March on, boys!

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March on, boys!

Postby Praetonia » Fri Feb 15, 2019 4:32 am

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Marshal and the King depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Just Providence, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Ken had never liked school. No more than the other boys, at any rate. And yet he found himself mouthing words he thought long forgotten, standing in the intersection with his rifle and the bayonet fixed. He had left many friends on the battlefields of Questers, and that time, he felt, was now his lifetime. Everything before that was just a dream. Everything after, a bonus he did not deserve.

He had been with the Marshal at Panchkula. He had driven - who knew where? No one knew the name in those days, no one from Senland anyway, and certainly no one from the Far Occident. He had driven into the darkness, from the ramshackle cities of the coast down dirt roads into total wilderness, driven to die in an unknown pass cutting an unknown mountain range, placing himself between an enemy of overwhelming power and the inevitable goal. That had been his duty, and in the long hours rumbling Westwards he had come to terms with and accepted his fate. His mother would be sad. His father would proud. His family would remember him with honour. In any case, he had no way out. We do not deserve anything in this life, he had decided, and did not achieve by changing our circumstances, which was beyond our power, but only by meeting them rightly.

He did not die, and the name became famous, and the Marshal's, and all the Marshal's men. The bells rang out for three days in Haversham, he was told, after Panchkula. Was that true? He had never been to Haversham, and he had never heard its bells. And he didn't know if the saluting guns had been fired at Lilburne House at dawn and dusk for a week, but that story he believed, because he could still hear Haversham's guns ringing in his ears. In the stillness of the night, in the chatter of the day, now facing the growing and angry crowd, he could hear Haversham's guns still ringing, always.

He had followed the army and he had followed the Marshal. From Panchkula to the Pahang, a whole campaign, through devastated cities and ruined fields, a nation slaughtering itself and finding no resolution. Then, to the ships, and the landings. New Senland, he found, was something else entirely; those people had no doubt whose side they were on - their own - and they had only waited for the moment to spring forth with their militias and their hidden weapons and chase their tormentors faster than Ken and the rest of the real troops could follow them. The Syndicalists had not hung around. But the sound of the guns, the aircraft, and the bombs had never died away.

On the hills overlooking Jesselton, Ken had met the Marshal. The Marshal had been ambushed. He had come through, as he always did, but many of his bodyguards had been killed. "You are a Panchkula man," Ken had been summoned. "That is excellent. I have an especial favour for Panchkula men.

"It is our greatest victory. Panchkula! It will live forever!"

Ken had struggled to find the words. The Marshal grinned a great grin, and slapped him on the shoulder. "Good man!" He had moved on to the next.

From then on, Ken was tied to the Marshal. When he entered Jesselton on his Tavistock hunting stallion, Ken and his comrades were not far behind. When the Marshal met the King on the plains around Lahore, Ken was not far behind. They shook hands, and walked forward together, their bodyguards trailing after and mingling together too. The cameras flashed, and the cameramen cheered. When he crossed the Lalhus and entered the Nampataland, Ken was not far behind. And when the Marshal reached the Nampata itself and pissed in it, Ken was laughing and cheering with the rest of the troops.

When the army was dismissed, and the Marshal declined to go, Ken thought this was only right. Who was anyone to contradict the Marshal now? He heard there was a struggle going on, far away, over this, but he saw no need to be concerned. The Marshal always won. And when the Marshal stepped out to meet the delegation sent to dismiss him, Ken walked one pace behind the Marshal with his rifle ready, and the delegation with its tanks and aircraft flying overhead did not perturb him. But the Marshal had not talked them away, and had not ordered him to fire. The Marshal had bowed and said, "quite right, quite right." And then he had gone.

He remembered boarding a liner, and he remembered entering Hirosaki. Home. But he did not care much. He had been billeted in a nice hotel and he had gone home every weekend to see his family. They greeted him with joy. He greeted them distantly. There was a parade. The Marshal had an army here, that is all anyone would talk about. It was not Unlawful to have one's own army. But it was eccentric. It could mean no good. And one day the army moved again, it drove under the arch and down the causeway onto the mainland of Tairendia. The sentries from the Solar Association waved their hats and shouted, "bravo!" and "Providence with you!"

And so Cpl. Kenishiro Hamada found himself standing here in this intersection in Hokkaishu, the crowd growing larger and angrier, a Nampataland man to his left and a Nampataland man to his right, a Nampataland officer in his sight and who knew how many Nampataland men behind. A truck behind them boomed its orders from a megaphone, but the crowd only grew larger and angrier.

"Legionnaires," the officer drew his sword, "Remember Kuala Pahang! Remember Jesselton!

<leis2> Otoh i am also an antiquarian so im legitimately interested in how purple dye was made in sidon
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Re: March on, boys!

Postby Questers » Fri Feb 15, 2019 3:34 pm

For Harper, the weeks of late 2013 flew by.

Quite literally: on Tuesdays, he had to fly Hirosaki to Kuala Pahang, a nine hour direct flight, for a meeting on Wednesday, then flew back on Thursday. On Friday, he flew to Kohat on the six hour direct flight for the weekend, and then flew back to Hirosaki on Monday. After the first month he had lost track of how many times he’d been where, and after the first six months the idea of time itself had just become one shapeless swamp punctuated by the roar of jet engines and the thump and the wheee of a plane landing and skidding in the night-time rain.

But at least he got to stay in nice hotels.

In Kuala Pahang he met the Sultan, the Defender of the Faiths, the Restorer of the World, the Obliterator of Witches, the Marshal-General of the Imperial Yeomanry, and ten other titles. There, the man gave Harper his opinions about almost anything happening at any time, which Harper was expected to mold into a cogent perspective that he presented to Bumpington-Smyth in the morning over orange juice and marmalade, in another country, eight thousand miles away.

In Kohat, he had some time off, time off to drink in the bars of Burundi Street, so close together in the narrow streets that you could sit in one bar and use the ashtray of another. There he was usually given bundles of encrypted flash drives to bring back to the headquarters at Hirosaki. What information was on them, he would never know, as his position in Tairendia was a mere functionary. He appeared in his uniform next to Smyth and it told the world that Abdullah Afiz was still with Bumpington-Smyth, and everything was right in the world that lay to the west of the Oryontic waves.

Harper supposed that few people were to be trusted. Anyone ‘listening’ would find the same, ordinary levels of radio and cyber traffic. All important news was relayed by encrypted flash drives, by him, personally.

On his most recent trip to Kohat, the King’s cousin, stinking of absinthe, gave him a bag of flash drives. And he also said: take care of yourself, Colonel Harper.

I always take care of myself, Colonel Harper had said. He thought little of it on the plane, but during the flight, they were diverted to Hokkaishu.

Harper was too tired to be worried. When he was met outside the airport by a black range rover and two Gurkhas, he became a little bit more worried. When he stepped inside the car and saw the matte black modern carbine sitting on one Gurkha’s lap, he became a little bit more worried.

‘We will go directly to Hirosaki, Sir,’ one of them said.

‘Very well,’ Harper replied, knowing that asking would not get an answer, and fell asleep.

He woke up thirty minutes later, with the car driving through small motorways and sleepy towns, lights in the houses off at night, air conditioning in the car freezing him, and making him long to be out there where the crickets chirped. He felt groggy, and worse: he had that feeling that something was about to go wrong.

The Gurkhas were occasionally looking behind him. ‘We are being followed, Colonel,’ one of them said, and Harper looked back too. Two cars behind them, headlights off. He could just about make their shapes out.

‘Please to affix your seatbelt, Colonel Sir,’ the driver said, and before Harper could do anything, the car had jumped forward. He had to hold on to the handle above the window as the range rover with the King’s Legationate symbol on the back sped down the little roads at a hundred and fifty miles an hour, darting between outraged motorists.

The radio chirped. The second Gurkha was speaking into it. ‘We are being followed. We go evasively. Request backup.’

The radio replied. ‘Understood two-one. Naval commandos are en-route to you. Hold up…’

And more chatter that Harper ignored. He looked at the bag full of flash drives and wondered what secrets he was about to die for.

They had to slow – not by much, of course – for a turn, and the cars had caught up with them. Quite suddenly, there was something in front of them – another car, a small black and grey thing – and the Gurkha driver, somehow silent, when Harper was screaming, hit the brakes. The range rover skidded, smashed into the car in front – Harper could not see, being in the crash position – and began to turn out of control. Things went very dizzy.

There was another crash, and Harper hit his head on the side of the window. Blood filled his eyes. He thought he saw one of the Gurkas flip the safety on the carbine, and the other reach for his kukri. Then he stopped seeing anything at all.

When he opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was flashing blue lights. Municipal police had closed the road further up; he could see their cars. Then he realised he was outside, and lying down. On a stretcher. He could hear men, and helicopters, and sirens.

A doctor peered into his view. ‘It’s okay Colonel. You were very lucky not to be whiplashed.’

‘He was very lucky not to be killed,’ said a man in a Sennish accent. ‘Thus you see the problem with getting tight and spilling your beans to a Kohat jezebel.’

It was Holmes. Harper tried to stand up and punch him, but he was too dizzy. Instead he managed to say: ‘No such thing. I’ll have your satisfaction if you say it again.’

He thought Holmes might say it again, but they were stopped. It was Him.

‘Enough of that. Providence was with you today, Colonel Harper. We are delighted for that to be so.’

Harper snapped a salute. ‘Of course, Marshal. Providence - and the King’s Overseas Gurkha Contingent.’

Smyth smiled – a small smile, enough to say that he knew Harper had done nothing wrong, but not enough to make his other subordinate look like a fool. ‘Your Gurkhas are alive. Just. I am told one of them took the lives of two of these bandits with his kukri.’ He turned away, surveying the scene, his face controlled, as it was in all the posters. ‘Seems unlikely, in the circumstances, but…’

‘Who were they?’

‘No idea,’ Holmes said, as Smyth had walked off, trailing his conversation elsewhere. ‘We’ll find out. Could be Twentieth Legion. Could be the Army. Might even be bloody God Worshippers. Could be local Mafia thinking you were a big shot. Ha.’

‘Did they get the drives?’

‘No. Luckily for you. The naval commandos arrived in the nick of time. I bet you’d love to know what’s on them.’

‘Mmm,’ Harper said, walking around the scene. He stepped in some blood.

‘Well, you never will,’ Holmes said, turning away. He tried to make his trenchcoat flap in the little wind there was available, but it didn’t work. Little victories, Harper thought, lighting a cigarette.

Little victories.
Continent of Dreams - Official Questers Canon Compendium

[Tue 22:53:29] <colo> holy shit you are the fucking worst guy

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Re: March on, boys!

Postby Praetonia » Sat Mar 09, 2019 5:07 am

The crowd dispersed, and life went on. There was not much different, after all, whoever ruled. The previous government had proven itself unfit. The new government had not proven itself. Wait and see.

In the provincial cities, in the towns, and in the country, life went on as if nothing at all had happened. In Hokkaishu the restaurants, coffee shops, and bars had filled up with strange faces. Oriental, Gurkha, Malay. They had not arrived all at once. They all had plausible explanations. But the whispers still spread: Vigilance Committee, Royal Household, Political Service. A mysterious power had descended on the city. It had no name, no centre, no king. But it was there. One could see it from a thousand miles. But try to grip it firmly and it dissolved. Was it just a clever illusion? Maybe the Syndicalists had thought that.

In the meantime, the neighbourhood police box had a new volunteer. Smyth's Frontiersmen were eager to show they were useful. The middle pages of the newspapers filled up with photographs of Occidental and Oriental shaking hands on the capture of another criminal. On the front, Smyth and Hamazaki relived the victories of the Subcontinent. He presented her with a Syndicalist standard captured at Panchkula. She presented him with the first Tairendian flag planted on the beaches of New Senland. He would never be pictured again without an orderly carrying it behind him.

On the fifth day, Smyth summoned the Realm's armies to Hokkaishu. Every division was to send a company, and be led by its general. Many demurred. None disobeyed.

Flags and bands flaunted. The soldiers marched. Their officers saluted. Smyth stood next to Hamazaki and replied with his own. The crowds cheered.

"In this hour of emergency," Hamazaki began, "we have called upon the greatest force in this Commonwealth. May I introduce him now, he who needs no introduction..."

The Frontiersmen cheered. The Solar Association troops cheered. The navy and the marines cheered. All the cameras saw was that the crowds had cheered.

"Brave countrymen, who gave my most fervent and effective troops,

The Marshal rumbled under his cap, his Panchkula cap.

"In your time of need, I have come to repay the debt I owe you, a debt accrued on a dozen battlefields of the Subcontinent. You, who have given so much to the Commonwealth, deserve order and harmony, under law. That, I will provide.

"Many have doubted me. Most, now, are dead. Some, now, enjoy power that they squander at the expense of the good of the Commonwealth. I do not promise you calm; I promise you greatness. I do not promise you competence; I promise you the extraordinary. I do not promise you ease; I promise you sacrifice and labour in the Cause of the Right.

"If you still doubt me, I understand. I have been doubted before. Few of those who have doubted me, doubt me now. Faced with the enmity of the world, I have prevailed. By my success, I will win your loyalty. For the cause of this Realm, I now pledge all my labours, and my life.

"There is no glory except in victory, a victory won in opposition to an unjust foe. If you follow me now, I will bring you victory."

Silence hung in the air for the briefest moment, and then the Frontiersmen cheered, the Solar Association troops cheered, the navy and the marines cheered, and all the cameras saw was that the crowds had cheered.
<leis2> Otoh i am also an antiquarian so im legitimately interested in how purple dye was made in sidon
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Re: March on, boys!

Postby tyre » Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:42 pm

Duty conspired to keep them apart, though she found time to see him in snatches of stolen moments. It wasn’t his fault in the least. After all, he always waited for her in the same place beneath a quiet grove of sakura trees, their rosy blossoms dusted with powder snow in the lonely winter. Twenty years ago, he’d confessed his feelings to the daughter of the Lord Defender of the Realm in this tranquil place, and Kurumi Hamazaki returned them with equal ardor.

The Defender brushed a gloved hand over her lips, and briefly she imagined the taste of cloying sweetness in that first kiss she shared with Wakayama-san as she ascended the stone ramp to this shrine of Amaterasu, the sun of Providence. To her regret, she couldn’t pace three steps at a time in high heels, as she did in her youth chasing after her beloved Akira, but there was no rush. He wasn’t going anywhere, not with his spirit consecrated in the shrine with the ghosts of all the other retainers of the Hamazaki clan.

She knelt before a basalt altar and lit scented incense before a photograph of the newly-commissioned Shu-i Akira Wakayama of the 444th Tactical Fighter Squadron, sworn to the defense of the Law, the Republic and her lineage. When the Eternal Enemy – the madmen who held nine-tenths of her race in feudal bondage and oppression across the strait – invaded the western Commonwealth, he was called to honor his sacred oaths, and boarded the first bullet-train he could to newly constructed bases for his aviation wings.

Kurumi still felt a twinge of bitter regret at the way Akira left her. He never said good-bye, and never got a chance to, given the realities of wartime communications. He’d left a letter behind that she’d never read, its red-wax seal fading over the sixteen years since, and scarce little else. Not even a body to mourn – his Wentworth Hornet vanished into the clouds after a Taihei surface to air missile sealed his spirit in the shrine she now attended.

But Akira did leave behind memories, of a young man who believed in the goodness of Providence, in the justice of the Law, and the inevitable triumph of the Right. And his beliefs were validated, weren’t they? The war saw the Enemy smashed to pieces on all fronts, the beast’s ships sinking beneath the waves, its teeming and numberless hordes cut down like chaff by the Commonwealth’s industry and firepower, the monastic power shattered forever before Amaterasu’s divine will. That was what his brief life bought on behalf of the Republic – victory.

Yet the men of the East mutilated this triumph, sold the blood of the Republic for a few bars of gold and mild admonishments, chastising the Taiheis as if they were naughty children rather than the monstrous threat to civilization and the Yamato race the monks truly remained. Relations between the new Commonwealth and the old were poisoned for a generation.

Some of the Orientals had more sense than others. Smyth’s text on the Great Betrayal became holy canon to the Kodoha faction, who sought to sunder all ties in their anger and hatred with the mother Courts of Record, to build a new Law on a firmament of bayonets rather than Sennish and Questarian caprice. Kurumi wondered if the irony of the Marshal returning to destroy the twisted structures he helped build was lost on the old man.

She exhaled a cold breath. The Navy expected Smyth to restore the Republic to the road of Providence as if the betrayals of 1997 had never happened, to bring back the dream of a free and lawful Tairendian realm in full concord with the Oryontic powers. As if the stable door could be closed well after the horse had bolted. No, the wounds of 1997 ran far too deep to be mended so easily.

They certainly did for her, at least.

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Re: March on, boys!

Postby Dumanum » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:14 pm

Nobody had expected Smyth to go to Tairendia.

The entire fiasco could have been a severe embarrassment for Proculus Atilius Momus, of the well-heeled and well-bred Atilii Momi- a career-embarrassing ending, even -but then, nobody had expected Smyth to go to Tairdendia. There was not one man in the Senate, the Army, or the Nuncium that could stand waving his finger, telling his colleagues "See there, I told you so- now let that fool fall on his sword for shaming the Republic!"

Luckily, Momus was a professional: though nobody had seen this precise scenario coming- and certainly not so suddenly -there were in place certain contingencies in the event the Praetanni decided to try their hand at reasserting their influence over the Solar Isles. Few, least of all he, had expected them to go away forever- that was not in their nature. And so, certain relationships had been cultivated throughout the Sister Republic's institutions. It was nothing untoward, really- he was a diplomat, after all. That sort of thing could be left to the spies on the fourth floor.

Still, these relationships provided him with the sort of wide view those on the inside of the Tairendian perhaps lacked: as Smyth spread his tentacles into the local institutions, he was kept apprised of it, one way or the other. A well-regarded officer dismissed here, a certain senior civil servant's house burned down there. A member of the Estates-General Political Service popping his head into a certain office for reasons unknown. It all formed a pattern.

This was no haphazard invasion- this was an efficiently-executed coup, one that the men on the fourth floor said couldn't have been all of Smyth's doing.

"The Vigilance Committee, as you know, is here and active, Senator," Strabo, CORE's residentus, had told him. "Without getting too much into detail, we can say with certainty they are behind much of the past few days' events. Certainly the riots."

"Yes, I had thought a mob of well-dressed salarymen mounting police barricades a rather unusual sight- and Smyth, he is with the VC?"

"That is not entirely clear at this time," he'd replied, clearly not happy with his own answer.

"Perhaps it is best to err on the side of caution with this one."

"That is our thinking as well."

Erring on the side of caution is what the entire embassy had done- the Occulta guards had ditched their dress uniforms for flak jackets and assault rifles, and non-essential personnel had been sent home; essential personnel were restricted to embassy grounds, and anyone leaving would be assigned an armed escort. A special operations team from Departmento Ypsilon had even flown in the previous night to reinforce the embassy garrison and to provide a quick reaction force in the event of a kidnapping or assassination attempt.

The embassy, a tastefully extravagant Dalantine villa nestled in uptown Hokkaishu, stood in stark contrast to the architecture around it. With its broad, whitewashed columns, there was no mistaking it as anything other than the embassy of the Dumani Republic. Strangely, the rioters had kept well away from it, though they’d outnumbered the Civil Police posted in front of it considerably.

He'd watched the riots unfold from his balcony- the embassy was also his residence. He'd watched them dispersed by Smyth's troops. The troops remained, even after the riots had been crushed. It seemed a counter-coup would be slow in coming, and that was certainly not to their advantage. “Smyth is a hero,” Strabo had said, “They will not act without something to push them off the fence.” He’d smiled conspiratorially.

Momus supposed it wasn’t coincidental that certain media outlets had begun to run certain stories-




And his favorite:


Some of it was utter nonsense, of course, but enough of it wasn’t. Indeed, some of the information found in the stories was quite specific, the sort you wouldn’t hear outside of intelligence circles. And these stories only seemed to be multiplying and going viral with each passing hour.

Still, words were wind. He knew the intelligence services were working overtime- just as they were in the Nuncium -to get a handle on the situation, but it was not until he received word from Urbs Dumanus that Senator Marbo was on his way as a consular envoy that the full gravity of the situation began to hit home. It wasn’t that sending a consular envoy was itself a sign- it was the choice of envoy.

Marbo was Solonian to the core: every decision he made was with a long view toward the defeat of the Archenemy far to the east, just across the strait from Tairendia. It was the Archenemy that was the one true obstacle to Sol’s ultimate victory, and therefore of the utmost importance to the Republic’s policy. What was interesting was that neither of the current Consuls- Ambrosius and Verax -could be counted members of the Solonian school of thought. And yet Marbo: dour, humorless Marbo, had been chosen for this job.

This was a major crisis scenario- one upon which the Republic’s foreign policy for the next century could, and likely would, hinge.

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Re: March on, boys!

Postby Praetonia » Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:47 pm

"This is Panchkula," the instructor had a name, but surely not his own. He was not an obviously intimidating man, striding back and forth with a disconnected confidence in a civilian field jacket and corduroy trousers. He was over fifty, but slim and straight as a rod, latently athletic, with a silver moustache on his lip. He had a slight tan, as if he had spent a long time out of doors; true enough, but in fact he was a quarter Sikh. He could be a retired bank manager, a reservist colonel, or nobody at all. Nothing about him drew one's attention - apart from the piercing gaze of his incongruous brown eyes, if one happened to meet it.

"On this spot, the Estates-General won a great victory with its clever generals, with its airforce, and its fighting vehicles.

"But any fool can win with guile and strength. Who won Panchkula? Look there," he pointed down from the ridge, to a still blackened and blasted horizon. "There, two hundred thousand Malays stood and fought for a week before the tanks came. They stood and fought for another two days before Smyth's airforce leafletted them. And another three before he arrived. They suffered terrible losses, and inflicted only few caualties. But they did not run or break.

"The truth is, most of those who fought and died there never knew the Estates' men were coming, never knew they arrived, and never knew why their attackers suddenly weakened and retreated, not until long after the thing was done. They did not fight to win. They fought because it was their duty to the Right as it appeared to them, a duty equal in the face of victory or defeat."

Three volunteers. Two Sennish, one Sikh. Dressed in shorts and polos, typical gap year students.

"Any cause survives by strength. And strength is only third might, but second courage, and first, loyalty. Without loyalty to the Cause, a soldier is worthless. With it, a greatly inferior group can overcome a superior one. The material factors of war enter only when opponents are equally and totally committed."

He paced back and forth, his voice sharp and without a hint of doubt. The men, boys really, who stood before him thought they had read such things before. But they had never heard them, in such a place, in such a way.

"Even the Estates' troops fight for tradition, for community, for social position.

"We are the heirs of the Witchfinder-General. We are fighting for greatness, because we are in the direction of the universe."

He let this stange throught hang on the air for just a moment.

"There will come a time in your service when you are alone with your thoughts and can choose whether to preserve your own life or our Great Cause."

He turned his back on them, and looked once again at the distant ruined trench systems, abandoned almost ten years. Slowly, he turned once again to the young men.

"In the darkness of the night, when you think no one is coming to help you, when all you are doing seems worthless, you will stick with courage to the Cause and expect nothing in return. That is what it means to be one of us, and in being so you will be worth a thousand ordinary men. You will achieve great things, and you will know that you are one with and part of the universe.

"Almost all men are spectators, most because they do not comprehend Truth, and some because they do not have courage to pursue it. We do not spectate; we act."
<leis2> Otoh i am also an antiquarian so im legitimately interested in how purple dye was made in sidon
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