The Great Game: The Twenty Years War Begins

12 March, 1864
Håkon’s Hall, Bergen

“…it is therefore my solemn duty to inform you that a state of war exists between the Empire of Great Britain and the Yngling Realm.”
There was a disbelieving silence; at last the King spoke, rising from his seat to tower over the Englishman. “After the treatment we gave you people last time, you still want to try it again?” The scarred Yngling, a giant even among a people noted for size and strength, looked as though he could squeeze out the ambassador’s life with one hand, and indeed he quite likely could; but if the Englishman was slightly built, still there was steel in him, and his voice was steady as he replied. Only the look in his eye gave away his hatred.
“I think you’ll find, sir, that it is one thing to fall without warning upon a peace-loving people minding their own business; and quite another to fight a nation of two hundred million who have chosen their own time for revenge.” Having gotten the last word, he turned to leave; but as he reached the door of the audience chamber, he stopped, and turned again to face the Ynglings. “My sister was in London before the Rising. I hope I may make the acquaintance of some of yours, in due time; I feel I might have much to discuss with such a woman.”


18 April, 1864
The Skagerrak

The invasion fleet was a grand sight, hundreds of full-rigged ships, White Ensigns snapping in the fresh breeze. By contrast, the little squadron coming out to meet it looked small and dark, grubby with coal smoke and rather low-slung next to the vast white wings of the sailing ships. The only glint of colour was in the Golden Lion flying from their foretops. But they made ten knots against the wind; by the time the British were aware of their danger, the dragon heads of the ironclads’ prows were showing above the water as they gained speed for their ramming run. Chaser guns tried futilely to halt their rush, but the cannonballs merely clanged off iron plating with tooth-grating skirrs, like the world’s largest fingernail being drawn down a blackboard. Then the ironclads smashed into their targets with enormous CRUNCH sounds, before retreating to let the water in. Ten ships sunk in as many minutes, and the battle just beginning. The black ships with their dragon-headed prows were snakes among the rabbits. Full broadsides bounced off their plating; their own cannon, firing explosive shell instead of iron shot, set fires blazing all over the invasion fleet.

By sundown, the flower of the Royal Navy lay in wreckage all along the coast, and the gulls squabbled over the army that had been intended to land in Bergen and subdue the Ynglings in a week.


I do believe the AI miscalculated a bit there. Certainly, the Royal Navy was a fine match for what I had at the moment of the declaration. However, I had ten ironclads coming down the build queue; they were completed two weeks after the war began. Heads rolled, no doubt, at the Admiralty. Nonetheless, to fight the British Empire when you haven’t got the drop on them is no joke; more to follow.


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