World War: Campaign for Eastland
Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac
General Santini was in the tent that was currently serving as his command center. He was surrounded by a dozen officers. Although it was old tech, he still demanded the use of a map table, with markers representing various forces. Computers were great, but what could one see on a little computer screen? Not much. He liked being able to physically reach out and move markers. It made what was happening just that little bit more real.
He was not happy with what was on the map. His main force was moving to protect the capitol city. A third of his forces was marching across Ulamb to relieve the city of Sadre. Someone, he didn’t know who, had cut out a piece of transparent green film and overlaid it on the map. The green represented areas controlled by the Jade Empire. Sadly, from his perspective, there wasn’t much of Ulamb that wasn’t covered by green.
Captain Grissom approached the table, looking a little flustered as he said, “I just took a call from the Mayor of Sadre. He’s going to surrender the city.”
“Good,” General Santini said. “Colonel Kline, call back the relief force.”
General Santini said, “That’s the first piece of good news I’ve had in a couple of days.”
He examined the map once more. As he thought about it, the good news wasn’t quite so good. In fact, the more he thought about it the worse it appeared. This was going to free up an enemy division. It was also going to free up the enemy navy. He’d better make sure that the small navy stationed on the west coast of Ulamb knew that it could expect the Jade Empire navy to come steaming up in full force.
“Gentlemen, Sadre’s surrender is a major game changer. Let’s game it out, and see what might happen.”
Lieutenant Zanin read the report that had been sent him. He wasn’t sure how to interpret the contents other than to be thankful that he hadn’t been involved. He knew Lieutenant Williams having gone through the training for this duty with him. He couldn’t imagine how the man had felt when learning about the rape. At least the man had kept things from getting out of hand.
He looked over at his Sergeant. The man was kicked back at his desk, his chair tipped back, his feet on the desk, and a pen in hand working a crossword puzzle from a puzzle book. Duty watching over a town could get real boring. When the Sergeant had complained to his wife about it, she had sent a stack of puzzle books. Now all of the men were asking their families for puzzle books.
“Get the men.”
Based on the tone of voice, the Lieutenant wasn’t in any special rush. Of course, that didn’t suggest that he was willing to wait all day. The Sergeant rocked forward in his chair and stood up.
He climbed the stairs to the barracks. He didn’t rush. Rushing up the stairs wasn’t advisable, except in an emergency. It seemed to him that the biggest danger of this whole duty was the lousy stairs in the place. They were narrow, steep, and the boards were loose. One of these days he was going to task his men with fixing them and putting in a hand rail.
He stuck his head into the barracks and said, “The Lieutenant wants all of you downstairs.”
“Now?” one of the men asked looking up from his puzzle book.
“No. He’s holding a tea and wants you to show up at tea time,” the Sergeant said in a sarcastic tone of voice. In a much sharper voice, he added, “Of course, he means now!”
As the men were going down the stairs, one of them grumbled, “I’m going to take a header off these stairs done of these days.”
“After the Lieutenant is done talking to us, we’re going to fix these stairs,” the Sergeant said.
Once all of the men had gathered there, the Lieutenant said, “Everyone take a seat.”
Since there weren’t enough chairs, some of the men ended up sitting on desks, or leaning against the wall. They all wondered what was up. The Lieutenant looked troubled about something, but there was nothing going on in town that any of them knew about. The town’s people had gotten real good at ignoring them. That was a whole lot better than when they used to glare at them.
“Two days ago, a member of the watch in the town of Danib raped one of the local women,” the Lieutenant said.
“Oh, Jesus,” the Sergeant said.
All of the men sat there thinking about how that situation could have played out. None of the scenarios was any good. Basically, most of them started with the entire watch having their heads cut off. Most of their speculations ended with the locals looking to cut their heads off.
One of the men asked, “Did any of them survive?”
“Lieutenant Williams immediately arrested one of his men and then called the over-watch command, and informed the Sword in charge of what had happened. Wearing his dress uniform, he then walked out and faced the men of the town who had gathered in front of the office.”
“That’s pretty f•©king brave.”
“I bet brass balls jingle real nice when you get your head cut off.”
Lieutenant Zanin cleared his throat to get everyone’s attention. He continued, “He informed the town leaders that he had arrested one of his men and that there would be trial. He then invited the whole town to attend the trial.”
“I’m sure they were deliriously happy to hear that. How many of them would make it to the command base for the court martial?”
“There was no court martial. We’re here as soldiers of the Jade Empire. There’s no court martial. A Jade Warrior serves as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. Read the contract, in case you’ve forgotten that.”
“A Jade Warrior? They sent a Jade Warrior there?” the Sergeant asked.
“That’s right. Sword Jana flew in and held the trial right there – that afternoon, in front of twelve thousand people. She questioned everyone involved, found the man guilty, and then personally crucified him.”
“Crucified him?” several of the men asked incredulously.
“That’s right. She nailed his hands to a cross, and left him hanging there for everyone to see.”
The Sergeant asked, “What happened to the watch?”
Lieutenant Zanin answered, “There was a trial. Fortunately for them, it was determined that they had no prior knowledge that the man who committed the rape was going to do it. They were cleared of charges.”
One of the men asked, “What would have happened to them if they hadn’t been cleared of charges?”
“They would have been crucified along with the rapist,” the Sergeant answered.
“That’s not fair!”
“It’s as fair as having the entire tribe die, because one of their people hurt one of us,” the Lieutenant said sternly.
The Sergeant said, “Keep that in mind, men.”
The Lieutenant said, “Now, I want all of you to read your contracts with the Jade Empire. Read the contract between the Jade Empire and this town. It’s hanging on the wall here. If you have any concerns about yourself or any of the men on the watch, let me know. We can then address any problems before they become a matter of life or death. Do you understand me?”
“Before you do that, get those damned stairs fixed, before one of you breaks your neck on them,” Lieutenant Zanin said.
The Mayor of Sadre sat by the phone, waiting for the daily call from the Jade Empire asking for him to surrender the town. The last thing he wanted was to miss the call. Already two sectors of the city had disappeared under the barrage of artillery. He didn’t want to see a third one obliterated.
The Deputy Mayor said, “Just because you surrender the town doesn’t mean the town’s people have surrendered.”
“I know, but what can I do? I can’t sit here and watch more people die without trying to stop it.”
“Your recorded message doesn’t seem to be having much effect.”
“Last night my brother-in-law said that it was Jarjan’s will if so many people died.”
“That’s what a lot of the hot heads in town are saying.”
“I told my brother-in-law that I hoped the next foray into town by the Jade Empire was in his sector of the city.”
The Deputy Mayor said, “What did he say to that?”
“He reminded me that we live in the same sector of the city. I was very tempted to say some very unflattering things about his parentage.”
“I’m sure that would endear you to your in-laws.”
“What am I supposed to do?”
“I don’t know. Just don’t resign.”
“I don’t want to have to deal with this.”
The telephone rang. The two men looked at it like it was a snake about to strike. The mayor reached out and punched the button for the speakerphone.
“This is Sword Hang.”
“This is Mayor Ozan. I’ve put you on the speaker phone. Deputy Mayor Dogan is here with me.”
“Do you surrender the town?”
“Yes, but there’s a problem.”
“I don’t know if we can control the population.”
“I don’t think that’s a problem. I doubt anything will happen today.”
The Mayor shouted, “Are you crazy? There’s eight hundred thousand people who want to see the invaders dead!”
“I believe a more accurate number is around seven hundred and fifty thousand.”
“You’re probably right. I just want to make sure that there’s seven hundred and fifty thousand tomorrow and the day after. I’d like some time to get things calmed down.”
“Everything will calm down once you formally sign the contract of surrender,” Sword Hang said.
“I think I understand the atmosphere in the city better than you do. I can tell you that if you try to come into the city that you will be attacked,” the Mayor said.
Returning to something he’d told the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor said, “Just because we surrender the city doesn’t mean the city has surrendered to you.”
Sword Hang said, “If I show up in your office, will you sign the contract of surrender?”
“Thank you,” Sword Hang said and then disconnected the call.
The Mayor stared at the telephone in dismay. “He’s going to get another sector killed.”
“This is a disaster.”
“I can’t believe he’s that stupid. He’s got to know that driving into town is going to provoke another attack.”
“I guess they just don’t value the lives of the people of Sadre.”
“Maybe I was too quick in telling the IFN that I was going to surrender the city. Considering how many people are going to die if the Jade Empire keeps charging in like they have, we could have waited for the coalition to reach us.”
The Mayor noticed something pass by the window.
“Something went by the window.”
“I didn’t see anything.”
The Mayor walked over to the window. There was a helicopter hovering over the building across the street. There wasn’t the noise typically associated with a helicopter. It was quiet for one thing. Four figures dropped out of it and landed on the roof. The helicopter rose straight up and then shot off.
“The Jade Warriors are here,” Mayor Ozan said while watching the figures drop ropes over the edge of the building.
“On top of the building across the street.”
“What are they doing?”
“It looks like they are going to climb down the side of the building.”
They weren’t sure how the Jade Warrior managed to slid down the side of the building so smoothly and quickly. All tolled, it only took a couple of minutes for the four Jade Warriors to descend from the building, cross the street, and make their way to the Mayors office. A lot of people saw them, but it didn’t register that these were the invaders.
Not waiting for them to introduce themselves, he said, “I am Mayor Ozan.”
“I am Sword Hang.”
Ozan took a moment to examine Sword Hang. The man was of medium height with the yellow skin and oval eyes typically associated with a Chen lineage. Although he didn’t know what all of the skill marks were on the uniform, but it was pretty obvious there were a lot of them with guns, knives, and hand to hand.
“I am Sword Drago.”
Ozan took a moment to examine Sword Drago. The man was tall with features consistent with a Rus heritage. Again there were a lot of guns, knives, and hands on his armor. There were also some icons that looked a lot like bombs. There was one that looked like a feather.
“I am Hearth Ki.”
Ozan took a moment to examine Hearth Ki. She had the features of a native of Filop – the darker skin, black hair, and slightly flattened nose. She didn’t have the quantity of guns, knives, and hands on her arm. She had other icons that looked interesting, pots, a needle, a syringe, and waves. He had no idea what they meant, but she did have a lot of them.
“I am Shield Pat.”
Shield Pat had icons spread across her whole armor. There were weapons, bombs, planes, helicopters, and a pen. From her appearance, she actually looked the most dangerous with a nasty scar that ran down her face. She also had the coldest eyes he had ever seen.
Sword Hang pulled a sheet of paper from inside his armor. He unfolded it and placed it on the table.
“This is the contract,” he said.