Without You, There Is No Us

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satilisu
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Without You, There Is No Us

Postby satilisu » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:11 pm

Life in the Camp is austere. You are given two sackcloth overalls (one for work, the other for rest, they say), which is better than it used to be according to the guards. You get a pair of shoes, flat-soled, squeaky, and flimsy enough to fray and crack within weeks but so durable they stubbornly cling to life for years. The inmates must purchase replacements from their meager allowances, which everyone acknowledges is a scam. Some prisoners are proud that they have kept the same pair of shoes for over a decade. They have gotten one over on the Man, they think, but mostly they just like the competition.

Work is long but oddly fulfilling, and much of it is about keeping them alive. Most Camps are really Farms--most of what they eat is grown in their own fields. The work happens from sunup to sundown. With decades of experience the wardens know exactly where men break and stop just short of it. Most of the dirty work is done by hand, and labor-saving machines are few--time behind a tractor allows the mind to wander. The inmates quickly appreciate the skill and the training even peasant work demands. The deficit (and there usually are, given how much they need to be fed), are made up by the State. With tractors and fertilizer and modern genetics feeding the population is almost trivial compared to the titanic efforts demanded not even ten generations past. But the State is not a spendthrift, at least not to them. The inmates must learn that they need to work just a little harder, and even if they did work as hard as they could have going hungry for a bit builds character. Most people come here because they are both overconfident and soft, a modern and fatal character flaw. Taiheis are a perceptive people used to privation--they know that even in good times they must be prepared for the bad.

When they don't work for the Camp the inmates work for themselves. The best craftsmen are high in status and their advice sought after, as they will be released soon. A library exists to fill what little time (and thought) the inmates have left. If they do not read, they write, mostly about themselves, what they have done, and what they have learned. The wardens talk about it with them, from time to time, like a teacher conversing with a student. Bad students are placed under supervision. Disruptive students are removed from the class and given discipline on their own.

Sometimes the inmates are let out. The bad ones must wear a vest that says "CRIMINAL" on the back and sent to the most menial tasks. The good ones merely wear their jumpsuits out and are even allowed to talk to the passers-by on occasion. From early childhood people are conditioned to half-pity, half-respect them--they are only trying their best.

--and trying their best is all that the Thought Police are looking for. The Camp serves a holy purpose. The extirpation of deceit, of cynicism, of all the little evil thoughts that kills Man. A God Worshipper only needs to see the hypocrisy of the Jesselton squat or the suicidal decadence of Wallasea to shake him to his bone. No, sincere men, helpful men, holy men reach Heaven. Some will return as bohisattvas to help the rest of us along. To shirk this duty is to condemn the world to suffer, to decay, and to become colder in entropy. None of the wardens want this to happen, from the bottom of their hearts.

Across the barracks a great slogan is painted, the first thing one sees when committed to the Camp. The inmates apply a fresh coat every year. It is also written on the gate, as the last thing a reformed man sees before becoming free. In Yamato it reads:

WITHOUT YOU, THERE IS NO US
WITHOUT US, THERE IS NO YOU

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satilisu
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Re: Without You, There Is No Us

Postby satilisu » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:03 pm

Pyotr Zaivanovsky's keynote address to the CNF Strategic Summit, 18 January 2019
33:43 mark onwards


"....and that's why Prekovy, for all its tanks and bombers, won't take an inch of CNF territory. But there's still two countries that can upend the international order. Both are in Crataea, and they're right next to each other. One is Questers, and I don't think they're the ones to be worried about, for reasons I spoke about earlier." Slide transition to Taihei flag. "The other is Taihei Tengoku, and just look at that flag! If any flag keeps you up at night, it ought to be that one, no offense to any Taiheis in the audience. Are there any?" No hands go up. "No? None?"

"Anyways, let's continue. Since there's nobody from Taihei Tengoku in the audience I can say this without offending anybody: the Commonwealth committed two serious, even fatal, mistakes in '97. One was not burning Heian to the ground. I'm no warmonger, I don't even own a gun, I even think that Archibald Bumpington-Smyth is a loon like every normal human being, but him and the nutso Tairendians are right on this one. The other was demanding they pay for the damages in gold. Now this was sort of inevitable, because Common Law sorts think about money in terms of gold. But the problem with demanding gold instead of currency or land is that the only people who deal in gold are them and Prekovy, and nobody trusts Prekovy." Audience laughs.

"If they did that, the Taiheis probably would've done something clever but ultimately self-defeating, like manipulating their currency so half their GDP is domestic investment and when it comes time to transition to a consumption-based economy they don't know what to do and the entire thing collapses. Instead they did something clever and absolutely diabolical: they looked at their factories, they looked at their people, and then they turned around to the Praetonians and North Pointers and said: 'they're all yours for a bar of gold.' They sold part of their economy to better management, and conned the Praetonians into paying their own debt. And that's the story of how TVs got cheap, how your shirt is the price of a sandwich, how Taihei Tengoku never missed a debt payment, and how they will become a superpower by the midcentury." Slide transitions to a line graph.

"Here's a graph of Taihei GDP over time. You can see flat, flat, flat, flat all the way up to 1997, then there's a dip, and after 1999 it's suddenly increasing. And it's increasing real fast, I mean 'doubles every decade' fast, and there's no sign of stopping. The bigwigs there think Taihei Tengoku is kind of like a machine, and what happened in 1997 was that the cabal of super-smart monks and bureaucrats that run the place took a long hard look at the machine. They saw that it was broken, and it needed to be fixed before the debt collector came to repossess it. What they did was hit up the debt collector's brother, the master mechanic, who saw the potential in the machine and offered to pay to fix it in exchange for a cut of the profits. They got him on their side and it's been a weird, wonderful partnership ever since." Transition to bar graphs and pie charts.

"Here's a comparison of Taihei real GDP to its rivals in 1998, along with the foreign ownership of its economy. You can see they're both very low. On the right is the same thing, except now it's last year. You can see they're both higher. Three years ago the Taihei economy overtook Tairendia for the first time since 1923. Last year it was bigger than Flamaguay for the first time ever. This year it will overtake the Hanin economy again, except this time it's a unified Hanseom that just picked up seventy million people. In 2021 they'll outstrip both Varnia and Dumanum, and in 2022 it'll leap ahead of Questers. In 2029--ten years from now--Taihei Tengoku will be the world's largest economy by a comfortable margin, unless you put the entire Commonwealth together, and in 2039--twenty years from now--Taihei Tengoku will be the world's largest economy even if you put the entire Commonwealth together. The average Taihei will make in 2040 what the average Embreano makes now, so a Taihei Tengoku that is halfway there to becoming a developed country will be stronger than any Great Power on the planet." Slide transitions to a picture of skyscrapers, fighter jets, crowd of Yamato people, with the text "WHAT THEN?"

"Now what happens when the most powerful man in the world is this guy?" Transition to stock photo of bald-headed monk. Audience laughs. "Things get...interesting. Songia and Tairendia are toast, obviously, along with a probable Hakara. The Taiheis don't think they're real countries anyways, and now they can face them on what the Taiheis consider even odds, which is ten versus one." Audience laughs. "Hanseom is next, obviously. If they're smart they see the writing on the wall and suddenly become very polite around mainlanders, if they're stupid they become three or four new commanderies." Transition to a map of Crataea, with arrows fanning out to the north of Taihei Tengoku. "That's their old empire, their flanks, secured. The obvious next target, and the last place anybody will be able to stop them, is Questers. They'll be in a world of hurt over there. The Taiheis hold the high ground and their tanks and fighter jets are getting better. An entire generation of Praetonians will die there, trying to stop this from happening." Slide transitions to a broken ring. "And if they lose, the Commonwealth, the Iron Oryontic, the Ring of Power, the center of the world, the key geopolitical reality, of the last hundred years is gone. If that happens it'll be anybody's game at that point, but it'll be played by Taihei rules." Slide transitions to a classical Yamato painting of an aeolipile.

"I know what you're thinking. 'Pyotr, you're insane! Only the most imaginative pessimist will think of such things! What evidence is there that this could ever happen?' Well, I think this because it almost happened. Behind me is a painting, a little over a thousand years old, of a Yamato steam engine. A thousand years ago the ten largest cities in the world were all in Yamatai, with banks, with coal, with gunpowder, and with a steam engine. In other words, the Yamato, the most powerful civilization in the world then, had everything they needed to launch the Industrial Revolution, eight hundred years early. What stopped them?" Transition to another painting, one of a battle. "Themselves. Emperor died, had no kids, the nephews fought each other for three hundred years, burned down the libraries, died of plague." Transition. "Ulans burned everything down again before taking over the show, and when the Yamato saw Wallaseans for the first time they decided they've had enough of novelties and seceded from the world for two hundred years, before the Wallaseans they tried so hard to ignore mugged them and left them to cope with opium." Transition to a slide of a Yamato classroom. The shot emphasizes the extensive library of thick volumes available to young children.

"The Taiheis operate according to Lanchester's Square Law, which if you aren't a strategic analyst means the power of the group is the square of the sum of its parts. If you can't do math, it means the more of them there are the stronger they get. Their culture is about optimizing the process of forming large groups, getting someone brilliant to lead it, and then doing big things. There's nothing worse in their culture than being beaten by an individual or by a 'smaller' people, and you can bet they remember their history. You can also bet that the countries around them remember theirs too." Transition to map of eastern Crataea. Countries around Taihei Tengoku are linked by lines of multiple colors, and flags of Dumanum, Flamaguay, and Praetonia. "Every time whoever's on that subcontinent gets their act together it's bad news for everyone around them, and every time they break apart they've come back stronger. If you're on the edge your only option is to bring in enough outside muscle that just maybe you could fight them to a standstill, because in 2019 that's the best you can hope for. And there you have it, folks, the two things that have prevented us from all speaking Yamato. Other Yamato, and literally the entire world. I think the Yamato have stopped tripping over themselves, and if we're not careful, we might remove ourselves. Thank you for your time."

Applause. Standing ovation. Pyotr Zaivanovsky thanks the crowd and smiles. Pyotr Zaivanovsky exists stage left.

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satilisu
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Re: Without You, There Is No Us

Postby satilisu » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:14 pm

Few reunions are held for veterans of the Lunar War. Even fewer are cheerful. Too many battalions and regiments blown apart to a man, too few officers and men who survived. Many of the units were reorganized, renamed, and rationalized to wipe away the shame of defeat. The colonels and generals--lieutenants, captains, and majors in Ninety-Seven--prefer it this way. Veterans often visit the graves of their buddies, wonder why it was that they should live and not him, and drink somberly afterwards.

This is not the case with the Eighteenth Division, now the Eighteenth Airborne Route Army, but forever the "Super Men." On December 5th, the Club Oryontic in Kaiku is cleared of its usual, high-end clientele at five in the evening. At seven, as the sweltering summer heat begins to fade, men in ill-fitting suits and patched uniforms fill the tables. The first few years there were only a few. Now entire companies and battalions are reconstituted, if only for a night, to close with and destroy tankards of liquor. The band plays patriotic tunes as the soldiers sing the secret and unprintably foul lyrics reserved only for them.

Old friends meet again for the first and twentieth times, and reminisce about everything form the first jump into Hollandia to the final month in Heijo when all seemed lost. As is often the case with these reunions, some are still in the service. The colonels ask their old platoon commanders about how well they've been taking care of "their" regiments. The banter from these pensioners still unnerves the officers, who will never get used to minor gods getting drunk on whiskey and ribbing them as equals. The colonels smile awkwardly and tell them their outfit is always ready for the rematch.

A former battalion XO has compiled all the grainy camcorder footage of into one long montage. It starts at nine forty-five and ends a little later each year. Everyone cheers for the sergeant who blows up the Covenanter and smiles fondly at the card games and dugout antics. The current general of the 18th, an operations officer back in Ninety-Seven, gives a speech and presents awards. Each year someone is rewarded for some act of philanthropy, but every four or five years a gallant soldier gets his reward as the byzantine military bureaucracy has finally processed his paperwork.

At the end of the night (really the next morning), the paratroopers, some almost too drunk to walk, march to the train station to go home to their staid existence as survivors. Slurring old marching songs, they re-enact the jaunty march out of the ruins of Heijo International Airport on December 5th. They smile and wave at the civilians surrounding them, who gawked just like the Malayan troops did when the Super Men, bloodied and bandaged, sauntered out of their encirclement in good order, the undefeated champions of a lost war. At the head of the formation is the divisional standard, the exact same one from the war. Following them are all the brigade and battalion colors they still have, bullet-holes and all. And behind them still, lowered in submission, is the prize of the Super Men: the battle standard of the Sultan's Own Regiment of Gurkhas, the only one in the world in enemy hands.


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