Backstage - OOC Forums

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Did you know:

That the Rogue Jovian General incident years ago sparked Tech 2?

Pages: 1 2 [3] 4

Author Topic: Iron and Flame: an alternate history play-through of Hearts of Iron 3: Germany  (Read 2784 times)

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 5: Inferno
September 7th, 1941
Eastern Front, near Minsk

Forst stood behind the sandbags and held the glasses to his face as he examined the enemy lines. The line was obviously thin, held by a few infantrymen. Soviet manpower reserves were still high, but they - as far as the Germans could tell - were running out of guns, tanks, uniforms, and shells faster than they could be produced.

Since the "Polish Pocket", as it had been called, had collapsed, Soviet forces had reeled back under a series of German assaults designed more to crush destroy their armies than to take ground. First, in March, a German offensive to the north had pinned Soviet forces against the Lithuanian border, surrounding and crushing them, costing the Red Army 17 more divisions on top of the 70 in the "Polish Pocket".
Spoiler (hover to show)

In May, the Germans had done the same thing to the south, rolling down and trapping 14 divisions against the Romanian border, in the Romanian Pocket.
Spoiler (hover to show)

And then, in August, the Germans had thrown out three columns, advancing miles deeper into the Soviet Union and trapping 24 divisions between them:
Spoiler (hover to show)

Forst examined a map, and considered the Reich's options:
Spoiler (hover to show)


Hitler had wanted the Wehrmacht to swing north, and take Leningrad, or swing south and occupy most of the Ukraine, which was the Soviet Union's bread basket. There was merit to both approaches: Leningrad was an important port, industrial and commercial center, while depriving the USSR of the Ukraine would badly damage their ability to feed their armies.

On the other hand, despite the election of Charles Lindbergh as president of the United States on a peace ticket, the embargo against Germany continued. On the other hand, the United States might well be shipping food and supplies to Russia - FDR had certainly been shipping to Britain. For that matter, perhaps India was still receiving convoys. After all, the English had made two nuisance raids on the German and French coasts. The raids had gone badly, but they tied up forces that could be better used on the front.

Forst sighed, then decided. The Reich would strike south. There were a large amount of Soviet divisions there, and the opportunity was too much to pass up. Or perhaps...he considered carefully...yes, perhaps, for once, they could do both. Well, not quite. But an attack, moderately, in the north? Yes, that could be done.
« Last Edit: 04 Jan 2016, 17:58 by Vikarion »
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 5: Inferno
October 30th, 1941
Bombay, India


Churchill wiped his head with a damp handkerchief as he stepped off the plane. The heat of the subcontinent did not agree with him, and he had not looked forward to returning from negotiations in Australia and Canada. Both Dominions seemed to be leaning towards joining the allied cause, but there was real doubt as to what good that might do. Perhaps if troops could be brought to the Middle East, some effort might be made northward, provided pressure could be brought to bear upon Turkey. The difficulty was that there was so little to pressure with.

A landing - a distraction, and mostly for propaganda value - had been made at Kiel, actually in Germany, but had been cut off by the German fleet before it could be evacuated, contained by quickly called-up garrison forces, and then stomped flat by air power and a German panzer division. A second attempted raid at Brest had found no ships at harbor, but had discovered a pair of German battleships preparing at a nearby port for a post-shakedown cruise, who had been only too happy to annoy the landing fleet. That had led to the loss of even more Royal Marines, as a newly commissioned panzer group had rolled over the lightly armed infantry exceedingly quickly.

The simple fact of the matter was that it was up to the Russians now. England still had a fleet, still had her aircraft carriers, which meant that the Germans dared not venture far from land-based air cover. But they had no need to. The belly of Germany was protected by neutral countries who had no intention of offending the giant to their north, and the Alps. The coast of France and Germany were protected by the German Navy, Luftwaffe, and garrisons of infantry and tanks.

And the Russians were not doing well.

- - -

October 30th, 1941
Moscow, USSR


Stalin swore and threw the teacup across the room, where it shattered against the wall. Couldn't his generals do anything right? He'd had to have another five or so shot. Briefly, he wondered if he really should have purged all of those officers. Possibly Tukhachevsky...

He glared at the map, biting into his pipe stem. Six more divisions had been encircled in the north, a loss, but replaceable:
Spoiler (hover to show)

In the south, though...
Spoiler (hover to show)
Nineteen divisions! Nineteen! In little more than a year, about 150 divisions had been captured or destroyed by the fascisti. Only too late was he coming to realize how crushing the loss of the first 70 divisions had been. The destruction of the cream of the Russian military in that idiotic charge towards Berlin - he tried not to think about the fact that he had ordered it - had meant that every attack by the Germans afterwards had met less and less resistance, had fewer and fewer fast forces to interdict the German columns.

He had attacked too soon, he admitted that to himself. If Russian industry had had another year to gear up, if the new T-34 tanks which started coming off the line in September 1940 had been present in quantity...perhaps things might have been different. But now, his glorious advance in the name of international Marxism had turned into a sometimes grinding, sometimes frantic retreat. And he didn't have enough troops to even garrison the entire front, and the Germans showed no sign of stopping.

- - -

November 15th, 1941
Wolfsschanze, near Rastenburg, Prussia


Hitler pointed to the map...
Spoiler (hover to show)
...and smiled as he turned to Forst.

"There, and there," the dictator said, pointing again. Can you see it? A giant square, pointing towards Moscow. And Bolshevik supplies must go around it. It will finish the annihilation of the Red Army."

"The center of it, perhaps. It's a very ambitious operation during winter."

"Bah! You worry too much," Hitler chuckled. "They all have winter coats, do they not? And the tanks are winterized. You saw to that for the campaign in France."

Forst had, that was true. In fact, Hitler knew that Forst wasn't worried so much about the cold as the supply situation. It had been easy to get supplies to the troops in Poland and France. In Russia, though, the railways were substandard much of the time, and sometimes waylaid by partisans. And it took supplies and fuel just to get supplies and fuel to the front. But they had to fight. The war had not come as Hitler intended, but the drive for lebensraum would now be carried forth.

"Very well," Forst agreed. Better now than in the spring mud.
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 5: Inferno
February 19th, 1942
Wolfsschanze, near Rastenburg, Prussia


"I see. Yes, thank you. Good work."

Forst set the phone down. It was early morning, and Hitler, as he tended to do, was sleeping late, and few people were around, save for a few aides, the bunker and buildings were quiet.

He looked at the massive map table and moved some of the unit designations to match what he'd just heard:
Spoiler (hover to show)

The call he had just received had been the news that he'd been waiting for. The two pincers of Operation Taifun had linked up. Inside were at least 24 Soviet divisions, including armor divisions - and, if intelligence was correct, Stalin's latest general and his entire staff. Soon, as soon as the pocket was cleaned up, the Germans would launch Operation Taifun II, the capture of Moscow.

He hoped the rains wouldn't be as bad this spring. Once they were done, his troops could move faster. He had few worries about Moscow - there were few troops with guns and almost no tanks left to defend it. But the Soviet Union would not fall with Moscow. No, they would need to be pushed back, perhaps as far as beyond the Urals. Yet he could feel it now. The Russians were broken. They had attacked too soon, many of their industries still not beyond the Urals, and now the Germans had them. The Soviets would sue for peace or Germany would push them beyond the Urals and use the new bombers coming online to smash everything they built to so much rubble.

- - -
April 3rd, 1942
Near Wexford, Ireland


Conrad Beck watched as the press-ganged Irish laborers nudged the body, flipping it over and watching for a grenade or other booby trap. Nothing. The Irishmen picked the body up and tossed it into the waiting truck for later burial.

They should have known better, Conrad thought. A few militia, probably armed by the English, taking on four divisions, and one of them a panzer division...
Spoiler (hover to show)

...No, that hadn't been smart at all. These Irish were like that - braver than they were smart. Well, now they were brave and dead.

One of the Irishmen doing the detail suddenly straightened, coming up with a gun that had been under one of the bodies. He swung it to bear on Conrad, but the German already had his MP40 up and pointed with combat reflexes that had been honed against well-trained British troopers. The man barely had the submachine gun - ugly model, Conrad thought irrelevantly - turned in his general direction before Conrad hit him with a long, chattering burst. The Irishman gave a burbling scream and fell, twitching a few times before Conrad put another burst into him.

"Dummkopf!" he snorted, then motioned to the other workers with his gun. "Work," he growled, and they grabbed the new body and tossed it on top of the old. Brave, but stupid.

- - -

May 7th, 1942
Leningrad, USSR


Stalin sat gloomily in the dark room. Moscow had fallen. He'd almost waited to long - he'd sworn to stay in the last, and in the end, had had to be flown out, his small two-seater plane hugging the ground as closely as it could at night, trying to avoid the buzzing 109s that sometimes even prowled at night.

He was tired, and he wasn't sure the others with him - most of whom had left before he had, he had noted with morose pride and anger combined - realized how much of a blow the loss of Moscow had been. In the Soviet Union, all roads, specifically, all railroads, led to Moscow. And now it was in German hands. They would be here soon, he thought. Probably. Or perhaps they would swing south and capture what remained of his southern forces.

He couldn't even shoot the idiot general who had managed to get himself and almost the entirety of the center of the Red Army captured. Privately, and for once, Stalin admitted that it probably wouldn't have been fair to. The man had maybe a third of the numbers of the Wehrmacht facing him, and almost no air cover.

Stalin, General Secretary of the Soviet Union, sat in a darkened room and wondered what he should do.

- - -

May 8th, 1942
Bombay, India

Churchill sank into a chair, feeling faint. "Are you sure?" he asked the young intelligence officer who had brought him the message.

"Yes. Quite sure, sir. The report is coming from Leningrad now, as well as Berlin."

"I see. Thank you." He paused for a moment, then said quietly "You may go."

The young man - Churchill didn't know his name, left, and Churchill turned back to his visitor, the former president.

"Are you going to be alright?" FDR asked, wheeling his chair closer to the table they had been sitting at.

"It's this heat," Churchill said. "Well, this heat and bad news like that. I had placed too much hope in the Russians."

"Not the only ones who let you down," Roosevelt said, his voice tinged with bitterness. "I had hoped that the people of the United States were wiser."

"I suppose they considered that it wasn't their fight," Churchill shrugged. Roosevelt had done what he could for Great Britain, had sold them destroyers and weaponry for leases on bases, had done as much as he could, in fact, right up to the day Charles Lindbergh had moved into the White House. And now he had come to India, to commiserate with a friend. But Roosevelt still had his home to go back to.

"It will be their fight," Roosevelt said. "That's how I see it."

Churchill shrugged. "Probably not. Probably not. I read his book, you know."

"That piece of rubbish?"

"Well, yes, it is that. But he wants Russia. Lebensraum, they call it. I must admit, I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't have perhaps let them have it."

Roosevelt was silent at that, and there was silence at the table, until Churchill thought to bring up the considerably more cheerful subject of what a difficult time the Japanese were having keeping China pacified.

- - -

May 8th, 1942
Moscow, Occupied USSR


Hitler scuffed at the ashes in the street, still falling from the sky as buildings burned. The Soviets had tried to blow up most of the administrative buildings, but the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral had been mostly spared. Perhaps they thought they would get them back. Hardly.

"The city will have to be torn down," he said, speaking to his entourage. Forst wasn't there, instead back at the Wolfsschanze planning the next two operations. "But not completely."

That caused some raised eyebrows, but the Fuhrer's thinking on the matter had changed over time, and with conversations he'd had with both Forst and Speer. Speer had wanted to preserve the architecture, and now that he was here, Hitler had to agree that some of the buildings - the old Czarist ones, of course - had some grandeur. Forst, on the other hand, had just stared at him in disbelief when he had mentioned the idea of leveling the city.

"That is not funny," the man had said, in apparent horror. "Not even as a joke. Do you know that every railroad in the whole damn country goes through Moscow? Am I to have our troops laying rail as they go? Perhaps I should have our panzers pulled by sled dogs through the snow?"

And that had been that. So the Germans would pull down the buildings the Russians had burned or demolished, which was most of them, and they would occupy the rest for administration and as a depot. The population was mostly gone - fleeing through German lines or already fled. That was good, too.

"They are weak." Hitler said, almost to himself. "Just one more good kick and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down."
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 6: Götterdämmerung
June 19th, 1942
West of Kharkov, Occupied USSR


Hans faced forward, keeping his Panther slowly creeping forward. Operation Hammer, as it was called, was now in full swing. And for once, he was going into it with style. He hadn't been a tanker, hadn't wanted to be one, but he'd been fighting beside one when the Panzer commander was decapitated by an anti-tank round, and without thinking, Hans had climbed on top of the tank, pulled the body out, and managed to direct fire well enough to knock out the enemy AT gun, and proceeded to lead a successful local attack.

That had apparently impressed HQ enough to the point that a hauptmann had told him that the Panzers needed a Leutnant with such natural talent more than the infantry did, seeing as there was such a training crunch for new officers and tankers, so he had just volunteered for the panzers. At the time, remembering the Russian tank that had gone sky high, he had been less than thrilled. But the job had grown on him, especially once he'd received a Panther. He'd heard that the Fuhrer had wanted to build a heavy breakthrough tank, to be named "tiger", but that the Unterfuhrer had canceled all plans for anything but extensive design, testing, and production of a new medium model.

As far as Hans was concerned, he couldn't imagine anything better than this monster under him. It was responsive, reliable, and even had water-jackets around the ammunition storage to prevent fires if hit. The gun was accurate, if slightly overpowered and possessing a lackluster high explosive shell. And the armor was excellent. It was also much more comfortable than the Panzer 4. And it was all his.

And now he was using it to drive the encircled Bolshevik hordes out of Kharkov. His commanding officer had showed him a map of the current situation...
Spoiler (hover to show)
...and while Hans was probably too junior for the information, the word was passed to him that even now plans were being made for the taking of Sevastopol, then Leningrad and perhaps Stalingrad.

He paused, stared ahead, and ordered his gunner to fire at a particularly suspicious bush. He was rewarded with secondary explosions blowing dirt, fragments, and other things through the air. Then the tank snuffled forward again, pushing towards Kharkov

- - -

September 25th, 1942
Small village, Ireland


Conrad watched the town burn. There had been a second, major uprising. Again, arms smuggled in by the English. The Wehrmacht had withdrawn to Northern Ireland to regroup and wait for reinforcements: an entire Panzer Corp from Northern France. Then they had come down on the newly liberated state with a bloody fury.

Their orders had been clear: the previous occupation had been light, with troops building their own barracks and generally trying to stay out of the local's way. And they had been rewarded by two bloody revolts. Now there would be suffering. The cities would be garrisoned. Any town that offered resistance would be leveled. As this one had. While he watched, a Panther backed over a stone house, crumbling its walls to rubble, while a nearby pub burned fiercely. Not that Conrad and the other soldats hadn't liberated some of the more palatable booze.

Twenty or so bodies hung from nearby trees, each one with a placard reading "IRA" around its neck. Conrad didn't know if they were IRA. He just knew that they had had guns, and they had used them, and that was enough. No one would be allowed to bury them.

He knew something else. This island would be pacified, if it took killing every Irish man, woman, and child on it. The Irish were used to the English, who could be cruel, but were also weak. We Germans, Conrad thought, are not. The Irish would learn that, or they would cease to be able to learn anything.
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

(This is best read while listening to Mozart's Lacrymosa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1-TrAvp_xs )

Chapter 6: Götterdämmerung
October 1st, 1942
Moscow, Occupied USSR

"This is the final battle, isn't it?

They stood together, in Red Square, amidst the command centers and communications equipment. The Fuhrer of the Third Reich, staring out into the distance, as if he could see surrounded Leningrad, the Russians falling back, back towards the historic capitol of Tsarist Russia.

"I am not sure," Forst said. It was not a lie. Yet the Russians were broken. Over the last two years of war, the Wehrmacht had surrounded and entirely destroyed over 189 divisions, almost two million men, not to speak of the casualties of front-line fighting. The Soviet Union could no longer man the whole line. Their last major concentration was bottled up and being separated from Leningrad by a ferocious German assault.

"Yes," He amended softly, "Yes, I do not think they will persist."

"Eastern Europe will be ours." Hitler spoke softly, as if the words might shatter something.

"Yes."

The Fuhrer turned to face him. "I could not have done this without you."

"Danke, mein Fuhrer."

- - -

October 18th, 1942
Leningrad, USSR

They stood around the table, looking down at the map,
Spoiler (hover to show)
as if staring at it hard enough would change something.

The relief forces were not coming. The few remaining radios that that force had were themselves transmitting frantic calls for help as the encircling German forces battered them. Everything else was...too little, too far away.

The building shook, the crump-crump of incoming artillery more felt than heard. A cup fell off the table and shattered on the floor.

Stalin felt a sudden up-welling of frustration and rage. "Lenin gave us this State and we pissed it all away!" he shouted. No one responded. They stood silently, staring at the floor, clasping their hands, not daring to look at him.

In a sudden moment of clarity, Stalin saw who they were, who he had surrounded himself with. In his drive for power, he had cleverly outmaneuvered everyone, purged anyone who could threaten his leadership. Necessarily so, he had thought, to safeguard his leadership to a new order, a preservation of Lenin's legacy.

But in his determination to destroy all challengers to himself, he had destroyed anyone with the will or the ability to challenge others. And all his generals and subordinates waited on him now, waited for him to provide solutions that he didn't have, a miracle, a way to stand against the foe. And far too late, he realized that he had destroyed all those who could have offered solutions.

He felt suddenly weary, more weary than he had ever felt. In his bones, he felt tired of power, of life.

"I am going out to fight," he said. "Does anyone here have a pistol?" Of course they did not. He had forbidden anyone to carry a firearm in his presence. He left without another word. On the street outside, a militiaman, a boy, really, lay dead, robbed of life by some stray bomb or shell fragment. Stalin stripped him of his ancient rifle and the few cartridges he had carried. Overhead somewhere, one of the fascist's damnable bombers was dropping a stick of bombs, the sound hushed by the intervening buildings and rubble, but loud nonetheless. He walked on.

He passed the Philharmonia, and the sound of Mozart's Requiem came to him through broken windows as the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra played one last time. Stalin, failed priest, revolutionary, and General Secretary of the Soviet Union, smiled and walked towards the sound of the guns.

- - -

October 20th, 1942
Leningrad, USSR

Guderian approached the man holding the white flag. He was standing in the courtyard of the shattered Winter Palace, the massive structure afire or demolished in several places. Smoke and soot swirled around the courtyard, thick enough to be a near-fog.

"Yes?" Guderian inquired peremptorily. The man was balding, with glasses and hollowed cheeks and eyes that spoke of not enough to eat for some time.

"My name - " The man choked on the smoke for a moment, coughed, then went on. "My name is Lavrentiy Beria. I represent the Soviet Union. I have come to request...terms."
 

« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2016, 00:34 by Vikarion »
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 7: Embers
November 1st, 1942
Moscow, The Third Reich

They called it "The Bitter Peace", and signed the document in Moscow, in the battered and bullet-riddled Kremlin. Mikhail Kalinin, Lavrentiy Beria, and Maxim Litvinov signed for the Soviets. Hitler signed for the Germans. And in Germany, bells rang in churches and towns from Prussia to Bavaria, as news of the ceasefire echoed around Europe.

The terms were harsh. In terms of territory, the Reich acquired all Soviet lands on an uneven line from Arkhangelsk in the north to Astrahan in the south.
Spoiler (hover to show)
The Soviet Union would also be required to accept population deportations from the Reich, as the Reich intended to remove non-Aryans from its soil over time.

The Soviets had protested, of course. To that, Forst had simply remarked that they could accept the treaty, or the Germans would simply take the land, and that in such a case, they had no use for a captured Soviet government.

The Germans were under no illusions, of course. They knew that the Soviets humiliated, beaten and crushed, would nonetheless burn with a desire for vengeance. But the Urals would impede any offensive, and the Germans were already planning a vast, in-depth wall of fortifications from north to the south of the line, to be permanently garrisoned by German troops serving their three years of compulsive military service. New railroads would be routed along the fronts, and later, industrial plants would be put in.

Truthfully, Forst had wished that they could push through to the Pacific Ocean. But that was pure fantasy. German supply lines were already badly stretched, and even with the induction of Georgians and Ukrainians - the latter of whom had proved to have little love for Stalin or the Soviets - manpower was short. French laborers and POWs helped in the factories, but Germany couldn't afford to move east past the Urals.

But that was probably just his innate tendency to worry. In fact, it was. The Soviets would be far too busy trying to resettle incoming populations and feed them, as well as rebuilding, to threaten the Reich seriously for perhaps forty years. Yes, this was victory.

- - -

In Canada, Churchill sat, clothed in a thick coat, at the train station. The fall of the Soviet Union had set back his efforts to bring the Dominions into the war. The Germans had made no secret of their success, and even now Soviet forces were evacuating from land west of the Ural Line, as some were calling it. That had been the story, hadn't it, since those first hopeful days when Stalin had declared war, and Churchill remembered being so sure that he would soon see England again, that Hitler would be forced back, that Nazism would die in Berlin by Soviet hands, if not English ones.

Now he was heading to America, to try to wheedle more war supplies from President Lindbergh, as German diplomats would try to wheedle an elimination of the embargo. Perhaps he would go and visit Roosevelt. Public opinion towards the man had softened, but he remained, if not overly bitter about his loss, at least disillusioned with his presidency and the United States.

Churchill sat on the train bench, watching snow fall while he waited, and wondered if he would ever see England again.
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 7: Embers
July 30th, 1943
Berlin, The Third Reich

Eight months. It had been eight months. Who knew that cleaning up after a war could be so time consuming? Forst stepped out of his office and made for his automobile, the first step in his trip to the new command center being set up near the Balkans. The Reich was going to war again.

This endeavor was entirely Forst's initiative. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Hitler had seemed strangely unfocused, perhaps a bit lost. "I have accomplished my life's purpose" he had stated at one point, with the unspoken addition of "now what?" Soon, though, he had been energized in a new direction - the development of the new territory and of the Third Reich as a whole. He had mentioned that something more must be done about the Jews, as well, but his malice seemed to have been somewhat muted by victory, or perhaps by Forst's somewhat annoyed comments to the effect that the SS had things well in hand.

"Well in hand," Forst considered, might not have been an entirely truthful way of putting things. It might have been more accurate that he had taken the problem in hand and tossed it over his shoulder. It wasn't just that setting up new concentration camps, as Goebbels had suggested, would eat up additional manpower. Rather, Forst after reading Dr. Heisenberg's paper, and the setting up of Special Project 24, had made a quiet inquiry into just how many scientists and technicians had left the Reich because of the "Jewish Question".

The results had both shocked and worried him - both in how many scientists and engineers had been Jewish, and how many of them were now in other countries. And the nagging doubt had grown: for sub-humans - "if", he dared think now - they were rather smart, rather gifted. He had spoken to some of the men and women wearing the yellow star, who still occasionally walked the streets of Germany, and despite his adherence and loyalty to the Nazi Party and the German state, he had begun to find himself trapped between a a moral unwillingness to treat the Jew harshly, and the demands of his position and government.

He thought he had a solution, though. Deportation would solve everything. For those near enough to the new border with the Soviet Union, well, Marxism claimed to apply to everyone without discrimination. Those Jews would be shipped east, and the Russians could give them homesteads in Siberia or whatever they did to farm there. As for European Jews, well the Romans had - and he was beginning to feel a certain personal annoyance with them just for this reason - created the problem by driving the Jew out of his ancestral home. He would rectify that. He would "liberate" Judea from the English, and fill it full of factories and homes. Then he would simply unload every last Jew he could get his hands on in the Reich into the homeland they claimed to yearn for. That was fair, right?

Yes, that would be best. That would solve the Reich's problem, and his own concerns, as well.

In the meantime, he had to plan the attack into the Balkans. The Balkans possessed necessary resources for the Reich, most importantly, oil. In addition, their geographic location rendered them an annoying obstacle to access to English and Free French holdings in the Middle East. And a conquest of the Balkans and Turkey would also give potential access to Iran and India. Access to India would be necessary to defeat the English.

Forst had considered a naval strike, but Britain had brought its carriers up, and though the Reich was rapidly trying to construct its own aircraft carriers, Forst had no illusion that it would be any time soon, and he expected that trying to confront English carriers out of the range of land-based air cover would be just as fatal for the German fleet as engaging within that envelope had been for the English battleships.

So, Guderian held the Eastern Wall with its forts, and two reasonably sized armies under Manstein and Rommel would handle the Balkans.

Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

OOC: sorry about the big break in game-time between entries, but my game crashed a few times, I had to revert to a save (not one before what I'd posted, though, so no continuity loss), and thus I lost some screenshots.
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 7: Embers
August 26th, 1944
Jerusalem, The Third Reich

Forst stood near the Temple Mount and looked over the city. For the life of him, he couldn't see what was worthwhile about owning this place. It looked tattered, trashed, even a bit seedy to his European eye. No matter.

The SS had already begun clearance operations, deporting the local population. Most of them were destined for what was formerly Turkey and Yugoslavia. Those countries had room, and most of all, a foreign element would destabilize partisan elements. Soon all of Palestine would be empty, ready for the Jews of Europe.

The war against the Balkans had taken most of a year. In September Rommel and Manstein had swarmed through Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary:
Spoiler (hover to show)
and then had started into Greece in December of 1943:
Spoiler (hover to show)

The Greeks had fought fiercely, and the assault into Turkey had had to be delayed until the new year, with serious inroads only being made by March 1944:
Spoiler (hover to show)

The success, however, had actually stymied him a bit. He had originally intended to attack down through Iraq, but his troops had reported atrocious roads and great difficulty getting supplies and fuel over the mountainous and desert terrain. In retrospect, he had admitted to himself and to the OKW, the invasion of Turkey had been largely pointless from a strategic viewpoint.

Thus, he had decided upon a rather ambitious gambit: the invasion of Gibraltar. The Reich now a bomber force of around 2,500 planes, and two fast-battleship/destroyer fleets. With air and sea cover, and with desperate fighting, Gibraltar could be taken.

In actuality, the event was anti-climactic. Gibraltar had been stripped of the majority of its garrison, probably for the Middle East. The demoralized few who remained had been over-awed almost to the point of non-resistance by the massive semi-amphibious panzer-group that landed to subdue the "impenetrable redoubt", as Churchill had called it in a speech from India.

The capture of Gibraltar had bottled up a large portion of the British fleet in the Mediterranean. Then the battle fleets had swept in, covered by roughly bombers based in the Balkans, while Germany landed on and occupied Crete and Malta. And then, covered by the swarming Luftwaffe, German troops had landed in British Palestine:
Spoiler (hover to show)

And, now he stood in the Holy City, sacred to three religions. He could see the Dome of the Rock, shattered into rubble by a fully loaded English Halifax bomber that had gone down into it. As he watched, gray-clothed figures used machinery to scrape away the rubble, loading it into trucks, as others set up anti-aircraft batteries.

- - -

Rangoon, British Empire

Churchill sat alone, staring out the window as he held a half-full glass of gin. It was a rainy, cool day, for once. The King remained in Bombay. He had just returned from another trip to the Dominions, to the United States, even to Japan. It was essentially official now: no help would be forthcoming. He wanted to be angry - all of the time, all of the wealth that Britain had put into her colonies, and when the mother country was in need, her children abandoned her. He knew that that wasn't fair, that none of the colonies, save the United States - and if the United States was a child, it was a long-rebellious one - had the ability to take on the Reich. Indeed, the Empire itself had tried three minor raids on Europe, only to have them crushed with a speed and viciousness that had discouraged any real invasion plans.

But now the Reich was striking into the heart of remaining imperial power. The capture of Gibraltar had been a deep and physically painful shock. The Royal Navy had assured Churchill that the fleets of the Reich were too short-legged to cover the invasion. Whether or not that had been the case, the speed of the capture had made that moot. And then the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe had gone utterly wild in the Mediterranean, with the bombers seeking out and harrying the hapless Royal Navy day and night, while the battleships and destroyers of the Kriegsmarine developed a fine art of lurking in fogs and around coastlines to race out and torpedo and shell anything the bombers spotted.

He smiled a bitter smile, sipping his gin. The Germans still were ambush predators, still were submariners at heart. But it had worked. They'd even ambushed a carrier off of Malta and sunk it, racing up on it out of a rain squall after a high-flying Luftwaffe pilot had spotted it. The Germans had even been courteous about it - after putting two shells into the flight deck, they'd waited to finish it off until the crew had largely abandoned ship. They could afford to - that had been the last major threat to their fleet in the Mediterranean.

And now German forces were pushing down, down into the oil country that the British Empire needed so desperately to maintain anything like a war effort. In Palestine, German arms were exploding out of Tel Aviv. The British Empire was being dismantled, slowly, methodically, but surely. German forces were at the border of Persia. After they finished in the Middle East, they would assuredly push down into Africa and east through Persia into India. And they would take India, and Singapore, and the Empire and English people would fade into memory under a gray tide.

A single tear, as cool as the rain outside, began to course down his cheek.
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 7: Embers
August 28th, 1944
East of El Alamein, Egypt

Spoiler (hover to show)

"What's this place, Hans?"

"That's Oberleutnant Hans to you, Unteroffizier", Hans said absentmindedly, scanning the small town in the distance. He and his tank, along with a squad, had been sent west to search out any enemy activity. So far, there had been no sign of any English. "Anyway, I believe Rommel called it 'El Alamein'. We are east of El Alamein."

He and others of a Panzer Corp had been delivered to this place by ship after fighting their way through Turkey. It was less that he had hoped for. The sand got everywhere, and it was always hot, except when it was too cold at night. He had heard that German troops had entered Alexandria, and he hoped it was true. The sooner Rommel and Manstein got them out of this sandpit, the better.

The Balkans had been much more fun. Rommel and Manstein's troops had raced each other to the next objective, cutting off enemy forces with ease, often not even inflicting casualties of note, just encircling, bypassing, and moving on. After the eastern front, what troops the Balkan countries could put up were not even a challenge. His Panther had just chugged on, eating up the kilometers.

And, honestly, Hilda the Panther didn't seem to mind the sand, either. So perhaps he shouldn't. Well, in any case, no English were left here, at El Alamein. On to Cairo, then!
« Last Edit: 07 Jan 2016, 02:00 by Vikarion »
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Chapter 8: Ashes
September 2nd, 1944
Bombay, India

"It's time, Winston."

The King looked tired. The war had taken its toll, though not too badly. He had stopped smoking, in sympathy with the citizens of Occupied England, who could not get tobacco, and Winston thought that in that, the Germans might have done the English sovereign a very little good. But...still...

"No," Winston said. "We cannot. We cannot. How can we...just give in?"

"Winston, is there any chance, any chance at all that we can prevail?"

Churchill stared, looking off into the distance. They both knew the answer. Despite trading with the Americans and the Dominions, despite the American embargo on trading with Germany, the Germans were well-fed, well-equipped, and adequately supplied, while British troops were out of fuel, low on ammunition, badly clothed, barely fed enough to fight, and demoralized. There was no chance. The Germans would cut through the defenses of India, and the terrain would give them more problems than the Empire's troops.

"No." He whispered. "No, my King, there is no chance. I do not think that there was a chance since Moscow fell."

The King nodded. "Then I had best go and speak over the radio. I will announce a unilateral ceasefire and appeal for terms. Perhaps we can keep Great Britain together."

- - -

East of Cairo, Egypt

Hans peered over the edge of the hatch, barely showing his head as his Panther crept forward. It was dark, well into the night. They were heading through the eastern vicinity of Cairo, having taken the city a few days before. English forces had pulled back, but Hans wanted to take no chances with some Englishman lurking with a PIAT or that damnable American rocket launcher. Hans had heard that they were so effective and useful that the Reich was copying them, not that it did a tanker any good.

Hilda the Panther shuddered to a stop as the driver spotted something. "Hey," he shouted, "more soldiers!"

Hans saw them too. "No shooting, Franz," he said to his gunner. "They've got their hands up."

"There's a damned lot of them," Franz noted, and the gunner was right. More of the Englishmen were filtering out of the darkness and into the open, walking towards the Panzers with bitter but relieved faces.

Hans had learned a little English and Russian, and understood more than a little of each by this point. When the leader of the soldiers came close enough, he leaned further out of the turret and looked at the man - a colonel, he thought. Probably had been preparing an ambush. The man had tears running down his cheeks.

He approached the Panther and looked up at Hans. "Well, you goddamn kraut," he choked out. "You did it. You beat us. You beat the whole goddamn Empire, Winnie and the goddamn King." Then the colonel put his hand against the gently rumbling Panther and began to sob, openly and unashamed.

Behind the Panther, in the distance over Cairo and the ancient pyramids, fireworks began to light the sky.

- - -

Chapter 8: Ashes
September 3rd, 1944
Berlin, The Third Reich

Churchill arrived at the Chancellery in the afternoon, having flown through the night. He had slept fitfully on the plane, when he had slept at all. Now he, Bernard Montgomery, and the rest of the English delegation were saluted by an SS officer and escorted inside.

He approached the conference room reluctantly, feeling like a man being led to the gallows. Inside, the Field Marshals and leaders of the Reich waited. He entered slowly, and scanned the room as Montgomery followed him. He'd been briefed on whom to expect to see. There was Manstein, Rundstedt, Rommel, and even Guderian, who must have flown in from Moscow. Goebbels, with that vicious tongue of his, fat Goering with his skies of bombers and 109s, and standing at the head of the table, like a dark star drawing all attention inwards, the Fuhrer. His presence almost caused Churchill to miss Forst, standing in a corner, his black uniform a contrast with the grey of the Wehrmacht and khaki of the English delegation.

All waited for the British delegation to be seated before seating themselves. Hitler motioned, and a dark-haired woman, also in an SS uniform, appeared and distributed a few sheets of paper to each delegate. "These are the terms," Hitler announced peremptorily. "We trust that you will find them acceptable."

Churchill almost snapped back at that, but held himself in check. He began to read the terms, with an increasing sense of disbelief. Compared to what he had expected, the terms were astonishingly mild. England would cede no land, even that already taken by the Germans, save for a large portion of Palestine. The British Empire would join the axis and the Reich would not interfere with internal Empire politics, but would receive favorable trade deals for raw resources and would have the right to station troops or ships on English territory. The British Empire would be granted transit rights across German territories - practically a requirement at this point.

Churchill reread the document, looking for anything he might have missed, and then signed. He saw others of the English delegation signing as well, perhaps with the same sneaking desire to agree before the Germans changed their minds. They weren't even asking for their colonies in Africa back.

He looked up to see the Fuhrer smiling. "I never had any desire to destroy the Empire," Hitler said. "You see?"

Churchill nodded, grudgingly. "Thank you," he managed. He even meant it, a very, very little bit.

The rest of the meeting was brief. The Empire could hardly refuse any terms, and its delegation wanted these badly once it had seen them. They moved to a larger room with a buffet and drinks, which the English delegation, with a revived appetite, laid into.

"You know," Montgomery said, he and Churchill, with an interpreter, having buttonholed the Fuhrer and Goering, "we did not expect such favorable terms."

"Yes," Hitler said, holding, but barely touching, a small glass of champagne. "Forst was very much against it. It took quite a bit of work to argue him down."

Montgomery looked around. "Where is he, by the way? He seems to have disappeared."

"Oh," Goering said, shrugging. "He is still irritated by that we didn't at least demand Egypt. He will come around. Right now he is probably off with that dark-haired assistant of his, drinking a beer. He's unmarried, you know, but probably not for long, the way the two of them are eyeing each other."

"What are you going to do with Palestine?" Churchill inquired.

"For the Jews," Hitler said sourly. "Forst will be getting them out of our hair for all time to come. He says he is fixing the mistake the Romans made."

Churchill tried not to grimace. Sometimes you could almost forget they were uncivilized Nazis, and then...

Goering saw his expression, and shrugged. "It's not so bad. They've all been wanting to go back to Jerusalem anyway, and they'll have homes and industries. Forst insists on allowing them to bring personal belongings. It's a solution, it's not perfect, but it's a solution."

"And what of the Palestinians?" Montgomery demanded. "You've been shipping them off to god-knows-where."

Hitler's face darkened. "Yes. We thought to Turkey, at first, but now mostly to Ukraine. That fool Stalin let his Bolsheviks starve three million of his own people. There are barely enough to work the fields. There are empty houses and farms for more than we are are bringing there, and it is better land. Can you believe that? Three million, just like that." He waved a hand. "Bolshevism. It destroys its people."

"Surely that is an exaggeration," Montgomery said, speaking Churchill's thoughts.

"Yes, I thought so too," Hitler replied through the interpreter. "But you can go and see for yourself. We are just moving people, we are not killing them. What sort of civilized person could just kill millions for being in the way?"

- - -

Chapter 8: Ashes
September 10th, 1944
London, England

He had put it off as long as he could. But it was time, now, and he had flown in from India, where he had been putting governmental affairs in order, at last.

His cab took him to 10 Downing Street, where he paid the fare and bid the woman farewell. A woman, driving a taxicab. How...different. So much was different, and yet the same, and as he stared at the entrance to his former place of work, he found that he couldn't bear to go in. Not yet.

He began to walk down the streets of London, eyeing the scars of bomb damage from the war. He remembered walking these streets, more than four years ago. A lifetime ago, when he'd still had hope, when he hadn't realized that he'd condemned his nation to four years of occupation and hardship. What must they think of him? Of how he had failed them, failed the Empire. Let it all fall apart?

"Hey, is that Winnie?" The voice startled him. It was a soldier, still in uniform, back probably from Africa or India, and one of many on the street who had turned to look, Churchill realized, at him. Churchill turned, nodded to the man, and started to turn back to his walk. But another soldier, closer, seeing his face, reached out and grabbed his shoulder. "Don't be like that, sir," the youthful soldier said, staring at him with a face that had been scarred but was still handsome and very young. "You did your best. We all did our best."

"It's not your fault," an elderly matron said, clustering with others around him, as he found himself swarmed, people trying to shake his hand, pat him on the back, all English reserve broken in the moment. "They knew they'd been in a fight," another man in a khaki uniform said. There was more, and more of that, as Churchill was swept up, bewildered, in an outpouring of affection.

"You can't win them all," an especially loud voice sang out. "But you can have a drink afterwards!" This brought a general cheer of agreement, and Churchill found himself propelled towards a pub, his eyes sparkling with sudden tears, but a genuine smile on his face for the first time in months.

The pub was a whirlwind of activity, and the Prime Minister found himself bounced from table to table as new patrons met him, clasped his hands, tried to buy him a drink - he quickly ended up with three before he started refusing - and encouraging him. It was quite a while before he could manage a seat at the bar for a moment. On the next stool over, a German in a grey uniform, trim slightly different from the infantry uniform of the Wehrmacht, was busily downing a beer.

"Who are you?" Churchill asked, not entirely pleased to see a German, even if the man was causing no harm.

The man turned, nodded to Churchill, then removed a foam mustache from the underlying stubble on his face with a napkin. "I am Hauptmann Hans Acker," he said in in guttural English. "Flew up here on leave. Wanted to get somewhere away from damned sand, maybe cold, wet. Remind myself what that is. And this place has good beer. He smiled, and Churchill noticed a long, jagged scar down the man's face, and thought of the young man who had stopped him outside, and how the scars looked very much the same.

"And who you?" the man continued. "I buy you one. Good fighters. Good country. Good to not be at krieg...war now." He held out a hand.

Churchill stared at the hand, then, slowly, took it. "Well," he said with a small smile, "since you're offering a drink, my friends call me 'Winnie'.



THE END
Logged

Utari Onzo

  • The Mods
  • Omelette
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 416
  • Dank Meme Consumer

Brilliant read.
Logged
"Face the enemy as a solid wall
For faith is your armor
And through it, the enemy will find no breach
Wrap your arms around the enemy
For faith is your fire
And with it, burn away his evil"


PTB is recruiting

Vikarion

  • Guest

Brilliant read.

Thanks.  :) Not quite done, still an epilogue.
Logged

Pieter Tuulinen

  • Tacklebitch
  • Pod Captain
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 662

Gah. I've owned this game for a year and not started in on it. That'll be changing tonight.

You're a very talented writer Vikarion - I've paid good money for some absolute shite on Amazon this year and you've just made that look like a VERY bad investment. Moreover I've read some Historical 'What If' fiction by very qualified historians and this sits right up there with that.

Thank you very much for this Christmas present.
Logged

Vikarion

  • Guest

Gah. I've owned this game for a year and not started in on it. That'll be changing tonight.

You're a very talented writer Vikarion - I've paid good money for some absolute shite on Amazon this year and you've just made that look like a VERY bad investment. Moreover I've read some Historical 'What If' fiction by very qualified historians and this sits right up there with that.

Thank you very much for this Christmas present.

Thanks, man, that means a lot.  :)
Logged
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4