military culture in directions it never followed in our world.

    The legacy of these changes was a Japanese Empire that, while recognizable to an OTL observer, was fundamentally different on a variety of levels.


    The flourishing port of Edo, 1922

    By 1925 the Japan of the Separate-verse was considerably richer and more industrialized than the Japan of OTL- early American economic investments many times larger than what Japan had scraped up to start its modernization in our world yielded a GDP-per-capita of over $3,000 (OTL 1990 USD) per person compared to a mere $1,745 in OTL 1935 (there was still fairly serious income inequality however). The experience of sudden and relatively rapid modernization had radically altered Japanese society, at first with a wave of Americo- and Euro-philia, but was later followed by a cultural reaction that reached back to historic Japanese traditions for inspiration. By this point a unique form of fascism had emerged to dominate Japanese politics; anti-racist like American fascism Pan-Asianism stressed common Asian cultural practices- various strands of Buddhism, reverence for an Emperor, community over self, and clearly delineated social roles drawn from either Confucianism or Hinduism. Pan-Asianism wasn’t opposed to uniquely Japanese cultural expressions- the Japanese Pan-Asians regarded Japanese culture as the most uniquely “Asian” of all cultures as Japan had never been conquered by foreigners- but it hunted for similarities where they existed, and invented similarities when they didn’t.


    Japan in the Separate-verse is a much wealthier country, private ownership of motorwagens (because we must have our own special name for the automobile) and telephones among the middle class was widespread by the 1920s, although there remained a considerable gap between rich and poor

    In OTL Japan’s annexation of Korea came after a long period of growing economic and military dominance and resulted in the subjugation of the Korean people and an attempt to forcibly Japanize them. In the Separate-verse Japanese troops were greeted as liberators as they swept the remaining elements of brutal Russian colonial rule from Korea and Manchuria. Japanese troops- many veterans of the Liberations of the Philippines and Ireland- memorized phrases from local languages, were strictly instructed to respect local cultures, and the Imperial Japanese Army actively pursued a policy of kokoro to kokoro (“hearts and hearts”) designed to win the support of the populace. Imperial rule was consciously based on American rule over Old Mexico and Britain’s rule over its dominions- Korea and Manchuria were theoretically monarchies equal in stature to Japan under a European-style personal-union with legislatures that theoretically had all of the powers of American states. Meanwhile Japan cultivated a collaborationist caste similar to the Mexican Criollos, in Manchuria these were the long-suffering Manchus and other minority ethnic groups, in Korea they were a new social class of Buddhists, western-influenced professionals, and believers in Pan-Asianism who referred to themselves as the yangban. These collaborators enjoyed economic and political power and in exchange helped to maintain Japanese rule.

    And it was still Japanese rule, despite the greater acceptance and integration of non-Japanese peoples. Korea and Manchuria might have their own legislatures, but they had no representation in the Imperial Diet in Tokyo, and it was the Imperial Assembly that controlled the national budget, the military, foreign affairs, and other national programs. Those legislatures might have competitive elections, but they had a limited suffrage, and radical parties (Geoists, Socialists, Nationalists who weren’t Japanese or Pan-Asian) were banned. They might have a degree of cultural autonomy but it was Korean and Manchurian children who learned Japanese as a second language in school, not Japanese children who learned Korean or Manchurian. The Empire might use mixed military units to encourage national unity- ensuring that Japanese, Korean, Manchu, and Chinese soldiers served alongside each other- and even allowed non-Japanese officers to rise to command posts, but the general staffs of the IJA and IJN remained entirely Japanese, as did everyone above the rank of major in the army or captain in the navy. The new territories provided vital sources of resources and cheap labor, but the economic planning that directed their use all occurred in Tokyo.


    Imperial Japanese Navy warships bombard the port of Busan in preparation for landing troops during the Liberation of Korea.

    The term for this new system of government was coined by Speaker Fujimori Takahashi of the Imperial Assembly mere hours before the start of what the Empire dubbed the Liberation of Korea.

    “You are the soldiers of Imperial Democracy.” The Speaker told the assembled troops of the Japanese Expeditionary Force to Korea. “Never forget this.”

    ‘Imperial Democracy’ was the ultimate product of the blend of Japanese and American political thought that emerged in Japan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Imperial Democracy meant that the people had a right to a voice in government, but though all were equal in the eyes of Heaven, different classes of people- loosely inspired by the four castes of the shinōkōshō- occupied different roles in society with different duties and responsibilities, and the responsibilities of electing and administering the government did not fall equally on all persons. Rather, there was a political class that could vote by having “served the state” or passed a suffrage test demonstrating their understanding history, law, and politics, and above them a more restricted governing class with more stringent tests and qualifications who could actually be elected to office. Outside of these classes were non-voting citizens who at least theoretically enjoyed full legal and (non-political) civil rights, and a class consisting of criminals and enemies of the nation who deserved no rights at all. The role in society for “emerging peoples” like the Koreans was different from that of the Japanese, who were responsible for protecting and guiding Korea to freedom and modernization. The Emperor of course was sovereign under Imperial Democracy, the Son of Heaven checking the dangerous passions of partisan politics with his absolute veto and ensuring that strong, decisive leadership was always available, unburdened from the pressures of needing to seek re-election. Only through these means, argued the Japanese thinkers, could democracy truly function and the Lockean Social Contract be upheld.

    As the easiest way for citizens of the Empire- whether Japanese or non-Japanese- to acquire voting rights was through voluntary military service, the Imperial military became the primary vehicle for social mobility, a hugely significant societal institution and ironically an important advocate for the non-Japanese citizens who made up a growing percentage of its rank-and-file.


    Imagine the bastard child of a Heinleinian stratocracy, political Confucianism, and the traditional Japanese class system, and you get Imperial Democracy.

    While Pan-Asianism began as a pro-Asian movement that was ambivalent towards other cultural traditions, it rapidly birthed a supremacist strain in active opposition to what it considered “Westernism”. This branch of the movement was anti-Christian, anti-Muslim, anti-Geoism, and anti-American, while still embracing technology and science regardless of its source (they weren’t suicidal after all). By the beginning of the first Draco-American War the supremacists didn’t dominate Pan-Asianism, but they were growing steadily in influence as Japanese and American interests collided across Asia and the Pacific. Although Japan had acquired Korea five years later than OTL, it had acquired Manchuria sixteen years earlier and greater genuine loyalty (or at least tolerance) from its subject peoples saw those regions grow into economic benefits to the Empire in ways they never were in our world. American businesses found themselves drawn further and further into competition with Japanese ones, Japan’s withdrawal from the International Trade Organization making this economic conflict explicit even as it enforced a protectorate over the crumbling Tian Dynasty of China, annexing outlying islands (Taiwan, Hainan, etc.) and major port cities. This endangered American investments in China and had the potential to weaken America’s military presence in the region as well- the Imperial Japanese Navy was no match for the United States Navy but it was still the second largest navy in the world and now it had bases that were dangerously close to the Philippines. A Philippines whose liberation from American control was now being called for by political radicals in Japan and in the Perla de Oriente itself.

    Once allies, the two Pacific titans now were on a path towards conflict.
     
    Chapter 19

  • Chapter 19

    Lindsey Stoker ruled Drakia with an iron fist.

    The Societist dictator had rebuilt Drakian society so that the influence of his party and ideology were omnipresent. Every Citizen child was enrolled in the Agoge schools, spending two months of the year and every second weekend during the other ten months, away from home and undergoing programs of intense physical exercise and political indoctrination. Somewhat of a cross between the Hitler Youth and child soldiers, Agoge students sang Societist songs, read Societist books, and watched Societist films that stressed loyalty to “Autocrat Stoker”, the supremacy of Societism over all other ideologies, the inferiority of non-Drakian cultures and political systems, and the absolute importance of ensuring the Empire’s survival… even if it cost their own lives. Boys received weapons training and courses in basic tactics, training that culminated in a group exercise at age 18 when- together with the same group of boys that they had come to know for years- they would collectively beat to death an Enemy of the State (in theory political dissidents or captured guerrillas, but often just Bondsmen who were accused of common crimes). Both boys and girls wore uniforms and were organized into units within a semi-military hierarchy under adult supervision, both participated in concentrated physical exercise designed to enhance the abilities of the next generation of the Noble Race. The children of Honorary Whites were not excluded from the Agoge, although their indoctrination was different, and from age 15 “units” of White Citizen children and Honorary White Citizen children engaged in co-operative competitions that pitted them against similar mixed groups (mixed racially perhaps, but never mixed genders).

    This is of course on top of the indoctrination children received in their regular schooling.


    Young Drakian boys in the Agoge. It wouldn't work so well if they didn't get chances to play and have fun amid the training to be loyal, to fight, to kill, and to die.

    Once a Citizen turned 18 they were enrolled in different local chapters of the Societist Party and usually (this part was voluntary) one or two of its different subsidiary organizations. These groups had their own meetings and events, many of which were held in churches- clearly pairing the Party and the State with faith and the Empire’s titular heavenly ruler. There was a list of approved religions, most notably the Church of Christ the Savior, the Drakian Church, and the Sedevacantist Catholic Church (which of course simply regarded itself as the Catholic Church). The later two played an increasingly secondary role, the result of confusion among the faithful and the holy echelons stemming from the Drakian Church severing from the Church of England and the Sedecantist leadership being largely installed by the state (Stoker held Catholics- regardless of flavor- in suspicion and nixed a proposal to let them create a Capetown-based antipope). The Autocrat (his official title) himself was a Saviorite espousing the belief that the Drakians were the true Israelites, a people divinely chosen to rule the world, and he gave his religion government sponsorship and sanction. There were a couple of other minor approved faiths- a Drakian Chief Rabbi parroting the state line for instance- but the Anglican Communion, the Protestant churches of America, the Living Church of Geoist Russia, and the Roman Catholic Church were banned along with most forms of Islam (the Princely States had a considerable amount of autonomy in this area, Kurdistan and Egypt kept their brands of Islam, Judea allowed multiple versions of Judaism, etc.).

    All able-bodied Citizen men were automatically enlisted in the Reserve if they weren’t on active service, as were about a third of able-bodied women (in non-combat roles of course). Every house had a picture of Stoker in pride of place, as did every business and every government office. All media was supervised if it wasn’t an outright product of the State. The archaic “hello” had been replaced as a greeting, now one called out “Service to the State!” and the subject of their salutation replied “Glory to the Race!” Drakia had long defined itself through its loyalty to Britain and British culture, now that this was no longer possible the Societists looked back one generation- Drakia had been British colony, but Britain had been a Roman colony, and Rome itself a Greek Trojan one (I mean, not really, but that’s what they believed). The result was a Greco-Roman revival in art, fashion, architecture, poetry, and even names for newborns.


    The new Drakian architectural style mixed 20th century lines with classical elements like these pillars.

    Dissent was strictly policed by the Bureau for Social Defense and the BSD’s feared “Patriotist” agents who could look no different from anyone else until the moment they produced their infamous purple badge. Now that things were quiet the Euthanasia program picked up once more, targeting individuals with physical and mental disabilities within the ranks of Citizens, Nationals, and Bondsmen and the threat of having a child deemed a burden on society remained a powerful tool for social control. The number of its victims since the program had begun could now be counted with seven digits. There were projects under the Bureau for Technical Progress aimed at improving the physical superiority of the Drakian people through the use of science (or simply the temporary performance of Drakian soldiers in combat)- they experimented with anabolic steroids, stimulants, and crude blood doping, as well as different physical exercises and the influence of altitude on physical capabilities.

    It’s telling that whatever Societism’s views of foreign political and social systems it had no problems with accepting the validity of scientific discoveries made in other countries- even when such discoveries contradicted previously held views in Drakia- and rapidly integrating those discoveries into their own understanding of the world. Scientific conservatism had little presence in the Country of the Dragon, outside of anthropology, social science, and some very niche fields within theoretical biology.

    Most of the opposition to Societism within Drakia came not from liberal or pro-democracy groups, but from Drakian conservatives hostile to the idea of a greater role for Honorary Whites (and even a few mixed or non-White full Citizens) and the end of political dominance by the Drakian aristocracy. Most white Citizens genuinely supported Societism, almost all Honorary Whites did for the improved rights and powers it offered them- even if that was only as junior partners instead of as servants. It was no secret what fate non-white Citizens could expect if Drakia was ever defeated, they had just as much to lose as the whites if they ever found themselves facing the Bonded masses, newly freed and vengeful. The Nationals remained a potential source of dissent however, a small population exploited to fill a niche doing jobs that could not be done with forced labor but which were now considered below Honorary Whites. The Nationals were technically free, but most sat just on the edge of penury, poorly paid and heavily tax, controlled by the threat of becoming Bonded if they left the jobs they were trapped in. And that was a frightening threat indeed.

    Unlike most forms of historic slavery (such as the peculiar institution of the American South), Bonded Laborers in Drakia weren’t valuable investments, instead they were individually disposable much like slaves in modern-day OTL human trafficking. If a Bondsman was injured or sick then it was more cost-effective to simply kick him to the curb and get another than it was to help him recover. Traditional methods of force and violence kept the Bonded in line, but there were other tactics also used to incentivize loyalty and hard work. Even among the Bonded there was a hierarchy with special privileges, the chance to buy small luxuries and ease your personal situation in exchange for occupying the role of a “chain dog”, helping keep the rest in line. For the gullible there was religion thrust down the throats of the Bonded and the lie of potentially paying off one’s bond eventually, but the Empire’s most powerful tools for keeping Bondsmen obedient were drugs. Provide a Bondsman with regular doses of meth, cocaine, or (less commonly) an opioid of some sort, and now you had a slave whose own addiction would prevent him from running away and would motivate him to work harder in exchange for the promise of a hit. By modulating the doses carefully the owner of a factory or a mine or some other concern that employed Bonded Labor could delay the physical degradation that accompanied substance addiction, and when said degradation grew too severe to be economical anyway they could simply dispose of the worker by “freeing” them and either acquiring another or passing on their bond to the worker’s next of kin.

    These practices were not universal by any means- for some being Bonded simply meant having your name on a list hundreds of miles away and a yearly visit to collect part of your harvest. For others in domestic work or who had valuable skills, the yoke could rely on positive reinforcement of a less addictive kind. But for millions within the largely state-run industrial complex it was a fact of life.


    Bondsmen work to manufacture methamphetamine for use by Drakian private and public industrial concerns.

    With such practices the Drakian Empire industrialized further, building more infrastructure, more factories, and exploiting more of the resources at its disposal. Theirs was not a system that lent itself well to innovation, but a willingness to quickly adopt the technology of others at least partially allayed that and by 1929 the Empire was stable in a way it had not been since the World War. To be sure there were still guerillas in the deep forest and isolated places where state authority was weak or theoretical, not to mention disorganized low-level resistance from the masses of pacified Bondsmen, but none of this was more than an annoyance to the Country of the Dragon. When trouble reared its head the Empire was capable of mobilizing large, highly mobile forces capable of swamping an uprising before it could mature. If an ambush struck outside a village then they eliminated the village, if a tribe rose up then they eliminated the tribe. More Bondsmen were always desirable, as were more victims for the Agoge.

    Opposition remained however, and there was still the possibility that with foreign help it could resurge again.

    The Black Chamber remained active in its efforts to subvert Drakian rule. He might be operating with fewer resources than he had during the Crucible, but Franklin Richardson retained agents within the Empire and cultivated contacts with the remaining resistance groups. For the most part American aid was aimed at simply keeping anti-government guerrillas alive and operating in the face of genocidal pressure by Stoker’s regime, but if circumstances changed the possibility existed that they might be able to rise up in force. American influence was strongest where Imperial rule was weakest, and Imperial rule was weakest in the Near East.

    In order to retain control over the Near East during the Crucible, General Saxon had made a variety of promises to non-Arab minorities that both he and Stoker’s Empire had done a decidedly mixed job of fulfilling. The military government had encouraged Kurdish, Druze, and Assyrian nationalism as a counter to the Arab majority, vowing to grant those ethnic groups their own Princely States once the fighting ended, they had also allied to the Near Eastern Christians and the Zionist community in the Holy Land. The Kurds were mostly happy with what they had received- the Sultanate of Kurdistan had a fairly long leash autonomy-wise and included most of the territory that they regarded as historically Kurdish that fell under Drakian control- but the Muslim Kurds were also alienated by the state-enforced Christianity and suppression of Islam that prevailed in most parts of the Empire. Like the Egyptians they were concerned about sending their children to the Agoge which they feared could be used as a tool to direct the next generation towards Christianity. The Assyrians had received a small Princely State without all of the territory their nationalists wanted, the Druze had received status as a martial race and freedom to practice their religion, but Stoker had reneged on Saxon’s promise to grant them a Princely State of their own. The non-Assyrian Christians of the Near East were all Honorary Whites, except for the Armenian Christians who were White Citizens, but like the Druze they were had not received political autonomy. Meanwhile all of the nationalist groups that Drakia had supported at least had wings that were dissatisfied with autonomy within the Empire and wanted nothing less than full independence- if their movement wasn’t pro-independence in general. Of course, the Arabs, who had been ground down through massacres and outright ethnic cleansing continued to mutter with discontent.


    Drakian Syria, 1928.

    The Black Chamber had many Near Eastern contacts, with the Arab resistance, with radical nationalist elements in Assyria and Kurdistan, with other unhappy voices among the Honorary Whites, but Franklin Richardson’s greatest success came in Judea.

    The State of Judea was not the only Drakian Princely State that wasn’t a monarchy, there were a handful of others including a couple of Boer and Griqua republics, but it had far more in the way of democratic elements than any of them. True, there was no chance of the Nation of Zion Party losing any election, and the government in Haifa was quick to follow the orders of the Drakian Resident when ordered to suppress anti-government speech or break up organizations whose existence was deemed unacceptable, but opposition parties existed (even if they were neutered) and there was a degree of political competition that would be familiar to an inhabitant of OTL Singapore. Most of the Arab community within Judea’s borders- a piece of the Israeli Coastal Plain with less than 3,000 square kilometers (smaller than Rhode Island)- had been killed or forcibly relocated during the Crucible, but those who remained now had Judean citizenship and enjoyed cultural and religious freedom that their relatives elsewhere in the Drakian Near East lacked. Public dissent might be silenced by order of the Resident, but small groups met in private homes to express views that would have been unthinkable in directly-ruled parts of the Empire. The Jewish Princely State’s continued survival could be attributed to its creation under the Saxon government, and Stoker’s concern that abolishing a pre-existing Princely State that wasn’t in rebellion ran the risk of alienating loyal Princely States whose support the Empire needed.

    The Drakian dictator was otherwise actively hostile towards Zionism, partly for religious reasons as a Saviorite (he considered the Jews collectively guilty of Christ’s murder and the Drakians the true descendants of the Hebrew), and partly because unlike General Saxon he regarded minority nationalism as a threat rather than a useful tool. His policies followed his views, using the Agoge in an attempt to replace ethnic and religious identities with a broader Drakian identity loyal to him, and the BSD’s Patriotists to crush political voices he considered dangerous.

    But Judea had been founded by a movement whose goal had been total independence from the start- Zionist leaders justified Drakian collaboration solely on the grounds that said collaboration brought them closer to this goal. Even Premier Bogdan Mninsky, who regarded the existence of the State of Judea as a victory, remained dissatisfied by its small size, its lack of sovereignty, and the fact that almost none of the important Jewish holy sites were under its control. Most of Judea’s inhabitants were Sephardim or Mizrahim, Middle Eastern Jews who could acquire Honorary White status only by becoming Judean Citizens, and as Drakia would never allow one of its Princely States to extend a blanket citizenship to communities scattered across a large region, they had come to cram themselves into the coastal enclave in search of protection. Not all had successfully avoided Bondage- some who did were purchased and freed by Judea, but many remained trapped the Bonded Labor System. Judeans who still had enslaved co-religionists, or even were ex-Bondsmen themselves, were not inclined to be loyal towards Drakia. They did not like their children being enrolled in the Agoge, they did not like the idea of swearing oaths of loyalty to a government whose official head of state was Jesus Christ, and they resented Stoker’s policies to curtail their autonomy. All of the officers of the Judean Army were Drakian Christians, all ordinary law-enforcement were subject to direction by the Bureau for Social Defense, and all education- whether religious or secular- had its curriculum set in Aurica. Immigration by Jews elsewhere in the Empire was permitted, but immigration from elsewhere had been shut off.

    Mninsky could read the writing on the wall (haha) and recognized that it was only a matter of time before he himself was removed from power, and Judea’s autonomy so undermined that it could no longer be assured of protecting its inhabitants from policies like those that had already been used to suppress Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism.


    Flag of the State of Judea. The Zionist movement split after the Crucible, between those who considered collaboration with Drakia acceptable because it meant a step closer to an independent Jewish state, and those who rejected it because Drakia... kept slaves and murdered handicapped babies. There's a still a German-based branch of the movement mostly focused on settling Jews in parts of Patagonia and the northern Great Plains.

    Which was why the Judean Premier came to a secret agreement with the Black Chamber.

    Klein and Franklin’s plan for a short, victorious war with the Drakian Empire called for the successful liberation, not of Drakia as a whole (which was far too big) but merely the Drakian Near East. It should be a trivial matter to sweep the Drakian Navy from the Mediterranean, and once Aden had been captured from the Red Sea as well. That would leave Drakia only a single land route connecting its Near Eastern possessions to the rest of the Empire, running through the Sinai Desert. If Mninsky could successfully instigate mutiny among the Judean Army against their Drakian officers, then he could secure the ports of Haifa and Yafo which would provide a foothold where the US Navy could offload its land forces without the difficulties of a seaborne invasion. The marines could then advance the relatively short distance south into the Sinai, hopefully meeting up with the forces of allied Arabia, and establishing a line that would (backed by the US Navy Air Corps and the world’s most powerful naval artillery) completely cut Drakia’s supply lines into the Near East. Without resupply or reinforcement, the Drakian Army east of the Sinai would wither on the vine and be finished off by second-line troops, mostly from the Ducklings or American colonial possessions, with the help of the Turkish, Persian, and Arabian armies, plus anti-Drakian insurgents. A swift victory in the Near East would drum up American patriotism and anti-Drakia sentiment, raise the popularity of the Navy and the Black Chamber, and put Arthur Klein’s star on the ascendency. The government in Aurica would be forced to the peace table and the government in New York would be forced to retroactively authorize the Navy’s actions.

    At least that was the idea- it relied on certain assumptions, including the belief that once the war started the Grand Alliance members bordering the Drakian Near East (the Kingdom of Arabia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Persian Empire) would inevitably join in to assist the American forces. It also assumed that the United States government would have no choice but to begin actively supporting its own navy in a war that said navy had independently launched. Still, the Klein-Franklin Plan was not a bad plan, it had clearly defined and limited goals, it relied on highly accurate knowledge of the terrain and the placement of enemy forces, and had successfully recruited local allies familiar with the area.

    Let’s see how it goes;

    The US Navy/Black Chamber;



    The Empire of Drakia;



    Looks like your regularly scheduled EBR Israel-wank is cancelled.
     
    Last edited:
    Chapter 20

  • Chapter 20

    It is not true that the First Draco-American War began with a table in Jerusalem.

    There was a story, oft repeated during the conflict itself, that the war began when a group of Jews sat down to a Seder Table in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover in April of 1929. Passover is the festival commemorating the Exodus from Egypt, and the Seder is the ritual meal in which the tale of the Jewish journey from slavery into freedom is told. The Seder is ordered with extreme precision, the same prayers and tales recited in the same order, with the same wording from year to year. Even the same symbolic foods are laid out in the same positions upon the Seder plate, eaten at the same predetermined points in the ceremony.

    Really, the Seder Table itself is irrelevant, it’s what’s on it that’s important. But such a distinction was lost on most who heard this particular story.

    In some versions the group of Jews were Judean citizens either visiting or living in Jerusalem. In others they were a mixed group- Judeans and American pilgrims- in still more versions they hosted a Jewish Bondsman or were entirely composed of Bonded Jews meeting in secret. At some point in the Seder Patriotist agents of the Bureau for Social Defense, or else a mob of Agoge students, or alternatively Drakian soldiers, stormed into the meal. They were there because the retelling of the Israelites’ divinely escorted journey from slavery to freedom had been deemed seditious, or because of the illegal presence of Bonded participants, or because they had been inspired to commitanti-semitic violence for its own sake. In one respect did every account agree- Drakians interrupted a Jerusalem Seder, attacked the participants, and flipped over the Seder Table, thus despoiling the ritual. Word reached Haifa and Judea rose in rebellion against the Empire.

    A very poetic coincidence- the Last Crusade began with a ladder, the World War with a chair, and the newest war with a table- but alas it was just as fictional as it was poetic.


    An OTL Seder in 2009.

    In truth Premier Bogdan Mninsky of the State of Judea timed his war of independence to begin when Passover did for the powerful religious and national connotations of the holiday, and also because President Charles Perdue of the United States was nearly two months into his second term and Arthur Klein had run out of time. Any more delay and the powerful Fleet Admiral would be out of a job, his plans with Director Richardson to start a short victorious war with Drakia pre-empted. His allies had lost their final bid to keep him in his post, and it was only by blatant forms of self-sabotage to the US Navy’s own communications that he was able to maintain the smallest shred of plausibility behind his failure to receive the order recalling him.

    Klein had days left when he arrived at the USN base in Gibraltar ahead of a frustrated messenger from New York. He did so mere hours after Mninsky had dramatically issued Judea’s declaration of independence (technically “reassertion of independence” as Judea was a Prince State) from Drakia. The common Judean troops followed their Premier, mutinying against their Drakian officers and securing the ports of Haifa and Yafo. Drakian soldiers and sailors managed to hold the walled city of Akka, situated on an easily defensible peninsula. Early in the morning of the second day the USS Roanoke- an American destroyer- passed close to Akka and was fired upon by the Drakian forces holding out there. The small ship withdrew with light damage and minimal casualties.

    Klein had his excuse.

    The war opened with a string of American victories. Having announced that the United States had been attacked and that he was acting to bring the perpetrators to justice, as well as to protect the self-determination of free peoples rising against the Drakian Yoke, the Fleet Admiral personally commanded the defeat of the Drakian Navy in the Mediterranean. With reporters and photographers in tow he crushed the enemy fleet outside of Algiers and Tunis and a picture him with a (small) bleeding cut on his cheek from a stray piece of shrapnel after the Battle of Levantine Sea appeared on a dozen front pages back home. US Marines conducted an amphibious landing at Aden, capturing the city after three days of fighting and heavy bombardment from air and sea. With the way to the Red Sea open the US Indian Ocean Force was able to cut Drakia’s other sea route connecting the Empire proper to its possessions in the Near East.


    US Marines preparing to land at Aden.

    The first Marines started disembarking at Haifa within 48 hours of the start of hostilities, local Imperial garrison troops had arrived to crush the Judeans and relieve Akka only a little before the Americans did, and the Yanks were eagerly welcomed by Judea. Additional reinforcements in the form of units of the Irish Army with Marine officers, plus assistance from the Naval Air Corp, saw the Drakians forced to fall back to Jerusalem. Arab insurgents- prompted by Franklin Richardson and the Black Chamber- rose up and were joined by Arab Bondsmen and the Kingdom of Arabia itself that issued a long-awaited declaration of war and sent its armed forces into Drakian Yemen and the Holy Land. Arab resistance groups stuck and fanned the flames of a general Arab revolt that threatened to spread as far as North Africa.

    The Empire was hardly complacent while all of this was going on- they responded quickly with rapidly mobilized units converging on the Near East. If there was one thing that the Drakian military was good at, it was at locating enemy threats and rapidly responding to them (a vital counter-insurgency skill). But it had no way to answer the US Navy, and to be quite frank the Noble Race had been caught by surprise. They had not expected Klein and the Navy to attack independently, rather Drakia had kept a close eye on American domestic politics under the assumption that if war came it would be telegraphed by public calls from American politicians for a strike against the slavocracy. In public Autocrat Stoker addressed his citizens and the world in a blistering radio and television address that condemned the United States for cowardly attacking without a Declaration of War, in private he acknowledged that the Empire was simply not strong enough to hold onto the Near East against the full might of America and the Grand Alliance.

    It was in fact a source of much confusion in Aurica that the Grand Alliance had not attacked in unison, and that the Americans had not yet even begun to mobilize. It was only gradually that the Imperial government realized the nature of Klein’s private assault on them.

    All of this happened within two weeks.


    Judean soldiers head for the front, preparing to fight for their country's independence.

    Arthur Klein’s million-man Navy had incredible resources at its disposal, but those resources paled in comparison to the fighting strength of the United States as a whole when it was on a war footing. He could- by drawing on his stockpiles and the economies of the Seven Ducklings- bring the US Navy and its land and air components to a state of full combat-ability and maintain that state for some time, but eventually he would need active support from the homeland. The Fleet Admiral had been winning victories however, increasing his already substantial celebrity, and already one internationally recognized government (Arabia) that had joined the war. Political turmoil had erupted in New York as the civilian government grappled to figure out how to respond to a branch of the American military launching a war againsta major power on its own initiative, but he was confident that it would come around.

    It had to.

    There was very little sympathy for Drakia in the United States- the majority of the American public might not consider an empire founded by the losers of history to be a threat, but the de facto slavery of the Bonded Labor System was common knowledge and virtually all Americans detested it. It was one thing for President Perdue to remove a Naval Chief of Staff in peace time, regardless of how popular that Chief of Staff was with the public and his own rank-and-file, it was another thing for him to do so when that Chief of Staff was actively winning victories against the Drakian Empire. A political battle raged in New York- one not fought entirely along party lines- over whether or not to retroactively authorize Klein’s attack and to shift to a full war stance. The liberation of the Near East- at the very least- was in the offing.

    It was Klein’s defeat in the Battle of Sinai that made it possible for Perdue to act.



    Klein and Richardson had correctly identified that the Sinai Peninsula was a weak-point for the Drakian Empire- unfortunately so had the Drakian Empire.

    The Klein-Richardson Plan relied on the Americans being able to establish and hold a defensive line in the Sinai Peninsula that would cut the last conduit for supplies and men between Drakian Africa and the Drakian Near East. Drakian forces east of the Sinai would then wither on the vine, and the Noble Race would be forced to cede their only holdings outside of the African continent. However, neither man had anticipated the speed at which the Empire would respond to the invasion.

    The local Drakian commander responsible for North Africa- Lieutenant-General Titus McCord- rushed every soldier he could scrape up into the Sinai Desert, including Drakian regulars, reservists, Auxiliary troops, the military of the Egyptian Princely State, and even children undergoing Agoge training (kept in second-line roles of course). As a result he was able to successfully contain amphibious landings by American Marines along the Sinai coast and reach the retreating forces of Lieutenant-General Apostle Melancon (the commander responsible for Drakia’s forces in the Near East) who was falling back from Jerusalem in the face of the main American invasion and an Arab push towards the River Jordan.

    Both the Drakians and the Marines had focused on fighting insurgents in the years since the World War and were not used to fighting an enemy that also had aircraft and armor (known as landcruisers ITTL since every good timeline needs its own name for tanks). Drakian landcruisers were lightly-armed, fast, anti-infantry machines developed to put down uprisings in the wide spaces of North and West Africa, while the Americans fielded mostly landcruisers developed for naval use- small enough to be easily transportable for amphibious landings and fairly slow, but with heavier firepower than their Drakian counterparts to deal with fortified positions in the face of a contested landing. In general, Drakia had an advantage in terms of armor as the American naval tanks had trouble with the distances needed to reach the battlefield, while the Americans held an advantage in the air. US Navy aviators had less practice striking at land-based targets than Drakian Army pilots did, which reduced their effectiveness supporting ground troops, but their drachenflieger were better machines and their training for midair combat superior.


    A Drakian LC crew enjoy a break in front of their Hond II. The Hond II was a light landcruiser capable of making 45 mph with a range of over 200 miles. Radios were included in most Hond II's, facilitating communication and co-ordination between different units. It carried nothing heavier than a 1/3 inch machine gun however, and there were parts of its rear and side armor that were less than a quarter-inch thick. It also used a gasoline engine that while powerful was highly flammable and tended to explode if hit.

    An initial Drakian victory in the Sinai didn’t decide the war by any means, not with McCord’s forces being pummeled by American carriers and battleships (imagine being on the receiving end of a battleship’s main guns), but it was clear that the American, Judean, and Irish soldiers in the Holy Land faced a tough slog break through Drakian defensive lines before they could cut the Trans-Sinai Railway and establish a defensive line of their own. The involvement of Arabia on America’s side meant that the Kurds, the Assyrians, the Druze, and the Yazidis were actively fighting for the Empire, and while Jerusalem and Aden had fallen, all of the major cities of Syria and Mesopotamia remained in Drakian hands. It was clear that war would not be quick or easy, at least not without enthusiastic support for Klein from the United States government, the United States Army, and the rest of the Grand Alliance.

    And so, a ship arrived in the Mediterranean.

    It was a mothballed World War-era naval vessel crewed by the United States Coast Guard and it carried, in addition to a compliment of US Marshals (who had taken on the body-guarding duties of the OTL Secret Service and most of the law-enforcement responsibilities of the OTL FBI), Vice President Artemas Cotton carrying orders directly from the President for Klein’s arrest.

    The jig was up.

    President Charles Perdue had wrestled with the Whig opposition, members of his own National Party, and his personal conscience before coming to a decision. If the civilian government of the United States retroactively authorized a war launched independently by a branch of its military then the result would be dangerous if not fatal to American democracy. Instead of a country where the military served the people, it would be a step towards a country where the people served the military and admirals and generals dictated foreign and ultimately domestic policy. Arthur Klein would not be allowed to become the American version of Shigeru Honjo, or even the American version of Julius Caesar (a triumphant return from the war followed by a successful bid for president was a possibility for Klein had the dice co-operated, with the right numbers you might have seen the Navy sailing into New York harbor and the Fleet Admiral stepping up to “save the Republic” from the threat of Geoism, Societism, and Central American guerillas). It was the "snakes'" victory in the Sinai that had made the decision possible- Klein was no longer undefeated.

    Striking a blow against the Drakian Empire was a good thing, liberating Drakian Bondsmen an even better one, but defending American democracy came first.


    A student of the Agoge, called up to fight in the First Anglo-Drakian War. Such child soldiers were generally used for guard and pacification duties behind the front lines, where they became known for their violence and cruelty.

    The admiral was informed that for repeatedly defying the orders of his Commander-in-Chief and launching a war without the authorization of either the President or Congress he was being charged not with mutiny- which would have placed him before a military tribunal that might have sympathized with the Admiral- but with engaging in a Seditious Conspiracy and violating TTL’s version of the Neutrality Act (passed in the 19th century to stop pro-slavery filibusterers). These were federal crimes that would see Klein tried in civilian courts before a judge almost certain have been appointed by the current President. Conviction seemed guaranteed and an unusually harsh sentence- fifty years, maybe even life- likely. There was even a rumor circulating that he would be made to disappear or commit suicide while being delivered across the Atlantic to stand trial.

    Possibly panicking, possibly calculating, Fleet Admiral Arthur Klein did the unthinkable.

    Leaving behind a letter that accused the Perdue Administration of planning to put him to death on fake charges, he took a boat and a white flag and defected to the Drakian Empire.
     
    Interlude: The Cloud People

  • Interlude: The Cloud People



    I chose not to sleep on the voit[1] for the last leg from Zenith[2].

    For most of the trip we’d been driving down the new highway, but for the last hour or so the voit had been trundling down the old Joseph Catt Highway[3] that had been there for ages. I knew it from the trips with the old man out to Zenith for business- he would meet with the manager in the CGC[4] warehouse and I would explore downtown and play with the kids there until it was time to drive back down the old JCH. So, I noticed where things had changed, and I noticed that they had replaced the sign near the Anderson Gas Station.

    It used to read;

    METROPOLIS

    45 KILOMETERS

    Now it read;

    METROPOLIS-MEXICO[5]

    45 KILOMETERS

    Stay away too long and you never know what you’re coming back to.

    ---​

    The voit operator let us off a couple of blocks[6] away from the station because there was a protest in the way. Bunch of people shouting “Mexico Vive!” and waving signs and banners. Many of the banners had sketches of flame flowers, and many of the protestors were wearing the red leaves pinned to their shirts and coats. La Mexicanidad I assumed, although the flowers were new, and the protestors seemed angrier, meaner than I remembered. No one was waving the Stars and Stripes which was strange, and no one was waving the Three Guarantees which was stranger[7].

    At least there were no Stars and Stripes[8] among the marchers- the flag seemed to have popped up everywhere else in Metropolis, on homes and businesses, except for the buildings that didn’t bother with the national flag and instead had potted plants on their windows and front steps.

    What was in the pots? More flame flowers.

    Police kept an eye on the marchers, shadowing them even as the Mexicanos shouted taunts and insults. I tried to pass through the crowd, but some jackass blocked my chest with his arm.

    “Join us brother!” He yelled in Spanish over the noise of the crowd. “We’re going to kick the Yankee foreigners out of Mexico!”

    “Not interested.” I told him in the same language.

    “What’s wrong?” His tones turned nasty. “You don’t care about your nation? You’d rather suck New York’s dick, is that it?”

    Yo soy ñuù savi.” Then at his blank look; “First Americans.”[9]

    Dissidente!” The man shouted as I pushed past his arm. “Mestizos e Indios Unidos!”

    ---​

    The store, at least, didn’t seem to have changed any, although I didn’t recognize the boy behind the counter. There must have been half a dozen Star-Spangled Banners decorating the place and not a flame flower in sight,

    “Here.” I dug a half-eagle bill[10] out of my pocket and held it out to him. “Go get me a Giniker[11] from across the street.”

    “Sir… we only sell yardage[12].” He answered in English, nonplussed. “And I can’t leave the store while I’m on shift.”

    “It’s okay.” I grinned at him. “I know the owner.”

    That was about the time the old man himself came out to see what the ruckus was, and swept me in a hug tight enough to crack ribs.

    Ndaiza te'i!”[13]

    I wasn’t actually his son, but he’d damn near raised me in any case.

    “Go, go!” He gestured to the kid. “Get him his damn Giniker, then take a break.”

    “Keep the change!” I told the boy on his way out, then switched to Ñuu Savi.Ku kweni!”

    Ku kweni! Ku kwen'n deku?”

    Deku ba’i.”[14] I told the old man. “It’s good to be back.”

    “Glad to see me again?” He chuckled.

    Never.” I laughed. “I’m just happy about being able to get good soda again.”

    “Sure you are.” He put his arm over my shoulders- a reach for him. “Come on marine, sit down, and tell me about the holy city.”

    “Jerusalem was cramped, dirty, and happy to see us. The churches were pretty and there was a big Mohammedan church with a gold dome like you wouldn’t believe.”

    “Nice, nice.” The man who’d raised me guided me to the back. “I don’t believe it about Klein by the way, not for a second. He’s got to have some sort of plan going on, it’s bullshit how Perdue sold the guy south.”

    “Probably.” I said although I was of two minds myself, and then to change the subject- “What’s with all the flame flowers?”

    “Feh! Damned radicals. Those idiots in New York banned the old Mexican flag to try and quiet them down, but it just made things worse. Now they’ve seized that stupid flower as a symbol.”

    “I thought we liked La Mexicanidad?”

    “Eh, there’s Mexicandidad and there’s Mexicanidad. Break the Criollos? Yes, please. They held us down with everyone else. But Spanish in the public schools? Bring back Spanish names for cities? Fucking independence? Fuck that. I want my grandkids learning English if they’re not learning Ñuu Savi and who cares what the cities are called. Lots of people back home who backed La Mexicandad are pissed these days.”

    His family had been in Metropolis for three generations at least, and mine- I had no idea about mine. But the part of Oaxaca and Guerrero that the Criollos and Mestizos called “La Mixteca” was still home.

    “I can’t believe they’re actually pushing for independence.”

    “Most aren’t, maybe one in ten are. But they’re the loudest and some of them are taking inspiration from the crazies down in Centroamerica.”

    “You’re joking.”

    “You think I’m joking? There was a bombing in Guerrero last week, someone killed a policeman in Zenith- right here in Hidalgo!- just the week before that. Vandalism, graffiti, and fistfights in the City[15] but it’s only a matter of time until it escalates here.”

    “Damn. And we’re caught in the middle, aren’t we?”

    “Always. We’re not Mexicans, we’re not Anglos, and we haven’t got the pull of the Cherokee or the Comanches.”

    “It’s organization.” I ran my hand through my hair. “In the Holy Land I met some Judeans- they talked a lot about how the Jews were scattered everywhere and they needed to come together and co-operate or the world would just walk all over them. They wanted a country, but if you can get enough people to vote, and vote the same way, then you can make your voice pretty damn loud. There’s enough of us in Oaxaca and Guerrero, even in Hidalgo- if we had leaders, if we had a President who could get us organized like the Cherokee do-”

    “The Cherokee and the Comanche were unified before the Anglos even showed up. When were the Ñuu Savi ever unified?”

    I was about to answer when the kid came back.

    “Here’s your Giniker, mister.”

    “Thanks, kid.” I popped the bottle, switching from Ñuu Savi back to English. “Iya Nacuaa did it, long before the Spanish came.”

    “My boy.” The old man gently squeezed my shoulder. “It’s not a bad idea. But it’s been eight hundred since Iya Nacuaa.”[16]

    I took a long drink from my Giniker, savoring the earthy taste.

    “Do you remember,” I said slowly, “the date I was born?”

    ---​

    [1] From “Voiture Omnibus”- “Vehicle for all” the same Latin phrase that gave us the OTL word “bus”
    [2] Formerly known as Veracruz before 1868
    [3] Named for the last American military governor of Mexico before it was officially annexed
    [4] The Clinton-Gómez Company is a large dry-goods corporation on the East Coast and the Gulf that wholesales to smaller retailers. Not those Clintons- these are descended from an important family in colonial New York, and the Gómezes whose company they merged with are an even older Criollo family whose OTL descendants included Guillermo del Toro.
    [5] Formerly known as Mexico City before becoming the City of Metropolis, and now the City of Metropolis-Mexico. I absolutely stole the name from the brilliant @Napoleon53
    [6] The length of a city block varies just as much ITTL as OTL, but as in OTL they’re usually around the same length as a medieval furlong.
    [7] The early Movimiento de Mexicanidad usually displayed two flags in its marches; the Flag of the Three Guarantees symbolizing their Mexican heritage and the Stars and Stripes to emphasize that they’re not secessionists or disloyal. The early movement being what our viewpoint character would have been familiar with.
    [8] 58 stars as of 1930.
    [9] First Americans aka Native Americans.
    [10] A five dollar bill, the name of the coin made the transition to paper money ITTL.
    [11] Giniker is the name both of a brand and its eponymous product- a soft drink popular in Separate-verse’s United States. It got its start as a patent medicine, hence the name “Giniker” (a very old slang term meaning ‘energy’ or ‘pep’), and is flavored with sassafras, American Ginseng, and of course sugar.
    [12] Cloth and fabric
    [13] “My son!”
    [14] “Good to see you!” “Good to see you! How are you?” “I’m fine.”
    [15] It is the prerogative of the inhabitants of major cities everywhere to refer to their home simply as “The City” to the annoyance of their rivals.
    [16] Iya Nacuaa Teyusi Ñaña is an historical warlord who became the only person to successfully unify the Mixtec peoples, which he did in the 11th century of the Christian Era. He subsequently became a mythic figure among the Mixtec for his accomplishments. As was traditional in that time he was named partly for the day on which he was born- Eight Deer in the old Mesoamerican calendar. Guess what day our heretofore-unnamed protagonist was born?
    [X] Forgot to make a note for the flowers. Flame flowers (IOTL "poinsettias") are a species of shrub native to southern Mexico that have vibrant red leaves. The Mexica believed that the red in the plant symbolized the bloody self-sacrifice of the god Nanahuatzin that enabled the sun to rise for the first time. Mexican Catholics later connected the red leaves to the similarly bloody self-sacrifice of Jesus in the Crucifixion, making the plant a popular decoration for Christmas and Easter. In any case La Mexicanidad has appropriated the plant as a national symbol for Mexico, in lieu of the now banned Mexican flag.
     
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    Interlude: Rome and Azatlan

  • Interlude: Rome and Azatlan

    The Criollos had a complex and often contradictory identity. Even before the annexation they had drawn parallels between themselves and both the Roman and Aztec Empires, after the annexation their newfound American character only added further complexity. On the one hand the Criollos were loudly and insistently American- as anyone who ever saw the 4th of July celebrations in Metropolis could attest- on the other hand their Americanism was predicated on New York’s support for the legacy of their existence as a foreign aristocracy. On the one hand the Criollos were enthusiastic participants in the American Civic Religion, on the other hand they believed that the appearance of Nuestra Senora had constituted a divine endorsement of the holy nature of Mexico. On the one hand they actively participated in the Fascist movement on the federal level, as the Fascists were the most supportive of accepting the Criollos as fully equal American citizens, on the other hand they rejected Fascist anti-racism in Old Mexico itself where they made much of the fact that they were white while the Mestizos and Indios were “red”. In theory they embraced their role as civilizers “Americanizing” the Mexican lower classes, in practice they were hostile to successful Americanization because it would mean the end of their stranglehold on political and economic power in Old Mexico.

    This inconsistent sense of self- American and Mexican, republican and aristocratic, anti-racist and racist, European and New World- expressed itself in often paradoxical ways.

    Take for instance the renaming of Mexican cities.

    A small amount of renaming took place by Anglos in New Mexico (the OTL Mexican Cession and Northern Mexico), most notably of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas where American settlers who identified with the biblical Children of Israel named their new state Canaan. There were a few other name changes, but for most part New Mexico kept its old Spanish place names. San Francisco remained San Francisco, Los Angeles remained Los Angeles, Mazatlan remained Mazatlan, etc. On the other hand, the renaming of places in Old Mexico was considerably more extensive, and despite the fact that all four Old Mexican states kept their pre-annexation names, more radical.

    This may have been partly due to the fact that by 1875 all of the states of New Mexico (which had been acquired in 1846, 22 years before the annexation of Old Mexico) were predominantly Anglo or Native (in Sookobitʉ) and Hispanics were a visible but definite minority, whereas in Old Mexico the majority of the population was Hispanophone and Criollos and Anglos were minorities in mostly Mestizo and Indio states.

    In other words: the Criollos felt threatened.


    Mestizo women learning English under the tutelage of a Criollo teacher in Oaxaca.

    The renaming of many of Old Mexico’s cities and towns by Criollo-ruled state governments was presented as an Americanization program. In practice it was less about embracing America than it was about rejecting Mexico. None of the major cities were named after famous Americans or founding fathers, and only one- Liberia- was named explicitly for America’s republican ideals. In fact it was often observed that the new names were less “American” than they were something else, a third category that was neither Mexican nor American. The new municipal names- which were largely applied during the 1870s- instead reflected contradictory themes of ancient Rome and modernity. They connected to a distant past the Criollos celebrated and to a new era they were eager to embrace, ignoring an intermediary period they wanted to forget.

    This was also reflected in the Esprit Américain school of art and architecture.

    The Espirit Nouveau artistic movement originated in France in the 1870s where it was descended from various iconoclastic reactions to cultural conservatism that had been simmering since France’s defeat in the Last Crusade twenty-years earlier. Espirit Nouveau was a celebration of industry and technology, coupled with aesthetic inspiration from ancient Persian murals and medieval Muslim art. It used bright colors, stylized reliefs, and geometric patterns and arabesques. It could also be squarish, streamlined, and artificial, conveying speed and grandeur, a cultural embrace of the frantic mass-industrialization that characterized the Separate-verse.


    Espirit Nouveau patterns inspired Islamic Golden Age arabesques. Seriously, why is there not more Islamic/Arabic inspired Art Deco? You could do so much stuff with arabesques, or the geometric designs, or those arches in Cordoba.

    Yes, yes, okay, it’s earlier Art Deco, but unlike OTL’s Art Deco Espirit Nouveau was a more democratic movement that lacked its counterpart’s association with wealth, luxury, and the elite. Where Art Deco rejected mass manufacture in favor of individual craftsmanship, Espirit Nouveau embraced the practice to provide thousands of copies of significant works of art such as La Lumière Fantastique
    (1877)- each, so the artist Théophile Rousselle insisted- as valid as the original, which the infamously transsexual sculptor promptly destroyed for philosophical reasons.

    It’s hard to think of an artistic school less likely to catch on amongst the Criollo society of Old Mexico, and indeed when Espirit Nouveau made its first American appearance in Montreal it seemed destined to be shunned in Metropolis.

    Yet something curious happened.

    The Criollo aristocracy loved modernity- or at least the appearance of modernity- and nothing was more modern at the time than Espirit Nouveau. In France the artistic school might be democratic and even rebellious, in America it was the sort of foreign culture that the upper classes would have access to first and thus wouldn’t reach the lower classes until after they’d given it their own stamp. The first ten thousand copies of Rousselle’s La Lumière or Tape-à-L'oeil were rare enough across the Atlantic to be desirable by the upper crust, and samples of Espirit Nouveau art and architecture began to appear, first just a few, but in growing numbers, in Old Mexico.It was the American Art Exposition in Metropolis in 1889 that opened the floodgates and gave the New World flavor of the movement its name; Esprit Américain or American Spirit. It was less colorful than the French version, more “industrial”, more “machine-like”, more associated with wealth and power. Most noticeably, unlike Espirit Nouveau that drew inspiration from ancient or mediaeval art of the Middle East, Esprit Américain was seemingly obsessed with art and designs from Mesoamerican civilizations (although elements from Southwestern and Great Plains cultures were not unknown). Examples of the new school appeared across the United States, but it was Old Mexico, its birthplace, that became known as the touchstone of Esprit Américain. Criollo city governments in Metropolis, Zenith, and Halcyon passed ordinances encouraging or requiring new construction to incorporate at least elements of Aztecan American Spirit, creating uniform municipal architectural styles.


    Esprit Américain reliefs in downtown Zenith.

    It was just another part of the ongoing effort by Old Mexico’s rulers to link the present with the distant past, papering over those inconvenient thirty-four years from 1821 to 1855 (not counting the thirteen years spent under American military occupation) when such a thing as Mexico had existed. It lasted until La Mexicanidad and the Espíritu Mexicano that followed the World War challenged the style’s hegemony in Mexico, and was eventually replaced wholesale by Rationalist architecture after the Great Pacific War.


    You didn't think you were getting away without an Esprit Américain-style Mesoamerican-revival step pyramid did you? Meet the Hidalgo State Capitol on the shore of (it's basically a large artificial pond with no relation to the original body of water) Lake Texoco. I swear to Joe Greenstein if I ever get fuck-you money I will build an effing Aztec-inspired art deco step pyramid and throw time-traveler parties in the penthouse at the top.
     
    Chapter 21

  • Chapter 21

    The First Draco-American War lasted under a month from Judea’s declaration of independence until America and Drakia agreed to an armistice. It helped that both Perdue and Stoker were eager to bring the war to end. For the American President continuing the war risked elements within the US Navy acting to once again spin events out of the control of the civilian leadership. For the Drakian Autocrat continuing the war risked the full might of the Grand Alliance mobilizing to defeat the Empire. Peace thus served the interests of New York and Aurica and the governments involved were quick to make concessions. Drakia agreed to permit Bondsmen within areas liberated by the Americans, Judeans, and Arabians to emigrate freely overseas and pledged not to pursue any claims against the debts of such persons. It also agreed to allow any Jews or Arabs within the liberated areas to leave, despite the fact that both groups had no desire to abandon their homes. America, for its part, agreed to a time-table for the gradual withdrawal of its forces and stuck to it. Arabia- the only internationally recognized country to formally declare war on Drakia during the conflict- protested loudly, but had no viable means to continue fighting alone and settled for status quo ante bellum. Most of the liberated ex-Bondsmen found themselves settled in Central America where the United States government hoped to foster a loyal population hostile to the ongoing insurgency.

    The Jews and Arabs- whether free or bonded- did not leave happily or easily.

    As far as they were concerned, they were living in their homelands and the United States had just stabbed them in the back. Victory over Drakia had been possible, could still be possible, if only the Americans stepped up and went all out. The Arab rebels who had risen up against the empire when the war began had been living under the rule of a brutal and at times genocidal regime since the end of the World War and had taken up arms with the knowledge that dying for their cause was a very real possibility. They believed in freedom for their people and had nothing to lose- particularly the rebels outside of the liberated areas whose families and friends were not covered by the agreement to let the emigrate. The Judeans were a mix of refugees from Russia, from Rhomania, from other parts of the Middle East, ex-Bonded Jewish laborers, or those who had immigrated to avoid becoming Bonded, and voluntary immigrants from Germany, Poland, the United States, and a dozen other places. By definition they were true believers in the Zionist cause, either because it was that cause that had drawn their families to return to Holy Land, or because it was that cause that had saved them from death or Bondage. As the Americans and the Arabians withdrew, the children, the civilians, and the less-than-absolutely-committed evacuated with them under protest for resettlement in Central America, OTL Western Canada, or any one of a dozen other places.

    As the Americans pulled out the US Marines - who sympathized strongly with their former local allies- abandoned large amounts of equipment that was recorded as lost in action. So it was that within the liberated areas of the Holy Land were left the most dedicated Jewish and Arab fighters, now armed with American weapons (including a handful of landcruisers and heavy artillery pieces), their noncombatants out of harms way, and they themselves ready to fight to the death.

    Which is what they proceeded to do.


    A Judean child-soldier during the Battle of Haifa. Ignore the colors painted on the arm of her coat.

    The suppression of the Judeo-Arab Revolt proved longer and bloodier than First Drako-American War itself. It was not the first time the Empire had faced dedicated, resourceful insurgents with foreign aid and sympathy, but there was something that made this rebellion different. A sense that if they lost, when they lost, something would be broken that couldn’t easily be fixed. That this time Drakian rule would be permanent in a way it hadn’t been before. And so, as the world watched and listened to the radio and television broadcasts, the Judean Army, the Hebrew Home Army, the Islamic Resistance Movement, and the Holy War Army sold their lives dearly, Zionists and Mujahedeen fighting and dying side by side. They watched the fall of Jerusalem, the desperate last stands at Haifa and Jaffa and Beersheba. The Arab rebels in Syria and Mesopotamia were crushed to less international attention, but they fought no less hard. The Drakian Army moved in with numbers and resources well beyond anything they had, followed behind by Agoge units who vented their rage and frustration upon what remained of the non-military population.

    There was international outrage, from the Jewish community, from the independent Muslim states, from civilized governments the world over. Letters of condemnation were issued, there were boycotts against Drakian goods, fundraisers to pay help resettle refugees, and new Jewish and Muslim communities established across the New World. But nothing was done to actual avert the massacre.


    A Mujahadeen wearing parts of a cast-off US Marine uniform sits with a pair of fighters from the Zionist-Geoist Hebrew Home Army during the Judeo-Arab Revolt.

    For Charles Perdue the First Drako-American War was a disaster that handicapped his administration until its ignoble conclusion in 1932. While Arthur Klein’s defection established for most Americans that the war had been illegal and that the US Navy needed to be brought under greater civilian control, the President would spend the rest of his time in office fending off accusations and condemnations regarding his handling of the matter. There were many who said that while the war was illegal it still should have been prosecuted to its conclusion, and even a dedicated minority who insisted that Klein himself was not actually a traitor and that he had been betrayed by Perdue, resulting in a false defection that was in some way a cunning plan to weaken Drakia. Abandoning the Judeans and the Arabs was unpopular with one side of the political spectrum, allowing in a wave of Jewish and Arab immigration was unpopular with the other. The US Navy was emasculated- the colonies it was responsible for received civilian territorial governments, the US Marine Corps was transformed into the naval infantry arm of the US Army (much to displeasure of many Marines), and the US Coast Guard assumed all responsibility for naval home defense and the entire Caribbean Fleet (which included two active battleship divisions and a carrier group). The Navy’s carriers continued to be crewed by Naval personnel, but their pilots and aircrews were part of the Naval Air Service that answered to the USCG command in New York. America’s actual naval capabilities were theoretically unimpaired, just split up among multiple service branches, but in practice the reorganization plus the mass removal of senior officers with suspect connections to Klein, substantially weakened American naval power.

    Franklin Richardson avoided the worst of the blame for the debacle and was merely pushed into retirement, then replaced as director of the Black Chamber by a political appointee who took the organization down a far less aggressive path.

    To say that the United States turned to isolationism in the period between the First Drako-American War and the Great Pacific War would be inaccurate. America had no history of isolationism in the Separate-verse, and it continued to maintain its treaty obligations overseas and keep a concerned eye on foreign developments. It would be accurate however, to say that domestic issues dominated American politics and that foreign affairs took a back seat. The fight for the soul of America continued; should it be a multi-racial nation unified by a common culture, or a multicultural nation unified by the dominance of a single race? (“Or even,” said the Socialists, “a nation both multiracial and multicultural?” “But then,” said their opponents “what will unify the nation?”) The different cultural revival movements continued, splintering, reinventing themselves, and quarreling over their actual goals. The weakest ethnic groups politically were Asian-Americans (the Whigs considered their alien culture a barrier to assimilation, the Nationalists considered them racially inferior to Whites and Natives), followed by the new wave of Middle Eastern immigrants (less the Jews than the Muslims, although the mostly Sephardic and Mizrahi Judeans faced a chilly reception in some places), and many in those communities radicalized and became politically active. The nativists- a term that meant something slightly different ITTL- pushed back. With the Corrupt Bargain finished in Mexico there was a major movement hoping to abolish the Jim Crow-esque system in the Floridas and Arkansas, three states who found allies as far afield as Quebec, Cuba, and Ixcanha who were concerned that limits on “Southron cultural autonomy” would lead to limits on their own cultural autonomy. The situation sharpened with an economic recession that began in the early thirties, and the decade was one of mounting protests, political riots, and even terrorism and assassination.


    In states like California Asian-Americans were subject to boarding school programs that took their children away from them for "Americanization" and other policies designed to pressure them to "act, dress, and behave American".

    At the heart of the American crisis was the insurgency in Central America.

    ITTL the Federal Republic of Central America was conquered by the Mexican regime of Nicolas Bravo in 1831-3 before it had a chance to collapse on its own. The Central American territories then fought a prolonged insurgency, resisting until Bravo was forced to withdraw his troops in 1844 to fight the United States during the First Mexican-American War, resulting in the Revolution of 1845 (aka “La Eneria”) when the “Centroaméricanos” successfully ejected their Mexican occupiers. While attempts to reunify the region were short-lived (the new Federation of Central America managed to permanently unify only OTL Guatemala, El Salvador, and a small part Chiapas) there remained a regional identity rooted in Central America’s joint experience of foreign occupation and their successful resistance to that occupation. As America annexed the sub-continent one piece at a time this legacy of resistance to external conquest had been invoked, ever more strongly as American rule became ever more entrenched, and the Centroaméricanos themselves remained angry, devoted to their national and regional identities, and hostile towards the United States.


    The sole exception to this was Panama, which had never been independent before America acquired it from Colombia, and lacked the shared experiences of the rest of the region.

    America was unsure what to do with Central America. It had encountered resistance to territorial expansion before of course, there was always some resistance from the Natives when settling the frontier, and there had been resistance in Mexico, and even a small amount in Canada. The way to deal with resistance was to recruit local allies- Native American tribes who got with the program, the Mexican Criollos, the majority of Canadians and Quebecois who were pro-American- by giving those allies a vested interest in defending American rule (grant them equal rights, a role in the government, respect their land ownership, etc.). You could then partner the local expertise of your allies who knew the area with the might of the United States military, and resistance would diminish. The American experience with expansion was that insurgents could be annoying but never successful, if you just held on long enough then new territory would integrate. The post-World War backlash had challenged this view, but the fact that movements like La Mexicanidad mostly sought cultural autonomy and a greater political voice through the American political system rather than independence, confirmed for most Americans that once the United States acquired territory that acquisition was permanent.

    The New World Colossus had victory disease.


    A Centroamérican insurgent cell in Nicaragua.

    Perdue attempted a policy of “normalization”, admitting Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama as formally Hispanophone states, and pressuring Guatemala (formerly the FCA) and Costa Rica to ease their voting restrictions. The hope was that by giving the Centroaméricanos their own states, with the same power and autonomy as any other American states, plus the sort of guaranteed cultural freedoms that La Mexicanidad wanted, would remove support for the insurgents and calm the situation. Normalization ended with an abysmal failure, given the freedom to vote for their own future Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua promptly elected state governments that were dominated by pro-independence parties who announced their intention to secede from the Union, and only reason why Costa Rica didn’t was because the state government there had successfully resisted pressures to reform its electorate. (Panama returned Nationalist pluralities to its legislature, and elected a Nationalist governor) Faced with the possibility of the largest domestic uprising since the end of the ACW, Perdue refused to let the elected state governments take their seats, disqualifying all elected individuals who espoused support for independence and declaring their opponents victorious. The Central American governments permitted to exist by Federal authorities were thus dominated by loyalists who promptly restricted to the right to vote or run for office to persons willing to swear anti-secession loyalty oaths to the Union. Violence in the region intensified and Perdue’s successor (President Seth Sandoval of the Whigs) was forced to introduce movement restrictions between Central America and the rest of the United States (and within Central American) to stymie the activities of Centroamérican terrorists, who had taken advantage of free movement to launch attacks elsewhere in the United States.

    To be sure there were communities within Central America that supported the United States- the Kriols and Baymen of former British Honduras, the Q’eqchi’ Maya who had a history of enslavement by Hispanic Centroaméricanos, the Miskito and Garifuna of mixed Afro-Native descent, the ex-Bondsmen and other refugees from Drakia who had been settled in the region, a few Anglo-American immigrants, and of course the usual collaborators and quislings who pop up whenever a country is occupied. But these groups were distinct minorities, almost universally the Centroaméricanos themselves (whether Mestizo or Criollo) wanted independence. There was some hope for Panama, and for Guatemala where a plurality of the population was composed of Natives with no particular loyalty to either the United States or the Centroamérican cause, however even those states were rocked by constant violence.

    Compounding the problem were nationalist radicals in Old Mexico and the Mexican minority in Ixcanha who, though they lacked the broad popular support of the Centroamérican insurgents, waged a campaign of violent terror and assassination.


    Firefighters respond to the aftermath of a Centroamérican terror attack in Texas.

    It should be no surprise that in the face of such challenges the United States turned increasingly inward.

    Faced by a major insurgency on its own soil America was disinclined to spend lives and treasure maintaining its hold over the Seven Ducklings. Following the formation of the Arab Union in 1933, when a coup by Arabist officers within the Omani military overthrew the last sultan of Oman and invited King Omar I of Arabia to assume the throne of both countries, the Republic of Dubai asked New York for permission to hold a plebiscite on joining the new union. Permission was granted, and the republic peacefully dissolved itself after the vote returned a resounding yes. Borneo, Malaya, and Nam Viet were also allowed to slip their bonds and assume full independence one after the other, provided of course they remained members of the International Trade Organization and the Grand Alliance. Only Ireland, Insulindia, and the Philippines remained of the Seven Ducklings, and only in the later did major resistance present itself.

    Globally, countries that had long resented American hegemony and the New Order of the Ages that was designed to enrich and empower the United States at the expense of the rest of the planet began to actively seek alternatives to American ascendency. At the same time great powers began to put themselves forward as potential patrons for those countries looking for a way out. The weakest of the great powers in question was the German Confederation, which sought to create an bloc of European countries unified by the ideology of “Rex”. Rex was an ultranationalist movement that had emerged in the aftermath of the World War in Italy, gaining mass popularity across the continent. Rex was not OTL Fascism, and it was certainly not Nazism, although it did share some similarities. Followers of Rex sought the “moral purification” of modern society through religious faith, and opposed Liberalism, Geoism, Socialism, Utopianism, and American Fascism. Partially descended from the conservative wing of the Red Movement, and partially inspired by Societism, Rex dreamed of a society in which labor, management, government, and the church all filled their proper roles amid a framework of traditional social values and behavior. The second of the great powers offering itself as an alternative to the United States was of course Japan. With an industrial base and the ideology of Imperial Democracy, Japan was an attractive option to those who found Drakia too distasteful and were concerned that Germany was too weak and too distant. Japanese ideas of Pan-Asianism limited its appeal however, as did its clear vision of an Asia not merely united as an alliance of Asian states, but as a single political unit dominated by Japan. The third great power putting itself forward was of course the Drakian Empire, fresh from its technical “victory” over the United States.


    The Arabists didn't have much use for non-Muslims or non-Arabs (except as foreign allies), but they were insistent on the principle of a united Arab people regardless of what regional flavor of Arab they might be, or what brand of Islam they might practice. The Arab Union stressed unity in the face of the Drakian menace, adopting a defensive strategy based around mass militarization. Just under a third of the population served in the military in some fashion- whether as regular troops, reserves, home guard, or armed youth units. As most government institutions and private or semi-private industries also had supportive responsibilities pertaining to the military, this meant that almost the entire population was involved in national defense. Civil defense drills were held monthly, involving all citizens over the age of twelve, and much of the county's GDP was devoted to the construction of ubiquitous military fortifications. Arabia knew the dragon was coming, it would be ready when it did.

    An alliance between all three powers was impossible- Japanese anti-colonialism ruled out an alliance with Drakia just as their anti-European views prevented an alliance with Germany, and while Drakia was open to allying with the Germans, the followers of Rex were too appalled by Drakian brutality and the nature of Drakian Christianity to accept any such coalition.

    Fortunately (or rather unfortunately), there were three countries outside of the Empire where Societism was triumphing over its political rivals, and Stoker was pragmatic enough to accept allies anywhere he could get them. Even if those allies flew the Green Banner of Radical Geoism.



    Once again I failed to cover anywhere near as much as I planned to in a chapter. The next chapter will talk about further political developments in Europe and Asia, Drakia post the First Drako-American, and what did happen to Admiral Klein? Technology to follow.
     
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    Chapter 22

  • Chapter 22

    France was the last Socialist country in Europe.

    In the years immediately following the end of the World War there had been a host of them. The war had left the Conservative and Liberal parties who had supported it discredited, while seemingly vindicating the Socialists who had opposed it from the start. The Socialists promised peace, they promised to fix the mounting problems created by mass industrialization, they promised government that answered to the interests of labor, and they promised radical change. A Liberal-Socialist coalition took office in Britain in 1911, the election in 1915 reduced the Liberals to junior partners in a Socialist government. The new Italian Republic elected them into office in 1912, in France they came to power through the Spring Revolution of 1914. A coalition between the Social Democrats and National Socialist parties (not those guys, just a party formed by uniting regional Socialist parties) governed Germany several times in the teens and twenties. When the Labor Party won a majority in the Portuguese Cortes in 1920 King Alphonso VII dissolved the Cortes entirely and ruled as an authoritarian absolute monarch, for which the Americans kicked him out of the Grand Alliance. The Workers Party ran the Czech State from 1919 until 1929 when the voters removed it from power by a landslide and left France the sole remaining European country governed by a Socialist political party.

    To be sure if the French people ever got any say in it there would be no Socialist countries left in Europe at all.

    It wasn’t that the Third French Republic wasn’t a democracy- it held regular multi-party elections in which all adults were automatically registered to vote and elections were done using ranked-choice voting. It even let all of its overseas possessions participate. The problem was the French multi-tier electoral system. The country was divided up into 501 Departments and each Department was divided into 51 smaller Councils, each of which had 11 members. The people directly elected the local Councils that governed their towns (or in cities neighborhoods), the local Councils chose one of their members to sit on the Assembly that governed their Department, and each Department Assembly would pick one of their members to sit on the National Assembly. The party with a majority in the National Assembly elected one of its members President and did most of the actual governance of the country. This meant that to win a majority in the National Assembly a party did not need to receive a majority of the votes cast by the French people, or a majority of the 281,061 seats on the Councils, or even a majority of the 25,551 seats on the Department Assemblies, to rule the country. To win the 251 seats it needed to control the National Assembly it simply needed a minimum of 6,526 seats to control majorities in 251 of the 501 Department Assemblies, which could be done with a mere 39,156 seats to control 6,526 of the 25,551 local Councils. In the French General Election of 1932, it was theoretically possible to achieve control over said seats with but 2,388,583 out of a total of 34,177,018 registered voters (assuming every eligible voter participated) or just 6.99% of the total electorate. Since 100% participation is never a thing however, the actual number was probably even smaller. And of course, the National Assembly was responsible for redistricting prior to each election, which allowed the party in power to gerrymander at will.

    So much for the natural democracy of workers’ and citizens’ councils.


    There was even a serious attempt during the 1920s to create an international "Federated State of Europe" by the Socialist countries of Europe with a common currency (the "Europa"), common economic policies, and freedom of movement between the members. The FSE struggled to gain traction however, and was dissolved when the Czech State withdrew in 1929, leaving France and Andorra the sole remaining members.

    If you find such an electoral system incomprehensible, don’t worry! So did the French voters in 1932 who were deeply incensed when the United Socialist Party (a union of the French Socialist Party and the Socialist Party of France) secured under thirty percent of the vote but retained its majority in the National Assembly. They were so incensed in fact, that they took to the streets and began rioting. The riots were contained, but they boded poorly for the future.

    What happened to the Socialist Movement in Europe? Well part of it was nothing more than the way politics always moves in trends, once the Socialists had been in power for a while they started being blamed for various problems that they didn’t or couldn’t fix and popular support shifted towards other parties. Another part of it was that while Europe started out exhausted from the World War, once that exhaustion faded it began to be replaced with anger. The Britons were mad that they had lost their empire, thereby humiliating their country and crashing their national economy, they were also mad about the expulsion of the Protestants in Ulster by the Irish government (most went to Drakia, but a few made homes in economically crippled Britain). The French were mad that after all of the terrible sacrifices they had made during the war, and despite being on the winning side, they had still lost territory in the Metropole and had nothing to show for it but a handful of scattered island colonies. The Germans were mad that after equally terrible sacrifices, and major victories over France and Russia, their leaders had backed down rather than face the Americans and abandoned most of Germany’s conquests. The Italians were mad that- like France- they had lost integral Italian territory in Ragusa and Albania despite being on the winning side and had nothing to show for it except Malta.
    The Socialists, with their pacifism and their talk of international brotherhood, had no answer to this anger beyond calls for the people to abandon “national chauvinism”. So, the people looked elsewhere.

    But where to look? In the Czech State the public turned to mainstream Conservatism, in the Netherlands and Poland mainstream Nationalist parties took power, but these were countries that had gained their independence as a result of the war. In most of Europe Conservatism and Liberalism were still tainted by their support for the World War and remained unpalatable. Utopianism (TTL’s version of Communism) spiked a little in popularity, but it was too close to Socialism to benefit from the other movement’s decline. Geoism, whether of moderate or radical flavor, was attractive to some and the Green International experienced a swell in membership. No matter where you were in Europe anyone with a radio could pick up Radio Svobodnaya Yevropa, the propaganda station broadcasting from massive transmitters just inside the border of the Rodina Zemlya, calling for the peasants of Europe to rise up and pledge their loyalty to the truncated world government based in Moscow. A few listened- there were farmers’ strikes in Bavaria-Austria, Rumania, and Germany in the late 20s and early 30s- and in 1932 a Socialist/Geoist alliance launched the Revolução dos Sinos against Alphonso VII of Portugal. Although most of the Portuguese Geoists were fairly moderate and only a handful were Pobladistos, Spain intervened in the revolution regardless, crushing the Royalists and installing an autonomous “Portuguese Pobladisto Republic” in Lisbon with a common market, currency, and foreign policy with Spain.

    (Brazil occupied the Azores and Madeira, pressing Brazilian Emperor Pedro V’s claim to the Portuguese throne, India occupied Goa and Portuguese India, and so the King was forced to flee to Macau where America had laid down an ultimatum against Japan, blocking any further expansion in China)


    Geoist protestors during the Revolução dos Sinos that overthrew the Portuguese monarchy and inadvertently opened the country to Spanish occupation. Oops.

    But Portugal aside, Geoism had no great victories in the 30s. The horrors of Rudnikov’s Peremesheniye in the ZR were too widely known and Geoism was public enemy number one for too many European governments who actively suppressed it in all its forms. Instead, two other radical ideologies gained prominence in Europe; Rex and Societism.

    Rex (alternatively the Rex Movement or Rex Thought, never Rexism) grew out of the general anger, frustration, and economic malaise in Italy. Rex was an ultra-nationalist ideology that was also a reaction to modernity. It wanted the “moral purification” of society, a return to the social norms and cultural values of the past, when Europe still dominated the world and the most powerful countries weren’t America, Drakia, and Japan. Rex’s corporatist ideas of a society in which different classes and institutions fulfilled specific vital roles were clearly influenced by Societism, but the Rex Movement was actively hostile towards Drakia and the Societists. To the followers of the traditional forms of Christianity that Rex advocated the Drakian Church was heretical, and the movement managed to be simultaneously ethnocentric and anti-slavery at the same time. First achieving electoral success in Italy, Rex swelled in popularity in Germany, Bavaria-Austria, and Hungary.

    In 1934 Italian Rex followers launched an uprising in the Kingdom of Sardinia, seeking to unify the island with the rest of Italy. Sardinia called for help from the United States, but New York had already lost Rhomania from the Grand Alliance when it sided with Italy in the dispute between Rome and Constantinople over the ownership of Ragusa, and President Sandoval was concerned that siding with Sardinia could mean losing Italy as well. The United States therefore announced that it would respect the will of the Sardinian people and the embattled Sardinian government invited Drakia to intervene. Lindsey Stoker agreed, dispatching a Drakian expeditionary force to the island, and the ensuing Sardinian Crisis very nearly triggered the Second Draco-American War early. The internationally recognized Sardinian government had voluntarily invited the Drakians in however, and the United States was too focused on the insurgency in Central America and ratcheting tensions with Japan to be willing to go to war with Drakia. The rebels were crushed, Sardinia became a Drakian puppet state, and an outraged Italy withdrew from the Grand Alliance to form the Pan-European Defense Pact with its fellow Rex powers of Germany and Hungary. The Nationalist but non-Rex countries of the Netherlands, Poland, and Lithuania joined the Pact over the next couple of years, Rex Bavaria-Austria joined briefly before integrating into the German Confederation directly as two new member states. The PEDP was dedicated to the cause of “defending Europe” whether from the RZ and the radical Geoists, Drakia and the forces of Societism, or the United States and the Grand Alliance. European importance had declined since the end of the World War, but the Pan-Europeans vowed to make Europe great again.

    Part of that involved creating “fatherlands” to relocate many of the Jews to in OTL Central Poland, and to relocate most of the Roma to in an annoyingly Rumanian area of eastern Hungary. While the total relocation of these communities was impractical, those who weren’t relocated had their citizenship stripped away and were made citizens of their new “fatherlands” regardless of where they actually lived. This wasn’t a prelude to genocide- many in the Rex had sympathized with Judea and its struggle for independence from Drakia. The idea was that minorities like the Jews and Roma needed their own homelands to be loyal to, and that creating such homelands was necessary for those groups to genuinely contribute to the Pan-European Pact. It was less “Nazi resettlement in the east” and more “Soviet-esque population transfer with the end goal of creating Apartheid-era bantustans”.


    It's difficult to explain the Rex approach to stateless minorities. Essentially, if you asked a Rex supporter if he thought that the Jews and Roma of Germany were loyal to Germany he would say "Of course not. But why should they be loyal to Germany when they're not Germans?" By giving such minorities their own little fatherlands, so the thinking went, they would then be loyal to those fatherlands, and that loyalty would naturally motivate them to work and fight for the good of the countries who were their allies and the alliance to which their fatherlands belonged. Of course the "Jewish Fatherland" and the "Cigany Fatherland" weren't really independent countries by any stretch of the imagination.

    But never mind that, let’s talk about the Drakian Empire.

    Despite the Empire trumpeting the First Draco-America War as a victory for Drakia both it, and the subsequent Judeo-Arab Revolt, had shocked the Country of the Dragon. It was one thing to know intellectually that their navy was inferior to that of the Americans, but it was another entirely to witness that navy casually swept from the Mediterranean in a matter of days. Arguably more embarrassing was the performance of their ground forces. Drakia knew that its navy was the weakest branch of its military, but the Drakian Army was the pride of the Empire. The problem was that it hadn’t faced a conventional enemy since the end of the World War and so its equipment, training, and tactics were entirely geared towards fighting lightly armed rebels and insurgents. Pitted against the US Marines and associated units from the Seven Ducklings (mostly Ireland) it transpired that Drakia was badly unprepared. Officers who had been promoted based on an ability to massacre villages or keep their heads in small unit engagements often proved out of their depth fighting against a force with equal footing, and soldiers who were genuinely good at skirmishing with hostile infantry had no training or experience what to do when confronted by enemy landcruisers and drachenflieger. Most of the Empire’s landcruiser units were armored cavalry reliant on Hond II light landcruisers- Hond II’s were fast, mobile, long-range, and the standard model included a radio to facilitate co-ordination, but they were very lightly armed and armored. Against even light artillery, let alone the “mobile pillbox” Chevalier landcruiser used by the US Marines, they were laughably vulnerable. Hond II’s were also the product of the Bonded Labor System and as such suffered from quality-control issues- during the Judeo-Arab Revolt the rebels discovered that there often small gaps in the poorly-welded armor, and that if you could hit a Hond with a petrol bomb (Molotov cocktail) the burning fuel could leak inside and ignite the landcruiser’s flammable gasoline engine. While the First Draco-American War was brief, it and the Judeo-Arab Revolt highlighted the weaknesses in the Imperial war machine.

    To his credit the Autocrat acknowledged this and tasked his Ministry of War with finding ways to fill the gaps. New training, new weapons development, new tactics. Former American Fleet Admiral Arthur Klein- now a convert to the Church of Christ the Savior (Judaism now being illegal in the Empire) and a prized acquisition to the Noble Race- knew the weaknesses of the US Navy better than almost anyone alive and he played a major role in the Empire’s efforts to improve its navy. Building a fleet that could actually threaten American dominance over the world’s oceans was probably outside of Drakia’s capabilities for now, but a navy capable of taking control of the Mediterranean was not, nor was a navy that could at least present a challenge in the West Indian Ocean. Key to Klein’s strategy was the use of land-based air (including long-range heavy strategic bombers) to support the newly launched Imperial warships, and a reliance on fast, maneuverable, small ships and submarines that couldn’t necessarily defeat the US Navy but could seriously disrupt trans-oceanic American supply lines and sea lines of communication. His advice also played a role in the Drakian intervention into Sardinia and the subsequent development of the island as a forward air and naval base in the Mediterranean. The Hond Corporation began experimenting with newer, heavier models of landcruiser (the Empire had a few heavy landcruisers, but the models were out of date), and the Empire’s military-industrial complex turned out a slew of new equipment aimed at fighting national militaries instead of domestic insurgents. As was usually the case with Drakia the new equipment was mostly based on designs used successfully by other countries, with some tweaking and improvements.


    Klein was well aware of how complex and even fragile the logistics required to maintain America's global military presence could be. While development of the Drakian Mediterranean Fleet proceeded along largely conventional lines, the development of the Atlantic and to a lesser extent Indian Ocean Fleets were heavily geared towards the use of small ships and submarines that could be used to throw those logistics into disorder.

    While Drakia addressed its military shortcomings it also attempted to address its diplomatic ones.

    In 1930 the Empire possessed no allies, its diplomatic isolation had been total since the end of the Anglo-Drakian War. But fighting alone against the United States- and the inevitability of another war with the United States was something all Drakian analysts agreed on- was hardly a winning strategy. What country would voluntarily ally with Drakia though? The Empire was widely despised for its totalitarianism, unorthodox approach to Christianity, and brutal system of de facto slavery, and while its “victory” in the First Anglo-Drakian War had raised its status in the eyes of many, few governments were desperate enough to work with it.

    The Rodina Zemlya was however.

    The Geoist world government had been devastated by the Peremesheniye in which much of its skilled urban population had been wiped out and Russia forcibly self-de-industrialized until it struggled to maintain basic features of industrial civilization such as railways and agricultural machinery. The National Committee that took over running the RZ after Rudnikov’s death was pragmatic and had settled on the necessary ideology excuses for the reindustrialization of their country. The problem was that they lacked the expertise and equipment needed to industrialize, and the only other country in the world willing to work with the RZ was the Spanish Pobladisto Republic. Spain wasn’t nearly as deindustrialized as Russia, but it still was hardly an ideal source of industrial expertise.

    Enter Autocrat Lindsey Stoker.

    While a friendly relationship between the Empire and the RZ seemed ideologically unthinkable, both regimes were realistic enough to realize the benefits. Drakia would provide the equipment and expertise for Russia to start repairing the damage of the Peremesheniye, and the RZ would provide the only thing it could that the Empire truly needed; human beings. The Bonded Labor System consumed human beings faster than the Bonded themselves could reproduce, in the huge Imperial industrial parks, in mining, and in vast infrastructure projects such as the Hadrian Plan to dam the Congo River. The First Draco-American War and the Judeo-Arab Revolt had intensified the problem by leaving much of the Drakian Near East depopulated, and the acquisition of further Bondsmen was becoming an economic necessity for the Empire. The RZ had lots of political prisoners however, and plenty of restive ethnic minorities that it was more than happy to dispose of. How better than by selling them to Drakia? Beginning the early 1930s the Rodinaviks began to ship large numbers of Ukrainians, Central Asians, Poles, Estonians, Latvians, Armenians, and Georgians to the Country of the Dragon, technically sending them into an exile that left them indebted to the Drakian government for the price of their tickets. The Empire sent technical experts and industrial machinery north, and while there were paths for some of the new Bondsmen to become Nationals or Citizens (particularly former anti-Geoist political prisoners and Armenians) most were simply integrated into the Bonded Labor System wholesale.

    Incidentally this was the development that finalized the growing Russo-Spanish split, as the more orthodox Pobladistos were aghast at the Rodinaviks willingness to compromise their Geoist beliefs so thoroughly as to engage in a de facto slave trade.


    The legacy of the Peremesheniye, the "Resettlement" when the Rodinaviks implemented Khmer Rouge-esque policies, was to further devastate Russian industry after the damage of two civil wars and the World War. Much of the RZ's population lived a 19th century agrarian lifestyle with a standard living worse than it had been in 1900. The National Committee was understandable desperate to address this.
    But while Russia made for a valuable trading partner, it couldn’t serve as one of the military allies that Drakia desperately needed. Partly this was because their governments despised each other and co-operated only out of mutual self-interest, and partly this was because the RZ remained so devastated by two civil wars and the deindustrialization of the Peremesheniye that it was of questionable value as a military ally. Fortunately, there were three countries where the Societist ideology was being adopted on a national level and the Empire made overtures towards all three of them.

    The first was a somewhat surprising candidate; Rhomania. The neo-Roman/Byzantine empire had never showed much interest in Socialism or Geoism- mainstream Conservatism and Nationalism weren’t discredited for their support for the World War in a country that had expanded massively and acquired Constantinople as a result of its involvement. Like Drakia it was a country where only a minority of its citizens belonged to the dominant cultural group (an even smaller minority when one considered the Rhomanian puppet states), like Drakia it had a history (albeit a more modest one) of ethnic cleansing, and also like Drakia it had a culture that venerated the culture and society of the distant past. The Kingdom of Rhomania was forced to grow steadily more authoritarian by the demands of ruling the entire Balkans Peninsula, and its inability to suppress anti-Rhomanian resistance saw many Romios disillusioned with their traditional political establishment and interested in the radical ideas of Societism. Rhomanian Societism was particularly obsessed with Ancient Rome and Greece (because of course it was), noting the existence of ancient Greco-Roman pseudo- eugenic practices (some invented, some historical), and citing arguments by philosophers such as Plato that some human beings were slaves by nature and others were naturally suited to freedom and leadership. It also drew lots of parallels between the Slavic (and non-Slavic) resistance against Rhomanian rule and the barbarians who had destroyed Rome and corrupted its culture. When territorial disputes between Rhomania and Italy prompted the United States to side with Italy the New Byzantium withdrew from the Grand Alliance and began casting about for new allies- and drifting in the direction of Drakia.

    In 1932 a major uprising among Rhomania’s non-Romio subjects dubbed “The Great Slavic Conspiracy” began, in which the puppet governments of Serbia and Bulgaria (the Croatian puppet government remained loyal, although most of its citizens did not) attempted to cast off their shackles and were joined by Bulgarian, Macedonian, Albanian, and Turkish rebels from within the kingdom proper. After some devastating defeats raised the specter that Rhomania might actually lose control over much of its conquests, General Yiannis Athanides marched his soldiers into the Voulí ton Romios (the Rhomanian parliament) and dissolved it, proclaiming the replacement of the Kingdom of Rhomania with the Rhomanian Empire. The new Rhomanian Empire incorporated Societist ideas and language into its new constitution and King Konstantinos I (officially he used the nomenclature “Konstantinos XII”, presenting his rule as a continuation of the Byzantine rulers) added Kaisar Sebastos (Caesar Augustus) to the Roman titles he had already adopted. Athanides actively solicited aid from Drakia to prosecute the war (inspiring the United States and the Pan-Europeans to provide assistance to the anti-Rhomanian rebels) and sought a formal defensive alliance to discourage his Rex neighbors from intervening in the war directly.

    The Empire happily supplied both. The Romio-Drakian Treaty of Friendship confirmed that any country that went to war against Rhomania would also find itself at war with Drakia and visa versa, thus warding off the possibility of direct Pan-European involvement in the Great Slavic Conspiracy. Units of Drakian “volunteers” with suspiciously good training and discipline began appearing in the Balkans (similar German, Italian, Polish, Hungarian, and even Turkish units appeared on the side of the rebels) and shipments of arms and munitions arrived in Athens, Thessalonica, and Constantinople. Drakia used the Great Slavic Conspiracy as a way to field test the new equipment (from landcruisers to biological weapons) it was developing, and to provide its soldiers with experience fighting against an enemy that had at least some armor, aircraft, and artillery (most of it courtesy of Krupp Stahlersteller) and the Pan-Europeans did the same. When the Rhomanian Empire finally triumphed over the rebels in 1935 it formally adopted Societism as its ideology of governance and began implementing some Drakian social policies such as Eugenic practices, the transformation of its puppet states into Princely States, and a Rhomanian Agoge. It continued to disapprove of the Jesus thing and stopped short of adopting the Bonded Labor System, but there was substantial use of criminals and political prisoners for forced labor by the state and growing categories of “I can’t believe it’s not slavery” in the private sector.


    Both the Drakian Empire and Pan-European Defense Pact used the Great Slavic Conspiracy as a chance to field test new weapons and weapons systems. The Hond III landcruiser (shown above) was among the weapons Drakia shipped to Rhomania to observe how they would perform in the field. While an improvement over the Hond II, with better armor, heavier weapons, and a less-flammable diesel engine, the Hond III still proved vulnerable to the German 50mm anti-tank guns used by Serbian and Bulgarian rebels. Another common complaint by Hond III crews was that its 2-inch main gun still wasn't powerful enough.
    The second country to embrace Societism was of course the Kingdom of Britain.

    Britain had been humiliated in the aftermath of the World War. It went from a global superpower with territory on every continent to at best a minor regional power with nothing outside of England, Scotland, and Mann. No longer was the Pound a global currency, no longer was London an international center of banking, no longer was the British economy the largest on Earth. When the Socialists and the Liberals controlled the British government, they had aligned the island with America and the Grand Alliance, but their rule faded quickly as the masses of unemployed Britons, angry and desperate, turned elsewhere. There were still ties between Drakia and her old motherland, family ties, economic ties, and ties of friendship, and it was possible to find copies of I Grant You Dominion Over Them and The Final Society in British booksellers. “Why,” asked the Societists, “had Britain joined its American enemy in waging war against its own dominion? Why had it turned against its progeny who were fighting to preserve the British Empire? What had it gained from betraying its own Empire other than poverty and further disgrace?” Now that Drakia was a world power that eclipsed Britain, it was time for Britain to start imitating Drakia instead of the other way around.

    British Societism dismissed objections to the Dragon’s Nest, the Bonded Labor System, the treatment of Aubrey Ratcliff, and the evils described in Black Lamb’s Blood by ignoring them and appealing directly to the emotions of the British masses. “We deserve to rule the world.” It whispered. “We did rule the world. We are the Eugenically superior Anglo-Saxon race, descended from the best of the Roman and Germanic peoples, favored by god to rule the planet, only we allowed ourselves to be corrupted by Liberalism, Socialism, Fascism, and all the rest. We permitted Republican practices to degrade the purity of our Monarchy and allowed Eugenically inferior persons to ascend to positions of authority within our society. We accepted the poisonous lie of equality and the result destroyed us. But if we grasp the ideas and practices that have so well-served our Drakian descendants we can take it all back.” Ironically the British Societists were much more racist than their counterparts in the Country of the Dragon- Britain didn’t need a class of loyal non-white citizens to make its country function- and while they accepted the idea of a Servitor Race and a Custodian Race, they had little room for an Aspirant Race and regarded all Britons (who weren’t disabled, and or homosexual, or non-Societist, or…) to be Custodial.

    They did not consider the Irish to be Britons.


    I swear that I had no intention of making Britain into a Germany analogue when I first began the TL (not that they're a total analogue now). In fact I was planning to have relations between the US and Britain normalize until Drakia broke away from Britain in what would have been much more of a civil war within the British Empire. I even meant to have America, Britain, and France on the same side in the World War! Alas, events and dice got away from me.

    The first to begin embracing Societism wholesale in Britain were the Ulster refugees kicked out of Ireland, but the ideology found fertile ground among the working classes of the now moribund industrial cities in the northeast. The Societist Party of Britain won its first seat in the House of Commons in 1915, in 1919 it was the fourth largest party, in 1923 it became the junior partner in a Tory government, and in 1931 it won a majority outright. The Kingdom of Britain swung rapidly into totalitarianism- the elections in 1935 still included other parties even if they were rigged, the elections in 1939 took place under a new electoral system that effectively made them symbolic. Like Rhomania Britain made use of criminals and political prisoners for forced labor to build infrastructure and housing that was given away for free to loyal Britons, but stopped short of introducing Bonded Labor. It had too many unemployed workers as it was, it did not need to fill jobs with slaves. British citizens needed a license to have children (a nice little tool of social control for the state), and euthanasia of individuals deemed “social burdens” began. There was an Agoge of course, and universal military service for all men. A slow and cautious re-armament started to reinvigorate the economy- Britain couldn’t move too quickly or too openly lest it draw the ire of the Americans on the other side of the Irish Sea- but it began to rebuild its army and navy. Britain couldn’t openly ally itself with Drakia either- again out of fear of an American response- but British experts helped with the build-up of the Drakian Navy (as “private citizens” of course) and there was no question which way Albion would turn in case of a war.

    The only other country where Societism gained significant influence was the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia remained a voluntary British Dominion, nostalgic for the old British Empire, resentful towards the countries that had defeated it, and quite racist towards non-whites. Unsurprisingly Societism picked up a following among certain segments of the Australian population, and the Social Order Association won enough seats in the Federal Parliament to become the third largest party. Support for Societism remained limited to a minority of Australians however, and the Land Down Under was more afraid of Japanese Pan-Asianism than it was of American Fascism. Drakia was too far away to be a reliable ally in case of a war with Japan, and ultimately the Empire’s overtures for friendship were politely declined.

    By 1935 America’s only remaining allies in Europe were Ireland, the Czech State, Rumania, and an increasingly unstable France. In New York there was quite serious talk about collective nose holding and a strategic alliance with the Pan-Europeans to counter Societism and Geoism on the European continent. But it was in Asia where the true diplomatic crisis was building towards a peak.


    Thank you to @Falkanner for the subdivisions in South America and the RZ. The results of the Hadrian Plan (aka the "Dam the Congo River so as to Flood the Congo Basin and Destroy about half of the World's Second Largest Rainforest" Plan) are still in their very early stages and so are not shown.
     
    Chapter 23
  • Separated at Birth I Pic CXIII.jpg

    Chapter 23

    Japan had succeeded in Korea.

    The Yangban- the educated Buddhist middle class who Japan had cultivated as a Korean equivalent of the Mexican Criollos- were a minority, but there were other groups. There was a large segment of the population for which either they or at least one member of their family had made it into the political class of Imperial Democracy- usually through military service. These ones lacked the unquestioning loyalty of the Yangban and were dissatisfied with many aspects of Korea’s relationship to Japan, but Japan had freed Korea from Russian rule, granted it greater autonomy than it had known in a very long time, and given they themselves at least some sort of voice. As a result, they were loyal- if not to Japan then to Pan-Asianism and its ideals- and expressed their dissatisfaction largely through peaceful calls for the empire to be reformed so as to give Korea more cultural autonomy and a greater say in how the empire was run. Beyond them was the largest portion of the Korean people who were neither supportive of nor hostile towards Japanese rule and were generally apolitical. The percentage of Koreans who actively supported independence was barely in double digits, the percentage of Koreans willing to seek independence through violence was a number that could be expressed with the fingers of one hand.

    That had the potential to change if the hopes of reform-minded Koreans were dashed and if the Japanese bungled their response to the more violent Korean Nationalists, but for the time being Korea was a largely quiet, productive, asset to the Japanese Empire.

    Manchuria was not as generally integrated, there was an active Han Chinese resistance, but the Manchus were even more enthusiastic about Pan-Asianism and being loyal to the empire than the Yangban and the Chinese Buddhists were mostly ambivalent. Mongolia had suffered particularly heavily under heavy-handed Russian rule that had deliberately obliterated much of the traditional Mongol culture, followed by scarcely more tolerant rule on the part of the Tiandao, and so the Mongols were still pretty happy about the autonomy the “Mongol Empire” had within Japan. (The Japanese themselves were still a bit torn- did the Mongols even count as Asians? - but they weren’t being stupid about it) The directly-ruled parts of China- Hainan, Taiwan, the coastal cities- had been annexed to Japan directly without any autonomy and were very much not-with-the-program but they were relatively modest pieces of territory to police and control.

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXIV.jpg

    It was nowhere near as idyllic as the above picture of course, but things in Korea and Mongolia were more like OTL Ireland in 1900 in terms of how okay they were with their imperial rulers. A better analogue for Manchuria would be Russian Finland from around the same time.

    In short, Japan of the Separate-verse had done a far better job of getting its subject peoples on-board with being co-operative than had OTL Japan. The combination of Pan-Asianism and Imperial Democracy offered an ideology reserved enough to satisfy the traditionalists and sufficiently open to sate the demands of reformers (even if only temporarily). These successes had left the Japanese government (thoroughly controlled by the Pan-Asians now) convinced that the political unification of Asia under the Japanese Emperor was an achievable goal. Anti-western sentiment had been rising in Dai Nippon Teikoku since late ‘teens and there were growing calls for the for the country to move forward with that grand project. But the unification of Asia (however ultimately impossible it might be) meant the liberation of America’s territories and protectorates in the east, and that meant locking horns with the United States. To be sure Japan’s leaders weren’t fools- they knew how dangerous the US could be and they grasped the massive base of population and industry that was the backbone of the (albeit crumbling) New Order for the Ages. To have any chance at defeating the New World Colossus first they would need China, and second they would need allies.

    China had been badly mismanaged under the theocratic rule of the Tian Dynasty, failing to modernize even more than it had in OTL and avoiding outright colonization by the European powers only because Britain and Russia hadn’t wanted to go to war with each other over who got the Chinese prize (America also advocated in favor of Chinese independence). Despite this it remained economically important, with a massive population and vast resources. If Japan could successfully incorporate China as it had Korea (good luck) then it would have what it needed to face the United States as an equal.

    The problem was that the United States refused to co-operate.

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXV.jpg

    While China remained comparatively backwards against the rest of the world (note rickshaws) it remained an important market for American goods (note the use of English by Tian authorities on the Customs Office).

    It was an American ultimatum delivered to Kyoto after Japan had first imposed its protectorate over China that prompted Japan to formally withdraw from the Grand Alliance, and the United States refused to relax its insistence that Japan make no more inroads against Chinese sovereignty. There remained major American business interests in China that Japan was actively threatening, and New York was determined to protect them. As a result Japanese plans for the Middle Kingdom remained on hold, although that didn’t prevent efforts (of very limited success) to foster Pan-Asianism within China proper. The Empire of the Rising Sun couldn’t win a war with the United States without integrating China, and it couldn’t annex China without going to war against the United States. Frustrated, the Japanese turned their focus towards the diplomatic front.

    They lobbied the other countries of East Asia hard…

    Separated at Birth Dice XVI.PNG

    … and reaped a significant harvest.

    American hegemony was far kinder than British rule, but it was too easy to draw parallels between the United States and the old United Kingdom. The nations of Asia had not forgotten their treatment at British hands and were determined that no foreign country- especially not a “European” country of Christian English-speakers- should ever dominate them again. Nam Viet, Malaya, and Borneo, all of which had fought bloody insurgencies to end their status as American protectorates, remained unwilling members of the Grand Alliance and the ITO, and all agreed to secret treaties with Japan. They had no desire to lose their sovereignty as part of a Japanese-ruled union, but their governments wanted a powerful ally to help them end their ties to the United States and preserve their subsequent independence. The idea of a bloc of Asian countries that could deal with the Grand Alliance, the Pan-European Pact, and Drakia-plus-friends on an equal footing was attractive, and they convinced themselves that the Pan-Asians could be redirected to such a goal. Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma were as concerned about Japanese imperialism as they were American imperialism and so remained within the Grand Alliance, but even there Kyoto made inroads. There were active Pan-Asian movements among the three Buddhist-majority countries and their governments were… open to possibilities. If Japan’s star was truly ascendant, and if they could prove that they were actually a more valuable (and viable) ally than the United States…. Well then let’s just say that things could happen.

    But Dai Nippon’s greatest diplomatic success came in Delhi.

    1578545923611.png

    The Indian military was large, but it struggled to keep up with its own logistical demands and wasn't quite caught up with everyone else technologically.

    Pan-Asianism, with its emphasis on Buddhism and Confucianism as unifying factors among the peoples of Asia, had little support in Hindu Nationalist India. India had over 350,000,000~ people by 1937, more than the United States with 191,000,000~, Japan with 158,000,000~, or Drakia with 130,000,000~, and while it had less industry and more internal divisions than Japan (a lot of unhappy Muslims and Buddhists) it was a great power in its own right. It did not need protection, and when it resolved to withdraw from the Grand Alliance and the International Trade Organization India’s foreign policy was as self-directed as Japan’s. President Krishna Mirchandani had ambitions to turn his country into a global force as powerful as the United States itself, forming plans to crush the Drakian Empire and divide its territory into a collection of independent African states that would be guided by India. The Non-Aggression Pact that Mirchandani signed with Speaker Ishihara Kan of Japan was intended to help pave the way for that glorious future. India did not require Japanese help to defend its sovereignty the way that Nam Viet or Malaya did, but Japan could be a vital ally when it came to removing the American obstacle from India’s path, and could be again when it came time to deal with the gangrenous vestige of the British Empire that ruled from Aurica.

    Together Japan and India were a force to be reckoned with.

    Sri Lanka remained committed to the Grand Alliance thanks to its rivalry with India, the Maldives didn’t really have a choice, and Indonesia could never countenance an alliance with the Islamophobic Pan-Asians (Malaya and Borneo had held their noses in the interest of finally breaking out of America’s sphere and potentially settling their revanchist claims against Singapore and Sabah respectively) and opted for a prickly neutrality. Insulindia was still genuinely friendly to the United States and while the Filipino rebels might have had been quite Pan-Asian (of the “bloc of countries and Christianity is okay” sort of Pan-Asian) the puppet Filipino Republic was still staunchly loyal to New York.

    Of course, the United States was acutely aware of what was going on in Asia.

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXVI.jpg

    An Australian garrison in New Guinea, Australia's totally-not-a-colonial-possession-we-don't-do-that-anymore-thing.

    America’s top priority was the insurgency in Central America, but it learned about Malaya’s secret alliance with Japan (via a Malay officer concerned about Japanese hostility towards Muslims) and suspected the possibility of betrayal from Nam Viet and Borneo. The Indo-Japanese Non-Agression Pact was public, and anyone with half a brain could tell that Japan’s expansion of its army and navy was a direct threat to the United States. So New York diverted enough resources to match Kyoto in the naval race (with many of the new vessels being turned over to the US Coast Guard for its East Indies Fleet instead of the US Navy) and it invested substantially in the defenses of its possessions in the region. Garrisons increased in size and an American military presence was stationed either in or adjacent to Borneo, Nam Viet, and Malaya who could hardly say no as they were still officially part of the Grand Alliance. Contingency plans were written up. Japan had scored significant diplomatic victories but the United States….

    Separated at Birth Dice XIV.PNG

    … was hardly lackadaisical on that front. Australia and New Zealand were terrified of the “Yellow Peril” that Japan and India presented and their terror overcame their monarchist distain for the American Republic. Britain might have looked to Drakia as its patron, but its Oceanian dominions were functioning Westminster democracies a majority of whose citizens were unfriendly towards Societism, and the “Australasian Pact” wasn’t confident about its ability to defend itself alone. When the Tasman Siblings formally signed a mutual defense agreement with America and the Grand Alliance it triggered a minor international crisis as Britain flirted with the possibility of ending their dominion status unilaterally as punishment, but the efforts of monarchists in both countries and the monarchy of the aging King Edward VII himself prevented any such proposals from coming about. The forces of English Societism were unhappy with that, but in 1936 the Prime Minister (and future High Chancellor) Lancelot Susan was not yet secure enough in his position to move against the still-beloved institution of the monarchy directly.

    As Japan backed rebels in the Philippines the United States armed and funded Chinese Nationalist insurgents in Tian China and Manchuria against the Empire of Japan, and Muslim insurgents against the Union of India. There were confrontations between national militaries, assassinations, attacks against Chinese and Indian Christians, hostility towards Japanese and Indian communities outside of their homelands, a myriad of violent incidents that threatened to spiral out of control.

    Is it any wonder that- as Europe fell into the dark wells of Rex and Societism- what attention the USA could spare from Central America was focused firmly on Asia and the Pacific?

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXVII.jpg

    Even before Japan formally annexed China there were many Chinese who were hostile towards Japanese imperialism within their Tian puppet. As an answer to Japan's support for anti-American rebels in the Philippines (and to a lesser extent Insulindia and American Borneo) the United States reached out to such Chinese with guns and money. The largest Chinese Nationalist organization in 1938 was the Chinese Republican Army with 50,000 fighters spread across a dozen provinces.

    There is a case to be made that the Great Pacific War was in fact a kind of second World War. True there was little, if any, fighting associated with it in either Europe or Africa (they had their own wars), but the involvement of most of the New World, non-Geoist or Societist Asia, Oceania, France, and Ireland gave it a global shadow. Certainly, the army and naval forces involved on both sides would reach a scale beyond that of even the World War itself. Indeed it may be no more than Euro-centrism that limited it such a title, but the war was unquestionably great and it certainly revolved around control of the Pacific. Separate-verse Japan was much stronger than OTL Japan. It was larger, more industrialized, had greater support from its non-Japanese citizens, powerful allies who were actually in-theatre, wasn’t exhausted by a long Sino-Japanese War, and (perhaps crucially) possessed a far healthier political and military culture. On the other hand was a United States without European distractions (at the moment at least), a similarly greater population and industrial base than OTL, an economy unaffected by the privations of the Great Depression, a far more extensive military than it did in the OTL late ‘30s, and quite a few important allies of its own. Japan had no technological advantage ITTL- if anything America held a small technological edge- nor could it count on the advantage of surprise.

    On March 2, 1938, when Japan finally announced the formal annexation of China and (recognizing that such a move would inevitably start a war between it and the United States) launched a general pre-emptive strike against America’s possessions in the West Pacific, no one could have predicted what it would lead to.

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXVIII.jpg

    Let’s see. USA gets +3 for its industrial base, another +1 for its preparations, naval superiority cancels out with organization and morale issues, -1 for the numbers disparity India brings to the fight, other allies cancel out, +1 for technology and the fact Japan will still be trying to annex all of China without even the fig leaf of a puppet government, -1 for the Centroamericanos, +1 because the fighting will start in Japan’s end of the Pacific and the Empire will have a lot of heavy lifting to do if it wants to bring the fight to USA…. Let’s roll it. USA: ??, Japan: ??. Aw fudge nuggets. Do we keep the fumble or do we re-roll? Serious question readers, what do we do here?
     
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    Chapter 24
  • 1579400485780.png

    Chapter 24

    Scientific progress in the Separate-verse had proceeded at a breakneck pace since the early 19th century. This was not the result of chance or lucky discoveries, but the consequence of sustained deliberate investment by national governments into technological research. Nations that fell behind in the technological race, or who tolerated too much in the way of technical conservatism, found themselves at a serious disadvantage when it came to economic and military competition. The result was a desperate global chase for the next bomb, the next fighting machine, the next poison gas. Such an approach had its advantages, but those advantages were not universal and it was actively detrimental to certain branches of science.

    For instance, resources and funding were concentrated on projects that offered the potential for notable improvements to existing technologies, or new technologies that were imaginable on the basis of what was currently known to be possible. When it came to pure scientific enquiry without a clear utility, or scientific avenues that didn’t have a history of yielding valuable results, governments were at best disinterested and at worst actively hostile towards research that distracted from “practical” work. On top of that avenues of research that had military implication were prioritized over those that did not, resulting in wildly varying rates of progress in different fields.

    The Separate-verse had far better mechanical engineers than OTL had at the same point in time. It had sunk considerable resources into the chemical and material sciences and was thus far ahead in those areas as well. Medical capabilities had progressed rapidly (America led the world in prosthetics and treatments for physical handicaps), as had general biology to a lesser degree. But physics of the theoretical sort languished, and fields like astronomy remained largely the province of self-funding amateurs.

    1579403334401.png

    I was somehow unaware that while the Wright Brothers got all of the credit for the first heavier than air flight in 1903, a German inventor named Hermann Ganswindt probably beat them by two years with the largely forgotten flight of the helicopter he invented. I also didn't know that an unmanned helicopter flew successfully as early as 1878. We should have had helicopters in this TL for a while now. Oops.
    This meant very good engines and manufacturing machines. It meant that assault rifles were standard with all major militaries and landcruisers were on par with the tanks of the OTL 1950s. Chemical weapons at this point were as advanced as OTL 21st century agents. Aviation faced a small hiccup in that drachenflieger technology doesn’t translate as well to jets as OTL fixed-wing aircraft do, but the first turbojet aircraft to enter service still did so in the 1920s. The first manned flight in a helicopter dated back to the 1880s however, and unarmed military helicopters had been used in in the World War for search and rescue (minor retcon, yeah, yeah, yeah). Analogue Computers emerged from programmable manufacturing machines, and the first electronic ones entered use in the 1910s. Rocketry received some attention- there were rocket-propelled grenades and some work with rocket engines in aviation- but experimentation into rocket artillery had been abandoned back in the 19th century. Intense research into long-range howitzers and gun artillery began under Napoleon who had successfully created guns with the range to fire on England from France as early as the Canadian War of the 1830s, and artillery technology advanced rapidly enough that a demand for long-range rockets never materialized. By the end of the 1930s multiple armies were fielding self-propelled howitzers on par with OTL 1960s and 70s technology (although since the OTL US Army still uses a self-propelled gun it first introduced in 1963 in 2020, the Separate-verse was arguably already on par with 21st century tech in this area) and some truly staggering heavy artillery with no precise OTL equivalents.

    Pride drove competing programs in multiple nations to see who could build an artillery piece with the longest possible range, a competition that was “won” in 1937 by Drakia (not because their technology was better- it wasn’t- but because Stoker liked expensive prestige projects that other countries wouldn’t spend money on- see the Hadrian Plan) with “God’s Own Sling ” a twenty-two-hundred-ton multi-charge accelerating gun that was fixed in place and thus nearly useless for military purposes, but had a range of over 400 miles and allowed Drakia to claim the title of first to outer space when it successfully fired a hundred-pound projectile to an altitude of 120 miles and into sub-orbital space (said projectile then fell back down into the Sahara desert).

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    God's Own Sling, the first Drakian space gun, under construction. Bet you weren't expecting that, were yah?

    It’s difficult compare the Separate-verse’s advancement in biological warfare to a period in OTL given how little biological weapons were used in modern conflicts, but it had progressed at least as far as the Cold War. Drakia in particular led the world in biological weapons (one of the only areas in which it could claim genuine innovations, and not merely capitalizing on other countries’ discoveries early) due in part to the Bureau for Technical Progress’ willingness to make use of large numbers of human subjects, a legacy that went back to Doctor Henricus Calvet in the 19th century. By 1938 the Office for Epidemiological Study (the BTP’s biowarfare department) had successfully weaponized Smallpox, Bubonic Plague, Anthrax, Botulinum, Tularemia, Yellow Fever, and Q-Fever among others. The first major organized use of biological weapons by Drakia (they had made minor and unorganized use of biological weapons during the Crucible and the World War) occurred during the Judeo-Arab Revolt and involved deploying aerosolized Ricin bombs against rebel forces and the use or attempted use of Tularemia and Q-Fever against rebel-held cities. The results were mixed; the aerosolized Ricin worked fine, but was no more effective than standard chemical weapons. The introduction of Tularemia to Haifa failed to cause an outbreak because of issues with deployment and a rapid public health response by the city’s authorities. They were much more successful with causing outbreaks of Q-Fever in Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Homs in Syria, but Q-Fever’s long incubation period meant that it took too long for its most serious symptoms to manifest, about half of those infected didn’t even show symptoms, and there were issues with the disease spreading to second-line Drakian forces and loyal noncombatants in rebel held areas who hadn’t been properly vaccinated. Q-Fever may have played a role in weakening the rebels at least, but in general the results of Drakia’s early biowarfare efforts were disappointing. They tried again during the Great Slavic Conspiracy, deploying biological weapons against Serbian and Bulgarian rebels in Rhomania with the co-operation of the Rhomanian government. This allowed Drakia to better refine its deployment techniques, and it had greater success there. A more virulent Q-Fever variant called Q19 (10% lethality in its non-chronic form and less than 5% of infected persons failing to show symptoms) was deployed to “pacify” government-held areas after vaccination programs had been conducted for loyal Rhomanian civilians and military personnel, sickening unvaccinated Slavic communities. The “Execution of Sofia” proved the climax of the Draco-Rhomanian biowarfare campaign with 100 pounds (rather more than necessary) of the Wynter strain of Anthrax aerosolized over the Bulgarian city. The majority of Sofia’s 300,000 inhabitants were killed, and the city became a contaminated zone that would be unlivable for decades.

    The Noble Race weren’t the only ones with biological warfare programs however, even if theirs was the most developed. There were substantial German, French, Japanese, and American programs, and smaller ones in Brazil, La Plata, Australia, Italy, and Scandinavia which should not be dismissed. No one wanted to be left behind in the biological arms race, and if nothing else everyone wanted to make sure that they had the capabilities to protect themselves should they end up on the receiving end of someone else’s plague or toxin.

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    A victim of anthrax inhalation dying in the former Bulgarian city of Sofia.
    Did you know it only takes a few pounds of aerosolized anthrax to reach LD50 (half of everyone is dead) for an area the size of a city? It has a 90% fatality rate if inhaled and not treated. You can also make it in your shed with commonly available materials and areas contaminated by anthrax remain so for up to 70 years unless incredibly expensive decontamination procedures are performed. By infecting people or monkeys you can create more virulent strains, the sort of thing that Drakia would have no problem doing. In theory it could be as devastating as nuclear weapons if deployed by state actors with the proper training and equipment (you can make it in a shed, you can't aerosolize it in shed, or make it in large amounts).
    Incidentally I'm now on an FBI watchlist if I wasn't already.

    But we were talking about how some fields of research hadn’t kept up with the rapid pace that affected others.

    There were niche areas of biology that suffered- if it seemed unlikely to have practical value then it was de-emphasized- even as other areas flourished. We already mentioned how astronomy languished, so did paleontology, and any areas of geology not directly connected to mining. Did the world really need to invest in higher mathematics? Probably, but it didn’t. There was some research into physics, but once again many branches of that science suffered from lack of attention. Radio and television were invented at roughly the same time they were in OTL, they merely saw quicker improvement and faster widespread adoption. The discovery of ionizing radiation came ten years late however, and it languished with little attention for another half decade before anyone began trying to do anything with it. The first working X-Ray didn’t appear until 1919, and atomic theory remained stuck at the plum-pudding model by the end of the 1930s. Other than making clock-dials glow in the dark uranium had few uses, although Drakia accidentally discovered the mutagenic properties of radiation in the mid-20s during unsuccessful experiments to see if they could use radioactive dust as a weapon (they could, but it was less effective than pre-existing chemical weapons) and subsequently operated a series of atomic gardens to produce new varieties of mutagenic plants.

    So it was, that as the Great Pacific War began and Great Patriotic War entered its prologue, High Energy Physics was a minor, neglected field of study. The new technologies featured in those wars would thus be absent nuclear power.

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    A Drakian atomic garden with plants arranged in circular rows around a central radiation source. The radiation causes random mutations in the plants, most of which are harmful or useless, but a small percentage result in valuable improvements and new varieties of crops. It's not publicized much because human beings are stupid and easily scared, but radiation and chemicals are widely used in OTL to produce new crops through mutation and there are over thirty-two hundred varieties of mutagenic plants currently being cultivated- most for food. Ever eat a red grapefruit? They created it in an atomic garden in Texas in the 1970s. I drink red grapefruit juice every morning because hail Trinity.
    Better living through atomic power.
     

    Attachments

    Chapter 25
  • Separated at Birth I Pic CXXXV.jpg

    Chapter 25

    The Great Pacific War opened with a general attack by Japan against America’s allies and possessions in East Asia and the Pacific. The Americans were ready for this, and their counterattack followed within hours. Operating on the assumption that Indian involvement in the war on Japan’s side was inevitable, the United States simultaneously hit major Indian troop concentrations near the Burmese border and dealt a major blow to the Indian Navy in Calcutta before the Indians could strike. They also took immediate steps to occupy Malaya (which American intelligence knew intended to betray the Grand Alliance) and took (unsuccessful) steps to integrate the Viet and Bornean chains of command into their own in the hope of keeping those two untrustworthy allies in line. New York called for all of the Grand Alliance to join its struggle and shifted to a total war footing as fast as possible. All of South America honored their alliances, as did Jamaica, the Lesser Antilles, and the Spanish Republic-in-exile, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Persia, Arabia, Turkey, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, the Czech State and Rumania (the participation of those last two countries being largely symbolic). The Third French Republic had just undergone a military coup that replaced it with the authoritarian and ideologically Rex Fourth Republic, the Fourth Republic formally withdrew from the Grand Alliance and the ITO, but it maintained France’s ancient alliance with the United States, partly to protect its Pacific Territories but partly to keep New York from trying to restore the old Socialist government. Australia and New Zealand declared war on Japan within 48-hours in compliance with the terms of their defensive alliance with the United States, but held back from declaring war on India until the Indian Air Force fired on an Australian ship in the Bay of Bengal a few weeks later. Of course, the governments of the Philippines, Insulindia, and Ireland- America’s three remaining ducklings- declared war promptly.

    The Kingdom of Portugal-in-exile in Macau was occupied by Japan on the very first day of the war, its remaining overseas embassies declared for the Grand Alliance.

    The initial Indo-Japanese Alliance expanded to incorporate Malaya, and within days the involuntary Grand Alliance members of Nam Viet and Borneo. The Japanese-led coalition was officially named the Asia-Pacific League of Friendship at a conference in August, but was more commonly known as the League.

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    American war helicopters deploying troops in Burma.

    The initial American strategy hinged upon fortifying its control over Indochina, Burma, and the Southeast Asian archipelagoes (neutral Indonesia being an exception), then securing naval and air dominance over all of the relevant parts of Asia. As I said this was the initial strategy, and initially it had some successes. Japan found its annexation of China to be rockier than it had anticipated, and it took time for major Japanese forces to be brought to bear against the Allied countries in Indochina. The United States Coast Guard refused to be dislodged from the South China Sea and most of Borneo fell under American occupation. The Indian Army crashed bloodily against the fortified borders of Burma and Persia, and when it successfully landed troops across the Palk Strait in Sri Lanka its landing force was cut off by sea and destroyed by Sri Lankan and American units. The fighting was bloody, with heavy use of chemical and incendiary weapons.

    Air Power quickly proved even more important in the Great Pacific War than it had been in the World War. By the conflict’s opening in 1938 the Pegasus N-37 long-range jet bomber could reach Sapporo from Lionsgate City (OTL Vancouver), a distance of some 6,874 kilometers, and return, while the Japanese Ashikaga P4M could make the journey between Edo and Honolulu, some 6,195 km, and successfully return. The consequence of modern long-range aircraft was that a massive battle for control of the air emerged in the Western and Northern Pacific- imagine the Battle of Britain but with far more aircraft, at far greater distances, spread out over a much wider area. Victory in this battle would be key to winning the war at sea and likely the war on land as well. The old drachenflieger models were largely obsolete at this point, both countries relied heavily on fixed-wing jets to carry the day.

    The Japanese strategy in the Air War was the product of a man named Ichikawa Korin.

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    A Pegasus N-37 dropping high explosive bombs over the Japanese city of Osaka.

    Ichikawa- an analyst with the Imperial Japanese Air Force- identified that American bombers had a range advantage over Japanese ones, meaning that America could strike at Japan from such a distance than Japan couldn’t respond. American fighters had no advantage in that area however, both countries flew anti-aircraft aircraft that were limited to an effective range of around sixteen hundred kilometers. Ichikawa argued for Japan to adopt a defensive approach to the Air War, focusing on shooting down American bombers when they tried to hit the Home Islands, Korea, and China. The Americans would be well within the range of Japanese fighters there, and could be tracked and responded to using the Japanese system of early-warning radar. In order to give their bombers any chance of surviving the United States was forced to operate its jet-fighters from “local” airbases in the Philippines or from its aircraft carriers, and Japan focused its strike capabilities on those bases and when possible those carriers (there was a wing of the IJAF that specialized in anti-ship warfare). This meant that the Air War was fought over League cities, and it was League civilians who paid the heaviest price, but American losses in the air far outstripped those of the IJAF and the air arms of the IJA and IJN, all three of which were able to conserve their machines and experienced pilots as America’s ability to provide its bombers with escorts was steadily degraded.

    By the end of 1938 the numerical imbalance was making itself felt on land as India went on the defensive against Persia and sent an army of four million soldiers storming through the hills and jungles of Burma. Japan was sufficiently in control of China (Chinese resistance would never cease, but was reduced to a manageable level) that the Imperial Japanese Army was flowing into Indochina, reinforcing the Viet military and putting greater pressure on the Grand Alliance presence in the region. At sea the Americans suffered from organization problems; their naval forces were split between two different military branches (the Coast Guard and the Navy) and all of their naval aviation belonged to a third (the US Army Air Corps).

    In February of 1939 the Thai government, which was losing battles to the Viets and the Japanese and could see that Burma was in full retreat, switched sides. The price for its change of heart was major territorial concessions to Nam Viet and a withdrawal from the Thai-occupied parts of Malaya, but it became an independent member of the Asia-Pacific League of Friendship and avoided occupation. Not long after that Burma surrendered to India, who occupied the country and installed a puppet government. Now surrounded on all sides Cambodia went down fighting, its government evacuating to Australia when the country came under joint Japanese and Viet occupation. The last Alliance holdout in Indochina was American Singapore, which held out until June when it surrendered in the face of chemical attacks that blanketed the city. The Battle of the South China Sea turned decisively in favor of Japan, and the Japanese commenced amphibious landings in the Philippines and Borneo where they were greeted as liberators and joined by both guerillas and members of the Bornean and Filipino national militaries (who had survived in the jungle or mutinied against their American officers respectively).

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    The Imperial Japanese Air Force striking at an American military base in Luzon. Ignore the obviously bad photo-editing job- would you believe it but there are no good pictures of Jet aircraft with anything close to Imperial Japanese insignia.

    Now losing the Air War over East Asia and largely unable to escort its bombers over the Japanese Empire proper, the United States resorted to deploying biological weapons and nerve gas strategically against Japanese major cities in long-range high-casualty missions either escorted by fighters from its remaining carriers or unescorted entirely. The goal of these missions was to break the Japanese will to fight and force the empire to the negotiating table. Instead Speaker Ishihara Kan of the Imperial Assembly vowed that “Imperial Democracy will not be broken!” and abandoned the Ishikawa Strategy to launch a series of similar biological and chemical attacks against the United States using a new technology- mid-air refueling- that allowed the shorter-ranged Japanese jet bombers to strike anywhere on the American Pacific Coast (admittedly with even less in the way of escorts than the Americans could deploy). Neither country had much success with biological weapons- both nations had world-class public health infrastructure and extensive bomb shelters for their populations and they held back from using deadly weapons like anthrax for fear of retaliation (most biological weapons used in the Great Pacific War were nonlethal diseases intended to mass-incapacitate enemy populations)- however they both exhausted large parts of their medical stockpiles and were considerably more successful with chemical weapons. On September 1, 1939 a large force of Japanese bombers descended on the Nicaragua Canal with a mix of high explosives and VX intended to act as an area denial weapon and slow repairs to the canal. It was largely a suicide mission- most of the Japanese planes failed to return- but they succeeded in putting the canal out of action and forcing the United States to either sail around South America or rely on the major Pacific Coast ports. The Americans rapidly adopted mid-air refueling themselves and by the end of 1939 the two sides were launching devastating long-range, high-casualty attacks against each other.

    None of this offered a knock-out blow, but the Japanese government moved its offices below ground to shelter from the bombings and America’s use of its major west coast cities was severely disrupted. As the Americans struggled to keep their forces in the Western Pacific supplied and reinforced, Japan- which was dealing with its own serious problems as a result of American strategic bombing- pushed forward, liberating the rest of the Philippines and Borneo and driving ANZAC-American-Insulindian forces out of the Celebes to the Maluku Islands. India occupied the Lakshadweep Islands, the Andaman Islands, and launched another invasion of Sri Lanka. The Air War shifted further east as the fighting moved more towards the Central Pacific, and the war on land became a question of either fighting for control over smaller islands, guerillas resistance to the League, or the massive Indian Army (the armed forces of the Indian Union peaked at 21 million persons during the Great Pacific War, the majority of whom were in its army) forcing its way into Persia. Tokyo and New York were both worried and hopeful- America had the industry to potentially push its way past the defeats it had suffered, but India and Japan had a substantial numerical advantage and their industry wasn’t that outmatched.

    Meanwhile, as the Great Pacific War ground through the early months of 1940, the Great Patriotic War was at a pivotal moment.

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    An Australian soldier in the North Malukus.
     
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    Great Patriotic War Dice (Part One?)
  • Time for Operation Frederick II;

    Pan-European Pact

    Superior Industry +2
    (Small) Technological Advantage +1 (Aurica has been helping Moscow not fall too far behind)
    Legacy of Der Alte Fritz +1 (The same factors that made German a military powerhouse IOTL largely exist here)
    Local Intelligence Assets +1 (Poles, Ukrainians, etc. who have no reason to be loyal to Rodinasim)

    Separated at Birth Dice VII.PNG


    Comes to 14

    Rodina Zemlya

    Extensive Defense Planning +1
    De-industrialization -4 (would be worse if they hadn't been re-industrializing frantically)
    Poor Communcations and Transportation -2
    Drakian Assistance +2 (weapons, trainers, even a few volunteers, etc)
    Defenders Advantage +1

    Separated at Birth Dice II.PNG


    Comes to +3. Ouch.

    And now for the "Reconquista"

    Drakian Empire

    Superior Industry +2
    Numerical Superiority +4
    Air Superiority +2
    Naval Superiority +1
    It's a Massive Seaborne Invasion by a Country That Has Never Done One Before -3
    Substantial Technological Superiority +3 (No one is helping Madrid keep up)

    Separated at Birth Dice II.PNG


    Give Stoker a 14 to work with. That's not unbeatable...

    Spanish Pobladisto Republic

    Extensive Defense Planning +1
    Extensive Defense Constructions +2
    Partial Re-industrialization -3 (They never de-industrialized as much as they RZ, but they don't have a patron like the Empire to help with re-industrialization)
    Portugal e Sao Jorge! -2
    Defenders Advantage +1

    Separated at Birth Dice V.PNG


    Goliath beats David it seems.

    ???

    ? +1
    ? -5

    Separated at Birth Dice X.PNG


    And that's where the big numbers were hiding.
     
    Chapter 26
  • Separated at Birth I Pic CXL.jpg

    Chapter 26

    In 1938 there were three different Spains.

    There was the Spanish Poblado Republic with its capital in Madrid, governing the Iberian Peninsula (including its puppet Portugal) with an iron fist. The Pobladistos advocated a flavor of radical Geoism that was both more moderate than the bloody version espoused in the Rodina Zemlya during the Peremesheniye and more orthodox than the pragmatically authoritarian form it had taken under the National Committee that assumed power later. They were partially deindustrialized, but maintained a basic manufacturing base to meet its military needs plus some additional light industry for other areas. The SPR had been diplomatically isolated since it broke with Moscow over the RZ's decision to sell political prisoners into Bondage in Drakia, but the paranoid leaders of the Partido Suelo Negro had been investing resources into their military since they first took over the country. As a result they had extensive defenses at the Pyrenees in case France tried something, and coastal fortifications along their Mediterranean shoreline. There were about half-a-million active personnel in the Spanish Armed Forces and their drill was on par with most other countries, however the Pobladistos' self-imposed limits on industrialization handicapped Spanish military power, they were technologically behind the rest of the world, and the SPR’s ability to mobilize was limited by the fact that the government didn’t trust many of its citizens with weapons and training. As radical Geoists they held their urban population under suspicion as a matter of course, and like most authoritarian governments were at odds with many national minorities- the Catalans, the Basques, and the Galicians (the Andalusians and the Valencians were pretty supportive of the regime). It insisted that Puerto Rico and former Spanish Morocco were rightfully its territory.

    The second Spain was the Spanish Republic-in-exile with its capital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where the local government and military forces had broken with Madrid after the Partido Suelo Negro proclaimed the dissolution of the Spanish Republic and began purging non-Pobladistos in government. The Republic-in-exile claimed to be a continuation of the original Spanish Republic and the rightful government of all of Spain as it had been at the end of the World War. As a functioning Fascist democracy and member of the Grand Alliance the country of just over two million maintained a professional military with American help, and while it might be smaller than that of the Pobladistos its weapons were state of the art and there were no political officers in its units.

    Last but not least were the Spanish Royalists. King Ferdinand IX had relocated to Spanish Morocco with most of his supporters after the Spanish metropole fell to revolution, and when Moroccan rebels threatened to bring down his government he had asked Drakia to intervene. As of 1938 the “Kingdom of Spain” was a province of the Drakian Empire with a ceremonial subnational monarchy under Ferdinand IX’s young grandson King Charles VI. Aurica claimed Spain proper as part of its Spanish province, although for many years that claim had been purely symbolic and Stoker’s regime hadn’t bothered to do so much as mark that claim on government maps (the Spanish provincial government did, but no one else really bothered).

    I think you can guess where this is going.

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXLI.jpg

    Alas poor Spain! So far from god, so close to Drakia. And Pobladisto totalitarianism doesn't help either. At least there's always Puerto Rico.

    By the late 1930s Drakia had been reforming its armed forces to be able to face national militaries since the First Draco-American War almost a decade ago and its generals wanted to put their new toys and tactics to use. The start of the Great Pacific War removed American intervention as a factor in a European conflict (provided no one attacked any of the remaining Grand Alliance members in Europe), and the Empire had at least a couple of allies available to help it out. It was stable domestically, recovered from the blood and tears of the Crucible, and Lindsey Stoker wanted a conquest. The Drakian Autocrat had overseen his country’s transition from Dominion to Empire and guided it since 1920, but he was now in his seventies and increasingly obsessed his legacy. Stoker poured resources into huge prestige projects- the Hadrian Plan to dam the Congo River and the “God’s Own Sling” space gun being the most famous- but it was to his frustration that he hadn’t added so much as a single square inch of land to the Empire since he founded it.

    Time to change that.

    Spain was the perfect target and Stoker began making preparations to invade, unaware as he did so that plans were already in motion against the world’s other Geoist country.

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    The next generation of the Blitzsoldaten on the march in Rex Germany. Though the Pan-European Defense Pact was technically an alliance of equals, it was always Germany that regarded itself as the true protector of European civilization.
    Prime Minister Bernhard Krauszer of Germany vowed that the social and moral purification of Europe- the eternal goal of the Rex- was nigh. The question was where to begin? America was distracted and weakened, but much as the Rex loved to condemn and violently suppress Fascism and Liberalism, it was obvious to anyone that Societism and Geoism were a greater threat to Europe. War with Drakia could be… dangerous. The Country of the Dragon was too big and mean, and most Pan-European contingency plans assumed a defensive war against a Drakian invasion. Rhomania wasn’t too big, but the alliance between Constantinople and Aurica meant that a war with one Societist country meant war with both. Britain didn’t have an official alliance with its former dominion, but Drakian intervention if the Rex invaded was still a given. Spain was on the other side of France, and France had a fellow Rex government whose alliance with America was still a significant factor.

    That left Russia.

    The Rodina Zemlya was aligned to Drakia, which meant that its defeat would weaken the Empire, but the two countries had no alliance and it was unlikely that Stoker would come to its aid. The RZ remained weak and under-industrialized despite its efforts to improve with Drakian help, and its military was technologically backwards. That should make it an easy target, and the Pan Europeans had hopes to liberate areas like the Ukraine and White Russia that could then join them as independent Rex countries, expanding the Pact and giving it access to numbers and resources to help it compete with its larger enemies. The plan was for a short war, an offensive to occupy the western parts of the RZ (OTL Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic coast up to St. Petersburgh, a couple of other areas), then hunker down and defend that region from a Geoist counterattack. Once the Pact had demonstrated that they could not be driven from those areas they could force a peace with Moscow that would cede the territories in question in exchange for the return of a demilitarized St. Petersburg and a few other odds and ends. All very simple, a war lasting no more than a year that wouldn’t require the Pan-Europeans to commit too many of their forces east and thus risk leaving themselves vulnerable to a Drakian invasion.

    Operation Frederick- named for Frederick II, a Holy Roman Emperor lionized by the Rex Movement in multiple countries- opened on Mayday 1938. There is an ongoing debate as to whether or not it counted as the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, the Pan-Europeans called their invasion “The Purification of the East” at the time and the National Committee of the Rodina Zemlya called it the “May War” in official documents, and some historians argue that Operation Frederick began a separate war that only later merged into the larger conflict (similar to the relationship between the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Second World War of OTL). For our purposes however, we can safely say that the Great Patriotic War began with the Pan-European invasion of the RZ.

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXLIII.jpg

    And, with the dice on their side- at least for now- the Pan-Europeans push ahead into the Great Patriotic War.

    Stoker’s response to the invasion was one of relief- the Pan-Europeans wouldn’t be able to interfere with his plans regarding Spain- and he moved up the invasion of Iberia, which went forward approximately a month-and-a-half later. The Empire began shipping arms and ammunition to the RZ so as to stiffen its resistance, but otherwise remained neutral. Surprisingly, the Drakian strike against the Pobladistos came as somewhat of a relief for Krauszer- it reduced the odds of Drakia getting involved in the Purification of the East. He didn’t give the invasion his “tacit consent” by any means, the Prime Minister condemned it in the strongest terms, opened secret talks with France should the Noble Race push further, and even sent aid to the same Pobladistos he despised. But Germany and the Pan-Europeans were in no position to intervene, and if sacrificing Geoist Spain was the price for victory in Russia then so be it.

    The Drakians invasion began with landings in the Balaeric Islands, and once the islands were secure they followed those up with a landing just south of Barcelona where Spanish coastal defenses were weak. The Drakian Navy cleared the ships of the Citizen’s Army Naval Squadron from the sea within the first couple weeks of the war, the Drakian Army achieved general air superiority even faster. When Madrid began shifting its forces to address the invasion there it became apparent that the attack in Catalonia was a feint and the real invasion crashed bloodily onto the shores of Andalucia, where defenses were stronger but now undermanned. The first wave was composed of newly-trained Auxiliaries, green troops composed of Bondsmen promised the erasure of their debts and status as Nationals or even Honorary Whites if they completed their service. The second wave were the shock troops, veteran Auxiliaries and units of Citizen regulars to turn footholds into beachheads and cracks into breakthroughs. The Pobladistos fought hard, but the Empire had them outnumbered, outgunned, out-trained, and even out-led. Once it became apparent that the SPR was losing Portugal erupted in rebellion and even a few remaining Spanish Royalists re-emerged. By early ’39 the fighting was largely over, Spain became part of the Drakian Province of Spain under King Charles VI with about a third of its population receiving Citizenship and Portugal found itself an independent kingdom again... hosting a nice large Drakian garrison to keep a Societist government in power.

    The Spanish Republic-in-exile dispatched a couple of destroyers to the Canary Islands within forty-eight hours of the start of hostilities and a the relatively perspicacious Geoist governor of the islands surrendered without a fight, leaving Stoker to gnash his teeth. The Autocrat had planned to take the Canaries too, but as part of the Republic they were now under American protection and he wasn’t ready to take on the Grand Alliance yet.

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXLIV.jpg

    Stories that Geoist Spain was reduced to using early drachenflieger against modern Imperial jets and helicopters are blown out of proportion; most of the Citizens' Army Air Squadron planes were turbojets that were fuel inefficient, but otherwise quite capable aircraft. But the Spanish government pressed every aircraft it could find into service- including long-obsolete civilian models, and there is at least one reported instance of a Drakian helicopter co-pilot shooting down an 1890s model drachenflieger with an assault rifle. (Just pretend those are Spanish drachenflieger and not North Vietnamese biplanes)

    Oddly, while Arthur Klein plaid a major role in formulating the strategy that took Iberia for the Empire, it was then that he fell out favor with the Drakian regime. In November of 1938 he was honored for his role in the invasion, one month later he was accused of treason against the Empire and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Why? Well it may have had something to do with the fact that Lindsey Stoker was 74, his wife, the second Mrs. Stoker, was 28, and Klein remained a very fit 53. It may also have had something to do with the fact that the Drakian dictator had straight brown hair, his wife (like the previous Mrs. Stoker) had straight blonde hair, and his last and youngest daughter (the classically named Fortuna Stoker) had a head of curly black hair just like a certain former fleet admiral.

    Friends warned Klein however, and before the Patriotists could get their hands on him, he’d taken a fishing boat, some sensitive documents, and a certain Bondsman of Polish nationality (the Rodinist-ruled part of Poland) and Nationalist politics who had been traded to the Empire by the RZ, and defected to a somewhat bemused Italy. The Italians sent the Pole in question on his way and interned his American rescuer who insisted that he had never actually been loyal to Drakia, and didn’t the charge of treason levelled at him by Aurica prove that? And here was with sensitive documents, a long-lost comrade to the cause, and plenty of expertise on the inner-working of the Drakian Navy (and those parts of the Drakian government with which he was familiar) that he was happy to share. Klein made himself sufficiently helpful that the Italians declined to return him to the USA, and his internment was a very hospitable one.

    The Pan-Europeans spared little attention for the single wayward American however.

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    The boat that took Klein from Drakia to Italy. He rolled that 19 to make it out- sorry to disappoint the creative alternate ideas.

    Operation Frederick had been massively successful, with the forces of Germany and her allies rolling over the Rodinist frontier and its border units almost immediately. Bad infrastructure and communications networks handicapped the efforts of the RZ’s military to co-ordinate and respond effectively to the invasion. The use of Kesselschlacht tactics- mechanized maneuver warfare that built on the tactics used with the Blitzsoldaten in the World War-isolated strongpoints, broke through ephemeral defenses, and crushed isolated Rodinist units. Like the Soviet Union in OTL, the Rodina Zemlya had recruited and promoted its officers more on the basis of loyalty and political reliability than actual skill, with similar results. Also like the OTL Soviet Union, the RZ began discovering good commanders through attrition as capable officers emerged from the dross by virtue of survival. But men like Captain Larionov Lavro Antonovich (then Major Larionov Lavro Antonovich, and eventually General Larionov Lavro Antonovich) could only do so much. Unlike OTL Nazi Germany and the Axis, the German Confederation and the Pan-European Pact weren’t attacking over-confidently after a series of easy victories, although the need to maintain a substantial troop presence in the west in case Rhomania or Drakia tried something did distract them somewhat. The Pan-Europeans were equipped for war in Russia (yes, including winter gear) and were greeted with warm welcomes from non-Russian groups they encountered.

    Pan-European “Moral Purification” meant the arrest of Geoist and non-Rex intellectuals, Rodinist government officials, teachers, military veterans, and other suspect groups who were either used as forced labor or simply massacred. It meant the mass destruction of artwork, books, and any cultural expression deemed “decadent”. It meant the renaming of towns, cities, and even common streets, it meant the establishment of schools with strict Rex and religious curriculums. Lithuania subjected Latvians to social policies designed to assimilate the “North Lithuanians” into Lithuanian culture, and kept autonomous Estonia on a short leash. Germany forcibly expelled the Russian community from Crimea and began the ethnic cleansing of Russians from a large exclave that roughly corresponded to the traditional area of Volga German settlement (Krauszer was uninterested in acquiring territory inhabited by too many non-Germans, and was content with hegemony rather than direct rule as a goal over most western Russia). Poland also expelled Russians from the land it annexed, and made a concerted effort to “reclaim” Russians with Polish ancestry as Poles. Jews and Roma (those that were left) were relocated to the crowded Fatherlands set aside for them.

    These were not policies calculated to win the adoration of the most Russians, but to non-Russian groups it didn’t matter. The Rodina Zemlya had been pursuing an active program of ethnic cleansing against them before the war, selling large numbers of their members in Drakian slavery in exchange for help reindustrializing, and anything short of that was an improvement. The Ukrainians were pretty enthusiastic about their new Ukrainian Fatherland (even if it was a bit limited in size to start with- Novorossiya was considerably more Russian than OTL thanks to ethnic cleansing, at least the Northeast still had a simple majority of Ukrainians to work with), and the Belarusians were quite happy with their new “White Russia”. The Cossacks hadn’t been targeted for the same kind of systematic destruction as other communities, but they were held in suspicion for their association with the former Russian monarchy and experienced enough discrimination, hostility, and cultural suppression to make the newly established Almighty Don Host supportive of the Pact. The mounting resistance by Russian partisans was unfortunate, as was the unpopularity of the puppet Russian monarchy restored to St. Petersburg, but hopefully that would fade in time.

    Separated at Birth I Pic CXLV.jpg

    A low-ranking Rodinist party member shoots down a member of the German Feldpolizei coming to arrest him as part of the "Moral Purification" of the Occupied RZ.

    The original goal of the invasion had been to just occupy the western parts of the RZ and hold, but mission creep rapidly set in. The Pact achieved its initial war gains so quickly and easily that it proved impossible to resist the lure of continuing to capitalize on its early victories. Why make peace after occupying the Ukraine and Belorussia, when you could make peace after taking Moscow? The RZ’s capital fell at the end of August and the National Committee of the Rodina Zemlya fled to Nizhny Novgorod, prompting another offensive to capture that city, prompting the National Committee to flee again, this time to Kazan, and when the Pan-European captured Kazan they relocated to Perm. Drakia and Britain channeled munitions and equipment to bolster the RZ’s resistance via the Caucasus and the Arctic ports of Archangelsk and Pechora, resulting in yet more offensives in the spring of 1939. The Arctic ports fell, but constant shipments over the border with Drakian Kurdistan kept the Caucasus fighting, even as the Pan-Europeans pushed slowly forward. The fall of Astrakhan cut off the RZ’s ability to move Imperial aid from the Caucasus to the rest of the country over land, but they continued to transport supplies across the Caspian Sea by ship… until uprisings by the remaining Central Asian peoples began to threaten that too.

    In November, as cold weather forced a lull in the northern fighting and the Rex turned their attention towards the warmer Caucasus, the National Committee of the Rodina Zemlya abandoned the now-besieged city of Perm and set out for Omsk. Waiting for them at their new emergency capital was General Larionov Lavro Antonovich. The most capable of the Rodina’s military commanders had finally accumulated enough authority, respect, and popularity that when he had the committee members arrested and executed without fanfare his new military government was largely accepted by the rest of the armed forces and what remained of the civilian authorities. Antonovich proclaimed himself the “Vozhd” of a new Russian Empire. Geoism had failed the Russian people, he informed the nation in his first radio address, it was Societism that would be the official ideology of the new state. Those still loyal to the tenets of Rodinism could get with the program or else.

    It was a desperate attempt to invite Drakian intervention into the war, and Antonovich let Stoker know as much. By early 1940 the Pan-Europeans had reached the Urals in two places, made contact with the rebels in Kazakhstan, and were advancing into Central Georgia. The narrow channel of aid from the Country of the Dragon that ran across the Caspian Sea and through Central Asia was being cut off. Unless the Empire entered the war directly then Russia would have no choice but to surrender, ceding its heartland west of the Urals in the hope that it would be able to salvage Central Asia and the parts of the Caucasus they still held.

    Time for Stoker to make a choice.

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    Early 1940, with the Pan-Europeans on the verge of victory over the infant Russian Empire.
     
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    Interlude: Turkey
  • With permission from @Ephraim Ben Raphael I'd wanted to write something about my own homeland after thinking so much about their... unique situation ITTL. Without further ado, I hope you all enjoy...
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    Because no dystopian story is complete without its eerie music...

    Kuşatma Altında Bir Millet: Türkiye'nin Son Günleri (A People Under Siege: The Last Days of Turkey) by Melih Iskender

    To live in Turkey in the 20th Century is to live in a country under siege.

    It is to live in an entire nation driven by fear and sorrow, by vengeance and anger. Fear of an uncertain future, for no one knew if tomorrow would be the end. Sorrowful tears, shed because of countless futures lost to the great struggle that endlessly consumed their nation, and left them a shadow of their former selves, sorrow felt because of a vital innocence left behind long ago. Vengeance for all the great betrayals that brought them to this low, and a need to reap their bloody toll on those tho had inflicted upon them.

    Does one even need to describe the burning rage that all of these emotions brought upon them?

    To live in Turkey, is to be distrustful of the very sky that might suddenly be flooded with chemical weapons meant to murder you, your entire family, your entire people. It is to live in a place where every city has turned into a deadly maze, every forest made into a death-trap, each mountain a shelter, once pristine countrysides riddled with mines. Where each child sleeps with one eye open and a knife under their pillow, their parents already sleeping with their rifles. Where those children are sent to school to learn not just a learn things like math and science, but to also learn how to shoot a gun. Their recess' reminiscent of Boot Camps, their leisure time spent in factories to make weapons...

    The loss of the Last Crusade broke something in the Turkish People, they who had once led a great Empire that had made mighty Europa quake in it's boots reduced to nothing more than a mere backwater whose every accomplishment had been erased by the simple turn of a valve. It made them believe that their God had abandoned them, it made them believe that the whole world wanted to slaughter them, it made them believe that they could trust no one.

    This belief was not something that happened immediately after their loss of course. Rather, it was a gradual built-up that came to be as they watched the world and the madness progress around them. It might not have even developed had circumstances been kind, but of course they weren't. It became widespread only because event after event came to pass with everything seemingly conspiring to make life harder for the Turkish People.

    The further dissolution of the Ottoman Empire with the loss of Albania and eventually Hedjaz, the rise of the Vile Drakian Empire and their horrifying ideal of Societism, the perceived betrayal by their fellow Muslims; the Kurds, Rhomania's adoption of the Societist ideals, Rodina Zemlya's alliance with Drakia, the Russians selling their fellow Turkic People into the slavering clutches of Drakia. These blows kept on hammering on hammering down on their already withered sanity until every single men, women and child living in Turkey believed that the whole world wanted them dead.

    The result was a rather bizarre mix of Rexism and Fascism unique to the Turkish people. It basically boiled down to a belief that the Turkish people should always be vigilant, for they were always under the threat of extinction. That every man, woman and child (disabilities ceased to matter when people were faced with what they perceived to be their extinction) should unite and do everything in their power and beyond to resist their approaching hour of twilight, or make it a bloodbath for the harbingers of it.

    The ideology doesn't touch on religion, but it has been shown to be rather secular in the way it conducts foreign and domestic affairs. Entirely out of pragmatism, with the sidelined Ottoman Sultan reduced to nothing more than a figurehead, the Junta that ruled the nation made sure they were going to receive aid from the ever-religious West without letting religion get in the way. The people themselves are a different matter, a wide swathe of the population have indeed doubled down on their zeal and are preparing for the 'End Times'. Others, while religious, do not hold to the same zeal as their fellows, and instead prepare to channel their energies into preparing for the Final Struggle instead of praying.

    It used to sing the tune of Pan-Turanism, though that was quickly replaced by a call for a homeland that stretched from the Aegean to the Caspian (the fates of the non-Turkish peoples living there were not considered, though there were disturbingly tempting voices calling for a Turkish Bonded Labor System) once the Russians started selling Turkic people's to Drakia and the Turkish Military stumbled upon a group of 'Political Prisoners' who spoke a similar enough language for them to recognize entirely by chance when those prisoners managed to slip their jailers and slip into the country via Drakian Kurdistan.

    This led to a somehow overnight birth of 'Turkish Insurgency' in Drakian Kurdistan (there were still some Turkish people living in Drakian Kurdistan, though that didn't last long after these raids started), but was actually the Turks leading daring raids into the country rescue Turkic people's sold to Drakia by Geoist Russia and see to their subsequent resettlement into the Turkish Heartland. Helped by the fact that the Turkish Army had wholly embraced the German concept of Blitzsoldaten, it was also considered a bonus that these new Bozkurtlar (Grey Wolves, the Turkish national animal, OTL Ultranationalist Paramiltary, Turkish Blitzsoldaten ITTL) happened to be rabidly zealous and utterly merciless soldiers. This led to a slight boost in population (not every raid succeeded, but this bizarre Underground railroad saw some actual results) that was further boosted by the massive birth-rates championed by the Turkish Junta.

    Relations with European countries were tense because Turkey made it so with her excessive paranoia (somewhat justified), but her strategic position could not be overlooked, so her 'allies' (Turkey was not suicidal enough to refuse aid it dearly needed) held their nose high and allowed them to join the Alliance. This led to an outpour of American aid to the country that helped it rapidly modernize with zeal that was rarely seen before. It led to cultural developments such as the adoption of the Latin script (people were eager to get rid of the Arabic script, helped that it was easier to write the Turkish language with it, so literacy skyrocketed).

    Not all cultural developments were all that good however. Seeing as this modernization was not healthy toward the already fully mobilized and paranoid Turkish Mindset. Child-labor was a common sight in factories, mothers were making bullets instead of sweaters for their children, fathers were always off in training or in a factory. Turkey in the 20th Century was the perfect image of a dystopian society.

    Colorless, full of fear and paranoia.

    The only thing that kept it all together was the fear of annihilation, for everyone knew that the Great Trial was coming.
     
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    Interlude: Same as the Old Boss
  • Hello all! I was given permission by EBR to post this little interlude, a little snapshot of the regime changes in Russia. I hope you enjoy it!

    Same As The Old Boss…

    December 27th, 1939
    Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, The New Russian Empire

    Chief Inspector Pyotr Rashkovsky took a drag on his Drakian cigarette as the professor was dragged from the University’s main building, the bespectacled intellectual shrieking as he was pulled by his hair down the stone stairs leading up to the shattered front doors. Much like his predecessor, during the last revolution.

    Don’t you know who I am, you fools? I-” His bleating was silenced by a rifle butt smashing him in the face, dropping him like a sack of rocks. The two men, members of the new Domestic Intelligence Service put in place by the Vozhd, stepped back as the Chief Inspector approached the now kneeling man. The professor looked up at Pyotr through shattered glasses, cradling his equally broken nose.

    I don’t… I don’t understand, I was given this position by the Homeland Education Minister himself, it,” The rat faced intellectual gulped as Pytor removed the battered old handgun from the inside of his battered old greatcoat, cigarette falling to the ground and crushed without a second thought. “…It doesn’t make sense, please…”

    By this point, a crowd of students and faculty had gathered around, or been gathered by the DIS men accompanying their Chief Inspector. Pyotr cleared his throat, and spoke in that monotone, rasping voice.

    Subjects of the New Russian Empire!” A small wave of shock washed through the crowd at that; this was a University meant to educate the next line of officials and commissars for the Rodina Zemlya, so the party line was law here. “I am the Chief Inspector for the D.I.S. in this province. During this time of transition, my word is law. Now, your Head Professor here…” He punctuated that with a kick to the gut of the professor. “…Has been found to reject the new laws put in place by His Excellency the Vozhd-” The professor grabbed at Pyotr's foot, sniveling and pleading, before getting another boot for his trouble. Pyotr gestured to his men with his free hand, who grabbed the man by the shoulders and hauled him to his knees.

    As I was saying. His mental failings cannot be allowed to spread, and any found on this campus to share his views must be removed, if the aims of the Vozhd are to be achieved and this war won! And so, he and all like him must be removed from our new Society.” He punctuated this by turning, deftly raising the handgun, and pulling the trigger.

    The professor went limp, his brains splattering on the steps, and was let fall by the stone faced DIS men. The crowd was shocked, murmurs spreading before silencing themselves as the Chief Inspector turned back to them. “Now, should any of you find evidence of your peers disagreeing with the aims of the Vozhd, please report them to the Campus Inspector. In the meantime, we ask for your patience as a revised curriculum will be distributed soon. Now… please, disperse.”

    Pyotr relaxed as all the students quickly dispersed, motivated by the soldiers pushing and shoving them; he doubted they’d see the "updated" curriculum, most of them would probably be sent to the front soon. As he walked across the stone steps towards his state issued automobile, he found himself ruminating on how easy that speech had been. He’d given a similar one, with different talking points, during the first revolution, on this very campus, when he’d shot the last Head Professor as a fresh faced young commissar.

    He chuckled to himself as he slipped into the back seat, his driver pulling away. Funny how it worked out like that.
     
    Chapter 27
  • Separated at Birth I Pic CLIII.jpg

    Chapter 27

    Buoyant from his victory over Spain, Lindsey Stoker signed off on Drakian intervention into the Great Patriotic War.

    Fortunately for him the Empire’s armed forces had been building up in the Near East for a while by that point- just in case- and its naval and air forces were well-positioned in North Africa and Sardinia for a fight over the Mediterranean. The tricky bit was going to be Rhomania, which hosted a small Drakian military presence but that presence would need to be substantially reinforced if the Empire was going to keep the Pan-Europeans from occupying the smaller Societist country, let alone use it as a springboard to invade Central Europe. Bringing in reinforcements however, risked tipping off Berlin that Drakia was about to make its move, and could result in the Pact striking first.

    Drakia did what it could to quietly beef-up its presence in Rhomania (with the knowledge and co-operation of the Rhomanian government)…

    Separated at Birth Dice XIII.PNG


    … while the Pan-European kept a weather eye out in case of the Societist bloc, despite being distracted in Russia…

    Separated at Birth Dice VII.PNG


    …and caught what was going on only after two full legions of the Noble Race with over 30,000 men had been disembarked from their ships and were moving into position. The Pan-Europeans had maintained second-line forces in the west that they calculated were sufficient to hold defensive positions if Drakia attacked, but not enough to spearhead an invasion. Instead the Pact diverted every plane it could from the Eastern Front for a massive chemical and biological attack against Rhomania and Drakia. If they could just delay the Societists long enough to muster the forces needed for a real offensive, then the liberation of the Balkans might be at hand. Drakia replied with incendiary, chemical, and biological attacks of its own, flying planes out of Sardinia, the Balearic Islands, Spain, Rhomania, and North Africa, as conventional forces confronted each other along the Rhomanian frontier.

    It was the first mass use of biological weapons in the Great Patriotic War. The Russian bioweapons program was crude, and the Pan-Europeans hadn’t wanted to use biological warfare in areas where their goal was to cultivate friendly civilian populations. But Drakia led the world in creating biological weapons and Germany’s own arsenal was nothing to dismiss. Both countries had good public health systems and extensive programs in place to protect their populations in case of outbreaks.

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    Drakian soldiers in the Balkans prepare to deploy for combat in protective gear.

    The Battle of the Mediterranean was a massive fight for control over the water and air of the Mediterranean Sea. Most of the Pan-European Pact was within range of Drakian bombers, while the Drakian Near East and the northern third of Africa was within range of European ones. Dozens of new agents were released on cities, on water sources, on agricultural lands, and on military and civilian populations.

    It was a battle for supremacy that would last for over a year.

    In the meantime, the conventional war continued. The Drakian Army forced the German army group that had broken into Georgia to retreat back to the Greater Caucasus Mountains where the two armies fought each other tooth and nail over control of the mountain passes. In Russia the city of Perm fell to the Pan-Europeans, but the Pact’s offensive largely ground to a halt otherwise as it redistributed its forces to the fight against Drakia and Rhomania. The new Russian Empire focused on a war of raids and skirmishes, little battles that bled men and resources from the Rex invaders, while also fighting to put down rebels in Central Asia. The Pan-Europeans crossed into the Balkans as reinforcements trickled in from the east, but Societist reinforcements trickled in as well to help Byzantium Reborn hold the line. Slavic civilians in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia welcomed the Pan-Europeans as liberators, but their homelands were now the front line for a devastating modern war.

    In Great Britain Lancelot Susan and the British Societists completed an auto-coup in early 1940 that removed the remaining non-Societist figures from government and ended the last checks on their power. King Edward VII was forced to flee to the Bahamas when the conventionally conservative monarch opposed the Societist dictator, Susan left the throne empty and dropped the title of “Prime Minister” in favor of “High Chancellor”. The United Kingdom of Great Britain entered the Great Patriotic War, opening another front for the confrontation at sea, and making the fight for the air that much bloodier.

    In Italy Arthur Klein penned his “Cassandra Letter” to the President of Italy.

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    British military police secure political dissidents in Scotland during Susan's autocoup.

    Meanwhile, the Great Pacific War ground on.

    South America was now fully involved in prosecuting the war for the Grand Alliance- particularly La Plata and Brazil who had begun the decade with respectable navies to build off of. On the other hand India shifted from being the junior partner in the Asia-Pacific League of Friendship to carrying much of the burden of the war in place of a Japan that suffered increasingly at the hands of America biological and chemical attacks. It was the massive Indian Army that smashed its way through Persian defensive lines, and as the Americans redirected their resources to the Pacific, it was the Indian Navy that opened the way for the final occupation and annexation of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. In September of 1940 Persian resistance began to collapse and the Shah sued for peace, dropping out of the Grand Alliance and submitting to Indian occupation.

    At that point Japan had finished occupying Insulindia and was going ahead with its landings in northern Australia and New Guinea.

    The attacks were meant as bait- Japanese intelligence had an asset in the US Navy, a Korean-American junior officer alienated by TTL’s higher degree of anti-Asian racism in the United States, who was able to feed them information about American fleet locations when a joint US-Australian-Platinean force sailed in to crush the Japanese landing at Stokes (OTL Darwin). The Grand Alliance fleet found far more in the way of Japanese forces awaiting them than they had expected, including a large chunk of the IJN diverted from the Central Pacific. The ensuing Battle of the Arafura Sea came as a shockingly one-sided Japanese victory and ended with Japan capturing both the city of Stokes (the only part of Australia proper to be occupied during the war) and the Bird’s Head Peninsula. While the Battle of the Arafura Sea was far from the last naval battle of the war it was the last truly major battle with its outcome in question, battles fought with long-range airpower would predominate for the rest of the Great Pacific War, with land and naval forces moving to engage enemy units that had been devastated by aerial attacks.

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    Jets dogfighting during the Battle of the Arafura Sea.

    Instead the rest of 1940 and the start of 1941 was characterized by larger and larger air battles, waged from the Australian Outback to the Hawaiian Islands, to the Japanese Home Islands, to the Alaskan Panhandle and the Golden Gate Bay. Often the fight for control of the air occurred over nothing more than a random bit of ocean, scattering the Pacific with broken flying machines and the dead bodies of brave Japanese and American young men and women (really it was just America putting female pilots in combat positions, Japan permitted women in non-combat flying roles but kept the “mothers of the next generation” out of harm’s way when possible). Both sides dumped different types of poisons on each other’s soldiers, both conducted general strategic bombings whenever they could.

    There were no breakthroughs in the Pacific, no sudden shifts in the balance of power. Just America trying to overcome Japan with superior industry and Japan and India trying to beat America with superior numbers. No one held a technological advantage, no one had noticeably better commanders.

    The USA had already begun interning Japanese-Americans at the start of the war, the revelation at the end of 1940 that a handful of non-Japanese Asian-Americans had been working for Kyoto prompted mass internment of Asian-Americans from other ethnicities. In Central America Federal policies towards Centroamérican resistance grew harsher in face of wartime exigency.

    At least the Grand Alliance could claim a few victories- in Stokes (OTL Darwin) was liberated in December- and an attempt by the Japanese to expand their control of New Guinea from the Bird’s Head to the rest of the island was bloodily repulsed.

    The war remained a stalemate, but surely thought President Vincent Connolly newly elected on a platform of prosecuting the war until victory was won, surely if they just held on long enough then American industry would turn the tide.

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    An apartment block burning during the firebombing of Honolulu.
     
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    Chapter 28
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    Chapter 28

    The invasion of Italy was not totally unforeseen.

    Britain and Drakia had launched a joint invasion of Sicily during the World War, and the Italian government had long considered another such invasion by the Country of the Dragon to be a distinct possibility. There were contingency plans for an invasion of Sicily, and for an invasion of the Italian mainland, there were coastal defenses, Home Guard units drilled for the possibility, and to the degree that they could, Pan-European airpower kept a weather eye out for any possible troop-build ups in North Africa. Arthur Klein, sitting in the Tuscan villa where he was spending his very comfortable internment, wrote a letter in early 1940 to President Anthony Carmazzi of Italy in which he predicted that Drakia’s response to the continued stalemate in the Balkans would be to open another front- likely by launching an amphibious invasion of Italy.

    What the Italian war-planners got wrong was that they assumed the blow would fall first in Sicily, Klein at least listed three possibilities of which Sicily was merely one, the coastal plain in southern Campania was another, and Central Italy near Rome itself was a third.

    Sicily was vulnerable, it was physically close to Drakian North Africa, and Drakia had invaded it once before, giving the Noble Race some experience with the terrain and the geography. Plus, the XXII and XXIII Legions were assembling in occupied Malta, just across the Maltese Channel from Syracuse. It was a natural assumption. Unfortunately for Italy the troop-buildup in Tunisia was a feint, Bondsmen with wooden guns and wooden tanks, suffering under deliberately incomplete camouflage when Pact bombers dumped napalm and nerve gas on their camps. The real invasion force was building up in Sardinia under the command of General Archibald Valois (he was from one of the Drakian aristocratic families that claimed descent from French nobility. Valois was certainly of French descent, but nobility? Eh…) and when it struck it struck not at Sicily but at the coastal plain of Campania south of Naples, at the town of Salerno.

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    Drakia invades Italy

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    Italy fights back
    The Italians had considered the possibility of an invasion from Sardinia landing in the Italian Peninsula proper, but they’d considered it to be a lower possibility than an invasion of Sicily, and assumed that the landings at Salerno were a feint- after all Drakia had used an amphibious landing near Barcelona as a distraction during its invasion of Spain. As a result not only was the response to General Valois’s Legions composed of under-strength second-line units (as most of Italy’s military was fighting in the Balkans or helping with the occupation of Russia) but that response came too late to keep him from securing Salerno, Naples, and a strong foothold in southern Italy. Meanwhile the Drakian Navy successfully took control of the Strait of Messina, preventing Italian forces in Sicily from redeploying to the mainland. Imperial forces rapidly broke out of that initial foothold and Valois pushed north towards Rome.

    The Pan-European Pact scrambled to respond.

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    The lost wreckage of a Hond V landcruiser destroyed by Italian defender during the Drakian invasion of Italy, resurfacing in 2018. While the Hond V- like its predecessors- suffered from a variety of minor production flaws due to issues with Bonded Labor, the Hond Corporation's first heavy landcruiser possesed better armor and firepower than the Hond IV, while remaining relatively robust, inexpensive, and reliable fighting vehicles.

    Pope Clement V called a crusade, Italy withdrew its forces from Rhomania and Russia to its homeland, and Germany diverted the 1st Ukrainian Front (a division of Ukrainian soldiers nominally answering to the puppet Ukrainian government), several Jewish regiments (one of which was given to Klein to command), and two German penal battalions to help. Rome had fallen in the two months that it took the counter-offensive to get ready, with the front line pressing against Terni and Sicily under invasion by Imperial Auxiliaries. The Pact struck south to liberate Italy…

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    … and won a devastating victory over the Noble Race!

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    Rome was liberated (even if the Italian government remained in Florence for the time being) and Rex forces smashed through a series of hastily erected defensive lines across the occupied Italian peninsula. By the end of 1940 General Valois and his expeditionary force had fallen back to Calabria- the “toe” of Italy’s boot- where, backed by naval artillery and heavy air support, he managed to hold the line. The secondary Drakian invasion of Sicily had succeeded in occupying the island, but Italy proper remained out of Stoker’s grasp. The withdrawal of Italy’s troops from other fronts saw the Pact fall back onto the defensive in the Balkans, but the Empire’s diversion of its own focus to Italy meant that outside of a few minor gains in Russia it was unable to capitalize on its enemies’ weaknesses. The war was reduced to a stalemate in Rhomania as both sides paused to reassess their options and scrape the barrel for more materials and men.

    Though biological weapons had failed to achieve a knock-out blow, they had badly damaged the economies of all combatants and disrupted the delicate networks of supply and transportation needed to keep heavy industry operating at peak production. The Pact- all of which was within range of Drakian and British bombers – had suffered worse than the Empire, whose core territories in southern Africa were beyond the reach of any serious raids. Germany and its allies partially made up for this by importing munitions from neutral countries- mostly Scandinavia. France, Ireland, and the New World were happy to do business with the Rex bloc (particularly France which was Rex and happy to let trade with Germany bypass the Draco-British blockade by going through French ports) but other than Scandinavia and Rumania most of their industrial output was dedicated to the ongoing Great Pacific War (Turkey and Arabia were devoting most of their military production to their own stockpiles). The result was that Drakia had a manufacturing advantage over its enemies even with the inherent flaws of the Bonded Labor System, but the Pan-Europeans had a small but significant numerical advantage since most of their population wasn’t being held in de facto slavery.

    How to fix these problems?

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    A Drakian Bondswoman in a tin mine in Morocco. In terms of simple production the Bonded Labor System could keep up with other nation's industries, if simply because of its size, but it utterly devoured human beings.

    Well, the Pan-Europeans were already tapping out their labor pool almost everywhere except for the ethnic-Russian population in occupied Russia, so they looked to recruit volunteer units from the neutral countries and lobbied hard to persuade additional nations to join the fight. The only two that were seriously interested were France and Rumania, and France was hesitant to joint the Great Patriotic War directly while it still had forces committed to the Pacific and its primary ally America would be unable to intervene.

    Rumania joined the war in April 1941 however, agreeing to a separate peace with the Asia-Pacific League of Friendship and quietly dropping out of the Grand Alliance. Rumania offered fresh reserves of men (and women, the Liberal-Conservative national unity government in Bucharest was a lot more pragmatic than the more traditionalist Rex who kept their women in factories and out of uniform) and its help allowed the Pact to advance through the Rhomanian Princely State of Bulgaria and into Rhomanian territory proper.

    The Empire had its own plans, however.

    The first of these was to begin bringing in British divisions from the United Kingdom, which had been involved in the war at sea and in the air, but thus far had only token involvement on land. The other way that Drakia raised new troops was, for the first time in its history, to start drafting Bondsmen.


    The Great Patriotic War was the first war that Drakia employed any number of white women in military roles out side of support positions. Even Drakian infantrywomen were only ever employed for guard and police duties in safe districts far behind the lines. The Empire wanted white babies!

    There had always been opportunities for Bonded volunteers during major wars when the Country of the Dragon found itself short on warm bodies, such soldiers were enrolled in Auxiliary units, and if they survived then they had their debts cancelled and became Nationals- those who distinguished themselves could even become Honorary Whites. But Drakian society had always been very cognizant that enlisting members of their slave caste against their will and giving them guns and training was a poor idea. Ironically, the idea was inspired by the German use of penal battalions and blocking units, in the case of the Rex drawn from the ranks of common criminals, political dissidents, deserters, the mentally ill, and forced labor camp inmates that they used as cannon fodder by placing smaller loyal units behind them with order to shoot anyone who failed to advance. For their part, Imperial authorities conscripted Bondsmen from non-essential roles who had known families that could face consequences if they mutinied or tried to escape. Their officers were drawn from the ranks of Native Auxiliary veterans and smaller units of Bonded volunteers would follow up behind the Conscript Units to make sure that they kept their guns on the enemy.

    The first two of what would ultimately be eight Conscript Divisions were ready by June 1941, just in time for them to be used in the renewed offensive in the Caucasian Front.

    The conscripts were thrown in as cannon fodder, followed up by conventional Native Auxiliary units and Regular and Reserve White Citizen troops, and when the opportunity appeared for a breakthrough no less than fourteen fresh British divisions were available to exploit it. The Societists broke through the Greater Caucasus Range into the plains of Southern Russia, prompting a wave of insurgency on the part of Russian partisans across Rex-occupied Russia. The Russian Empire- which had finally finished securing the major cities of Central Asia even if had not yet secured the countryside there- launched a far more limited offensive of its own, designed to weaken the Pan-Europeans by forcing them to devote more troops to the gargantuan task of occupying and defending Russia west of the Urals.

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    Russian refugees ironically fleeing forced labor at the hands of the Rex for freedom in Societist-held territory.

    Once again, the Pan-European Pact was forced to scramble, recalling units that they had dedicated to the Balkans and Italian fronts (like virtually the entire Italian Army) to the East. They were falling behind Drakia in terms of industrial production and it showed, impacting the Rex nations’ ability to make up losses of equipment and material, and forcing them to fall onto the defensive in the fight for the air. Every able body was conscripted, particularly in the occupied former RZ where the Cossacks, the Ukrainians, and the Belarussians knew what awaited them if their homelands fell under Societist control. Ethnic Russians- now considered unreliable- were pressed into forced labor en masse. By the time the winter of ’41 put a halt to the campaigning season the Pact had failed to contain the Anglo-Drakian advance, which had linked up with the Russian at the Volga Delta in the east, reached the lower Donets River in the west, and captured the city of Tsaritsyn in the north.

    It was a major setback for Germany her allies, but the Great Patriotic War wasn’t over yet.

    Not by a long-shot.
     

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