World War: Campaign for Eastland
Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac
When the IFN moved troops into Ulamb, they modernized two ports. One port was destroyed during the first day of the war in Ulamb with a surprise bombing raid by Jade Force using planes stolen from Chen. Two ships had survived the bombing and moved to the second port taking the naval personnel with them. The marines stationed there joined up with the main IFN forces. The first port was essentially abandoned.
The second port was a different matter. Jade Force had not explicitly attacked it. The coalition fleet assigned there was parked in the harbor, but it couldn’t leave. The Jade Empire Navy, several times larger than the fleet stuck in port, sat right outside of the harbor. Any ship that attempted to leave was immediately challenged; and, if it didn’t return to dock, sunk. Thus the IFN had a fleet, but it couldn’t use it.
As the fighting on land progressed, IFN forces slowly retreated to the north. After a period of time, the second port became isolated. An entire division belonging to the Jade Empire surrounded the port blocking it from any land access. The ships in the harbor opened fire with the naval artillery on the Jade Force infantry division. The ships blockading the harbor opened fire on the ships in the harbor. Outgunned, the ships in the harbor surrendered. Then the port surrendered, and the Jade Empire Navy moved in.
At that point, things got very messy for the Jade Empire. They took possession of the ships and they held the harbor. It was the city around the harbor where the problems really began. It was not a small town, but a city, with a population in the ballpark of eight hundred thousand people. Unlike in the countryside where a cluster of close towns were occupied by families of a common bloodline, the city was a hodgepodge of people from different parts of the country, and people who had lived in the city for generations. Even worse, some of the people came from towns that had been leveled by Jade Force for having attacked members of the Jade Empire military. The city was effectively a powder keg ready to blow.
Cities generally follow one of three basic patterns of population distribution. The most common pattern around the world has the city center being the wealthy part of town which is then surrounded by progressively poorer parts of town. The converse pattern has the center of town being poor and the further from the center of town one gets, the richer the neighborhood. The final pattern, and the rarest of the three, has the city stretched out like a string with alternating areas of rich and poor.
Sadre, shaped like a quarter moon that wrapped around the harbor, followed the most common pattern. The wealthy part of town was in the center. There was a region of moderate poverty near the port which held laborers who basically worked around the port. There was a region of extreme poverty on the inland side of the city of people who basically worked in the central part of the city.
Three factors worked in the favor of the Jade Empire in taking the city. First, it controlled the movement of food into and out of the city. With just a little effort, they could starve everyone into submission. Second, it had really really big guns aimed at the city. The majority of guns that they had were 150mm diameter. That’s big and when it hits, it hits hard. The biggest gun was 305mm. That’s even bigger. Third, they had lots of experience with urban warfare. They knew that you didn’t have to fight the enemy, you had those who want to live fight those who are willing to die. There were always lots more of the former than that latter. It’s just necessary to motivate them to fight.
Two factors worked against those who wanted to defend the city from invasion. First, there wasn’t a fanatic ‘followers of Jarjan’ pool of trained fighters with weapons caches hidden around the city. People were stuck shooting the rifles they had with just the ammunition at hand. It doesn’t take long to shoot through a box or two of ammunition. Once the ammunition is gone, you’re left with a club. Second, the diversity of the population tended to discourage cooperative ventures of the nature an effective defense would require. There’s military folks who want to create fortified positions to defend areas of the city. There’s the police who want to deal with it like a criminal act. There are yahoos who want to sit on top of buildings or in trees shooting anything that moves. There are bozos who want to ride around in trucks just shooting. Then you have the rats who hide in dark holes and shoot at anything that comes in. There are criminals who see it as an opportunity to get rich.
Historically, invaders of Ulamb and other countries in Eastland would find taking a city fairly easy. There would be a few pitched battles leading into the city and then the city would surrender. The invaders would move in and things would be a little iffy, but not too bad. It would start with little attacks, essentially sniping episodes. A couple invaders would get shot. Then there would be a manhunt for the shooters. They’d get caught, maybe. Then there would be another little attack of a slightly larger scale.
The attacks would become increasingly more frequent. It would start slow with one attack every ten days or so. Then it would become one attack every week, then one every couple of days, and then one every day. By the end, the invaders would basically be holed up in a single fortified position only able to emerge in large convoys. Even those convoys would get attacked by forces of ever increasing size.
The only conqueror who had managed to capture cities and not end up stuck in a single enclave was the Great Khung. He didn’t leave large encampments inside cities, but a few men. The thing with that was that they didn’t care how big a city was, if his men were killed then the city died. Died – as in everyone was killed and then it was burned to the ground. Sometimes he’d salt the soil so nothing could grow.
The huge elephant in the room was that everyone knew that the Jade Empire was willing to kill lots of people. This was something that the Jade Empire had demonstrated repeatedly during its march across Ulamb. It was the one thing that no one had any doubts about except for one minor thing. Would they kill eight hundred thousand people?
Jade Force recognized that there would be two phases in taking the city and that each phase had to be managed carefully in order to reach its overall goal of establishing control. The first phase was the initial incursion. There would be resistance and it would be pretty substantive. A lot of people would die. The second phase was the continued presence in the city. There would be the sniping, but that had to be dealt with in the strongest manner possible. How it would be dealt with required a foundation be established in the first phase.
The first thing Jade Force did was to call the mayor of the town requesting that it surrender. The answer, of course, was no. The request for the city to surrender was made a second time along with the promise that a lot of people would die if the answer was still no. The mayor answered, no. He was asked if that was his final answer. He assured them that it was.
The first thing the mayor did was get on television and inform the populace of the city how he had bravely defied the Jade Empire control of the city. It wasn’t really all that brave. It was just a telephone call. He hadn’t been facing armed and armored Jade Warriors. Still, he was the hero of the moment.
For the next two days, pamphlets were dropped from the sky. The message was simple, the city had been divided into forty sectors and that each sector was held responsible for the safety of any invaders within that sector. If there is an attack in a sector, then the sector will be destroyed.
The mayor confidently appeared on television telling the brave people of Sadre that it was their civic duty to resist the invaders. As history had shown, invaders always lost in the cities. Sadre, itself, had chased away more than one invading nation. History was on their side. He did neglect to mention when the Great Khung came through, that the city had folded like a napkin.
The newspapers and television news broadcasts played up the mayor’s bravado in calling for the city to resist. There were catchy headlines like, ‘Mayor Tells Jade Empire To Do Its Worst.’ There were even talking head programs about how to resist the enemy and how to protect the family. Sprinkled throughout were patriotic slogans – ‘Defeat the Jade’, “Sadre Forever’, and ‘We will Prevail.’ It was all quite moving.
On the third day, a small expeditionary force of three vehicles drove into the poorest sector of town. A helicopter flew overhead with cameras rolling. The images were being fed to the television station and broadcast live. The great thing was that the broadcast was being provided by the invaders. It would give the town a front row seat to the fine resistance mounted by the city. The unusual nature of the broadcast attracted attention and people were glued to their sets wondering what was going to happen next.
What happened next was quite predictable. The expeditionary force was fired upon by a large number of people. At that point, the invaders deviated from the script. Rather than fight back, the force turned around and fled the city. The video cut off as if the group responsible for the broadcast was embarrassed by what was being shown.
One could almost hear the cheers across the whole city at the sight of the retreat. Yes! Yes! Run you dirty dogs! Run! Some people were even dancing in front of their television set.
The celebrations were short lived. All of the guns from all of the ships equipped with guns fired at the same time. Artillery guns from the inland side fired. It was a noise that could be heard all over the city. Hearts sank upon hearing it. The unimaginable had happened. The Jade Empire was going to wipe out a sector of the city.
The last place anyone wants to be is on the receiving end of an artillery barrage. It isn’t even good to be outside the target area of an artillery barrage. The air hammers you like an invisible fist, the ground moves like an earthquake, things rattle, dust is kicked up, and the noise deafens. It makes one want to curl into a small ball and try to disappear. Fear makes the brain shut down.
People from one end of town to the other shrank in terror. For most people, there was nothing to see; no way to know what was going on. Even at a distance it is hard to tell just how far off the impacts were. The ground shakes and the heart quakes.
There was a long minute of silence. Just about the time people relaxed, the guns fired a second time. It was almost more frightening this time then the first. The first round had come as a surprise. The pause had convinced people that it was over. One couldn’t help wondering if the rounds landed closer this time. It seemed like it.
Again there was a long minute of silence. The guns fired again and then again. There had been very little time between the two volleys. It felt like the world was coming to an end. In one neighborhood, it had.
The following silence wasn’t trusted. People sat tensely waiting for the next barrage. Children shook, babies cried, women sobbed, and men stood by helplessly. Time dragged on and still nothing. The tension was so thick that it could have been cut by a knife.
The television broadcast resumed. It broadcast a flyover of the same area where the expeditionary force had entered the city. There were no cars in the street. There were no apartment blocks. There were no people. It was just rubble – lots of rubble. The video came to an end and the regular programming resumed.
In the town of Ramudo, six old men and their sons made their way to the home of Faraz. They were a silent bunch moving with their heads down in thought. The discussions to be made were too important to be spoken of in a tea and coffee house. The people in town watched them pass, knowing that life affecting decisions were going to be made.
The outside of the house did not look like much, but the inside was a different matter. Thick rich hand woven carpets covered the floor. Silk pillows were scattered around the room for the men to sit upon. Small tables of exotic wood were arranged strategically around the room, providing guests with a level surface on which to place small plates of food and cups with thick strong coffee. A large screen television was hung on the wall, muted but showing the scene from Sadre.
The men silently took places around the room. Once they were seated, Faraz snapped his fingers loudly. The women of the house entered the room carrying trays of food and elaborate urns of coffee. The guests were served and the women left the room. There was a moment of silence and then the men raised their cups of coffee.
“Borak, your son and his family lived there?” Faraz asked with a flick of his hand in the direction of the television.
“My condolences for your loss.”
The other men in the room mumbled their condolences as well. It was an awkward moment. They all knew that it was unlikely the bodies would ever be retrieved. There wouldn’t be a proper funeral.
“Faisal, you had grandchildren who lived there?”
“Yes. Two of my grandsons and their families.”
“My condolences for your loss.”
There was a general confirmation of condolences all around. Then an uneasy quiet settled in the room.
Borak said, “When I talked to my son last night, I told him to resist the invaders. I didn’t think that...”
“I did the same,” Faisal said. “I should have known better. When they say they’ll do something, they do it.”
Faraz said, “The Jade Empire is not like any of the invaders that we’ve had before. At least, not since the time of the Great Khung.”
Reciting from memory, Isam said, “And when the warriors of the Golden Horde rode past, all withheld their weapons. For to kill a warrior of the Golden Horde was the same as killing all kin within a two day walk and salting the earth so nothing could grow for twenty years. The wrath of the Golden Horde was a terrible thing to behold.”
Faraz said, “They leave eight men here to control twelve towns. It is a pitiful force, but we dare not touch them.”
“It is almost an insult. We have two thousand young men of fighting age and they are held back by eight men.”
“Are we women?”
“It’s not the eight men. It is the thirty bombers that stays our hand!”
“We can’t kill what we can’t shoot.”
Akbar asked, “Has it been so bad?”
“We’ve been invaded.”
“None of our men have beaten. None of our women have been raped. They haven’t taken anything from us. They haven’t burned down the town. They don’t even tell us what to do. They just sit in their building doing nothing.”
“They ask for money.”
“Out of taxes we already pay,” Akbar said.
“They ask for our children.”
“They only ask for the orphans who have no family to take care of them.”
“And what will they do with them?”
“They say they will train them to be warriors,” Akbar answered. “Is that so bad?”
“That’s what they say they will do.”
“Have they ever lied to us?” Akbar asked pointedly.
That question was answered with silence rather than words. There was a contract and the invaders acted in concert with that contract. It was hard for them to say that they had lived up to contract. There had been a few flat tires that were assisted in getting flat. Occasionally the power line to the invaders building might come loose or become disconnected at the pole. Sure, some of the young men called out insults about the parentage of the soldiers.
Faisal said, “They killed my grandchildren. They have to pay.”
“You would kill the rest of your family, and all of my family, in your need for vengeance? I would shoot you myself, rather then let you bring that kind of destruction down on us,” Faraz said angrily.
Gamal said, “They died in battle fighting an enemy. That is what happens in war. After the war is over, you don’t start it again to get vengeance, because a fighter died while fighting. That is insanity.”
Habib said, “Is the war over?”
This was the real question that had brought them there. Faraz looked around the room. The men gathered there gave short brusque nods of their head.
He said, “It is for us.”
Azeem, the son of Gamal, said, “The men in town are from Barmud.”
“Well, they fight for the Jade Empire. A year ago Barmud was an independent country.”
“What are you saying?”
“They are very good fighters.”
“We could learn something from them.”
“It is possible that my son might want to join the army after Ulamb surrenders to the Jade Empire.”
“It might give my grandson a chance to fight, and add to our history.”
Amra had both a President and a Prime Minister. The two men had nearly equal powers. The President ran the country as a chief administrator. The Prime Minister ran Parliament which was the body that passed budgets, laws, and set policy for the President. The two men had to work closely together.
The President lived in the President’s House. The Prime Minister lived in the Prime Minister’s House. Sandwiched between the two houses was the Meeting House. The Meeting House was where the President and the Prime Minister met to resolve issues. In the history of Amra there were times when the men holding the two offices were friends and times when they absolutely loathed each other. It was joked that the walls of the Meeting House were covered with more political blood than any other building in the country.
The current President, Walter Donaldson, and Prime Minister, Harold Corralt, were amiable colleagues. They were both serious minded men, who were working for what each thought was the best for the country. Although there were times when they differed in opinion on certain specific issues, the overall relationship was friendly.