World War: Campaign for Surprise
Chapter 5

Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac

General Duval stood on the highway looking over the scene of his force’s defeat. His shoulders were slumped. There were dark bags under his eyes. His face was an ashen gray. He felt as if half of his soul had been sucked out of his body.

In contrast to the violence done to the bodies during battle, he watched the care and respect that the Jade Warriors and Misera soldiers were exhibiting in taking care of the bodies. After a number of bodies had been bagged and placed by the side of the road, a Jade Warrior would stand in front of the bodies and recite a prayer. It took a while before he could make out the words, “May the War Gods nurture you until it is time for your next battle. We were well met in this one. May we met again on the great battlefield. We are brother warriors in service to the Gods of War.”

One of the medics led a survivor past the General. The General stepped forward and placed a hand on the man’s arm. In a compassionate voice, he said, “We’re going to take care of you, Son.”

The man just stared into the distance with a passive blank face. His mind had retreated to a place where nothing could touch it. It was peace of a kind.

The medic said, “Let me take him to the ambulance.”

“Take care of him, Son. He’s been through hell,” General Duval said.

“Yes, Sir.”

General Duval turned to look at the highway. The men that had come with him were now out on the road bagging bodies. He wondered how they were going to get so many of them home.

A Jade Warrior walked over to where the General was standing. In a quiet voice, he said, “I am Sword Mañnela.”

“I am General Duval.”

“I know. Where is General Argenti?”

Frowning, General Duval answered, “It appears that General Argenti, President DePaula, and his cabinet have all fled the country.”

“I’m not surprised. We predicted that would happen,” Sword Mañnela said.

“To tell the truth, I’m not surprised, either.”

Sword Mañnela asked, “Will you be defending Niella?”

“I don’t know. I’m waiting for new orders.”

Sword Manela said, “Your forces attacked a country that is under the protection of the Jade Empire. That invasion was launched from within Niella and supported by troops from Niella. When we march into Niella, we will eliminate all who oppose us. The country of Niella has two choices, surrender or die.”

“What of Walford?”

“They supported you in launching this attack. They have the same two choices.”

“And Friga?”

“They voted to declare war on us in the General Assembly of the IFN. They have the same two choices.”

Getting angry, General Duval said, “You’re pretty damned sure of yourselves.”

“Six minutes and twenty-four seconds.”


“Six minutes and twenty-four seconds! That’s how long this battle lasted. Twenty-two Jade Warriors and a little more than fifteen hundred Misera soldiers participated in it. We had no casualties, and no wounded.”

He turned to look General Duval in the eye and added, “We are warriors. We embrace war. I suggest that you remember that.”

“That’s engraved in my brain,” General Duval said.

With a curt nod of his head, Sword Manñela said, “The truce lasts until sunset tomorrow night. Be on the other side of the border at that time.”

“I agreed to that,” General Duval said.

Alone in his office (with the exception of his secretary), Mr. Jacques Descroix stared at the television set in horror. Even though the picture was taken from a distance, the rows of body bags were unmistakeable. Gesturing at the television, he shouted, “This just proves the case! Did you see that massacre?”

His secretary, having experienced war, said, “It was a battle.”

“No. It was cold blooded murder. They didn’t even give them a chance to surrender.”

Jacques, speaking more to himself than to any audience, said, “They are going to end up controlling the whole continent of Surprise. Walford is going to withdraw from the alliance. So will Fridga. They are going to burn Niella to the ground.

“I feel sorry for Teal. That little country is just hanging out there all on its own. They really should have joined the alliance. It’s their only chance. You know that Jade Force will never let Teal stay independent.

“The only good thing in all of this is that Jade Force wouldn’t dare cross into the Llammada region of Amra. Amra would pound them into dust. I still don’t understand why Amra wouldn’t join the alliance.”

His secretary interrupted his thoughts, “It’s almost time for the press conference. You should probably finish preparing your statement.”

“Sandy Dancing is going to eat me alive, today. There’s no positive spin that we can put on this disaster. They killed off all of the alliance force there.”

“Excuse me, but that’s not true.”

“How can you say that?”

“The troop transport ships returned to harbor. The men on it are part of the alliance force.”

“I don’t think that will satisfy the press rats.”

Jacques looked down at the briefing that he had prepared so far. He really couldn’t think of anything else to say.

He grabbed the briefing and headed out the door of his office. He dreaded giving this press briefing, but in light of the disastrous events of the previous night there was no way that he could avoid it. Without stopping at the door, he entered the press room.

Upon reaching the podium he said, “Last night, more than half of the alliance forces on Surprise advanced on San Troph with the intention of displacing the so-called ‘Jade Empire’ from occupied territory. They were engaged by the enemy with catastrophic consequences. The incursion force was wiped out to almost the last man.”

He glanced over at Sandy Dancing wondering why she hadn’t interrupted his statement yet. He continued, “We do not have all of the details. What we do know is that casualties are over twenty five thousand.

“In addition, the Niella Air Force Fighter Wing engaged the Misera Air Force in aerial combat. All Niella planes were lost. We are still awaiting word concerning the pilots.

“The Luther Air Force Base was bombed. All planes on the ground were lost. Casualties were significant, but exact numbers are unknown at this time.

“The Niella Navy that was performing escort duty for the four troop ships was sunk. The Misera Navy is still engaged in rescue operations. Fortunately, the troop ships are returning to port.

“At the current time, we are still assessing the situation.”

He stopped and looked around the room. The press was unusually quiet. He said, “Sandy Dancing, do you have any questions?”

Sandy Dancing said, “Do you mind if I request a moment of silence for all of those brave young men who died fighting a war which you have so tirelessly struggled to make a reality?”

Mr. Jacques Descroix felt like she had punched him in the stomach. It was a reasonable request, but it was framed as if he was responsible for all of those deaths. Getting control over his voice, he replied, “As Ms. Sandy Dancing suggested, let’s have a moment of silence.”

The King of Friga, Francis the XII, and his advisers sat watching the television report coming out of San Troph. The news services had descended upon the site of the battle in droves. Only a handful had been allowed near it.

One of the reporters said, “These guys must have been the worst soldiers in the world to have failed so badly.”

King Francis leaned forward when one of the Jade Warriors approached the reporter. He was interested in what the Jade Warrior had to say.

Looking at the reporter, Sword Anat said, “These men died in battle. You will speak respectfully of the dead or you can join them. Decide now.”


“What is your decision?”

Swallowing heavily, the reporter answered, “I’ll speak respectfully of them.”

“Good decision. I’d hate to have to kill you on television.”

King Francis sat back with a smile. He said, “Bravo, Mr. Jade Warrior.”

His adviser of state affairs asked, “What are we going to do?”

King Francis looked over at his military adviser and asked, “Can we take them?”

“No way in hell. We’ve got a population of 700,000. Our Army and Navy combined doesn’t have as many people as are dead on that road.”

“At least you aren’t a ‘yes man.’.”

“Only when it comes to something so obvious, Your Majesty. Most of the time, it’s Yes Sir, Yes Sir.”

“What do you think we should do?”

“I don’t know what we can do.”

King Francis said, “You and everyone else are going to leave the room. I’ve got a call or two to make.”

President Jubert looked around the room at his cabinet. Since General Duval was a member of the Franka Army, he’d been badgered by the press about the horrific failure in San Troph. The most demanding questions were about his opinion of General Duval’s competence.

“If he wasn’t one of our Generals, I’d be demanding that he pull the troops out of Niella.”

“So what should we tell him? Come home?”

“We can’t do that,” President Jubert said while scrubbing his face with his hands. “I don’t want to send the message that we have lost confidence in him.”

“He’s on loan to the IFN. Technically, he’s outside our chain of command. The only one who can fire him from the position as head of the IFN coalition is Secretary General Descroix.”

“Can anyone tell me what happened last night?”

General Jardon answered, “The Misera troops had been dug in sixty miles from where the attack took place at six that evening. Just a few hours later, they had moved sixty miles to the site of the ambush. We had intelligence assets in the area and the last message sent at six was that the Misera troops were eating dinner.”

“So they moved. General Duval should have realized they could do that.”

General Jardon shook his head and said, “You don’t understand. You just don’t pick up an army, move it any major distance, and have them set up for battle in less than six hours.”

He knew it was hard to get people to understand the difficulty of moving a lot of people any distance at all. Unless everyone knew exactly what they were doing, coordinating a movement of any scale was like herding cats. This had to have been a practiced maneuver and armies don’t normally practice that maneuver.

“I don’t see why not.”

“Have you ever been to a play, and after the end of the performance, you and everyone rushes to their cars; and when you then try to exit the parking lot, you end up sitting there for half an hour?”


“Consider that happening at both ends of the trip. Not only that, they’ve got to pack up to leave and then set up at the other end. The trip alone probably took two hours.”

“It’s sixty miles.”

“In a tank. You don’t drive a tank that fast without busting everyone’s kidneys inside the tank.”

“I guess it would be difficult.”

“Don’t forget, they did it at a moment’s notice. They didn’t even start until after our troops had already left.”

“I guess you have a point.”

“Don’t forget. Our assets in the area said they were sitting around eating dinner. There was no sign that they were prepared to move.”

“I guess.”

General Jardon said, “I think very few Generals would have even considered the possibility that they’d be facing anyone given the situation they understood existed just six hours before. Let’s just say that this one is for the history books.”

“So he was suckered.”

“By superior troops,” General Jardon said.

“Are you saying those Misera troops are better than ours?”

“They just might be.”

“I don’t see it.”

“Six minutes and twenty-four seconds.”

“What’s that mean?”

“That’s how long it took them to kill over twenty five thousand troops, without suffering a single casualty or injury.”

“They took out the attack helicopters and fighter jets who were to provide air superiority. They took out the bombers that were waiting to support the attack of the city. They took out the ships that were to reenforce the attack. In other words, they crushed our entire offensive thrust. They did all of that within half an hour.”

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