1850 Mjølner tanks, 2300 Gungnir. The best tanks in the world… but not enough of them; the classic uptime mistake, repeated here on a larger scale. Ynglings would always prefer to over-engineer their weapons, as though they were battle-axes to be inlaid with gold and jewels. And the same with the fighters – the Hærfjøtur jets were the finest aircraft in service anywhere, but too few, too few… Sigurd sighed. Doing the projections by hand, with pencil and paper, was tedious, painstaking work; he missed the vast computers of the uptime, which could have delivered the answers in seconds, with variations on the scenarios. But the much simplified versions he could do himself were all clear enough, and the answer was the same as it had been in the uptime: Norway did not have the power to conquer Asia. The distances were too large and too well defended. The inputs changed – tanks and rifles instead of nuclear-tipped missiles; an army of regular citizen-soldiers instead of Ynglinga Hird warrior-athletes supported by stril auxiliaries serving for the distant hope of manumission – but the outcome was the same.
There was, perhaps, another way. In the uptime, the long standoff had enabled China to simply grow around the Ynglings, to reach into space and expand their industries there to the point of near self-sufficiency. And so the Ynglings had built a Secret Hird and a Quantum Device, and destroyed a timeline in a desperate last strike. But now that shoe might be on the other foot. The Americas were vast and rich, and under Yngling control or that of their allies; teeming Asia could not match the low labour costs of their agriculture, could not devote so much of their population to industry and science. Perhaps, if there were a long peace, the Ynglings could be the ones to dominate space and extract its wealth.
And then what? Another Quantum Device, another timeline destroyed? The technology followed inevitably from the unity of quantum mechanics and gravity. Could the Asians be trusted not to use it, when they saw themselves overshadowed? No. Only a world government could enforce a ban. If a weapon existed, it would eventually be used; and humanity would be doomed to another go-around of the long struggle, until finally a timeline was created where some lucky nation made its dominance stick, and policed the world to ensure that no malcontents destroyed history in order to save it.
And so his thoughts came full circle again, to tanks and rifles, attrition ratios and power projection. 1850 Mjølner tanks… No. He had checked his numbers eighteen times already; there was no saving mistake of arithmetic, no zero lost in the inputs. It could not be done that way. It would have to be – he made a face – diplomacy.
France and Germany have ambitions in Russia, but will have to be watched. Africa drools for the Mediterranean north coast… That mental path was almost as well worn as the count of orders-of-battle, and Sigurd pushed it away with another sigh. He had sat too long at Dovre, counting and recounting the tanks and aircraft. He needed something new, a fresh idea to break him out of the old, stale rut of his thoughts.
He rose, wishing there was a window so he could stare pensively at a real landscape. The completely human-made corridors honeycombing Dovre were not conducive to creative thought; they were too controlled, too artificial. For a moment the walls seemed to close in, and he shut his eyes; when he opened them he had decided. He could not win from here, and the Ynglings could not win by attrition. It would have to be something risky and radical. Something unexpected. Something… Yngling.