Wednesday, June 29, 2005

From an Old Soldier

I don’t know how you found me, kid, but you should know that it is not exactly healthy to go looking for history lessons in dives like this. And it is doubly not smart to be walking into any old place and start asking about the Resistance. Let me guess, you heard down in your coalmine town that New York was a hotbed of the Resistance, and you decided that you wouldn’t mind dying a hero. Don’t sneer, kid, I’ve seen smarter than you get disappeared into the Hudson, and that was even before they saw an Imperial.

So you’ve heard that Old Joe might clue you in on how things got this way and how things might go later. The first is easy enough. If you are smart enough to find a Liberty Press, then you should probably know most of this already. The second part? If you are smarter than you look, you’ll head back to the mine and forget all about the glory you think you’ll find.

Might as well start at the start. Great War, trenches, gas attacks, that I’m sure you already know. Here’s where things start heading off the textbooks. The Germans had been working on all sorts of different toys to give our boys a shellacking. Turned out, bigger guns were the least of our concerns. Seems that a chap by the name of Manfred von Schwarzaugen, you might know him better as Emperor, was working on stuff that no one really thought would work, stuff that used old books, odd candles, eye of newt and the rest. He was pulling in funding from the war department for his little freak show. Remember, the difference between eccentric and insane is how much money and how much pull you have. In Schwarzaugen’s case, it was a membership in the Kaiser’s family that got him in.

Nobody thought it would work except for a few close associates, assistants, and some things not from around here. What? Yeah, you could call them Demons if you don’t mind having an arm ripped off and shoved so far down your throat that you could shake hands with your appendix. That or having one of the brainy types talk you into doing that to yourself. And don’t even get me started on the Succubi. Anyway, don’t interrupt me.

Come the Winter Solstice of ‘16, Old Manfred is tossing around fireballs and whatnot and pulling over Destroyers, Plotters, and Tempters over by the boatload. That was the 22nd of December if you haven’t learned your astrology yet. Anyhow, Manfred and a company of Destroyers crash the Kaiser’s Christmas Ball. With no one left to say Boo, Manfred claims the title of Kaiser and completes his little putsch. Not many people know what happened to Wilhelm, and most of those who don’t are smart enough not to ask.

It don’t matter where you’re at, everyone likes the winner. Unless he’s fixing to make you the loser, that is. The parts of the German aristocracy that pledged to him got big promotions in title and land, largely from those who chose the other option. Salt in some Plotters working the other nations, and suddenly you have a lot of other people craving their own little slice of monarchy, or at least keeping what they had. Case in point, the Russian Czar was having a little problem beating down a revolution while his army was scrapping with the Kaiser’s boys. Schwarzaugen trained up a couple of wizards for him and sent over a regiment of Destroyers and a battalion of orcs. Where the hell those came from is anyone’s guess, but they made good muscle and bullet catchers. Bing, bang, boom, revolution’s over and Nicholas is now sending his forces to fight alongside the Germans.

That was a nasty little surprise, let me tell you. Spring of ’17 we’re suddenly facing not only Germans, Russians, Destroyers, orcs and wizards, but some of the most God-damned contraptions anyone’s ever laid eyes on. Tanks the size of a row house, men flying with rockets strapped to their backs, and gas that ate through masks like a starving man at a free buffet. Seemed that some of the Emperor’s brain cases had figured out how to condense magic into a liquid fuel. Suddenly, the laws of thermodynamics go out the window, and nothing we had could stand up to them.

Not that our boys were complete pushovers. Some of them showed some talent at spells, and others could do things like knockdown an infantry charge but just thinking hard at them. The Ordo Neo Imperialis as Emperor Manfred I had taken to calling it anticipated that, and those boys were the first ones target. Not many Americans or Canadians made it home by the time the Order has sown up Europe that fall.

It was only a matter of time before the Order made its move on the Americas. You’d figure that the whole idea of successfully rebellious colonies was something that had to be handled. The US worked like sixty to catch up in the magic race. The first step was to duplicate and advance the weird science the Empire had developed. The second was to train up some of our own wizards. They called them the Army Corps of Sorcerors and placed the whole of the War Department’s sorcery under their command.

You’ve heard the expression “Pride goeth before the fall”? Well, it was the Corp's pride and our fall. When the Imperials made their move, the whole of the Order either stabbed their units in the back or went up like Roman Candles. The landing, and gating as I understand, went off entirely too smoothly in the end.

So there you have it up to today. The New Imperial Order has the US up to the Mississippi, although I hear that Detroit is putting up one hell of a fight. At least we aren’t fighting alone. Dwarves have come out of the mountains like they were there all along, and the Seelie elves are fighting along side us. Be careful with them though, you can’t tell by looking whether he’s Seelie or Unseelie. Or course, being careful is good advice in any case.

If you are looking for heroics, kid, forget about New York. If you are looking for the Resistance, the Resistance don’t want you. Go west, young man, the Free States are always looking for help.
I’d wish you luck, kid, but I’m fixing to keep all I’ve got.

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