February 1st, 1873
Håkon’s Hall, Bergen
The map room was cool and quiet, dominated by the huge relief table showing the Baltic and the surrounding lands. Counters were laid out to show a vast thrust of Norwegian forces into the south of Sweden, driving towards Göteborg from south and north. Two tall, slim men were leaning over the table, examining the situation while a one-eyed secretary moved counters in accordance with the latest report.
“It’s going well enough to start.”
“Yes… I’m a little worried about the Chinese.”
The other man shrugged. “The soldiers are brave; the rifles are muzzle loaders; the officers are corrupt; the artillery is non-existent. What of it? The Burgundians are on the run; we broke them in the mountains, now we chase them through the forest.”
“And for these troops we have paid with Laos and Cambodia! I still think we might have held on, and crushed the revolts.”
“Feel that pressure in your mid-section? That’s the barrel the Dragon Throne has us over. What’s the use of re-conquering that godforsaken jungle, anyway? All our people are massacred or evacuated, nothing left but the wogs. And I wish them much joy of staying independent, with the Chinese right next door.”
“Fine, fine, it’s done in any case. Never mind. Look, though, it’s one thing to chase broken divisions through our home ground; what are we going to do about Germany? This war is bleeding us dry.”
“Well, the Chinese are good enough for line-of-communications work, even if they can’t stand in the trenches. I think we can free up the manpower for one more good push. If we get to Brussels, even within artillery range… The Burgundians are hurting too. They’ve got to be. They’ve lost three hundred thousand in the Swedish campaign alone.”
“And we’ll need every last prisoner to run our factories after the war. At least the Chinese can help us keep the damn Russians and Germans down.”
With a Chinese expeditionary force, I am able to land in Sweden and begin clearing out the Burgundians there:
So much for my Asian colonies, but needs must when the devil drives. I didn’t use them much for first-line attacks, but they came in very handy for keeping the damn rebels down.
Having recovered my industrial heartland, a lot of troops are freed up for attacks on the German front, where I’ve been pushed back a bit by sheer weight of Poles:
Attack direction Brussels!
Reaching the sea pockets about 100k Burgundians – off to the salt mines. No Geneva convention here!
Running out of troops again… The longer the line gets, the less steam in my attack. One more push for Brussels, but where am I going to get the troops for it?