The King in Yellow and Other Stories: A President Lovecraft Weird Fiction Timeline in Several Acts

Should I create new threads for a series of related TLIAWs?

  • Yes, they're Schrodinger's canon and should be enjoyed separately

    Votes: 6 33.3%
  • No, they work best as one interconnected narrative and should be concentrated in the same thread

    Votes: 12 66.7%

  • Total voters
    18
  • Poll closed .
The White Ship- Lightning in the Air
While the Napoleonic Wars had ended with the Congress of Vienna, the War of the Conflagration had ended with a far messier resolution, a handful of bitter pills that in hindsight would make the Second War of the Conflagration an inevitability. Italian dreams of unification had been dashed when the portions of the peninsula wrested from France were simply transfered to Austria. Germany remained partitioned between a French vassal and an unholy frankenstate itself torn between two rival powers. Poland had been completely dismembered. France itself groaned under the weight of a needlessly complicated constitution despite its better showing in the conflict. Britain would suffer over a decade of lingering unrest stemming in one way or another from the French invasion as the initial panic transitioned into a widespread crisis of faith in the political system that would itself feed the flames of a diverse array of causes, from Chartism to the reform movement to Luddism.

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-Ned Ludd was almost certainly a fictional person, though the Luddite movement would find new life as a result of the rush to industrialize born of the European arms race begun by the First Conflagration.

This period of transition would see several major changes begin in Britain before spreading across the Continent and the wider world. Jeremy Bentham had died in the conflict but his designs would be adopted en masse as the most politically palatable solution to the problem of lingering unrest. The panopticon model would also come to inform an accelerating trend of industrialization and weapons research— arising out of the perception by many nations that only rapid advancement and new discoveries could give them an edge in what many saw as an inevitable future war, the psychological stresses of the panopticon system would perversely only inflame tensions with the working class, most spectacularly in the case of the American Great Upheaval that would come half a century later. This period would also see the vast expansion of the Esoteric Order of Dagon, as a group that had begun among a small cadre of conspirators concentrated in the British Navy and the government began to extrude tendrils throughout the upper classes and the military-industrial complex.

By the 1840s the European powderkeg was primed to blow, with heads of state and nameless citizens across the continent waiting for the inevitable first spark. It would come from the abomination that was the Holy Roman Empire. Everyone living within the Empire knew it was well past its expiration date, with Prussia and Austria seething with mutual hostility and prepared to strike at one another at a moment's notice. Prussia would be first, launching the Holy Roman Civil War in 1848 and with it the Second War of the Conflagration.

Viewing the Austrians as a power in the midst of a long decline* the Order would covertly aid Prussia in a bid to create a land rival to France incapable of actually conquering her or threatening British sea power** even as the government itself took a position of official neutrality. With Prussian support the Italian states were dragged into the conflict, with the Austrians providing a useful enemy to kickstart the process of Italian unification. Meanwhile the desire of many within the Confederation of the Rhine to become part of a unified German state would directly involve France, exposing deep-seated flaws in Seiyès' unworkable constitutional order in the process.

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-Ah to be an airship in the heady days after cheap aluminum but before helium.

The discovery of a cost-effective method to refine aluminum had proved the holy grail of guerre d'éclair. While the element had been discovered in the 1820s and had attracted much military interest for its potential to create lighter and more durable airships the sheer difficulty of isolating it had made the substance prohibitively expensive for a generation after its discovery, worth more per ounce than gold. By the start of the Second War of the Conflagration that had all changed, with a new generation of rigid airships replacing even the most refined war balloons, making the conflict the first true war in the air. They were not without their problems, however, with the need to rely on hydrogen as a lifting agent proving a fatal weakness when facing an enemy armed with incendiary shells, an innovation pioneered by both of the major German powers and initially based on the use of powdered magnesium.

The bulk of the Second Conflagration would last from 1848 to 1852. While Germany and Austria were unable to completely overpower one another, the broader ripples of the war would see Prussia the victor, with the Holy Roman Empire finally dissolved and popular revolts in the Confederation of the Rhine leading to the nation's annexation into the new German Empire. The Italian states had managed to drive out the Austrians, laying the foundation for the later Kingdom of Italy even as the remaining Austrian realms reorganized themselves into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

While Prussia had been the unquestionable winner, it was France rather than Austria who would face the greatest shock to the system in a scenario ironically similar to the British position at the end of the First Conflagration. Although France had seen little actual fighting in the country, the inability of the French Army to put down the revolts in the Rhine and the vulnerability of her airships to Prussian incendiary rounds*** would lead to an unraveling of the French constitutional order as citizens erupted against their ineffective government. Though he was personally popular, Napoleon II absorbed the brunt of this discontent as the people cried out for a return to the decisive leadership and military victories they had enjoyed under his father. Into the breach would step his cousin Louis-Napoleon, who would lead a mutiny with mass public support, securing his cousin's abdication and becoming Napoleon III. The Order's plans had perhaps succeeded too well.

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-In theory the College of Guardians should have been able to nip this in the bud by simply inducting Louis-Napoleon as a member (stripping him of his military rank in the process) but he had many supporters in the body and the system had been dysfunctional since its inception in any case.

The new French constitution would do away with all that nonsense about the Grand Elector choosing between military or civil power and would simultaneously centralize the state more fully under his control and remove the needless complications that had stifled genuine democratic participation in the government. It was thought that this new system, with the Legislature and Tribune merged into a single directly elected body and the College of Guardians firmly loyal to the Emperor, would provide the best synthesis of the preceding constitutions of the Empire and provide decisive action in service to the popular will and the nation's imperial ambitions.

While German and Italian unification had largely been achieved as a result of the Second Conflagration, the fairly conservative nature of the new governments would still see a mass emigration of radicals to the Americas, largely Germans and Italians but also no small number of French, British and Irish. That last would actually prove much smaller than what we experienced, with a British state laser-focused on preventing unrest taking early and decisive steps to better manage the Great Famine. Those irrevocably opposed to British rule on the island would still leave, though British actions in Ireland during the Famine would make it a loyal bastion of the Empire for decades to come and an integral part of the Alliance for Democracy well into the modern day.


*Ironic, given Austro-Hungarian showing in the First Clash of Civilizations.

**Is there an echo in here?

***Still a primitive technology, since it's difficult to ignite magnesium in bulk, but the French considered airships a sign of their edge in warfare and to see even a fraction of them falling out of the sky in balls of fire was a shock to the planners of the day.
 
A quick note before I get on with the next portion- the airships used in the Second Conflagration were an extremely unrefined technology, much like the incendiary rounds used to shoot them down. Even if only 40-50% of the incendiaries were able to fully ignite their entire magnesium payload the airships were delicate enough that several crashed to the ground simply from shrapnel puncturing their insufficiently shielded gas cells. In any case TTL won't see "proper" zeppelins as we'd understand them until the tail end of the American Civil War and they won't be used by both sides in a conflict until the Franco-German War in the 1870s. I mainly picked the iconic Hindenburg shot as a dramatic representation of the binding limits of airship technology at that early stage.
 
The Doom That Came to Sarnath- Company Man!
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-The popular image of the Thuggee is... not a subtle one, to be sure. What say we do better?
The existence of the Thuggee is one of the more damaging historical fictions, born out of a conflation of unrelated data, ethnic scapegoating, and imperial paranoia. The theory put forward by the East India Company (and later historians that didn't question those sources) painted the Thugs as an impossibly widespread and organized network of bandits and highwaymen, ingratiating themselves with travelers in order to strangle them to death and loot their bodies. There were rumors they were Kali cultists or began as groups of Muslims who had somehow corrupted Hindus into joining the bands. According to the story, the Thugs were eradicated by the East India Company in the 1830s. Modern historiography has cast a great deal of doubt on this narrative, even calling the Thugs themselves a colonial fiction to paper over otherwise unconnected acts of banditry. Some have even suggested that the relatively high levels of banditry were a direct result of the colonization of the subcontinent, with demobbed native troops forced to turn to theft to make up for the loss of their livelihoods.

To explore the fate of the Thugs in the world of The King in Yellow naturally revolves around the fate of the East India Company. While the Company's first two hundred years were by definition identical to their historical trajectory, the sheer phychological blow dealt to the British in the First Conflagration (and the formation of the Esoteric Order of Dagon) would have drastic effects on the fate of the Honorable East India. The first major divergence would come in 1813 as the conflict was beginning to enter its terminal stage, with the passage of the Charter Act. While the historical bill by that name had renewed the Company's charter it had also stripped it of most of its power, limiting its monopoly exclusively to tea, opium and Chinese trade.

By contrast the Act's uchronic twin would be far more lenient. Although measures allowing missionary activity, funding education initiatives and granting the native governments greater judicial authority over Europeans were included as in OTL far more of the Company's monopolies were also protected, as the consensus at the time was that commodities like saltpetre, opium, and fabric were too crucial to the rapidly modernizing British military and to crucial industries to be left to the vagaries of market competition. At the same time it was made clear through unofficial channels that the government would be keeping a very sharp eye on the Company's affairs for any signs of irregularities with the supply of these crucial necessities.

The 1830s would see the Company root out the Thuggee, with the fantasy of a vast and insidious conspiracy used to give license to an equally vast crusade to round up every bandit and cutpurse on suspicion that they were all in league with some sort of sinister cult. 1833 would see another Charter Act, one that would see further attempts at social reforms in India and the preservation of the Company's monopoly on Chinese trade*. The crackdown on banditry had shown results, no matter how faulty its base assumptions, and the Company was keeping the British Isles supplied with all the raw materials expected of it, so best not to rock the boat. The Second Conflagration would see an uptick in demand, with Dagonites active within the Company perfectly willing to do whatever it took to increase supply. It would be this perfect storm of overeager reform and harsh quotas that would spark the Great Revolt.

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-The spark that set off a subcontinent.

Despite a simmering cauldron of assorted grievances against colonial rule in India, from the social reforms and unjust land taxes to the blatant classism and the exploitative state of the newly introduced panopticon prison and factory system, the inciting incident for the Revolt was bizarrely unrelated to any of them. The 1853 Enfield rifle would be introduced to the subcontinent in 1857. It fired Minie balls and used paper cartridges that had to be bitten open in order to be used. The cartridges came greased in order to fit properly in the rifle, with rumors quickly circulating among Hindus that it was beef tallow and among Muslims that it was pork lard, part of a larger scheme to somehow render both groups unclean and induce a conversion to Christianity. Pure lunacy, especially since it was rendered from lamb, but we've already seen in this very volume just how these sorts of panics can get out of hand.

With the first shot fired, so to speak, the simmering tensions would finally erupt. As with most wars in this timeline** it was far from a clear cut affair, with the initial mutineers among the Company's levied forces soon joined by the Mughal Empire and several of the princely states even as a significant portion of the population declared for the East India or tried in vain to stay out of the way. Although war crimes were carried out by both sides as the fighting wore on superior Company technology (and overt British support) would ultimately win the day, particularly the Company's robust fleet of airships. Although the Second Conflagration had demonstrated that modern airships were not infallible*** the rebels lacked access to the sort of artillery that might have tipped the scales in their favor, dooming them to the prospect of a lingering defeat at the wrong end of a Company bomber.

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-Evolution of Company rule in the decades before the Great Revolt. The areas in pink would be reorganized into the East Indian Confederation in the aftermath, with the princely states coerced into "alliances" with it.

The Revolt had lasted barely over a year but had badly damaged the reputation of the Company in the London halls of power. While there was serious talk about simply nationalizing the Indian holdings the example of Ireland provided an alternative solution. Although intervention to mitigate the Great Famine had been made for purely pragmatic reasons, the positive response it had engendered had proved invaluable, with limited concessions to Irish autonomy made in the aftermath in an ultimately successful bid to shore up that good will. Though Irish Home Rule would not arise until 1886 these early steps would prove instructive to the India question. In the 1858 Government of India Act the British goverment would take the radical step of extrapolating the Irish example on a larger scale as a crucial test case— those areas under direct Company rule would be reorganized into the East Indian Confederation and granted a theoretical autonomy within the British Empire.

Though impressive on paper these arrangements were somewhat hollow, with the British sovereign still recognized as head of state and the Company retaining a huge level of influence within the new government. This state of defacto suzerainty would be largely enforced through hard caps on the Confederation military and the undue influence of the new nation's air fleet, a privatized affair contracted to... well you can see where this is going. In fact by some metrics the "nationalization" of the air fleet gave the Confederation one of the largest air services in the world at the time, at least on paper. But what of the Thugs? I did, after all, promise to tell their story. For that we turn to William Chapman.

The Chapmans were long-standing Anglo-Irish nobility and William was born into the family in 1811. In a twist of fate he had been inducted into the Esoteric Order of Dagon during the Second Conflagration and had traveled to India in the aftermath to observe the Company in action, one of the informal network of informants the Order maintained to greater or lesser degrees throughout the Empire. While abroad he would become fascinated with the stories told about the Thuggee, seemingly unaware (or unconcerned) with the exaggerated mythmaking that surrounded the alleged group in the wake of its "extinction".

Before his return to Ireland he would make the acquaintance of several veterans of the Great Revolt now active throughout the Confederation who shared his interest in the group. Out of this mutual fascination would arise the Phansigar, a society within a society that would inextricably bind the Order and the Company all the way to the latter's dissolution. Empire loyalists to a man, the Phansigar would eventually grow to absorb the Order's informal network of dabblers and dilettantes, replacing it with a group of hardened veterans united by rituals, secret codes, and the knowledge that a few assassinations were a small price to pay for peace in the realm. Although shrouded in secrecy, it was known that his grandson was a member, though far less successful than his predecessor, and rumors abound that Narendra Mosley was the fourth generation of his family fully inducted as a Phansigar within the Order.


*The real life 1833 Charter Act is best known for ending that particular monopoly.

**To be fair the actual Great Revolt really was like that and actual clear-cut wars are a historical rarity at best and misapprehensions born of poor schooling at worst.

***Ironically the East India Company had a presence in Qatar, though helium would not be discovered there for another decade. Though theorized since the 1850s, the first terrestrial deposits of helium would be discovered by chance in the United States in 1863. The earliest helium airships would be deployed on a limited basis by the Union army and would be standard among the Great Powers by the outbreak of the Franco-German War. As the largest supplier at the time America would make out like a bandit.
 
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This timeline is a sort of cross between steampunk and the Draka, just without the uber-racist over-powered South Africans. I like it!
 
This timeline is a sort of cross between steampunk and the Draka, just without the uber-racist over-powered South Africans. I like it!
Yes and no 🤔
  1. On the first count it's not really "steampunk" in the strictest sense, since steam power doesn't become the all consuming fuel of choice for longer than it did historically. It's a fast and dirty industrialization to be sure but by the time land warfare gets mechanized they'll have made the switch to petroleum derivatives, so it's more the early predecessor to a dieselpunk setting than anything else, especially because the wars have been especially brutal since the 1840s and a lot of the illusions about a "good war" have been knocked out of people by the 1880s. It's part of the reason the meatgrinder of the First Clash is less shocking to people, since by that point poison gas and trench warfare are old hat.
  2. As to the second EBR's Separated at Birth has had a huge impact on the tone of the TL— in fact he used the "alternate Napoleonic wars wildly accelerate technology" idea that I've put to use here, though in his case they took place later rather than simply being unconventional. It wasn't originally going to be this strange but when I started expanding it (and especially when I started having ideas for just how wild I wanted the Age of Fear to be) I decided to just run with it.
As always I'm open to any questions!
 
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The Cats of Ulthar- Plum Blossom Fists
Beyond a certain point the names we've collectively decided to use for wars are fairly arbitrary. Before it was World War I it was the Great War, and at the time the Napoleonic Wars had been the Great War too! Sure, the Clashes of Civilizations had the shared traits of global scale and another order of magnitude in lives lost and destruction compared to anything in the 19th century but the Wars of the Conflagration were something all together more difficult to describe. Why were the Crimean and Franco-German Wars not folded under that umbrella? Why stop at three? The defining trait of the First Conflagration had been the use of air power and the Second Conflagration had seen a continuation of that trend, but by that point certain other criteria had been tacked on to the label. A proper War of the Conflagration, according to the intellectuals of the day:
  1. Revolved around the deployment and advancement of guerre d'eclair.
  2. Involved competing coalitions of Great Powers rather than lopsided battles against lone opponents or colonial upstarts.
  3. Met some arbitrary threshold of forces and materiel deployed.
A fairly inexact metric, but these things often are. In order to document the Third (and final) War of the Conflagration before the First Clash comes along and renders the term meaningless we'll have to rewind a bit. Back to the 1850s, so we can see all the moves that put the pieces into their inevitable places on the board.

Napoleon III had ascended to the throne on a white horse armed with promises of martial victory and he didn't exactly disappoint. The 1850s would see the start of the resurgence of the French colonial empire, with French troops carving out massive territories in North Africa and gradually bringing the former nations of Indochina to heel. Both would have their unintended consequences, with the eventual dissolution of Indochina all but guaranteed (even if it took a century) and the wildfire spread of the Leopard Societies throughout French Africa and eventually the wider world.

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-Originally endemic to Sierra Leone in the 1870s, the Leopard Society would gradually evolve from a secret society to a more conventional organized crime syndicate to best take advantage of the chaos that flowed from European colonization. Although rumors continue to swirl about ritual cannibalism the Leopard Men have become deeply entrenched throughout the African diaspora.

The French colonial wars would win the nation imperial prestige and would do an excellent job blooding the troops, with many that had first seen action in Africa proving an integral part of the French force deployed during the Crimean War, a tawdry affair considered too small a scale to merit the title of a Conflagration. The fact that it was essentially Russia facing down a large alliance (armed with poison gas!) alone didn't help, though it would give the Russians an enormous axe to grind against France and Britain both. By the time of the Crimean War the British had shifted their concern from France to Germany, making an alliance between the two in Crimea palatable to both and opening up avenues for further cooperation. China was a notable example, with a coalition of French and British troops deployed in 1856 in support of the East India during the Second Opium War.

The recent amity would face its first real test during the Franco-German War. Since the conclusion of the Second Conflagration France had viewed Germany as the greatest threat to Napoleon's ambitions to be the dominant land power in Europe, setting off a generation of mutual hostility and saber rattling. The actual causes of the war revolved around French demands for the "return" of German territory that had been directly annexed by Napoleon I but lost after his death at Tannhausen, a nonstarter that Bismarck could never countenance. The inevitable clash finally came in 1870 and the world would never be the same even as Britain strived to appear neutral.

The drive toward technological advancement in 19th century warfare was always an uneven one. Airships were leagues ahead of where we had them at the same time, prompting a drive for ever larger and more effective artillery, while the earlier mass adoption of lever action rifles would play a role in the acceleration of firearms. By the outbreak of the Franco-German war "true" helium airships we'd be more familiar with had become the standard, along with a new generation of phosphorus-based incendiaries and the first widespread use of semi-automatic firearms.

One area that lagged significantly was any analogue to tanks, a product of the still early state of petroleum engines. The closest analogues were war wagons, evolutions of the steam car concept plagued with temperamental engines and an inconvenient lead time to build up steam pressure. As it turns out mechanized armor was the crucial missing ingredient, with its absence turning what was meant to be a quick and decisive victory for one or the other into a brutal morass of trench warfare. With no real hope of a breakthrough on the ground and too much parity in the air, the conflict would drag on to an inconclusive and anticlimactic draw, finally ending to no applause and much bitterness in 1872. The conditions would prove eerily prescient to the First Clash of Civilizations.

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-With the death of Napoleon III in 1873 his son would take the French throne as Napoleon IV. He would become fast friends with King-Emperor Albert Victor*, deepening the ties between formerly bitter enemies.

Contrary to all expectations the Third Conflagration would come not in Europe but in Asia. The 19th century had not been kind to the Middle Kingdom, with loses in not one but two Opium Wars, a decade long rebellion by a Xiantiandao sect in Shandong and an archipelago of treaty ports and foreign possessions enforced at the end of a cannon and a bayonet. This state of affairs naturally produced bitterness among the Qing government and the Chinese people more broadly, producing a flowering of secret societies dedicated to purifying the land and driving out the foreigners. The largest and most successful of these groups was the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, commonly known in the west as the Boxers. Publicly pushing the government to adopt a harsher stance, the group would attack foreign railroads and warehouses and would spark the Third Conflagration in 1900 when they converged on Beijing to attack the Legations.

The Third Conflagration would see an alliance of the East India Company, the British and French Empires, the Japanese Empire and lesser participation by the United States, Italy, Germany and Austria-Hungary, the so called "Seven Nation Army". Originally believed to be alone against the onslaught the Chinese would draw support from a surprising benefactor, with the Russian Empire keen to embarrass Britain and France for the humiliation of Crimea. Officially neutral at the start of the conflict Russia would declare a separate war against Japan over a demand to a demilitarized zone** in Korea, discretely shipping weapons to the Qing in exchange for a guarantee of Russian rights to Outer Manchuria and advanced notice that had allowed them to discretely extricate themselves from the Legations before the siege began.

While the Legation siege was broken after two months when Company airships burned much of Beijing to the ground in retaliation the new weapons would prolong the conflict in China proper and quickly shred the fiction of Russian neutrality, expanding the Third Conflagration to the Russian Far East and dragging the rest of the alliance into Japan's war against Russia. This expansion of the scope of the war would provoke tensions within the Alliance between the Germans, French and British, limiting its effectiveness overall as competing war aims*** among the Great Powers hampered crucial coordination, further delaying the seemingly inevitable defeat of the Russo-Chinese alliance. The war would finally end in 1903 and would see further humiliations forced on the Qing even as Russia was forced to cede a large slice of Outer Manchuria to Japan. Most of the victors saw their holdings expanded, though a perception that Germany had gotten more out of the war than it had put in would further inflame Franco-British public opinion and ironically start to mend Franco-Russian ties in Europe in a bid to contain their neighbor. The burning of Beijing would prove a pyrrhic victory for the East India Company in China, however, and would eventually see it driven from the country entirely during the Wushen Rebellion.


*His father (our Edward VII) had died in 1871 of his historical bout of Typhoid fever. The 1885 assassination of Queen Victoria was publicly blamed on the British Republican movement that had festered since the First Conflagration, though there's a persistent conspiracy theory that she was killed by an EOD Phansigar as a response to her pro-German sensibilities.

**The inciting incident of the Russo-Japanese War OTL.

***Germany and Austria-Hungary were keen to expand their concessions in northern China at Russian expense, while Britain and France favored a purely naval war in support of the Japanese. The United States withdrew from the conflict once the siege of the Legations broke, arguing that the Open Door policy should be maintained but unwilling to get dragged into a land war in Asia.
 
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And with that we've bridged the gap into the 20th Century! Tomorrow I'll do a deep dive on Japan and I'll have chapters on Britain and France from the Clashes to the Strange Aeon, the Second Great Revolt and a super fun media update! I'd like some input on that flag star question! The finished version is going in the media post!
 
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Pretty good. It’s basically a pulp fiction story/two-fisted tale, so my mind is able to shut off the nitpicky historian side of me and enjoy all the cool things.
Things have gotten very strange to be sure 😂 Conspiracy theories in-universe are absolutely wild since there actually are tons of historical secret societies and terrorist groups running around and plenty of flashy assassinations. As for historical nitpicks, Third Conflagration aside the fact that the German Empire formed a generation early has really escalated tensions in Europe and brought Russia back into the fold that will evolve into the Entente. Geopolitics takes people strange places but it really helped that the British/French didn't actually try to invade Russia (and the East India did a lot of the legwork in China more broadly).
 
Celephaïs- Black Youth, Dark Ocean
The Seven Nation Army was always something of a misnomer, will all participants in the alliance only deploying in the same campaign during the so-called "liberation of the Legations". Following the break in the siege two months into the four year war the United States politely excused itself, selling weapons to the rest of the coalition but otherwise exclusively striving to to broker some sort of diplomatic end to the Third Conflagration, which would largely divide into two partitions only loosely related to one another.
  1. The southern China theater would revolve almost entirely around guerre d'éclair waged by the Chinese branch of the East India Company with support from Britain and France, making it something akin to a third Opium War in both tactics and belligerents. The British and French deployed ground troops in this theater as a result of the simple fact that that was where most of their concessions and territories were.
  2. Despite small scale deployments by Germany and Austria-Hungary in a bid to expand or at least entrench their local concerns the northern Manchurian theater would largely be the stomping ground of the Japanese, with the Franco-British lending support at sea but otherwise unwilling to deploy troops.
Following the end of the Third Conflagration the Japanese Empire had come away with the (not incorrect) idea that they had born the brunt of the war in Manchuria and the Sea of Japan, while their skilled conduct in the war had finally forced the Great Powers of the day to regard them as an equal, "racial handicap" be damned. This bittersweet sense that the Empire had won a great victory despite what many Japanese viewed as the lukewarm support by the rest of the Seven Nation Army would go on to inform Japanese politics and policy for nearly forty years. The other major factor in the Japanese context would prove to be the growth of a homegrown school of Rational Anarchism.

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-Kōtoku Shūsui, the "father of Japanese Anarchism".

Kōtoku Shūsui had begun his political life as a fervent member of the Liberal Party before his gradual migration to Rational Anarchism. Born into a lesser samurai family in 1871, he had come by his radicalism honestly, with many of the samurai class resentful of the decline in status and loss of privilege stemming from the opening of Japan and the Meiji* Restoration. He would learn English and become involved with the newspaper industry, serving as an editor or contributor to several Liberal newspapers, though the Third Conflagration and the endorsement of the government by the party would tarnish his views on the Liberal movement. He discovered Rational Anarchism early in the war, even striking up a correspondence with movement thinkers in America and even a few surviving Nihilists** that had emigrated out of Russia following the suppression of that movement in the 1880s.

By the conclusion of the Conflagration he had taken to Rational Anarchism with the zeal of a convert, translating several works by Warren and the trifecta of Harman, Stone and Tucker into Japanese. In 1903 he would also found Heimin Shinbun, The Commoner's News, which would become the nerve center of the new movement and lend it its name, Heiminshugi, roughly translated to "populism", though unrelated to the American movement of that name. From the beginning Heiminshugi was seen as a vital threat by the powers that be, with Kōtoku and several of his contributors jailed and the paper shuttered for the first time in 1905. Reopened following his release in 1907 it would be suppressed almost immediately, and following the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910 he would go into exile, joining a Rational Anarchist experiment that had sprung up in Outer Manchuria and resuming publication there.

It's mildly amusing that the same declining samurai class that had produced Kōtoku would birth the Green Dragon Society. The death of Emperor Meiji in 1912 would see the rise of his son Yoshihito, who would choose the era name Taishō. The Taishō period would see the relative stability of a western-style democracy after the tumult of the Meiji era, with the now dominant Liberals thoroughly accommodated to the government they had originally resisted. Some factions within the government and the military were unsatisfied with this state of affairs, viewing a strong civilian government as a vulnerability even as the ripples of the Wushen Rebellion reshaped China and threatened their view of East Asia as rightfully the Japanese sphere of influence.

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-Founded sometime in the 1870s, the Green Dragon Society was dedicated to the ideal of a strong militarist government and a foreign policy centered on Pan-Asianism. Unrelated though structurally similar to the Esoteric Order of Dagon, the group would quickly spread through the Japanese military and sympathetic circles within the government.

Though initially more stable, the democracy of the Taishō period would prove unable to adapt as it aged. Citizens quickly grew disillusioned with the Liberals even as the system failed to generate popular alternatives and a moral panic around Heiminshugi and a sense that the Empire was being weakened from within and constrained from without began to spread among the population. The death of Emperor Taishō in 1926 and the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 would prove the final blows to the sclerotic system, with a new militarist government taking power under Hirohito. His 1932 assassination at the hand of a Korean independence activist would see the end of the brief Showa era and the installation of his brother Yasuhito. Far more militarist than either of his predecessors, the Genka*** era would see the empowering of the Green Dragons, Japanese participation in the Second Clash of Civilizations, and a secret weapons project devoted to biological agents.

Though the Second Clash of Civilizations would not end with nuclear fire over the Home Islands it would still deal the militarist government a humiliating string of losses, with the annexation of the allied Empire of China into the Republic, the attempts to become hegemon over Indochina and the Nusantara repulsed, Taiwan lost and the Home Islands themselves blockaded into submission. The postwar chaos would see the unexplained disappearance of Yasuhito, a matter of rampant speculation but no clear answers in-universe. In his absence his brother Takahito would become Emperor, choosing the era name Koji to signal his intention to see Japan brought into the new postwar world reinvigorated and at peace with its neighbors.

The Koji period would see the return of civilian democracy, with the Liberals returning as the dominant party following a purge of those considered too complacent with the previous regime. It would also see a large reduction of the Empire's military and the deepening of ties with the new Franco-British Union, though Japan would elect to become an observer rather than a full member of the Alliance for Democracy. Domestically the early Koji era would see an ill-fated attempt at a military coup and a lingering independence movement in Korea. By the time the India Crisis became the center of international attention in the 70s the military had been firmly brought to heel and a new generation of Koreans had grown to accept being equal members of the Empire, though Heiminshugi wasn't going anywhere...


*An unrealistic parallelism I know, but Japanese era names are so layered with meaning I didn't want to get into the weeds on it.

**Recall that TTL's Nihilist movement had Rational Anarchist influences, though they were generally a more extreme breed than the American mainstream of the movement.

***These next era names are borrowed from @Zulfurium's excellent A Day in July.
 
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Mishima's coup was much more serious TTL, where he was one of a group of officers attempting to overthrow the government in 1960. Upon the failure of his attempt he would unfortunately die in the same way as his historical counterpart.
 
Ex Oblivione- The Union Forever
The Entente Cordial of 1904 was something that would have seemed impossible a century before, formalizing an alliance between the British and French Empires that had been slowly taking shape since the disaster that was the Second Conflagration. The meteoric rise of Germany had upset the calculus of Europe and with the inconclusive end to the Franco-German War thirty years before the next great European war seemed inevitable. When it finally came with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand by bombing the Entente and its allies stood firm against the Central Powers as the quagmire of trench warfare was finally writ large upon the continent. New technologies would enable some movement of the lines, with advances in mechanized armor proving invaluable for breaking through even as advances in artillery had finally led to the retirement of the military airship, with guerre d'éclair adapting to the doctrine of heavier than air fixed-wings and the earliest generation of helicopters.

When the tide finally began to turn in 1916 with the arrival of American troops on the western front some within the Entente high command began looking ahead to the conflicts that would follow and the resources they would need to see them through. New developments in armor and air power had made clear that petroleum was a matter of the utmost necessity and that any steps to secure it were acceptable. With this in mind the British government would deploy a Phansigar armed with untraceable bullion and covert Franco-British support into the hinterland of the Ottoman Empire. Acting as a deniable asset, T.E. Chapman, grandson of William Chapman, was tasked with instigating a "native" revolt by the Arabs against the Ottomans in a bid to create a state or states that would become oil-producing clients or colonies of the Entente. The failure of his mission and his discovery by the Ottoman government would see his execution by beheading, the crushing of the Arab Revolt, and a British shift toward Venezuelan oil in the postwar period.

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-Chapman of Arabia managed to avoid dragging the Entente into a war with the Ottomans when he refused to break under torture, maintaining until his execution that he was a lone filibuster rather than a government agent. For his sacrifice he has been lionized by the Phansigar and the broader Esoteric Order of Dagon and is commonly euphemized as "the modern Orion" within the Order.

The end of the First Clash and Chapman's Arabian adventure would see the Entente alliance continue as both parties basked in the glow of victory and recoiled at the Red wave seemingly washing over the continent. In France Robert Nivelle would transform his successful military career into a successful political one, where he would remain as Prime Minister through the so-called "Tense Twenties" and the Second Clash of Civilizations beyond. At the same time Napoleon IV would abdicate the throne, allowing his son and heir to become Napoleon V. Aside from the rising threat of war in Europe the French would also find themselves preoccupied attempting to stamp out the Leopard Societies infesting their African holdings and the Indochinese rebels at that point covertly drawing on support from the Green Dragons.

The British would find themselves preoccupied with the first stirrings of what would blossom into the Second Great Revolt. In a bid to shore up the state of the Empire 1926 would see the Imperial Conference, bringing together local leaders of Ireland, the East Indian Confederation and the various settler colonies and properly defining the concept of the British Dominion for the first time. Under this structure Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand would gain a level of self-rule similar to that guaranteed (on paper) to the EIC in the 1860s and (more sincerely) to Ireland in the 1880s, though all would remain subjects to the sovereign and have certain restraints on their militaries and trade relationships. Though allegedly equals, the actual level of independence granted to a given Dominion would blatantly vary on a case by case basis, a situation that would lead to lingering tensions within the British Empire throughout the 20th century.

The Great Depression would hit the Entente particularly hard and the two nations would react in starkly different ways. Though democratic to a degree the unusual constitutional monarchy in France placed far more emergency powers in the hands of the Emperor than the British system, with Napoleon V (in his role as Grand Elector) reviving the long defunct Consular positions. Prime Minister Nivelle was awarded with the broad powers inherent to Consul for the Interior and the Emperor's confidant Simon Boulanger* was given the role of Consul for War and the task of preparing for a possible war against the Comintern. Britain meanwhile would see the floundering Liberal government collapse, sweeping in a new coalition between the Conservatives under Jack Tolkien and a group of Labour defectors led by Oswald Mosley called the New Party. The period would also neatly demonstrate the inequality of the Dominion system, with the British government essentially vetoing Canadian participation in a free trade agreement with Presidents Lovecraft and Vasconcelos.

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-The rise of a(n admittedly English) Catholic to the office of Prime Minister was a testament to the much closer relationship between Britain and Ireland that had grown for nearly a century, a product of pragmatic concessions and paternalistic conservatism that would become a hallmark of the New-Conservative Coalition.
The Second Clash of Civilizations would see the Entente on the winning side but otherwise facing a hostile and alien world. Although allied to the United States and as belligerent to the Comintern as ever, the loss of Malaysia and Indochina to the nascent Fascist sphere would convince many within the Entente that to survive they would be forced to stake out their own position outside the quickly solidifying Providence Pact. The answer would come in 1942 with the creation of the Alliance for Democracy, an independent alliance system made up of the allies and colonies the British and French empires, along with the Kingdom of Italy, the Rhenish Republic, Danubia, the (remaining) Portuguese Empire and assorted other states in Europe and Africa. In a surprising move the Ottomans and the Japanese-Thai alliance would elect to sign on as observer nations to forestall potential Communist adventurism.

1943 would see the next great evolution of the Entente, with the dynastic marriage between the House of Bonaparte and the House of Windsor in 1930 finally paving the way for the creation of a true political union. In the new Franco-British Union the two component states (and their internal devolutions and political systems) would continue to exist unchanged, with a new All-Union government centered on Versailles. The All-Union government would operate as a parliamentary system, governing those areas not delegated to the component empires, including a joint military command and intelligence service, an internal migration authority, a shared currency and such prestige projects as the Entente space program**. Previous mandates shared between the two would remain the province of the All-Union government, though administration of the preexisting colonies would be a national affair despite the Entente Armed Forces largely responsible for enforcing the peace.

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-Napoleon V several years before his ascension. Following his marriage to Queen-Empress Victoria II*** and the founding of the Franco-British Union it was decided the two would retain their respective titles and holdings as equals, with their future heir gaining dominion over two legally-distinct and independent empires and the union that connected them. To symbolize this equality it was decided the next generation of the family would receive the new surname Angevin.

*A descendent of an analogue to the two fiction Boulangers used in Look to the West and Separated at Birth.

**The project that finally put an espatier on the moon was called Galahad while the ship itself was the ESS White Valiant.
***Shown here in the clothing of the period. Although she would participate in the elaborate clothes and rituals as required Vicky II was just as comfortable in "modern fashion" and the fact that she was just as fierce and strong-willed as her husband is what made the marriage politically palatable in the first place.
 
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I know given their fathers' ages Napoleon V (b.1900) and Victoria II (b.1904) are pretty young but I'm rationalizing it away with Napoleon IV having daughters first (the French Empire being patrilineal) and Albert Victor just having trouble conceiving for awhile, it's the best way I could make the generations work for what I've got planned for the new dynasty :evilsmile: Since the first generation ruled their territories separately the technical Head of State for the FBU is a governor-general agreed on between them but that's only a stopgap until their heir is old enough to become King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions, Emperor of the French and (for awhile) Emperor of India.
 
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Nyarlathotep- The Star of the East
The existence of the East Indian Confederation had never been a happy one. The fact that the Great Revolt had been snuffed out in a year hadn't changed the lived reality that many of the fundamental problems that had galvanized it still existed and on top of that it was plainly obvious to most everyone that even though India had served as the model in some ways for the later Dominion system the rights her citizens were guaranteed came with strings attached and loopholes big enough to fly a Company vimana through. Perhaps the only positive contribution of this confluence of old and new problems was the fact that the confessionally-neutral civil service and broad complicity of elites in the new system, both in the Confederation proper and the "allied" princely states, led to far more of the rabble's resentment being focused on class and caste instead of faith*. While discontent had rippled under the surface since the Revolt had ended the "modern" phase of the Indian independence movement is usually backdated to the 1880s because of three crucial events.

1882 would see the transfer of the core of the Theosophy religious movement to Adyar under founding members Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott. Theosophy had drawn enormous doctrinal influences from a variety of religious traditions on the subcontinent and had done a great deal to bring those traditions into the western consciousness, a trend which would continue even after the society began to fracture in the 1890s following Blavatsky's death. Interacting with South Asian religions in a serious and respectful way would be a sea change compared to the hamfisted missionary efforts that had helped spark the Revolt in the first place and several prominent proponents of independence** would credit the Society with sparking in them an awakening regarding the value of their own religious and cultural history.

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-Under Charles Stewart Parnell the Parliamentary Party would become a dominant early force in Irish politics.

The second major turn would come in 1886 with the passage of the Government of Ireland bill. Events unfolding since the Great Famine would make the prospect of Irish home rule far more palatable to the British political elite, which had increasingly come to view Ireland as a loyal and dependable component of the United Kingdom if properly kept on side. The bill (which Gladstone was able to pass along with his proposed Land Purchase Bill) would create a devolved parliamentary assembly on the island and lead to massive advancements in political participation and tenant rights. While this had the intended effect of further endearing the Emerald Isle to its neighbor it would have the far less palatable side effect of crystalizing political awareness in a sizeable minority on the subcontinent who fully realized just how badly the formation of the East Indian Confederation had stunted their national development. While theoretically "a nation within the Empire", the end of the Great Revolt had simply constructed new and more insidious systems of control, with the East India Company shifting from direct control of the subcontinent to far more subtle economic manipulation with an Indian face. The initials were the same, for gods' sake!

1885 would see this sizeable minority cohere into the Indian National Congress, the first modern nationalist movement to arise outside the white-ruled British colonies. The early goals of the Congress were considerably more moderate than their later tone, pushing exclusively for home rule and the realization of similar civil rights and land reforms to those granted so successfully in Ireland. The INC would begin its turn to radicalism in the 1890s under the direction of a group of fiery activists led by the Lal Bal Pal triumvirate of Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, who pushed for nothing less than full and total independence. Tilak would come to be seen as first among equals within the triumvirate and would pioneer the overt partnership between the Indian independence movement and the Theosophy Society (Adyar), forming a close working relationship with Society leader Annie Besant.

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-The Lal Bal Pal triumvirate. Tilak (center) would accrue several titles by the time of his death, including "the Maker of Modern India", Lokmanya*** and "the father of Indian unrest", depending on who you talk to.

The early 20th century would bring several changes to the Society and the East Indian Confederation both. In 1909 Besant and her colleague Charles W. Leadbeater would discover Jiddu Krishnamurti and become convinced he was the incarnation of a foretold Theosophical messianic figure called the World Teacher. Besant would adopt the boy to oversee his spiritual and temporal education, with her connection to the triumvirate serving as a vehicle for his political awakening. The British would later go on to levy troops in the Confederation during the First Clash of Civilizations, where the harsh fighting would radicalize those troops who returned and would further swell the radical faction of the Congress. The first true cracks in the colonial edifice would come in the 1930s, with Company stock dealt a considerable blow by the Great Depression and an attempt by the Green Dragon Society during the Second Clash of Civilizations to support a Japanese-aligned Indian puppet state.

The end of the Second Clash and the formation of the Franco-British Union lead to renewed fears among those advocates of independence, who saw in the marriage of Victoria II and Napoleon V the possibility that their status as a Dominion could be replaced with the far more direct administration of the Napoleonic system. Evidence for this was scant but the creation of a unified Dominion of Guyana (following the purchase of Suriname from the Netherlands) and the incorporation of French Polynesia into the new Dominion of Oceania demonstrated that change of that type could flow in one direction, so the belief it could someday do the opposite was not unthinkable. Direct rule of the subcontinent had been a pipe dream TTL but the prospect seemed like a terrifying setback to even the modest gains made under the Confederation.

During this period the Congress would be divided by two mutually exclusive positions. The Maximists were led by Jawaharlal Nehru, who sought complete independence from the British Empire and the Franco-British Union. His faction drew from a wide variety of influences, from the decentralized ideal of Marxist-Trigonism to the booming Fascist movement, which offered development and cultural rebirth. The moderates within the Congress had all but disappeared, leaving his primary opposition in the form of a group calling themselves the Irredentists, a Hindu nationalist movement that had grown out of the Azad Hind and sought to create a strong centralized state modeled on the French and Japanese Empires and allied with the FBU as an equal rather than a subject. Though lacking a single leader this group was largely influenced by Savitri Devi. Born Maximiani Julia Portas and of French and Greek descent, Devi had been introduced to Theosophy in Greece and had long been an associate of an ultranationalist group that had grown out of the Armée d’Afrique called the Serpents d'Ébène. Following the Second Clash the Serpents and the Dagonites had formalized ties with one another, suggesting to suspicion that she was a plant by the Franco-British to either undermine the Congress or create an independent but still subservient state.

The onset of the Congo Crisis in the 1950s and the resulting wave of liberalization in the white-ruled Dominions in the following decades would finally give the Maximalists the edge to outmaneuver the Irredentists. Nehru would continue to lead the Congress until his death in 1964, passing leadership of the organization to his longtime protege Krishnamurti. The 1970s would finally see the heavens open, with the Franco-British distracted in the Bush Wars, a new King-Emperor on the throne, and an American president uninclined to swoop in and install a Providence Pact member. The Second Great Revolt would be considerably more peaceful than the first, with mass demonstrations across ethnic and religious lines and a nationwide wave of strikes quickly overwhelming the weak Confederation government and catching the by now severely weakened East India Company off guard. To explore the new Indian Union we'll look to the next update.

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-Lucien Angevin, now styled King-Emperor Lucien I, King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the Dominions and Emperor of the French. The last Emperor of India.


*OTL the Great Revolt and the Raj that followed lead to massive shifts in participation in the colonial machinery along religious lines which played a major in the later sectarian tensions following independence. De facto continuation of East India hiring policies and a perception of broad-based complicity regardless of faith will butterfly that here.

**OTL Gandhi credited his turn toward independence and renewed interest in Hindu culture with being given a copy of the Bhagavad Gita by a pair of Theosophists.

***"accepted by the peoples as their leader"
 
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