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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:58 am

Stuyvesant wrote:It's taken a while for me to take the bait, but I've finally read everything you've posted so far. It's intriguing, I'm looking forward to more.

Nice touch, an update or two ago, talking about the rejuvenation equipment somewhere in North America (was one of your earlier agents Ponce de Leon?) and near Jerusalem - these experiments appear to have been going on for a very, very long time. :)

First time since 2015 that I've posted in any forum. We'll see if I can make it stick.


glad to have tempted you out of retirement :)

Must confess the N American claim was a bit of a throw away line - or more strictly giving me a bit of leeway depending on how the game unfolds.

I think we can assume that they have been playing this game for some time and that the rigours of purely academic research have started to lose their charms. This is perhaps something a little closer to action research ... :cool:

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Lublin: September 1852

Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:03 am

Lublin: September 1852

Olga's tale

So here I am, living with my father while my sister goes on her adventure to Italy. I guess I should be angry but I find being here so … so delicious. So much to explore, so many opportunities.

He is out on the family estates most of the time and I have our town house to myself … well myself, the servants and the governess he has hired to chaperone me and to continue my education. In many ways my father is a modern man, strangely true to the ideals of his youth. Girls should learn as much as they wish, not just the narrow expectations of society.

Well, I can teach myself everything that matters. In the last few months all my memories have come back. After all the fate of taking a child's body is the loss of identity for many years. The advantage is no dilution of our own personality, no nagging arguments with the previous owner of the body.

And I find the world so ripe with potential. It appears as if the European powers have been so unsettled by the recent revolutions that they all seek national unity from war. And if there is one thing I remember from my past, it is that war offers so many opportunities.

Image

Image

[1]

But there are gaps in my knowledge. I do not know where my sister is. Boris Stepanovic is clearly one of us – the shock in his eyes was too plain for him to hide when he recognised me … well not me exactly but what I am. Of course I no longer know what he is planning or if we still have a goal, a plan, a reason to be here … or am I free to pursue my own interests?

Well I have already made a small start. It is so gratifying to hear local gossip that someone had come from Prague or Vilna and made a Golem [2]. One that is out of control, a threat to the small and vulnerable. Some already tell tales that a strzyga [3] is active.

As I regain my strength and memories, I think it is almost time to make the strong and powerful fear this new curse that walks Lublin?

[1] The images are not clear but in each the winning side escalated in their final actions. Prussia sent its army out on manouvers and France issued an ultimatum. Both risked war if the weaker side had not backed down.

[2] The Prague version is better known in legend but similar stories are connected to a Golem in Vilnius/Vilna.

[3] One of the many forms of vampire in Slavic myths, this type were noted for their cruelty and the extent that they toyed with their potential victims.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:56 pm

Olga doesn't sound very nice. I mean, taking over and obliterating a small child is bad enough, but her musings seem to veer mostly towards how she can best terrorize her surroundings and that seems very nihilistic.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:26 am

Stuyvesant wrote:Olga doesn't sound very nice. I mean, taking over and obliterating a small child is bad enough, but her musings seem to veer mostly towards how she can best terrorize her surroundings and that seems very nihilistic.


No shes not. I think Olga is going to enjoy the next few decades in Russia. She seems a very good fit for groups like Narodnaya Volya. I have a number of posts sketched out where iconic events from real Russian history will involve my characters. Her and 'Boris' are going to have an interesting future - if not quite together then certainly crossing each others paths.

And if she can't dress up her taste for mayhem with a cloak of political action then I suspect she will just do it anyway.

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Jerusalem: October 1852

Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:29 am

Jerusalem: October 1852

If he had not been running for his life, Maron would have laughed. Not so much at his own cleverness – though he felt he deserved some credit for his recent actions – but at a feeling that this city was made for revolt and mayhem. Rebellion and dissent had seeped into the very stones over thousands of years – it was almost as if it inspired division, violence and dissent.

As he turned the corner into a market place he briefly hoped he had thrown off his hunters. A hope made all the more fervent as a musket ball just missed his shoulder. One of them was either a trained marksman or just very lucky.

So far his attempts to convince the Sultan that the Russians were trying to undermine his rule by supporting revolt across his southern dominions had been successful. And he reminded himself, painless, as he twisted his ankle on a scrap of discarded cabbage.

Image

Image

Regaining his balance, he looked up. A market square was more exposed than he wanted and he could hear the sound of boots hitting the ground behind him. Well, the safest option seemed to be to try and cross it before they arrived. On the other side was a warren of narrow streets. Hopefully one of his helpers could intervene to distract his hunters.

That the Sultan had given both French Catholics and Greek Orthodox priests the same church [1] was a matter of luck. It had then been easy to infiltrate both factions and ensure that tempers ran high. Not least he had stolen several icons and then arranged for their sale in the local markets. Not only did the theft inflame tempers, the lack of respect for the stolen objects added to the anger.

As he turned to run for the nearest alleyway he reflected. Just maybe he should have left it there. After all the city was in turmoil.

Image

But his imperial mistress really wanted the Sultan to understand that firm action was now needed if he was to have peace. Well the Russians had been waiting for him this time.

Briefly he slowed, and selected the alley he was going to use. A few shots rang out missing him but reminding him of the threat. Just as he turned into the alley he heard another volley. One musket ball crashed into the bricks above his head and a second hit a metal shutter to his side.

Finally his luck gave out. Almost spent, the ball rebounded and crashed into his upper leg. Thrown to the floor by the blow he briefly struggled to stand up. When he finally raised himself he found himself looking at a pistol.

'Svinoi, I have been wanting to meet you for some time. And now' the Russian officer nodded at his bruised leg 'it seems as if we will have the time for a long talk'.

Turning to his men he ordered them to take a nearby cart, load Maron onto it and take their captive to the north of the city. The Sultan's soldiers took a relaxed approach to their duties but musket fire would inevitably force some action.

As he was dumped on the cart, Maron hoped that one of his helpers had seen what had happened. He also hoped that his employer would bother to try and rescue him.


[1] Widely credited as the spark for the Crimean War. Louis Napoleon wanted clerical support for his coup against the Second Republic so backed catholic agitation for more control over churches in Jerusalem. Nicholas retaliated by backing the Orthodox claims. The Sultan very sensibly gave the church to them both in the hope they would sort it out. When Napoleon established the Second Empire he lost interest but the Russians took this as an indication that the Ottomans were isolated and started to make further demands.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Mon Apr 24, 2017 4:22 pm

It looks like the Crimean war is coming. Very interesting to see how this will play out in your AAR.

On a different matter, i request that you consider using, among your group of Russian insults, the word Svollich. That may not be the correct English spelling, but it is a very colorful insult I learned from my mother.

It meant that the recipient was from "down the river", which, whether the river was the Dnieper, the Don, or the Volga, meant a robber, a runaway serf, a Cossack, an uncivilized brute, as everyone knew that these savages liked to hide out in gangs on islands near the delta of these great rivers, so they could rob, murder, and pillage honest boatmen and fishermen, while dishonoring women and being drunk one hundred percent of the time, which is too much even for a Russian.

It is a deadly insult, one that would have been enough to instigate a duel in this period.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:29 pm

vaalen wrote:It looks like the Crimean war is coming. Very interesting to see how this will play out in your AAR.



The only problem in this is I realised I had hooked the Anglo-French participation to the wrong test. So they arrive a bit late - but very dramatically when they do.

vaalen wrote:On a different matter, i request that you consider using, among your group of Russian insults, the word Svollich. That may not be the correct English spelling, but it is a very colorful insult I learned from my mother.

It meant that the recipient was from "down the river", which, whether the river was the Dnieper, the Don, or the Volga, meant a robber, a runaway serf, a Cossack, an uncivilized brute, as everyone knew that these savages liked to hide out in gangs on islands near the delta of these great rivers, so they could rob, murder, and pillage honest boatmen and fishermen, while dishonoring women and being drunk one hundred percent of the time, which is too much even for a Russian.

It is a deadly insult, one that would have been enough to instigate a duel in this period.


I will, sounds like it will fit some of my characters very well. In general I'm trying to keep the non-English to flavour or a few specific words so as work within the spirit of the forum but I'm sure a wee bit more would be perfectly acceptable.

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Milan: December 1852

Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:34 pm

Milan: December 1852

Milan was not what I had expected. Grandmother's tales of Italy had stressed the sun and warmth. Oddly her stories forgot to mention days of fog so dense one could not see across the street.

Still it made a welcome change from Vienna. For some reason Grandmother was uneasy there and it was also strange to see so many Russians in the centre. Some seemed to be diplomats but it was clear that most were army officers. This reminded me of Boris – my betrothed (I assumed) – and his endless stories of the food and drink shared at this or that officers mess. So we both were happy to move on and to cross the Alps before winter closed the passes.

Even so, another day blundering in the fog held little appeal so I returned early to our apartment and went into our shared sitting room. Clearly she had been there recently for there was an open paper on the table. Glancing it at, I noted she persisted in buying the semi-illegal La Stampa from Turin [1] not the locally produced Gazzetta. Picking it up I noticed it was a week out of date and started to idly flick through the pages. Finally I reached the front page where the headline made me stop:


Image

As I started to read the article, Gabriella returned to the room.

'Did you know about this?'

She looked at me, at the newspaper and answered slowly

'Yes, for several days'

'And when did you intend to tell me – we must return to Russia … today'

Usually Grandmother was sympathetic to my demands but this met with nothing but a smile.

'Why Katja … what difference would that make. Are you going to take up a musket and fight for the Tsar? Or maybe weave uniforms for his brave troops? What difference does it make if we are in Milan or Moscow?'

'Baba … sometimes I do not understand you – are you being cruel on purpose? I am Russian, my country is at war, I feel … I feel I should be there'

'Katja, it is too late to cross the Alps, and we cannot go across the southern route. You have not paid much attention to the press while we have been here. That is a week out of date, here is the local official bulletin'.

At that she put a single broadsheet onto the table

Image
[2]

'Did it not occur to you to wonder why there were so many Russians in Vienna? The Sultan has trusted the promises of the British and French and is now isolated' [3]

'So, that makes it safe to travel. There is no risk of the Turks striking north, we can go to Zagreb, then Vienna and then to meet father in Lublin'

'Katja, I am not going back to Russia – at least not now. There is something I must do in Italy first'.

'Baba, why. Your family lands are in good hands, the apartment your family owns in Milan – at this I glanced around the room – is well maintained. What else is here for you? Your son, your family are in Russia, your husband is buried there'.

At this Gabriella sighed and looked at me.

'Ekaterina Dmitryevna – sit down, dear child. I think it is time I told you the truth'.

[1] Again playing with the time line for my purposes, this was first published in 1866 but newsheets from Turin were widely circulated in Austrian held Italy.

[2] This happened before the recent discussion about how to stop Austria getting too strong. I applied the new script shortly after this and removed a number of Austrian formations (by my own script) but it took me a while to understand the implications so they did a lot of damage to the Ottomans before I managed to rebalance the game.

[3] Again a gameplay point. In testing the new events I had mostly done so in isolation. It took me a while to realise that the British and French were not backing up the Ottomans and then worked out I'd linked their participation to the wrong test event. The modification in the 1.04.03 event pack thread will solve this. Again I ended up imposing my own particular solution – as a spoiler the result was very impressive (if you like having a huge Anglo-French army rampaging around the Crimea).

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:39 pm

loki100 wrote:
vaalen wrote:It looks like the Crimean war is coming. Very interesting to see how this will play out in your AAR.



The only problem in this is I realised I had hooked the Anglo-French participation to the wrong test. So they arrive a bit late - but very dramatically when they do.



I am about to finish 1853, as Russia. So far, the Crimean War event has not fired. I had a very short war with Turkey in 1852, they declared war on me, for some reason, and the peace ended in mid 1853.

If I attack Turkey in 1854, will this prevent the Crimean War event from firing?

Thanks,

Vaalen

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:49 pm

vaalen wrote:On a different matter, i request that you consider using, among your group of Russian insults, the word Svollich. That may not be the correct English spelling, but it is a very colorful insult I learned from my mother.

It meant that the recipient was from "down the river", which, whether the river was the Dnieper, the Don, or the Volga, meant a robber, a runaway serf, a Cossack, an uncivilized brute, as everyone knew that these savages liked to hide out in gangs on islands near the delta of these great rivers, so they could rob, murder, and pillage honest boatmen and fishermen, while dishonoring women and being drunk one hundred percent of the time, which is too much even for a Russian.

It is a deadly insult, one that would have been enough to instigate a duel in this period.


I will, sounds like it will fit some of my characters very well. In general I'm trying to keep the non-English to flavour or a few specific words so as work within the spirit of the forum but I'm sure a wee bit more would be perfectly acceptable.[/quote]

I also thought it would fit some of your characters very well, which is why I suggest it. Thank you for preserving a bit of the culture of the period.

And a further bit of trivia, a Svollich would be very likely to "eat off the point of his knife", an act which horrified the upper strata of Russian society of the period.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:22 pm

vaalen wrote:...

I am about to finish 1853, as Russia. So far, the Crimean War event has not fired. I had a very short war with Turkey in 1852, they declared war on me, for some reason, and the peace ended in mid 1853.

If I attack Turkey in 1854, will this prevent the Crimean War event from firing?

Thanks,

Vaalen


Yes, the event won't fire if you are already at war with any of France, UK or Turkey. It also has a low per turn probability (10%) and it might be better if this was pushed up to say 20%. On the other hand it can fire at any time between 1852 and 1862.

For both Britain and France the key line that will bring them in is:

EvalEvent = evt_nam_RUS_CrimeanCrisis1853_ON;=;1


If you open the Crimean Crisis event document you'll find the requisite lines at
StartEvent = evt_nam_RUS_CrimeanCrisis1853_FranceAI
and
StartEvent = evt_nam_RUS_CrimeanCrisis1853_BritainAI

As I noted in my game, I'd mixed this up and went back and created a composite event that added in both France and Britain to the war (with all the othed diplomatic changes of the event). Its worth it, even if you suspect that your 1852-3 war may have been a reduced Crimean event. PM me if you want a script you can pop in.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:22 am

So, is Maron a Maronite (and thus ends my puddle-deep knowledge about religious creeds in the Middle East)?

War it is. With you leading Russia, it's hard to see how this is going to end well for the Ottomans. Oh well, perhaps the British and the French can keep things from getting out of hand. Well, in the "rearranging the map" kind of way. Remembering your Italy AAR, I suspect we'll see casualty rates in the hundreds of thousands, regardless.

What's this Narodnaya Volya you speak of? I know I've seen that 'Narod' root before - something like 'homeland'? Or am I confusing it with Rodina? Anyway, I can usually bluff my way through mid-twentieth century USSR stuff, but I'm pretty useless when it comes to 19th century Russia.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:16 am

Stuyvesant wrote:So, is Maron a Maronite (and thus ends my puddle-deep knowledge about religious creeds in the Middle East)?


Yes, its a common male name in that community - if I recall Maron was the main local saint. They are based in the mountains of the central Lebanon and were/are a Catholic rather than Orthodox Christian community. As with many such groups, even in the Nineteenth Century they had a large exile community spread across the Eastern and Central Med regions.

The French tended to be very pro-Maronite - I think for reasons due to the Crusades - which often distorted their interests in the Middle East both at this period and subsequently.

Stuyvesant wrote:War it is. With you leading Russia, it's hard to see how this is going to end well for the Ottomans. Oh well, perhaps the British and the French can keep things from getting out of hand. Well, in the "rearranging the map" kind of way. Remembering your Italy AAR, I suspect we'll see casualty rates in the hundreds of thousands, regardless.

What's this Narodnaya Volya you speak of? I know I've seen that 'Narod' root before - something like 'homeland'? Or am I confusing it with Rodina? Anyway, I can usually bluff my way through mid-twentieth century USSR stuff, but I'm pretty useless when it comes to 19th century Russia.


Narodnaya Volya is the People's Will. They grew out of a wider movement among young Russian intellectuals who decided the source of wisdom, and what made Russia unique, was the peasant commune. So they set off to the country to 'learn from the people' - the people quite reasonably were deeply suspicious of all these educated strangers hanging around their villages. A small group then decided that if the people wouldn't liberate themselves they would do it for them - and started a terrorist group to that end. In a way they were the first fusion of Jacobin ideology (lead the people by force if needed, rule over them for their own good etc) and specifically Russian circumstances. Of course they weren't the last to make this combination.

You probably recognise the root Narod from 20 Century Soviet history, So almost all major functions of the early Soviet state were named as the 'People's Dept of this or that'. So the NKVD was Narodnyi Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del or the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs.

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The Battle of Trabzon 3 - 10 December 1852

Fri Apr 28, 2017 12:37 pm

The Battle of Trabzon: 3-10 December 1852

With the declaration of war Admiral Lazarev ordered the Black Sea fleet to sea. With the addition of Nikolai Evdokimov's marines and an extra infantry division the plan was to invade the north eastern coast of Turkey and provide support for the troops marching from Armenia.

The problem was where. The southern coast of the Black Sea has few natural harbours as the Anatolian plateau fell steeply into the sea. The two main towns – Sinope and Trabzon – occupied the best sites along the coast. Beyond this, there were very few places were troops could be landed..

Adding to the challenge of geography was the harsh reality of the Black Sea in winter. Surrounded on two sides by high mountains and open on the north to winds from Siberia, sailing conditions were challenging. The result was variable wind directions and speeds as local geography interacted with prevailing weather patterns. A further problem was the variable fogs of the region. Sometimes affecting visibility for days on end, at other times coming and going as wind and temperature shifted. Neither side could trust the conditions or rely on either bad weather to hide their plans or clear weather to detect the enemy.

In his favour, Lazerev had several advantages. He had been an enthusiastic supporter of changing the ordinance of his ships from the traditional solid cannon balls to the newer explosive shells. In theory this meant the Ottoman fleet could be engaged at longer ranges and risked secondary damage from fire rather than just the damage from the direct impact of cannon balls [1].

After consulting with Mikhail Vorontsov [2], he decided to land the marines near the small fishing port of Batum. There, they could protect the advance of Cossack formations pushing along the coast and threaten the flank of the main Ottoman armies protecting Kars. All the available evidence was that both Trabzon and Sinope were too well garrisoned to be taken by a small force.

Image

Image

On 2 December a fast frigate spotted an Ottoman convoy making for Trabzon but lost sight of them as fog settled in the mid-afternoon.

At this Lazarev gambled. Abandoning the slow, vulnerable Russian transport ships to complete the landings at Batum, Lazarev ordered his warships to sail west to engage, hoping to catch the Ottomans if they made straight for the port. If their plan was to land elsewhere, he ran the risk of leaving southern Russia exposed to invasion.

By mid-morning on 3 December, his fleet surprised the Ottomans. The fog had lifted and his longer range guns allowed the Russians to destroy most of the Ottoman transports for no losses themselves.

Image

Despite this set back, it quickly became clear that the Ottomans were desperate to reinforce their armies in Eastern Anatolia. Relying on the fickle weather, they tried again on 10 December. This time they suffered an even worse defeat as the Russian fleet was already blockading the port.

Image
[3]

News of the victories arrived first in Sevastopol, and then was quickly transmitted to St Petersburg. That the opening clash had seen such a successful outcome – and by the fleet not the army – led to celebrations [4].

Image

Lazarev's fleet was able to follow up the victories by intercepting several more Ottoman convoys – this time trying to reach Sinope – before it had to return to Sevastopol on 20 December to replenish its ammunition and other supplies.

By that stage, attention was focussed on events at the fortress of Kars.

[1] While the Russian fleet generally lagged behind Britain and France in both numbers and competence, the Black Sea fleet was the first to engage in combat using the new style ammunition. Lazerev had made the decision in the early 1850s to retrain to the new technology while the Baltic Fleet persisted in using the older solid shot.

[2] As we have seen, in command of the main Russian army in the Caucasus.

[3] Gameplay note – as will become clear the AI is good at planning naval invasions – and evacuations. However, mostly it is still sending its combat vessels to raid in the trade boxes not to escort – though I am not sure if the Ottomans have much of an at start navy?

[4] In reality after the real victory at Sinope, to the annoyance of the Black Sea Fleet, sailors from the Baltic Fleet had a victory parade in the capital. This did little to ease the ongoing tensions between the two centres of Russian naval power and the differences as to tactics and weapons that had already emerged.

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Kars, December 1852

Tue May 02, 2017 11:25 am

Kars, December 1852

Image
(Kars town and fortress on the extinct volcano)


2 December

Image

Lieutenant General Baryatinski cursed the weather, his commander, his colleagues, his horse and, most of all, Poruchik Drubetskoy [1]. Looking at the steep, wet, tree shrouded slopes, he added some choice insults for the trees. Here the dark dripping pines made the already muddy paths a place where the unwary – or unlucky – could easily break an ankle.

And now, this upstart, from no known noble family [2] had sent him a response. His men were busy … well now his infantry would have to exhaust themselves clearing a trail. So the Guards and the wagons and the indulgences of the senior staff could traverse this escarpment more easily … and, at this he launched a final curse at the absent Drubetskoy - as they would have specialist help from the engineers to cut a safe road.

He knew the logic – take advantage of the delayed snows, push across the border now, perhaps take the Ottomans by surprise. Well it was him, and his corps that had to wade through mud, sleep under crude shelters and feel that every footstep was going to be their last in case they slipped on a tree root.

Damn them all.

And once they were over the border … well at least then they might do some soldiering.

14 December

Baryatinski's corps had halted just beyond Kars blocking the road to Erzum. As they had approached the town the covering Ottoman forces had fallen back. Clearly they intended to rely on the fortress and the problems of a winter siege to defeat the Russians. By the 14 December the main army had arrived and he was summoned to a staff conference.

As he had ridden back he felt his luck was changing … now he had the chance to catch that Svollich Drubetskoy. The chance to deal with the upstart for abandoning him. To teach him some manners. For the first time in days he had almost felt warm.

Not that the feeling lasted long. Not only was it clear that the staff and the Guards had billeted themselves in the town itself, leaving his formation to make their own protection against the coming snow, but Drubetskov was no-where to be found. Apparently he had been sent back to Tiblisi to supervise bringing up the heavier siege artillery now that the passes were filled with snow.

Image

Well no one was going anywhere till the spring - he would wait for his chance.

And there had been one piece of good news. The Tsarevich had insisted on taking part in the campaign – luckily he was being sent south as part of the attack towards Baghdad. Safely out of the way, and, given the local revolts against Ottoman rule, perfectly safe from risk.


[1] Lieutenant of the Engineers

[2] As in many armies in this era, officers in the Engineering ranks were often from middle class background and far better educated than those in the main formations – most often selected by class and with ability seen as an optional extra.

Oddly, apart from for the most senior ranks, in the main the Russian army was less class ridden than the British at this stage - it took the shock of the Boer War to force a major reform of promotion and patronage in the British army. Notionally at least, the Russians had embraced the idea of a professional, relatively open, officer corps ever since the Seven Years War - not that having a suitable aristocratic title was a hindrence to progression, especially in the elite units.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Wed May 03, 2017 3:42 pm

I enjoyed seeing the proper use of the term Svollich, as that is exactly the type of insult an Aristocratic general would use in reference to a middle class officer who opposed his will.

I am really enjoying the notes you add at the end of the narratives, as they greatly enrich the experience, and provide even more feel for the period. And I also enjoy the continued use of just the right screenshots to go with the narrative.

Looking forward to the next part!

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Tue May 09, 2017 7:12 am

vaalen wrote:I enjoyed seeing the proper use of the term Svollich, as that is exactly the type of insult an Aristocratic general would use in reference to a middle class officer who opposed his will.

I am really enjoying the notes you add at the end of the narratives, as they greatly enrich the experience, and provide even more feel for the period. And I also enjoy the continued use of just the right screenshots to go with the narrative.

Looking forward to the next part!


I thought you'd appreciate that - it did indeed seem to fit the class and role differences between the two individuals.

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Mount Athos

Tue May 09, 2017 7:14 am

Mount Athos, December 1852

Collegiate Assessor [1] Makarin had never wanted to join the church. As the youngest son of an impoverished family – rich in name only – he had been destined for that fate. And as an intelligent, amoral, young man he had been determined to avoid it.

Well, not many well born young men wished to serve in the Tsar's police and this decision had served him up to now. Relatively rapid promotion, trusted to hunt the Tsar's enemies both inside and outside Russia.

And here now, he was wearing a monk's cowl and trapped on this peninsula, expected to follow the life of a monk. Forbidden, even, to question his captive. And he really wanted to do that – not least he now blamed Maron for this turn in his life.

Even before the start of the war, it had not been easy to move an unwilling captive overland. The deserts to the east of Jerusalem were in revolt and the Ottoman troops presented as much a challenge as the rebels. North was impractical, not least the Black Sea ports, even if he could have got so far, were too well guarded.

So he and his men had bribed a captain to take them to Greece. With the outbreak of war, their new hosts had suggested he leave Athens, so he had come here [2] via Salonika.

Yes, this was Ottoman territory but they would not send troops into this region unless provoked. Setting off a revolt of all their Orthodox subjects was not in their interests [3]. So here he was stuck, with his prisoner. Who refused to talk to him and who he was forbidden to force to talk. And he really wanted Maron to pay for dragging him here.

His only hope was the rumours that the Austrians were forcing their way down the Danube. If they pushed the Ottomans back it would be possible to take his captive back to Russia – and he could try to forget the period when he had been forced to act like a monk. And then, he would make his captive talk.

Image
[4]

[1] One of the ranks established by Peter the Great to stratify the non-military civil service and other state functions. At this stage, there was no attempt to indicate the actual area of service so the same titles were used within the police as would have been in the wider administration.

[2] At this stage my relations with Greece are poor but will improve as the 1850s go on and I spend time cultivating an alliance.

[3] While the usual western representation of the Ottoman Empire at this time was a regime in terminal decline, the reality was more mixed. It was carrying out a major reform of its administration and legal systems. Equally while it could be brutal to those of its subjects who revolted – or who they feared would revolt – in the main they operated with a degree of tolerance. Thus somewhere like Mount Athos would be left to self-govern except in the most extreme of circumstances.

[4] Actually for the situation in May 1853 but don't have any other images of the Austrian campaign.

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Kars, March 1853

Tue May 16, 2017 4:16 pm

Kars, 15-20 March, 1853

Lieutenant-General Muraviev was becoming very frustrated. At every staff meeting he had to listen to the comments ... in fact, the insults ... of his fellow officers. Their divisions were deployed to the west of the town, out in the snow, suffering from the cold and the blizzards. His privileged Guards were billeted in the lower town that had been abandoned when the Russians first arrived.

His argument that his men were close enough to suffer daily cannon fire from the defenders were ignored – after all the chances of being killed were so small that it was almost a fair price to pay for a warm roof over their heads – at least to men sleeping in makeshift shelters.

And today, they were even more annoyed. Marshal Vorontsov had ordered them to send back all but their lightest cannon. Finally the engineers had created a platform where the field artillery could hit the main walls. And an Armenian spy [1] had provided details of the damage done by the steady bombardment by the heavy guns. The eastern end of the long walls had been breached and were beyond repair. Vorontsov was determined to press this advantage before the Ottoman armies at Erzurum could intervene.

Image
[2]

16 March

Poruchik Drubetskoy looked over his shoulder to check that the Guards were following his engineers up the steep slope. The pouring rain muffled the sounds as men lost their footing and as officers cursed them for falling behind. However, if the rain protected their approach, it would also limit the impact of the planned cannonade. The assault troops were on their own.

Turning back he tried to relate what he could see to the maps and the information from the spy. The problem was one dark rock looked like another in the gloom.

“Gospodin [3] Poruchik … over here”

As he clambered across the wet rocks, it was clear they had veered too far to the west. After a brief discussion, the party retreated and then moved up the right defile. As they came near the top it was clear that so far the rain had masked their approach. Now the hard part began.

Slowly the Engineers brought up the explosives that would collapse the wall. As best as they could on the steep slope, the infantry deployed into assault columns behind the last escarpment on the slope. Officers and men knew it was a meaningless gesture but it served to keep the men together and ease communications.

Drubetskoy decided to risk one last move forwards. The better placed the explosives, the more chance they had of living through the day. Taking several men he moved up to within sight of the wall. As they tried to spot the weakest part they were surprised to hear Polish curses from within the fort [4].

It was clear they were repairing the damage and trying to strengthen the weakened wall.

Turning back down the slope, Drubetskoy started to organise the final steps. The sky was starting to lighten even if the rain fell more heavily. Even so, he carefully checked and double checked every decision, every fuse length, even where they would try to place the explosives.

“You … you .. yes you. Are you Drubetskoy?”

Looking up he was surprised to see General Muraviev so close to the front.

“Yes, General”

“Why are you delaying us … I have heard of your reputation”

“General?”

“Not good, not good … stop delaying the assault”

At that, whether due to the slowly improving light, or the sound of a bayonet against a rock, or simply that so many men made too much of an impression … came the noise they had all dreaded. First a shout, then a bugle call, they had been spotted.

“Drubetskoy – if this fails I will have your head”

Turning to his men, Poruchik Drubetskoy accepted his fate. Gathering the explosives they raced for the wall. No time to worry now about fuse lengths, especially as the first ragged musket volleys rang out from the walls.

The explosion broke open a gap. The first columns of infantry quickly entered and the battle became little but a confused melee. The Ottoman forces to the east of the breach surrendered by mid-morning while the rest of the garrison fought their way steadily back to the western citadel.

By early afternoon, the Russians held most of the fortress and started the grim process of collecting the dead, the wounded and their prisoners.

Image

20 March

With the fortress all but in his hands Vorontsov did what he could to avoid further losses. Unfortunately some of the remaining defenders had no wish to fall into Russian hands. On the morning of the 20th his patience ran out. Again the Russians formed their attack columns but this time the response was a few volleys and the last handful of cannon balls. In an hour, the remaining defenders had surrendered the citadel.

Image

The door to Anatolia was now wide open.


[1] Very much a feature of the war, spying and reliance on more or less friendly local groups was something both the Russians and the Ottomans did very enthusiastically as both had potential allies in enemy territory. Of course, as ever, it was the innocents who paid the price. Post-war the Russians expelled many Crimean Tartars and there were Ottoman reprisals both against the Armenians and in the Danube region.

[2] As you can see I am using my nice new train line to bring up fresh supplies.

[3] A standard way for the rank and file to address low ranking officers and NCOs.

[4] Historically the Ottoman defenders of Kars were commanded by a British General - William Fenwick Williams. Among the defenders were Hungarian and Polish refugees who had fled to the Ottomans after the revolutions of 1848-9 … not surprisingly these had no love for the Russians.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Thu May 18, 2017 3:44 pm

Very nice description of what actually happens during a PON siege assault, very immersive.
I am eager to see you describe a large battle in this AAR, once you have one.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Wed May 24, 2017 9:12 am

vaalen wrote:Very nice description of what actually happens during a PON siege assault, very immersive.
I am eager to see you describe a large battle in this AAR, once you have one.


Its going to be a while. Sensibly the Ottomans are not too keen on a direct confrontation and I return the favour when Perfidious Albion starts marauding around Southern Russia.

For the most part the Ottoman-Russian part of this war is a sequence of sieges with the main armies content to march rather than fight.

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'Death' of the Tsarevich

Wed May 24, 2017 9:16 am

'Death' of the Tsarevich: Mosul, April 1853

Boris reflected on the vagaries of his life. This ill-fated expedition had been his chance to rise through the ranks. Not only would the fall of Mosul have secured the flank of the main army in Anatolia but they were escorting Tsarevich Alexander.

His insistence on active service had been a problem – one that Mikhail Vorontsov had sought to solve by sending him to this secondary theatre. Here, it was believed, the Ottoman forces were already demoralised, their morale shattered by the constant revolts across the region. So let the Tsarevich have his experience of war - where no fighting was really expected.

And Boris had been ordered to provide an escort for the future Tsar. What a chance for an ambitious officer to impress his future ruler?

Well not when the entire campaign is built on false assumptions [1].

Even in Tabriz much had gone wrong. The Persians were friendly, keen that the Russians drive back the hated Ottomans. But the small border town had lacked suitable accommodation and supplies.

Lack of supplies also dictated that the small force be split into two columns. Finally in March the cavalry pushed over the border towards Mosul while the infantry moved south towards Kirkuk.

Image

By the time they had reached Mosul, the army was already exhausted. Forage in this region, at this time of year, was almost impossible to find. Von Luders had found himself paying more attention to the daily routine of feeding his men and horses and very little to scouting. After all, he trusted his orders – that the small town was unprotected, the main Ottoman armies either in Anatolia or dealing with the revolts near Baghdad.

Well, as Boris reminded himself, at least the resulting battle had been brief. Outnumbered almost 10-1, van Luders had called off the attack almost immediately. If the heavy rain had hindered the Russian cavalry, it also negated the Ottoman artillery. In fact, the poor visibility had allowed the Russian lancers to cut off and overwhelm a small Ottoman detachment.

Image
[2]

Of course, escaping the Ottomans at Mosul was just the start of their problems. They now had to retreat along a route already stripped of forage and food. In this sense, guarding the Tsarevich had advantages – he, of course, was kept well fed, always had the best shelter available and Boris was spared the dangers of serving as the rearguard.

The problem was not all the threats came from the Ottoman armies. Their pursuit was half hearted and it was clear the Ottomans had other priorities than chasing a beaten Russian column. However, the Russian retreat had attracted the attention of almost every bandit in the region and they were as likely to strike at the middle of the column as the rearguard.

Looking around, even Boris recognised the risk to cavalry of a narrow defile such as this. If he was to be seriously wounded in this region, even he would probably die … and he had no interest in impressing his future ruler by actually being killed in his service.

The ambush when it came was short and vicious. The bandits clearly had spotted the relative wealth of the Tsarevich's immediate retinue. 15 Russian cavalrymen had fallen almost immediately, and the column was thrown into disorder as those in front tried to turn around. Fortunately the attackers had over-estimated their own strength and it only took a while to restore order.

As they did, they found the Tsarevich dismounted and dazed but seemingly unhurt. Quickly a fresh horse was found but he was surprisingly resistant to leaving the scene. Pointing to the dead officer, who he had known as Boris Stepanovic, he kept on saying 'that man, that man, he saved my life'.

Finally, the column regained its order and moved eastwards.

Sitting back on his horse, Boris reflected on the vagaries of his fate. He had been abandoned by his colleagues in Vienna when his first role was over. Patronised by Gabriella when he had made his way to Russia. And now, when Nicholas Pavlovich died, he would be the Tsar of all the Russias.

He congratulated himself on the way he had taken advantage. And, as Tsar, he would be well placed to undo the damage that Gabriella had done to their plans. Nicholas, dear reactionary, cautious Nicholas, was never meant to have been the Tsar in the first place.

This war really was working out in his favour.

[1] Basically I'd forgotten how fast early game regulars lose cohesion in difficult terrain.

[2] A classic case where a large enemy army appears during the turn resolution routine … sigh.

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An argument in Perugia

Mon May 29, 2017 10:57 pm

Perugia, March 1853

Late winter usually brought few visitors. Too early for the religious festivals in nearby Assisi and the passes to the Adriatic were still blocked by snow. There were few other reasons for a visitor to Italy to stay here when Rome and Florence were so near.

So the two women who had arrived a few days before attracted much attention. The consensus was the elder was Italian, from her accent Milanese, but clearly had lived for a long time aboard. The younger was no Italian but they were clearly related.

A nice brew for the local gossips to stir. Especially as it was clear to the blindest and deafest widow in town that they were arguing. The only frustration was that no-one in town could understand what they said to each other. Still lack of real knowledge merely created space for the more creative of the town's rumour mongers.

'Grandmother, this is impossible … I want to go back home'.

'Katja, we have discussed this. You could have stayed in Milan, my family would have looked after you. You did not have to follow me to Perugia like a love sick puppy'

'Love … what do you know of love? All your lies, your false life, my mother was right to be suspicious of you'.

Whether it was the damp cold of their hostel, her age, that the place she needed to reach was near but the way blocked by snow … or simply frustration, but, for the first time Gabriella lost her temper.

'I know more than you … with your unloved inattentive fiancé. I betrayed my original family, those who trusted me, that day I convinced Paul Jakovlevich to protect the Tsar and face down the revolt. Whatever they wanted I do not know, but I do know he was meant to make a different choice.

For that, I suspect I will die. But … I will not die before my time. I will live the lifespan I am entitled to by my birth. If this offends you … well go. I am sure we can find someone to take you back to Milan'

Katja stood and made for the door, only to stop on the threshold.

'Grandmother, I love you … you have been my true friend in our family since I was old enough to talk. I do not want to leave you now … but can you not understand, … none of this really makes sense'.

'Dear girl, I do understand. But what you forget is if I was not what I am, then none of you would exist. What you see as normal, I see as the result of an arbitrary action. No part of our family is normal. So I will try to live, if I can. I will go to the mountains once the snow clears … I would like you to be with me. Then we return to Russia'.

At this Gabriella smiled broadly.

'And you will have an Italian cousin to introduce to Moscow society'.

'Baba, stop, you are being impossible'.


And among the buzz of conversation, and the rapidly shifting theories, one man offered no personal view but seemed to hear everything. Equally he kept the women under close observation but made no effort to approach them.

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A diplomatic incident

Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:04 pm

Kiev, August 1853

Vladimir Makarin felt that life was unfair. A man from a family rich only in its name, who had energetically served the Tsar in an attempt to ensure his own future, he felt singled out.

Yes, he knew the Austrians had to appeased. They were after all Russia's main ally in Europe

Image

And yes it had been unfortunate that news had reached St Petersburg just when the Emperor was visiting.

But the incident had not really been his fault. The Austrians had been suspicious of him, his men and his unwelcome guest ever since they had first contacted them. Why did a Russian policeman want to cross their lines and enter neutral Wallachia?

Could he not just wait? Russian armies were moving down the Black Sea coast and would meet up with the Austrians soon. Why the hurry?

And he could scarcely explain to these damn Viennese bureaucrats that he wanted to extract a full confession from his guest. And for that, he really needed the privacy of one of the Tsar's prisons.

In the end, he had staged an accident for the Austrian troops guarding the bridge. He had done his best to disguise it as an act of brigandage but clearly something had been left behind that suggested it was more than just murder and robbery.

So, now there was a diplomatic crisis.

Image

And he had just had time to consign Maron to the dungeons at Sevastopol before he was summoned north. And here he was in Kiev, waiting for the train that would take him to St Petersburg. Somehow he doubted it was to be rewarded for capturing the British spy who had done so much to undermine Russian plans in Turkey and Persia.

Really it was unfair … after all, he had done exactly what he was ordered to do … just in a manner that had threatened to set off a war between Russia and Austria.

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Events in Italy (pt 1)

Sun Jun 11, 2017 11:10 am

Lago di Pilato, August 1853

Part i

She cursed the headache. Constantly searching the files for an explanation, for the link that might have escaped the systemic destruction of the main evidence was tiring.

Even now, after three years they were no closer to understanding why some of the Council did not want to either close down this experiment – or simply leave it to itself. She had some sympathy for the second solution, after all by this time it had its own logic, for those within the world their lives and history were now real. Leave them be, let them work out their own future?

But no, not even benign indifference was good enough it seemed … and she still had no idea why. So they persisted in trying to intervene. Only a few days ago she had been part of a test of the latest idea – since none of the original four seemed willing to return they would try to trap them. And, to this end, the life extension facilities were being adapted. They would work as intended, but pull anyone who tried to use them back to this world. Then they might start to understand what was going on.

For now, her headache worsened. Even the dubious pleasure of going outside was denied her – the latest storm was maybe the worst and longest they had suffered for many years. Enough to threaten the smaller buildings and disrupt all communications.

Part ii

In the end no amount of bribery could encourage the carriage driver to bring them any closer. He claimed his suspension could not cope with the worsening road but under his breath he had been muttering about strege. Every time they had stopped he had stared at Gabriella and crossed himself.

Despite the additional delay, Katja had been surprised that her grandmother had so meekly accepted this explanation. Had, in fact, paid the full fare even though they had been left with at least one days walk.

But then it was clear that in a way she no longer cared what anyone saw or thought. Yes she still looked like a 70 year old woman but she increasingly moved as if she was much younger. She no longer bothered to hide the strength of her muscles. It was clear that in her mind something was over – and to Katja it seemed this indifference was making her dangerously careless.

Not only about herself but also the wider world. Katja managed to glean some knowledge of the war but Gabriella treated it as a minor irritation. The Russians and Austrians had captured the Balkans – and avoided a war between themselves. Russian troops now held all of eastern Anatolia and were pressing west.

Image

And now they were walking along the side of this lake. The old gate had long fallen into disrepair but it was clear that few came this way … and that the authorities wished that to remain the case [1]. They walked almost as friends – every argument had been rehearsed, all the anger remained, but they had reached either a truce or returned to friendship … neither were willing to find out which of these was the real truth.

As they reached the rock wall at the top of the Lake, Gabriella started to mutter 'now where is it, it should be here'. Finally stepping up to the rock she ran her hands over the surface till she found what she wanted.

'Ah, now I go on … Katja it would be better if you stayed here'.

As she said this a small door opened beside her.

'No, I have come this far, I will not abandon you now'.

'Ok, then come, but do not be surprised at anything you hear or see'.

Katja reflected to herself. If the last year had taught her anything, it was that she was no longer likely to be surprised by anything.

But even as she hesitated, Gabriella slipped through the gap. Turning briefly to check that Katja was also safely through and to close the door, she carried on down a dimly lit corridor. Looking around, to Katja it was clear this was no natural cave. At that she felt something close to fear – maybe her optimism of moments ago was more the product of a real lack of understanding. At one level she had believed everything that her grandmother had told her but this made it far too real.

Moving along the corridor, they came to a door. And for the first time Gabriella slowed and showed unease.

'Katja, someone has been here'

'But, you told me your people built this place and could use it to come and go. So is it not reasonable that someone has visited in the last 80 years?'

Gabriella muttered 'less than 80' but seemed to set her concerns to one side.

Pushing open the door she moved into a brightly lit room. Pausing for a moment, she closed her eyes as she absorbed a sense that in some way she was close to being home.

The shot that hit the wall behind her had clearly been aimed to miss. As the two women ducked behind the available shelter, Katja heard someone call out.

'So, Gabriella … our traitor … but you still presume you can use our resources. I must say I am not surprised … you have never lacked for arrogance'.


[1] As earlier, Lago di Pilato was believed to be the place where Pontius Pilate ended up (according to one story the ox cart that was to take his body to the family grave ran off and drowned in the lake). By the middle ages, every would be witch and warlock in Italy came to the region to sacrifice something or the other – not surprisingly this attracted the attention of the Church who did their best to dissuade visitors.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:56 pm

Ah, another cliff hanger! It will be very interesting to learn more about the visitors from the future.

Again, a nice merge between PON and the story. It is so tempting to move your troops too far in the early game, only to see fatigue destroy their cohesion, when you are in difficult areas. I still do this from time to time, and it often results in defeat.

The idea that Tsar Alexander is controlled by a being from the future is fascinating. He was a most unusual Tsar, who freed the serfs and enacted a number of reforms, and did a great deal to modernize Russia. That was in total contrast to his reactionary father. I am very interested to see how this will play out in the game.

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Re: Heading for a clear bright sun

Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:03 pm

vaalen wrote:Ah, another cliff hanger! It will be very interesting to learn more about the visitors from the future.

Again, a nice merge between PON and the story. It is so tempting to move your troops too far in the early game, only to see fatigue destroy their cohesion, when you are in difficult areas. I still do this from time to time, and it often results in defeat.


Yes, I had got so used to the late game armies in Manufacturing Italy that I'd forgotten that regulars lose all cohesion in the early game when moving in regions with poor transport. In fact, Iraq is going to be an ongoing problem as every time I think I am making progress it all falls apart.

vaalen wrote:The idea that Tsar Alexander is controlled by a being from the future is fascinating. He was a most unusual Tsar, who freed the serfs and enacted a number of reforms, and did a great deal to modernize Russia. That was in total contrast to his reactionary father. I am very interested to see how this will play out in the game.


In this case, Boris believes the official story that this whole experiment is based around Russia radically modernising. So he is certainly going to do all the Alexander did historically - and possibly push things a bit harder.

Its interesting reading the very different responses to Alexander and Nicholas. The latter was cautious, probably was affected by the Decembrist revolt but wasn't the complete reactionary he is sometimes painted as. He seems to have mostly appointed provincial governors on merit and - perhaps oddly - used conscription to spread education. Just he was very scared of reforms slipping out of control.

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Events in Italy (pt 2)

Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:06 pm

Lago di Pilato, August 1853

'Messoune, you old fool. I've not met you in 90 years and you still cannot shoot straight'

'Well … with you doddering around – showing your age – it seemed unfair just to kill you outright. In fact I am impressed you made it here at all'

Even as Messoune was speaking, Gabriella carried on searching in the bag she had thrown to the floor. To distract him, she called back

'Messoune – well yes, life is tough out in the real world. So what are you doing here? I thought you were only allowed to leave your desk to go home in the evenings … just in case you made another mistake'

This provoked another shot, this time better aimed and glancing off the top of the cabinet that I was hiding behind.

At this, I called to my grandmother – 'please don't provoke him, I'm scared'

She briefly glanced my way and then carried on searching in her bag. Finally she muttered 'ah, here it is' as she removed a sleek black tube. 'Stay here Katja, I think I have something we can negotiate with'

'Messoune, let me use the equipment and we will go away. You can pretend you never saw us'

This time the response was another shot. From a different angle as he was clearly trying to see behind our cover.

'Damn the man. … Messoune, at least let my granddaughter go. This is not her fight, let her live her life in peace'.

Another shot from a different location but this time deliberately high.

'Ok, she can go, tell her to stand up and walk back to the door'

I glanced at grandmother to see what I should do. She quickly whispered 'I don't trust him, start to stand up and turn and then throw yourself back to the ground'

'You want to use me as bait?'

At this my beloved grandmother grinned. 'Well … sort of. But if we are not careful we will both die here'.

'I really am scared'

'Well you should have stayed in Milan … now move'

The next shot went exactly where I would have been standing had I completely stood up. Even as I stumbled over, Gabriella moved sideways and this time she fired back.

Later I was to feel some regret, but at the moment the howl of pain was the sweetest thing I had ever heard. Gabriella quickly moved forwards till she was standing over the prone man.

'Well I told you, you really should have never left your safe office'

'Gabriella, please, help me … we had no choice, the whole thing is out of control'

'So you tried to kill me instead. Worse you would have killed my granddaughter. Well as they say in my adopted country poslednii krug ada' [1].

At this to my horror, she raised the black tube and shot the man on the floor two times.

'There, he shouldn't bother us again'.

Then seemingly unworried she went over to the machinery at the back of the room.

'Katja … something is wrong'

Somehow I found my voice

'Yes, you just killed someone, that is wrong?'

'I need you, please, stand by me. This has been reset and I am not sure why. I need you to hold that lever while I try to make it work'.

….

Several hours later we left the tunnel closing the door to the cave. My cousin, Chiara turned and smiled and said 'see that was easy'. As she walked down the path in the gathering dusk of a summer's night.

[1] Strictly the 'last circle of hell' but sometimes used in the same way as the English 'welcome to hell'

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A quick question

Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:48 pm

If anyone else uses the table of content to access a particular post (aye, ok I can hope), do you go to the post? I get the edit screen for that particular update and if I make the mistake of clicking on 'submit' generate a duplicate of the original. Anything else and I cannot exit the editing screen.

Reason is the next update includes a few references to earlier events and it seemed more efficient to actually cross link.

My suspicion is I am seeing this as both the creator of the ToC and of the linked post and its clearly down to the new forum software - never happened before

ta

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Two Headaches and one war

Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:49 pm

Two Headaches and one war

Part i

Well if she had gone to bed with a bad headache, then waking the next morning had only made it worse.

Gabriella had sent a very clear message … and even clearer images.

An image of a destroyed robotic helper annotated very precisely with the location. As the accompanying note said, don't bother to search it has already been destroyed. The second robot was shown slowly sinking into a marsh, this time the message read – 'guess where'. She suspected that if they analysed the image carefully they probably could work out where she had dumped the remnants. What they would gain from this information was unclear especially in the light of the third image.

The final attachment showed a dead Messoune. And how Gabriella had sabotaged the equipment designed to trap her. This time the comment was longer – if no more welcome.

'Leave this world alone … and if you must interfere do not threaten my family'

Well she now had to explain to the Council that half of their new mission was already dead, all four of the original members were acting in their own interests and their attempt to trap them had failed. All of a sudden a headache simply caused by too much work on the files seemed very welcome.

Part ii

Queen Victoria's headache was getting worse. All these idiots on her Privy Council had to do was agree with her. In another time or place, a well chosen act of violence would end all discussion – but here, now, such methods were denied her.

She cut across yet another rambling argument that now the Ottomans were being attacked by both the Russians and Austrians, Britain had no choice but to remain neutral.

'No. …. You' at this she pointed to her Foreign Secretary. 'Go to Vienna and promise the Austrians we do not care what they do in the Balkans. They do not threaten our interests. Let them rule … or let them leave the region to the Turks. I care not'.

Judging from the silence and the pained look on their faces it appeared as if she had overstepped the notional limits of her power again. Well she wanted Maron back, till she found her sister he was the only person she could rely on in this world.

'Now, when he has done that – which he should have done months ago – this country will honour its promises to the Sultan. Russian expansion is a threat to this Empire and we will stop it'.

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[1]

At this Lord Raglan stood up. Inwardly Victoria groaned at the prospect of more complaints. This time he surprised her.

'Your Majesty, will you excuse me'

'Only if you first tell me what it is you wish to do'

'I must go to Tilbury ... to start to ready the Army'.

'No you will not'

Raglan sat down shocked. He had endured years of insults for his lack of zeal and here, today, for a moment, he was the most zealous of her ministers.

'You will stay here. I am sure you can design some nice new badges for the army. I want to send a competent commander. Wellington can command the army … just make sure he remembers that this time the French are our allies and that he is not to suddenly attack them'.

Judging from the mood in the room it was clear she had maybe gone too far.

'Yes, of course you can go, but Wellington is to command - we will need his experience despite his age.

Now, if I may be so bold as to make a small suggestion to men as wise as you. I suggest we start by invading the Crimea. It is relatively isolated from the rest of Russia and the port of Sevastopol will allow us to supply and reinforce the army.

I take your silence as assent. Good day to you all'

At this Victoria swept from the room. By the middle of August the main Anglo-French fleet had set sail for Russia.

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[2]


[1] It took me a lot of digging around to try and work out why Britain and France were not joining in. Worked out I had linked the event to the wrong test. So for this game I forced their intervention with a separate event – but it should now work as designed.

[2] That the AI did anything with the war was a surprise – that it did this was very impressive.

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