World War: Campaign for Surprise
Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac
A bully is someone who pushes around someone weaker to take their lunch money or just to inflict pain in retaliation for some perceived insult. The school bully does not intend for his victim to become his personal slave, just that his victim fears him.
The modern world has a rather odd vision of what it means to make war – war is just a form of bullying that involves nations rather than individuals. War has become a means of intimidation.
There is this assumption that at the end of war, national sovereignty doesn’t change. All that war accomplishes is to kill off a lot of young men and women and the destruction of some infrastructure. In a few cases, very few at that, does the government of the ‘defeated’ nation change.
Perhaps this is a legacy of centuries in which opposing nations were headed by members of a single royal family. The operative mindset was that we don’t want to kill our cousin or displace him, just let him know that he’s an asshole. Family squabbles dominated the landscape of war, and that’s what they were – family squabbles.
The modern civilized world has forgotten that war is about conquest, whether it is for land or rights at sea. Going all the way back to the days before recorded history, war was about conquest. It was about taking what didn’t belong to one. That’s called theft by the modern world and, as everyone knows, theft is wrong.
Jade Force had not forgotten the lessons of history. It knew that war was about conquest and that conquest was about defeating the ruling body of a country. Although it had not issued the initial declaration of war, it was going to end the war.
Countries were defeated and brought under the flag of the Jade Empire. The first countries to fall were Del Moray, Ismal, New Franc, Barmud, and San Troph. Their fall was a result of capturing the governments of those countries and forcing them to accept the rule of the Jade Empire in the form of overseers. Friga surrendered even before Jade Force crossed its border and in surrendering joined the Jade Empire.
The invasion of Niella was more of an invasion of a television station than a mass of troops swarming over the border. The government of Niella had fled and Jade Force stepped into the power vacuum. A new government would be formed under the auspices of Niella’s constitution, but it would operate under the overseers of the Jade Empire.
The IFN forces that were stationed in Niella woke one morning to find that the entire command had been captured during the night. Jade Force accepted parole, although it might be more accurate to say they forced parole, which meant that all individuals of the IFN forces who had been captured agreed that they would not participate in any further acts of war against Jade Force upon being released. Everyone was escorted to the troop carriers and told to leave. IFN was no longer on the continent of Surprise except for a small force inside Walford.
With the capture of Niella, that left one country on the continent of Surprise that was still at war with Jade Force – Walford. Each day that passed without movement by Jade Force increased the tension in Walford. The leadership in Walford quickly gained the habit of looking up at the sky from their office windows waiting for the day when Jade Force would, quite literally, drop in. It wasn’t long before the tension became too much and the government of Walford decided that surrender was in their best interest. The handful of IFN forces were asked to leave and then Walford surrendered.
The Jade Empire controlled the entire continent with the exception of Teal and the Llammada region of Amra. It had taken less than nine months to gain control of an entire continent.
Who ran the Jade Empire? The answer wasn’t Jade Force. It had become the military organization that operated under the direction of the Jade Empire. The real rulers of the Jade Empire were Jade Warriors who had been wounded and were no longer fit enough for active duty, or who no longer had the hearts of warriors. Unfortunately, there was nothing formal about the Jade Empire. It was just a label that was used to represent the conquered countries and the effect of having overseers in them.
Jade Warriors studied war. As part of that study, they also studied peace. With eight countries suddenly being conquered, one would think that peace would be a very elusive thing, but that wasn’t the case.
There are two extremes that can be taken when occupying conquered territory. At one end of the scale is the 900 pound gorilla. The conquering country comes in, removes the existing government, pushes everyone around, demands that things be done their way, and imposes total control on everything. The problem with that approach is that it creates a fertile ground for local resistance groups to emerge. The conquerors are forced to eliminate the resistance groups which only spawns more resistance groups. Things get messy, and stay messy, for a long time.
The other extreme is to use a soft touch. The conquerors are present, but not seen. They do as little as possible to interrupt the daily lives of the population. They respect the constitution of the country. They allow the existing leaders to remain leaders while imposing minor control over the powers those individuals can exert. It is an exercise in moderation.
King Francis the XII of Friga was a good example of how an existing head of government interacted with the Jade Empire. He still sat on his throne and people bowed to him and not the Jade Warrior overseer. He passed laws. He commanded the military. He did everything that he used to do. He had a new adviser, one whose word carried more weight than most, particularly when that word was ‘No.’ The biggest change was the lack of embassies in the other countries that were part of the Jade Empire. For all intents and purposes, Friga remained a nation.
The largest group in Friga that was affected by the change in status, was the high command of the military. They were now expected to work with Jade Force. For many commanders, Jade Warriors were viewed as exceptionally arrogant. That was an attitude on the part of the commanders that was not allowed to survive for long.
It was almost two months after General Hang’s visit to Jade Academy before Premiere Song made a state visit to Burad. The publicized purpose of the meeting was to meet with the Secretary General of the IFN to discuss commitments of additional equipment and troops for the war against Misera and Jade Force.
Premiere Song, General Hang, and Lin Hu, the Chen representative to the IFN, were waiting for another reporter to visit the embassy. Premiere Song was not in a good mood. The last two reporters had been extremely disrespectful and demanding. It irritated him that Jade Force was requiring him to deal with those people before they would talk about ending hostilities.
“She’s late,” Premiere Song said grumpily.
“I should just cancel the interview.”
“General Wynn was insistent that we meet with these reporters,” General Hang said.
“You are not going to...”
His retort was cut off when the door to the office opened. A fully armed Jade Warrior entered the room and stepped to one side. A second Jade Warrior, also fully armed, entered the room. A third closed the door while remaining outside the room. The security guard protecting Premiere Chen had barely started to make a move to protect his charges, but froze when he felt the gun against the side of his head.
Pen Sada said, “Sorry I’m late. Your guys at the door didn’t want to let me in. I’m sorry if we hurt any of them too badly.”
Putting his hands to his forehead, General Hang said, “I should have known.”
“What is this?”
General Hang said, “This is Pen Sada, also known as Sandy Dancing.”
Premiere Song stared at Pen Sada for a full minute without saying a word. Then he burst out laughing. He laughed until tears formed in his eyes.
“You have got nerve! The whole time the Secretary General is talking about hunting you down, you are standing right in front of him asking how he’s going to do it. That is priceless!”
He laughed some more and then added, “For that alone, you are going to live in the history books.”
Pen Sada said, “It’s hard to imagine! All of this trouble over little old me.”
“Lin Hu, go tell security outside that everything is all right. I’m sure that they are trying to figure out how to rescue me. I’d hate to see them killed,” Premiere Song said.
The other Jade Warrior spoke into a microphone and the door was opened by the one waiting outside. Lin Hu nervously eased his way past the Jade Warrior at the door. The door was closed once again.
Premiere Song gestured to the chair that Lin Hu had just vacated. “Please have a seat.”
“Thank you,” Pen Sada said.
“I think it has been years since I’ve laughed that hard. I still can’t believe it.”
“Teacher Wynn says that Sada is an acronym for Stubborn And Damned Annoying. I think Mr. Jacques Descroix would agree with him.”
General Hang said, “I take it that you do not respect Jacques Descroix.”
“Quite the contrary,” Pen Sada said acting surprised at the suggestion. “He is an extremely intelligent and well educated man. He just suffers from a condition that affects a lot of well educated people.”
“What is that?”
“He thinks that the world should behave in a genteel way and he acts as if it does. He is offended when the world doesn’t behave the way he thinks it should. It is a blindness to reality that is often quite fatal when the individual has to confront some of the more negative aspects of reality.”
“I agree with your assessment.”
Pen Sada said, “It’s a shame. He’s going to go down in history as a fool. The world doesn’t know how to distinguish between foolishness and idealism.”
“He won’t be the first idealist to go down in history as a fool. At least you have compassion for him.”
“If I had compassion for him, I would have sat him down and introduced him to Life 101 as practiced in the real world. Unfortunately, he was too useful in his current role.”
“Interesting,” Premiere Song said while studying the woman in front of him.
She was a contradiction in a way. She looked cute and perky. She had an iron center and a sense of purpose that was set in concrete. He had to wonder what she thought of him.
He said, “I suppose we ought to get down to why we are here.”
“Before we start, may I ask who talked you into coming here?”
“Ah! No wonder Teacher Wynn has invited you to teach at Jade Academy for a year. You must be absolutely brilliant to ruin my plans this way.”
Premiere Song asked, “What plans?”
Pen Sada gestured at General Hang with a casual flip of a hand and asked, “Would you like to explain?”
“I think it would be best if I explain it later. We’d never get to the purpose of this meeting.”
“We want to negotiate a peace treaty with you.”
“Sorry, that’s not going to happen. We’re not ready for you to withdraw from the war,” Pen Sada said.
“What?” Premiere Song asked surprised by her response.
“Do you really want war?” General Hang asked.
Dismayed by her answer, Premiere Song asked, “Why would you want war?”
“The world says that war is a failure of diplomacy, but acts as if it was the sole purpose of diplomacy. What passes for diplomatic talk, is actually saber rattling to provide an excuse to go to war. In light of that stupidity, we took the view that war is the opening bid in diplomacy and that diplomatic talk becomes a way for a nation facing the full horrors of war for the first time, to get the hell out of a war,” Pen Sada said with a somber little smile. “The world needs to relearn that war is a truly terrible thing, if there is ever to be peace.”
“I find it sad that you could even say such a thing. No one your age should have such a jaded view of the world,” Premiere Song said quietly.
“Am I wrong?”
“No. And that is even sadder.”
Pen Sada said, “It’s seldom that a pessimist is surprised when things don’t work out.”
General Hang said, “I’ve heard it said that all surprises for a Pessimist are good surprises.”
“If you aren’t here to negotiate a peace with us, then why are we here?”
Pen Sada said, “I have an idea that I want to discuss with you.”
Premiere Song and General Hang were completely unaware that the proper response to hearing those words, was to run as fast and as far as they could. Sada looked at them with a smile.
Pen Sada had slipped on her traditional garb of a conservative female follower of Jarjan and left the meeting. A few minutes later the other Jade Warriors left. Premiere Song and General Hang were left staring at the closed door.
“I’m sorry. You’ll have my resignation as soon as my relief comes on duty. They caught me by surprise,” the guard said now that the gun had been removed from his head.
General Hang replied, “They caught everyone by surprise.”
“Don’t bother resigning. I fear that I would have to replace all of my guards every time she decides to visit me,” Premiere Song said.
“You can say that again,” General Hang said.
Still shocked by his meeting with Pen Sada, Premiere Song said, “That is one frightening young lady.”
“Frightening is too mild of a word. I think it is more accurate to say ‘terrifying’.”
“Why wouldn’t she accept our surrender?”
“She told us. She isn’t ready to accept it. After hearing her idea, I think she has a good reason for her stance.”
“So why should she want to wait?” Premiere Song asked.
“I think her plan is to take Ulamb, Mamasada, and Rasbi before negotiating with us for our withdrawal from the war effort.”
Still confused by some of the subtleties of her idea, Premiere Song asked, “Why should I have to wait until after Jade Force takes those countries?”
“From our perspective, that is the best time for us to act in order to protect Khung. Khung has always been threatened by the radicals in those countries, particularly from those in Venu. If you wait until then to meet with Jade Force, then you can save Khung. Jade Force will take Venu while you convince Khung to withdraw from the war. After Khung surrenders, Jade Force will take Joma. With Khung off the table, they don’t have a good direction in which to expand. They will stop their march of conquest, but still fight those countries still at war with them. With our withdrawal, the coalition will collapse and Jade Force will emerge the victor.”