World War: Campaign for Besland
Copyright© 2016 by Lazlo Zalezac
The Secretary General of the IFN, Jacques Descroix, was walking with his head down along the hallway through the new IFN building to his office. Lately he had been pretty much of a laughing stock. The unveiling of Sandy Dancer as Pen Sada had destroyed his credibility beyond repair. The press rats had always been harsh critics; but even the other ambassadors tended to shun him now. He had a feeling that he’d be replaced as Secretary General soon. All it was going to take was one person to suggest it and he’d be gone by nightfall.
It came to him as a complete surprise to discover a small crowd waiting for him outside his office. He had a sinking feeling about this meeting. They were going to get rid of him. Why else would the ambassadors from Franka, Espa, Romul, and Itan be waiting at his door? He couldn’t think of a reason.
“We need to talk to you.”
“Come on in my office,” Jacques said while opening the door thinking that he’d rather get the bad news in private than in public.
They followed him into the front office. His secretary looked up, surprised to see a crowd here. The past few weeks it had been very slow around the office. Jacques opened the door to his private office, and ushered everyone inside. It took a little shuffling around of chairs before everyone had a seat.
“What can I do for you?”
“It’s about this Jade Empire mess.”
“I swear! The intelligence that I had indicated beyond a shadow of a doubt that Pen Sada was in the Jade Citadel in Misera.”
“Who cares about that?”
“This Jade Empire is making noise like it is a world power. It’s threatened to destroy Espa economically, socially, militarily, and politically. Can you believe that?”
“It’s threatening Franka in the same way.”
“I believe it. I’ve said all along that they are a criminal organization,” Jacques said with a righteous indignation.
“They’ve got to be stopped.”
“I’d love to help you, but the IFN doesn’t have an army anymore.”
“Franka is willing to commit two carrier groups and a third of our army.”
“Espa is willing to commit our carrier group, a third of our army, and a third of our air force.”
“Romul is willing to commit two thirds of our air force and a third of our army.”
“Itan is willing to commit seventy percent of our army.”
With his heart pounding in his chest, Jacques Descroix listened to the four men in shock. They were talking about a larger force than had been put together anytime in the war against the Jade Empire. Maybe now they could take down that criminal organization, get the leaders in jail, and return the world to one where the law reigned supreme.
Barely able to contain his enthusiasm, he asked, “What can I do to help?”
“We need you to provide the IFN umbrella so that we don’t have to declare war individually.”
“You’ve got it,” Jacques said. “Do you need more countries to provide assets?”
“No. We’ve felt that part of the reason we’ve lost so many battles is that we’ve had backward countries participating in the action. Who knows what kinds of security risks they were.”
Prince Leo was seated next to President Jubert of Franka at yet another state dinner. Since being appointed as Ambassador at Large for Engle by his father, King Leopold, he had attended one of these functions every other night. This wasn’t much different from all of the other formal dinners he had attended when performing a public service role for the Crown, by visiting various charities to show the flag and help them raise money. The only difference was that he was dealing with politicians about government politics in one case, as opposed to dealing with politicians about charity politics in the other.
While waiting for the main course to be served, President Jubert said, “I’m beginning to get irritated at this Jade Empire. One of their Black Lords cornered my Ambassador in Inra and demanded that we consider surrendering.”
Prince Leo asked, “Are you going to surrender?”
“No. I’m not surrendering to those people. They should understand the war is over. We’ve quit supporting the IFN.”
“I don’t think they will accept that as an end of hostilities between Franka and the Jade Empire.”
“Well, it is.”
“We’ve signed a peace agreement with them. It cost us a pretty penny, but the war is definitely over for us.”
“I’ll admit that was a pretty grizzly affair. I mean ... beheading the Prime Minister on television after blowing up Parliament. It’s barbaric.”
“It did restore the King to a more prominent position in running the country,” Prince Leo said in a tone suggesting that the outcome wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.
“I know Engle capitulated to their demands, but Franka will never agree to the kinds of demands they are making.”
“I guess I better tell my people to take some vacation time and return back to jolly old Engle and visit their families. It’s going to be a little dangerous around here.”
“Don’t be absurd. What are they going to do? Bomb the whole country?”
“You might want to talk to the ambassador from Mayur.”
“I know what they did in Mayur. They ran around like a bunch of juvenile delinquents playing nasty tricks. We’ve got a much better police system than Mayur.”
“I read in the paper that someone left an auger running on some farm and it chewed through your fiber optic network three days ago. They took out half of the long distance telephone and internet service for the country.”
“Those things happen.”
“Right,” Prince Leo said sarcastically.
“I bet that auger was within two feet of sign warning people not to dig there because of a buried fiber cable.”
“I wasn’t briefed on the details,” President Jubert said uncomfortably knowing that what the prince said was entirely too accurate.
“I wonder what they’ll do tonight?” Prince Leo said.
“Jade Force isn’t here. This is Franka.”
“Have you got any national landmarks that you’re particularly proud of?”
“You might want to increase the security around them,” Prince Leo said lightly.
“We already have excellent security in place.”
The lights went out. The normal reaction of dozens of people shouting about what happened changed the dignified affair into a chaotic gathering of nervous people. It was hard to believe that none of them had ever gone through a power outage before, but based on their reaction one would think that was the case.
President Jubert felt around in front of him and found a spoon. He rapped the spoon on the table and shouted, “Calm down everyone. The backup power will be on in min...”
His attempt to bring a little calmness was interrupted by a loud explosion from outside. This ramped up the degree of panic. People started shouting that the place was under attack. He rapped on the table with his spoon and shouted, “Calm down. Everything will get straightened out in a few minutes.”
President Jubert wasn’t the only calm person in the room. A few smokers had the presence of mind to pull out their lighters and bring a little light to the place. One of them actually lit up a cigarette, much to the chagrin of the people seated around him. The small amount of light from the cigarette lighters did calm things down a little. A few others dug out cell phones and turned them on. That started a rush of people doing the same and the cigarette lighters were soon put away.
A couple of waiters, thinking they would be helpful, showed up with flashlights. The scene they illuminated included several security people assigned to protect the President. Unfortunately, the security people had been wearing night vision goggles. They were now swearing after getting the bright lights shined in their eyes.
One of the security people grabbed a flashlight from a waiter. Carrying the flashlight, the man went over to President Jubert. He leaned over and said, “The backup generator exploded.”
“What happened to the main power?”
“An electric power station caught on fire. A quarter of the city went dark as a result.”
“And our backup generator just happened to explode?” President Jubert said.
“Yes. We’ve got men looking into it.”
Prince Leo said, “We’re definitely recalling all of our people from here.”
After glaring at Prince Leo, President Jubert pointed to a waiter and said, “Get some candles. We’ll eat by candlelight.”
“Oh, how romantic!” Prince Leo said with a grin.
“Let me put this as diplomatically as possible – shut up.”
Prince Leo laughed.
In a voice loud enough to address everyone at the banquet, President Jubert announced, “We had a power failure. The back generator apparently had a minor problem and the explosion that you heard was it failing. It was probably not installed correctly, which was probably a result of that whole ‘lowest bidder’ thing.”
He managed to get a small titter of polite laughter. It was definitely polite, but barely qualified as laughter. People weren’t taken in by the slight of hand that was being attempted, but they nodded along as if they agreed.
“I’ve asked the staff to bring some candles. We’ll have dinner by candlelight.”
That announcement calmed people around the table. They sat back, places lit by cell phones and lighters, awaiting the arrival of some candles.
One of the guests, attempting to put a lighthearted spin on things, said, “It wasn’t all that long ago when all state dinners were held by candlelight.”
With a neutral topic of conversation established, the discussion picked up around the table.
Prince Leo knew that President Jubert was in for a number of very unpleasant days. Maybe Jubert didn’t think of it this way, but he had an enemy army running around the country. This was just the opening shot. Of course, taking out infrastructure like this wasn’t exactly a trademark of Jade Warriors. They tended to go straight for the jugular in ways that couldn’t be ignored.
This was more of a death by a thousand cuts. Death by a thousand cuts was more like ... The smile on his face disappeared. He realized Jubert had no idea what he was facing.
He leaned over and, in a soft voice that wouldn’t carry, said, “I think we should go somewhere private to talk for a few minutes.”
“You don’t want people to know what I think is happening.”
“All right,” President Jubert said.
A couple minutes later the two men were standing in a small alcove well away from everyone. Jubert found that he wasn’t a very happy man.
It was getting dark when Kamil Kattan placed the package next to the large transformer. He set the timer to go off at eight and then stepped back. This was the last of the packages for the day.
He looked over at the guy with him and said, “It’s set.”
Virgil Asker said, “Let’s get out of here.”
Kamil said, “Let’s see how Espa likes not having any trains.”
One of the sources of national pride in Espa, was the quality of its train service. It was, without doubt, the largest network of trains anywhere on the continent of Besland. They had high speed trains that connected the five largest cities of the country. They had feeder trains that connected the next fifty largest cities. They had local trains that connected nearly every town in Espa to the rail network.
The train network carried people and goods. It was boasted that one could go from anywhere in Espa to anywhere else in Espa in eight hours, by train. They even had a train that ran a special route that took it from tourist area to tourist area. One could purchase a ticket on it, stop in a tourist spot for a day and a night, board the train the next day to get to the next stop. It carried nearly sixty percent of the tourists to Espa.
The train service across Espa was run on electricity. The transformers Kamil and Virgil had been sabotaging powered the trains. When the transformers blew, there would be no power. Without power there would be no train service. The high speed and feeder train lines would be shut down.
Kimil and Virgil had been but one team planting explosives. Altogether, there had been four teams, each of which had placed six packages of explosives. That would take out twenty four transformers in critical sections of the railroad network. It would take months to get enough transformers to repair the damage done.
Virgil said, “That’ll teach them to attack us.”
“Uh, they didn’t attack us.”
The two men looked at each other.
“You know what I mean,” Virgil said.
Kamil and Virgil were part of the ultra-light infantry units from Hamasada. This kind of sabotage, along with hit and run fighting, was exactly the kind of warfare they understood best. It was the type of fighting that slowly sapped the enemy of its strength and Espa was a strong country; there was a lot of strength for them to sap. Their approach to warfare wasn’t to engage the enemy directly in a major battle, but to wear it out by taking it apart a piece at a time.
“I know. Let’s go back to the hotel. The next few days are going to be interesting.”
Taking out the train service was the opening act in taking the war to Espa. It was just the first of many attacks designed to cripple the economy of the country. Next week they were going after bridges. The thing about taking out a bridge was that it disrupted traffic on two roads. It wouldn’t take destroying too many bridges to lock up traffic all around the capital.
The two men got in their car and headed off to the hotel to meet up with others in their ultra-light infantry unit. It had been a long day of sneaking around. It went without mention that the enemy wasn’t prepared for what was coming. Pretty soon, they’d be facing roadblocks and other measures designed to catch them.
“You do realize that we’re now the invaders.”
“I was thinking about that. This is the first time in history that we’ve fought outside of Hamasada. Think about it. We’re making history.”
“We’re going to have to be careful. We don’t exactly blend into the background here like back at home.”
“That’s true. Still, we are taking a major country on, in its own territory. It might not be a superpower like Chen or Amra, but it is one of the most powerful countries on the planet.”
“I really didn’t expect to be fighting for the Jade Empire when they took over Hamasada.”
“It is a strange turn of events.”
“I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of fun.”
At eight o’clock in the morning, President Morales of Espa was seated in his office getting his morning security briefing. The whole mess with the IFN and its war against the Jade Empire had always taken top priority. Once they had pulled out, Espa had put that behind them, the morning security briefings were much quicker. Now the Jade Empire was taking top billing again.
Secretary of State Vega said, “A Jade Empire Black Lord cornered our Ambassador to Chen. She repeated her threat that if we don’t surrender that they were going to dismantle Espa by taking us apart economically, socially, militarily, and politically.”
“Send a note to the Jade Empress via Chen telling her to f•©k off. Don’t be quite that blunt, but make sure they understand the gist of the message.”