World War: Campaign for Eastland
Chapter 17

Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac

The execution of Captain Martin sent shock waves through the ranks of the Jade Empire military. It wasn’t the fact of his execution or what he did to deserve it that was so shocking, it was the manner of execution. There is nothing nice one can say about impalement. It is a nasty brutal death that strips away a man’s dignity.

News about hanging the three privates for their attempt to bully a village spread across Hamasada like wildfire. The reaction was much more muted than had been the reaction in Ulamb to the crucifixion of the rapist. Some even questioned if the whole episode leading up to the execution had been engineered. It was not an unreasonable question. After all, why did the Jade Warrior let them try to break the contract rather than just stop it?

It was the execution of Captain Martin that had a greater impact on the tribes of Hamasada. They could see sacrificing a couple of lowly privates, but a captain – that was a different story. One didn’t just kill officers to make a point.

Unfortunately, the reaction wasn’t the one that most people might think it should have been. Officers, accompanied by a handful of enlisted men, had been sent out to get signatures on contracts. His crime cast doubts on the integrity of the officers serving in the Jade Empire army. If there were doubts about the officers, what did that mean about the men who served them?

Privates Conway and Shoemaker stepped out of their headquarters loaded down like mules packed for a year long expedition into uncharted territory. It looked like they were carrying everything from the building including the kitchen sink. They had chairs, a small table, four poles, and duffel bags.

They headed towards the field at the end of the road. Down the road, the women from two houses boiled out through the gates and gathered in the road chatting with each other. The men from the houses stood at the gates watching the two soldiers.

Private Conway said, “There goes plan A.”

“Should we try plan B?”

“That sounds like a good idea.”

They hadn’t taken more than a few steps in the direction of the market when women from two houses in that direction boiled out of gates. They gathered in the road, talking and laughing. It looked like they were having a party. The men from the houses stood at the gates watching the two soldiers.

“There goes plan B.”

“Should we try plan C?”

“That sounds like a good idea.”

The two men proceeded to set down the chairs and their other burdens. They used the poles, lines, and stakes to set up a canopy made from a white bed sheet for the covering canvas. They moved the chairs under the canopy where they would be in the shade. They carefully placed the little table between the chairs. They then started digging things out of their duffel bags.

The crowd of women at both ends of the street had stopped talking and were now watching what the two soldiers were doing. Even the men stepped out from the gates to get a better view of them. They couldn’t figure out what the two soldiers were doing, but it was obvious that the soldiers sure were making a production of it.

Private Shoemaker pulled a pitcher out of his duffel bag while Private Conway retrieved a small plastic bag with ice from his. He dumped the ice in the pitcher. Private Shoemaker filled the pitcher with water from a canteen. They started pulling other things from their duffel bags. It kept them busy for quite a while setting everything up to their satisfaction.

The two privates sat down on their chairs. They stood up once and adjusted the location of the chairs just a tad. They then sat down again and wiggled their butts as if trying to get even more comfortable. They gave each other a nod of satisfaction.

Talking loudly, Private Shoemaker said, “This was a wonderful idea.”

“Thank you. It was a good idea even if I say so myself. I really enjoy picnics.”

“I do too. My parents used to take us on picnics all of the time when I was a kid.”

“Mine did the same.”

“Too bad we couldn’t get to the field. I’m sure there are lots of birds and butterflies flitting about.”

“I was kind of looking forward to the market. I do enjoy people watching.”

“Would you care for a glass of water?”

“Yes, I would. It’s so kind of you to offer one to me.”

“My pleasure, old chap,” Shoemaker said.

He proceeded to fill two glasses with the chilled water from the pitcher. He handed one to Conway. Conway took a small sip and said, “Thank you, That’s most refreshing.”

“My pleasure. Isn’t the weather nice today?”

“Wonderful.”

The men standing at the gates of the houses between where they were seated and the field stepped out onto the road. They approached the two soldiers with frowns on their faces.

“What are you doing?” one of them asked.

“We’re having a picnic.”

“We would have gone to the field, but the way there was blocked,” Private Conway said while gesturing in the direction of the field.

Gesturing in the direction of the market, Private Shoemaker said, “We considered going to the market and setting up there, but our way there was blocked.”

“That left only one place for us to have picnic, so we set up here.”

“It’s really a very nice day for a picnic, don’t you agree?”

One of the men said, “You’re blocking the road.”

“Sorry about that. There’s not very much room here for a proper picnic. It would have been nicer in the field, but our way was blocked.”

“We wouldn’t have taken up much space in the market, but our way there was blocked.”

“Private Conway! We are forgetting our manners.”

“Oh, you are so right. Gentlemen, allow us to introduce ourselves. I am Private Conway.”

“And I’m Private Shoemaker.”

Holding out a plate with sandwiches, Private Conway said, “Would you care to join us? I made the sandwiches myself.”

“He did.”

“I even cut off the crusts.”

“I don’t like crusts on finger sandwiches. Do you like crusts on finger sandwiches?”

The man said, “You’re blocking the road.”

“We’re so sorry about that, but this was the only place we could have a picnic.”

“Yes. We had to get out of that little office.”

“Staying in there is like staying in jail.”

“We needed to get out and get some fresh air. I’m sure you gentlemen understand.”

“Our wives and daughters can’t get to the market,” one of the men said.

Private Shoemaker said, “My, my. How rude of us to block the way like this. Why didn’t you say something?”

“No wonder you’re upset with us.”

“You are upset with us, right?”

“Yes.”

“We didn’t mean to upset you. We apologize most profusely.”

“I tell you what, we’ll move our chairs out of the way to make room for your ladies to pass. We’ll stand in the doorway of office while you usher them past us.”

“We don’t want to insult you by doing anything improper.”

“Once they’re past, we’ll come back out and finish our picnic.”

“Does that sound good to you?”

“You could even join us.”

“You’re soldiers. You’re supposed to act like soldiers.”

Private Shoemaker said, “Interesting. I hadn’t thought of acting like a soldier.”

“It might be worth a try. What do you think?” Private Conway asked.

“Yes.”


The atmosphere in the temporary headquarters of the IFN was prickly. A number of countries looked at what Chen and Khung had done and wondered if they should sue for peace as well. Other countries, particularly those that had pressed hardest for the resolution, felt that Chen and Khung had betrayed the coalition. Secretary General Jacques Descroix felt betrayed more than most.

None of the ambassadors were immune from awkward questions from the press. Those questions ranged from their thoughts about the actions of the two countries to whether they were entertaining the idea of surrendering. The ambassadors from Chen and Khung were questioned about the real reasons behind the contract for peace. One question that was asked frequently was about the terms of the contract.

Not quite the first visitor of the day, Ambassador Marco Cantu from Yuma was shown into the office of Lin Hu, ambassador of Chen. Ambassador Marco Cantu looked troubled by something.

Lin Hu rose to greet his visitor. “Hello, Marco. What brings you to the Embassy of IFNs most disliked nation in the world?”

“Who do I contact to surrender?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know? How did you contact them to surrender?”

“Pen Sada walked into my office one day after General Hang visited the Jade Academy and spoke to General Wynn.”

The statement about Pen Sada walking into the office, caused Marco to raise an eyebrow. If that was true, then they knew more about where she was than they were saying. It supported their claim that she wasn’t in Misera.

“I should have thought of that.”

“The interesting thing is she didn’t accept our surrender the first time we talked to her.”

“She didn’t accept?”

“No. She told us that if we wanted peace that we’d have to stop sending men from Chen into the war zone. We could send equipment, arms, and food, but no men. If we kept our men out of it long enough, they’d offer us a contract for peace.”

“You agreed to that?”

“Yes.”

“What were the terms?”

“Let’s just say that this little war cost Chen a quarter of a trillion dollars. There were other conditions associated with trade and support in the IFN when it came time for a vote to surrender.”

Marco Cantu whistled. A quarter of a trillion dollars was ten times more than the gross national product of his country. There was no way they could raise that kind of money.

“Is that what they’re asking of everyone?”

“No. They demanded twenty-five billion from Khung in reparations and another twenty-five billion for dealing with the refugees. They also had Khung commit to working towards a solution for the refugee problem.

“I think there are things that they are looking to get from each country at war with them.”

“What do you think they’ll ask of us?”

“Are there any refugees from Yuma living in refugee camps in other countries?”

“About a half million are.”

“Are there any refugees from other countries living in Yuma?”

“No.”

Lin Hu said, “I imagine that dealing with the refugees from your country would be one of the conditions they’d put on you. I suppose there would be trade concessions and some financial restitution as well. I assure you, the terms will hurt.”

 
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