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Thread: Novum Romanum Imperium 2.0 -- a Vicky 2 AHD Conversion AAR

  1. #521
    Modern Psycho-General CivandEUIII's Avatar
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    great update, but you have to wonder...
    exactly how Great is this Great War? or will it be a bit of a pushover?

    Also hugely relieved this did not end with the report "The Three Mountains achievement broken. Steps to reproduce: ..." - Rufo
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  2. #522
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    Quote Originally Posted by CivandEUIII View Post
    great update, but you have to wonder...
    exactly how Great is this Great War? or will it be a bit of a pushover?
    That's the question, isn't it? A question which I hope to answer tonight!
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  3. #523
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    Chapter 24: The Great War, Part 1


    Note: The way I have it presently planned, we're looking at two, possibly three parts for the Great War.

    1 March 1901, Vienna

    Captain Winston Churchill found his promotion a decidedly mixed bag. Yes, the new rank meant more money and more authority. It also meant more responsibilities, and worst of all (for him), less combat. Churchill practically begged to be assigned to a front line unit, but Marshal Orsatti denied his requests. Staff grade officers were far too rare, and so he was attached to Vienna to continue his recruiting efforts. That job quickly morphed into training the tens of thousands of militiamen arriving in Vienna every day.

    His problem had really begun when Czech forces mobilized a day after war was declared.



    Marshal Orsatti and the General Staff had hoped to strike quickly at Prague and force a Czech peace. The Czechs had other ideas. That meant that the highly trained core of the legions would not be sufficient to win the war. Instead, for the first time in the Empire's history, the militia had to be called.

    In theory, the militia was supposed to fit in smoothly with the legions. The militia would be staffed with regular officers and NCOs. However, with the huge reduction in the number of lieutenants the Orsatti reforms had imposed, there weren't enough legionaries to go around. The militia did get quality NCOs -- Churchill thought briefly of the enthusiastic Italian Mussolini, now a Sergeant -- but their officers tended to be notables from a given location, many of whom had no army experience. None of the militia units even had Generals! Alessandro Zupelli, the overall commander in Vienna, had done his best to attach militia units to experienced legions, but even that required so-called "PT promotions", or pro tempore promotions. Churchill's promotion was permanent, but he knew of quite a few PT Generals, some of whom had been mere Commanders before the war started. The results of using such poorly trained troops in offensives were naturally poor, as the Battle of Brno demonstrated.



    Despite relatively similar numbers, Antonio di Savoia's army took three times as many casualties as their Czech opponents. Yes, they "won", but at a staggering price. The Douglas rifles hadn't been fully distributed yet, so a lot of the militia were using much older Porcupines, which were much less reliable in battle. Admiral Alekseyev ordered more comprehensive training for future militiamen, but even at two weeks of training, they had a quarter the training a legionary got, and that was before specialist schools. The brutal truth was that what the Empire were warm bodies to plug holes, not finely crafted soldiers. Churchill had drafted a memo suggesting that the militiamen be eased into battle, but even the 149 brigades sitting in Vienna now (447,000 men, or almost 50% of the regular army!) were getting pushed as quickly as possible into battle.

    The British Captain could only do his duty. One of the few perks of his job was getting to look at overall deployments in Europe.



    There were three engagements ongoing, as of the day's latest information. Churchill suspected some of his troops would join the battle in southeastern Czechoslovakia.

    He looked at the two foreign advisors, chatting as best they could. Gregory MacDonald was a Scottish Colonel, while Lieutenant Commander Pavlo Andreyevich Tkachuk represented Ukraine. Both countries had signed alliances with the Empire, but neither had shown any indication that they would join the war. For the time being, all they did was sit around in Vienna and try vainly to make themselves known in a city where English and Ukrainian were both relatively rare. At least Colonel MacDonald knew Latin; poor Lieutenant Commander Tkachuk was completely helpless.

    Churchill shook his head in disgust, then decided he'd go inspect the new troops.

    He wondered how long they'd last.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    25 March 1901, Prague, Czechoslovakia

    Sergeant Benito Mussolini was one of the few men in his militia unit that had the new Douglas rifle. It did him almost no good in the streets of Prague, where increased range didn't matter. His corporal was a veteran of the legions, a drunken brawler named Schmidt. His privates were all green and barely less drunk than his corporal. That made life extra challenging. Almost unusually for the "Grand Army of the Empire", as General di Savoia styled his troops, his squad hadn't lost anybody at Brno. The subsequent battles, with both armies on the move, had been even less bloody for the Grand Army, but perversely more bloody for his squad. Three of his squad were kill by a Czech artillery shell when they refused to dig in during the battle around the outskirts of Prague.





    The Czech capital didn't look like it was going to fall anytime soon, either. Mussolini and his squad had move house by house, clearing out Czech partisans. While the Roman militia's performance was decidedly uneven, the Czechs used their troops in places they knew well, with lots of lovely little hiding spots no Roman could even begin to conceive of. A few enterprising Czechs had even captured Roman machine guns and mounted them on the backs of wagons.

    Mussolini checked his rifle's barrel, deciding it didn't need to be cleaned. That done, he kicked the dozing Schmidt in the ribs. "Wake up, you lout. There's a war going on!"

    Corporal Schmidt growled, but not too ferociously. "Yes, Sergeant."

    "Gather the men; the Lieutenant wants us on a recon patrol."

    The Corporal saluted -- swaying a bit as he did so -- and went off to find the squad. When they all returned, Mussolini sent the Corporal and two men down the left side of the street, while he and his group took the right. This particular street wasn't very well occupied -- it was mostly industrial, with a factory that made women's dresses the largest building. A couple of Czech partisans took shots at Mussolini's squad, but they were poorly aimed. That prompted equally poorly aimed return fire from some of his more excitable privates. Mussolini glared at the Corporal, then quietly barked at his own men to conserve their ammunition.

    All of a sudden, a Czech machine gun opened up. It had been concealed behind a pile of rubble to the northwest. In less than a minute, the Corporal and his men were cut down. Sergeant Mussolini took his four men and did the only thing he could do; he kicked down the door of the small haberdashery to his left. It was empty, but gave his men needed cover. One of his men looked askance at a pair of slacks laying on the floor; he obviously needed a new pair. Benito shook his head tersely. "Get used to it, kid. It'll only get worse."

    As Sergeant Mussolini tried to think of a way out of the store and back to base, he silently cursed the idiot Lieutenant who ordered him to scout a "completely empty" street.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    19 May 1901, temporary office of the Marshal, Rome

    Arturo Orsatti looked in the mirror. He'd aged over the years; not as badly as some of his colleagues, since he'd started so young, but he was no longer the rail thin giant that was stuck with carrying his squad's ammunition. He'd filled out a good bit, his hair was going grey, and he had to wear glasses to read. Aging was part of life, he supposed, but he couldn't help but think that some of his aging was artificial.

    Leo IV wasn't the Emperor his father had been. That wasn't a criticism. They were just different people. Trajan had fought in the legions and, for the most part, let the legions do what they needed to do. Leo's education was very different. He'd studied philosophy, logic, history, and the natural sciences. He was undoubtedly brighter than his father, and had a voracious appetite for knowledge. What he didn't have was real world experience. He was captivated by the stories of his ancestor, of personal glory, and of the undeniable progress of the Empire and her people. Now, he was realizing that they were just stories. Nobody, not even St. Maso himself, had dealt with the casualty rates he had. If St. Maso lost a battle, a couple hundred men might not see their families. Now, even when the Roman Empire won, thousands died.

    To be a Lieutenant again, to worry about nine other men. That would be a dream come true!, mused the Marshal of the Empire. He shook his head. He had to worry about a lot more than nine men now. The hell of it was, Rome was winning. They'd never lost a battle to the Czechs. Sure, they'd lost a couple of regiones to them in Africa, but in Europe, Rome was king, and Europe knew it. Even a failed attempt to bring the Americans in the war didn't depress him. Oh, the Yankees were willing to sign a defensive alliance, but the moment Leo IV had called upon them, they scattered to the wind and dissolved the alliance. That was fine. Japan, Russia, and Norway were good, reliable friends.

    The Battle of Nitra was much like recent battles; about even casualties.



    The Battle of Budejovice, now, that was an entirely different ball of wax.



    One army of over 100,000 men had seemed ludicrous to Arturo Orsatti as a private. Now, both sides had them. Alessandro Zupelli did an admirable job, but the problem was, the offensive was losing a lot of its charm with untrained militia. Arturo had gone to the Emperor to request easier duties for the militia. (Although he'd publicly rejected Captain Churchill's request, Arturo privately endorsed it before doing so, hoping that good sense would prevail. It didn't.) One order that did go well were explicit instructions to keep the artillery farther back. 20% casualties was simply unacceptable, especially when the Douglas rifles, now fully distributed to all Roman soldiers, gave a sizable edge in range and accuracy.

    Arturo Orsatti also had a new problem. The carnage at Budejovice had prompted angry articles in the Roman Red Star and Vox Populi. In a moment of misguided weakness, Emperor Leo had authorized VP's publication. It was no longer an underground paper. The circulation was still small -- Gabriele di Farnese estimated it at 5,000 -- but in Britannia, it was already starting to have an impact. War was becoming a matter of public relations, something the Marshal loathed. The public wanted easy victories with no casualties, but modern warfare simply couldn't handle either of those conditions. Every victory was a slog. His reforms were paying some dividends, as Sergeants ably led their squads, giving Lieutenants more time to focus on vision. In fact, a study he'd commissioned suggested that casualties could have easily doubled without skilled NCOs in the militia units. Even the Vigiles had to fight now.

    Thinking of the Vigiles made Arturo smile for a moment. Hakan Polat was tried and executed before the war began. His execution had a surprising effect; instead of replacing him in the Society of Cincinnatus, the Society actually shot and killed the man "Mehmet" had given up -- "Lazaro." Hector de la Farnese was never more than a figurehead, a puppet the Society had intended to place on the throne to run their "dictatorship of the proletariat." He was only very distantly related to the former King of Castille and Emperor of Rome. He was actually a peasant farmer and nearly illiterate, qualities which the Society had thought made him pliable. He was also expendable for those same reasons. Femina, "Roger", and "Giancarlo" remained at large, now reconfiguring themselves into the Triumvirate. All talk of the Society of Cincinnatus vanished. None of the triumvirs had written so much as a letter since the Great War began.

    After allowing himself that moment of pleasure, he returned to the task at hand, as the Marshal spread out a map of North Africa on his table.



    He hadn't named an overall commander in Africa yet. Silvio Dezza was the most senior General, but only commanded cavalry. The remaining Generals, all of roughly equivalent rank and seniority, squabbled over the credit. To make matters worse, the vast distances involved in the fighting would make communication nearly impossible even under the best of circumstances. To delay the question, Arturo had given each unit explicit instructions, objectives, and got out of their way. The entire push into Africa was political anyway, in the hopes that fighting against less sophisticated Zanzibarans would reduce casualties.

    Arturo shrugged. Maybe it would, and maybe it wouldn't. To the Marshal, the war would have to be won in Europe.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    27 June 1901, Prague, Czechoslovakia

    Sergeant Mussolini beamed with pride as he held the flag of the Roman Empire. The Czechs still fought -- fought like the devil, in fact -- but with no capital, they would surely surrender soon.



    Nobody knew, at the time, that the relatively minor battle at Bor would help shape the fall of the Czech capital.



    The victory at Bor was tactically insignificant. Yes, the Czechs gave ground, but the casualties had been horrendous. The unit's General had been killed -- a PT General named Ludendorff -- in combat, and so had a handful of PT Colonels. Rome won because it had more soldiers; it was as simple as that. So why had it become such a big deal in the Great War?

    A completely unexpected Czech prisoner was taken during the battle: the son of the Czech President. The son wasn't even a soldier; he'd been visiting a girlfriend in the area when the war started and he'd never left. Gabriele di Farnese, knowing how much the President would want to save his only son, planted false documents that he intended to bring the son to Constantinople, prompting a Czech offensive in the eastern part of Czechoslovakia, completely ignoring Prague. Even the Agricolares quieted down when this news was followed by a brilliant victory in Africa.



    The propaganda victory won by Leo IV was so great that even the Chilean seizure of Brisbane went unnoticed. The Emperor demanded nothing less than a Czech regio in exchange for the President's son.



    While all of this went on, a certain innocuous factory on the island of St. Helena could continue its deadly work with no attention from reporters. Sergeant Mussolini knew that a weapon was being developed that could win the war in a heartbeat; he knew because he was in charge of hand-picking the guards for the new facility.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    27 July 1901, Office of the Chancellor, Rome

    Robert Cecil might have been the only man in the Empire who feared a successful conclusion to the war. He was a Roman patriot of the first order, yet knew that his administration had been blamed for the war's casualties, and in particular, the dreaded "war tax."



    Even promulgating this bill on the same day as the Day of Three Victories made no difference; the papers howled at him.



    He wished that Lucius Tullius Cicero had never shown him the numbers, but even with the massive currency reserves of the Empire, he could not afford to lose over 11,000 a day. He'd done everything he could to make the tax palatable; stressing the temporary nature, showing that he'd increased the taxes of the rich too. He emphasized that victory wasn't cheap, that the legions needed more than 20,000 a day. It wasn't enough. His own faction had threatened to initiate a vote of no confidence. His own faction! Meanwhile, Cecil Rhodes, who'd started the war, was getting rich, both politically and literally as the owner of several key defense industries. It wasn't war profiteering -- not by a long shot, as Cecil Rhodes was every bit the patriot that Robert Cecil was himself -- but it helped him nonetheless. Cecil Rhodes even sold the equipment at a discount and made huge profits. Some of that undoubtedly went into the National Liberals' coffers.

    Robert Cecil briefly considered resigning. That would stick Iosif Stavros with the bag. The problem was that Stavros had opposed the war from the beginning, and threatened to force a peace, even if it meant surrender to Zanzibar. Legally, only the Emperor could make peace with a foreign power, but Stavros had a lot of influence, and Leo IV had shown himself a little vulnerable to public pressure. The leader of the Agricolares would use it in a heartbeat. That might be good for Cecil and the Pecuniares, but bad for the Empire.

    He shook his head sadly. Unless he won the war, and soon, he'd probably either be kicked out as leader of the Pecuniares or lose the election of 1903. There wasn't anything else for it. The Chancellor could only pray that history would be a kind judge, and understand why he'd imposed the tax.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    24 August 1901, Imperial Palace, Rome

    Leo IV was sweating. It was August in Rome, so that was no huge surprise, but that wasn't his concern. No, he had much bigger problems than the weather.

    The Battle of Tindouf was another Pyrrhic victory, but at least it was a victory. VP and the Red Star had given him grief over it, but the Roman people were reconciled to the sacrifices the war demanded.



    The Battles of Toowomba and Shingit, on the other hand, were bloodbaths and miserable failures. Nobody had expected Chile or Zanzibar to be so aggressive. They were wrong.





    The outrage was overwhelming. Iosif Stavros called for a vote of no confidence for Chancellor Cecil minutes after news of Shingit came. He won... by ten votes. Even the Roman Times, a conservative newspaper, started calling for the resignations of "the two Cecils" -- the Chancellor and Cecil Rhodes. The Orsatti reforms were a popular target, too. Nobody questioned the Marshal's integrity, for that was unassailable. Instead, they fixated on "inadequate advisors" leading him in the wrong direction. The Emperor had to do something to deflect the attention of the press, and so he blamed a scapegoat: Admiral Nikolai Alekseyev. The Admiral was extremely popular, so the Emperor handled it carefully, suggesting that Nikolai's wounded leg "necessitated" the return of the Admiral to a less "stressful" post. Alekseyev was named to the presidency of the De Ruyter Naval College and given the rank of Admiral of the Empire, with command over every ship in the Empire. Admiral of the Empire and Marshal were supposed to be equivalent ranks, and in terms of pay and status, they were. No matter what the law said, however, nobody considered the fleet as important as the legions, and essentially getting fired as Chief of the General Staff would keep him from becoming Marshal. Leo IV named Douglas O'Connor the replacement, knowing how popular he still was for his expedition to the North Pole and his close relationship to Prince Gabriele.

    His move, as agonizing as it had been, worked, after a fashion. The Roman Times was happy with its pound of flesh. Alekseyev was dignified in defeat, accepting responsibility for things which weren't his fault with the grace and aplomb his position demanded. Marshal Orsatti personally wrote a glowing editorial in the Times, minimizing the impact on the fleet's morale. The Emperor bought himself a few more weeks of domestic tranquility, which he desperately needed.

    Would it be enough?
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    8 September 1901, Prague

    Sergeant Benito Mussolini was daydreaming at his desk. If the Great War had "made" anybody's career thus far, it was the Italian Sergeant's. He cut a handsome figure, was a genuine hero, and had no problems with speaking to the press. It was his article in the Roman Times that most analysts agreed had gotten Admiral Alekseyev fired. Sergeant Mussolini had the utmost respect for Marshal Orsatti, but if some wimpy sailor got cut off at the knees, that was fine with the Sergeant. What have they done in this war anyhow? Mussolini's reward was the post of Sergeant of the Guard of Prague, a high honor if there ever was one.

    Yet Mussolini couldn't help but think that some people in the legions were angry with him. On a day's leave in Vienna, he'd tried to chat with Captain Churchill, but the man who recruited him simply glared and turned away. That bothered Mussolini; he respected Churchill's opinion. A lot of officers did, which could prove deleterious to his continued advancement in the legions. The official reason he'd been turned down for his application to the Germanicus Academy was sensible enough -- they couldn't afford to take him out of the line of duty until after the war -- but he did wonder. I'm going to do something about it!, Mussolini resolved, and he went off to speak with Captain Michel Giscard, his superior. The Parisian was connected, both military and politically, to several politicians in Paris and throughout Gaul. His father, Etienne Giscard, was the Senator from Paris, and a Militares.

    He knocked on the Captain's door, awaiting permission to enter, which he received. "Captain Giscard, may I speak with you?"

    The Captain returned the Sergeant's salute. "But of course, Sergeant. How can I help you?"

    Benito blurted out his frustration. "Sir, I think Captain Churchill and other officers hate me for that article in the paper. All I did was defend the Marshal! Who cares if some silly squid got fired? Heck, they even gave him a promotion!"

    Giscard laughed. "You may use stronger language, if you find it appropriate, mon ami. I have heard the words before, believe me." Mussolini blushed but said nothing. "Have you read the article?"

    "Yes, sir."

    The Captain nodded. Then he went over to his file cabinet and withdrew the article in question. "Let's have a look, shall we?" As he scanned the article, all of a sudden, his eyes went wide. "Mon dieu! You can't have been this stupid, could you?"

    Mussolini started to flush with anger. "What, sir? What are you all so furious about?" The Captain wordlessly drew a line under one sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Roman Times
    Mussolini, a Sergeant, was in charge of security for the new chemical weapons plant at St. Helena.
    The blood completely drained from Benito's face as he finally realized what had happened. The Captain laughed again, but entirely without humor. "You begin to see, yes?"

    "I never said any of that, sir! On my honor as a Roman!"

    "Are you certain?"

    Benito thought over his conversation with the reporter, and swore again, much more colorfully. "That sniveling little bastard! Sir, I request permission to hunt him down and strangle him. I told him that in confidence!"

    Instead of the Captain shrugging it off, he grew much, much colder. "You intentionally revealed our most secret plans... to a reporter? Are you mad, Sergeant?" Benito saw his glorious career vanish like a puff of smoke at that exact moment. He'd stupidly tried to convince the reporter of how important he was so he'd listen, and now he would pay the price. Things even got worse as the Captain continued. "I have no choice but to see you court-martialed. Your quest for glory has cost our army a secret we cannot afford to share with anybody. You are hereby relieved of your post and rank pending the trial. I am placing you under arrest. May God have mercy on your soul."

    Benito Mussolini came rigidly to attention, saluted, and walked off with two sentries from the Captain's own staff. As he walked away, he heard his men cheering. "The Czechs have surrendered! The Czechs have surrendered!"



    All Mussolini could do was glare.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    When I looked over the screenshots for this update, I kept thinking, "How could I have been so stupid?" It honestly should have been a lot easier than it was, but I stupidly threw the militia right into battle instead of letting them build up for a bit. You'll notice I also completely failed to encircle any armies, despite having ample manpower. When you're in the heat of action, it's hard to think sometimes.
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  4. #524
    I was wondering why you were taking such high casualties. Throwing conscripts at professional soldiers will do that.

  5. #525
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duke of Awesome View Post
    I was wondering why you were taking such high casualties. Throwing conscripts at professional soldiers will do that.
    If I'd paid more attention, I'd have some screenshots reflecting that. Oh well.
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  6. #526
    Modern Psycho-General CivandEUIII's Avatar
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    great war all right, massive bloody wars of attrition

    Also hugely relieved this did not end with the report "The Three Mountains achievement broken. Steps to reproduce: ..." - Rufo
    "I pity the fool who has to fill out 272 years of Indian history." - Cuthuthulu
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    (Wouldnt Hitler look much friendlier with curls and that silly mustache shaved off?)" - podcat
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    This ascii art is terrible." - Jacob Braughton on titin

  7. #527
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CivandEUIII View Post
    great war all right, massive bloody wars of attrition
    Oh, and it'll get worse. A lot worse.
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  8. #528
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    Chapter 24, part 2: At what price victory?


    13 November 1901, Office of Special Projects, St. Helena

    Corporal Benito Mussolini glared accusingly at the empty spots on his sleeves. He supposed he was lucky to be alive, but that was minimal consolation given what the court martial had decreed as his fate.

    He flashed back to the trial. Roman regulations stated that five officers sat on every court martial trial, with the President being the senior officer present. For then-Sergeant Mussolini, that senior officer was Colonel Teodoro Benelli. Colonel Benelli was the most imposing man that Benito had ever met in his young life. He wasn't particularly large, but his eyes were so intimidating that the Italian from Forli simply gaped at his entrance. The rest of his accusers weren't nearly as frightening: the newly promoted Lieutenant Commander Churchill, Captain Giscard, a blusterous Austrian Commander named Franz Ferdinand von Habsburg, and another Captain named Marcos Drakos. He knew everybody except for Drakos and Colonel Benelli before the trial, but that made things harder, not easier.

    The first problem was what exactly he'd done wrong. Captain Giscard wanted Mussolini tried for treason, as he had given the information about the weapons research facility knowingly to a reporter for the Roman Times. Commander von Habsburg immediately seconded, but none of the other three men would agree. (Mussolini knew why the Austrian was so furious; Benito had made the very close acquaintance of his daughter, Sophie.) Lieutenant Commander Churchill, on the other hand, only wanted to try him for dereliction of duty; a less serious offense, in that Mussolini wouldn't be shot for it, but still imposing stiff penalties, the very least of which was expulsion from the legions and the loss of his guaranteed pension. In retrospect, Mussolini wished Churchill's opinion had carried the day.

    Instead, it was Colonel Benelli who had the final say. Benelli's charge was insubordination, nominally the lightest of the three charges. What the Colonel had discovered was that the officer in charge of the St. Helena Office of Special Projects, a Spanish General named named Weyler, had actually already given the information to the same reporter. Benelli even had proof -- a signed affidavit from the reporter and a copy of the interview. General Weyler had already been tried and shot for his crime, especially when it was discovered that Weyler had actually been selling secrets to reporters for years. The only thing that Mussolini had done wrong was to disobey the order against talking with reporters without the permission of their CO. Captain Drakos and Lieutenant Commander Churchill both agreed, and so that was how he was tried, and, in due course, found guilty. That only left punishment.

    Only Commander von Habsburg continued to push for death, and he was ultimately removed from the panel after his bias was discovered. A young Lieutenant took his place. Insubordination and disobeying a direct order carried a minimum penalty of demotion, and so Mussolini was summarily reduced to Corporal on the spot. His ultimate fate was left to the Colonel. Colonel Benelli didn't smile or even look slightly pleased when he handed out the sentence, but the Corporal immediately wished he had been executed. Corporal Mussolini was ordered to report to the Office of Special Projects. The assignment would end only when the weapon was completed. Only somebody like Mussolini, who'd been stuck on St. Helena for a long period of time, could appreciate how terrible that sentence actually was.

    His actual job was even worse. He was in charge of the motor pool and on call 24 hours a day. The job was simultaneously extremely boring and extremely dangerous, since one of his principal duties was to transport the toxic chemicals from one lab to another. He did have four men under him, but only he was allowed to drive the chemical trucks.

    At that exact moment, Mussolini was extremely bored. The Roman Times made a big deal about the battle of Luxor as "Cousin vs. Cousin" -- the two Ricotti-Magnanis were actually only distantly related, but all Mussolini cared about were the obscene casualties.



    Mussolini was horrified to learn a Centurion had ordered his men to directly assault a machine gun without benefit of cover; when his men miraculously made it, only losing a quarter of their strength, that brigade's Colonel had made frontal assaults the standing order. That accounted for many of the casualties. Three entire brigades were wiped out. The Corporal angrily searched the story for the name of the Sergeants who obeyed that order, but that information was not forthcoming. He was so enraged that he decided to write a letter to the one man he could think of who could see that those fools were punished: Colonel Benelli.

    That letter would change his life.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    9 December 1901, Office of the Minister of Commerce, Venice

    Lucius Tullius Cicero smiled to himself. As the Minister of Commerce, he'd managed to make a war profitable for the Roman treasury. So profitable, in fact, that when Leo IV asked if he could subsidize operations in Japan, Norway, and Russia, the Minister waved dismissively and signed the order himself.



    Although nobody would have believed it, Lucius had even supported the nominally expensive Orsatti Reforms, noting that Sergeants were cheaper than Lieutenants; fewer Lieutenants would save money, not cost more, and he was right. In gratitude, Marshal Orsatti sent along all the war reports as soon as he had them. The results of the Battle of Mut made him even happier; perhaps the legions had finally learned how to win battles without costing so many lives.



    When the navy asked for funding for new ships, Lucius authorized 60 steam transports. With only Zanzibar's African colonies directly vulnerable to attack, invasion by sea would be an absolute necessity. That was especially true for reclaiming Australia; the Classes II 'Datti' and XV 'Portares' were already sailing to Newcastle from Suez to retake the vital Australian territories from Chile. The Roman legions even invaded Chile proper. All of that largess paid dividends when the Emperor formally asked Zanzibar to admit Roman hegemony over all Italians and he was backed by a unanimous declaration of support from the Senate. Even the Socialists couldn't deny the accomplishments the Cecil regime had achieved.




    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    28 January 1902, Office of the Deputy Chancellor, Rome

    Iosif Stavros had presided over the Agricolares for almost 30 years. The Socialists had become the second largest faction in the Senate, a force to be reckoned with in the Curia, and controlled one of the two most important papers in the Roman Empire, the Red Star. Unlike some of his faction members, he'd opposed the war from the start. The Red Star, under his direction, had highlighted the worst excesses of the legions and showed why so many Romans were dying for no good reason. The latest issue contained a scathing critique of General Guglielmo Badoglio and his performance at the Battle of Shingit, where 22,000 disorganized Zanzibarans suffered fewer than one fifth the casualties of the supposedly invincible Roman legions.



    Stavros took everybody he could to task, from Marshall Orsatti on down. He mocked the legions, said they couldn't do anything right, and that the war should have ended before it began. This strategy had been successful in the past, and he thought it would continue to be successful.

    That was when the Roman Times published an expose of its own. The headline? "Leader of the Socialists 'redistributing' wealth into his own pocket!" At that exact moment, Iosif Stavros's world completely crashed.

    He shouted that the allegations weren't true. He demanded to hear from his accusers. He even tried to sue the Roman Times for libel. The next day, the Vigiles, under the orders of the Emperor, search the officers of the Red Star and his home. They found almost 1 million stashed throughout the house and secret bank accounts in Jamaica that showed he had another 500,000. The depositor was a Chilean businessman, also known to be a Chilean spy. Stavros did his best to defend himself, but in the end, he simply couldn't. His life ruined, he committed suicide on 28 December before the Vigiles could arrest him. Eduard Bernstein was arrested as an accomplice, taking the two leading men away from the Socialists. Although the Agricolares didn't do noticeably worse in the elections, they did lose the two seats Bernstein and Stavros had held.



    However, after the elections, the Socialists were "de-registered" as an official faction until investigations were completed. That made the Reactionary bloc the second largest in the Empire, not the Socialist, and so the new Deputy Chancellor was Lucius Tullius Cicero. The new Minister of Education was another member of the Protectores, Raymond Poincare of Gaul. The new Senator from Athens turned out to be Konstantinos Drakos, a well respected economist and National Liberal who was very quickly chosen as Minister of Commerce. That his son was a member of the Militares and a Captain in the Legions made him even more popular. Overnight, the Conservatives and Reactionaries had seized every possible Cabinet post.

    The Senate, with no Socialist able to protest or vote against it, closed down the Roman Red Star. They also voted to repeal the law that forced the Deputy Chancellor to be from the second largest voting bloc. Even the so-called "10%" law, which specified that any faction with 10% of the Senate had to be represented in the Cabinet, was repealed. In short, the only way the Socialists could ever regain the Cabinet would be to win the Curia, and thus the Chancellor's spot. Each one of these moves was sponsored by a different Senator, not one of whom was in the new Cabinet. Everybody was stunned. The Liberals had just barely recovered from losing William Gladstone, with another man from Britannia, David Lloyd George, winning their quorum. Even Cecil Rhodes seemed completely clueless, which might have been the most shocking of all, since many people accused him of being behind everything.

    Two small scale battles distracted public attention, and the new Cabinet received all the credit for crippling Zanzibar so badly they were no longer a Great Power.



    Nobody cared any more who was in power. The war was going well!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    4 March 1902, Ophir, Australia

    Lieutenant Commander Winston Churchill had finally seen combat, after a long and relatively undistinguished military career.

    He couldn't say he liked it very much.

    After the trial of Corporal Mussolini, Churchill had languished in Vienna, training militia, until Marshall Orsatti decided to attack Chilean troops in Australia. He was attached to the staff of General Raffaele Vaccari, commanding officer of Legio XXXVI 'Constantinople.' As he was fluent in English, he served as a translator and an overall troubleshooter whenever the General had a problem. He was instrumental in planning the landing in Newcastle, which the Ministry of Intelligence had assured them would be unopposed.

    They were wrong.



    Chilean artillery had gotten a lucky shot, but it was an effective one: General Vaccari was severely wounded and the entire Headquarters destroyed. Winston Churchill had gone from a useful aide to the senior healthy officer in Australia. He did his best to ensure an orderly retreat, but a lot of the militia simply turned and ran. The Chilean general was masterful and sent his cavalry into the hole left by the militia, ensuring almost complete chaos. Churchill had successfully extricated his army, and had them on the way to the outpost at Wagga Wagga, where they could regroup.

    Only one thing had really gone well. The Office of Special Projects had sent along a curious machine called a "barrel." It was slow and ungainly, but it had at least mitigated some of the damage that the Chilean soldiers could have caused.



    Churchill intended to send a glowing report back to the Marshal when he had the time. If that chemical weapon wasn't ready, it would take something like barrels to finally end the war.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    21 June 1901, Toowoomba, Australia

    Commander Winston Churchill's second major battle went better than the first, if only because his men inflicted as many casualties on the enemy as they did on him.



    His heroism at the Battle of Newcastle had earned him another promotion from a grateful General Vaccari. The General had one fewer arm, but was able to lead at Toowoomba, with much more positive results. It was a rare bright spot for the Roman Empire.

    The Australian front was about the only one where the Empire was progressing. West Africa continued to slow Roman troops to a crawl, even when they won. At the Battle of Tingit, over 120,000 Romans crashed against 25,000 Zanzibarans -- and lost twice as many troops. Their navy caught a patrol of Roman Commerce Raiders at Bal el Mandeb, sinking all sixteen. The navy was going to decommission them anyways, with sixty more cruisers in production, but it showed that even the invincible fleet was vulnerable. Of course, the biggest disaster was in Chile.



    At Caquenes, the entire force was killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Luigi Vaccari -- Raffaele's younger brother -- was the sole man allowed to return to Rome with the terrible news. That was what made the Battle of Toowoomba so critical for Roman morale. Yes, it was against Paraguay, not Chile. Commander Churchill would have much rather gone after Chile again. Still, success had not come often to the Roman Empire in those days. Churchill became a national hero, the symbol of all that was right with the Empire.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    19 July 1902, Office of the Chancellor

    Robert Cecil had been amazed how quickly the fortunes of the Empire could turn, and how one single battle could shift the course of war. Toowoomba turned out to be that battle; shortly afterwards, both Chile and Paraguay sued for peace.



    Isolated, Zanzibar started losing serious ground in West Africa, as battle after battle drove them back.







    The Chancellor nodded with grim satisfaction. The Roman victories weren't bloodless, but in all three victories, the enemy had taken more casualties. Marshal Orsatti was coming to his office that very hour to discuss a plan to end the war. Sure enough, at 4 PM, he heard a knock at the door. The Marshal came in with a young man that he quickly introduced. "Chancellor Cecil, this is Winston Churchill, the Commander you've heard so much about."

    Cecil smiled brilliantly. "Well done, old boy, well done. You have done your country a tremendous service, one we shan't dare forget."

    The Commander was practically bursting with pride as he saluted. "Thank you, sir!"

    The Chancellor took a moment to inspect the soldier before him. The golden "M" -- signifying 1000 men under his command -- gleamed on his epaulets. He'd won multiple commendations, and each one was exactly the same level of polish. He stood ramrod straight. Cecil looked up at the Marshal, who had the faint traces of a grin across his face, then he returned his gaze to his fellow countryman. "So, Commander, is there any request we might fulfill?"

    Commander Churchill paused for a moment. He hadn't been prepared to answer such a question. Seeing the indecision in his charge's face, Marshal Orsatti changed the subject. "I'm sure he'll have something for you soon. I wanted to discuss our plan to invade Zanzibar. The Commander was one of my lead planners."

    Robert Cecil nodded. "What do you need?"

    Churchill took that as his cue. "Four classes. Ideally ten legions. This will have to be massive to succeed, sir."

    Robert Cecil blanched. "You want... ten legions? I can get you the ships; the Emperor will sign off on that. But you'd force us to divert most of our transports for that kind of commitment, and the Emperor wants us to attack Zanzibar in East Africa."

    Marshal Orsatti frowned. "It's a good plan, Chancellor. If we can take the capital, we can end the war quickly."

    The Chancellor shook his head slightly. "The Emperor won't go for it, even if I asked. Too many have died."

    "How many will he give us?"

    Robert Cecil braced for something to be thrown at him as he answered. "One."

    "One?"

    "One."

    "Which one?"

    Cecil checked the paper in front of him. "The XL."

    Orsatti's face started to turn red. "Luigi Vaccari's legion? He's an idiot! I wouldn't trust him to invade a bathtub with a rubber duck!"

    The Chancellor shrugged. "The Emperor won't give you anything else, and you can't replace Vaccari either."

    "The Emperor has been acting unusually lately, hasn't he?"

    "He has a bit, Marshal, but I think he's just feeling ill."

    Marshal Orsatti briefly thought about getting his pistol and waving it in the Emperor's face. Then he sighed. "Then I guess that's what we'll do. Commander, amend the plans."

    Churchill saluted and left; a few moments later, so did Orsatti. Once both were gone, Robert Cecil picked up his telephone and called the number he was given. "I did as you asked."

    The voice simply said, "Good. We will call if there is anything further."

    "Can I speak to my wife?"

    The voice repeated, "We will call if there is anything further" and hung up.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    5 February 1903, St. Helena

    Corporal Benito Mussolini hated how long it took news to get to the tiny little island he was stationed on, one of many problems he had with St. Helena. There was no telegraph or telephone on the island either; only a ship that came once a month brought any news. It had been just over a year since he'd written Colonel Benelli; he'd gotten a very terse thank you letter, but that was all. The Corporal simply shrugged, chalked it up to his bad luck, and then went back to work. He'd read of the exploits of Commander Churchill at the Battle of Second Nioro with great interest; Mussolini had never really disliked him, even after the court martial.



    The Commander had requested to be transferred back to active combat shortly after he'd met the Chancellor, or so the reporter said. Mussolini didn't know why, but he had. It might have had something to do with the disastrous Battle of Natal.



    Vaccari didn't get a third chance; he was tried and shot for cowardice in the face of the enemy. Mussolini refused to believe it, until the Roman Times showed that he was a secret member of the Socialists. Mussolini knew what that meant. The Times consistently railed against the Socialists for their "defeatism." He hated the Socialists, especially since he'd joined the legions. They consistently opposed military spending and refused to let the glory of Rome shine as it should. That was wrong, and he was glad that their stupid paper -- barely worthy of wiping his backside -- was gone. A lot of former Socialists had simply given up or changed factions. The new leader of the Agricolares, Ramsay MacDonald, had learned the lesson his predecessors had not; he worked for worker's rights, but said nothing about the war. Mussolini still hated him.

    The Corporal checked the time and nodded. He had to pick up a new scientist, just arriving at the Office of Special Projects, who claimed he had a solution to the problems at the gas factory. He also ordered two of his subordinates to go to the new turbine factory and tell the foreman that Mr. Tesla, the head of the Office, had denied his request for additional labor until after the gas weapon was completed.



    Benito picked up the keys and walked out to motor pool, but before he could get into the car, a staff car blocked his path. Out stepped Colonel Teodoro Benelli. Mussolini remembered to salute just in time, while his mouth dropped.

    The Colonel returned the salute. "At ease, Corporal." Mussolini relaxed, but only a tiny bit. "You are probably wondering why I am here. I am here, Corporal, for you."

    Mussolini nodded and gulped. "Y-yes, sir."

    The Colonel ignored Mussolini's tone and continued. "That letter you sent me was first rate. You'll be pleased to know that those individuals responsible for the massacre have been dealt with."

    "Thank you, sir."

    The Colonel finally noticed how nervous Benito was. "I am not here to punish you further, son. I am here to offer you a job."

    "What about the terms of my court martial?"

    The Colonel extracted a piece of paper from his jacket pocket.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo IV
    By my authority, Benito Mussolini is pardoned for his crime, his sentence commuted, and his rank restored.
    "I'm a Sergeant again, sir?"

    The Colonel shook his head. "No, you are not." Before Mussolini could start panicking again, the Colonel continued. "You are now a Lieutenant. Since the war is over, I see no need to keep you away from civilization any longer."

    "The war is over, sir?"

    The Colonel chuckled. "Sorry, son, I forget how far in the middle of nowhere you are. Here's the latest Times."



    Mussolini smiled and cheered at the news. "This is wonderful, sir!"

    The Colonel nodded. "It is, isn't it? You've been assigned to my command, Lieutenant. You can have a couple of weeks of leave -- God knows you deserve it -- but I expect you to report to my office in Rome at 0800 on the 19th. Understood?"

    "Yes, sir! If I may ask, what is my job going to be?"

    The Colonel merely grinned again. "I haven't decided yet.

    One thing is for sure, though: it's nothing you've ever done before."
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  9. #529
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    great stuff as ever ... and at the start a rather nice punishment for Benito.

    It seemed as if you were running the risk of losing that war early on (or at least not winning) as your W/e must have gone up rather scarily and with all your problems in Africa.

    Although one does rather fear for Mussolini's longer term plans
    Remember, whatever the question, the answer on 18 September is Yes ...

  10. #530
    When I saw that Cecil was being blackmailed, I thought that Vaccari's loss at Natal would have a much bigger impact on Rome, but it seems to have been just a blip. Oh well, at least that dreadful war is over. Did you intentionally throw your conscripts away, or did you not realize

  11. #531
    Really interesting update. I am wishing to know who is behind this plot: agricolares, communist, fascist...?
    What has happened with the rest of the communist leaders?
    I hope next update will be soon

  12. #532
    Meh.... That crackdown on the socialists does smell fishy.... and it'll come back to haunt Rome in the future....
    "Let's be free, the rest doesn't matters"

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  13. #533
    An exciting update. How did the gameplay of the Great War feel?

  14. #534
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    great stuff as ever ... and at the start a rather nice punishment for Benito.

    It seemed as if you were running the risk of losing that war early on (or at least not winning) as your W/e must have gone up rather scarily and with all your problems in Africa.

    Although one does rather fear for Mussolini's longer term plans
    Here's the weird thing: in EU3, I watch WE like a hawk. In Vicky 2, I keep forgetting it's there!

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke of Awesome View Post
    When I saw that Cecil was being blackmailed, I thought that Vaccari's loss at Natal would have a much bigger impact on Rome, but it seems to have been just a blip. Oh well, at least that dreadful war is over. Did you intentionally throw your conscripts away, or did you not realize
    When I play countries with huge armies -- and there's none huger than mine! -- I tend to use it as a blunt instrument. However, in the next war (coming very soon!) you'll see casualties go way down.

    Who says Vaccari's loss won't have a big impact?

    Quote Originally Posted by varetta View Post
    Really interesting update. I am wishing to know who is behind this plot: agricolares, communist, fascist...?
    What has happened with the rest of the communist leaders?
    I hope next update will be soon
    The Triumvirate went into hiding at the beginning of the war; they'll be back in the next update. As far as the plot? You'll have to wait and see!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Santiago View Post
    Meh.... That crackdown on the socialists does smell fishy.... and it'll come back to haunt Rome in the future....
    Your words may provide prophetic!

    Quote Originally Posted by Omen View Post
    An exciting update. How did the gameplay of the Great War feel?
    It felt exactly as I imagine our Great War did; a brutal slog. I never really thought I'd lose, but I am kind of mad how little I got for my effort (one province/regio and Repay Debts; since Zanzibar was kicked out of the GPs, all Assert Hegemony got me was a few prestige points). I'd planned to save up a lot of infamy for the Great War, but when it came, I kind of didn't expect it.
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  15. #535
    Quote Originally Posted by Avindian View Post
    It felt exactly as I imagine our Great War did; a brutal slog. I never really thought I'd lose, but I am kind of mad how little I got for my effort (one province/regio and Repay Debts; since Zanzibar was kicked out of the GPs, all Assert Hegemony got me was a few prestige points). I'd planned to save up a lot of infamy for the Great War, but when it came, I kind of didn't expect it.
    Just like Italy in the 1920s

    And we all know what happened then
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  16. #536
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Santiago View Post
    Just like Italy in the 1920s

    And we all know what happened then
    Except in this case, Italy won the Great War.
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  17. #537
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avindian View Post
    Except in this case, Italy won the Great War.
    Italy won WW1 in the OTL too. It was an Ally. It was WW2 that Italy joined the Axis.
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  18. #538
    People's Commissar of the Navy Demi Moderator Avindian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prince of Savoy View Post
    Italy won WW1 in the OTL too. It was an Ally. It was WW2 that Italy joined the Axis.
    And to think I somehow passed my European history preliminary exam... I always think of Italy as a loser since they didn't get what they wanted out of it.
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  19. #539
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avindian View Post
    And to think I somehow passed my European history preliminary exam... I always think of Italy as a loser since they didn't get what they wanted out of it.
    well they did (sorry) - Trieste and the Alto Adige (the latter problematic as it has such a high German population), plus chunks of the Adriatic coast and Corfu/Rhodes - all the stuff they start HOI with. Unfortunately they lost the war (in a technical sense) at Caporetto in late 1917 and only hung on as the Germans had no manpower to follow up the victory. The result, added to low loyalty to the state in any case, set off the chain of left wing revolt 1918-22 and then Mussolini.

    so you could say its a classic case of getting what you wanted .... and then finding it was less nice than you'd wanted ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by loki100 View Post
    well they did (sorry) - Trieste and the Alto Adige (the latter problematic as it has such a high German population), plus chunks of the Adriatic coast and Corfu/Rhodes - all the stuff they start HOI with. Unfortunately they lost the war (in a technical sense) at Caporetto in late 1917 and only hung on as the Germans had no manpower to follow up the victory. The result, added to low loyalty to the state in any case, set off the chain of left wing revolt 1918-22 and then Mussolini.

    so you could say its a classic case of getting what you wanted .... and then finding it was less nice than you'd wanted ...
    Wasn't Italy's main objective all of Dalmatia, which they did not get?
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