Chapter 1: Tourist Season
I first started this story on the SV board and have decided to put it up on other venues as well. I find the premise of GATE fascinating. In some ways it is brilliant and in others, I find it horribly mishandled. In response, I present this story, which at times I am certain I will horribly mishandle but hope that will still show sparks of brilliance here and there.
I use mainly the anime and many of my ideas and conclusions stem from observations of the anime only. Certainly, there will be major changes which I hope are for the better.
A final note is that certain changes shown in the first chapter are inspired by Gore Vidal's "The Best Man."
That said, constructive comments are a writer's life blood. Read. Review. And hopefully, enjoy!
The Janus Campaign
Every generation has moments, instants of time that transfix in the human memory. The moments that divide everything into 'before' and 'after'. The moments that men look back and ask: 'Where were you…'
'Where were you when Pearl Harbor was bombed?'
'Where were you when President Kennedy was shot?'
'Where were you when the Towers fell?'
Sometimes these are momentous moments of accomplishment, of celebration.
'Where were you when Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon?'
'Where were you when the Berlin Wall came down?'
More often we recall the tragedies. The moments when the inconceivable happened.
'Where were you when the Challenger blew up?'
'Where were you….''
'Where were you when The Gate opened and the world changed forever?'
The opening of The Gate was an event that will be remembered both as a day of horrible brutality and terror but also as the day that our entire concept of our universe and our reality was challenged...
Chapter 1: Tourist Season...
It was two in the morning, Eastern time and President John Merwin was staring grimly down the table in the situation room. This was it. The first real test of an untried President.
The 'Accidental President' Merwin thought to himself. Going into last summer's convention, It was assumed that either the veteran Secretary of State, William Russell or the Populist Senator Joseph Dirrell would be the party nominee and the presumed victor against a disorganized and fractured opposition. Merwin would never know why Russell had suddenly withdrawn from the race and thrown all of his considerable weight behind Merwin's candidacy and virtually assuring him the Presidency. All Russell had ever said was 'The best man won.' And with that, a relatively unknown governor had been set on the road to the nation's highest office. Once in office, Merwin quickly established himself as a leader who knew how to reach across party lines and build consensus. But this was different. This was his first test as a World Leader and like the Presidency itself had come literally out of nowhere. Now in the nerve center of the White House, the President was getting a report via satellite from Ambassador Stevens.
"Tom? What's going on over there? It looks like a total mess from here but I need to know specifically what you and your staff are hearing now."
"Hostiles are moving on the Government district, Mr. President. You probably have better information than I do on that sir."
"Mr. President? If I may suggest something?" General Conyers, Commandant of the Marine Corps leaned forward in his seat.
"By all means General."
"We can evacuate our embassy. Using helicopters from Yokosuka and Yokota, we can get our people out, but…"
"But many of the other embassies will probably be overrun." The President concluded.
"Yes, Mr. President. " Conyers agreed. "On the other hand, Our embassy is closest to the Prime Minister's residence and the Diet. We should evacuate the other embassies there and use our choppers to reinforce. We'll be in a much better position to hold out until the Japanese can drive the invaders out."
"Agreed." Merwin turned to the Secretary of State. "Henry, have your people pass the word. Advise every government to pull their people back to our embassy I mean everyone, Henry. The Russians, the Chinese, even the Iranians and the Syrians. Anybody who isn't a Roman wannabe."
"Damn Boxer Rebellion all over again." Army Chief of Staff General Ramsey shook his head.
"Marines held then. We'll do it again now." Conyers avowed.
"That's what I wanted to hear General. Now… What about overland relief?"
"I'm afraid not." The head of the Joint Chiefs warned. "We just don't have the equipment or manpower in place. We can start airlifting Marines from Okinawa but with what we have right now, we're better off sealing our own bases. With your permission, we can start mobilizing our air mobile units but then we have another matter to consider Mr. President."
"Who is to say that the gate or whatever it is that opened up in Tokyo is a one off thing? We have to consider the possibility that what we're seeing in Tokyo could happen somewhere else."
"Do you believe it will, General?"
"My gut says no sir. I think what we are seeing is somebody's maximum effort. They saw an opportunity and they went full in. Truth is that this invasion or whatever it is is going to get ground up and spit out. The only question is how many civilians will be lost. Given that, I don't think we are up against an enemy with a strategic plan. That said, it's axiomatic in the military that we consider the worst way we could get hit and take precautions accordingly."
"Point taken. That said, Oscar, I'll be sending you to Capitol Hill." Merwin addressed Vice-President Anderson. "Try to make them feel in the loop enough where they aren't all over the media second-guessing us."
"What about Dirrell?"
"I suppose I'll have to deal with him myself. Sorry, Oscar but we both know that Joseph Dirrell won't take a meeting with Saint Peter when he thinks he deserves the personal attention of the Lord Almighty himself!"
"True enough John. But they tell me such are the burdens of the Presidency."
"But DO tell his populousness that the mountain must call upon Prime Minister Hojo first." Merwin quipped.
"Of course Mr. President."
The President nodded, turning to his National Science Adviser, "Doctor Cole, while this is currently a military and political matter, there is still the question of just what the hell happened this morning. That portal or whatever it is, how does it work? Do we have the means to close it if necessary?Is it a natural phenomenon? If not, then how do we explain the idea that kind of tech is being utilized by people who don't seem to have invented gunpowder yet?"
The worn and wrinkled physicist met the President's speculative gaze calmly. "Obviously, a direct scientific analysis will have to wait until the military and political situation allows but I will start contacting my peers and start at least trying to provide some grounded theories about what we are seeing.I will caution that until we can directly investigate the phenomenon, theories and speculation is all we can offer in the short run."
"That will have to do. Get back to me with recommendations for who and what we need to begin a direct investigation as soon as possible." Merwin stood."Alright, gentlemen. We have our work cut out for us. Let's get to it."
In Tokyo, Prime Minister Hojo set the phone down with a sigh. Having been evacuated to a secure location as soon as the magnitude of the events unfolding in Ginza had become apparent, he was already faced with one invasion. The last thing he, his party, and, indeed, many of his countrymen wished to see were reminders of the last one. His military advisors were confident they could handle sword-wielding savages but on the political front, the new American President had outflanked him. No. The Americans couldn't simply evacuate their embassy and wait. They were digging in and encouraging all the other foreign diplomats to join them.
If the American embassy fell, it would be a disaster that his government would be blamed for. If the embassy held, then it would be a victory of 'American Defiance' in the face of overwhelming odds.
Worse was President Merwin's polite but firm suggestion that he should invoke the Mutual Defense Treaty in this matter. Once that bottle was uncorked…
He had calls to make. Damage control to be done.
At the same time, in the streets of the city known to its inhabitants as Tokyo, the Imperial Legate was concerned. He was not concerned that victory would escape him. The people of this land were sheep! Aside from a few terrified mages who appeared to make up the feeble defenses of this realm and either quickly ran or died or both, they were faced with a weak people who scurried like rats before his troops.
No. He was not afraid of losing. He was concerned with the state of his legions. Perhaps it had been the obvious wealth of this land that had made its people so complacent and unworthy of battle. Perhaps. But his problem was that this obvious wealth was proving a dangerous temptation, especially to his auxiliaries. They had the right of plunder of course, as any conquering army did, but the riches here were tempting his soldiers to loot before he had secured their victory. He understood that the Emperor expected slaves and ample plunder but he was going to have to put some discipline back into his army and he was going to have a very long talk with the young commander of his 5th Legion. The Viscount was an arrogant boy whose political connections and family name had carried him to a place of leadership far in excess of his abilities as a soldier. The supply train had not even fully cleared the Gate and the little whelp was already sending plunder and slaves back for his close friend Prince Zorzal!
If he doesn't get control of his men and start acting like a soldier, I don't care who his patrons are! I'll have his hide!
And there was his other concern: He needed to find a suitable location to camp his supply wagons and the wives and children of his army. Though he would send out foraging parties, he could not count on any meaningful results until he learned more about this land. This campaign having been thrown together much too quickly for his liking with not even a basic scouting before the entire expedition had been fully committed.
But it is the Emperor's command. As soldiers, we will adapt and overcome. Tonight I will lie beside my wife and grumble an old soldier's complaints and she will laugh softly 'The familiar rumblings of an old bear!' It will be welcome as it always is.
But no time for that now. There is much to be done. To the West, 7th Legion was pushing on a concentration of what appeared to be the local militia. To the North, his crack 1st and 3rd Legions were preparing to move on what appeared to be a palace of some sort. He needed to have his siege engines brought up. To the east, 6th Legion had occupied what appeared to be a very large market of some kind. Apparently, fishing was a major industry here. That would at least alleviate some of his worries about a local food supply though it wouldn't help with forage for his horses. In the South, 2nd, 4th, and 9th Legions were driving hard with little opposition except for a couple of isolated outposts which had been easily overrun, and a large tower whose defenders had already slain the commander of 2nd Legion and inflicted severe casualties. The Legate was confident that 1st and 3rd Legions could handle the objective in front of them. He needed to take charge of the battle to the South. Once that was in hand he would decide where to direct his supply wagons and summon the commander of the 5th Legion for explanations...
It was only shortly after that the wagons of the supply train finally cleared the Gate, Octavia, wife of Germanicus, Legate of the Imperial Army, spared a glance at the immense towers around her. This city was like nothing she had ever seen. The closest she could compare it to was possibly Rondel. Was this a city of wizards? She briefly wondered then shook her head. She had work to do. Though of course having no official standing in the Army, as the wife of its commanding Legate, her instructions were treated as if they came from the Legate himself. Officers ignored her 'suggestions' at their peril.
Behind her in the center of the column, the wagons carrying the wives of senior officers and their children, (including her own daughter and sons.) were well protected. In addition to the normal household servants and slaves, she had several Warrior Bunnies guarding the children These were a long time in service to her house, from a small tribe which had nearly been wiped out by more powerful neighbors. She knew they would guard their charges with an unmatched ferocity.
By now, she knew most of the wives well enough that they understood their role. There were a few young women who were new to all of this. She took a personal interest in guiding them. And then there were a few she would simply have to tolerate, such as Lady Agrippina. The brainless, spoiled twit just happened to be the daughter of a prominent Senator and the new wife of the commander of the 8th Legion. Apparently, the twit had insisted on accompanying the army in order to assure herself better pickings of the loot and treasures of this new land. So Octavia had assigned her the task of watching over the scribes who would enumerate and record any treasures taken. The greedy little idiot thanked me for my consideration. Well, at least it will keep her out of my way.
There were animals that needed to be rendered. She ordered messengers to inquire as to where a source of clean water might be found. Bandages to be readied for the wounded. As soon as her husband sent word as to where the Army would camp, she would send out workers to dig ditches for sanitation. Compared to the work in fighting an army, the task of feeding and caring for that army was a much more difficult task. Enough of that! Your husband will well deserve his triumph when we return home. And his triumph is yours. Is it not enough, Octavia? She chided herself mildly.
As she waited for a messenger from her husband, she was surprised to see soldiers escorting captives toward the Gate. It seemed a completely inappropriate timing to her. Briefly, she watched them. All in shock, terrified. A particularly pretty girl trying to hold on to a young man but was pulled away from him. It was unlikely they would ever see each other again. For a moment she pitied the girl. Perhaps she would inquire about the girl later.
In the meantime, a dispatch rider arrived to direct heavy siege engines. The same rider also carried a message directing the supply wagons to move south to where the 6th and 11th Legions were holding along a river. 12th Legion would hold the area around the Gate. But if word from her husband was welcome, Octavia was beginning to become aware of other things that were more worrisome: Overhead, she should have been able to see signs of the dragon riders that served as scouts for the army. She had not seen a sign of them. There were plenty of explanations for this naturally, but it troubled her nonetheless.
Now, at this point, In any discussion of the Battle of Ginza, it is useful to consider the unique considerations that shaped it. While the invasion was; from any practical point of view, doomed to fail at the start, The success of the 1st Division under General Hazama was no means assured. While it seems implausible that an army, no matter how large, using swords, spears, longbows, and horse cavalry could defeat a modern army complete with machine guns, tanks, and attack helicopters, we must consider that the Imperial Army that entered Ginza consisted of some twenty legions, totaling 100,000 combatants. General Hazama's 1st Division consisted of only 6,300. Even this is an inaccurate comparison when one considers the true number of troops available at the point of contact was probably closer to 2,000 given that the component 34th and 32nd regiments did not respond out of Camp Nerima, where the 1st Regiment and the core support and logistical formations of 1st Division were based, but from other, more distant bases. The 34th Regiment responding out of Gotenba and the 32nd Regiment coming down from Saitama.
It can be questioned whether the number of JSDF troops engaged could have had any effect on the possible outcomes of the battle, but it can and should be noted that the mere possession of superior technology has not always guaranteed victory in battle. The Battle of Isandlwana in 1879 between the Zulu nation and the British Empire being a prime example, where a force of some 20,000 Zulu's armed mostly with traditional spears attacked a mixed force of some 1,800 British and Colonial troops, inflicting some 60% casualties with a loss of 1,000 of their own.
While near universally, all such victories tend to be short-lived and repaid with devastating retaliatory results, it is clearly possible that under other conditions, the Empire could have overrun and destroyed the 1st Regiment and done considerably greater damage than they actually inflicted during the Battle in Tokyo.
It is to be certain that the JSDF had the overwhelming advantage in technology and sheer firepower but it must be noted that the conditions of the battlefield greatly inhibited the full use of those advantages. Fighting in the streets of the largest city in the world was simply not an environment for heavy divisional artillery and although the use of attack helicopters would effectively blind the Imperial Army's scouting ability, the operation of those helicopters was severely curtailed amid the urban canyons. The great advantage in mobility was also rendered virtually moot as the JSDF's columns pressed through a city in panic. While the relief of the Imperial Palace was a demonstration of the firepower of modern infantry, much of the fighting was of the ugly, close-in variety at the platoon and squad level.
Conversely, the Imperial Army was operating under equally debilitating circumstances. Circumstances that deprived the Imperials of the ability to concentrate their vastly superior numbers against the JSDF even if they had realized a need to do so,
Unique to the operating conditions of the Imperial Army was that unlike a conventional invasion with a definable target which one could approach along a focused line of advance, the Imperial Army was literally thrust into the center of an unknown enemy. The nature of the Gate and lack of advanced scouting meant that every direction was a possible axis of threat or opportunity. This mandated that the army would be broken into its component legions. As the old saying went:' It proved much easier to break the many branches than the tree itself.'
It may help to consider the Gate as the center of a clock face. By necessity, the 20 legions were evenly deployed to all points, with one legion assigned to cover the Gate itself. But the units deployed from the one o'clock to five O'clock positions quickly reached the west bank of the Sumida river. This being a seemingly secure flank, requiring minimal coverage, only three of the eight legions deployed here were considered necessary to hold. The other five being quickly sent west. In the event, these 25,000 troops would only make matters worse for the Imperial Army as events progressed.
Hours later, President Merwin set down the hastily written draft of the address he was preparing to give shortly as a very grim General Ramsey entered the Oval Office.
"General, the look on your face tells me things just got worse. The embassy?" Merwin guessed, anticipating the worst.
"The embassy is holding firm. They've held off three assaults so far. Looks like someone's got his drawers in a twist about it too Looks like they're pulling in more troops, preparing for another attack. But that's not what has us worried."
"Let's have it."
"There is a hospital, St. Luke's, is completely surrounded. The University campus next door is occupied. We're looking at thousands of civilians trapped."
"Can we evacuate by helicopter?" Merwin had the unhappy feeling it wouldn't be that easy.
"No helipad. The embassy at least is next to the Akasaka Intercity Tower, which has one. At St. Luke's there is simply no place to even improvise one. The grounds around the hospital are completely overrun."
"That's just great! Any suggestions?"
"No good ones. We can land troops on the other side of the river and commandeer boats. Make a cross-river assault but that will take time. And lord only knows what will happen in the meantime." The General sighed. "At least we got one lucky break."
"It's August. There's an elementary school next to the university. At least it's summer break."
"Thank God for that." The President agreed.
On the grounds of the Hamarikyu Gardens, Octavia found the commander of the 6th Legion setting up his command tent.
"It is good to find a place with grass and trees. These towers make me uneasy." 6th Legion's legate admitted to Octavia.
"Indeed. Still, I must admit that this land must have impressive builders."
"All brain and no spine though." The Legate replied. "Will they do nothing to protect their homes even?"
"I noticed much writing here," Octavia observed. " Most of it is strange but I see writing that looks like the High Tongue. Have you found anyone who can speak the High Tongue? That would be very useful."
"We have taken prisoners. I will have the scribes check to see if any speak our tongues."
"If so, treat them well and bring them to me. I would speak with them. And of course, if anyone speaks the Father Tongue or the Learned Tongue, I would see them as well."
"Of course, milady."
"I've been accused of a great many things, general. Being a lady is seldom one." She answered wryly.
To Be Continued