Again with filling in the cracks.
It looks like this should have been posted at the very beginning of the CotF sequence, but here it is, somewhat delayed!
Filling in the gaps: Another out-of-sequence post. This one is just before my surrender to the Japanese and temporary switching of sides in 1940.
So, here is the map after the peace treaty ending the African War, which in spite of the name was fought mainly in Europe:
Observe the Khanate finally reaching not only the Urals, last seen around 1550 before the century-long retreat from the Russian wars, but the very Atlantic, in the shape of Arkhangelsk. Not an ice-free port, alas, but very satisfying. And, deeply symbolic if not very militarily or economically important, regaining the City of Men’s Desire! There will be held a Triumph, the first since well before Alexandros renounced the title of Autokrator. It remains to be seen whether Konstantin will emulate Cincinnatus, and lay down the title of Diktator with victory; or will instead choose to follow the example of Augustus, and take the purple. After all, when Alexandros, leading the Long March through Georgia and the steppes, refused to be addressed as other than ‘Strategos’, he said that none should again bear the title ‘Autokrator’ until the Eagles returned to Constantinople. And the Eagle, indeed, flies within the Antonine Walls, and the Hagia Sophia is again an Orthodox shrine – if, admittedly, of a rite shot through with Buddhist thought, and foreign even to the few Orthodox who remain after six centuries of Catholic rule. So, should Konstantin wish it, there may again be an Emperor in Rome – although not in Constantinople; the seat of government, obviously, will have to remain in New Byzantium. But, at any rate, there will be a Triumph; and impassive nomad tribesmen on scrubby little ponies will ride through the streets of the City, the plumes of Legionary helmets nodding under their lanceheads while golden Eagles festooned with horsetail banners scream triumph from overhead.
And what of the other barbarian tribes? Germany, obviously, bestrides Europe like a colossus, outright annexing the industrial heartland of Russia and stretching east to meet its ally the Khanate. Croatia is recreated as a vassal state, chiefly so the German people won’t have to spend blood and treasure garrisoning the Balkans; no doubt the government at Split knows when to jump, though. Russia, in view of its last-minute change of allegiance, has some of its territory returned but is essentially a rump state, existing for similar reasons as Croatia: To avoid having to garrison a mountainous and unproductive area. It is, however, more genuinely independent, since its government survived more or less intact. It also retains some land that in 1936 was within Croatia’s borders, a deliberate policy to create hostility between the two minor states. Scandinavia is split into three German vassals, and I took the opportunity to prettify the borders a bit.
If Germany is the big winner in territory, Ethiopia is the big loser. Its Oceanian empire is handed over to California, and the Middle East is split off and partitioned into vassal states of the victors, mainly of Catalunya. I envision some sort of “percentages-of-influence” agreement, with the southern state being 90% Catalunya, 10% Germany, the middle one 75% Catalunya, 25% Germany, and the one in Anatolia 50/30/20 to Catalunya, Germany, and the Khanate – the last in view of the ethnic connection. (In this timeline, Anatolia is still largely Greek in ethnicity, although converted to Islam.) How long these neat percentages can be maintained in the face of foreign-policy shifts, local demands for autonomy, economic development, and the geographic reality that Germany and Ethiopia are just plain closer than Catalunya and the Khanate – that’s another question.
The new borders here are as arbitrary as those in OTL, and will likely cause as much trouble down the line. One of these states will no doubt be called Persia, probably the middle one; it is, of course, a shambling, blasphemous mockery of the majesty of the Peacock Throne, raised to an unholy semblance of real statehood by the arbitrary fiat of the Great Powers. If this is not necromancy, words on paper bringing back to unlife what was safely dead, then I do not know what is. A fitting fate for barbarians who invade the sacred soil of Rome!
The African powers are shorn of much overseas territory; they are required to disarm; they are not permitted to develop nuclear weaponry or missiles (and good luck to the inspectorate required to enforce this edict throughout Africa!); and Catalunyan naval bases surround their shores. But they are not utterly crushed, as was Germany in our timeline; only a small part of their territory was invaded, their cities were not bombed to rubble, and their governments and institutions continue intact. The decisive test of strength that was the African War has, no doubt, convinced them to curtail their imperial ambitions, at least for the remainder of the century; but they remain powerful nations who will, no doubt, immediately begin to jockey for influence in the new minor states and in the victorious alliance.
Punjab, in spite of being bled near to the bone by the demands of the Himalayan war (its manpower is down in the low hundreds in the final save), has come out of the war much enlarged in territory if not wealth. To remain a significant player, they will have to educate and organise the vast masses of India, still Hindu and therefore pagans in Moslem eyes even after centuries of Ethiopian rule, without giving them ambitions of independence. This, it seems to me, will be a very difficult task – especially with the Khanate, thwarted in its ambition to outright conquer India, stirring the pot. The Punjabi hillmen are attempting to rule a subcontinent twice the size and five times the population of their core Central-Asian territory, in addition to holding down recently-conquered and restive Iran – a mountain territory whose guerrillas have resisted foreign rulers since Alexander. (The pre-Christian one, that is, not Alexandros of the Long March!) Although it looks impressive on the map, I feel this Punjab is an artifical construct, which may well split into its constituent parts when it is no longer upheld by African bayonets.
The Khanate, of course, does face a somewhat similar problem in China. However, the Han are not given to disputing the Mandate of Heaven as demonstrated by success in overthrowing a previous dynasty; and moreover they are not so distanced from their overlords by religion. For Moslem to rule Hindu is likely disaster for both parties; but the Komnenoi flavour of Christianity has absorbed much Buddhism and other Eastern thought over the centuries, and many at the highest levels in New Byzantium can quote the Analects with the best. Further, the Komnenoi have ruled a polyglot empire of hundreds of tribes and peoples for many centuries, and have evolved institutions for the task; the Punjabi have, in the same period, been an ethnically and religiously homogenous state whose main difficulty has been in maintaining its territorial integrity, not in uniting disparate peoples.
All four of the victorious Powers will rapidly acquire nuclear weapons, the Khanate probably last among them; we will presumably collaborate to keep the beaten states and our new vassals from getting them, although enforcing such an edict will, as noted, be extremely difficult. However, in other interests we are somewhat disparate, as we’ve already seen in the dispute over the fate of India, which the Khanate wished to annex. (Lesser allies propose, Great Powers dispose!) The era of armies of millions of conscripts is, however, pretty much over; so we will have to turn to other means of competition. Here I feel that Communist Germany is at a disadvantage. Building an industrial infrastructure for coal and steel is one thing; the economy of silicon and service, something else again. The laissez-faire tradition of the Khanate, coupled with the industriousness of its millions of Chinese subjects and the enormous mineral riches of Siberia, will likely propel it to the fore economically. Catalunya, with the immense wealth of one and a half American continents (plus cheap Middle Eastern oil), is also likely to do well. By 1980 I would not be surprised to see Germany, while still militarily powerful, as an economic backwater with a creaking gerontocratic power structure, much as happened to the USSR in our timeline. I would also expect a free India and perhaps Iran, allied either to the Khanate or to a resurgent Ethiopia. A realignment of the Khanate, as the most irredentist of the victorious powers, with the beaten Africans is also possible; we have a ready-made ideological conflict in that the Khanate is the most economically free of the world’s states, while Germany is explicitly Communist. In the heat of the War this could be ignored, but as things cool down militarily and freeze under the shadow of the mushroom cloud, the difference will again come to the forefront. The American powers, having settled the question of Eurasian hegemony to their satisfaction, will perhaps retreat again into relative isolation; at any rate there is no particular reason for them to further involve themselves in the affairs of the Old World, except to ensure that they have access to oil and, of course, export markets.
It is, on the whole, a much more pleasant history than either of the Yngling timelines. We might even see a peaceful revolution in Germany, in the style of our 1989, leading to a loss of control of the Scandinavian puppets, Croatia, and Russia, but also to a much more dynamic economy and personal freedoms. Still, the world will not be without its flashpoints of conflict: India, Korea, Australia (whose Ethiopian settlers will likely seek independence, if not reunification with the mother country) and perhaps border skirmishes in the Himalayas where ghazi fanatics may well seek martyrdom against the infidel – or, indeed, where the Senate and the People may find it convenient to demonstrate their resolute support for the legitimate aspirations of the oppressed Indian peoples. Even so, by 1990 this world should be much wealthier than ours (assuming, at least, that it manages to avoid a devastating nuclear exchange), with millions of Chinese ex-peasants industriously working away at supplying the world with manufactured goods. I would not be surprised to see a Moon shot ten years earlier than in OTL, and an even faster development of space.
Perhaps, even, when the Quantum Device is finally invented – “it follows inevitably from the unification of gravity with quantum field theory” – this world will not contain any people so unsatisfied with their lot as to use it. Even the Russians who have lost two-thirds of their old empire, even the Khanate with its millennial ambition to reunite all its lost provinces, even Punjab which always desires to spread submission into the House of War – even these revanchists and irredentists may well flinch from the final desperate choice of the mad Ynglings. It is no light matter to throw away a thousand years of history. Who would destroy the desperate courage of the battle at Jvris Ugheltekili? Who would cast into nonexistence the bitter struggle against Russian numbers? Who, even, would throw away the blood and sacrifice of Athena Squadron? Not this Rome; not the Rome that is rightly called the Eternal City, although its mere geography may change from time to time. Rome remembers; and this history for all its bitterness shall not pass away.
Situation in late April 1944:
Obviously, the most important development is that some complete idiot gave an industrial province to Norway, and now the Ynglings are unleashed and will slaughter us all. Apart from that, there is an American invasion of Africa from its base in Reunion. The invasion began in February – nearing the end of summer in Mozambique, with good dry weather:
By mid-March the armoured columns were all over southern Africa:
Possibly a bit too ambitiously, as April seems to have seen a counterattack cutting off the columns:
But there are good ports in the Ethiopian domains, built as that empire is on half a millennium of controlling the seaborne trade of the Indian Ocean; I don’t think being cut in two parts caused the invasion any great difficulty of supply.
For those who can’t be bothered to zoom in on the world map, the industrial strengths are (taken from in-session screenshots, so they are correct):
Roman Khanate: 204/145
The Tibetan and Burmese campaigns heated up considerably this session, going back and forth in attack and counter. Here is the situation in December, with my planned attacks marked:
If successful, these attacks would create two giant pockets, one centered on Frunze and the other encompassing all of Burma, allowing me to destroy most of the Punjabi army. However, bad terrain and weather, stubborn Punjabi counterattacks, Japanese ‘volunteers’, and Ethiopian air support amounting to about half again the combined air forces of the Khanate and Punjab together, led to each of these attacks being blunted and turned back. Notice the casualty counts, however; the totals are slightly less than 10000 Khanate losses, somewhat over 28000 for the Punjabi.
Thus in February we had this situation, showing the counterattacks:
Notice the plight of my three cut-off divisions up in the north; out of supply, out of fuel, and out of hope. I have taken Kashgar, but I won’t be able to make it stick; I’ve also taken Shigatse, but it is being strongly attacked by Punjabi forces surrounding this breach. However, if I can hold off those counterattacks I’ve got it made: The Punjabi forces are all on my flanks, in front of me there is sweet, sweet nothing all the way to the sea.
Both sides were making fairly liberal use of VoV orders at this point; here is me hanging on to Gertse (just north of Shigatse) by the skin of my teeth:
The casualty ratio here is not so favourable; but the XIV Adrianople accomplished its mission and [i]held until relieved[/i].
At around this point MightyG, playing Japan, gives up completely on the polite fiction of neutrality; not only do the ‘volunteers’ in Burma become quite numerous and start launching powerful attacks into the jungle, he also breaks the ceasefire in Korea. The Korean attacks go nowhere, because I’m not that stupid; the line of division is still strongly held. In Burma, however, one motorised column gets as far as Pu’er before being turned back:
Well, Burma is one thing, but Korea is another. At this point I no longer consider Japan to be observing even the thinnest fig leaf of a ceasefire, and will hold myself free to attack its forces wherever I find them.
Gertse and Shigatse did in fact hold, and I was able to launch an attack down south into Bengal, trapping the reaction forces that Mark (playing Punjab) had scraped together, and at one point reaching Calcutta:
Cue the cries of “Thalassa! Thalassa!” However, this was being done by a single motorised division; the infantry were still slogging through mountains with infrastructure around 20.
Notice the really immensely lopsided casualty ratio in the lower right-hand corner; that’s from my very long-running counterattack on Baoshan, defended by something like 3 regular Punjabi divisions, 9 militia, and 6 Japanese motorised and light-armour divisions. As everything was on VoV, naturally the militia got hammered into uselessness long before the armour gave up, and then just sat about taking casualties for a month or so.
Unfortunately, I still could not push infantry through the mountains fast enough – partly due to the aforementioned infrastructure, partly because of continued desperate attacks on the flanks – to reinforce my motorised spearhead; so the Japanese were able to either land additional forces, or pull some out of the line in Burma, and push my attack back to Shigatse – in the process wiping out II Motor Rifle, whose commander insisted on withdrawing into the teeth of a Japanese attack rather than the way I told him to go. Twice. Worse, the Gantok pocket was rescued by my loss of Kathmandu.
Hence the situation in late April:
My incursion in the north didn’t actually start out as a rescue attempt – I had in fact written off those three divisions some time before the trap closed. But I kept making these small counterattacks where I saw a chance, and pushing the Punjabi back; and since I had these armoured divisions sitting about just looking at the strongly-held front north of Lake Balkhash, I thought I might as well attack weakness rather than strength. And, lo and behold, once I was past the thin infantry screen there was basically nothing in my way. Even with African help the Punjabi can’t be strong everywhere.
I return to the WWII analogue; the fighting in Tibet and in Punjab generally was exceedingly slow.