World War: Campaign for Eastland
Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac
Sword Lana was at the air squadron briefing room talking to Colonel James of the Walford Air Force. His squadrons were going to be taking over some of the rear duties now that they had slacked off a bit. She wanted to make sure that he knew what was expected of him and that he was willing to execute orders. It wasn’t easy for a regular military officer to give or follow orders that would level a complete town to the point where there would be no survivors.
“Do you understand what I’m telling you to do?”
“Yes, but I don’t like it.”
“Of course you don’t. I wouldn’t want you to command if you liked it. What I’m asking you to do is truly horrible. It’s a violation of all your past training. None the less, it is necessary.”
“I understand the necessity,” Colonel James said.
Colonel James had read enough history to know how invasions of Eastland normally played out. In fact, he was surprised at how little resistance in conquered territory they were seeing. By now they should have been experiencing little raids all over the country on a daily basis. For all intents and purposes it was quiet. Odds were good that he and his men would be called upon to perform only a few missions of the nature he was being told to expect.
He knew the historical basis on which this action was predicated. The Great Khung had wiped out entire towns to pacify this region of the world during his great campaign. He destroyed a few towns, but didn’t have to fight other towns. In the long term, it meant that fewer people actually died. It worked then and it was working now.
Understanding history didn’t change the fact that he viewed it as a violation of the Sviss Treaty One. However, listening to Jade Warriors discuss the Sviss Treaty One had almost convinced him that it was a very evil document. Their point that war shouldn’t be viewed as a civilized activity was a very good one.
“I’ll do it.”
“Thank you,” she said.
She was about to say something else when the beep indicating a priority call came over her earpiece. She held up a hand to let Colonel James know not to interrupt her. She activated her radio to discover that Sword Miguel was on the radio.
“I’m listening,” she said into her microphone speaking Elvish.
“Sword Jana, we were going to wait until you returned here to tell you this, but events are moving faster than we ever thought possible.”
“What events?” she asked.
“Who is surrendering?”
“Everyone. It seems like every tribe in Ulamb has just reached out to surrender.”
“We don’t know.”
Mind racing, Sword Jana asked, “How do we know this?”
“This morning one of the northern detached units was scouting northward from their camp in zone 14. They came across a number of old men sitting under a canopy flying a white flag. The lieutenant in charge of the unit met with the men. They informed him that they were there to surrender. He assumed they represented one tribe and then was told that they represented twenty two tribes.”
“That’s unanticipated,” she said in what had to be the understatement of the war.
There was a long moment of silence and then Sword Miguel said, “Then the old men dropped the real bombshell.”
“They were only the first to reach that spot. Several dozen more were on their way, including some from Hamasada.”
There was almost too much information in that statement to parse. Her first thought was that this had to be some sort of trick. She knew they had to be aware of what would happen if they were trying to trick Jade Force. If this was a trick, the death toll could reach millions.
She said, “I’m glad you told me. I’ll keep the Jade Warriors on over watch flights. This could be explosive.”
“That’s not why I contacted you.”
“Why did you contact me?”
“They want you.”
“Who wants me?” she asked puzzled by what he was saying.
“The old men. They want to surrender to you.”
This conversation was moving from unbelievable to pure hallucination. Why would the old men want to surrender to her? They shouldn’t even know who she was. She was serving as the over watch commander for the town watches of the southern region.
“Yes. You were requested by name.”
“I don’t understand. I’m nowhere near that theater of operation.”
“We don’t understand it, either. It’s just that you were requested by name.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
Sword Miguel asked, “How long will it take you to get up to zone 14?”
“It would take most of the day,” she answered pulling up a mental map of the country.
“You’re fighter jet qualified, aren’t you?”
“Of course, I wouldn’t have this duty if I wasn’t.”
“Take a jet and fly. You could be there in under two hours,” Sword Miguel said.
Thinking that he had misunderstood what Colonel Kline had just told him, General Santini asked, “What did you say?”
“I said that one of our trusted contacts in the tribes said that we should leave Ulamb now. Ulamb has surrendered to the Jade Empire.”
“What in the hell happened?” General Santini asked looking at the map table. There hadn’t been any major movements by forces of the Jade Empire on it.
“It’s even worse than that.”
“He says that the land bridge that connects Ulamb to Hamasada has surrendered as well.”
“The Jade Empire hasn’t even gotten there yet,” General Santini exploded. Pointing at the map table, he added, “If you hadn’t noticed it, we’re between Hamasada and the Jade Empire forces.”
“Something happened among the tribes. No one is talking about it, but apparently they’ve decided that the Jade Empire has won.”
“This is bullshit!” General Santini shouted, “Captain Grissom, get the President on the phone!”
Alert to any sign of danger, Sword Jana approached the meeting place. She was followed by eight swords and four shields. They weren’t quite sure what to expect, so they expected the worst. The Lieutenant who had come across the old men was walking beside her.
She had expected a few old men. That was not what she found. There were four very large tents, sides pulled up, with dozens of old men seated under each tent. Behind the tents were hundreds of younger men, all of whom were seated and waiting patiently. They were seated in the hot sun.
“What’s with all of the young men?”
“They are the sons or grandsons of the tribal leaders. They brought the old men here. There’s a regular caravan of trucks and cars parked down the way.”
“That makes sense,” Sword Jana said looking over the crowd. Things could get pretty bad if it turned into a fighting war. “See that they have water.”
She stopped in front of the tents and announced, “I am Sword Jana.”
She had expected to get their attention. What she didn’t expect was to hear a number of them chuckling. She raised an eyebrow and looked over at the Lieutenant wondering if he knew what the laughter was about. He shrugged his shoulders.
One of the old men closest to the front said, “We heard you were ten feet tall. You’re just a little thing.”
“I am a Jade Warrior. Size has nothing to do with that, only skill.”
Another of the old men, in a tone of voice that straddled being a statement and a question, said, “You personally crucified the rapist.”
“Yes. We live and die by the contract. He broke his contract so he had to die.”
“We have come to surrender our towns.”
“Not that I’m unhappy about it, but why?”
“You live and die by the contract. All we’ve seen is our people dying by the contract. It is good to know that you’ll die by the contract as well.”
The crowd of tribal leaders all nodded their heads. The inter-tribal communication lines had been busy ever since the Jade Empire had stepped foot onto Ulamb. All knew of the bombings in which entire tribes disappeared. In many cases, they knew about the events that brought about the bombings well before the events took place. It was all about testing the Jade Empire for the weaknesses.
It wasn’t until the punishment of the rapist that their discussions got past the indignity of being occupied by foreign invaders. There was a general consensus that there had been no real aggressions by the members of the watch despite provocations by tribal members. The lack of response had been seen as a sign of weakness.
The crucifixion of the rapist had changed that perception. Not responding to provocations was not a sign of weakness, but of discipline. If there was one thing the tribal leaders understood, it was discipline. They knew how to apply harsh measures to anyone who broke tribal rules.
“We have read copies of the contract. We can live with the terms in it.”
Looking at the number of tribes represented there, Sword Jana knew there was a small problem. They did not have a sufficient number of watch teams trained to handle that many tribes. The last thing she wanted to do was to send in people who hadn’t been trained on local custom. There would be contracts broken all over the place.
She said, “I’m glad to hear that. We do not have enough men trained for watch duty.”
“Send what you have. One or two men is sufficient. They don’t need to be officers.”
Seeing nothing but problems, Sword Jana answered, “We will make do.”
She’d rather have to crucify a couple of idiots than bomb entire towns out of existence or fight for each town one at a time. Jade Force would just have to figure out some way to establish a watch in each town occupied by tribal leaders.
Sword Miguel placed the tray holding his lunch on the table in the confab room. There were notices on the wall at the front of the room announcing news of a general nature. He hadn’t had time to read any of them.
“Did they ratify the Red Lords or is that still under argument?”
Hearth Maria said, “They did that yesterday. It took them a couple of hours. I was kind of surprised that Alesky was made Red Lord of Ulamb. I understand he was kind of upset about losing Misera.”
“Red Lords. Black Lords. Sounds pretentious as hell to me,” he said.
“They’ll be dealing with bureaucrats from other countries. The more pretentious the title, the more respect they’ll get.”
“We won’t have any assistant undersecretaries to secretaries of the minister of the department of ministry of whatever.”
Hearth Maria laughed at that. “You can say that again, if you can remember it all.”
“So are you looking forward to retirement as a Lord?”
“I’m not looking forward to retirement at all. It means I’m too old or too injured to be a Hearth.”
“Are you planning on having babies?” Sword Miguel asked.
Sword Miguel said, “I was thinking about that. I don’t know if any of the woman are looking to become mothers, but I could see that being a good reason for retiring.”
“You’re the first one whose mentioned anything about that.”
“I figure Hearths and Carts might be among the first to retire for that reason. Swords are a bit aggressive and I’d hate to think of what kind of mother a Shield would make.”
“I was wondering if the Council of Lords would become dominated by Swords and Shields since you are most likely to get injured. I may have to rethink that.”
“Yeah. We might become the first empire run by mommies.”
Hearth Maria laughed. She said, “I can see it now. ‘Run along dear. Mommy has to convince the naughty little President that he really doesn’t want to go to war with us.’ Now that would be a first in history.”
“How are the discussions about selecting a head of state going?”
“They’re still arguing over the skill set required at the current time for whoever will be Emperor or Empress.”
“I’m glad I’m not part of that discussion.”
“Everyone wants Sada to do it, but she’s refused.”
“She’s a Jade Warrior. If she’s the best person for the task, she should do it.”
“Outside of the fact that she has different plans, she did present a good reason why she shouldn’t be made Empress. She’s the subject that brought this war about. The IFN declared this war so that it could arrest her for crimes against humanity. It wouldn’t be a good idea to rub their noses in it by making her Empress.”
“That is a good point.”
Cart Sun came over to the table carrying his dinner tray. He sat down and asked, “So what are you all talking about?”
“Who will be crowned Emperor or Empress.”
“It should be Sada, but she has a pretty good reason why she shouldn’t be it,” Cart Sun said.
“Who do you think it should be?”
Cart Sun said, “That’s a tough one. Since we’re at war, I’d say that we need a Sword leading us. Once the war is over, we’d want a Hearth.”
“I think you’re right about needing a Sword leading us now, but I’d say we need a Pen after the war is over,” Sword Miguel said.