Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Dark Man

There is a dark man in the ward. He lurks in the doorways of the surgery and at the bedsides of dying men. Flecks of blood from their coughing touch him and disappear into black. Their final breaths are drawn up into him.

The dark man speaks in the rattling wheels of a gurney, in the scream of an amputee. His voice is unintelligible, but it is full of meaning. I've been listening to it, waiting for him to say my name.

He is the only real person here. The men in the beds, with their bloody stumps and their shit-streaked pajamas, pitching in fever and shouting in terror, they only exist in parts. The dark man follows them in from the front, and gets in their lungs, choking them. They try to spew his name in wet bloody gasps. He gathers their exploded flesh from the mud of the trenches, and if I could see him, I think he would be made up of their discarded bits. I think he has my rotting foot, because the soft footsteps in the corridor sometimes sound like mine.

There were two of us there, huddling against the rain of shells. Nothing at all was real in that place. The grenade was small, smaller than an orange, and my comrade held it up as if it were a rock. I could see the dark man sillhouetted against the flash before he put his hand over my eyes. I can still smell his fingers. They reek of gore.

The dark man will be back. Whatever else he needs from me, I will give it to him. I wait.

Nearly forgot I'd written that one. Cheery stuff.

Sorry the game went south--contingencies for the loss of a player should have been established at the beginning, and I could have handled it better. But it was getting tiring of handling emergencies and shit.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Charlie Trenchboot

[Stories about Charlie Trenchboot were popular among American soldiers during the Second Great War. They originated with the French soldiers, however, whom the Americans joined to support the Soviet insurgency of 1940, and it may have not originated with them either. Below is the first known story (translated from the Italian) of Charlie Trenchboot (Charles D'armée), from 1905, during what was already known as the Great War.]

The second-worst three words that a soldier can hear are "up the line." The base camp isn't so bad really. There are the injured men moaning about, but not on the line like dying dogs, and here, there are nurses. Every Galician spinster aunt hovers around the camp, and those wrikled, stingy faces couldn't be lovelier. There are shells booming in the distance--they'd hit us if they could--but not so loudly or so deadly as on the front. Most of us lounge, eat local fare (pork and boiled cabbage), and furiously scribble at our memoirs, convinced that each of them will be of immeasurable value to untold future generations. It keeps most of us content, but we quake when the next round of filthy, wounded, and frightened men come straggling in to camp, and the rest of us waited for the three words to come. The only person that couldn't get there soon enough was Charlie Trenchboot.

The first-worst three words that a soldier can hear hardly need to be said. They are "over the top." Charlie would be the first one to jump the wire, and smart men would sometimes run behind him, because Charlie knew where the bullets weren't and the land mines got out of the way of his feet. But other he had to get pretty close to teh flying metal, and only Charlie was fast and smart enough to run between 'em, which wasn't good for the men behind. Those times, Charlie had to pick up and carry a man to keep him safe. One time, Charlie caught a flying shell and threw it right back into trench it came from. We made a lot of progress that day, but couldn't move forward much past that part of the Austrian line, because the rest of us were so exhausted. Somehow the base camp moved up a mile behind us that day, and, I guess the Ausies' must have done the same in the other direction. Nothing changed at all during that spring, but somehow we moved through Galicia, crossed the tops of the Carpathian mountains, and went straight on into the heart of Rumania by the fall, and the line looked exactly the same every single day.

It's hard for us foot-soldiers to guess when it turned, but Charlie was there the second it did. We'd been friends with the Emperor for years, good enough to "help" him govern two-thirds of his own country since the fighting started. Some said it was inevitable, but the truth is we didn't really know what was going on up there, and we were all surprised when we turned south, but then everything is a surprise to a fighting man. The day the orders came through, here comes this man, eight feet tall if he was an inch, and with shoulders as broad as a rifle, and a smile as big as the sun. Before we knew it, we were digging in and going over the top going south, right into a new country.

One time...

MAP OF SPRING 1905 MOVES (click)

Austria: Army Budapest SUPPORT Army Rumania
Austria: Army Bulgaria -> Serbia
Austria: Fleet Constantinople -> Black Sea
Austria: Army Rumania SUPPORT Italian Army Galicia -> Ukraine (*void, dislodged*)

France: Army Gascony HOLD
France: Fleet Gulf of Lyon CONVOY Army Spain -> Piedmont
France: Army London -> Yorkshire
France: Fleet Marseilles SUPPORT Army Spain -> Piedmont
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> North Africa
France: Army Spain -> Piedmont via convoy
France: Fleet Western Mediterranean -> Tunis (*bounce*)

Germany: Army Belgium -> Picardy
Germany: Army Berlin -> Prussia
Germany: Fleet Denmark -> Baltic Sea
Germany: Fleet Helgoland Bight -> North Sea
Germany: Army Kiel -> Ruhr
Germany: Army Moscow HOLD
Germany: Army Munich -> Silesia
Germany: Fleet Sweden -> Norway
Germany: Army Warsaw SUPPORT Army Moscow

Italy: Fleet Aegean Sea -> Greece
Italy: Army Ankara -> Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean -> Aegean Sea
Italy: Army Galicia SUPPORT Russian Army Sevastopol -> Rumania
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea HOLD
Italy: Army Rome -> Marseilles via convoy (*no convoy*)
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea -> Tunis (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Venice -> Tuscany

Russia: Fleet Livonia -> Gulf of Bothnia
Russia: Army Sevastopol -> Rumania
Russia: Army St Petersburg HOLD
Russia: Army Ukraine SUPPORT Army Sevastopol -> Rumania


Austria: Army Rumania -> Bulgaria (only option)

FALL 1905 MAP (click)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Winter Builds

Austria: WAIVE (*no available center*)
Austria: WAIVE (*no available center*)

England: REMOVE Fleet North Sea
England: REMOVE Fleet Yorkshire

France: BUILD Fleet Marseilles

Germany: BUILD Army Berlin
Germany: BUILD Army Munich

Italy: BUILD Army Rome

Russia: REMOVE Fleet Norway

Turkey: REMOVE Fleet Black Sea

SPRING 1905 MAP (click)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


[From the Personal Diary of Oberst Wilhelm Soldat]

There is inconstant news here on the front, even with the wireless telegraphs constantly screeching in their signals, and with a regiment of men dedicated to their maintenance and interpretation. The wires that have been destroyed by the advancing or retreating armies have not been rebuilt in any case, and I suspect that the Russian organization was as inefficient and stagnant as anything else those people construct. But still, there is news. The English king has been siezed, and has babbled about betrayal within an inept Russian alliance.

I am surprised the Russians could be possessed of such cunning, thought their treachery is without bound. It is a nation best met with the jack-boot. Every one of the innumerable peasants in this land fights like a tiger, and, it seems can live only on snow and leaves. We have marched east toward Moscow, racing the harbingers of a brutal winter, leaves swirling redly, and winds that howl across the Belarussian steppes. We marched town to town, torching houses, and shooting the dogs into submission. Each looked the same after a time, and the drama repeated itself until it became empty of meaning. It was as if the very land rose against us at times, but we kept discipline in our ranks, and fired without mercy.

For months, it seemed we found ourselves forever in this camp, bloodier, angrier and colder. It grew up like a city. The Eastern generals quartered themselves in Warsaw, issuing orders by wireless and by courier, while we field commanders inhabited the countryside. In those backwoods south of Bialystok, it was like a city of tents and huts. We commandeered the town hall, which was the only brick building for miles. The surrounding wooden edifices were commandeered for officers' barracks, and the constant movement of soldiers, motors, and artillery turned the streets to mud. The surviving townsfolk either scattered or worked as our servants. Some attempted to go about their businesses, and the profiteers of various sorts--food-sellers, clothiers distributing furs and the like, servants, whores--they haunted our camp like ghosts, offering servile smiles at the infantry, and chattering at us in their unintelligible slurring tongue. A few have learned some German words and act as untrustworthy interpreters. Some have even followed us east. They are inches from the gibbet, each of them.

The first town on the march is as good as all of them--it was always the same. One or two shaking men greet us at a crossroads or a bend. By that point, we had already distributed scouts and riflemen to secure whatever meager vantages their flat environs provide. We stated our intentions. Some would accede, but most did not. We shot them as they fled. We marched, and if there is an organized front, we spread, shooting. The real army lurking to the east loomed over us, and we close on them now. But I believe I will never forget the peasants unfit for combat that fell in profusion to our guns and blades, biding time for the Russian resistance. We would walk to the center of town to the whining of the women, children, and old men. We shot anyone who seemed capable of malice until they gave up their stores. Then we marched on, eternally waylaid by incompetent ambush and by all sorts of civilian malice, smelling the dense Russian snows that always felt days away. Some of the German men may have thought of their wives and sons as they subdueed the populace, but we are all harder from this march. Under the iron will of the Chancellor, the army will not be stopped for long, and not by rabble.

Have we enough time to siege the city? Have they the strength to withstand us? Thus are the annals of history written. Moscow awaits.

MAP OF FALL 1904 MOVES (click)Austria: Army Budapest SUPPORT Army Bulgaria -> Rumania
Austria: Army Bulgaria -> Rumania
Austria: Fleet Constantinople SUPPORT Italian Army Smyrna -> Ankara
Austria: Army Serbia -> Bulgaria

England: Fleet North Sea HOLD
England: Fleet Yorkshire SUPPORT Fleet North Sea

France: Army Brest -> Gascony
France: Fleet English Channel -> Mid-Atlantic Ocean
France: Army Gascony -> Spain
France: Fleet Gulf of Lyon SUPPORT Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> Western Mediterranean
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean -> Western Mediterranean
France: Army Wales -> London

Germany: Fleet Baltic Sea -> Sweden
Germany: Army Belgium -> Holland (*bounce*)
Germany: Fleet Denmark SUPPORT Fleet Baltic Sea -> Sweden
Germany: Fleet Helgoland Bight -> North Sea (*bounce*)
Germany: Army Kiel -> Holland (*bounce*)
Germany: Army Livonia -> Moscow
Germany: Army Warsaw SUPPORT Army Livonia -> Moscow

Italy: Fleet Aegean Sea SUPPORT Austrian Fleet Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean -> Ionian Sea (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Galicia -> Ukraine (*bounce*)
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea -> Tyrrhenian Sea (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Smyrna -> Ankara
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea -> Western Mediterranean (*bounce*)
Italy: Army Venice HOLD

Russia: Army Ankara -> Constantinople (*bounce, dislodged*)
Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia -> Livonia
Russia: Army Moscow -> Warsaw (*bounce, dislodged*)
Russia: Army Norway -> St Petersburg
Russia: Fleet Norwegian Sea -> Norway
Russia: Fleet Rumania -> Bulgaria (east coast) (*bounce, dislodged*)
Russia: Army Ukraine -> Galicia (*bounce*)

Turkey: Fleet Black Sea SUPPORT Russian Army Ankara -> Constantinople

Russia: Army Ankara DISBAND
Russia: Army Moscow -> Sevastopol
Russia: Fleet Rumania DISBAND

WINTER 1904 MAP (click)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Soldier's Duty

[...from rare manuscript-in-progress of Ziya Gökalp's, from the Historical Society of New Istanbul (their translation). Although the penmanship is similar, the ink used for most of the edits appears to be of a modern composition, and there has been much controversy over the actual authorship.]

Standing at the gates of mighty Istanbul
I hold my rifle in my hands
Powder charged, its barrel stiff against my shoulder.
I stand with the city at my back.
Flags from the minarets snap.
The wind with its sighing does not move me.
My back is tall.

Duty calls the Ottoman soldier.
I keep my body chaste and strong
My will is ready to heed orders
My heart is ready to follow
My life is for the country
My faith is in the Almighty.
For Him I stand without fear.

I will lay for my commander whom I obey without question.
I will lay for my Sultan, whose word is law
I will lay for the Almighty, and in the Almighty I place my faith
The gates of Istanbul will remain fast
Unmovable beneath the piled bodies of martyrs.
The rivers will run with our blood.

MAP OF SPRING 1904 MOVES (click)Austria: Army Budapest -> Rumania (*bounce*)
Austria: Fleet Bulgaria (south coast) -> Constantinople
Austria: Army Greece -> Bulgaria
Austria: Army Serbia SUPPORT Army Greece -> Bulgaria

England: Fleet London -> Yorkshire
England: Fleet North Sea CONVOY Russian Army Denmark -> Norway

France: Army Brest HOLD
France: Army Gascony HOLD
France: Fleet Irish Sea -> English Channel
France: Army Liverpool -> Wales
France: Fleet Marseilles -> Gulf of Lyon
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean SUPPORT Fleet Irish Sea -> English Channel

Germany: Fleet Baltic Sea SUPPORT Fleet Sweden -> Denmark
Germany: Army Belgium HOLD
Germany: Army Holland -> Kiel
Germany: Fleet Kiel -> Helgoland Bight
Germany: Army Prussia -> Livonia
Germany: Fleet Sweden -> Denmark
Germany: Army Warsaw SUPPORT Army Prussia -> Livonia

Italy: Fleet Aegean Sea SUPPORT Austrian Fleet Bulgaria (south coast) -> Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean -> Aegean Sea (*oops*)
Italy: Fleet Naples -> Ionian Sea
Italy: Army Smyrna SUPPORT Austrian Fleet Bulgaria (south coast) -> Constantinople
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea HOLD
Italy: Army Venice HOLD
Italy: Army Vienna -> Galicia

Russia: Army Ankara SUPPORT Turkish Fleet Black Sea -> Constantinople
Russia: Army Denmark -> Norway via convoy
Russia: Fleet Edinburgh -> Norwegian Sea
Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia HOLD
Russia: Fleet Rumania -> Bulgaria (east coast) (*bounce*)
Russia: Army Sevastopol -> Moscow
Russia: Army Ukraine SUPPORT Army Sevastopol -> Moscow

Turkey: Fleet Black Sea -> Constantinople (*bounce*)


Monday, November 5, 2007

Winter Builds

No story today, I know you're all deeply disappointed. Here are the winter builds. I am going to remain fairly useless until Wednesday, but I should be able to work OK from then.
England: REMOVE Fleet Clyde
England: REMOVE Fleet English Channel
France: BUILD Fleet Marseilles
Germany: BUILD Fleet Kiel
Italy: BUILD Fleet Naples
Russia: BUILD Army Sevastopol
Turkey: REMOVE Army Constantinople

SPRING 1904 MAP (click)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Captain's Log (II)

[From the diary of Cock Turlington...]

Nov. 2, 1903
Command remains a grim duty, had I once thought it glorious? Such childish sentiment. I have watched my brothers die on the shores of Belgium, unable to flee to safety of the seas, sprinting heedless into the bloody foam under the hail of guns and bombs. We rowed to them, some we even saved. It mattered little. They looked behind them as they ran, not out to their would-be rescuers, fleeing the wave of gray uniforms that stormed the crests. We fired our guns. They landed everhwhere, strewing broken earth and bodies. The bodies, sailing unnaturally through the air. I can't rid them from my mind.

What since then? I have attacked the French fleet. The Evitable, Lord bless her, is still a mightier vessel than any of them, neglecting the "secret weapon" I've seen written in my correspondences to Headquarters. The very project is likely in danger. Regardless, we are faster, stronger than they, but by the dark of night, the French were indistinguishable from any other ships. I fear we gunned some of our own--more flying bodies, shudder the thought--but the greater defeat is the loss of the ports of Albion. It's been nearly a thousand years since the Normans gained our shores! And though we engaged many of their gunships, we couldn't sink their ferries. To hell with them, the hated French have bested us with their mean wiles. They fight with no honor, fleeting past us under the moon, our great English guns splashing into the drink. What is the use?

We troll the Channel, my men and I, but the mood could not be worse. Fishing boats sail past us. Will the Frogs swim past again? I quiz my sailors with reports. 'Who goes there?' 'Which King do you serve?' as though to trick them. It is ridiculous. I fear the eyes of my hands, I've thrown men in the brig for rakish looks. Who can feign confidence in these times? I fear I am going mad.

My Mum, if she's still alive, considers cooperation with alien forces, or else flees to the interior of our island. The heart of the British Empire has never seemed so small. Did we feel so when the Saxon reavers sailed on us? Does it matter? I hope she has pursued the latter course, but I hear nothing here on the ocean, nor in our few hours in port. The Channel is too perilous to abandon at once. We fire our guns with futility on the French shores. Everywhere, the king loses ground, and I fear our supplies will soon wear thin.
MAP OF MOVES (click)Austria: Fleet Aegean Sea -> Bulgaria (south coast)
Austria: Army Budapest -> Rumania (*bounce*)
Austria: Army Greece SUPPORT Fleet Aegean Sea -> Bulgaria (south coast)
Austria: Army Serbia SUPPORT Fleet Aegean Sea -> Bulgaria (south coast)

England: Fleet English Channel -> Brest (*bounce*)
England: Fleet London HOLD
England: Fleet North Atlantic Ocean -> Clyde
England: Fleet North Sea CONVOY Russian Army Norway -> Denmark

France: Army Brest HOLD
France: Army Gascony HOLD
France: Fleet Irish Sea SUPPORT Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean
France: Army Liverpool HOLD
France: Fleet Mid-Atlantic Ocean SUPPORT Fleet Irish Sea

Germany: Fleet Baltic Sea SUPPORT Fleet Sweden
Germany: Army Belgium -> Holland
Germany: Army Burgundy -> Belgium
Germany: Army Prussia SUPPORT Army Silesia -> Warsaw
Germany: Army Silesia -> Warsaw
Germany: Fleet Sweden HOLD

Italy: Fleet Eastern Mediterranean HOLD
Italy: Fleet Ionian Sea -> Aegean Sea
Italy: Army Smyrna -> Constantinople (*bounce*)
Italy: Fleet Tyrrhenian Sea HOLD
Italy: Army Venice HOLD
Italy: Army Vienna HOLD

Russia: Army Armenia -> Ankara
Russia: Fleet Gulf of Bothnia -> Sweden (*bounce*)
Russia: Army Norway -> Denmark via convoy
Russia: Fleet Norwegian Sea -> Edinburgh
Russia: Fleet Rumania SUPPORT Turkish Army Bulgaria (*cut*)
Russia: Army Ukraine SUPPORT Fleet Rumania

Turkey: Army Ankara -> Constantinople
Turkey: Fleet Black Sea SUPPORT Army Ankara -> Constantinople
Turkey: Army Bulgaria SUPPORT Army Ankara -> Constantinople (*cut, destroyed*)
England: Removes 2 units
France: Builds 1 unit
Germany: Builds 1 unit
Italy: Builds 1 unit
Russia: Builds 1 unit
Turkey: Removes 1 unit