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GATE: and so the Iron Pact Fought

OP and Prelude

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#1
Well, welcome to this fic.

For those who visit the thread 'Thus the SBers Wrote There! Gate Story Recommendations, Ideas and Discussion Thread' on Spacebattles, then you know the idea. If you haven't I'll give you the basis of the idea. This idea is based upon the GATE fanfic and so the Soviets Conquered. A second gate opens and instead of ALT!USSR it is right smack in the middle of ALT!Berlin, this opens up to a timeline that is inspired by the Nightmare!Versailles thread a while back... Now I can't give you all the details because -unsurprisingly- I have been perma-banned from AltHistory.com by CalBear because he didn't like the wording of my counter-argument against 'only Imperial Germany genocided' and slapped an 'advocacy of Genocide' charge on my account there. Now this is also available on Spacebattles.com.

The idea behind the timeline this is based off of is on SB, AltHist.com, and SV. Although I can't go back to AltHist.com thanks to said 'advocacy of Genocide' charge, I did a few of the viewpoints there under the forum name ImperialGermanKomandant. So without further ado, here it begins:

A ‘GATE: and thus the JSDF Fought There’/Iron Pact Timeline fic
I must thank those at the Alternate History dot com forums for the idea of the Iron Pact timeline, even though I can no longer visit the forums due to my expulsion. I must also thank the author of the fic ‘and so the Soviets Conquered’ for giving me the idea for this fic in the first place. Without them, things would probably be different for everyone involved.
Prelude: The Berlin Incident
My time in the Great War of Resistance had changed me so completely. If you asked before the War about the Jews, I would tell you that I venomously hate them at the very least. Now after the War? I can honestly say that the Jews are probably the most resourceful people I've ever met and more than willing to throw their lives into the fight if need be... and if they cannot fight, they will do whatever they can to help those that do... and now I say let them make Germany their second Israel, as I can trust them with my life. War changes one's perception, and for me, it is probably the change for the better. This book isn't just about me in that conflict and the battles that I fought; this is a book about the men and women -of all creeds and nationalities- that I served with and led into battle. For me, this is the memoirs of those who have died under my command and those who no longer have a voice to tell their stories...
-Excerpt of the First Paragraph of "My Struggle: The Memoirs of the Great War of Resistance (Mein Kampf: Die Memoiren des Großen Widerstandskrieg)"
By Adolf Hitler, still the best seller of war memoirs next to All Quiet on the Western Front and The Dawn of the Dragon and the Tiger
Berlin, Imperial Germany; March 8th, 2017 (T +3 days after the Portal opened)

“… as you can see behind me, the devastation to the historical border between Old and New Berlin is catastrophic…”

“… Iron Pact forces have forced out the Roman-esque army back through the mysterious gate-like portal. Scientists across the Free World have requested immediate access to the portal, stating that it presents an unheard-of breakthrough of quantum mechanics…”

“… as the discovery of bodies slows to a trickle, the Berlin Police Department has stated that there are at least three hundred persons unaccounted for. Experts in Roman History agree that they may have been taken to the other side of the portal…”

“… in a public announcement today, Premier Putin has stated that despite the current tensions between the Comintern and the Iron Pact, the Comintern denounces the recent invasion by the Roman-esque invaders and the now-public kidnapping of at least three hundred nationals and is willing to work alongside Iron Alliance to return these nationals back to their homes…”

Kaiserin Sophia slumped into her chair as the news droned on, exhausted. The meetings with the various parties within the Reichstag had been immensely draining on her already taxed stamina... and now she must meet with the various leaders of the Iron Pact and their military ministers via Telecom... a meeting that she didn't want to in her depleted condition. Few people know about the trials, tribulations, and shear weight of being a royal... and the only people who can even relate to it is probably the US Presidents after the mid-1850s and the few surviving monarchs in the world.

Soon enough one of the Telecom technicians told her that she was on. The screens showed not only her counterparts in the US, Poland, and Japan but also the defense ministers.

"Sorry about making you take the meeting now Kasierin," Japanese Defense Minister Gouda thoroughly apologized, "and I'm sorry about our current disorganization. The Portal Invasion has caught everyone off-guard and we're still working on getting properly organized. Even our most... imaginative... think tanks couldn't think of such a situation until recently." Gouda is a very interesting character, despite his slight inferiority complex and... intricacies... he was scary intelligent, a trait that let him be part of a decade of administrations. His public face is basically the most honorable and polite man in politics, but behind closed doors he's a manga and anime fanatic. Then again, even the best should have their intricacies, even with a man that survived the Pakistani Revolution back in 1987.

"I have to agree with Defense Minister Gouda," American Secretary of War Mattis sighed, "The guys in the Planning Division told me that they were just starting to cook up scenarios for this sort of thing within the last month or so, and we all know it takes a better part of a year to have at least a proper scenario and what can be done about it." Mattis was the man behind the 'details on the ground' for the intervention in Saudi Arabia after the Wahabists overthrew the government there in 1993. Using the Baghdad Confederation -an oddity within the Middle East, as it is one of the few nations there that have multiple ethnic groups that are at least civil with each other, with the joint state of Israel-Jordan and the ancient nation of Persia being the others that one can remember off the top of their head- as a launching point. His tactics and strategies made him a war hero, and his assessment of making the two holy cities of Islam into international cities similar to the Vatican backed by the power of the UN Peacekeepers was a small stroke of genius even if it caused a lot of headaches for a better part of two decades by quite a few sub-divisions of Islam.

"While I find all this talk about our current situation somewhat entertaining, we're probably missing the bigger picture here," Polish President Andrzej Duda retorted sharply, "The current projections of kidnapped nationals is already one and a half times what we've told the media. This includes a hundred Soviets... which complicates things. Premier Putin has asked if he can send some of the First Spetznaz Guard with our forces to 'ensure that any recovery of Soviet Nationals has them back home as soon as possible'." Andrzej's party had been elected thanks to the heightened tensions between the Comintern and the Iron Pact back early last decade and the fact that the Fifth Republic that de Gaulle set up finally failed in 2005 when the military dissolved the government after the election caused the Second Revanchism Party -Deuxième parti du revanchisme- to effectively control the civilian government despite all countermeasures. It took five years for the French Military to retake control and is still picking up the pieces as the remnants of the DPR has gone to ground and kept on using guerrilla warfare... leading to a situation worse than Britain's The Troubles period from 1926 to 1943.

"If I know Vladimir well enough, his Spetznaz Guard is going to be taking notes on our equipment. The man is an old spymaster and is an opportunist," Chief of the Military General Staff Fredrick Neumann stated, "However, we can't deny him that right either. Ignoring or denying the Soviets from having some members of his government as attaches for returning Soviet Nationals back home would increase tensions, probably to the point of war. However, this represents an opportunity not seen since the death of Stalin. If we accept Vladimir's request, we can lessen the high tensions that already exist. The last thing we need is the India/Pakistan situation exploding to war or the situation in Africa triggering a world war. We should allow everyone who had nationals kidnapped have at least a few platoons of their elite units if they can spare them to keep tensions low." Fredrick Neumann is from a low-ranking Junker family, and is probably one of the best Chiefs of the Military General Staff that the Kaiserreich ever had. His cousin -one Gerhard Neumann- had made temporary headlines back in 1985 -that year was a slow one for the news networks in the Kaiserreich- by marrying a common American woman... who was an above average electrical draftswoman. That bit of media frenzy was a headache for her father, Fredrick the Seventh.

"I have to agree with you Mr. Neumann," President Hillary Clinton answered, "While I'm not the one to trust Putin, this could work entirely in our favor. With tensions as they are, this is probably the best way to lessen them while keeping accurate data on our more advanced systems safe. Given that the enemy is in the Middle Ages from a technological standpoint, sending our best units would be foolish at best." Hillary Clinton is perhaps the cleanest 'smooth operator' in US politics. Her ability to navigate in US politics made being Secretary of State easy by comparison. Her political savvy is probably in the same general ballpark as Bismarck... just without the micromanaging fetish that he gained as his mental ability deteriorated.

Sophia smirked, bounding ideas always works, it worked for her grandfather Wilhelm the Second during the Großen Widerstandskrieg, it will work for her now. "The core problem with any plan we can come up with is that we lack any and all information on what is on the other side, what the political and economic systems are, and how exactly their military is structured. Our interrogators have only made slow progress so far with those that we've captured, and they've been resisting our attempts to parse out intelligence," Sophia complained, "It doesn't help that it will take time for us to assemble the needed forces to carry out any operation on the other side. My best guess would be at least a month before we can send initial recon elements to the region on the other side of the portal, with another two months before we can actually send something more than that."

"Sadly, you're right Kaiserin Sophia," Mattis sighed in frustration, "and with the fact that these invaders are Roman-esque, it might be a month or three that the nationals don't have thanks to the sad reality. It's not like we can plot a command center and build a base and logistics train from scratch like some video game." Everyone mentally snickered at the reference to the Command and Conquer series.

"We all understand that Mattis," Sophia replied, "But most of us here have fickle constituents to consider. Constituents that would likely force the issue whether we like it or not..."
_______________
Other Side of the Portal; April 8th, 2017 (T+ 1 month)

Oberstleutnant Karl Neumann frowned as he observed the landscape from the hatch of the Panzerbefehlswagen 2000 Auf Emil. So far, it has been going incredibly smoothly. The field drone airstrip was already setup, allowing the round-the-clock drone missions with incredible ease… and so far, the rest of the Aufklärungsabteilung had been having it easy… at least to the point that the various surveyors and scientists can easily do their work.

“Oberstleutnant, you better get down below… Hauptmann Neumann wants you right away,” one of Karl’s lieutenants said as she asked loudly. Hauptmann Neumann is a brilliant man from Gerhard’s branch of the Neumann family, great with machines and electronics and thus when he joined the military he was assigned to the drone corps… which landed him here in the First Army’s 7th Aufklärungsabteilung. The only reason that High Command was reluctant with sending him here was his condition… a condition that was the result of the life-saving surgery utilizing then-experimental cybernetics technology back in 2005 thanks to an anti-German terror bombing during the Frisby Family Reunion in Huston.

“Alright Leutnant, I’ll be right down,” Karl replied, “Did Aaron said anything about why by chance?” The Leutnant simply nodded and said, “He said you’ll only believe it when you see it.” It was a short walk towards the command deck… but Karl frowned at the sight of half the command crew gawking at Hauptmann Neumann’s station.

“Aaron, you’ve asked for me?” Karl asked politely as he ducked through the door.

“Ah, yes cousin,” Hauptmann Neumann answered with a slight casual flare, “I was looking through the data from the drones in Sector 20 when I saw another Portal.” That got Karl’s attention almost immediately. Another Portal is a surprise in of itself, but Karl knew that underpinning that Aaron had, it always told that there was something more to it than whatever had been said.

“Another Portal?!?” Karl exclaimed in surprise, “How far out is it and has anything come through it?” Karl was genuinely surprised at this information, given that the data the scientists had produced indicated that the most likely proposition being that there is only one Portal link active at any one time. Having a second one just blew that right out of the water.

“Yeah,” Aaron answered, “and that isn’t the only thing. I’m seeing Japanese recon units… but not our Japan either given the style and designs of their equipment are completely different. From what my sensors are telling me, they’re using ICE instead of fuel cells from the heat signature, they’re not using intelli-wear based combat armor nor combat exoskeletons… everything that the sensors tell me is that they’re not our Japan, and the Empire has paid them a visit.” Karl frowned, from the looks of it -and telling from Aaron’s body language- the ‘other Japan’ had also sent a scouting unit forward before their own main force arrives, meaning that they too have been attacked by the local empire.

“… as we don’t have fucking enough on our plate already,” Karl complained, “Now we’re not just dealing with a medieval Rome, but also an alternate Japan. Command is so going to like this.” Karl shook his head as he said the last line in a worried but sarcastic tone. “Alright, get that data transferred to Command and keep an eye on them. We don’t want them to decide that we’re trouble and attack us.” Aaron simply nodded as he sent the instructions to the computer via MMI.

“Cousin… we all have enough on our plate already,” Aaron sighed sadly as he continued his work.
Point Gate; September 8th, 2015 – 16:25

“So… medieval Romans pour out of this thing, it takes a better part of a week to dislodge them and clear them out, found out that a good hundred nationals -mostly American and Japanese- have been taken as slaves, and our governments are barely stopping themselves from squabbling over this ‘Gate’,” Lieutenant Lloyd Richards -of the United States Marine Corps- complained as he lowered his binoculars, “… and I see a bloody UAV that we certainly didn’t deploy out there. What else is this place going to throw at us? Flute busting Prussians?” Lloyd wasn’t having the best day, given that this campaign started poorly. The JSDF had already fought off a scout vanguard the moment that they got to this side of the Gate, and given what the forward scouts have seen, there is a decent sized -some 5,000 strong- garrison force a few miles from the Gate.

“I’m not surprised,” answered Imakawa Sato, “Everything with the Gate has overturned what we thought was real and not. I mean fantasy creatures and medieval Romans coming out of a gate like structure that could appear from nowhere? We’ve been rewriting what is real and what isn’t for a while now… although the UAVs flying around is a new one.” Imakawa quickly brought his binoculars up and saw the drone in question. “Damn, that thing is impressive. Looks like it’s a bigger, nastier version of those Predator drones you Americans love so much.”

“That’s the problem… no one has anything resembling that thing right now, let alone something that can be used without satellites,” Lloyd complained, “We’re dealing with another modern-era group here and they’re willing to send drones over here for recon.” Imakawa frowned at this. “So, that begs the question, whose is it? Can’t make out any identification markings from this distance.”

“I really don’t know Lieutenant… I really don’t know…” was all that Imakawa replied back.
 
Chapter 1: Operation Breakthrough

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#2
Here is Chapter 1:

Chapter One: Operation Breakthrough
Welcome to Cologne, Kameraden! Today you begin the greatest moment of your life!
-A paraphrased introduction of a common speech made by Officers of the German Army during the Siege of Cologne during the Great War of Resistance and again during the Second World War
In front of the Portal, Berlin side; June 8th, 2017 (T+ 3 Months) – 12:40 Berlin Time


It had been three months since the invaders had attacked the capital of one of the most successful nations in the history of mankind. It had been three months of preparation since it was decided to go onto the other side and bring those who were responsible to justice. … and now it was considered time to begin the campaign.



Even three months couldn’t heal the damage that the invaders inflicted upon the two portions of Berlin and yet, despite the ongoing reconstruction, thousands of citizens around the world assembled to see the soldiers of the First Army, Second Crops off to the lands on the other side of the Portal. Military personnel and equipment moved into spearhead formation, as the Aufklärungsabteilung on the other side had encountered elements of what appeared to be the forward vanguard of the enemy’s army.



1st Lieutenant Jeffery George ‘Old Reliable’ Patton simply sighed as he sat in the command position in his tank, a Panzer VIII Auf E Tiger III named Rommel’s Glory, as he scanned his surroundings through the numerous digital sights that he had available to him. The Tiger III’s 5-man crew -a driver, an electronics warfare specialist, a gunner, a loader, and a commander- were already chomping at the bit for justice. It was one thing to attack representatives of the Iron Pact, it was another to try sacking one of the Pact’s capitals and killed thousands in the process alongside taking four hundred and fifty people as slaves.



“Attention all units, move out!”



“Driver, crank it!” Patton ordered, “Gunner, prepare for anti-infantry combat!” The replies via the tank’s internal network resounded as the spearhead started to move forward at speed. The one thing that the crew noticed is that going through the Portal was like going through a tunnel, and at flank speed the travel time was incredibly short. Ten minutes short.



That was when the Rommel’s Glory exited the other side of the Portal, and the BATNET went absolutely nuts.



“All units, all units this is Eagle Six! Enemy vanguard inbound! Prepare for combat!” Patton’s eyes widened considerably as he recognized the voice, it was the voice of General Sigfried Forsythe… the Hero of Imamabad. To have him here is surprising to say the least.



“Understood!” Patton stated into the BATNET, “Gunner! Target, infantry; distance 1.2 clicks! 1 o’clock!”



“ON THE WAY!” Balthasar Schmidt replied as he pressed the fire peddle. The 12.8cm main gun roared as the HEP round ripped through the air and detonated three seconds later in the middle of an enemy vanguard unit, turning the formation into fine paste and debris. The nearby formations went into a panic as they saw their fellows become a fine mist and shrapnel.



That was when surprise raked the BATNET.



“This is Charlie Six-Six! Charlie Four-One just bit it! Unknown projectile!”



“Driver, haul it. Evasive!” Patton ordered as he switched his controls to use the 12.7mm HMG CROWS, “Gunner, full release on the coax.” Soon enough the 12.7mm coaxial opened up as the loader made sure that the HEP round was rammed into the main gun, followed shortly with the roof-mounted HMG. The sound of the venerable M2A4 HMGs reverberated through the tank, sending half an inch of hot lead down range and simply pasting anyone they hit.



The enemy was dying in lots; it wasn’t combat, it was outright slaughter. … and the enemy’s commander doesn’t know it yet… which is bad given that it is outright policy of the Iron Pact to not have a war turn into a genocide unless all other options were exhausted. So far, no conflict had come to that but some of the interventions got damn close like the Indian-Pakistani Wars that got Forsythe so famous.



“Sir, I think I see the bastard that got Charlie Four-One Eel-Tee,” Michel Reynolds, the EWO, remarked, “11 o’clock, 800 meters.”



“Alright, Bathasar, take him out before he decides to make havoc,” Patton ordered, firing the roof M2 at another grouping of soldiers… before seeing the man readying for another attack, “Bathasar, do it now! He’s…



Bathasar immediately swiveled the turret and opened up with the coaxial before sending a HEP round for good measure. Unlike the other soldiers, his body had a glimmer that quickly dimmed in the withering fire, leaving the body itself mostly intact. The crew quickly made a mental note to get intelligence to pick up the body later as the slaughter continued.



The ‘battle’ -if you wanted to call it that- lasted for another half-an-hour before the enemy started to retreat. That was when the radio came to life with orders.



“This is Eagle Six… they’re retreating. Fallback to the Portal and prepare for further orders,” General Forsythe ordered over the radio. Patton ordered the driver to pull back… and the rest of the crew to prepare for a field break…



Holy Empire of Alnus Legion Camp, near Remus Hill; the next day


Legate Titus Camilius Mactator frowned as the remnants of his vanguard returned bloody and shaken. From the vanguard’s accounts, the enemy at Remus Hill -and likely Alnus Hill as well- has magic far beyond all but the most capable of battle mages or spirit wielders and has somehow been able to deploy said magic in mass. That… scared Titus. It wasn’t the fear that is uncertainty before combat. It was a more primal -barbaric!- fear, a fear unbecoming of one of the Holy Empire’s soldiers.



“Legate Mactator,” the messenger said as he kneeled before his Legate, “I’ve brought a message from Legate Tertius Granius Montanus, it reads: the legions assigned to the Holy Hill of Alnus is proceeding on schedule, they will be at the camp near Alnus by mid-day.” Tertius is probably one of the more competent Legates within the Holy Empire of Alnus with two Triumphs to his credit and his insistence on having his men ranked on merit instead of familial ties. Tetius’s primary supporter is Prince Diabo Aburius Draco, the crafty middle child of the current emperor… and a man with a complexity fetish for all of his plans.



“That’s good Messenger, now tell Tertius that things are going to plan and to prepare to go into the next phase,” Titus ordered, “If the Imperial City is to survive, then the plan must succeed.” Titus simply looked into the distance in reflection as the messenger wrote down the reply. Given that the XXIII Legion came back all but annihilated after discovering the second Gate on Remus Hill -one of the seven hills of the Holy Land of Alnus- caution and deception is the mentality of the day. The Messenger stayed so that Tertius would know which sort of plan is to be implemented, given that Titus is the lead Legate for this campaign.



Titus quickly returned to the map and frowned, the enemy was only a sixth of his own forces, but underestimation of the enemy had gotten ten Imperial Legions and his vanguard annihilated. As such, he had to think with a level head. Proper earthworks wouldn’t be setup less than a night after the first battle, even with experienced geomancers it would take days to set up a camp. As such, they’re on open ground and thus vulnerable. Even with magic, you can only sustain a defense for so long before one’s stamina runs out… however the ‘iron elephants’ complicates things.



The vanguard proved that a daylight assault was impossible, as they fought at a greater range… and given the unknown variables, a night assault might be a phyrric victory at best… a complete washout at worst. Even with their fantastical military prowess, it is incredibly unlikely that they can eliminate the auxiliary legions enough that the remnants simply go home. Half of the legions are out on the frontiers, expanding the empire and to withdraw then is to destroy whatever gains that have been made. The legions that were sent through the Gates comprised a quarter of the Empire’s strength, leaving only new recruits and the remnants of battered legions training the new recruits for the legions they will found.



That meant that if the enemy was able to get into the Empire proper, then things get ugly, fast.



That left the fact that he was caught between a rock and a hard place. The axillary legions are simply here to whittle down the enemies from the two Gates, hopefully for long enough for the Empire to rearm and start switching out some legions from the frontier back home to fight these new foes. Yet… they aren’t likely enough to do much given the information he had.



“Messenger,” Titus quickly said, causing the lowly messenger to look up, “Tell Tertius that we must assume that the best-case scenario is that all but a third of the axillary legions will be annihilated and most of them will turn to banditry. We must prepare to implement a scorched earth policy between the Holy Hills and the border of Italica Province to ensure that it is protected from the enemy and the eventual bandits. I recommend that he send his recognoscere auxiliaries to get a better picture of the enemy at Alnus.” The messenger quickly wrote it all down and sealed the scroll. “Now go, use our fastest horse if you have to.” The messenger ran as fast as he could towards the stables and left the camp on his horse.



With Titus now alone with commanders, a new line of thought started. His vanguard couldn’t get the information he needed to plan a proper assault. Most of his -and those of the auxiliary legions- men aren’t capable of recognoscere duties for the simplest reason of the lack of light-footedness -both in fleet of movement and the ability to quietly move through the lands- and willingness to simply observe. That problem limited not only Titus’s options, but also Tertius’s.



“Legate Titus,” Marcellus Gabinius Trebellius, one of Titus’s more problem-solving centric commanders, “The only recongnoscere auxiliary we have would be our Warrior Bunny century… and thanks to our idiot Prince Zorzal El Caesar, it’s a good probability that they could defect to the enemy.” Titus simply slumped his shoulders. Zorzal was probably the largest idiot within the Imperial Family, and it was only because of Emperor Molt hearing about Zorzal’s plan for the Bunny Kingdom that stopped the extermination of the Warrior Bunnies. That made any Warrior Bunny auxiliary of suspect due to that.



“It is something we have to do Marcellus,” Titus frowned, “If we don’t send them out, then we will get slaughtered. It’s one of those situations where we don’t have a decent choice of gaining a true victory… only partial victories or worse. Go tell Ilthrule that he and his Cohort are to prepare to recongnoscere the enemy and bring back intelligence on the enemy…”

Portal Patrol Zone Dora-4; June 9th, 2017 – 8:32 PM Local Time


For Unteroffizer Daniël Steenkamp and his patrol, the twilight is a nerve-wrecking time. The interface between daylight and nightfall always caused some sort of identification problems in the expanses of Africa. Between the heat differentials, lighting that is too bright for low-light vision aids but too dark for vision aids at other lighting intensities, and intelligent enemies, the twilight can be the most dangerous time for a patrol. Yet it must be done… and why various drones are used to ensure that any patrol during this time is as effective as possible.



“Unteroffizer, contacts! Looks like infantry, 2 o’clock! Distance, 400 meters!” a gefreiter by the name of Sebastian Hanekom exclaimed, “If I have to hazard a guess, looks like reconnaissance troops!”



Daniël frowned as he took his binoculars and looked into the distance, and sure enough there was several humanoid shapes in the distance. From what had can be discerned, they weren’t entirely human either, given that they look like they have rabbit ears on the top of their heads. Not that surprising given the shear absurdity of the current campaign in general. “Weapons safe, we don’t know a shit about the full situation on this side of the Portal. For all we know these unknowns are pilgrims to visit a holy site in the area,” Daniël ordered, “The local population don’t get information as fast as we do, so assume nothing until we ascertain it. Gefreite Lombard, Louw, Morkel, and Van Zyl, move up and get them ready for transport to base. If they’re civilians, we’ve just saved their asses. If they’re enemy troops, we’ve got more prisoners of war for MFI to build a picture with.”

The four Afrikaners -two women and two men- quickly dismounted and moved at a brisk pace towards the unknowns, not knowing what will happen next but prepared for practically anything…



5 Miles from Remus Hill, about the same time


Azibal frowned as the two men and two women in odd armor marched briskly towards her and her contubernium from their iron mounts. Ilthule had been specifically ordered to have the entire cohort to leave their uniforms and most of their equipment behind so Azibal’s contubernium can use the excuse of being pilgrims to the Seven Holy Hills as a cover. It also helped that most of the contuberium haven’t made their Pilgrimage of Baʿal Ḥammon yet, furthering the deception.



Yet, Azibal was practically shaking as the four humans -well they did look like humans, their armor made it incredibly hard to discern more especially so at this distance- walked towards her contuberium at a brisk pace. Azibal quickly signaled the contubernium to halt as she ran through the scenarios in her mind using what little information had been gathered… and all of them were bad to say the least.



The foreigners soon stopped at about 85 feet from the contubernium, their stances clearly on alert. Azibal frowned, wondering if the scenarios in her head would come to pass… when one of them spoke. “Attention!” the foreigner yelled in the most atrocious Sedarian that Azibal heard of, “You are in an active combat zone! State your intentions!”



That got Azibal off guard. “We’re pilgrims on our Pilgrimage of Ba’al Hammon!” Azibal answered back, “My friend and I were escorting some of our people who haven’t been on their pilgrimage yet!” Azibal prayed to all the gods she knew that they would fall for it. If they didn’t… they would probably be killed right on the spot.



One of the other foreigners took their free hand and put it against the right side of its head and acted like if it was talking to someone. It took a few minutes -and some heated debate- for a decision to be made. “Alright, you’ll be escorted to a secure area in our field quarters until the current situation is sufficiently solved,” the being ordered in it’s bad Sedarian, “Now you and your group will follow us to our vehicles. Any and all arms will be surrendered for the duration of your stay. This is non-negotiable. Am I making myself clear?”



Azibal frowned, she knew that this was an excellent chance to gain information but at the cost of being able to fight back. This is probably her only chance to get the information that the Empire needed to fight these invaders. So, she reluctantly agreed.



Fort Portal Field HQ, Thirty-Five minutes later


General Forsythe sighed as the eight locals entered his personal tent. Their bodies were more like something out of erotica than simply humans with rabbit features. It didn’t help that they were very protective of their ‘assets’ as well, thanks to the reaction that a simple pat on the back incurred (poor Hans… he got smacked rather hard for that).



Still -Forsythe reasoned with himself- despite all the situation so far, the information these locals could carry would make a little easier at the very least… even if it’s out of date. Then again, this would be the perfect opportunity to gauge possible reactions to culture and other non-military aspects to the Iron Pact; as after this battle recon teams must be deployed to chart the roads and investigate the local’s economic and political structures, investigations that would be hindered if the non-military aspects were too abrasive or too intimidating.



“Hauptmann Neumann and MPs have escorted Unteroffizer Steenkamp, his team, and eight locals. Any further orders sir?” Hauptmann Neumann said at attention.



“Hauptmann Neumann, please stay with me please,” Forsythe ordered, “Underoffizer Steenkamp, you and your team will wait outside and prepare for an oral debriefing. The MPs are to stay outside.” Forsythe knew he was taking a chance with the locals, for all he knew they might be some sort of super-human assassins that have rabbit features… but that is a chance he had to take. To reduce the obvious tension in the tent, Forsythe had everyone but Hauptmann Neumann to wait outside the tent.



“Understood sir,” Hauptmann Neumann replied, “Alright you lot! You heard the General! Move out!” The MPs and Underoffizer Steenkamp’s squad quickly hauled their butts out of the tent, leaving General Forsythe and Hauptmann Neumann alone with the locals.



“I’m sorry for any butchering of your language,” Forsythe said in a heavily accented Sedarian, “but we’ve only discovered your language three months ago and we’re still trying to make proper adjustments of our translations.” The locals understood the general well enough to get what he was saying, understanding that even their kind couldn’t translate and speak Sedarian properly for a better part of a year, and that was with Sedarian educators helping in hammering out the kinks.



“It is fine... Legate Forsythe,” the lead local said, butchering Forsythe a bit given the differences between Germanic and Romantic language families, “My name is Azibal and my people are known as the Warrior Bunnies. My partner and I were escorting our six younger hutch-mates to visit the Holy Hills of Alnus for their pilgrimage of Ba’al Hammon.” Azibal noted that Forsythe rose an eyebrow on Ba’al Hammon. “We had heard that bandits on the roads to the Holy Hills were particularly bad this year, so we prepared for the worst. The incense we’ve brought costs a fortune and is required for several ceremonies that can only be carried out on the Holy Hills.”



“Ah,” Forsythe nodded in understanding, “I’m sorry that we’ve interrupted your pilgrimage… because, as you can see, we’re at war with one of the local powers.” The eight Warrior Bunnies sighed at that bit of information, like if this was a common occurrence. “I see that this sort of news isn’t uncommon here Ms. Azibal.”



“It isn’t,” Azibal answered, “The Holy Empire of Alnus tends to wage war across not only the continent but also the seas to forever expand their empire. Our people were conquered barely a decade and a half ago in a brutal war of conquest. Our people were almost exterminated by the forces of Prince Zorzal El Caesar, if it wasn’t for his father Emperor Augustus leaving a few of his trusted men in Zorzal’s army with explicit orders to ensure that is army was to subjugate our lands… there wouldn’t be much left of our species.”



Forsythe frowned as he and Hauptmann Neumann put the names of Zorzal El Caesar and Augustus in the back of their minds for future reference. “I would take it that the Holy Empire of Alnus is rather expansive?” Hauptmann Neumann asked politely.



“It is,” Azibal said as she answered Hauptmann Neumann’s question, “The Holy Empire of Alnus dominates the entire continent and has set its sights across the oceans to other lands. I’ve heard that before the Empire set its sights on our lands, they tried to invade a continent across the western ocean despite the dangers. All they got was a simple foothold on a mountainous island off the coast of the other continent by the end of it. The species there aren’t the sort to be trifled with, especially with their religion-all-but-in-name on friendship of all things.” Hauptmann Neumann and General Forsythe digested the information that Azibal was telling them. If someone on the other side of this ‘western ocean’ can fight off the Empire, then it might be a good ally -or group of allies- in the future.



That was when Hauptmann Neumann and Forsythe recognized the sound of the 17cm heavy howitzers, a sound that scared several years off the assembled locals.



“What is happening?” Forsythe asked as he grabbed his radio.



“Enemy attack! We’re looking at an attacking force some 500 thousand strong! The artillery batteries are getting fire missions non-stop and the barrages aren’t stopping them! Even the star shells aren’t having an effect!”



“Understood, sound the alarm and prepare for combat,” Forsythe ordered, “Hauptmann Neumann, you and the MPs are to get going and get these locals to the bunker and keep them there!” Hauptmann Neumann simply replied ‘Jawohl’ and quickly got the MPs together and escorted the locals out…
 
Chapter 2: Calm Before the Storm

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#3
Here is Chapter 2:

Chapter 2: Calm before the Storm
Sedaria, Capital of the Holy Empire of Alnus – Senate Chambers; 2457939.5 of the Ancestral Calendar or 5th of Quintilis of the Year 6729 of the Reformation Calendar


Emperor Malt Sol Augustus shook his head as the entire Senate went up in arms as Legates Titus and Tertis debriefed everyone on the events of Holy Province of Alnus. The second half of the assembled auxiliary legions foolishly deciding to simply go ahead and attack at twilight and getting outright butchered by weapons that outstripped the Empire’s by numerous orders of magnitude while -despite having better guile and intelligence- the first half was annihilated in three encounters with the second enemy, with the third attempt being a literal textbook night assault with similar weapons that butchered the second group.



For Emperor Augustus, this was a mere formality as he already had been debriefed. While no one knew it, these two enemies had rocked him to his core. The shear military strength that was described by the legates was mind numbingly impressive. Literal orders of magnitude more than all but the most powerful of combat mages like Cato El Altestan and Grand Magus Tiberius Nasennius Calpurnianus. All the while being capable of smiting legions from beyond visual range. While he had used the enemy as a way to ensure that the Holy Empire of Alnus wouldn’t be taken by its various vassals, elector states, and tributaries… it didn’t douse his fears.



“… and that concludes our report on the invaders,” Tertis said with finality, “At this time we believe that the crisis the Empire faces is the greatest one and outstrips any crisis that our ancestors have faced. Legate Titus and I have already ceased the initiative and stripped the towns and villages along the roads to Italica of anything of value and have escorted the citizens to villages on the border. All of the forts on the border of the Holy Province of Alnus have been alerted to the fact that the enemy might start moving forward in the days ahead.” The senate was in an uproar. The towns and villages on the roads towards the Seven Hills of Alnus were a major supplier of tax income for the Empire via the pilgrimages that all walks of life take at least once in their lives. That would take a massive chunk out of the tax income of the empire, thus relying more heavily on the tributes that have breed immense resentment towards the ruling state of Sedaria. Not only that, four legions that the Empire can ill afford were completely lost to these new enemies.



Now with the fact that the quickly assembled forces of the various kingdoms, duchies, and principalities annihilated by these new enemies, the prospects of turning this around is grim. Soon a senator waved to have his piece.



“Titus, you said that one of the few combat mages went with your vanguard towards Remus Hill. From what the few remnants of that vanguard said, he was able to destroy one of the invader’s ‘iron elephants’,” one of the hawkish senators stated, “That means these invaders can be fought and killed!” Senator Marquess Casel simply frowned at that fallacious statement. How are the combat mages -rare as they are- going to get into range when the enemy can simply kill them at a distance despite their shields? This is on top of how the Empire is going to convince the Council of Colleges and its Grand Magus to side with the Empire when Malt’s predecessor tried to weaken their political power… which almost ignited a civil war. Casel quickly waved to challenge the hawkish senator’s statement.



“Senator Marcus Cantilius Tasius,” Marquess Casel said as he began his rebuttal, “can you tell the Senate on how you are to accomplish the herculean task of persuading the Council of Colleges and its Grand Magus to side with us when the history between the Empire and the Council of Colleges is rife with the Empire trying to screw the Council over? How are you going to get the mages into range where they can use their mystical arts to defeat the enemy?” Many senators were in awe of Senator Marquess Casel rebuttal’s opening barrage. Marcus Cantilius Tasius is one of the major leaders of the ‘warhawk’ faction. He had previously served thirty years as an Imperial Legion Legate and fought numerous campaigns. In his experience, there is no such thing as an invincible enemy. Marcus represented the more fanatical portion of the faction, where fanaticism was more abundant than sense. While Marcus held great power within the warhawk faction, it was Cicero La Moltose that commanded the faction. Cicero is well known for his analytical mind, his own impressive combat and leadership record, his truthfulness, and cool head.



Marcus Cantilius Tasius stood there, shocked that someone would give him facts that were also questions. Marcus’s hands quickly became fists as anger smoldered within him. Marcus was about to give his rebuttal when his superior Cicero La Moltose put his hand on Marcus’s shoulders. “Senator Casel has got you by the throat Tasius,” Cicero whispered, “you better stop while you’re ahead or he’ll tear your ass off in the debates.” Tasius was now fuming in rage, as even his fellow faction leader was holding back instead of going to the fight. But then again, there is a good reason that Cicero the Yielder was the primary leader of the faction and not Tasius himself. “Wait for Casel and his faction to make a mistake before we strike. What we need here is a plan, not words.”



The rest of the session went on with fruitless debate between the numerous factions within the Senate, trying to make a compromise for action against the new enemies that the Holy Empire has made…

The Imperial Chambers, the Imperial Palace; a few hours later


Emperor Malt Sol Augustus snickered a little in front of his ‘advisor’ Count Marcus at the ineptitude that the Senate got itself into. The ploy that he had for the Senate was working almost perfectly. The Senate’s many factions are still bickering about on what to do -thus weakening their prestige- with little effort on his part. It was almost too easy!



“Sir, with the Senate currently in disarray, what are we going to do about the enemies on the Holy Hills of Alnus and Remus?” Marcus asked, as it was his duty to effectively question every action Malt takes and every policy that he implements, “Given the few experiences we’ve had with these new enemies, the forts aren’t going to hold them off for long if they decide to break out.” Malt had to give it to Marcus, he always asked the hard questions and thus why he was advisor and not anyone else. Anyone who went for the job didn’t ask those sorts of questions outright, Marcus did. If his scheming is the price to pay for that sort of intelligence and spine, then so be it.



“Of course,” Malt answered in fake reignition, “If we can’t fight against an enemy that is orders of magnitude more capable than us militarily, then we must use the strategies that the ancestral Dictator Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus used against the forces of the Hannibal Barca. We must ensure that their supply lines are disrupted outside of the Gates, that their forces are bogged down in needless skirmishes. Attack them where they are weak to weaken where they are strong. Ensure that our forces never go for a pitched battle that would certainly annihilate our forces outright.” The Fabian Stratagems had become the go-to method for the Empire against forces stronger than what it’s military can handle, and its repertoire both from the times of Sadera’s ancestors to the present day is as extensive as its use. It only failed once however, but then again Equestria is an oddball among the nations on this world.



“If the Fabian Stratagems fail to weaken the enemy?” Marcus asked flatly. Marcus isn’t an idiot. The Fabian Stratagems have failed once, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that they can fail again. Given that there is so little information on these enemies and their mentality, if the Fabian Stratagems fail then it might be disastrous for the empire. Given Marcus’s position within the Empire, if he didn’t die in the fighting first he would be one of the first to be executed after the conquest.



“Then, and only then, we make peace,” Malt answered, “It is foolish to simply waste time and resources to keep throwing men to fight an enemy that the Empire can’t fight. We both know that we can’t convince the Council of Colleges to fight with us, given that the current and previous Grand Magus are avowed neutrals and most of the mages and practitioners of the mystic arts are more interested in finding the secrets of the universe than fighting.” Malt might be a warhawk, but unlike the clear majority of them he knew when to fold. Then there is the fact that he had taken illegal action against both enemies, the Senate will have his head and force him to abdicate and force an Imperial Election among his remaining heirs. While Zorzal El Caesar would be the one that can be easily controlled but he is just as likely to ignore all advice if his ego is charged enough which is more common than not thanks to Zorzal’s slave Tyuule, who has him by his dick. Diabo Aburius Draco would be useless for the Senate as he couldn’t be controlled. That left the youngest daughter, Piña Co Lada, as the likely prospect as she had a strong sense of common sense with an incredibly uncanny intelligence… yet the problem with her is that she is far too honorable and thus unsuited for Senatorial politics.



That was when the doors into the Imperial Chambers flew open, showing Piña Co Lada and a duo of her Pretorian Guard. The Knights of the Rose is a cohort-sized force of mounted infantry and knights, and she had been clamoring to gain experience in the field of battle. She probably heard from her own sources about Alnus and Remus Hills being taken by a new enemy of the empire. This represents an opportunity in Malt’s mind, as he could get multiple birds with one stone; not only he could give Piña some much-needed combat experience, but he can force her to bend her honor far more than she would otherwise. A comprehensive plan quickly formed in Malt’s mind as Piña told him off…

The Business Estate of Marquess Casel, around the same time


Senator Marquess Casel sat as the numerous servants maneuvered through the crowded business hall of the minor estate just outside Sedaria. The entirety of the Senatorial and Electoral classes had these incredibly small estates for various political purposes, particularly to have a somewhat private location to relax between after a day in the Senate during a session -which usually last a month- and do closed door politicking. It is in estates like these that some of the greatest reforms and compromises were made, where fanatics within the myriad of factions that make up the complex politics of the Senate can’t interfere.



Casel had convened the ‘Dove’ faction’s -which included senators from other factions like the Mercantiles and the Liberals- leadership to his estate for one purpose, to get a foundation for a compromise. That isn’t the only problem either, as Casel’s spies had heard rumors that the legions sent through the two Gates have turned captives -over 450 of them- into illegal slaves. While the Legates that would have done the deed would likely be dead alongside practically the entire legion, the rumor had indicated that Malt had some hand in the process. But this information was only rumor and nothing solid.



“Senator Casel,” Senator Placus Albatius Carius spoke, “I have talked to my fellows within the Mercantiles and the situation isn’t good.” Casel’s face was mired by a frown by that statement, as a bad situation within the Mercantiles is a particularly bad thing to hear. “The Mercantile leadership had a meeting, and most of the faction vowed to stay neutral as war and peace is too costly for them both in political and economic currency in their minds, and said majority are going to abstain from anything that our faction and the warhawks would come up with.” Now that is catastrophic, the Mercantiles are a powerful faction within the Senate since they effectively formed a core component within the Imperial economy. Since the peace has gotten them far richer than the war with the Warrior Bunnies, they had sided with the Dove faction frequently. To have them effectively back out of both the Warhawks and the Doves is unprecedented, and only signaled for bad times ahead. Given that the ‘Infrastructure’ faction -so named due to their fetish-all-but-in-name for infrastructure projects (particularly highways, ports, waterways, and the postal service), a fetish that, while strange, is a better one to have as it always improved economic productivity in one way or another- is closely aligned with the Mercantiles, that means their support with the Doves would vanish as well… leaving the Doves and the Warhawks with very few friends in general.



“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!” exclaimed Senator Proculus Sergius Constantius in a harsh tone, “Their support is the key to many of our compromises! If they’ve backed out, that means things are going to be outright impossible to create a compromise.” Everyone then started to feel a headache to come on. “… and that means things won’t get done and the Senate’s prestige takes a massive hit.” Everyone in the room shook their heads as the reality of the situation settled in.



“Everyone feels the same way as you do Senator Constantius,” Senator Carius sighed in agreement, “and with the fact that it is clear Emperor Malt is up to something, I fear that right now we’re going to have problems in the future.” Everyone agreed with that statement without reservation. Even then, nothing known is known about these new enemies. All the information given was how destructive their incredibly long-ranged weapons are. Nothing about their culture, in-depth methods of warfare, their language, their understanding of the universe… and that presented a problem.



That was when everything was interrupted by a runner -a warrior bunny by the name of Amotmilqart- that is the favorite of Constantius.



“I think we’re going to have a problem solve itself,” Constantius foxily -almost kitsune-like- smiled as he read the message, “One of my informants within the Order of the Roses has been told that the Order in its entirety have been given a mission by the Emperor himself. That mission, to gain intelligence on the new enemies of the Empire.” Everyone in the room wasn’t that surprised at the Emperor sending someone out, but what surprised everyone is the fact that he was sending his daughter Piña Co Lada and her order to do it. For the most part the Order of the Roses had been basically a bunch of ceremonial knights that occasionally went out to settle disputes or support garrisoned legions against bandits. She is well known to be able to keep a cool head in negotiations and forge a fair deal for everyone. Her combat prowess is lackluster at best, but then again, her Order hadn’t been in combat all that much.



“Now that is interesting,” Casel smiled mischievously, “I think the Gods are throwing a bone our way ladies and gentlemen.” The senators in the room couldn’t agree more…

Alpine Judal Province, Judal Mining County; 9th of Quintilis of the Year 6729


The Judal Mining County is one of the most important mining-focused areas in the core of the Holy Empire of Alnus. Not only does it produce 20% of the Empire’s coal, it also produced significant percentages of copper, tin, iron, lead, asbestos, talc, gold, silver, and various stones. All of these are used for a variety of economic and military applications.



The Judal Mining County is also one of the largest consumers of slave labor. Over a quarter of the Empire’s slaves work here, mostly in the mines or in the terraced fields that supply the county with food. As a slave-heavy province in the Empire, the garrison was double-strength compared to most of the empire just in case a slave revolt happened, which is rare but occasionally happens.



Kirishima Hiroki is one of 425 slaves that were bought in a slave auction three months ago. Hiroki had gotten to know 419 others during the time he -quite literally- slaved away in the mines. Most of them were from, much to his surprise, a world much like his own but vastly different. That was when he met one Viktor Reznov.



Viktor Reznov had told Hiroki that he was captured during his yearly trip to Berlin to take part in the celebrations, as his great grandfather took part in what his world knew as the ‘Great War of Resistance’, a war that was spurred by the British and French levying horrific terms for Versailles. Viktor would tell Hiroki about the stories of men that would have become monsters in his history become genuine heroes in Viktor’s. How Hitler and his motley crew of Germans, Jews, Poles, and more made daring raids and epic gambles to stem the tide of the British and French soldiers. How Kaiser Wilhelm the Second -later known as ‘Wilhelm the Flawed’- found his inner Prussian Spirit and led Germany to survival before backing down and installing his son Fredrick the Seventh as Kaiser. How the German Askari did the impossible and stopped the Sikhs cold at the Siege of Cologne.



It was thanks to Viktor that Hiroki had lived this long in the mines… and Viktor had a plan. He had distilled this plan into a series of simple steps and it spread through the camps like the whispering wind. Most of the slaves here were simply processed conquests sold to make an extra bit of money and thus they had no loyalty to the slave owners and had an immense thirst for freedom. Viktor and his small group of planners knew how fast a modern military can move when there isn’t a logistical base for their operations and had planned for this moment.



Given Viktor’s knowledge of the Iron Pact’s doctrine, he knew that the plan had to be implemented today as the recon flights would start coming out in force while everything else was ready. From there, it would be easy for the Iron Pact to send an air mobile company or two to secure and extract the slaves in the slave slums. All that must happen now is the ‘signal’… and that is where Sergei would come in. Sergei is a large -if you consider being slightly over two meters simply large- man and he had a voice that could carry for miles. It is that voice that would be the initiator for the revolt.



One of the key parts of the plan is to keep the illusion that things are normal, to lull the overseers into a sense of false security. That is why for the last few weeks Viktor had rotated the lead singer for the ‘signal’, to make it a normalcy. What the overseers didn’t know is the fact that Sergei is going to be the lead singer, and that would signal the revolt.



Ey ukhnyem!” Sergei began, “Ey ukhnyem! Yeshtsho razik, yeshtsho da ras!” Hiroki had to admit, the Song of the Volga Boatmen is an ingenious idea. Given the history behind the shanty, it would be easily mistaken for something sung by slaves; a perception that has been cultivated and exploited for the Plan. The overseers simply shrugged off their unsettling shivers up their spine and simply let their guard down, ignoring the more observant part of their minds screaming that something’s up.



For four minutes, the song went, and at the end, Viktor and his partners howled “Now comrades! Time to retake our freedom! Time for Step 1!” while the slaves replied with “Ascend from the Darkness!” The entire mine became a scene of pure pandemonium as slaves slaughtered their overseers with little remorse, with a handful of overseers simply getting knocked out and dragged out of the mines for their leniency. The ‘leniency’ being enough harm simply let them have a way out when the Empire comes down like a hammer from god. Outside the mines, giant slingshots were being set up and carefully prepared bottles of lamp oil were being brought out into the open and shot across the slums into guard towers located all over the compound, engulfing whatever they touched in flame. The slaves poured out of the slums, killing any slave overseer or owner they could grab that perpetuated the sordid conditions that they had to live in. The handful of overseers and owners that tried to treat the slaves with some decency were quickly rounded up, knocked out, and tied up.



That was when Hiroki found a spyglass lying on the ground and decided to look at the sky, hoping that they still had time before the slaves would reveal the message painted onto the roofs of the slums. That was when Hiroki saw an aircraft that looked like it was straight out of World War 2. At the altitude its at, the aircraft would be only a dot in the sky and thus requiring the aid of the spyglass. “Viktor!” Hiroki exclaimed as he ran towards Viktor, “I spotted a plane coming in!” Viktor quickly finished off the bodyguard that he was brutalizing and took the spyglass out of Hiroki’s hand and looked for himself.



“They’re early!” Viktor exclaimed as he pulled a male Equestrian to his side, “Golden Flash, get word to the slums, tell them that we must go forward with signaling the sky now!” The Equestrian simply nodded and moved at speeds that would make an Olympian green with jealousy. The only hope for escape now lied on Golden Flash to get to the slums in time…

Low-Intensity Recon Flight 008, 3,000 meters above Sea Level – 250 kilometers North, North West of Fort Portal; Ten Minutes Later


Leutnant Brötzmann looked at the camera screens of the modernized model of the ancient Folke-Wulf Uhu observation plane with surprise. Her copilot, Kadett Hecher, was already going through the aircraft’s computers to make a match with what he was seeing. For about 100 kilometers around the hills that the Iron Pact’s beachhead was located there was only abandoned villages and stripped fields. That changed when they got to the edge of the shield mountain range that surrounded three corners of area known as the ‘Holy Hills of Alnus’, and that is when valuable intel opportunities started to show up like clockwork.



Imperial forts, major towns and cities, and more became the focus in the recon flight, and thus gave basic intelligence for the major operations to come. Yet what the two pilots were seeing were far from the ordinary.



“I got a match on the computer Leutnant,” Hecher answered, “It’s old Spetznaz code for airlift evacuation for 650 people.” Brötzmann was confused with that answer. “Didn’t high command state that a retired Spetznaz officer was among the missing?” Brötzmann thought for a moment, trying to remember the intelligence that was given before this flight.



“Don’t quite remember, but this definitively merits investigation. Get General Forsythe on the horn and send the data through,” Brötzmann ordered, “We’ll go and orbit the area to show them we’ve seen the signal.”



“FIRF-008 to Base, FIRF-008 to Base; we’ve got a signal indicating a need for helicopter extraction for 650 people. Please advise,” Hecher said over the radio.



“Base to FIRF-008, say again?”



“FIRF-008 to Base, we’ve got a signal indicating a need for helicopter extraction for 650 people. The signal is a bit rough, but it looks like an older Spetznaz signal,” Hecher answered, “Computer confirms it with a 95% probability.”



“Base to FIRF-008, understood. Luftaufklärungstruppe is being sent to confirm and defend.”



“FIRF-008 to Base, can confirm Luftaufklärungstruppe will be in transit to confirm. Request permission to orbit the area to ensure signaler has confirmation of possible evac?” Hecher asked.



“Base to FIRF-008, request for orbit granted. ETA on Luftaufklärungstruppe with initial wave of transports, seven-fiver mikes.”



“FIRF-008 to Base; understood, going into orbit pattern, going to 1,500 meters,” Hecher replied, “Once the Luftaufklärungstruppe lands we’ll return to mission.” Soon the radio was cut off and Hecher sighed.



“Going into orbit pattern and lowering altitude,” Brötzmann said, “Today is simply one of those ‘starts wonderful, then goes weird’ days.” Brötzmann was not alone in that line of thought as he put in the new course into the flight computer. “Set the camera into standby mode Hecher. Better we save the hard drive space for intelligence right now, not some gore fest.”



Hecher simply agreed…

A large park-like area, 75 minutes later


For the last 75 minutes the various local slaves looked at the Uhu-looking aircraft with apt curiosity, as they never saw anything like it before. The slaves that were brought from Viktor’s reality quickly cheered in joy and excitement as they now knew that they were saved as they recognize the aircraft as a Folke-Wulf 320 twin-boomed turbo-prop COIN recon aircraft. The few slaves from Hikori’s reality simply sat there, puzzled at the sight. Viktor had long given the spyglass to Hikori and told him to keep a watch for the helicopters that would come soon.



When Hikori looked through the spyglass for the twelfth time in the last hour, he saw helicopters with the oddest rotor configuration alongside more conventional models. “Viktor! I see helicopters coming in!” Hikori exclaimed, “Looks like a bunch of attack helicopters with some transports…”



“See my friends? I told you we all get out of here!” Viktor said with joy as the first helicopter unloaded six soldiers in uniforms that Hiroki couldn’t recognize, “Now we must prepare for our trip to freedom.” The enslaved masses simply cheered as freedom is at hand.



“I assume that you’re the leader of this slave rebellion?” the lead soldier asked Viktor.



“I am,” Viktor said, “I’m Viktor Reznov, former captain of the 1st Spetznaz Brigade.” The soldiers gasped in surprise. “I’ve got 415 multinationals from our world, 10 multinationals from a world like ours, and 225 enslaved persons from across this world needing extraction and medical attention.”



The soldiers looked around and saw the 650 people who are anxious to escape from their servitude. That was when the lead soldier spoke into his helmet. After a short conversation, the soldier quickly spoke the good news. “Alright listen up!” the officer said in Saderian, “My name is Đỗ Hoàng Long, rank Captain. For those not from my world, I work for an alliance of nations known as the Iron Pact and my superior officer General Forsythe has agreed to grant you political and economic asylum. Larger metal birds will be landing here shortly. You will follow every instruction that the crews of these metal birds give you. We have to move fast and efficiently if we are to get out of here by day’s end.” Then Đỗ Hoàng Long switched to English. “Everyone else, follow procedure and we’ll get you all out of this hellhole in a timely manner. Now, group up into groups of 55 and we’ll get started once the first helicopters set down!”



That was when Hiroki heard an odd and distinctive rotor noise as helicopters with the oddest rotor configuration maneuvered to land. The helicopters in question are Chinook sized helicopters and looked like they had seats for 55 people. There was a gunner with what looked like a futurized heavy machinegun at the rear door while two gunners looked out the side doors with more futurized heavy machineguns on door mounts. That is when a crewmember came out and said in English and Saderian, “I want two columns of people coming from the rear. You are not to enter from the sides or you will get obliterated by the blades. Once we’re full, we’ll lift off and head to our base of operations on Remus Hill. This will be a seventy-five-minute journey. Once there, you will exit through the rear in an orderly fashion. From there you will be processed by doctors for any injuries and diseases and by book keepers to track everyone. First group, move in!”



Thus, began the long process of a heliborne evacuation.

Fort Portal, Barracks Section; July 10th, 2017


“Feeling alright Azibal?” Centurion Neumann asked in Saderian as the duo walked through the slowly evolving streets of the fort, “You’re a bit jumpy as of late.” Azibal had felt unease ever since things started to slow down around the fortification that is ‘Fort Portal’. The Empire’s Legions are required to maintain their incredibly stoic disposition as emotion in battle is a weakness that can be easily exploited. Yet the ‘Iron Pact’ and its legions were quite open with their emotions, and that usually ended with attempted rape for her and her fellow Warrior Bunnies. The Empire’s Legions punish those who attempted -the Divines forbid if committed- rape of another legion member -be genuine legionaries, and thus citizens, or the auxiliaries- with crucifixion and stoning.



“I’m… a little hungry,” Azibal lied slightly… before her stomach decided to butt in, “when is dinner?” Centurion Neumann simply raised his eyebrow. Another thing that made Azibal feel uneasy is the fact that Centurion Neumann is immensely different to anyone she has ever met. If she had to sum it up in one phrase, it would be ‘a walking contradiction’. While he prefers to be quiet and somewhat anti-social, he can be in the center of attention of moderate spans of time. He might not understand emotions, yet he can sense them rather easily. Then there is this feeling with him, a feeling that only the former Elector and Count Reginald Formal and his daughter -now Elector and Countess- Myui could produce. A feeling of calm and ease that is virtually unexplainable. Unlike those two, however, Centurion Neumann’s ability can reach further than the two nobles… and this scared Azibal to her core.



“Ah,” Centurion Neumann answered in Saderian as he looked at the device he called a ‘Wrist Computer’, “we’re a bit late for dinner, aren’t we?” Azibal simply nodded with a sigh. “Well then, off to the canteen!” The only good thing being paired with Centurion Neumann was the fact that he understood what she meant when she said dinner during what the Iron Pact called ‘lunch’. With a good tug, Centurion Neumann led Azibal towards the ‘canteen’.



The structure that the ‘canteen’ resided in is a sturdy but quickly-erected structure. From what Azibal could understand, this is a prebuilt or ‘prefabricated’ building and it is used by temporary forts called ‘firebases’ across their world. Once inside, she noted the vast array of incredible smells that captivated her nose. Azibal quickly became flabbergasted at both the vast quantity and quality of the foods arrayed before her. Slabs of beef, pork, seafood, and poultry that had to come from animals at least twice the size of those in the Empire, with species that she never had heard or seen before to boot.



In the face of such wonderful foods, Azibal decided to try a little of everything. When she saw Centurion Neumann putting giant helpings of beef -called ‘sirloin steak’- with large helpings of mashed ‘potatoes’ -which had been explained to her as a starchy plant that grew underground and can be planted pretty much everywhere- and two large corn cobs, she simply balked in disbelief.



“Centurion Neumann,” Azibal asked, “Isn’t that a bit much?” She still couldn’t believe what she was seeing at that moment. “I mean is that your daily allowance?” Azibal couldn’t keep her eyes off the massive serving of food.



“Not really,” Centurion Neumann answered, “this is actually a bit light for me.” Azibal could barely keep her tray from falling onto the floor. “Then again, I have a higher calorie intake than the average person anyway thanks to my implants.” Azibal shivered at the comment, she had accidentally walked into Centurion Neumann’s room when he was servicing his limbs. To say that there was hysteria on her part would be an understatement. Azibal simply nodded as they went towards the drink counter.



The array of drinks was simply astounding. What looked like beer flowed rather freely alongside more exotic drinks. What surprised Azibal was the fact that he went for a drink called ‘gourmet soda’, specifically of the ‘orange cream’ variety. Azibal raised an eyebrow at the oddity, as many of the soldiers were drinking large mugs of beer.



“So, Centurion Neumann,” Azibal began, “Why aren’t you drinking the beer like the rest of your legion-mates?” Centurion Neumann raised an eyebrow in return at that question like if it was a stupid question.



“Because Frau Azibal,” Centurion Neumann answered, “I’m equipped with augmentations that can cause a lot of damage… and the last time that I was anything remotely considered ‘hammered’ is when my parents got me into the hospital for a cranial scan. The aftermath of which caused everyone to agree that I really shouldn’t drink.” Azibal saw Centurion Neumann visibly shiver at a few memories. “Despite being a ‘heavyweight’, if I get drunk property generally gets damaged in the process. The last time I seriously drank was back when I was twenty, caused a lot of property damage because someone forced me into a drinking contest.”



“Ah,” Azibal replied solemnly, “That’s… insightful.” Azibal knew of species of demi-humans that can be unstable with alcohol, with some more than others. Centurion Neumann appeared to be of the nastier end of this instability. That was when a loud exclamation came from behind her.



“Hauptmann Neumann!” exclaimed the man with very dark skin with a hearty laugh, “It has been too long!” The man in question is probably the tallest that Azibal has ever encountered -Azibal estimated him to be a good six and a half feet tall- and made the most trained and exercise-happy legionary look like they only did the bare minimum. The uniform that the man -and his compatriots- wore is the standard casual uniform -fatigues Centurion Neumann called them- but the symbol on the side was completely different from the rest of the legion here on Remus Hill.



“Wait, Gerhardus Van Schalkwyk, is that you?” Centurion Neumann asked in his native tongue, “By God it is you!” Centurion Neumann quickly set his tray down and hugged the man. That was when Gerhardus saw Azibal.



“You haven’t changed a bit Hauptmann!” Gerhardus exclaimed as he laughed yet again, “Still escorting the cute ones! Those ears of hers are so damn adorable that I just want to pet them all day! … and I see that you’ve got an ‘Aaron sized’ serving already to go.” Azibal tilted her head a little at the shear absurdity of the situation. Normally those of the darker skin tones are treated somewhat poorly, particularly due to the nations that they’ve come form were rather formidable opponents a few centuries prior. Yet here Centurion Neumann and ‘Gerhardus’ are chatting with each other like old friends.



“Ah, you know me Gerhardus,” Centurion Neumann replied, “My luck can be schizophrenic as fuck. It’s always these assignments where you have to help me get everyone else’s asses out of the fire. Oh, Gerhardus, this is Azibal. She’s a local called a ‘Warrior Bunny’, and don’t let the name full you, she’s damn good in close quarters combat.” That was when Centurion Neumann switched back to Sedarian. “Azibal, this is Gerhardus Van Schalkwyk, Huptmann of the 10th Armored Infantry Company of the 5th Afrika Corps… better known as Lottow-Vorbeck’s Own. He and I served together on and off for five years. The only unaugmented person that I know that can rival my strength.”



“Nice to meet you Azibal,” Gerhardus said Sedarian in a very thick accent as he extended his hand, “Few people can get Hauptmann Neumann here a good workout in close quarters ever since he was taken in by Big Boss back in Boot Camp.” Azibal shook Gerhardus’s hands as she rose her eyebrow at the words ‘Big Boss’, the way it was spoken indicated that this was a person of significance.



“Now cut it Gerhardus,” Centurion Neumann laughed, “I simply impressed him during Boot. Nothing more, nothing less. Now, get some chow and let’s get a table...”

Dining Area, Canteen


“… and then Aaron comes in and does a textbook perfect rendition of CQC that I’ve ever seen on the White Hat militant, knocking him out. The President of the Baghdad Confederation had been saved and we all went home with all limbs intact,” Gerhardus said as he ended the story, “She even gave Aaron here a sweet kiss on the cheeks when we got back to Baghdad! Half the platoon was jealous of him for weeks after that!” Azibal simply sat there, slowly eating her meal in awe as she listened to Gerhardus’s story during a mission in the Baghdad Confederation.



“Eh, once Big Boss heard of me doing that,” Aaron shrugged, “he immediately asked me to spar with him. A good five minutes later, he tells me that I was actually good.” Gerhardus and Azibal were rapt with attention at this. “Then he says, ‘Damn son, you’ve gotten damn good.’ Afterwards I got more training from him. It’s like he was training me to replace him or something.” Gerhardus simply sat there in awe, his mouth gaping open.



“Aaron, you are one lucky son of a bitch!” Gerhardus exclaimed as he playfully punched Aaron’s cybernetic shoulder, “Big Boss has been looking for someone to carry the torch for years if the rumor mill is any indication.” Azibal eyes widened at the implications. “It looks like that old war hound has finally found his successor… and from a Junker family no less. You must have impressed him if he thought you were worthy becoming the next Boss.”



“Um… can someone explain this ‘Big Boss’ person?” Azibal asked intently, “From what I’ve been hearing, ‘Big Boss’ is a pretty big deal.” Azibal began taking mental notes as she was still gathering intelligence, if only to tell the Empire how screwed it is at this point.



“Boss can be something of a title back on our world,” Aaron began to explain, “In the context of the special forces, the Boss title is for those who are the cream of the crop -the best of the best of the best as it were- of special forces operatives. Boss in that context stated showing up in the early 1950s when a Chinese woman by the name of Zhong Nuan expanded the foundations of modern special operations. People within the Special Forces community started to call her ‘Boss’, and her fighting style -CQC- started to become widely taught within the special forces across the Iron Pact with the Comintern learning by shear osmosis. She became The Boss after she found a successor in the current Boss, Big Boss. Last I’ve heard she died peacefully in her home of old age back in the late ‘80s. Big Boss is an American, and he is a legend before he took The Boss’s mantle.” Aaron mentally frowned, as he remembered what Big Boss had said to him a few months ago. Whether he likes it or not, Aaron was going to be the next Boss. Big Boss is simply waiting until Aaron was more ‘seasoned’ before making him Boss.



“Yeah, and Big Boss is the sort of man you want as your friend, but not as your enemy,” Gerhardus continued, “My father worked with him once a long time ago in Afghanistan where he worked with Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Northern Alliance against the Taliban. For much of his time in Afghanistan, it was essentially him, his team, and a handful of Northern Alliance’s Shbh operators against an army of tens of thousands with what little support the Northern Alliance could scrounge up. The operations he took changed the course of history, allowing the Persian-styled government to make a stand against the fundamentalists. It was his campaign there that made him a true legend and become Big Boss.” Gerhardus is something of a fanboy of Big Boss’s, and it showed with his exited summary of how Big Boss became a legend.



“He sounds like a great warrior then,” Azibal said in awe, “Even Queen Tyuule could match what you’ve told… if it is true.” Aaron and Gerhardus slightly rose their eyebrows at Azibal’s comment and its underlying tone of suspicion. Then again, Big Boss’s exploits are always something of ‘that has to be an exaggeration’ territory when told. That is usually the point where those who think it’s an exaggeration get reminded that truth can be stranger than fiction.



“It’s true alright,” Aaron answered, “I’ve been through a few of his ops before being transferred to the Aufklärungsabteilung to reduce the chances of me burning out. The few ops with Big Boss I had pretty much solidified his legendary exploits.” Gerhardus simply sat there, looking at Aaron with a stunned look on his face. “Now, we should change the subject before I blow your minds some more. So, how’s home Gerhardus?”



“Eh, nothing much Aaron. The South Africans are still being idiots across the border after the most powerful Afrikaner tribes seized power and started antagonizing everyone. Had to wake up in the middle of the night a few times because the South African military passed the border chasing Boers and anyone that didn’t agree with via pogroms,” Gerhardus answered, “Outside of that, things in the African Federation have been rather quiet. Sadly, Helena died almost a year ago, poor thing.” That got Aaron uneasy. He remembered Helena the rabbit. Cutest little rabbit anyone ever saw. It’s soft, dusty tan fur and slightly droopy ears would make anyone simply want to sit down and pet the rabbit for hours on end. She also had the cutest bunny smile that would simply melt your heart.



“Damn, she lived a good life, didn’t she?” Aaron answered solomly, “Sorry that she died. Best damn rabbit that anyone could ask for.” Azibal became incredibly confused, as the two soldiers showed sadness about a pet rabbit dying.



“Eh, she helped us stay relatively sane… that’s all I can ask for,” Gerhardus replied, “… and now that you mentioned her. Azibal has the same ears and fur color as Helena.” Aaron looked at Azibal for a moment, taking that moment to compute what Gerhardus was saying… before it literally slapped him in the face.



“Well I’ll be,” Aaron said in surprise, “You’re right Gerhardus. She does have Helena’s ears and fur coloration.” Azibal’s confusion deepened to complete bafflement as the two continued on their train of thought.



“What is going on?” Azibal asked in confusion and fear, “Why are you looking at me like that?” That was when Gerhardus took out a smart phone and went into the photo-app, getting a good picture of Helena the Rabbit.



“This is Helena,” Gerhardus answered, “She helped me go through life in Southeast Africa as a young adult. Also helped Aaron here too when his father was transferred to Southeast Africa.” Azibal looked at the picture of the rabbit in question, and she simply sat there, her brain trying to compute what she was seeing. Here was a large rabbit that would be her in genuine rabbit form. Then there was this feeling of adorableness as she kept looking at the image.



“Hauptmann Neumann to General Forsythe’s Office; Hauptmann Neumann to General Forsythe’s Office.”



“Um, can you keep an eye on Azibal for a short bit? General Forsythe wants me, and it’ll take too long to simply drop her off at her assigned quarters,” Aaron asked.



“Just give her quarters and I’ll make sure she gets there,” Gerhardus replied. Aaron quickly transferred the location to Gerhardus’s own wrist computer before running out of the canteen. “So, tell me about yourself…”
 
Chapter 3 Part 1: March unto the Unknown

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#4
Chapter 3 Pt. 1:

Chapter 3: March unto the Unknown
3rd Recon Platoon, ~150km into the Special Region; July 15th, 2017 – Early Morning

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Corporal Abigail Ramirez cursed while complaining as she fiddled with the ELINT set on the LAV-MEWSS, “I’m getting company level chatter here! A full datanet from the sound of it.” That got everyone in the LAV-MEWSS -including Abigail’s commanding officer 2nd Lieutenant Robert Flores and the overall platoon commander 1st Lieutenant Youji Itami- into something of a muted uproar. The US had sent a pair of vehicles -consisting of one LAV-MEWSS and a M3A3 Cav Bradley with an element of Calvary Scouts- with each JSDF recon platoon due to the sightings of the unknown drones and aircraft in the Special Region. Now, as the platoon got its bearings, the ELINT system’s passive receivers started to pick up immense amounts of traffic. That prompted the raising of the MEWSS mast, and that was when things got even more interesting.

“Can you make anything out?” 2nd Lieutenant Robert Flores asked, “Or at least a bearing so we can avoid them?” Robert Flores didn’t want to stumble upon them unexpectedly and cause an incident, especially with all the unknowns that are in play.

“I barely have a bearing of North-Northeast right now. If I must guess, it might be a company HQ element given the amount of traffic,” Abigail answered as she continued to fiddle with the ELINT set, “Damn these guys are good. Their ESEC is impressive, can’t get much outside of the presence of the signals, their encrypted traffic, and the direction of the biggest source.” That worried everyone else that was in the compartment. The ELINT equipment is some of the best that the US can come up with, and with it not being able to do much, it meant that it could get messy.

“Alright then,” Itami said in English, “All we have to do is keep our distance and things would go…” That was when Itami was interrupted.

“The source is moving! Looks like they’re going westward, away from us,” Abigail exclaimed, “Can’t get a good read on its speed either. Looks like they’ve stopped just like us and looked to get their bearings.” That got everyone on edge for a moment before relaxing a bit. At least the signal simply moving westward and not towards them.

“Alright then,” Itami sighed, “We’ll head to the outskirts of this ‘Coda Village’ and start our recon in earnest. Hopefully we’ll never see what that source consists of.” Everyone couldn’t fault the laid-back 1st Lieutenant for saying that. The unknowns just have far too many variables to reliably guess at what they would do when in contact. For all 3rd Recon Platoon knows, they might be Nazis… and thus requiring a wide berth.

“We can’t pin everything on hope Itami,” Robert replied, “Given what has happened so far, we don’t know what will happen.” With that, the 3rd Recon Platoon prepared to set off for Coda Village…

Coda Village Northwestern Outskirts, Company Command Vehicle Scout’s Honor; July 15th, 2017 - 14:20 Hours

“Hauptmann, we’re on the outskirts of Coda Village,” Leutnant Hannah Küttner stated, “1st Squad is ready to move in with you.” The rules of engagement were rather strict in this instance. Any village encountered must have the platoon -or in this case company- commander move in with a squad to initiate contact before the rest of the platoon would move in. For Huptmann Aaron Thomas Fredrick Neumann, this was the first town that had people in it. Thanks to the intelligence provided by Azibal and her group combined with aerial reconnaissance, Coda Village is the best location in Aaron’s company’s sector to start going ‘in depth’ on the local industries, politics, and economies. So far, the other platoons have been making great time and made inroads to the local populous… but haven’t encountered the alternate Japanese soldiers yet.

“Alright then, pop the hatch, I’m doing the RoE’s procedures,” Huptmann Aaron Neumann ordered, “As much as I hate this RoE, can’t say that I don’t argue with the reasoning though…” The last time this sort of RoE was done was back during the 1930s and 1940s during the initial stages of what would become known as the Africa Commonwealth Project. The Africa Commonwealth Project was something developed out of the MittleAfrika plans developed prior to WW1. The general idea behind MittleAfrika was simple: build the nations within German-held Africa into respectable countries and then give them the choice to move towards the future with their own two hands, be an ally and trading partner with Germany, or become part of a German Commonwealth. While the idea was initially scrapped because of the Treaty of Damnation, it gained new life after the Great War of Resistance… and with American money. Now Africa is the posterchild of non-exploitive colonial policy, as the African Federation isn’t practicing some form of genocide every metaphorical ten minutes.

“Understood Hauptmann,” Leutnant Küttner replied, “The rest of the platoon is on hot standby.” As Aaron exited the command vehicle, the others went back to their stations, launching a small drone to keep an eye on the situation…

Coda Village, Northern End; 14:25 Hours

“Looks like everyone is staying indoors,” Feldwebel Reinhard Steiner complained over the radio, “That’s unusual to say the least.” Aaron simply sat there, slightly worried about that statement. Given the technological state of the ‘Holy Empire of Alnus’, the flow of information would be horrifically slow -i.e usually taking weeks to months normally, with significant information usually taking days at best- by the standards of the Iron Pact. Then again, the Iron Pact have the miracles provided by technologies like fiber-optic internet, radio communications, and self-powered vehicles using hydrogen or -if the infrastructure isn’t good enough- gasoline engines.

“Probably someone on one of the farms saw us and hauled ass on his horse and stated that someone was coming,” Aaron answered, “Given that we’ve pretty much shattered the local garrisons in the fight for our little hill, banditry has likely risen sharply. Better to simply give the more combat experienced bandits what they want than die needlessly as barely-trained peasant levies.” History is rife with villages that did that, and often caused more problems than it solved in the long run. Still, given that using things like spears, swords, bows, and other implements of war of the medieval warfare required a lot of training to utilize properly and the fact that medieval peasant levies weren’t the best thing in the world, it is somewhat understandable.

“Sir, I’m picking up light radio chatter. Barely encrypted. Looks like that radio signal source we detected while getting updates from the rest of the company showed up,” Leutnant Küttner updated over the radio, “Given what little intelligence we’ve got from the drones, the engines would probably be heard well before they saw the vehicles.” Aaron mentally cursed. Just what the company needed, complications. To be more specific, complications from the alternate Japanese military.

That was when several villagers started looking at the bushes that the squad were hiding in, almost outright saying ‘you can come out now, we know you’re there!’.

“Alright, we’ve been had,” Aaron said, “Disengage combat fractal pattern and fall in, we’ve got a village to understand.” Soon enough, the 10-man plus one squad commanded the intelliwear-based uniforms to switch from combat forest fractal to a less camouflaging non-fractal forest cammo scheme and walked out of the bushes.

“Elder!” one of the children exclaimed in Saderian as she ran down the earthen street, “We’ve got more men in green on the north side.” Aaron balked at that bit of information, had the unknowns decided to visit this village as well? That was when another child practically pulled Aaron by the hand across the village…

Town Center, near the Town Hall

Aaron frowned as he was practically dragged by the locals towards the town center, barely having time to put his OICW on safety so nothing would set it off. As Aaron was dragged through town, he noticed that the locals were in awe of his comrades, be their weapons or their uniforms. It took a few minutes, but Aaron and his squad were at the center of town… and right in front of the Alternate Japanese… with what looked like Alternate Americans.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Aaron muttered to himself… and that was when the situation became wrong. Aaron -and apparently his opposite- noticed an unnatural tension in the air. A tension that would quickly spark conflict if either side wasn’t too careful. Aaron heard his opposite muttering the same exact thing under his breath… which didn’t come as a surprise. You got command rank not because of how badass or heroic you are, you got command rank for keeping a cool head no matter what the situation.

Things got hectic when one of the Alternate Americans saw Aaron’s patch and became overtly hostile.

“Damn it Itami! We’re dealing with Nazis!” the Alternate American exclaimed in English as he unholstered his rifle, “I fucking hate it when I win the bet!” The rest of Aaron’s squad soon got their rifles into ready position while the Alternate Japanese/American platoon’s leader did a facepalm as he tried to defuse the situation with his platoon-mates.

“Just great,” Aaron mumbled to himself as he did the hand signal for lowering weapons, “Just what we needed… if I had known that being part of the 7th Panzer Division would set off that sort of reaction, then I would have left the patches at Fort Portal.”

“Sir, you know protocol,” Reinhard said flatly as he moved to drag Aaron out of the line of fire, “Get to cover.” Aaron simply rolled his eyes as he stared down the agitated Alternate Japanese/Americans as he tried to defuse the situation on his side, not even once moving his hand to his OICW.

“Who is the leader of your Platoon?” Aaron asked in English.

____

Itami started to break out in a cold sweat as his mind raced. Private Richards had started a standoff just because the squad in front of him had 7th Panzer Division patches. While what appeared to be the leader had tried to get his squad to lower their weapons, one of them spouted something about protocol and cover in German. That was when the leader gave Itami’s squad the most intense stare he ever witnessed -like if death itself was behind those eyes- and asked who the platoon leader was.

“Everyone, stand down,” Itami ordered flatly, giving his platoon-mates his uncharacteristic stare to stomp out any disobedience, before he answered the man’s question, “I am the platoon leader and name is Youji Itami, 1st Lieutenant of the Japanese Self Defense Force. May I ask who you are and where do you come from?” Itami’s JSDF platoon-mates lowered their weapons but kept them in the standby position just in case things devolved into a straight-out shoot-out. Most of the Americans slowly followed suit… but two of them still had their weapons drawn.

“My name is Aaron Thomas Neumann, Hauptmann of her Majesty, Sophia of the House of Hohenzollern, Kaiserin of Germany,” the man answered, “… and sorry if I’m rude for asking but what is a Nazi? From the tone it sounds almost derogatory.” Itami noticed that the situation could still escalate as the stare abided, if only little by little. Private Little Elk -the man behind the standoff- was clearly already in a panicked state… and Itami couldn’t blame him. That stare took him back to the day he wanted to permanently forget.

“Sorry about Private Richards,” Itami respectably apologized, “I don’t know what got into him… but then again it must have been that weird tension in the air.” Hauptmann Neumann simply nodded in acceptance as the situation was defused.

“Now that you’ve mentioned it,” Hauptmann Neumann commented, “There was this weird tension in the air the moment we neared the village and only now it has mysteriously vanished. Only a few places could do that, but that’s always at a handful of atrocities during the Great War of Resistance.” That was when Aaron turned to his squad. “Alright, give the signal for the rest of the command platoon.” With a simple ‘jawohl’, one of the squad spoke into her mic.

“Damn Itami,” Flores exclaimed in awe, “I thought we would have started shooting before you could talk everyone down like that. Didn’t know that you had it in you.” Itami sighed at that comment, it’s like no one thinks of him other than a laid-back and lazy otaku. “… also, is your luck this bad? I mean what are the chances that they would pick the very same village as us, let alone a confrontation?”

“Pretty damn low,” Itami answered in English, “Then again, so far everything indicates that they’re anything but through. Still, at least we’re not turned into paste.” Flores raised an eyebrow at the last comment.

“Can you run that by me again?” Flores asked flatly, “Turned into paste? Really?” Itami looked at Flores like if he was stupid, insane, or both. Itami frowned as it became obvious that Flores rolled snake-eyes on all his observance checks.

“Take a look at their armor,” Itami answered, “The movements are a bit too like the various exoskeleton experiments to be simply training. Given that the shape and overall aesthetics of the weaponry, their weapons are harder hitting while probably having the same rate of fire as ours.” Flores simply frowned at that. “They have a lot more firepower than we have… and most of ours is attached to our vehicles.”

“Crushed I can get,” Flores replied, “but paste… that’s a bit much don’t you think?”

“Better to overestimate someone than underestimate them,” Itami answered, “Given that they’re equipped with what looks like armored plate style combat exoskeletons, they probably have better armaments than us.” Flores raised an eyebrow to that. “We are barely equipped with interceptor plates as it is… and I for one don’t want to get needlessly killed.”

Coda Village Town Hall meeting chambers, a few minutes later

“… and these maps are accurate up to 400km away from what the locals call ‘the Holy Hills of Alnus’,” Aaron explained as he gave the copies to Itami, “From what we’ve gathered from the eight locals who were on their pilgrimage, we’re probably looking at a continent roughly the size of North America. We’re roughly right smack in the middle of that continent.” Itami nodded as he looked at the given maps, noting their extreme detail.

“These would be rather useful in the long run,” Itami commented, “This is far better than simply aimlessly running around hopping that the directions of the locals are somewhat accurate.” Itami mentally sighed as his job of exploration just got a whole lot easier, so much so that he can go back to his hobby faster.

“If 3rd Platoon is like I remember them,” Aaron smirked, “they should be near or in the village nestled in the nearby forest by now. They’ve always been a wee bit more enthusiastic about their duties… much like the old Aufklärungsjäger in the Great War of Resistance and World War 2.” That was when the head village elder noticed the location of the village in question and decided to shed some light on the matter.

“Wait, you’re heading off to the Fae Elven village?” the Elder inquisitively asked in Saderian, “They’ve been the village’s major local trading partner for generations. We usually trade our excess foodstuffs, ironworking, and manufactured goods from the cities for their woodcraft, bows, meat, alchemy, and silks. Allowed us to be rather well-off than most…” Aaron and Itami looked at each other for a moment. Fairy elves? The word ‘Seriously?’ popped into the minds of the two officers as the Elder described the two villages’ relationship.

“That’s… good to know,” Aaron commented in Saderian, “Thanks for that information Elder.” That was when Aaron heard an excited yelp from one of Itami’s compatriots, talking about ‘busty epitome of beauty Elves’ or some such… much to the dismay of his colleges.

“Alright then,” Itami said as he made up his mind, “That village would be next on our places to go.” Aaron nodded in agreement. “Old Man! Get everyone ready! We’re going to the village the Elder mentioned.” Itami hoped that he would get some accurate information on the economic dynamics of the Empire, and thus get more time with his hobbies.

“So, how about we go in as a convoy?” Aaron requested, “Given that other Aufklärungsabteilung companies have been encountering some of the nastier local fauna, it would be recommended that we have safety in numbers.” Itami simply shrugged, as he couldn’t fault for the Hauptmann’s suggestion. The JSDF and USMC haven’t found anything dangerous with the local fauna, but it didn’t mean that there wasn’t something dangerous lurking in the shadows.

“Itami, are you seriously suggesting that we go out with them?” Flores asked, “I mean, we know very little about them as it is!” Flores wasn’t wrong on that, but he wasn’t 100% right either. Then again, learning -along with trust- is generally a two-way street.

“I know that Flores,” Itami answered, “Problem is that the only way in getting to know them is to at least spend some time with them at the very least. Better do it before any of our superiors decide to do something stupid like forbid contact with them.” Itami, Aaron thought to himself, is a strange officer. He acts like Erwin Rommel’s ‘lazy genius’, yet quite a few of his actions simply indicate that he has literally no will to do more than be ‘good enough’. “So, we’re going with them. Hopefully we can get to the village before nightfall and spend the night.”

“I hope to God that you know what you are doing Itami,” Flores complained, “If this bites us in the ass, I’m blaming you for it.” Neither Aaron or Itami couldn’t fault Flores though…

On the Highway towards the Elven Village, 3rd Recon Platoon Recon Command Vehicle (BDX10 Command); 17:20 Hours

“Well, they’re a bit of an odd bunch, aren’t they?” Takeo Kurata asked to no one in particular as the radio sounded with strange music, “They are dead serious in the professionalism department but then this sort of thing happens.” Itami wasn’t going to really argue much on the oddities of Hauptmann Neumann and his unit. They’re human, and thus they can be anything really.

“If I remember right,” Sargent Major Souichirou Kuwahara started, “most of the music they’ve been putting on are old military marches… but I don’t know what this one is exactly. Then again my understanding of German military marches is… lackluster at best.” Itami simply sighed as the convoy moved forward.

“Wait…” Private Richards muttered -forced to be with Itami for his actions in Coda Village- softly, “I remember hearing this march. If I’m not mistaken, that’s Alter Jägermarsch.” Everyone in the vehicle looked at Richards like he grew a second head. “What? My grandma Erika was from Germany, and she had a few records with old German marches and music.”

That was when the music quickly cut off.

“Break, break, break. 3rd Platoon to Company Command, 3rd Platoon to Company Command; have encountered hostile local fauna at Walddorf. Walddorf completely annihilated. We’ve only managed to evacuate 95 survivors of about a population of 180. Send message to all commands: hostile fauna confirmed. Data will follow.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Itami sighed as he took in the message, “Alright, get me the Hauptmann.” Takeo quickly handed over the radio mic to Itami. “Lieutenant to Hauptmann, what’s the plan?”

“Hauptmann to Lieutenant, we’re stopping right here to rally with 3rd Platoon, we’ll take on the civilians before retreating to Coda Village. Their ETA is five minutes. Better send a FLASH to your command immediately,” Hauptmann Neumann ordered through the radio, “This is certainly going to be mess when this is all over.” Itami simply sighed in sadness, he knew a few politicians who are more than willing to use any fallout from this as an excuse to further their political goals… on both sides of the isle.

“Understood Hauptmann,” Itami responded before looking at Takeo, “Alright we’ll pull to the side and wait for Hauptmann’s 3rd Platoon to meet us with the survivors. Hopefully we can get back to Coda Village and work out a plan there.” Itami didn’t like it but civilians had to be taken care of… and there might be casualties in the evacuation, and the HQ platoon is better equipped to handle them…

Thirty Minutes ago, Elven Walddorf; 3rd Recon Platoon


Leunant Silvester Häring smiled as the locals greeted them with open arms. The platoon had made great time to get to this village, and the village -although a bit skittish at first- accepted them with open arms. The village chief -one Hodor Marceau- and his elder advisors had explained some of the village’s economy. Some coinage was exchanged, samples of the local fauna and products acquired, and yet another language for the linguists to learn. Everything was going smoothly…

That was when the word ALARM showed up on his HUD. Häring quickly sent a mental command to his system, showing the situation with Squad Dora.

“Leunant! We’ve got hostile local flying mega fauna trying to kill us as it moves towards the village! Evacuate everyone at once!”

Häring’s blood turned to ice at that statement. If the area had mega fauna willing to attack settlements…

“Hodor Marceau!” Häring exclaimed in Saderan, “I must talk with you immediately!” Hodor quickly looked towards Häring as he ran towards him. “My fourth squad just got attacked by flying mega fauna and it’s heading towards the village!”

What?” Hodor asked, “Can you give a description of this?” Häring was understanding, as evacuating a village is no simple task and thus not to be done on a whim.

“I can do one better,” Häring answered, “I’m sending battlefield telemetry to my datapad right now.” The datapad soon showed live footage of Squad Dora -led by Feldwebel Hans Hitler- trying to not die against the monster in question.

Marceau’s eyes widened to -if it weren’t for the current situation- comedic proportions. “ALARM!” Marceau exclaimed in Saderan, “ALARM! A great fire dragon is heading towards our village!” The elves simply stared at Marceau for a moment… before dropping whatever they were doing and going towards their homes, doing physical achievements that simply put Olympian athletes to shame. “Elder Ertzwald, gather the warriors together! We must slow the fire dragon before it gets too close to the village!” The elder in question quickly moved to gather whatever warriors he could.

“Jäger! Steiner! Everyone is to be combat ready in five! We’re making a fighting withdrawal towards the Hauptman! Smalls; get that SHORAD ready, we might need it!” Häring ordered, “I want civilians that can’t evacuate in the IFVs! We’ll ride them if we have to!” With exclamations of ‘Jawohl Leunant’, the rest of the platoon went to work. “Feldwebel Hitler, make a combat retreat to the village. Once here, prepare to take on civilians… I don’t care if you have to tank-ride the IFV, just make it happen…”

~10km north of Walddorf


“Understood Leunant!” Feldwebel Hans Hitler responded as he ran for his life, the reversing IFV firing it’s 3cm autocannon at the flying monster, “Gefreiter Rottmann, we are leaving!” Sounds of automatic rifle fire echoed through the forest. "Damn our luck! Our IFVs aren’t equipped with MRM systems!”

Soon a recoilless rifle made an echo throughout the forest, sending its payload into a tree near the dragon in question, sending tree splinters all over the place as the HEAT-MP round detonated. The dragon noticed this and started to back off a bit, leading to some cheers.

“Reload that Raketenpanzerbüchse!” Hans bellowed over the radio, “Make your next shot count!” The two soldiers quickly did a textbook running reload of the 10.5cm recoilless Raketenpanzerbüchse 92. Few soldiers could do such a thing as reloading the weapon is rather hard while on the run… but the two women are excellent multitaskers.

“Raketenpanzerbüchse loaded!” Gefreiter Höger exclaimed. Soon her platoon-mate fired the weapon, taking out the left rear claw of the dragon by sheer luck. The two went into overdrive and vacated their spot, barely missing a fiery demise.

“Feldwebel Hitler! Contacts, behind!” exclaimed Rottmann over the radio, “GUOS drone has about twenty contacts coming up from behind.” And soon enough, the data from the GUOS drone was fed into Hans’s Cross-Com feed… showing locals -probably militia- with various compound bows. That was when one of them stopped and drew his arrow, whispered a few words, and loosed the arrow at the dragon, causing immense destruction as it barely missed its mark.

“They’re giving us cover!” Hans exclaimed, “Double time it to the village and see to the evacuation!” And with that, the entire platoon went into overdrive, maintaining a top speed of 30km/h as they went…

Walddorf, five minutes later


The village is in complete chaos. Entire families took whatever heirlooms and vital supplies they could and loaded them into the various travois and wagons. Draft animals were readied while every elf was making sure that everything was accounted for. So far, the ‘reaction’ body of warriors -some 60 in all- have helped Häring by relieving Dora squad… but could only delay the dragon for a few minutes. The rest of the warriors -including the village chieftain, Hodor- had finished their preparations.

“Alright, I want a small contingent of warriors to help escort our people out of the forest, I’ll lead the rest to distract the dragon as long as possible,” Hodor ordered, “My contingent will try to keep the dragon occupied for as long as possible. Everyone else must make to Coda village at best speed.” Everyone else knew what Hodor was ordering, at best this is a suicide mission… but this was also the only way to ensure that the villagers will be able to escape unscathed.

“I understand Mr. Marceau,” Centurion Häring stated as about faced and turned to his subordinates, “You’ve heard the man, let’s get this convoy moving!” With that, the convoy of elven refugees -including Hodor’s daughter Tuka and wife Umillia- swiftly left the village… leaving Hodor and 59 warriors behind… waiting for the Dragon to come again.

Hodor turned around and simply stood there, mummering numerous chants in his preparations to fight against the Fire Dragon. The calling of spirits isn’t something to take lightly, as it always drains one’s mana pool. It is extremely draining to call upon numerous -or powerful or in the rare case both- spirits at once. This is one of those times that such actions are necessary.

“Chieftain,” a warrior exclaimed as she dashed into the village, “It’s coming this way.” Hodor simply frowned at that information before quickening his chanting. That was when he saw a blot of red in the sky, and quickly drew his bow before chanting special magics into the arrow. Others that can do so did the same… and barely seconds later, they all let loose. Normally, a steel-tipped arrow is useless against a Great Fire Dragon’s scales… but that didn’t pertain to arrows imbued with the power of numerous spirits.

The arrow penetrated the outer skin of the dragon, but it didn’t do much besides making it angry.

Hodor quickly maneuvered to another location as he started the enchantment chain again… and that was when Hodor heard the screams

The warriors that positioned themselves closer to the dragon began to burn. Horrifying screams filled the forest as the owners of the voices burned. Hodor quickly steeled himself as he let loose another arrow, this time hitting it in the right eye. Hodor smiled as the giant beast backed off, but it quickly got over its shock as it unleashed more of its flaming payload, all but four others.

That was when Hodor’s day went for the weird, as unknown silhouettes started appearing out of nowhere. They looked like humans, but the armor and weapons were something that Hodor have never seen before. They had chain-link armor with limited armor plates while the helmet is adorned with horns and wings. The weapons, on the other hand, are different than the usual fare. The shields looked like nothing Hodor had seen before, their swords were incredibly large compared to what seemed to be practical, and their crossbows were simply gigantic compared to the common ones across the Empire.

“Lauf schnell, Elfen. Wir werden die Linie gegen diesen Drachen halten, “the ethereal being spoke in a language that Hodor couldn’t even begin to understand, “Festhalten Sie Männer! Festhalten! Lasst uns diesem Biest zeigen, wie der Deutsche Orden kämpft!” The being quickly pointed in the direction of the evacuated villagers. “Es ist jetzt an der Zeit sicherzustellen, dass diejenigen, die sich nicht schützen können, vor dieser schrecklichen Bestie gerettet werden! Zu den unnachgiebigen Kampfkameraden!”

Hodor couldn’t believe what was happening… spirits -hundreds of them- attempting to hold the line against one of the deadliest beasts in the world… and they were succeeding. Something like this is unprecedented! Even in the time of legend, something like this never happened; even in the great epics of the various races on this Earth.

“Brother,” Theodas began, “what should we do?” Hodor looked at Theodas, his mind still trying to process what is happening. “Brother!” Theodas started to shake Hodor, trying to get Hodor out of his apparent shock.

“Oh, right,” Hodor replied as he got out of his shock, “I think they want us to get to our families… and I think that is a good idea…” The remaining four looked at Hodor like if he was insane. Physical manifestations of spirits are extremely rare, to see hundreds of them at once -and going towards a fight no less- had never happened before in recorded history. However, not doing so meant that they had to fight a Great Fire Dragon.

“…” Theodas replied wordlessly, his brain still trying to work out if Hodor was insane or not.

“Well, it is either going to our families or… getting killed by the Great Fire Dragon,” Dalyor sarcastically answered, “I choose going to our families.” Everyone couldn’t really argue with what Dalyor was saying and agreed to simply get out while things were going in a positive direction…

Somewhere in Italica Province; Nightfall
The small band of brigands cheered and smiled as they split the spoils of the lone trader they ambushed. All and all, this was an excellent haul for a lone trader. So far, the band have been sweeping through the province, increasing their reputation among the decitizens of the criminal world.

“Ah another fine load of spoils!” Nonus Vassenius Pennus -the band’s defacto second-in-command- laughed aloud, “Now this is the fight we live for! No more being killed from beyond eyesight! No more explosive spells shattering our formations! Everything is up close and personal!” The seven others couldn’t help but agree. They all had been at the battle of the Holy Hill of Alnus and the horrors that were inflicted there. Even Duran -one of the most capable generals in the known world- couldn’t win against the forces that had taken the hill. While the vast majority of the survivors dispersed to their homelands, Nonus was one of the handful that decided that they couldn’t go home… and turned to banditry.

“At this rate, we can gather enough men to overthrow the local lord!” Spurius Horatius Decianus bragged, “To think of it, from brigand to lord! This is too easy!” Spurius started to laugh… until he quickly went silent. The air was deathly still before the head fell off the man’s shoulders. The brigands began to panic as they searched for the attacker… before going face to face with an unknown warrior. The warrior only wore chest-plate for armor, but his clothing was outlandishly colored to the point that it was like the warrior wanted to stand out. The warrior is armed with the largest sword that they had ever seen, over six and third feet long… and a smaller and more sensible shorter sword as a backup. All while being bathed in an ethereal glow.

The warrior simply scoffed as he gored another of the band. “Du bist es nicht wert, mit meiner zweihändigen Klinge zu sterben! In meinem Leben habe ich in vielen Schlachten um Geld, Prestige und Ruhm gekämpft. Doch du hast die Armeen verlassen, denen du gedient hast, und wurden Briganten!” the warrior stated, “Du wirst von meiner Klinge getötet werden wie die tollwütigen Hunde, die du bist! Du hast dein Land, deinen Herrn und deine Familien blamiert! Bete zu deinen heidnischen Göttern um Vergebung, denn ich werde nicht!” It was then Servius Modius Disertus did the foolish thing and charged, becoming nearly bisected for his troubles.

Like a demon from the netherworld, the warrior made his way through the rest of the band, ruthlessly killing any that he could reach. A trail of blood, death, and mangled bodies went for a dozen or so feet before the last brigand -a young child named Reeve Heimart- laid on the ground literally pissing himself.

“Please! Let me live!” Reeve begged as he continued to piss himself, “I’ll do anything you ask! Please, I beg…” It was then that a giant halberd turned the begging brigand into a pile of gore.

“You are so selfish!” Rory the Reaper complained with a chuckle, “Those brigands were for the All Father! Now you’re going to be their replacement!” With that, Roy crossed the distance and gave the warrior the soles of her platform shoes before twirling around her halberd. The warrior simply shrugged it off, signaling Rory that this wasn’t a human opponent despite his appearance.

The warrior quickly bunny hopped backward and began to analyze the situation. The supposedly teen girl before him is far stronger than she looked, and that made the warrior smile. One of those he was his objective have come into the open, making the rest of his mission much easier… only complicated that she was going to attempt to kill him. He quickly raised his zweihändgen in a blocking position as the halberd came down towards him. The weapon -much to Rory’s surprise- blocked her halberd.

Rory’s blood began to freeze as the warrior took one of his hands and went behind his back to grab something… before revealing a weapon that Rory has never seen before; it had a trigger like a crossbow, but everything else was different. The warrior quickly pointed the end of the weapon towards Rory’s torso before pulling the trigger. A small explosion was heard, and Rory felt a sharp and horrific pain in her gut. Rory’s regeneration started kicking in as she broke off. The warrior threw the weapon onto the ground and charged with his zweihändgen.

Rory was barely able to avoid the first swipe before she went to stab the warrior. The stab did hit its mark… but the warrior chuckled as Rory sat there in bewilderment as her halberd phased through the warrior. “Du musst ein unaufmerksamer Tölpel sein, um anzunehmen, was dein Gegner ist, kleine Dame,” the warrior chuckled, “Ich habe dir nur erlaubt, mich mit deiner zweihändigen Hellebarde zu erstechen, um zu einer Erkenntnis zu kommen. Ich habe eine Nachricht an deinen Meister, sowohl mündlich als auch schriftlich.” The warrior quickly produced a scroll with a complex seal.

Rory quickly regained her composure and sulked for a moment. This warrior had the audacity to call her a little lady and yet he was carrying two messages. “What is this message that you want to tell Emoly?” Rory asked in the warrior’s language.

Now you speak German!” the warrior spat, “Tell your Gods that their time has ended, for the Old One has returned! … and the Old One is righteously pissed at what has happened since being stabbed in the back and left for dead!” As soon he gave the messages, he vanished without a trace. Rory could only stand there, as her very soul shakes with fear. Emoly had told her about The Old One… how that Hardy led the other divines to overthrow the Old One because of her ideals. That divine conflict is how Hardy was able to control the Gate… although not as effectively as the Old One.

Rory could sense that the Divines are now in a state of disarray as this information has filtered up to them through her. Emoly now had new orders for her: find the men in green and assess them…

Coda Village; July 16th, 2017 – 08:40 Hours

“Alright, is everyone ready?” Itami asked in Saderan as the village elder took a gander at the assembled convoy. The convoy’s structure is somewhat odd in Itami’s view, but he couldn’t blame the overall structure. Normally the structure of a convoy is a single column with armed mixed with the transports. What the Iron Pact has done is something vastly different as it resembled more like a naval convoy than a land one. The two SHORADs would flank the center of the convoy alongside with the platoon of recon IFVs. The command vehicle would be at the center while the two IFVs nestled themselves in the front and rear of the convoy. Itami’s platoon took up positions near vital points of the convoy to cover any holes in the defenses.

“Yes, Centurion Itami,” the Village Elder answered. The Village Elder -along with the two nobles that governed the ‘county’ that the village resided- quickly went to action when Itami and Hauptmann Neumann returned to the village with elven refugees in tow. Once it was explained what had happened, they quickly ordered everyone to prepare their wagons as they were going to leave in the morning unless the Great Fire Dragon showed up first.

That was when they heard a scream and a horse baying madly. Itami and his squad quickly moved to the front of the convoy and saw a little girl lying on the ground and Hauptmann Neumann simply standing there in front of the seemingly out of control horse.

“Now settle down Missy!” Hauptmann Neumann exclaimed, trying to calm down the horse, “I know you’re scared but this isn’t the time for you to lash out like this!” The horse rose up, seemingly going to stomp the Hauptmann into dust, but horse simply stomped the ground. “Now calm down and we’ll fix this. Now give me the hoof that is bothering you.” The horse, reluctantly, raised it’s rear-left hoof and the Hauptmann took a gander and found the problem.

“What’s the problem?” Itami asked politely in English.

“Something got this mare in a riled state,” Hauptmann Neumann replied, “Accidentally threw the girl off her perch on the wagon. Most likely suffering a concussion at this point.” Itami quickly ordered Mari Kurokawa to check and stabilize the girl while another girl kneeled next to the local in question. “… and I’ve found the problem. Hey, Charles, give me the medical plyers will ya?” The man -likely American- handed over a pair of plyers and got a nasty rock out of the hoof. Everyone -including the locals- winced when they saw the rock.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” Flores exclaimed, “A simple rock caused a horse to get into a riled-up state?”

“Well, it is the equivalent of a rock splinter in the space between your toes,” Hautpmann Neumann explained, “but yeah. Then again, I’ve lived with horses on my family’s estate for decades… and gave me a leg up in my SpecOps training.” Flores then began to bang his head against a house lightly at his moment of stupidity. “Then again, if you aren’t around horses all that much, then you’ll never know the subtleties of horse care.”

“So… is the horse ready to go?” Itami asked.

“I’ll have to tell the owners to keep an eye on it and it’ll slow us down a little, but yeah she’s ready,” Hauptmann answered.

“The little girl is stable Itami,” Mari Kurokawa reported, “She’ll have to be in the command vehicle to heal but there isn’t any lasting damage. Very light concussion.” Itami sighed in understanding.

“Alright,” Itami said, “tell her parents that she’ll be with us for the time being. Now let’s see that this convoy starts moving.” With that, everyone got to their vehicles as the soldier on the back of the front IFV started waving his signal flags.

“Attention! Move out!” came Hauptmann Neumann’s voice in Saderian. Itami knew that this was going to be a very long trip.
 
Chapter 3 Part 2

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#5
Chapter 3 part 2 (yeah, with spaces, this chapter is way over the 50k words limit):

Italica Province, Scout’s Honor Command Center; July 18th, 2017 – 12:10 Hours

Aaron simply stared at the holographic data-plot that sat at the center of the command center, trying to think of the next move. So far, the beast that had hounded everyone hadn’t showed up… not even on radar -thank 4th Platoon’s SHORAD operator being quick enough to get his radar to track the beast, and thus get its signature- for the last day. That got Aaron worried, as that indicates that the beast is far smarter than it looks.

“Attention all units! All stop!”

Aaron quickly grabbed the radio mic. “What’s the situation?” Aaron asked with a commanding tone. The last thing he wanted is the forces of the Holy Empire of Alnus attacking the convoy.

“We’ve sighted a little girl in a goth loli costume and a teenage boy in armor… and a massive murder of crows. They’re walking towards us sir.”

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Aaron sighed, “Alright Scout’s Honor is going to head to the lead alongside with Itami’s command car and assess the situation with the lead vehicles.” Situations like this have to have a high level of delicate handling and given that the possibility of the mysterious tension in Coda Village happening again, virtually a requirement now. “Driver; leave our position in the convoy and move up to the front. We’re going to meet these exotically dressed unknowns.”

The driver simply nodded as he split left from the center of the convoy and moved towards the front.

It only took the two command vehicles a minute or two for the vehicles to get to the front of the convoy, but as the two vehicles stopped, the locals started coming out in droves and called the two oracles.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Aaron complained with a sigh…
__________

Leo of Rodes, Apostle of Cefulla, the Goddess of Governance, Law, Order, and Bureaucracy, frowned at his predicament. He was told by Cefulla to work with Rory Mercury, Apostle of Emoly, the God of War, Judgement, Theft, and Madness, to gauge how much of a divine fuckup that Hardy did by opening two Gates. More specifically, meeting up with the forces that gave the Empire and its client states such devastating defeats with what amounts to a rounding error in terms of fatalities. Hardy had been -according to Cefulla- cursing up a storm after she discovered that she only got the locals who died and not anyone from either the forces on Alnus and Remus Hills.

That scared the Divines something fierce, as this information suggested that something is backing both on a divine level.

So, the last few days had been essentially meeting up with Rory and wandering around, trying to find these ‘Men in Green’… and lo and behold they stumble upon them, with villagers from two villages… specifically a human village with the legendary mage Cato and one of the few Fae Elf villages in the Empire proper.

Leo was surprised that the Men in Green simply stood there flabbergasted as the villagers ran towards Rory and himself, trying to gain favor to the divines via the Apostles themselves. Didn’t they have their own divines and apostles?

“Oh, great Oracles,” one of the elderly villagers proclaimed, “we are sorry that we haven’t done our daily prayers! We’ve been on the run from the Great Flame Dragon for the last day and haven’t find the time or the place to peaceably pray.” Leo and Rory’s eyes widened to their widest, there were no Great Dragons -let alone something as destructive as the Great Flame Dragon- out of hibernation… and awakening such beasts would be problematic both in the mortal and divine realms. There are specific laws for the beasts and awakening a Great Dragon on purpose is punishable by death… if the dragon in question didn’t kill the idiot in the first place.

“The Divines understand your situation, but we aren’t here for you,” Rory stated, “We are here to judge the Men in Green.” The villagers’ eyebrows rose in alarm. Rarely the divines sent their apostles to judge people… which gave shocking implications on what the Men in Green are. “Although the early awakening of a Great Flame Dragon is… problematic, it won’t disturb our duties.” That was when two of the Men in Green politely interrupted Rory.

“Sorry to interrupt,” the taller Man in Green solemnly stated in Saderian with a thick accent, “but you have us at a disadvantage. My name is Aaron Neumann, Hauptmann of Her Majesty Sophia the First of Germany, and this is Leutnant Youji Itami of the Japanese Self Defense Force. We’ve been escorting this convoy of villagers in their quest to escape the possibility of being eaten by a Great Flame Dragon.” Leo sensed truth in these words… but his senses were getting fuzzy around this ‘Hauptmann’ and ‘Leutnant’. A cursory look at Rory ensured that Leo knew that Rory was having the same problem as well… which didn’t bode well.

“My name is Rory Mercury, Apostle of Emoly,” Rory began.

“… and my name is Leo of Rodes, Apostle of Cefulla, Goddess of Law and Governance,” Leo continued, “Our Gods have saw fit to see what you are capable of… although the early awakening of the Great Flame Dragon is an unexpected shift in the flows of fate.” The ‘Leutnant’ raised an eyebrow at the mention of fate, and Rory simply licked her lips. Leo mentally sighed as Rory got hot and bothered with the foreigner… the shenanigans that will ensue will be embarrassing as it is funny. Especially since Rory refuses to shapeshift to her proper body. Leo only recently became a demi-god a decade ago and he was still getting used to the shapeshifting aspects. Then again, not a whole lot of beings knew of the shapeshifting abilities of an apostle…

“Ah,” the ‘Hauptmann’ replied, “Well then, you’ll have to hitch a ride in the command vehicles, everything else is sadly filled to capacity right now.” Leo raised an eyebrow at that statement. In such a scenario, the convoy would leave unneeded articles behind to ensure that the convoy moves ahead of the Great Fire Dragon… until it started to hinder the escort’s ability to maneuver. Then that is the point where people get left behind. Yet… these ‘Men in Green’ are allowing them to ride with them to the point that their fellows are forced to hang onto their wagons. Very unusual…

“We can’t ignore your hospitality,” Leo stated -the Men in Green raised their eyebrows at the mention of hospitality- in an almost regal tone, “it’ll be an immense dishonor even for us Apostles to spit at your hospitality.”

“Ah, then hospitality is truly sacred here,” the ‘Hauptmann’ stated while the ‘Leunant’ gave a smile, “Alright, Itami I think Rory wants to go with you. I’ll take Leo here… and hopefully this little stop hasn’t caused us any trouble yet.” That was when the ‘Hauptmann’ heard something in his helmet and started talking in his native language before switching back to Saderian. “Well, we better start hoofing it then. The villagers are getting a bit restless with this stop. Given what Hans told us about the Great Flame Dragon, I wouldn’t blame them. Alight, sorry to cut any prayer sessions short but we’ve got to move out!” The various villagers quickly ended their prayers and went back to their wagons.

Leo and Rory followed their respective Man in Green into their wagons… and onto an unknown path.

Italica Province, the Scarred Lands; That Evening

The convoy had stopped for the night, and Leo couldn’t imagine that something with this much uncertainty in the background having an immensely festive atmosphere. Right now, a group of ‘Finns’ and ‘Germans’ -led by a woman named Viivi Nieminen- were playing something called ‘polkas’ with their instruments -which consisted of string and wind instruments that Leo never seen before and some crazy instrument that utilizes air and has keys on both ends of the air bag- to calm the villagers down.

… and the craziest thing? They were succeeding beyond all expectations.

“On kauniina muistona Karjalan maa, mutta vieläkin syömmestä soinnahtaa,” Viivi began, “kun soittajan sormista kuulla saa, Säkkijärven polkkaa!” As the song continued, Leo just couldn’t help but start tapping his foot… as the song was practically begging to be danced to. It was like fear and paranoia was simply melting away like ice under the hot summer sun… and in this situation, keeping fear and paranoia from getting out of hand is paramount. With something like a Great Fire Dragon on the prowl, not having a cool head will have most -if not all- within the convoy die the moment said dragon shows up due to poor sleep, poor eating habits, and the like.

“Ah,” a voice behind Leo commented, “feeling the beat of the polka?” Leo couldn’t help but practically jump out of his armor as the owner of the voice -whom Leo recognized as Centurion Neumann- caught him off guard. It was like he simply slipped behind him! Leo had never encountered someone who can walk so silently. Not even the elves of the Weyto mountain range could compare to how silent footed Hauptmann Neumann was…

“I… uh…” Leo muttered as his mind tried to make since of what just happened.

“Oh,” Centurion Neumann sighed, “I accidentally snuck up on you, didn’t I? Eh, it happens to everyone and… it appears that I have forgotten to put the keys on a belt loop. Sorry about that.” While Leo couldn’t sparse what the Hauptmann was thinking, he could take a gander at the body language as a reference… and what the body language was telling him was this isn’t the first time that this sort of thing happened.

“… you did Hauptmann,” Leo answered, “and to answer your question, yes I was feeling the beat of the music that’s playing.” Hauptmann Neumann simply chuckled a little at the response.

“Polkas are interesting things Leo,” Centurion Neumann stated, “While folk music of their own accord, they tend to simply be begging to be danced to. I should know, I’ve sung plenty of Oktoberfest songs to last eight lifetimes.” Leo couldn’t help but agree with the sentiment that the Hauptmann had.

“… and this ‘Oktoberfest’ is?” Leo asked politely.

“Probably the biggest holiday that humanity has ever created,” Centurion Neumann responded, “Originally started out as a wedding anniversary between nobles but grew into a two-week long party of entertainment and food. Two weeks where everything but essential services are shut down and everyone not on shift celebrates. Throughout it’s history, Oktoberfest has only been canceled a handful of times with most of those cancelations because of war.” Leo couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Yes, there are numerous holidays and festivals that are recognized across the empire, but nothing that lasted for two straight weeks.

“That is… too fantastical to believe!” Leo exclaimed in his disbelief, “Even the Divines of the Empire allow for such a festival, and for good reason.” Centurion Neumann simply chuckled a little.

“It is possible when you’ve got an agricultural sector as sophisticated as ours,” Centurion Neuman answered, “Your capabilities in agriculture require most of your population in the fields, working their asses off for little payoff… we simply have the technology and understanding to reduce that number to barely a single percent of our population. Given what we’ve seen so far, it is probably something everyone would discover in a few centuries without help.” Leo couldn’t believe what he was hearing… but he could understand the sentiment somewhat.

“So…” Leo started, “Why aren’t you enjoying the festivities with everyone else?” It was uncommon to have people that aren’t at least willing to be with large groups of people, and those that can’t tend to live very short and brutal lives.

“I’m currently at my limit Leo,” Centurion Neumann answered back, “I can be at the center of a party with the best of them, but I can only withstand the sheer number of stimuli for so long before I get a sensory overload. Even with all my cybernetic implants, I’m still limited by my biological limitations… more specifically my brain in this instance.” Leo simply sighed, he had met such people over the years… and they’re simply great and gentle people. Yet… Leo could sense that Centurion Neumann’s hands were bathed in blood… something that always raised red flags… Leo hoped that these were simply false positives and not something more sinister…

Artyom, Russia (north of Vladivostok, Russia) – GATE Earth; July 19th, 2017 – 07:20 Hours

Russia, unbeknownst to the world, is on the verge of civil war. As Putin and his party kept using increasingly brutal methods to keep the populous in control, the more resentment of Putin and his comrades get built up. With the Ruble being locked out of the world financial markets and all Russian-owned assets ceased (and at gunpoint if needed), the economic situation had deteriorated to the point that it was worse than the days of the Tzars.

Therefore, Astafyev Mili Olegovich -former investigative reporter that got blacklisted by Putin- was risking his neck for his Chinese Second Department handler, Han Bo, for information on the current political situation within Russia. What Mili had discovered, via rumor, that the situation near Vladivostok is deteriorating rapidly. The army garrison there had been rumored to defect to the local Communist Party of Russia… and that rumor is probably the scariest of all given how little restraint that Putin’s Russia has shown to put down descent.

That is why Mili dragged Demenok Marfa Ilyinishna -another blacklisted investigative reporter- and Protasov Gerasim Vadimovichinto -a private investigator- into this. Why? It was mostly a gut feeling about the rumors. If Mili was alone and he got killed in the chaos, then the rest of the planet would be in the dark about what is happening. This way, he can ensure that at least one person can get to the handler and tell the world what is happening… and plan for it.

“So Mili, those rumors led you here?” Demenok asked, “Anything specific about those rumors that you want to tell us because this is not exactly like you.” Demeok and Gerasim were a bit worried about Mili. If he was caught and tortured, then the rest of Han Bo’s information ring would be compromised… which could get a good portion of the other rings compromised as well. To see Mili act a bit out of character shook them to their core.

“It is because of what the rumors are saying,” Mili answered flatly as he produced a folder, “In the outskirts of Vladivostok there is an old Soviet era military RnD facility that has been abandoned for decades after a mysterious accident.” Demenok and Gerasim nodded as Mili began to explain himself, the Soviet era was riddled with military RnD facilities utilizing the esoteric and outright exotic to bring down their enemies… and occasionally they would suffer a mysterious accident that forces the facility to shut down. “From what I can scrounge up, the facility used to be a RnD site for some sort of teleportation technology. The facility suffered an accident that killed around a dozen people, and the facility was quickly decommissioned and stripped of anything of value. The scientists and their assistants were quickly shipped to a quantum mechanics Naukograd that would later serve as their prison, and the facility has been laying there, rotting away…”

“Until recently,” Gerasim completed, “Something about that facility has gotten you spooked then.”

“Yes,” Mili replied, “A few weeks ago, before the entire thing that has been happening with Japan and the ‘Special Region’,” Mili finger-quoted ‘Special Region’ for the obvious political maneuvering to minimize the possibility of a UN operation, “a contact of mine started hearing rumors about this facility being used by the Communists as a depot of some kind. He couldn’t get much closer, so I came over and investigated myself.” Demenok and Gerasim looked over the literal hard evidence that Mili presented with an inquiring curiosity. Mili -as well as the various information rings across Russia- had to use physical media as it was far easier to dispose of than its electronic counterpart. Some acid and fire and you remove any evidence of wrongdoing tracing back to you. “When I got there, my contact stated that he saw a massive increase in activity to and from the complex…”

“… and that has you scared,” Demenok finished as he looked through the files, “Skimming through what you’ve collected, I can see why. A lot of this equipment is mil-spec and then some. I can see fuck tons of modern Kornet and Khrizantema launchers alongside other heavy equipment.” Demenok then took a closer look at photos that were under the label ‘Unknown Equipment’. “Then there are these mysterious trucks with unknown cargo. The shape of these things is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Have you gotten any information about these?”

“No,” Mili sighed as he answered, “those have been completely hush-hush ever since I started seeing them. Hell, I’ve seen larger trucks with what looks like massive container trailers coming in and out of the facility at night. Couldn’t track where they went but this sort of activity should be rather obvious…” Gerasim gasped in realization as she went over a few odd additions to the facility.

“It might be because to the outside world, there isn’t such activity!” Gerasim exclaimed, “A lot of the area is die-hard Communist, so the government couldn’t get accurate intelligence even if it wanted to. These towers have been set up recently and probably camouflaged the activity, so it can’t be picked up easily via satellite or aerial recon...” That was when realization kicked in.

“You mean that…” Mili began.

“… that we’re dealing with some sort of wide-area electromagnetic camouflage that can fool most electronic and optical sensors?” Demenok finished.

“Well, sounds fantastical,” Gerasim answered, “but the pieces fit. Such things have been postulated in science fiction… but to see it in operation in reality is a wholly different matter.” Mili and Demenok couldn’t really argue with Gerasim’s line of logic… if anything, this made things even more disconcerting.

“How are we going to explain all of this to the rest of the world?” Demenok asked… but Mili and Gerasim simply left the question hanging…
 
Chapter 4: Consequences of the Unknown

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#6
Chapter 4: Consequences of the Unknown
The Scarred Lands, Italica Province – SHORAD Air Sweeper; July 19th, 2017 – 14:50 Hours

“Witch Hunter to BATNET, no contacts on scope. Continuing radar sweep.”

Colonel Abigail Simmons frowned as she looked at her radar screen. So far, the Fire Dragon hadn’t showed up yet… but then again, the situation is still a little fluid, and no one really knows the capabilities of a Fire Dragon to get a good idea of what to do. Thus, the enormous amounts of tedium and undiluted paranoia. Given that 3cm APFSDS ammunition didn’t do much, Simmons didn’t believe the few HVAPFSDS belts of 5.5cm rounds would do much either.

“Man, how long is it going to be before the civies feel safe enough to move on?” complained the SHORAD’s driver -one George Kennedy- as he drove the vehicle, “I mean we’ve been at this for a day and a half now…” Simmons couldn’t blame him for complaining, as the unit isn’t equipped for this sort of work.

“Oh, man up Kennedy,” Simmons complained back as she kept an eye on the radar scope, “We’ll probably start doing these sorts of jobs until the railroad gets to operational capacity.” Despite the prevalence of cargo-zeppelins and transport aircraft, railroads are still the linchpin of any modern logistical effort given that trains can haul loads in the scale of container ships.

“This is Scout’s Honor to all units; the village chief just talked to me and after today we’re going to be splitting off.”

“Thank God,” Kennedy muttered, “I don’t think my body suffered this badly since the attempted coup in Yugoslavia a few years back. I’m going to have cramps for days after this.” Simmons couldn’t blame him. This sort of long-distance escort for days at a time is just asking for trouble in terms of bodily matters.

“Well, at least we’ll be back at base,” Simmons replied, “Given what we’ve been through, we’ll probably need a full inspection back to the depot. We probably got junk and debris in the drivetrain that the…” Simmons was quickly broken out of her line of thought when her radar scope beeped angrily at her. “All units, this is Air Sweeper. Got two contacts, 2:30. Distance, 16 hundred! Looks like a small one and… you’ve got to be shitting me! The big bastard found us!”
3rd Recon Light Attack Vehicle

“… The big bastard found us!”

Everyone in the vehicle felt their blood turn to ice at the statement. Now they had to face something that the locals consider something as close to an ‘Act of God’ as you could get without the local divines literally intervening. That was when Private Richards was heard assembling his Javelin launcher.

“What the fuck are you doing Richards?” Rokuda Koichi exclaimed as he maneuvered the fifty-cal around towards the dragon in question.

“Saving all of our fucking lives, that’s what,” Richards spat back as he continued assembling the weapon, “Better idea than using a Panzerfaust 3 against it, given its reported maneuverability.” Koichi simply scoffed at that comment as he readied the API belt. Why the Americans decided to go around with their newest ATGM, Koichi would never know.

Richards -as the LAV bounced around like a pin ball- carefully assembled the Javelin ATGM system, making sure that everything was perfect, as he felt in his gut that he had one and only one shot with the Javelin… and any failure would mean death.

“Itami, take your platoon and get out of here. With your kit you’re at a severe disadvantage against this thing.”
Scout’s Honor Command Center

“Hauptmann Neumann, I’m not going to simply escape and leave you to die,” Itami answered over the radio, “Now shut up and let’s kill this beast!” Aaron simply stayed silent for a fleeting moment, digesting what Itami stated… before making a smirk.

“Well, well, well… you’ll go far Itami. You’ll go far,” Aaron muttered to himself.

“Hauptmann?” a Leunant Gregory Reynolds asked as the vehicle maneuvered sharply.

“It appears that we’re going to have to do the impossible,” Aaron answered, “All units, add the JSDF units into the combat scenario… their ‘toon lead is rather insistent. Let’s show them where the Iron grows.” The look in Aaron’s eyes was almost paranormal as he stared at the representation of the Fire Dragon, figuring a way to slay the beast…

Everyone in the cabin simply stared at Aaron for a moment. Few soldiers ever uttered the phrase “Let’s show them where the Iron grows”, and the few instances that they were uttered were during hopeless situations and in all but five instances of uttering the phrase, the unit was rendered combat inoperative. However, this is Hauptmann Aaron Thomas Wolfgang Neumann, someone that Big Boss saw potential to become a legend in his own right… and that got the crew mutedly optimistic.

“If I have to go out on foot to ensure the safety of these civilians,” Aaron flatly stated as he grabbed his rifle, “Then so be it. We are not here for glory or for medals. We are here to ensure the safety of these civilians. Now, you have your orders, move out.”

“Jawhol, Hauptmann,” Gregory answered. The company command vehicle’s 3cm autocannon opened up, sending API rounds down range.
M68 RCV Jäger’s Triumph, a few minutes later

The recon variant IFV bounced around as it maneuvered violently across the badlands that became the battlefield. 5.5cm autocannon did diddly squat against ‘Fire Dragon’, and the missiles that the company had were specialist models not MRMs... which made taking the beast out hard to accomplish at best.

“We’re switching to HVAP belts.”

“We better switch as well, better than simply wasting HE rounds,” the Jäger’s Triumph’s E-War officer - Viivi Nieminen- suggested before she spoke into the BATNET, “Has anyone gotten a good scan on it yet?” The Iron Pact has always painstakingly given their recon vehicles special sensors to give preliminary data on a target. Sure, using it means everyone and their brother that has a passive sensor suite knows you’re there, but it is the most useful tool one could have. Especially useful in getting rough estimates on things like what sort of armor an unidentified AFV has. Not as good as getting the AFV in question but useful information none the less.

“No… the materials are making our sensors spit out nonsense… and we don’t have MRMs to guarantee overkill.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Leutnant Hinrich Heilmeier complained as he selected the HVAP bins, “Everyone is getting the same thing as us: Fucking Squat!” That sort of situation is as rare as it is dangerous. Without even partial -but useful- information, things get complicated rather quickly. That meant things like laser range finders might be screwed with via anti-range countermeasures or the engagement is entirely in the enemy’s favor and the crew doesn’t even know it.

Streaks of HVAP rounds went down range, most of them missing their target while the few that did making davits in the target’s thick hide.

“How the fuck is thing armored enough to take HVAP rounds? Those things go through 15 centimeters of RHA like a hot knife through butter!” Hinrich complained loudly, “Does anyone have a method to kill this thing yet?”

“This is 3rd Recon Platoon’s LAV, our resident American is readying his Javelin launcher. We need a few more seconds before he’s ready to take the shot.”

Hinrich frowned at the reply. The ATGMs that the Aufklärungsabteilung brought with them weren’t maneuverable enough to hit the beast at this distance. At this distance, an ATGM wouldn’t be able to maneuver properly… so what is the alternate American thinking?
3rd Recon Platoon LAV

“… and there, all ready to go,” Richards panted as he completed the checks for the Javelin, “Koichi, get out of my way!” Rokuda Koichi quickly dismounted from the fifty-cal. as Richards shimmied his way up with the bulky Javelin launcher.

The LCLU quickly picked up the Fire Dragon while Richards switched to direct-fire mode. It only took little more than a second for the LCLU to lock onto the Fire Dragon… and with the pull of the trigger, the Javelin left the tube in a small cloud of exhaust.

The propulsion system quickly kicked in a moment later, quickly accelerating the missile towards the target… dead center. The Fire Dragon -at the time of launch- was only 500 meters away, leading the missile to quickly close the distance. The tandem warhead quickly detonated.

A lance of superplastic metal pierced right through the incredibly tough scales of the Great Fire Dragon, piercing what experts in the Empire would call a ‘fire sac’. Due to the nature of these organs, a fire sac -let alone the numerous sacs in a Great Fire Dragon’s body- is literally filled with volatile gases that would ignite with a powerful enough ignition source… something that the HEAT warhead kindly provided. The large primary fire sac exploded violently, causing the other primary fire sac to explode… and sending the dragon’s entrails all over the battlefield.

“Um… that was different,” Koichi stated in surprise, “You would think that a fire-breathing dragon would evolved to not have that happen.” Richards simply stood in the gunner’s position, gawking at the destruction that he had wrought.

“… all units… round up the civies and prepare for funeral detail… Also, can someone get in the NBC gear and get some samples.”
Moscow, USSR – The Kremlin, Iron Pact Earth; July 19th, 2017 – 20:30 Hours Moscow Time

While the Parliament of Soviets -the successor to the Soviet Congress- is where the various representatives debate and vote on policy while the Premier and the Soviet Cabinet held executive power. Both, in theory, have more power than the Kremlin… but -in reality- it is the Kremlin that equaled the representative side of the Soviet government in terms of political influence.

The reason being? Grigory Konstantinovich Ordzhonikidze, a very close associate of Joseph Stalin and a man who lead the USSR based on Stalin’s precepts. While ‘Stalinism’ never took hold, Grigory would force the USSR into a war against the Iron Pact in 1945. This war was largely unpopular with the Soviet populous… and would lead Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov and numerous other political and military officers to pull a coup in 1948, as the Iron Pact’s forces neared Moscow itself. While the Soviet Union would surrender -and getting a scalding but fair peace treaty in the process- unconditionally, the war would go on for another four years against France, the Commune of India (aka the maniac of the Comintern), and a scattering of British Union forces across Africa. All ending with the atomic bombing of Durgapur and Bengaluru.

Now, one of the exotic experiments near Vladivostok -based on the theories and studies released by scientists in the Iron Pact- had made a startling success… and discovered an abandoned version of the facility on the other side. Investigation of the world on the other side was rather swift, as they met up with the local Communists… and that is why this meeting is taking place.

“This is going to cause just as many headaches as successes isn’t it?” Premier Vladimir Putin complained as he rubbed his temples, “So… what is the status of our allies on the other side?” The large stacks of tablets and files stretched across the center of the conference table are filled with numerous data entries and analysis documents, detailing the situation on the other side of the wormhole. Stacks so high that the various Kremlin staff could barely see each other.

“Premier,” the Head of the KGB -one Gribkov Damir Danilovich- answered, “Your… alternative self has made it defacto impossible to ascertain the full situation via radio, internet, and TV channels… and what little we’ve gained is from Communist sympathizers from the intelligence rings maintained by their Chinese intelligence services.” Smirnitskaya Mashenka Larionovna -Deputy Premier of the Soviet Union and one of the more outspoken champions of what is known as the ‘Gardening’ ideology of Communism- mumbled in anger about the situation there. “So far the Communist Party and its allies are simply scattered across Russia with very little in terms of military capability. So far, they’ve convinced the garrison of their Vladivostok to side with them along with a handful of other companies… but that isn’t enough against your alternate double’s forces. We’ve been supplying and training them in our modern armaments, but with some of our more eccentric tech training has been a little slow.”

“That means alternative Putin is going to force a civil war for the sake of power,” Larionovna complained venomously, “I don’t know if it’s a part of some great stratagem or he is just that stupid...” Everyone else simply agreed as the situation was pretty much that bad. A powder keg on a scale like Europe before World War 1, and the alternative Putin is throwing sparks everywhere and it was only pure and unadulterated luck that the sparks didn’t ignite the incredibly short fuse… yet.

“From what we’ve gathered, he’s just that stupid,” Danilovich answered, “He and his fellows are too greedy and blind to the situation around them to think otherwise. From what little we’ve gathered, they’re too busy trying to relive their nostalgia of the glory days than keep Russia as a great power.” Everyone groaned at that information. The worst sort of leader in charge is a nostalgic one who is willing to try to ‘recreate’ his nostalgia.

The reply to the answer was a simple one: the age-old head meeting desk. Repeatedly. Out of the assembly of 14 officials, ministers, and leaders, just over half of them were doing this one action. One minister -the head of Health and Education- took out a large bottle of vodka and started drinking it right out of the bottle, complaining along the lines of ‘this is far too much for my sane brain to handle sober’. The rest were still having their brains rebooting from the implications of what had been said.

This went on for a few minutes.

It was then that Ivanova Syuzanna Valerievna broke the silence. “So, we’re dealing with a former KGB operative who managed to Konstantinovich his way into power, and is completely and utterly drunk on nostalgia while completely willing to destroy Russia to keep that nostalgia?” Syuzanna summed up, “Well… that’s very… Russian… of him.” That was when everyone looked at each other in bewilderment… and started to chuckle. The chuckles soon became laughter as the ironic black humor became apparent… which lasted for a few seconds before things calmed down.

From then on, it was slaving over the reports and working out effective and flexible plans of action…
Boston, Massachusetts – Pact Earth; April 16th, 2013 – 02:55 Hours

I… didn’t expect the anti-Pact extremists to be so subtle in their operations after the Patriots Day bombing. Hiding in the shadows and trying to make their best move. I was simply in Boston to meet with family on his mother’s side before going to the big Frisbey Reunion on the Neumann estate just outside of Great Falls on one of the Buttes.

Then the bombing happened. Twelve bombs -eight smaller IEDs with four propane bombs- exploded to make a message. That message? The dissolution of the Iron Pact, the breakup of the Kaiserreich and other Iron Pact nations, and to be completely subvariant to their ideals and the nations that support them.

Boston -and much of the Iron Pact- didn’t take this too well.

So, just out of Sturmtroppen School with a shiny ‘Prince of the Trench’ badge, I joined the manhunt… for this isn’t business… it was personal. My family suffered because of such men. The 2005 Frisbey-Neumann Family Reunion happened in Huston killed 5, injured 20, and forced me to live via my cybernetics. While other events -particularly the attempted assassination in 2010 during my graduation ceremony in Great Falls, Montana- upped my cybernetics percentage to more than half. Now a lot of people are going to go through what I’ve had when they first get their cybernetics.

That brings to the current situation… with the terrorists doing their one big stupid: capturing me.

The terrorists had managed to knock me out -which is really hard to accomplish, even without training from Big Boss being taken into account- and drag me into their hideout. Still, they weren’t complete idiots given that they were able to bind me in such a way that they would know faster than I can reliably pull a Houdini.

“What do we do with the Junker?” one of the terrorists asked, “He’s probably chipped and probably in the Heer.” The other terrorists snickered as they pondered on their next move.

“We’ll torture him,” what sounded like the ringleader answered, “then hang him on a streetlamp form his entrails to leave a message.” That got me sweating bullets, these guys are torturing with intent to kill… which is wholly different than torture for information.

“Hey, Churchill, how’s our ‘guest’?” the first terrorist asked.

“Locked down tight,” ‘Churchill’ answered, “he hasn’t made a move to escape yet, but Jack here is ready to beat him into submission when he does.” The man in the right side of my vision activated the cattle prod and shocked me once just to make a point.

“Aright then,” the ‘ringleader’ chuckled, “Get out the video equipment, we’re going to tape this thing and release it over the internet. Our… benefactors… want this as brutal and terror inducing as possible.” That got my attention, as this wasn’t a homebrew job but part of a far larger scheme.

“Do you want to stop them here and now?” asked a mysterious voice that I never heard before, and from the looks of my babysitters, they didn’t hear the voice. Maybe it’s my brain short-circuiting again, it wouldn’t be the first time that a bunch of words were ‘heard’ when in reality it is simply the few ‘bugs’ that still plague the MMI.

Mentally, I simply sighed. There is no way out for me in this instance, and the only endpoint is my untimely demise.

“Your will is strong, yet you are still able to understand the consequences of actions,” the voice said, “If you want to stop them, the you must acknowledge your abilities as a Spirit Walker. Go forth, young one, and send them to damnation.

“Uh, boss, the Junker’s eyes just turned blood red!” ‘Churchill’ screamed as he and ‘Jack’ backed away, “and… things are getting freaky here!” Everyone else stopped what they were doing and saw the developing situation… and felt dread.

“Kill him now!” the ringleader exclaimed, “Kill him now or we’re fucking done for!” It seemed that the ringleader knew what was happening and was trying to take preventative steps.

That was when I had the urge to speak. “Trusted with the name of God, ye are guilty,” I said as my voice was joined with a dozen others, speaking in at least two different languages, “You have disturbed a sacred day of remembrance, you have desecrated land made sacred with the blood of innocents. For such acts, the pits of hell await you.”

Then… everything went black.
En Route to Fort Gate, Scout’s Honor – Falmart; July 20th, 2017 – 09:20 Hours

“Sir?” Gregory asked as he worked his hardest to wake Aaron up, “Are you having that flashback again?” Aaron shook the sleep out of his eyes as he was shaken awake. The trip to the JSDF/Alternate American base had been incredibly boring. Other than the signal intercepts and the occasional detection of unidentified fauna, the trip was boring. Add the lack of sleep because of the Fire Dragon, my ‘history’, and the fact that I have a higher need for sleep… this was bound to happen.

“Yeah,” Aaron answered, “Just some bad memories again.” This wasn’t the first time that this sort of thing that happened and won’t be the last. “So, how long until we get to their fort?” The rest of the company had already headed towards Fort Portal with the refugees that decided to go with the Iron Pact instead of the JSDF/Alternate American coalition. General Forsythe had given orders to hand over the after-action reports and combat footage to the aforementioned coalition to build positive relations. Relations that wouldn’t be used for combative action.

“ETA five minutes sir,” Gregory answered as the vehicle rumbled over the Roman highway, “Itami has been complaining about you not responding for a while now.” Given the situation -at least once reported to General Forsythe- at the time, a personal delivery of the combat data would likely help in JSDF/Alternate America-Iron Pact relations in the long run. Despite most Iron Pact militaries having about 10% of their populations in the military (mostly due to the 1:15 tooth-tail ratio and the stable-unstable political environment), a genuine war isn’t in the Iron Pact’s best interests given the situation in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and South America.

“Alright, tell Itami that I’m up,” Aaron ordered, “… and someone get me some Orange Cream soda.” And with that, the crew fell into routine. With a quick scrounging in the mini-fridge, Gregory passed a Henry Winehard’s Orange Cream Soda while Aaron’s message was sent. With a quick twist of his augmented hands, the cap popped open, allowing Aaron’s nirvana to be consumed. “Let’s hope everything goes as smoothly as possible…”
Fort Gate, Lt. General Kouichirou Hazama’s Office; 09:35 Hours

Lt. General Kouichirou Hazama could not help but try to stem the building headache as he rubbed his temples. Lieutenant Itami must have the most schizophrenic luck of all the men and women in the JSDF right now. Lieutenant Akira Yanagida -only in the room to have another set of JSDF eyes and ears for this bout of insanity- only stood, awestruck, at the incredible situation that the joint US/JSDF coalition had landed themselves in.

“Let me get this straight,” Lt. General Christina Smith -of the US Marines- and co-commander of the coalition said in review, “Your name is Aaron Thomas Neumann, rank of Captain in the Imperial German Army, and due to a series of events… decided to hand over raw combat footage and ‘written’ after-action reports of the event in question?” Christina couldn’t believe what she was hearing, the drone that was sighted a little over three months ago was one from Imperial Germany and Itami -for all his vices and insecurities- managed to not cause a diplomatic incident during first contact.

“Pretty much ma’am,” Aaron answered politely, “As ordered by General Forsythe, I am giving your personnel access to original combat footage and the after-action reports as a show of good faith between our forces.” Aaron mentally rolled his eyes as the situation developed, things must be less interesting because from the sound of the two generals in front of him, this sounded like something straight out of fiction.

“So… where’s the footage?” Yanagida asked politely, trying to see the “Hauptmann’s” angle.

“Being compiled, compressed, and downloaded as we speak,” Aaron answered, “Although my crew’s efforts are slightly hindered at trying to convert the video files into something that would work on your equipment. Thankfully the written reports are in PDF format, allowing for easy sharing.” Aaron looked at Yanagida suspiciously, as the prodding became apparent.

“Ah,” Hazama and Christina nodded, understanding the situation. File compatibility can be a serious issue if not handled properly. Things like file corruption, footage not playing, and can become problems rather quickly if you ignore any file compatibility issues.

“What is General Forsythe going to do in the near future, in case we need to prepare for anything,” Sampson Williams -the CIA attaché- asked politely. Aaron noted that she was more truthful than Yanagida for a start.

“Well… he’ll probably request an attaché or diplomat and an entourage to be assigned to your base of operations… and due to the situation with the Fire Dragon, he’ll likely request that Itami and his platoon be available for an inquiry in a few months,” Aaron answered, “Civilians have died, and the reasons why have to be answered in a way that can be consumed by the general public.” Aaron noted the sighs on Hazama’s and Christina’s faces… they too are likely to have received similar messages from their own governments as well.

“Your forewarning is greatly appreciated,” Hazama replied, “We’ve been told about an inquiry is being readied for the ugly business with the ‘Fire Dragon’ in three months.” Christina sighed as she looked at the communique, pinching her nose in disgust and pain. “I would like to extend our wishes for you and select individuals from your company to participate in our inquiry as well.” Hazama mentally cursed at the situation he was in. Shimabukuro Shina is notorious within even the most left-leaning circles of the JSDF as the largest anti-JSDF asshole in the Diet. She had been working for years to effectively disband the JSDF, and the biggest case just landed in her lap. With the weakening of Prime Minister Abe’s political influence after the release of the US IC-Steele Dossier, the JSDF is in a precarious position as its political capital became strained to the breaking point.

“I hope I can attend that,” Aaron stated with a hint of happiness, “Even if it means using quite a bit of pull I have in the government to arrange it.” Everyone in the room smiled as things looked like they won’t go into the shitter…
Fort Gate Rifle Range; 09:40 Hours

“Too front-heavy for my tastes, but it’ll do,” Gerhard Steiner commented as he played around with the Type 64 battle rifle before chambering in a round. Gerhard Steiner had decided to put a few idiotic JSDF soldiers their place on the rifle range after a rather crude comment about Germans and their inaccuracy.

“Clear the range!” the range master ordered over the PA. Dozens of technicians scurried off the rifle range while Gerhard fiddled with the iron sights of the Type 64. The Type 64 would be considered an outdated weapon by military forces within the Iron Pact. Conventional configuration small arms were phased out in the late 1960s for being too cumbersome to wield in most expected environs while copper casings were phased out in the late 1970s by polymer cases. The only reason that the weapons that the Iron Pact brought with them aren’t using the old polymer cases is because the weapons were converted to caseless ammunition back in the early ‘90s. To hold one was an interesting experience for Gerhard to say the least.

As soon as the technicians were off the range, Gerhard opened fire. The first 3-round burst went wide of the original target. Gerhard frowned as he miscalculated the weapon’s center of gravity/recoil interaction. Quickly shifting his forward hand, Gerhard quickly started dominating the range with quick, effective, and accurate 3-round bursts. Everyone on the range looked at Gerhard with awe as he loaded a second mag into the weapon and set the sights for longer-ranged targets.

“You’ve got to be shitting me!” an American stated in awe, “He’s getting an 85% hit rate against combat targets at 300 meters.” That sort of accuracy at combat ranges is impossible with the range setup. The best that had been achieved was about 70%... or so the board showed.

The board now started tracking Gerhard and his accuracy in the 500-meter range… and everyone was gob smacked at how accurate Gerhard was. While the hit rate was lower -about 65%-, it was still far better than what anyone on-base could achieve.

By the time Gerhard was done with the 500-meter targets, Aaron showed up.

“Steiner, did they say something about your accuracy?” Aaron asked with a light-hearted chuckle. Gerhard Steiner is notorious about his accuracy… and everyone would become gob smacked when he proved them wrong.

“Ah, Hauptmann,” Gerhard started out with a slight tinge of embarrassment in his voice, “… what a surprise…” Aaron simply sighed a little, now knowing what is going on.

“Has Unteroffizer Steiner been giving you trouble?” Aaron asked politely. Most of the JSDF and the alternate Americans simply stood there in amazement. It was almost a minute before Aaron spoke again, “I take your silence as a yes. Steiner, what did I tell you about that trigger of yours?”

“… get a better handle on it sir,” Gerhard answered meekly as Steiner’s comrades facepalmed at the sight, as Steiner was acting like a child being reprimanded. Everyone else, on the other hand, went deeper into the realms of being flabbergasted.

“We’ll continue this discussion when we’re back in the CV,” Aaron commanded, “So, did Steiner do anything unbecoming when he was showing off?” That was when the range master shook off his shock and spoke up.

“Other than saying “Don’t speak of the Hauptmann like that!” and “Don’t compare us to them if you don’t want to wake up in the hospital three days later”, no,” Range Master Yanagimoto Miyoshi answered, “Then gave us a major humbling in the process… with a weapon he didn’t know how to operate outside the common elements.” Aaron frowned slightly, few things could rile up Steiner like that and if he said the comparison line… then someone decided to equate him to the Nationale Reaktionspartei (NRP for short). The Steiner family has harbored an intense hatred of the NRP for decades. Ever since they tried to kill Ferdinand Steiner and his entire family -along with key figures like Adolf Hitler and several others- to ‘make a point’ back in the late 1930s/early 1940s, it’s pretty much a blood feud between the ideology and the rest of the Steiner family. To be called something similar is an incredible insult to the government and the families that really suffered during those days.

“Sorry about that,” Aaron apologized, “The Steiners have always been a bit touchy if they get equated to the NRP. The bad blood between them is pretty bad, and for good reason.” The JSDF and alternate American soldiers looked at Aaron and started asking for that reason. “Well, from what Itami and his platoon told us, the Nationale Reaktionspartei is basically our Nazis. Hyper-reactionary, hyper-racist, that sort of thing. The Nationale Reaktionspartei started to carry out assassinations on key political figures when things were settling down in the late 1930s. When the Bundespolizei connected the dots, the party was given a Royal Ban with much of its leadership and the fanatical portion of the membership arrested, tried, and jailed or executed. Pretty nasty times back then, lots of good men and women died for pretty much a power trip.”

The various alternate Americans and JSDF soldiers were genuinely surprised, and decided to not to pry further, as Aaron was speaking in a ‘this is a touchy subject’ tone. Still, this got their interests perked and started asking about Aaron’s world… but Aaron stated that he had to start moving to get back to Fort Portal before nightfall…
The White House, Oval Office; Washington DC – GATE Earth; July 20th, 2017 – 16:20 Hours

President Mattis sighed and frowned at what little information of this ‘Iron Pact’ graced his desk. The unknown drone that was sighted a few months back was -in actually one of the Iron Pact’s ‘short-range dirt strip’ drones… which is different than the drones that the USAF has in its inventory as they generally are flown off concrete airstrips. Despite their size, from what little data was gathered, they had -comparatively- high mobility and speed, apparently a full electronic warfare suite of all things, and the skin had laser refraction properties making use of laser rangefinders that much harder.

Now, the Hauptmann stated that this is simply the last rendition of the previous drone generation… which is pretty worrying to say the least.

“So…what has the analysts pry from the combat footage and after-action reports so far?” Mattis asked politely. If conflict erupted between the Iron Pact and the US/Japanese coalition, then whatever they can gather would be much appreciated.

“Not much without detailed technical and design schematics I’m afraid,” the CIA director said solemnly with a frown, “We keep hitting acronyms that we simply don’t have a reference to. We know what a HVAP means but the exact details are murky while we keep getting acronyms that we have very little contextual information on like ‘MRM’. We know that it is most likely some sort of missile given that they referenced their ATGM and SAM launchers… but we’ve got nothing more than that.” Mattis understood the director’s situation. Lack of information is a devastating problem in combat… as it can cause entire divisions to pretty much get mauled.

“Anything about their infantry?” Mattis asked the CIA director. The CIA director frowned as he rummaged through his reports.

“We’ve got one and only one instance on their infantry capabilities,” the CIA director answered, “… and sir, I’ve been in the CIA for over three decades and this… this simply blows everything I knew out of the water.” That was when the man started a video. “This was captured by soldiers on the rifle range at Fort Gate. Someone called one Gerhard Steiner…” Everyone else raised an eyebrow at the name. “-don’t look at me sir- a Nazi, insulted Hauptmann Neumann with words I will never repeat, and finally insulted Steiner’s soldiery ability. What you’re about to see is Steiner using a weapon that he didn’t know to even exist before now, using ammunition he considered somewhat primitive, and simply making a showing of range accuracy that just puts all of us to shame.”

Everyone in the room watched the video with apt attention, their jaws threatening to quite literally unhinge and fall to the floor. The rifle range had special drones to simulate combat movement in a gunfight, and Steiner was simply getting an accuracy rate of about 85% at 300 meters. With iron sights. To have that sort of accuracy in such conditions with the barest of weapon sights speaks a lot about their infantry capabilities. Given that each target was taken down with a burst, that indicated the possibility that the Iron Pact focused on making the grouping as accurate as possible to maximize lethality…

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” General George Hammond stated as he looked on in bewilderment, “That’s probably the most impressive rifle handling I’ve ever seen.” The rest of the generals and officers of the US military and Intelligence Community murmured in agreement at the sight of the video. That was when a courier barged his way into the Oval Office.

“Sir, the Chinese ambassador has just forwarded us this on orders from Beijing!” the courier stated as he labored to regain his breath while the Secret Service officers closed the door he barged in through, “It’s the latest intelligence that they’ve gained out of Vladivostok.” The courier quickly opened the large high-security briefcase and started handing out over-stuffed folders. The assembled quietly looked through the folders, their faces becoming bewildered then to pure unadulterated dread.

“You said that the Chinese Ambassador was ordered to pass this along?” Mattis asked as politely as he could as he continued to process his folder’s contents.

“Yes sir, he even gave me the orders signed by the Xi Jinping himself,” the courier answered as he passed the orders -one in simplified mandarin and the other in plain English- to Mattis.

“Did the ambassador say anything about this?” Mattis interrogated, as the courier started sweating bullets.

“He only said that this changes everything,” the courier answered, “… and he was quite pale when he gave me the briefcase.”

Fuck me!” General Alexander Williams cursed loudly, “How the fuck can the Communists get this sort of equipment? Some of the stuff I’m seeing is straight from a Mil-Scifi novel!” Williams wasn’t that far out of line with his comments, as some of the files showed technologies straight out of scifi. The biggest surprise and worry is the aptly codenamed ‘Mirage Generators’ had fooled everyone to the situation at the abandoned Soviet-era research facility.

“Could it be that the Iron Pact has something to do with this?” the CIA director asked aloud, “What little we knew of that facility before it shut down back in the late ‘70s was that it was focused on teleportation research in response to conspiracy theories about the Philadelphia experiments.” The Philadelphia experiments were simple: to find a method to quickly degauss ships. Instead of taking over a day to degauss a ship, the plan was to have it only take hours, and if it can be done with sailors on the ship safely, all the better. The experiments discovered methods to cut down degaussing time, but not enough to justify the expense of the whole endeavor. Given that the Iron Pact understands the scientific principles of how the Gate functions… they’re probably the ones to easily replicate it.

“Didn’t,” General Abernathy began as he dug through the files, “Hauptmann Neumann state that his government is willing to have someone to facilitate communications between the coalition force we have on the other side of the Gate and theirs?” Everyone quickly noticed where this line of thought was going. “They might know something about this.” Everyone in the room looked at Abernathy like he grew a second head. “… it’s better than doing nothing, right?”

Everyone in the room couldn’t help but agree…
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#9
Just to let you know, i like Gate related stories (like the anime), keep up the good work.
This is heavily based on ... and so the Soviets Conquered, a little known but effective fanfic that I've read that started this entire thing, and the fanfic The Janus Campaign having a major influence her and there. So I dug up an old-ish alternate timeline sketch and ran with it.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#11
Ok, I've hit a major roadblock in the next chapter pertaining to Rory and Ghosts in Iron Pact!Earth. Hauptmann Neumann has suggested a location for lunch -and that is before getting everyone ready for the inquiry in the Reichstag- but has made a stop in what is essentially Arlington with memorials to those who lost their lives in the Great War of Resistance, WW2, and various other conflicts. Rory decides to sneak off after she started to hear humming in the distance and goes to the source... and sees thousands of soldiers in marching formation going down the central avenue singing Wo alle Straßen enden.

Now the part I'm having a roadblock with is the path it would take after Rory sees thousands of ghost-soldiers at once (which is considered so improbable it's impossible in the Empire). One path would put Rory in what is called a 'Psi-Memory', which is basically a genuine memory of a ghost or a dead person anchored to the land of the living via some object or location,, forcing you to relive that memory from the perspective of the originator. Most of these are easily contained, transferred, and/or removed... but the one Rory's in is the poster child of 'Memories' that can't be easily removed or transferred. This has a scene that is heavily inspired/ripped-off from Call of Duty: Finest Hour in the beginning of the Stalingrad level... although with a very different speech:

“Welcome to Cologne, kamaraden; today we start the greatest fight for survival that humanity has undertaken in its recorded history,” the man in the front said solemnly, “There are many men and women, just like you, crossing the Rhine to defend the Fatherland. Raymond Poincare has lost hundreds of armor and planes while King George the Fifth’s hordes of colonial conscripts climb over mountains of their own dead bodies.” There was a slight pause as the sound of a rapidly firing weapon from the air, Rory quickly looked upwards and saw machines flying overhead, trying to stop the boats from crossing the river. “It now falls upon us, a mission given to us by the Kaiser and the Fatherland, to not let the enemy reach the Rhine and defend the city of Cologne!” The man pointed towards the shore, showing a city -not unlike some of the larger towns in the Empire- in flames as the water churned as great fountains of water gushed into the air, thrown by some great explosive magic. “No matter our political affiliation, no matter what people we hail from, we must ensure that the Rhine doesn’t fall! For the Fatherland, our great country, not one step back!” The flying machines then came again, the crews throwing objects from their stations and into the boats below. The man in front simply grabbed a device and threw it out of the boat, causing another fountain of water to gush out only a handful of feet away. Rory saw the men in the boats with chimneys using their weapons to try to bring down the flying machines. “Do not count kilometers, do not count days, count only the number of Frenchmen and Britons you have killed! Kill the Frenchmen, this is your mother’s prayer! Kill the Briton, this is the cry of your German earth! Never let up kamaraden, this is the cry of the sane across the world!” The boat quickly docked at the small pier and people started pouring out. “Now show the invaders where the iron grows kamaraden! Show them that while they can take our land, they will not take our spirit!

Then Rory starts feeling how cold and detached warfare for the Iron Pact and JSDF/US coalition forces are. How plain ass sickening the jump from pre-shot era combat to WW1 would be displayed... and Hauptmann Neumann reveals an ability he has and help Rory exit the memory. Rory would be in some shock because of being essentially thrown into the memory like a white-hot ingot of iron into cold water isn't something that anyone -even the Apostles- can shrug off easily.

The second sure-fire path I've cooked up cans the psi-memory entirely and has Hauptmann Neumann giving Rory the stink eye and the 'I am angry' face while we get introduced to operatives from Germany's Special Technologies and Phenomenon Group... and proceeds to show that Itami has deeper depths than what he lets on.

The third and final sure-fire path I've cooked up takes inspiration/rips off Ghost Recon: The Gate, specifically the Stalingrad and Arlington scenes, where Rory meets souls of the fallen Russian and US alongside the comrades of Scott Mitchel. This scene has a handful of soldiers -one of them a German-Jew named Egon, Iron Pact!Adolf Hitler's second in command- commenting about the beauty of Imperial Germany thriving despite the horrors inflicted upon it and that their deaths meant something.

I'm conflicted here, as I don't have the writing prowess to combine all three, but all three have their merits...
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#13
I would recommend option 3, personally but look forward to whatever path you take.
I'll take that into account then, even though I have to prototype them. Perhaps I'll have a modified version of number one and fuse it with number three later when they take a short tour across the Iron Pact...
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#14
Good news everyone!

Frozen in Carbonite has finally gotten threadmarks, making it far easier to read through the threads! Comments aren't that much of a problem anymore!
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#15
Now since threadmarks are a thing in this forum, I can now do my 'post snippets to make them work better' bit from SB. Enjoy.
)_________________________(
Fort Portal, Alnus Province; September 20th, 2017 - 10:30 Hours

Lieutenant Itami sighed as he and a small portion of his platoon -alongside Rory Mercury, Lelei La Lalena, and Tuka Luna Marceau and her father- went through the fifth checkpoint -and set of automated turrets- that day. From what Itami the small portion of his platoon has seen, the Iron Pact had been incredibly busy. Rail lines were being built towards the border between ‘Alnus Province’ and other local provinces, the ancient highways were being upgraded into what looked like autobahns, villages being completely rebuilt with a mix of old and new architecture, and -as Itami’s little two-vehicle convoy got into visual range of the base- saw zeppelins -admittedly small ones but still, fucking Zeppelins- of all things starting to lift off for kami knows where.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Private Richards said, “It looks like they’re settling in for the long term here…” No one could fault Richards’s outburst… as all the sights right now are insane.

“Yeah, and what does that mean for the locals?” Itami sighed with a frown, “Forcing cultures to march through centuries of evolution or match another’s rarely ends well.” Itami learned enough history to figure that much.

“Alright Leutnant, you and your convoy are cleared to enter the base,” the guard at the checkpoint said in heavy German-accented Japanese before turning to one of his compatriots, “Hans, let them in!” As the gate opened, the guard turned to Itami. “Alright, the Central Administration complex is at the end of the central road with the internal motor pool on the left. Just don’t get into trouble of your own accord and things will be fine.”

“Understood sir,” Itami responded politely, “we’ll try to ensure that we don’t cause any trouble.” With that, Takeo Kurata took the vehicle down the main road towards the massive prefabricated structure. Akira Tomita and the others looked around, absorbing everything they could while taking mental notes of the various vehicles and weapon systems. While it is clearly apparent that this is only a mere fraction of the base and its contents, it didn’t make help the feeling of dread with the JSDF and US soldiers.

It didn’t take too long for the convoy to get to the administration complex, and what everyone saw was simply awe inducing. The hustle and bustle of base personnel simply astounded the few locals that Itami manage to persuade to come with, but everything he saw simply pointed to one thing and one thing only: The Iron Pact is planning to stay until whenever their objectives were done.

That… can be troubling… to say the least.

“Ah, Leutnant Itami!” a familiar voice said cheerfully, “I hope that your trip to our base was uneventful.” Itami quickly recognized the voice as Captain Neumann’s, Itami didn’t recognize him immediately due to the dress uniform that he was wearing. It was like the old Imperial German uniform in a sense, as it was ‘field grey’. The uniform was also expertly tailored to match the physic that Captain Neumann had, an oddity compared to their field uniforms which were clearly mass produced. Captain Neumann’s chest, however, was worrisome as it was laden with medals… including what looked like the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with oak leaves, swords and diamonds.

“It was,” Itami answered in German, “far better than what we have over the course of the last few months.” Captain Neumann chuckled a bit.

“True, too true,” Captain Neumann replied, “Now, before you and your fellows go to Berlin, General Forsythe wants a word with you about some civilians that we rescued from a mining town northeast from here.” Itami raised an eyebrow at this, what little information that the Japanese-US coalition had indicated that civilians that were sold into slavery were dead already… given the poor conditions.

“Alright then,” Itami sighed, “Old Man, get everyone ready for the trip… I’ll have to meet up with General Forsythe for something.” Souichirou Kuwahara sighed as he got everyone ready for the trip while Itami was escorted to General Forsythe’s office.

General Forsythe’s Office; a few minutes later

General Forsythe raised an eyebrow at the JSDF lieutenant in front of him. He was the opposite in terms of physical stature he assumed he would be. His voice was somewhat nasally and higher pitched, the opposite of what one would think would have a commanding voice given what Hauptmann Neumann’s Aufklärungsabteilung company’s AARs had implied. Itami’s stance, to be frank, is probably one of the weirder ones that Forsythe has ever encountered. What he did notice was a suitcase at his side.

“First Lieutenant Youji Itami, JSDF Ground Forces, here as requested,” Itami said politely, “May I ask what the reason for your request is?” Forsythe smirked slightly, Itami appeared to be someone that likes to get to the point of things and waste little time for anything… although there is a slight undertone that he wanted to be here anyway, and that suitcase was the reason.

“The reason for my request Leutnant,” Forsythe explained, “is the fact that we’ve liberated a lot of slaves a while back, and so far, ten of them were from your world.” Itami’s eyes widened almost comically, knowing straight away about the implications of what has been said. “We’ve already debriefed them and ensured that they’re at peak health.” Forsythe then pulled out a tablet. “This is the full list of people from your world that had been liberated from slavery so far.”

“Ah, so these are the people I’m supposed to pick up?” Itami replied as he looked through the detailed list as he put the suitcase down, “I’m just surprised that you’re so forthcoming about this General.” Itami sighed a little bit, remembering a few instances he had with various generals be his home nation or abroad. Usually they’re generally incredibly strict or simply leave things out is a common stereotype for generals in Itami’s experience… but this man wasn’t either, which is rare in Itami’s experience. Especially for a German general.

“Ah, I understand,” Forsythe answered, “and yes these are the people your superiors want to be picked up after the entire inquiry is finished.” Itami mumbled something about ‘meddling politicians’ under his breath, and Forsythe was understanding about it. He had encountered similar politicians in his incredibly long career as a general, although in his case they rarely survived politically when they meddle too far.

“I’m thankful,” Itami said in a somber enthusiastic tone, “that we don’t have to create more graves… we’ve already have enough of them as it is.” Forsythe understood completely, if the Empire’s invasion of Itami’s homeland was anything like the one that invaded Berlin, then there were literal hills of bodies to burry. “Well, I do have something for you. We’ve been getting strange information from informants in one of the nations from my world and my superiors decided that you might know something about it.”

“Oh, and what would that be?” Forsythe asked politely, intrigued.

“It’s in the suitcase,” Itami answered, “My superiors told me that under no circumstances that anyone would look into what is in the suitcase until I give it to you or your staff.” Itami frowned as he carefully placed the suitcase on the desk. “It’s my superiors’ hopes that you’ll respond quickly on this matter.”

“We’ll see to it then,” Forsythe replied as he picked up the suitcase, “You should get back to your group, they should be starting the last few procedures before going through the portal.” Itami quickly thanked Forsythe and left, escorted by an MP. Forsythe sat there for a moment, remembering when he himself first joined the military. “Well, well, well Youji Itami…” Forsythe muttered to himself, “you remind me of myself when I was your age. I know you’ll be going places soon enough…” That was when Forsythe opened the suitcase. “Now, what has your superiors bamboozled…”
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#16
Just letting you guys get an update on my progress. The portion of the chapter that I have been banging my head against has finally gotten some headway. I mean it took a while but I've got some headway. :)
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#17
Alright, another prototype being thrown at you guys... @Kiyone4ever, I hope you liked what I did. :) Although if anyone hasn't liked what I did, then please tell me via constructive criticism.

___
Checkpoint Portal - Berlin, Germany – Iron Pact Earth; September 20th, 11:00 Hours

Words fail to describe the sights that Rory Mercury is seeing in ‘Berlin’. While the Empire fiddled with structures of tall stature outside of forts and castles, they were hard to maintain and construct, not to mention somewhat ugly in terms of looks in the skyline. Yet here, this Iron Pact -and from what Itami and his fellow soldiers said, the world beyond the Gate on Alnus Hill- not only solved them but had them in abundance. An impressive feat of engineering to say the least. The towers are atheistically pleasing as they were practical… and looked more like they were sculpted than built.

“Hauptmann Neumann, Leunant Youji, papers please,” a man said out of a window. Itami had explained to them to keep a bunch of papers and a booklet-like object called a ‘passport’ at hand or be refused entry. This is an alien concept to Rory. Her station as Apostle gave her exceptions, allowing her to freely cross borders with ease. Yet here, you had to have travel documents.

“Your documents are in order,” the man said, “I’ll just need to get everyone into the system. Everyone, please bring your documents and I’ll get everything set up.” Slowly the assembled lined up and gave the documents to the man, who then looked through the documents with unnatural precision. With a few strokes on his device, he was done. This went on for the next ten minutes before she was next.

“Ah, Rory Mercury,” the man said as he politely took the papers and passport out of her hands, “I’m sorry about the wait but there were a few problems getting everything into our system, please excuse any delays on my behalf.” The man made a few strokes on his device. “Your listed occupation is Apostle. Due to what your occupation is described, I’m required to tell you that you’ll be with an escort for the duration of your visit.” Rory frowned a little, she never needed an escort

“Why would the Apostle of Emoly require such an escort?” Rory asked with some distain, “Few have tried to harm an Apostle, and fewer have survived to tell the tale.” The man simply frowned intensely at Rory. Uncharacteristically, Rory felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

That is why the escort is being assigned to you,” the man answered flatly, “They are going to be keeping you and your magic using friends in line.” The man quickly finished up and gave Rory’s documents back. “Now, please get out of my line so the next person can get their data in.” Rory left in a huff, knowing that the man was eyeing daggers into the back of her head.

“Well, then, with that out of the way,” Centurion Neumann said, “we’ll have lunch before ensuring that everyone is ready for the inquiry.” Itami simply shrugged, as if he was in his opposite’s position, he would do something quite similar as well. “Now, this way to the charter bus…”

“So,” Richard Steiner asked, “what is our lunch destination?” Centurion Neumann thought for a moment before giving his answer.

“We’ll go to Bert, Tetsui, and Hans International Bar,” Centurion Neumann answered, “Gives our Falmart natives a taste of a bit of everything culinary that the Iron Pact has.” Richard Steiner raised an eyebrow at that. “It doesn’t help that they’ve got some of the best steaks and second-best burgers in town for their price either.” The Iron Pact soldiers chuckled a little at the last comment, knowing their commanding officer a little too well. “However, we’ve got to make a small stop at the Memorial first.” The Iron Pact soldiers simply nodded in understanding the reasons why their superior had always tried to ensure he makes a stop at that memorial, mostly because his great-great grandfather and great-grandfather had been buried there.

Soon enough, the long horseless carriage entered the streets of Berlin, and towards their destination…

Memorial to the Fallen Park; 11:45 Hours

Everyone but the Iron Pact soldiers were surprised in the majesty of the large park that they’ve entered, and everyone then had a good snicker at Centurion Neumann’s foresight to have their lunch just down the road from the park itself. The ‘Americans’ of Itami’s world soon saw the correlations with a place called Arlington.

Yet… Rory couldn’t help but feel that things were… off… about this place. She couldn’t put a finger on it, but it had this odd air about it. Yes, the Saderians -the people that dominate much of Falmart with an iron fist- have graveyards but they were specifically designed with countering necromancy in mind but the Saderians never had something like this

Rory’s musings ended when they saw Centurion Neumann stopping at an ornate granite wall that had names engraved on it and polished to a sheen that outdid anything that even the best grave masters in the Empire could do. That was when she noticed the words on the top of the wall: “Für die heroischen Männer und Frauen, sollen ihre Opfer für immer in Erinnerung bleiben”. The wall was divided up into sections by thick lines, and Centurion Neumann went to a section with ‘2. Weltkrieg’ at the top. It was here that everyone saw tears flow from the Centurion’s eye’s.

That was when it hit Rory. Centurion Neumann was paying respects to a family member. Someone further up the familial line for certain, but certainly not his father…

That was when Rory heard… humming. She quickly and stealthily split off from the group to search for the source of this humming. Weaving through the stones and graves, through families paying their respects, Rory’s search started to become frantic as a few simple words kept repeating, seemingly without end.

Wir sind verloren!

Wir sind verloren!

Wir sind verloren!

Wir sind verloren!

Those words kept sending chills up Rory’s spine as she looked for the source. The longer she took in finding the source, the more she felt like she was descending into madness... and this went on for a good half-hour.

That was when she saw them. Thousands of men -and some women- were marching down an avenue garbed in uniforms she couldn’t recognize, armed with weapons that she couldn’t make heads or tails of, and they were all marching to the west…

Now seeing spirits isn’t something that surprised Rory -by Hardy (as much as Rory hated the Goddess of the Underworld’s guts) part of her job was to work with restless spirits- but it was the sheer numbers in one spot that broke her preconceptions. Rory simply stood there in amazement as the thousands of soldiers walked down the avenue, singing a song that she couldn’t fully understand the context of…

Wo alle Straßen enden, hört unser Weg nicht auf. Wohin wir uns auch wenden, die Zeit nimmt ihren Lauf.

Das Herz verbrannt, im Schmerz verbannt. So ziehen wir verloren durch das graue Niemandsland. Vielleicht kehrt von uns keiner mehr zurück ins Heimatland.

Words couldn’t truly describe what Rory was seeing. Sure, on numerous battlefields you could see hundreds of soldiers and warriors still residing in the world of the living, either still fighting their battles or trying to find a way to the afterlife. Having thousands all in one place, however, is unheard of in the history of Falmart. As the soldiers marched onwards, Rory started hearing voices, conversations, and more.

That was when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Rory quickly turned around and saw two spirits looking at the city beyond.

Rory nearly jumped a few feet into the air as she turned her head to get a look on who was laying their hand on her shoulder. It was a tall, lanky man with a pair of framed glass planes resting on the bridge of his nose. There was two more men beside him, one was an average-sized man that had a slightly thick middle and the other was also average but much more fit… but the mustache was something that she never saw before.

“Sorry for scaring you, Mädchen,” the man with the framed glass planes apologized, “It’s a rarity to have anyone with the ability to speak to the dead visit here.” Rory raised her eyebrows at that tidbit of information, as it implied that the shaman ability is extremely rare in this world as well. “The only regular is Leutnant Adolf Neumann’s great grandson.”

“All of this is rather different than anything I’ve ever experienced, I’ll admit,” Rory spoke truthfully, “To see so many spirits marching like they were still alive, to see so many buried here in one place… it’s something that I or anyone else back in the Empire ever experienced.”

“It always is,” the mysterious being said, “… getting out of what you know I mean… your comfort zone.” The other two beings chuckled a bit. “Still, it is a pleasure that has no words to describe to see the very nation that you’ve sacrifice your life for prosper. My family told stories of when they arrived with the first settlers, turning a village in a swamp into the center of a great nation. To see it prosper before your very eyes. A feeling so exquisite that words can’t truly describe it.” Then the mad slapped his own face like he forgot something. “I’m so sorry, I forgot to ask your name and give us ours.”

“It’s alright,” Rory answered thoughtfully, “It isn’t the first time I’ve had spirits forget to introduce themselves…” Rory quickly shook her head. “The name’s Rory Mercury, Apostle of Emory.”

“My name is Egon Spangler,” the mysterious being said.

“My name is Adolf Neumann Senior,” the rotund being introduced himself, “Pleasure to meet you Mädchen.”

“I’m Adolf Hitler,” the third and last being introduced himself, “It’s a rare pleasure to have someone else talk to us despite leaving the mortal coil.” Rory mentally calmed herself reminding herself that this is a vastly different world than Itami’s, and thus the people there are vastly different. Their histories and paths through life could be different than their other-world counterparts. “Is something the wrong Mädchen?” That sentence broke Rory out of her mental marathon.

“Um… sorry,” Rory answered, “It’s just that the people that I’m staying with had a man named Adolf Hitler… and… he was a monster.” Hitler sighed knowingly, like if it was something he half-expected. “Went out to exterminate millions just because they were a different people than him.” Hitler shook his head in understanding with that sentence.

“It’s funny, in a way,” Hitler said with a depressing chuckle, “before the Great War of Resistance, I would have probably walked down that path and never really looked back. Between the Great War of Resistance and the First World War, I… was a broken, angry man looking to lash out. I would probably lashed out in the worst possible way if it wasn’t for my future XO and the unit we led.” Hitler looked towards the Berlin skyline in revere, seeing how well Berlin and Germany prospered. “Jews who could fight, Poles, even the few Old Prussians that still remained in Germany joined my unit, citing that I had a knack of finding the best position to make the most difference. Over the Great War of Resistance, it’s this disregard of their own lives to save a nation that is usually indifferent to them… I hadn’t seen anything like it. The Poles stated that while we did destroy their country, we Germans didn’t act like Russia against them. The Jews considered Germany their Second Israel and were willing to lay their lives to keep it that way. The Old Prussians simply wanted to prove that they were just as German in spirit… To say it was all magnificent is an understatement for ten lifetimes… even though I only saw it half-way into the war.” That was when Hitler laughed. “After the war, I left military service and started writing a book and returned to my passion… as an artist. Imagine my surprise when I met this American named Walt Disney.” Rory raised an eyebrow at this. “When he looked at some of my older pieces, he told me that I would be a phenomenal architectural artist… then he showed me his drawings, helping me make my art with people in them to be less lifeless, starting a beautiful friendship.”

Egon laughed. “Serving under you sir was and always will be an honor sir,” Egon said in a proudful tone, “Despite our rough beginnings… you’ve got through in the end.” That was when Rory heard Itami and Centurion Neumann yelling at the top of their lungs.

“Rory!” Itami exclaimed, “You are supposed to stay next to us!” Rory simply rolled her eyes in annoyance Itami continued. “Have you ever thought what will happen if something were to happen? This isn’t like the Empire, you can’t simply wave your statue as an Apostle like it’s some sort of immunity.” Itami then frowned. “If you go galivanting around and doing whatever you felt like, I’m going to be the poor sap that gets in trouble.”

“Itami, chill a bit. We’re in one of the most sensor-dense locations on the entire planet,” Centurion Neumann commented as he tried to calm Itami down, “See, she’s… oh hey Great Grandpa Adolf.” Itami looked at Centurion Neumann like he was verifiably insane.

“Neumann-san, you’re starting to sound like my mother,” Itami replied in a worried tone, “Are you sure that you aren’t clinically insane?” Centurion Neumann looked at Itami like he was a racist bigot… before he quickly remembered that Itami wasn’t from this world.

“I forgot that your world hasn’t put much into the paranormal as we did,” Centurion Neumann sighed, “It’s an open secret that I have the ability to interact with the dead that haven’t passed onto the afterlife.” The look on Itami’s face was absolutely priceless to Rory. She already was informed of Centurion Neumann’s shaman ability, although she is somewhat skeptical of what Leo had told her. She also had sensed the ability within the JSDF, more specifically within Itami’s group… “It only really started in earnest after a near-encounter with death back in ’05... and I’ve been shuffled around the planet being a ghost whisperer/cop/psychologist ever since.” Rory sensed something more about what Centurion Neumann was saying, but felt that she didn’t need a possibly powerful shaman on her ass.

Itami, frankly, didn’t seemed to be convinced.

“Although, if your comment about your mother is any indication,” Centurion Neumann acknowledged, “You might simply be a Speaker of the Dead that has suppressed their abilities, or they haven’t fully activated.” Itami started to get agitated and angry, like if Centurion Neumann was calling him batshit insane. “However, that is for a few friends in Wolfenstein to ask and answer, not me.” That was when Centurion Neumann put two of his left fingers to his ear, muttered a few things… like if he was talked to directly in his mind. “Alright, we better get going… we’ll be late if we don’t go to lunch and buy clothes now.” With that, the trio quickly got to the horseless long chariot.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#19
Nice, I always like Rory.
Yeah, despite saying what amounts to being psychopathic things, she wants to be the Goddess of Love. Which actually makes it really interesting as a character study. I'll probably expand that snippet in the final version, but it's a damn fine start. :)

Now I'm thinking of doing a straight up timeskip to the inquiry instead of doing an 'eating and shopping montage' that came up on the original drafts...
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#20
Alright, time for me to post the prototype for the Imperial German Inquiry. Didn't want to bore all of you with Inquiry things (and not turn the chapter into a snore-fest about inquiry proceedings) but I also want to give you enough to give you an idea how it goes.

________
Combined Chamber of the Reichstag, Berlin; 15:30 Hours local time

Itami frowned as he and the entourage entered the main chamber of the alternate Reichstag. The chamber is packed as news crews readied their cameras while those who wanted to be physically see the proceedings sat in the banisters that are now filled to the brim. From what Itami could tell, this Imperial Germany adopted a tricameral legislative body. One was clearly the various noble families, given their ware, and stood on the left-most side of the chamber. Then there is a series of politicians that looked like they were elected who sat in the center of the chamber, they came in two by two and Richards commented that they acted like the US Senate. Then there was the large crowd that filled the right-most side of the room, Itami quickly lost count after four hundred… which meant that they were like the Diet members and are probably almost as bad in general…

“All rise!” Chancellor Joseph Steiner ordered, “Kaiserin Sophia the First of the House of Hohenzollern, Chief of State of the Empire of Germany and it’s commonwealths presiding!” That was when a rather regal song started playing as a woman dressed in a mix of something straight out of a fantasy and something modern entered the room with four guards armed with ancient -well, compared to the ones that both the Iron Pact and the JSDF/US coalition are using in Falmart- submachine guns.

The Kaiserin briskly walked to her seat on an elevated platform in the center of the back wall and stood by her chair while the guards took up positions beside the platform. The song went on for a short while longer before it ended, allowing Kaiserin Sophia to speak.

“I, Kaiserin Sophia the First, will preside over the Inquiry of the battle that took place on July 19th, 2017 in the lands held by the Holy Empire of Alnus,” Sophia began in a regal tone, “Witnesses include personnel from an alternate reality, soldiers from the Iron Pact now in campaign in those lands, and locals from the Holy Empire of Alnus. This Inquiry has been called, as per protocol for loss of civilian life in combat with Iron Pact soldiers, by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Chancellor Joseph Steiner.” Itami, his comrades, and the Falmart locals practically held their breath as the Kaiserin looked through the crowd. “You now may take your seats.”

Everyone simply sat down… and Itami and his comrades simply sighed a sigh of relief.

“Chancellor, you may begin with the proceedings,” Sophia ordered, “Let us begin with the context of the situation.”

“Well, here comes the boring part,” Aaron Neumann forewarned in a whisper, “Every Iron Pact inquiry always starts with the situational context to minimize causing improper outrage and political intrigue.” Itami and his comrades raised their eyebrows at Aaron’s warning. An inquiry like this -while it took time to setup- is easy to manipulate to score easy political points back in Itami’s Japan. Here, the context is laid bare for all to see… like US military/security inquiries, just without the Itami’s US’s politics before Mattis became the head of the Coup.

The several projectors soon showed the combat footage while analysts filled in any blanks that the footage couldn’t fill. It showed things like combat conditions, attack vectors, among other things. In addition to the combat footage there was material analysis from the Fire Dragon’s scales, the breath of the Fire Dragon, to what little of the Fire Dragon’s recorded capabilities was displayed in full. The explanations took an hour to complete, and oddly enough, it answered a few questions that bothered Itami; like how the scales were able to shrug off 55mm HVAP rounds but were able to be penetrated by the Javelin. Itami quickly filed all of this away in his mind while making a note to himself to ask for the analysis… which would come in handy with his own inquiry.

Several of the politicians in the Diet-side of the room rolled their eyes in contempt at the deluge of information.

“Who are those politicians that are rolling their eyes in contempt?” Itami whispered to Aaron, wanting to know the political situation in this Germany.

“Oh, they’re the few seats that the Isolationists managed to scrounge up in the last elections,” Aaron answered in a whisper, “They’re the sort that wants to disband the Iron Pact and pretty much go isolationist. They’re well known to be idiots and their constituencies are made up of geopolitical idiots… so they’ve been continuously elected there. Thing is they’ve been under investigation by the Federal Police for political and financial fraud, something they’ve been trying to keep out of the spotlight.” Itami sighed and forced himself to not bang his head against the desk. Apparently, no matter what, there are those idiots having some political sway. If these individuals had their way, then they would eliminate the military completely. Thus, Japan would be vulnerable to the many enemies it made over the decades and -pragmatically- would put Itami and many like him out of a job to support their hobbies. It also didn’t surprise Itami that these Isolationists were being investigated… given what had happen back home.

“Ah,” Itami whispered in understanding, “They sound a lot like the far-left politicians back home.” Itami sighed a bit, knowing who called the inquiry that is going to happen within the next month. “Could you pull a few strings to get the analysis on the Flame Dragon’s scales because that’ll be a lot of help on making sure my inquiry goes smoothly.” Aaron smirked at Itami, understanding his plight.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Aaron answered, “It’ll probably happen if I get sent over to provide the Pact’s side of the story.” Itami shrugged a little in understanding.

It was then that the inquiry got to the testimony stage. Itami sighed as this was perhaps almost -if not more so- as tedious as the context setting. Aaron was up first, as he was the overall commander during the battle. Everyone practically started murmuring as he took to the stand, what was being said were intelligible to Itami, but it appeared that Aaron is quite significant to this alternate reality.

“Hauptmann Neumann,” the Chancellor began, “Describe the events leading up to the subject of this inquiry to the best of your abilities.” Itami sighed, it was going to be one of those inquiries… and prepared for a long inquiry…
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#21
When you think you've got a roll, you find yourself with a wall. Right now I'm working on a snippet that happens to be in Equestria right now, but I've started to basically butt my head against the wall.

What I got solid right now is Equestria getting a shipwrecked Imperial slave ship on it's shores with the slaves being freed and the slavers serving years of hard labor. A portion of the slaves are humans from Pact! and GATE!Earth. These humans get sent to Ponyville and settle in the guest quarters of the Castle of Friendship for the immediate future. Other than Twilight having the weakness with confectioneries (like cake) like her mentor/teacher Celestia and Twilight and her friends trying some German cuisine (including the mouth-watering Black Forest Torte Cake... which can be absolutely huge in cake terms)... but after that I've been butting my head against the wall.

I've got a few ideas, but nothing that would likely work...
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#22
Well, here is what I've got for the 'Meanwhile in Equestria' portion right now:

________________
Equestria, Ponyville – Castle of Friendship, Main Dining Room; September 25th, 2017

Twilight Eventide Sparkle -Princess and Goddess of Friendship, current heir to the House of Sparkle-Armor, Bearer of the Element of Magic, Former and most Powerful Student of Celestia, Vanquisher of Tirek, leader of the Elements of Harmony, and -if her ascension didn’t happen- the best (and youngest) prospect for title of Grand Magus of Magic- sighed as she looked around after eating another bite of what the chief called ‘Black Forest Torte’. If there is any habits and quirks that she picked up from Celestia, it would be her love of confectionaries, particularly cakes. Twilight now understood why Celestia had her ‘cake breaks’ every so often… it is the few times that any royal could simply spend time not doing stress-inducing activities like working with idiot nobles or ambassadors that put the ass in ambassador… or paperwork. By Faust the paperwork! You can’t vanquish the eternal enemy of Princess Celestia that is PAPERWORK. For every piece of paperwork, one completes, fifteen more come to replace it…

… and that leads to Twilight having her own cake break with her friends that could make it.

“So, Twilight,” Rarity Diamond Belle asked in her near-authentic Canterlot accent, “how are the other-worldly humans adapting to Ponyville? Last I’ve heard they’ve been… slow… in adapting to the dramatically strange things that happen…” While Rarity was one for the dramatic, Ponyville has a history of crazy things happening on a semi-regular basis. It is the unique set of circumstances that Ponyville had become synonymous with strange. Between the town’s proximity to a near-surface layline of magic (thus making it hard for magi-tech to work properly without exploding without proper equipment like mana condensors), the Everfree Forest protecting the Tree of Harmony, Discord calling Ponyville home, and the fact that all the Elements of Harmony live in the town, things can get strange to say the least.

“Eh, not as well as I hoped,” Twilight said with a frown and drooped ears, “While they have been only in bondage for a few months, they took their toll on their minds none the less…” Rarity frowned at that information, as the implied situation is only slightly better than the one that had enslaved ‘Warrior Bunnies’ coming upon the shores of Equestria half a year after Twilight ascended. Despite the immense resources in mental care that Equestria poured into them, a good half of them committed suicide within three months. The rest of them took year and a quarter to get them more than ‘mentally depressed shut in’. “… the Imperials are brutal for those not of their own under bondage. It’ll probably take almost as long as those Warrior Bunnies that were sent to Ponyville almost two years ago.”

“That is absolutely dreadful darling,” Rarity replied, “We must find some way to help them get out of their shell. Perhaps we should schedule a few rounds of mental care with Doctor Wolf and Doctor Sound Mind?” Rarity’s idea has some merit, as those two had been a major boon for the town over the last year and a half…

“That could be a good idea Rarity,” Twilight pondered aloud as she took another piece of cake, “… but we have to open them up first… and a lot of them aren’t going to open up that easily.” Rarity pouted a little in understanding, the few ponies that were able to break out of their bondage from the Imperials had told of the horrors that the Imperial slave masters would force them through as non-Imperial slaves. All designed to break any non-Imperial slave’s ability to resist completely, and few can return from that.

“Princess Twilight!” a pegasus guard exclaimed as he entered the dining room, “There is something you’ve got to see for yourself! A… a miracle has happened!” This is a precaution from the living goddesses and diarchs of Equestria, given the enemies that Twilight had made rather quickly since her ascension. The guard’s armor was effectively a carbon-copy of the Solar Guard… as Twilight hasn’t had the time to get a design finalized, the armor manufactured, and the guards trained in their use. Add to the fact that Twilight’s guard -called the Numinous Guard- only has two companies worth of ponies, a company each from the Lunar and Solar Guards… headaches are abundant. “It’s one of the non-Imperial humans!” Twilight and the friends she had that wasn’t out in Equestria on some quest by the map quickly swallowed their meals and ran through the door…
____________

Now one path has a human teacher (who was saved from bondage thanks to the ship running aground/getting shipwrecked near Manehattan) working with Applebloom and the CMC handling the pony equivalent of preschoolers/kindergartners and said teacher finds a copy of The Railway Series: The Complete Collection in Twilight's library (which is surprising to say the least)... which brings some memories to said teacher as s/he was one of the billion plus people who loved the series and is made all the more heartwarming and tragic that the teacher's father -a locomotive engineer- would read these stories whenever he got the time at home... before he pulled a Casey Jones. This is something that Applebloom would understand given how much Applejack and Big Mac would keep their parents' things and keep telling stories about them. The teacher would then read it to the preschoolers/kindergartners and cause a resonance with the castle and pretty much causes a miracle to happen.

Another path has the handful of musicians toying with instruments that the local music store had given them after doing an impromptu concert in the store... and eventually decide to play Ode to Joy (which, instead of it being the anthem of a European Union, it is the anthem of the Iron Pact) in the Castle of Friendship's concert hall, and given that in quite a few cultures music is magic or at least has magical properties... Which reacts to Equestrian magic an the Castle of Friendship in such a way that it produces a miracle.

I've got other ideas but they're not as fleshed out as these. :\
 
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Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#23
@Kiyone4ever, any recommendations for Equestria Shenanigans? I was thinking of using familial love or music-magic interaction for the next part or even some 'Twilight settling into her position of Princess and working on negotiations with various powers on the Equestrian Continent, now with non-Imperial Humans!'...
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#24
Another prototype:

(_____
Equestria, Ponyville – Castle of Friendship, Office of Twilight Sparkle; September 25th, 2017

Twilight Eventide Sparkle -Princess and Goddess of Friendship, current heir to the House of Sparkle-Armor, Bearer of the Element of Magic, Former and most Powerful Student of Celestia, Vanquisher of Tirek, leader of the Elements of Harmony, and -if her ascension didn’t happen- the best (and youngest) prospect for title of Grand Magus of Magic- sighed as she signed yet another piece of paperwork. Right now Twilight felt the hankering for cake -a weakness that her mentor and now-equal Celestia imparted to her during Twilight’s many years as her student and, after her ascension, her instructor of all things Princess related… now that she thought about it, many of Celestia’s students had a weakness of cake including the temperamental Sunset Solus Shimmer- to break not only the doldrums of paperwork (thank Faust for inkwell pens!) but to get rid of all the stress she had been having.

… and one of the sources of stress -the humans from worlds that weren’t connected to the Mirror-Portal that is now a fixture of Twilight’s new and improved basement-laboratory- is why Twilight had called her friends for this impromptu meeting for. At least, those that haven’t left for a Friendship Quest.

“So darling,” Rarity Paragon Belle questioned in her impressive approximation of the Canterlot accent, “what has gotten you all riled up today?” The remaining four of Twilight’s friends -and her first ‘special’ student Starlight Shimmer Stormgale- were going to ask that very same question. Starlight grew immensely ever since she was captured by Twilight’s own Royal Guard during the entire Equal Town fiasco… but trust had to be earned both in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of Twilight’s cadre of friends, thus her status as ‘special student’. “I mean, darling, it couldn’t be the paperwork…”

“While Ah would rarely agree with Rarity here,” Applejack Chartreuse Apple said in her very thick Southern Equestrian-Big Macintosh Mountain accent, “Y’all know that things have been rather hectic around here ever since the slaves from that Imperial slave ship shipwrecked by Manehattan was sent here.” Everyone nodded in understanding, three months back a Holy Empire of Alnus slave ship heading towards the only Imperial ‘colony’ on the Equestrian continent shipwrecked just south of Manehattan. The slavers were quickly apprehended and put to work in the mana crystal mines in the Canterlot Mountains while the slaves were freed… which has landed Ponyville in its current situation. “Now trying to open up has been hard for all of us, even when we have to juggle not only our duties to the Map but our own lives as well.”

“It is rather overwhelming,” Fluttershy Stormwing commented in her new shy-but-steely tone, “Although some of the humans I’ve been working with have been a great help… it is just too much. What they have suffered for six months in the hands of the Empire had created such deep scars in their minds…” Everyone else sighed at that comment. The treatment for non-Imperial slaves -or enslaved Imperials for crimes such as high treason or breaking certain by-laws of enslavement given what Luna’s intelligence network had uncovered- is simply horrendous by any measure. ‘Training’ specifically designed to break the will and hope of those in bondage, so they do anything they want -with few fields foregoing the training only because of practicality and need- and do whatever job they’ve been assigned. These slaves were only fortunate enough that they only got ‘light training’ before being shipped out to the Imperil colony on the continent Equestria resides on.

“Ah can’t argue with that,” Applejack commented, “They’ve been doing quite well all considerin’. Even Granny Smith is a bit surprised at the better condition of the farm since they’ve arrived…” Applejack sighed a little. “… but she is worried that their condition isn’t improvin’. Whenever she went out to see how they’re doin’ work, they seem a little broken in the noggin’… much like them Warrior Bunnies that washed ashore in that shipwreck just a few months you’ve became a princess Twili.” Twilight sighed and frowned, remembering one of her first duties as Princess of Equestria. A large Imperial slave ship was shipwrecked near Neighton, loaded to the brim with a species known as the ‘Warrior Bunnies’. Despite the doctors on-site and setting up a field hospital, a good third of them died of their injuries. The head slavers were quickly turned into stone by an enraged Celestia and Luna while the crew was sent to the mana crystal mines for the next two decades. A sixth would commit suicide thanks to the horrors they’ve witnessed, another sixth would be forever institutionalized in the Grand Mental Hospital of Canterlot to try to rehabilitate them with little success, the rest would be effectively shut-ins, although Twilight and her friends have been slowly getting them out of their self-imposed shells.

“They’re pretty good petty good ponies,” Sunset Solus Shimmer sighed, “Especially since one of them was able to relate to Starlight and help her improve leaps and bounds.” Twilight raised an eyebrow at that, as now a question she had been developing with Starlight had been answered. “The biggest problem is that they’re still hurting, even if they don’t know it yet.” Everyone could at least agree on that.

“Yeah… they’re pretty awesome,” Rainbow Dash Blitzer commented in a somber tone with her characteristic hybrid of Big Macintosh Mountain and Cloudsdale accents, “but I’ve seen it with the army side of the Wonderbolts whenever they raid some bandit or slaver camp. Some of them have it so bad that Spitfire had taken them off the active roster.” “Sometimes permanently,” Rainbow thought to herself, leaving it unsaid. “Tartus, the doctors within these non-Imperial human ranks been helping Scoots with getting her to be able to fly! I haven’t seen Scoots so happy since… ever.” Most of the doctor-speak went over Rainbow’s head, but from what she could understand Scootaloo’s body had been stunted in various ways but if they had a specific family of algae and the ability to process it -or a supply of ‘biological rejuvenators’ from their home-, they can kickstart it, so she would be on her original low-end and not a runt.

“Really?” Rarity asked in an astonished tone, “They must be pretty good if they can do something like that… but focus Rainbow, we need to find ways to get these rather cultured humans to get out of their shell and actually heal instead of simply stay in their shells and bottle their horrors up.” Rarity pondered for a moment before getting an idea. “Doctor Wolf and Doctor Sound Mind have their practice in-town, and they’ve been amazing at helping all of us with our own problems. Perhaps we can have them help us with this. They did convince most of those Warrior Bunnies that were on the fence that it wasn’t worth it.” Everyone pondered for a moment at what Rarity was saying, when Doctor James Wolf and Doctor Sound Mentat Mind came to Ponyville before Twilight’s ascension, they vastly improved the relationships between the Elements -and Spike- and prevented a few problems from arising. Their biggest claim to fame is their ability to persuade the suicidal Warrior Bunnies to not commit suicide even if it took a lot of work on their part.

“That… sounds like a good idea,” Twilight admitted, “… but that still runs into the problem that we need to get them out of their shells more.” Twilight frowned slightly as she tried to rake up something to help them. Ideas kept flashing in her head, all to subtly push them towards getting the help they need…

“Well, there is that celebration that they’ve been preparing for the last few days,” Rainbow suggested, “… maybe we can participate and try to coax a few to get the ball rolling?” The last part was uncharacteristically shy and downtrodden for the normally boastful mare of incredible self-esteem… even though the idea is perhaps the smartest one so far. “I mean… it’s worth a shot…”

“No need to act like Fluttershy Rainbow,” Applejack congratulated, “Ah may hate the slight underhoofenness that your idea has, but it is probably the best shot we’ve got to get them to open up.” Everyone nodded in agreement with that statement. “However, we might sour things if we try it too hard… we might have to contact Dr. Wolf and Sound Mind about setting everything up before we do anything.”

“That’s… a pretty good idea Rainbow,” Starlight Shimmer complemented meekly, “it’s far better than anything I could have come up with…” Starlight Shimmer had been reprimanded for her tendency to force magic to solve her problems which have gotten her into a lot of trouble over the better part of a year since the Equal Town fiasco and her new status as a ‘special’ student of Twilight Sparkle. She was getting better, especially with a non-Imperial human by the name of Wilhelm Asperger.

“Don’t fret sugar cube,” Applejack said in an apologetic tone, “You’re working on it and that is all that matters.” Then Applejack tapped her chin. “It isn’t like we are all Princesses. There was the one time that Ah out stubborn’d a mule…” Applejack then took Starlight Shimmer aside to recount one of her more embarrassing moments.

That was when one of Twilight’s guards entered the room.

“Princess Sparkle,” a pegasus guard said as she entered the office, “The leader of the non-Imperial humans has sent me to come get you for the coming festivities.” The guard in question is part of Twilight’s Sodality Guard… and the newest of Equestria’s Royal Guard units. Right now, Twilight hasn’t designed a proper uniform for them so most of them simply have their original armor painted in Twilight’s colors. This is partially because Twilight made many enemies as a student of Celestia and as the youngest Princess, thus Celestia and Luna giving her a company of their guards each to build her own Royal Guard to protect her. “From what I can tell, the leader wants you to precede over the festivities as you authorized it and it would be perfect to engage in a cultural exchange.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow at this, usually for foreign festivities the planners would simply ask for permission from the Princesses (or in this case, herself) and the interaction pretty much stops there. Yet, they have asked for her to precede over the festivities… unusual in of itself.
 

Aaron Fox

SB's Minor Junker Descendant and Hunter of Nazis
#25
Well, another version of the 'Meanwhile, in Equestria' section... hope you guys like it...
(____)
Equestria, Ponyville – Castle of Friendship, Office of Twilight Sparkle; September 25th, 2017

Twilight Eventide Sparkle -Princess and Goddess of Friendship, current heir to the House of Sparkle-Armor, Bearer of the Element of Magic, Former and most Powerful Student of Celestia, Vanquisher of Tirek, leader of the Elements of Harmony, and -if her ascension didn’t happen- the best (and youngest) prospect for title of Grand Magus of Magic- sighed as she signed yet another piece of paperwork. Right now Twilight felt the hankering for cake -a weakness that her mentor and now-equal Celestia imparted to her during Twilight’s many years as her student and, after her ascension, her instructor of all things Princess related… now that she thought about it, many of Celestia’s students had a weakness of cake including the temperamental Sunset Solus Shimmer- to break not only the doldrums of paperwork (thank Faust for inkwell pens!) but to get rid of all the stress she had been having.

… and one of the sources of stress -the humans from worlds that weren’t connected to the Mirror-Portal that is now a fixture of Twilight’s new and improved basement-laboratory- is why Twilight had called her friends for this impromptu meeting for. At least, those that haven’t left for a Friendship Quest.

“So darling,” Rarity Paragon Belle questioned in her impressive approximation of the Canterlot accent, “what has gotten you all riled up today?” The remaining four of Twilight’s friends -and her first ‘special’ student Starlight Shimmer Stormgale- were going to ask that very same question. Starlight grew immensely ever since she was captured by Twilight’s own Royal Guard during the entire Equal Town fiasco… but trust had to be earned both in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of Twilight’s cadre of friends, thus her status as ‘special student’. “I mean, darling, it couldn’t be the paperwork…”

“While Ah would rarely agree with Rarity here,” Applejack Chartreuse Apple said in her very thick Southern Equestrian-Big Macintosh Mountain accent, “Y’all know that things have been rather hectic around here ever since the slaves from that Imperial slave ship shipwrecked by Manehattan was sent here.” Everyone nodded in understanding, three months back a Holy Empire of Alnus slave ship heading towards the only Imperial ‘colony’ on the Equestrian continent shipwrecked just south of Manehattan. The slavers were quickly apprehended and put to work in the mana crystal mines in the Canterlot Mountains while the slaves were freed… which has landed Ponyville in its current situation. “Now trying to open up has been hard for all of us, even when we have to juggle not only our duties to the Map but our own lives as well.”

“It is rather overwhelming,” Fluttershy Stormwing commented in her new shy-but-steely tone, “Although some of the humans I’ve been working with have been a great help… it is just too much. What they have suffered for six months in the hands of the Empire had created such deep scars in their minds…” Everyone else sighed at that comment. The treatment for non-Imperial slaves -or enslaved Imperials for crimes such as high treason or breaking certain by-laws of enslavement given what Luna’s intelligence network had uncovered- is simply horrendous by any measure. ‘Training’ specifically designed to break the will and hope of those in bondage, so they do anything they want -with few fields foregoing the training only because of practicality and need- and do whatever job they’ve been assigned. These slaves were only fortunate enough that they only got ‘light training’ before being shipped out to the Imperial colony on the continent Equestria resides on.

“Ah can’t argue with that,” Applejack commented, “They’ve been doing quite well all considerin’. Even Granny Smith is a bit surprised at the better condition of the farm since they’ve arrived…” Applejack sighed a little. “… but she is worried that their condition isn’t improvin’. Whenever she went out to see how they’re doin’ work, they seem a little broken in the noggin’… much like them Warrior Bunnies that washed ashore in that shipwreck just a few months after you’ve became a princess Twili.” Twilight sighed and frowned, remembering one of her first duties as Princess of Equestria. A large Imperial slave ship was shipwrecked near Neighton, loaded to the brim with a species known as the ‘Warrior Bunnies’. Despite the doctors on-site and setting up a field hospital, a good third of them died of their injuries. The head slavers were quickly turned into stone by an enraged Celestia and Luna while the crew was sent to the mana crystal mines for the next two decades. A sixth would commit suicide thanks to the horrors they’ve witnessed, another sixth would be forever institutionalized in the Grand Mental Hospital of Canterlot to try to rehabilitate them with little success, the rest would be effectively shut-ins, although Twilight and her friends have been slowly getting them out of their self-imposed shells.

“They’re pretty good petty good ponies,” Sunset Solus Shimmer sighed, “Especially since one of them was able to relate to Starlight and help her improve leaps and bounds.” Twilight raised an eyebrow at that, as now a question she had been developing with Starlight had been answered. “The biggest problem is that they’re still hurting, even if they don’t know it yet.” Everyone could at least agree on that.

“Yeah… they’re pretty awesome,” Rainbow Dash Blitzer commented in a somber tone with her characteristic hybrid of Big Macintosh Mountain and Cloudsdale accents, “but I’ve seen it with the army side of the Wonderbolts whenever they raid some bandit or slaver camp. Some of them have it so bad that Spitfire had taken them off the active roster.” “Sometimes permanently,” Rainbow thought to herself, leaving it unsaid. “Tartus, the doctors within these non-Imperial human ranks been helping Scoots with getting her to be able to fly! I haven’t seen Scoots so happy since… ever.” Most of the doctor-speak went over Rainbow’s head, but from what she could understand, Scootaloo’s body had been stunted in various ways but if they had a specific family of algae and the ability to process it -or a supply of ‘biological rejuvenators’ from their home-, they can kickstart it, so she would be on her original low-end and not a runt.

“Really?” Rarity asked in an astonished tone, “They must be pretty good if they can do something like that… but focus Rainbow, we need to find ways to get these rather cultured humans to get out of their shell and actually heal instead of simply stay in their shells and bottle their horrors up.” Rarity pondered for a moment before getting an idea. “Doctor Wolf and Doctor Sound Mind have their practice in-town, and they’ve been amazing at helping all of us with our own problems. Perhaps we can have them help us with this. They did convince most of those Warrior Bunnies that were on the fence that it wasn’t worth it.” Everyone pondered for a moment at what Rarity was saying, when Doctor James Wolf and Doctor Sound Mentat Mind came to Ponyville before Twilight’s ascension, they vastly improved the relationships between the Elements -and Spike- and prevented a few problems from arising. Their biggest claim to fame is their ability to persuade the suicidal Warrior Bunnies to not commit suicide even if it took a lot of work on their part.

“That… sounds like a good idea,” Twilight admitted, “… but that still runs into the problem that we need to get them out of their shells more.” Twilight frowned slightly as she tried to rake up something to help them. Ideas kept flashing in her head, all to subtly push them towards getting the help they need…

“Well, there is that celebration that they’ve been preparing for the last few days,” Rainbow suggested, “… maybe we can participate and try to coax a few to get the ball rolling?” The last part was uncharacteristically shy and downtrodden for the normally boastful mare of incredible self-esteem… even though the idea is perhaps the smartest one so far. “I mean… it’s worth a shot…”

“No need to act like Fluttershy Rainbow,” Applejack congratulated, “Ah may hate the slight underhoofenness that your idea has, but it is probably the best shot we’ve got to get them to open up.” Everyone nodded in agreement with that statement. “However, we might sour things if we try it too hard… we might have to contact Dr. Wolf and Sound Mind about setting everything up before we do anything.”

“That’s… a pretty good idea Rainbow,” Starlight Shimmer complemented meekly, “it’s far better than anything I could have come up with…” Starlight Shimmer had been reprimanded for her tendency to force magic to solve her problems which have gotten her into a lot of trouble over the better part of a year since the Equal Town fiasco and her new status as a ‘special’ student of Twilight Sparkle. She was getting better, especially with a non-Imperial human by the name of Wilhelm Asperger.

“Don’t fret sugar cube,” Applejack said in an apologetic tone, “You’re working on it and that is all that matters.” Then Applejack tapped her chin. “It isn’t like we are all Princesses. There was the one time that Ah out stubborn’d a mule…” Applejack then took Starlight Shimmer aside to recount one of her more embarrassing moments.

That was when one of Twilight’s guards entered the room.

“Princess Sparkle,” a pegasus guard said as she entered the office, “The leader of the non-Imperial humans has sent me to come get you for the coming festivities.” The guard in question is part of Twilight’s Sodality Guard… and the newest of Equestria’s Royal Guard units. Right now, Twilight hasn’t designed a proper uniform for them so most of them simply have their original armor painted in Twilight’s colors. This is partially because Twilight made many enemies as a student of Celestia and as the youngest Princess, thus Celestia and Luna giving her a company of their guards each to build her own Royal Guard to protect her. “From what I can tell, the leader wants you to precede over the festivities as you authorized it and it would be perfect to engage in a cultural exchange.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow at this, usually for foreign festivities the planners would simply ask for permission from the Princesses (or in this case, herself) and the interaction pretty much stops there. Yet, they have asked for her to precede over the festivities… unusual in of itself. “Alright then,” Twilight answered, “I’ll just finish up with the meeting I’m having with my friends and student and I’ll be right out.”

“Understood Princess,” the guard said, “I’ll ensure that the leader knows what is happening.” And with that, the guard left as she closed the door.

“Well… that was unexpected sugercube,” Applejack commented as she brought Starlight to her seat, “but unless Ah’m mistaken, we’ve been given an opportunity. A very obvious and most opportune opportunity that we’ve been saddled with.” Everyone in the room raised an eyebrow at Applejack’s line of thought. “From what they’ve told me and my family, these celebrations are quite similar to a celebration from Germania before Equestrian Unification. Between the immense amounts of alcohol, cider, food, and happiness-inducin’ activities, they’ll be likely to open up on gettin’ help.”

“We’ll discuss this further later,” Twilight stated as she got up, “Right now I’ve got a celebration to preside and I can’t keep them.” The others stayed in the office, trying to work on a surefire plan to get at least a few of them the help they needed. “I hope that things don’t go too badly like last time…”

Ponyville Fairgrounds, 11:30 Hours

Twilight sighed as she and her protective entourage flew into the Ponyville Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds were packed with Warrior Bunnies, ponies, the non-Imperial humans, and even the diplomatic envoys -and their families- of the Yaks, Griffons, and even the Hissho… apparently Celestia let it slip that this celebration was going to happen, and the various diplomatic envoys decided to come down and take a gander…

“Ah, my faithful student,” said a voice that Twilight instantly recognized, Twilight immediately turned around and saw Princess Celestia in her regal festive garments with Princess Luna close behind, “It has been too long that we’ve seen each other!” Celestia smiled as she continued. “Sadly, Candance couldn’t make it due to her duties as Queen of the Crystal Empire… but she sends her regards.” Twilight dropped all sense of dignity and quickly ran up to Celestia and hugged her and Luna.

“Oh, Princess Celestia!” Twilight exclaimed as she hugged her former mentor and her sister, “It has been too long!” It was too long since Twilight had met her mentor and her sister in an informal setting -or as close as one could get to an informal setting considering the circumstances- just to talk and be friends. “I’ve missed our time together so much!” Celestia simply smiled at Twilight while Luna made a faint daw to herself at the sight.

“Now, now… I keep telling you we’re equals now,” Celestia playfully reminded Twilight, “you don’t need to call me Princess all the time.” Twilight blushed lightly at the reminder, cursing her excitement causing her to go back to her old habits. “I hope we can see the festivities in all their glory soon because this is shaping up to be something else.”

“Why yes, dear sister,” Luna chuckled, “these festivities are going to be GLORIOUS!” Everyone looked at Luna after she said the last part in the in/famous (depending on how you look at it) Royal Canterlot Voice. Luna quickly became embarrassed at the outburst, despite her having a handle on it since her return. “This ‘Oktoberfest’ sounds like the old festivals that we used to partake in when we first founded Equestria! Great feasts of harmony, bounty, and thanks with our subjects!” Celestia had fond memories about those days… but her face mentally soured as she also remembered the assholes that forced the disbandment of these great festivals. Celestia wasn’t when she found out that they pulled that behind her back and it helped Luna along becoming Nightmare Moon.

“I still remember those days like they were yesterday Luna,” Celestia chuckled right back, “They’re one of the few times that we celebrated like family with our subjects.”

“Although the imbecile that spiked your drink with that hallucinogenic that one time had to ruin it!” Luna complained, “I had to do your duties for a month while trying to keep you from harming yourself and our subjects!” Celestia sighed a little, remembering that month of pure strangeness… she never found the perpetrator, nor did Luna.

“Prinzessinnen, please excuse this interruption into your nostalgia but we’re ready,” a human male said in a polite tone, “We’ll be starting the march as soon as you meet up with the organizer.” The three assembled princesses looked at the man with a mix of interest and confusion. The man quickly picked up on this. “Ah, the opening ceremony always starts with a march, Prinzessinnen. It also serves to get everyone to their seats before the main party starts.” With a small contemplative ‘ah’, the three princesses took flight and flew to the man that organized the festivities. “I am not going to get used to that…”

Band Assembly Area, a few minutes later

“Is everything ready to go?” asked Nikolaus Rodenberg as the band made their final preparations. Nikolaus had to admit, the Equestrians can make damn fine instruments -hell they have accordions in roughly a mix of magi-tech industrial revolution and Enlightenment- and the musicians that the Empire enslaved were competent in the music that he was going to have them do today.

“Yes sir, all we’re waiting is for the Prinzessinnen to arrive and we’ll start the festivities,” a woman -one of Nikolaus’s leunants in this endeavor by the name of Samantha Reeds- answered, “we’ve sent Richards to get them… and are they flying?” Nikolaus quickly looked up into the sky and saw the three prinzessinnen flying towards them.

“… you know what?” Nikolaus commented in awe, “I think I’ll never get used to the fact that they can fly.” Samantha simply nodded in agreement. “Alright then, Richards has gotten the Prinzessinnen to the front of the march… everyone make sure everything is ready!” The musicians quickly made their final adjustments and quickly assembled into formation.

“Well, they’re quick,” Prinzessin Luna commented as she landed, “Now Organizer, where are we supposed to be when this festival begins?” Nikolaus simply sighed as a great weight lifted off his shoulders -not as great as keeping everyone that got enslaved by the Empire still alive but still a great weight- and spirited itself away.

“You’ll be with the banner bearer, that would be me, and lead the band into the main tent,” Nikolaus answered, “Since this is also your first Oktoberfest celebration, you’ve don’t really have to have a great speech prepared or anything… unless you want to.” The three Prinzessinnen sighed in relief.

“That is wonderful!” Celestia said with a great smile, “I thought this would be making a speech and made one!” Celestia quickly pulled a small scroll out of her left breast pocket. “Most foreign festivities I’ve been in had that requirement.” Twilight and Luna looked a mite embarrassed at the situation and produced their own scrolls, likely speeches, as well.

“If you want to, I really can’t stop you,” Nikolaus emphasized, “but I’m saying that since it’s literally your first Oktoberfest and you’re the patrons of said Oktoberfest, you don’t have to make a grand speech unless you want to.” Celestia quickly cast a minor flame spell, turning her speech into ash.

“I was never the one for grand speeches anyway!” Celestia joyfully said while Luna and Twilight rolled their eyes a little at Celestia’s antics, “Now, we should start before the crowds get restless!” Nikolaus couldn’t really argue with that and so he signaled the band to begin the march.
--
Now Twilight had been in many festivals in her time -comes with the territory of being a daughter in the minor noble (although if you ask some of the noble families like a significant portion of the Blueblood family, faux noble and barely a step up from commoners) family of Sparkle-Armor and the most powerful student of Celestia to date- but this Oktoberfest had to take the metaphorical cake. The ‘march’ isn’t anything like she had listened to, as it was far too festive to be like the marches she had listened and gotten used to over the years. The band had been playing for the last three minutes as everyone poured into the tent and grabbed seats while beer-ponies in somewhat risqué -apparently no matter how much work Rarity (despite being a practical goddess of fashion) put into the outfits, some ponies simply make them risqué- outfits passed the largest glasses of beer she had ever seen.

The music soon ended, and everyone waited impatiently to start the festival in earnest. Nikolaus simply nodded and began his speech.

“Welcome one and all to the first Equestrian Oktoberfest!” Nikolaus announced through the mana-microphone, “I hope everyone is ready to have a good time because this is going to metaphorically blow your mind. The alcohol and food are ready, the games and activities prepared, and the musicians have a wide selection of music both traditional and modern to choose from. Before we start, I’ll ask the Princesses if they have anything to say before we begin.” Twilight quickly ceased the indicative and raised her hand. Nikolaus simply nodded and allowed her the use of the microphone.

“The humans here today came to me a few weeks ago, asking me if they could set up for this festival,” Twilight began, “I readily agreed, my thirst for knowledge begging me to allow it. While everything was being set up, I noticed something else… this was also something to help them heal from the injustices and horrors that they suffered from the Holy Empire of Alnus.” The humans in the crowd murmured in confusion. “I hope this little slice of home will help you on the road to recovery. As the Princess that authorized this festival, I decree that the First Equestrian Oktoberfest begins now!” Everyone in the tent roared in applause and the band began playing a new song.

“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”

“Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!”

Twilight simply stood there as the band played and all the humans were singing along.

“Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen!”

“Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen mit der erste und der zweiten Hypothek!”

Her right hoof started tapping as the song continued. Magical music is a recognized field of magic for centuries within Equestria and the nations on the northern and southern continents. This is partially why the Empire failed in their conquests, as the Equestrian Army’s field music bands can utilize music as numerous support spells. Here, while there is no magic involved, another aspect of the magical aspects of music is being played out.

“Ja, wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen, klein Häuschen.”

“Wir versaufen unser Oma ihr klein Häuschen mit der erste und der zweiten Hypothek.”

Twilight started drinking, deciding to be in on the fun… figuring out that this might just work out…
 

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