The Great Game: A Cold Wind

With this I return to actual writing. Here begins the Final War, my bid to win the game with a vast subject-ally infantry and fifty armoured divisions, before the mass production of nuclear weapons could make such a concentration of force obsolete. The Ynglinga Hird of this timeline is no ramshackle collection of a few armoured vehicles, some untried doctrines, and some very lucky officers, like the Wehrmacht of OTL 1939. It is what Hitler only dreamed of having: A true war machine, based on the industry of a continent. The ensuing war will be all the worse for it.

There blows a wind out of Norway.

Vidkun Yngling bends over a map, smiling grimly. Broad arrows show the advance of the Ynglinga Hird out of Siberia towards Beijing. Smaller ones thrust out of Kazakhstan, wild nomad tribesmen armed with modern rifles and centuries of hatred. A solid line marks the German border, where the heavy Polish infantry guards against Belgian treachery. And red circles mark Warsaw, Lodz, Kiev, Cracow: Hostages against the treachery of the polaks. This war has been years in the preparation; when it ends, Norway will rule Europe, or twenty million Ynglings will lie dead in the field.

The wind blows cold, chilled by the glaciers and the mountains; but it carries the hot clamour of sword on shield; din of hammers that forge weapons; scream of men burnt in sacrifice to the old gods.

Somewhere in the Rockies, a British supply column lies burning. The fighter-bombers overhead are impotent, far too late. The Apache are no friends to the Ynglings, but they will gladly fight anyone for factory-new cartridges, anti-tank mines, horses and fodder, and rifles. And if in the process they teach the British what they have taught the Norse, that it is wiser to stay out of the areas claimed by the People – why, so much the better.

Not everyone senses the wind; but those who do shiver, and work the harder to make their nation strong against the day of war. The days when the north wind brought dragon-prowed ships are long gone; but the people who manned the ships remain, grown strong and cruel in a millennium’s battles.

Tanks grind across the steppe, seeking resistance to crush. A flight of Valkyrie fighter-bombers streaks overhead, contrails arrow-straight against the clear sky; no Chinese aircraft have risen to meet them. Far ahead ranges the Mongol cavalry; plumes of smoke mark where a hamlet or hunter’s cottage has felt their passing. The plumes are few and far between, for now; this border country is not heavily settled. But to the south waits the rich wheat land of China, heartland of the world’s largest empire, its defenders scattered to far borders. There will be rich plunder there; and a burning such as even this war-scarred world has never seen.

There are bright banners gleaming, in the wind; and the glory of victory, and the smell of horses and good steel. But there is no hint of softness or compassion; the wind may whisper of the brotherhood of warriors, but never of the brotherhood of man.

Viking and Cossack, Mongol and Indian: The warrior peoples at the edge of civilisation, united for one final Volkerwanderung, one last invasion to break the settled peoples, to grind their kingdoms to dust and destroy their nations. Rome has fallen, and the barbarian tribes are on the march.

There blows a wind out of Norway. It smells of… victory.

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