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King of Men
Posted: Wednesday, January 02, 2013 7:43:01 AM
 Legatus legionis

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Joined: 11/23/2007
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August 23rd, 1943
Somewhere in the Himalayas
Early morning

"Sir!"

The young soldier saluted as he came to a halt from his rush, skidding slightly on the gravel. Kyrillos returned the salute, then said "Catch your breath, soldier; it won't be any faster for having to be repeated."

"Yes sir," the courier gasped. "Message - from Centurion Feng." He handed Kyrillos a paper slip, hastily scribbled-on by whatever soldier had been manning the cohort radio. Kyrillos sighed internally; the radio men were so impressed by the speed of reaction their apparatus made possible that they had trouble grasping that clarity was more important than the few additional seconds they could shave off. At least the message was short: "Bridge intact. Am across. Under attack in century strength. Request reinforcements."

The bridge was intact? Kyrillos looked again at the slip, but the handwritten scrawl couldn't be interrogated and the courier wouldn't know any more than the message said. "Intact" could mean anything from undamaged to hanging by just enough rope for men to get across single file; but even the last would mean a vast saving in time. Kyrillos had been planning to start bridging today, and be across sometime during the week, depending on how much ammunition the Punjabi artillery had. He had sent Feng forward with a contubernium to reconnoitre mainly to see how much fire the engineers would come under, not in any expectation of them getting across the gorge. The Punjabi had been retreating through these mountains for a long time, and were getting very good at it - Moslem engineers, the joke went, better at blowing them up than building them; an intact bridge was rarer than a tender yak steak. If he could get across the gorge without a tedious bridging operation under Punjabi artillery - sure to be pre-sighted on just the places where his engineers would have to set up their equipment - he might gain days, a week even, not to mention the lives he wouldn't lose. And Feng reported only century strength attacking him; hard odds for a twenty-five man contubernium, but not impossible for a defense of an hour or so. Someone had blundered, clearly; but, as one prayed for and as so rarely happened, someone on the other side.

Kyrillos had only been thinking for ten seconds or so; now he could feel the gears grinding in his head as he switched from thinking of breakfast and getting the engineers to the gorge sometime during the day, to full ask me for anything but time mode.

"Right," he said to the courier. "Run to Fourth Century, they're to form up, rifles and ammunition only, and march to the bridge." Fourth was understrength, but so were they all; and it had the most aggressive centurion, a Komnenos who believed his own propaganda. As Kyrillos had, once. "Tell them they are to reinforce Feng at the bridge, and hold until relieved." Those would be magic words for Herakles, straight from the comic books he'd grown up on. Just as Kyrillos had.

The courier ran, and Kyrillos took off in the opposite direction, for the radio tent. There would be other couriers on duty there, and he had other orders to give. He prioritised them in his mind as he ran. The cohort's two wheezing trucks could carry the ready contubernium to the bridge, faster than Fourth could march; that would help. Then Second and Third centuries, with full loads, slower but they'd finish the fight. Then a radio to Legion for air support. Then the rest of the cohort, clerks and jerks and all; let him just get his guns, light as they were, to the gorge, not even across it, and no Punjabi conscripts were going to shift him.

August 23rd, 1943
Somewhere in the Himalayas
Midmorning

"Sir!"

Herakles came to attention and saluted in the best parade-ground manner, which was against regulations when under observation by the enemy, but that was the least of Kyrillos's problems. Herakles looked half ashamed and half terrified as he reported. "Sir. I regret to report. The Fourth has not been able to complete its mission."

Kyrillos nodded, deciding to return the salute and regulations be damned; if a sniper had spotted them the damage was done, and Herakles clearly needed the trappings of discipline at the moment. "I can see that, Centurion. It happens. The enemy also has a plan. In this case, apparently" - he gestured at the ton masses of rocks and earth that blocked the road - "a plan to draw a relief column into an ambush and blow down an avalanche on them. I thought that intact bridge was too good to be true. How much of your century is under that?"

Herakles nodded miserably; at least he no longer looked terrified. "Most of the third contubernium, sir. I'm, ah, not in reliable contact with the first, anymore; they're on the other side." He looked even more ashamed at having to admit that he wasn't in full control of his unit. Kyrillos nodded briskly, trying to make it clear that he wasn't seeking to attach blame; to lose a whole contubernium at once was a bit of a disaster, but after all it was Kyrillos's order that had sent them force-marching up the road into ambush. "All right. What's the status of the units you do have contact with?"

Herakles relaxed minutely. "Second contubernium is holding a perimeter in the woods on our right. First and second of fourth is out to our left keeping an eye out for Punjabi. Third of fourth, my headquarters squad, and what's left of third contubernium, is here, getting ready to attack the hill so we can get around the landslide and get back in touch with first."

"Very good," Kyrillos said, and meant it. Losing a fourth of your unit was a nasty shock for any officer, all the more so when it was completely different from the fight you expected to have; but Herakles hadn't frozen in place and yelled for help. He'd come up with a plan for getting his unit forward. Maybe not a very workable plan, but then, he didn't have Kyrillos's resources.

"Counterattack is good," Kyrillos went on, "but not in contubernium strength, which is what you've got here. They'll be ready for that; it'd be a slaughter. We'll bring up the rest of the cohort and do it in style."

"That'll take forever!" Herakles suddenly remembered that he was a junior officer and one who had just led his unit into ambush, at that. "Sir. Um. With respect, what about Feng, at the bridge?"

"Yes, well, we can't help him by losing the rest of the relief force. Anyway I sent him the ready contubernium; didn't Molly and Jolly pass you on the way?" Those were the cohort's two aging trucks; their establishment strength was five, but Golly was down with a fuel leak, Folly had been lost crossing the Mekong, and Dolly was under a landslide much like the one they were looking at.

"Yes sir. But he reported being under attack by century strength."

"Sometimes you gotta triage," Kyrillos quoted. "We can't get to the bridge any faster by rushing into an uphill attack with inadequate forces."

"Yes, sir." Herakles's jaw was clenched tight, but he nodded. He was young and idealistic, and Feng and he were friends, but in the end he was a Komnenos.

Komnenoi knew all about triage.



August 23rd, 1943
Somewhere in the Himalayas
Noon

"Sir!"

Feng, properly, did not salute. That was probably not because he was mindful of regulations about courtesy in the field; his right arm was in a sling improvised from someone's uniform tunic, and his face was grey and shocky. His eyes were focused, though. "We're pinned down; mortars and two machine guns, maybe a hundred rifles. But they haven't pushed it. We have five dead, seven badly wounded, six fighting wounded."

"Very good, Centurion." Kyrillos was a little puzzled; it had taken them long enough to clear the path for the cohort to get here. Why hadn't the Punjabi destroyed Feng's detachment? Had they made an actual blunder this time? Complicated plans were like that, prone to going wrong. "The bridge," he asked slowly. "Is it wired to blow?"

"It was, sir. I cut the wires myself."

While under fire, presumably. Kyrillos's experience allowed him to classify the sharp whine of bullets that spanged and sparked off the stone bridge as 'desultory', nowhere near the intense drumfire that a whole company of bolt-action rifles could put out if they put their minds to it; but his balls hadn't got the message, and were well drawn up into his gut. He nodded in acknowledgement, frowning.

"And the explosives?"

"Still there. Can't get at them without a rope harness."

"Mm-hm." Kyrillos thought about it. A bridge wired to blow, but not blown; a detachment vulnerable to defeat in detail, but not defeated. The enemy commander - he had to be someone new; there had been nothing like this in the past five weeks - seemed to have a penchant for tricksy stuff, feint, feint, off with your head. Feng had cut the wires, but had he got all the wires? Or might there be more than one way to blow the bridge?

"How many mortars have they got?"

"Two, sir. Both behind that hill. The machine guns are there and there, unless they've moved them. They've been quiet for a while."

"Punjabi battalions usually have three mortars in their heavy-weapons company," Kyrillos observed thoughtfully. Of course, there was such a thing as combat losses. Nevertheless... He looked beyond the fighting positions of Feng's men, trying to see the patterns of craters. Maybe he was seeing what he expected to see, but it seemed to him that the mortar impacts were all some distance from the bridge, and that there were more of them on the further side of the Roman perimeter than on the near side. If the Punjabi gunners knew their business, the craters should be centered on top of the Romans. "I wonder what happens," he said, "if a mortar round hits a metal bridge with a bunch of explosives attached to the supports? Especially if, say, half the cohort is across and the other half isn't."

Feng's eyes widened, but he sucked air in doubtfully. "Tricky, sir. Very tricky. Wouldn't like to rely on it."

"Neither would I," Kyrillos agreed. "Still, if you had, say, two extra companies that you were keeping up your sleeve, you might decide that you could at least try for half a cohort, instead of two contubernia. The other guy likes that sort of plan, apparently. And it's worked for him once today. Suck in the scouts with an intact bridge, then ambush the relief column; cut that in half with a landslide, shoot up what's left, get out of the way of the counterattack. Lost one-third of Fourth Century, there. Then when we get here, blood in our eyes and very glad to find you still alive, we bull over the bridge. Then he fires his pre-registered mortar, the one that hasn't been shooting at you gentlemen, and blows up the bridge anyway."

"It could work, sir," Feng said doubtfully. "But if that pre-registered shot misses - or the explosives misfire - or you don't go across..."

"Well, if I don't go across he wins. As for a misfire, it could happen. But, what the hell, this country is full of gorges and bridges; if we take this one, there'll be another. A new guy, out to make a name for himself - someone who likes complicated feint, feint stuff - he might think it was worth taking a chance on, if he could catch half a cohort in a trap. And besides, if he's been keeping a company or two in reserve, while carefully showing us exactly one, it could get pretty nasty when they all open up at once, even if the bridge doesn't go."

"So - what are you going to do, sir?"

Kyrillos smiled nastily. "I shall draw on my Roman and Christian heritage, of course. To everything there is a season; and a time for every event under heaven. A time for peace, a time for war; a time for love, a time for hate. A time to be clever, and a time to say fuck it and use brute force and lots of it. I think my opposite number over there thinks this is some kind of duel, mano a mano. Me against him. Match wits over the chessboard. Send your knight over here to distract the enemy, while your queen sneaks in the checkmate on the other side. Feint, feint. Well, yeah, if it were my cohort against his battalion, sure; and he's got me good. Smart guy. But in fact it's the Roman Legions against the Punjabi tribal goatfuckers. And, unless I'm very much mistaken, my call to the Legion earlier this morning is about to bear fruit."

He jerked his head northeast, the direction of the droning sound he'd been hearing for half a minute. Feng, half-deafened by hours of firefight, hadn't noticed it, and now his eyes widened in surprise. "Air support!" he said wonderingly.

"Well, yes," Kyrillos agreed. "There's such a thing as civilised nations having an advantage over a coalition of tribes who have just about stopped stealing each others' goats."

The planes came rapidly nearer, a vee-of-vees formation, nine aircraft in all - Harpies, the two-engined ground-support bomber of the Aeroporia. Obsolete, perhaps, on the battlefields of Europe; but here in Tibet they were the only thing that flew, unless you counted the hot-air balloons some of the tribes used to watch their yaks. And there was a much greater difference between having aircraft actually in the air, right now, and not having any, than between the Harpy and the very latest from the workshops of the Rhine.

Kyrillos ran back to where Second Century was waiting. "Just as we planned it," he said, and Timur nodded. "Yes, sir." His army Greek was accented, heavy on the Mongol fricatives, but clear enough as he recited back what he was to do. "We run across when the bombs start, and don't stop until we're up the ridge and among them."

"Right. Nine Harpies can drop thirty-six tons of high explosive. I think the Punjabi will have other things to worry about than shooting at us."

"Yes, sir." Timur licked his lips, the one sign of nervousness in his impassive high-cheekboned face, then looked at the aircraft again. "Time to go, I think." He raised his voice, waving his arm in a forward-that-away gesture. "Now! Forward! Charge!" He leaped at the bridge, head down like a man intending to knock down a stone wall by sheer willpower, and his men followed.

The Punjabi were neither asleep nor idiots; the slow firing from the ridge suddenly picked up, a machine gun joining the rifles, and then another. Men fell on the bridge, and Kyrillos bit his lip. Had Timur miscalculated? Then the first bombs hit, and the ridge was blanketed in dust and flame. One of the machine guns stopped short; the stream of bullets from the other suddenly went wild, far over the bridge. Kyrillos grinned in triumph and ran down the road for Third Century. "Go, go!" he shouted, gesturing at the bridge, and they went, screaming. He could barely hear them over the roar from the ridge. Let's see their pre-registration survive that, he thought savagely. The dust cloud from behind the hill reached a hundred feet in the air, and Timur's men were halfway up it - and the Harpies were coming around again for another run. Kyrillos watched in some concern. It would be galling to take casualties from friendly fire, after all the trouble of getting bombers and infantry here at the same time - the enemy was pretty well suppressed already - better to lose a few men to overenthusiastic fire support than to be too cautious, if it came to the pinch - no, it wasn't going to be a problem, the bombers were loosing their next inferno on the hill on the other side of the road, from which there had been no firing. Probably they had seen something he hadn't - perhaps the postulated reserve company that the enemy had been hiding. So much the better to have them suppressed, if that was the case.

The aircraft came over the hill almost straight towards him, waggling their wings, and Kyrillos waved back; they were very low, no more than a few hundred feet up, low enough that he could make out the bird-of-prey motifs painted onto their noses. A last, tardy bomb broke free from one of them, tumbling lazily in the blue air - a mechanical jam finally cleared, perhaps? It was going to be much too late to hit anything remotely Punjabi. Kyrillos felt a sick, sinking sensation in his stomach, and reminded himself that the whole of Athena Squadron had been known to target bridges for weeks on end without hitting them. Murphy was strong, but not that strong; a single bomb dislodged at random couldn't possibly - but even as he tried to think it, the bomb fell with unerring, malignant accuracy, straight for the bridge that his cohort had just taken. The bridge that was still full of explosives, even though the wires had been cut. Kyrillos watched with utter unbelief as it struck - and didn't explode. Ye gods, had it been a dud? His heart leapt for joy, and he took a breath to shout. Then the bomb went off, and the bridge blew with a noise that impressed even his half-deafened ears.

For a long, long moment Kyrillos just stood there, unable to believe his luck. He'd managed to get air support, and they'd prevented the enemy from using a pre-registered mortar to blow the bridge. And then one of his own side's aircraft had bombed it! The same damn aircraft that had tried for three weeks to knock out the Qamdo Military Bridge, and failed. They had blown his bridge with a single bomb! Greek, Chinese, and Korean failed him alike; he could find no words for what he felt.

After a minute, he turned away and trudged up the road. There were still engineers attached to his cohort. They'd be across the gorge by midnight.

Read my blog.
Norway Rome The Khanate Scotland Scotinavia Christendie the Serene Republic has always been at war with the Bretons False Empire Caliphate Persians Russians English Hungarians Oceanians Saracen Jackal! Death, death, death to the Frogs barbarians infidels necromancers vodka-drinking hegemonists Sassenach nomad menace Yellow Menace heathen Great Old One!
King of Men
Posted: Sunday, January 06, 2013 1:52:14 AM
 Legatus legionis

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Situation in late April 1944:



Obviously, the most important development is that some complete idiot gave an industrial province to Norway, and now the Ynglings are unleashed and will slaughter us all. Apart from that, there is an American invasion of Africa from its base in Reunion. The invasion began in February - nearing the end of summer in Mozambique, with good dry weather:



By mid-March the armoured columns were all over southern Africa:



Possibly a bit too ambitiously, as April seems to have seen a counterattack cutting off the columns:



But there are good ports in the Ethiopian domains, built as that empire is on half a millennium of controlling the seaborne trade of the Indian Ocean; I don't think being cut in two parts caused the invasion any great difficulty of supply.

For those who can't be bothered to zoom in on the world map, the industrial strengths are (taken from in-session screenshots, so they are correct):
Germany: 706/472
Catalunya: 652/429
California: 384/263
Kongo: 382/283
Ethiopia: 333/214
Japan: 261/192
Roman Khanate: 204/145
Punjab: 166/123
Russia: 73/46
Norway: 7/5

The Tibetan and Burmese campaigns heated up considerably this session, going back and forth in attack and counter. Here is the situation in December, with my planned attacks marked:



If successful, these attacks would create two giant pockets, one centered on Frunze and the other encompassing all of Burma, allowing me to destroy most of the Punjabi army. However, bad terrain and weather, stubborn Punjabi counterattacks, Japanese 'volunteers', and Ethiopian air support amounting to about half again the combined air forces of the Khanate and Punjab together, led to each of these attacks being blunted and turned back. Notice the casualty counts, however; the totals are slightly less than 10000 Khanate losses, somewhat over 28000 for the Punjabi.

Thus in February we had this situation, showing the counterattacks:



Notice the plight of my three cut-off divisions up in the north; out of supply, out of fuel, and out of hope. I have taken Kashgar, but I won't be able to make it stick; I've also taken Shigatse, but it is being strongly attacked by Punjabi forces surrounding this breach. However, if I can hold off those counterattacks I've got it made: The Punjabi forces are all on my flanks, in front of me there is sweet, sweet nothing all the way to the sea.

Both sides were making fairly liberal use of VoV orders at this point; here is me hanging on to Gertse (just north of Shigatse) by the skin of my teeth:



The casualty ratio here is not so favourable; but the XIV Adrianople accomplished its mission and held until relieved.

At around this point MightyG, playing Japan, gives up completely on the polite fiction of neutrality; not only do the 'volunteers' in Burma become quite numerous and start launching powerful attacks into the jungle, he also breaks the ceasefire in Korea. The Korean attacks go nowhere, because I'm not that stupid; the line of division is still strongly held. In Burma, however, one motorised column gets as far as Pu'er before being turned back:



Well, Burma is one thing, but Korea is another. At this point I no longer consider Japan to be observing even the thinnest fig leaf of a ceasefire, and will hold myself free to attack its forces wherever I find them.

Gertse and Shigatse did in fact hold, and I was able to launch an attack down south into Bengal, trapping the reaction forces that Mark (playing Punjab) had scraped together, and at one point reaching Calcutta:



Cue the cries of "Thalassa! Thalassa!" However, this was being done by a single motorised division; the infantry were still slogging through mountains with infrastructure around 20.

Notice the really immensely lopsided casualty ratio in the lower right-hand corner; that's from my very long-running counterattack on Baoshan, defended by something like 3 regular Punjabi divisions, 9 militia, and 6 Japanese motorised and light-armour divisions. As everything was on VoV, naturally the militia got hammered into uselessness long before the armour gave up, and then just sat about taking casualties for a month or so.

Unfortunately, I still could not push infantry through the mountains fast enough - partly due to the aforementioned infrastructure, partly because of continued desperate attacks on the flanks - to reinforce my motorised spearhead; so the Japanese were able to either land additional forces, or pull some out of the line in Burma, and push my attack back to Shigatse - in the process wiping out II Motor Rifle, whose commander insisted on withdrawing into the teeth of a Japanese attack rather than the way I told him to go. Twice. Worse, the Gantok pocket was rescused by my loss of Kathmandu.
Hence the situation in late April:



My incursion in the north didn't actually start out as a rescue attempt - I had in fact written off those three divisions some time before the trap closed. But I kept making these small counterattacks where I saw a chance, and pushing the Punjabi back; and since I had these armoured divisions sitting about just looking at the strongly-held front north of Lake Balkhash, I thought I might as well attack weakness rather than strength. And, lo and behold, once I was past the thin infantry screen there was basically nothing in my way. Even with African help the Punjabi can't be strong everywhere.

Read my blog.
Norway Rome The Khanate Scotland Scotinavia Christendie the Serene Republic has always been at war with the Bretons False Empire Caliphate Persians Russians English Hungarians Oceanians Saracen Jackal! Death, death, death to the Frogs barbarians infidels necromancers vodka-drinking hegemonists Sassenach nomad menace Yellow Menace heathen Great Old One!
King of Men
Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 7:24:40 AM
 Legatus legionis

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So, here is the map after the peace treaty ending the African War, which in spite of the name was fought mainly in Europe:



Observe the Khanate finally reaching not only the Urals, last seen around 1550 before the century-long retreat from the Russian wars, but the very Atlantic, in the shape of Arkhangelsk. Not an ice-free port, alas, but very satisfying. And, deeply symbolic if not very militarily or economically important, regaining the City of Men's Desire! There will be held a Triumph, the first since well before Alexandros renounced the title of Autokrator. It remains to be seen whether Konstantin will emulate Cincinnatus, and lay down the title of Diktator with victory; or will instead choose to follow the example of Augustus, and take the purple. After all, when Alexandros, leading the Long March through Georgia and the steppes, refused to be addressed as other than 'Strategos', he said that none should again bear the title 'Autokrator' until the Eagles returned to Constantinople. And the Eagle, indeed, flies within the Antonine Walls, and the Hagia Sophia is again an Orthodox shrine - if, admittedly, of a rite shot through with Buddhist thought, and foreign even to the few Orthodox who remain after six centuries of Catholic rule. So, should Konstantin wish it, there may again be an Emperor in Rome - although not in Constantinople; the seat of government, obviously, will have to remain in New Byzantium. But, at any rate, there will be a Triumph; and impassive nomad tribesmen on scrubby little ponies will ride through the streets of the City, the plumes of Legionary helmets nodding under their lanceheads while golden Eagles festooned with horsetail banners scream triumph from overhead.

And what of the other barbarian tribes? Germany, obviously, bestrides Europe like a colossus, outright annexing the industrial heartland of Russia and stretching east to meet its ally the Khanate. Croatia is recreated as a vassal state, chiefly so the German people won't have to spend blood and treasure garrisoning the Balkans; no doubt the government at Split knows when to jump, though. Russia, in view of its last-minute change of allegiance, has some of its territory returned but is essentially a rump state, existing for similar reasons as Croatia: To avoid having to garrison a mountainous and unproductive area. It is, however, more genuinely independent, since its government survived more or less intact. It also retains some land that in 1936 was within Croatia's borders, a deliberate policy to create hostility between the two minor states. Scandinavia is split into three German vassals, and I took the opportunity to prettify the borders a bit.

If Germany is the big winner in territory, Ethiopia is the big loser. Its Oceanian empire is handed over to California, and the Middle East is split off and partitioned into vassal states of the victors, mainly of Catalunya. I envision some sort of "percentages-of-influence" agreement, with the southern state being 90% Catalunya, 10% Germany, the middle one 75% Catalunya, 25% Germany, and the one in Anatolia 50/30/20 to Catalunya, Germany, and the Khanate - the last in view of the ethnic connection. (In this timeline, Anatolia is still largely Greek in ethnicity, although converted to Islam.) How long these neat percentages can be maintained in the face of foreign-policy shifts, local demands for autonomy, economic development, and the geographic reality that Germany and Ethiopia are just plain closer than Catalunya and the Khanate - that's another question.

The new borders here are as arbitrary as those in OTL, and will likely cause as much trouble down the line. One of these states will no doubt be called Persia, probably the middle one; it is, of course, a shambling, blasphemous mockery of the majesty of the Peacock Throne, raised to an unholy semblance of real statehood by the arbitrary fiat of the Great Powers. If this is not necromancy, words on paper bringing back to unlife what was safely dead, then I do not know what is. A fitting fate for barbarians who invade the sacred soil of Rome!

The African powers are shorn of much overseas territory; they are required to disarm; they are not permitted to develop nuclear weaponry or missiles (and good luck to the inspectorate required to enforce this edict throughout Africa!); and Catalunyan naval bases surround their shores. But they are not utterly crushed, as was Germany in our timeline; only a small part of their territory was invaded, their cities were not bombed to rubble, and their governments and institutions continue intact. The decisive test of strength that was the African War has, no doubt, convinced them to curtail their imperial ambitions, at least for the remainder of the century; but they remain powerful nations who will, no doubt, immediately begin to jockey for influence in the new minor states and in the victorious alliance.

Punjab, in spite of being bled near to the bone by the demands of the Himalayan war (its manpower is down in the low hundreds in the final save), has come out of the war much enlarged in territory if not wealth. To remain a significant player, they will have to educate and organise the vast masses of India, still Hindu eand therefore pagans in Moslem eyes even after centuries of Ethiopian rule, without giving them ambitions of independence. This, it seems to me, will be a very difficult task - especially with the Khanate, thwarted in its ambition to outright conquer India, stirring the pot. The Punjabi hillmen are attempting to rule a subcontinent twice the size and five times the population of their core Central-Asian territory, in addition to holding down recently-conquered and restive Iran - a mountain territory whose guerrillas have resisted foreign rulers since Alexander. (The pre-Christian one, that is, not Alexandros of the Long March!) Although it looks impressive on the map, I feel this Punjab is an artifical construct, which may well split into its constituent parts when it is no longer upheld by African bayonets.

The Khanate, of course, does face a somewhat similar problem in China. However, the Han are not given to disputing the Mandate of Heaven as demonstrated by success in overthrowing a previous dynasty; and moreover they are not so distanced from their overlords by religion. For Moslem to rule Hindu is likely disaster for both parties; but the Komnenoi flavour of Christianity has absorbed much Buddhism and other Eastern thought over the centuries, and many at the highest levels in New Byzantium can quote the Analects with the best. Further, the Komnenoi have ruled a polyglot empire of hundreds of tribes and peoples for many centuries, and have evolved institutions for the task; the Punjabi have, in the same period, been an ethnically and religiously homogenous state whose main difficulty has been in maintaining its territorial integrity, not in uniting disparate peoples.

All four of the victorious Powers will rapidly acquire nuclear weapons, the Khanate probably last among them; we will presumably collaborate to keep the beaten states and our new vassals from getting them, although enforcing such an edict will, as noted, be extremely difficult. However, in other interests we are somewhat disparate, as we've already seen in the dispute over the fate of India, which the Khanate wished to annex. (Lesser allies propose, Great Powers dispose!) The era of armies of millions of conscripts is, however, pretty much over; so we will have to turn to other means of competition. Here I feel that Communist Germany is at a disadvantage. Building an industrial infrastructure for coal and steel is one thing; the economy of silicon and service, something else again. The laissez-faire tradition of the Khanate, coupled with the industriousness of its millions of Chinese subjects and the enormous mineral riches of Siberia, will likely propel it to the fore economically. Catalunya, with the immense wealth of one and a half American continents (plus cheap Middle Eastern oil), is also likely to do well. By 1980 I would not be surprised to see Germany, while stull militarily powerful, as an economic backwater with a creaking gerontocratic power structure, much as happened to the USSR in our timeline. I would also expect a free India and perhaps Iran, allied either to the Khanate or to a resurgent Ethiopia. A realignment of the Khanate, as the most irredentist of the victorious powers, with the beaten Africans is also possible; we have a ready-made ideological conflict in that the Khanate is the most economically free of the world's states, while Germany is explicitly Communist. In the heat of the War this could be ignored, but as things cool down militarily and freeze under the shadow of the mushroom cloud, the difference will again come to the forefront. The American powers, having settled the question of Eurasian hegemony to their satisfaction, will perhaps retreat again into relative isolation; at any rate there is no particular reason for them to further involve themselves in the affairs of the Old World, except to ensure that they have access to oil and, of course, export markets.

It is, on the whole, a much more pleasant history than either of the Yngling timelines. We might even see a peaceful revolution in Germany, in the style of our 1989, leading to a loss of control of the Scandinavian puppets, Croatia, and Russia, but also to a much more dynamic economy and personal freedoms. Still, the world will not be without its flashpoints of conflict: India, Korea, Australia (whose Ethiopian settlers will likely seek independence, if not reunification with the mother country) and perhaps border skirmishes in the Himalayas where ghazi fanatics may well seek martyrdom against the infidel - or, indeed, where the Senate and the People may find it convenient to demonstrate their resolute support for the legitimate aspirations of the oppressed Indian peoples. Even so, by 1990 this world should be much wealthier than ours (assuming, at least, that it manages to avoid a devastating nuclear exchange), with millions of Chinese ex-peasants industriously working away at supplying the world with manufactured goods. I would not be surprised to see a Moon shot ten years earlier than in OTL, and an even faster development of space.

Perhaps, even, when the Quantum Device is finally invented - "it follows inevitably from the unification of gravity with quantum field theory" - this world will not contain any people so unsatisfied with their lot as to use it. Even the Russians who have lost two-thirds of their old empire, even the Khanate with its millennial ambition to reunite all its lost provinces, even Punjab which always desires to spread submission into the House of War - even these revanchists and irredentists may well flinch from the final desperate choice of the mad Ynglings. It is no light matter to throw away a thousand years of history. Who would destroy the desperate courage of the battle at Jvris Ugheltekili? Who would cast into nonexistence the bitter struggle against Russian numbers? Who, even, would throw away the blood and sacrifice of Athena Squadron? Not this Rome; not the Rome that is rightly called the Eternal City, although its mere geography may change from time to time. Rome remembers; and this history for all its bitterness shall not pass away.

Read my blog.
Norway Rome The Khanate Scotland Scotinavia Christendie the Serene Republic has always been at war with the Bretons False Empire Caliphate Persians Russians English Hungarians Oceanians Saracen Jackal! Death, death, death to the Frogs barbarians infidels necromancers vodka-drinking hegemonists Sassenach nomad menace Yellow Menace heathen Great Old One!
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