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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Jul 19, 2003
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Three’s Company

“Cousin will fight cousin.
But both will stand together against an outsider.” – Old Afghan saying



The Croatian broke his silence. “I will speak only to the Prime Minister, but you may be in attendance.”

Antonio raised his eyebrows. But he knew this called for a reevaluation. The Croatian would just as soon have him dead and his army under Garibaldi’s control – but if the Croatian was willing to talk to both at once, his message must be information that would benefit both. What had happened, a revolution in Vienna? Antonio didn’t know – but he would find out. “You have a deal. Be ready this evening or tomorrow.”

The Croatian smiled. Slimy bastard, perhaps, but he might have information.



February 27, 1869

Antonio looked up. The Prime Minister’s messenger had finally arrived with a response to Antonio’s request for a meeting. Took him long enough. “Well?”, Antonio snapped.

The messenger looked disdainfully at him. “The Prime Minister and bodyguards will meet you at the south edge of your camp in fifteen minutes. Be there.”

Antonio stared in shock. Fifteen minutes? The stare shifted to a glare, and Antonio gave a small nod in acknowledgement before walking away to get his horse and bodyguards, the Croatian, and Chiara.



Prime Minister Giuseppe Garibaldi pulled up his horse on top of the hill and gave orders. “If they aren’t here within five minutes, we leave.” Martin nodded, as did the other bodyguards. Squinting off into the distance, though, he saw a few riders coming towards them. A couple of minutes later, they had reached the top of the hill. It was indeed General Tommaso. He was accompanied by a colonel, some officers, and a prisoner.

Martin looked at Garibaldi, who was staring at the General’s company in open-mouthed shock. “Sasa? What in God’s name are you doing here?”

The prisoner laughed bitterly. “I am the reason you are here, in case the good General hadn’t deigned to inform you. I was following a lead I had and ended up in Dubrovnik. There I saw fully seven hundred score fucking Habsburg soldiers boarding transports. They are coming here, you know. Vienna is mad. Very mad. And the General has similar designs on Naples, I believe.”

The second comment earned the prisoner the barrel of his captor’s rifle, and he slumped down on the horse. Martin could hardly believe his ears. He hadn’t believed the pessimists who had titled the revolution the “Hundred Days”. But now it could be worse, much worse.

Garibaldi seemed to be in shock. “That makes sense. Ships recently forced their way through the Straits of Messina. The next logical step would be here.” To Martin, he finally looked like the old man he was. Before, hope and youth had sprung eternal from him. But now the Hero of Two Worlds had given up. Martin resolved to keep fighting, though, with or without Gairbaldi.

General Tommaso swore wildly for a few moments before logical thought began flowing out of his mouth. “Damn the Austrians to hell! They have better military technology than we. We will need to outnumber them. I have ten thousand men. Garibaldi, you must raise the same number, or we shall fall in defeat!”

A man from the General’s contigent cleared his throat. Looking at him, Martin saw he was young, but had not youth. He seemed to be a colonel, one of those brilliant young officers. Or those ruthless officers who rise fast and fall faster, eliminating everything in their way.

“The army must be jointly led by General Tommaso and Prime Minister Garibaldi. It will rally the troops, so that we may destroy the Austrians. General Tommaso, I will be your second-in-command, so that you do not have to rely on your generals.”

Tommaso nodded. “Yes, Colonel Chiara, that is a good idea.”

By his smirk, Martin realized that Chiara was the second type of officer. Just great. Just what we need.

Martin’s next words would be recalled by historians as the turning point for democracy, at which point it paired solemn determination with wild-eyed enthusiasm, would sound the death-knell of absolute monarchism. But his words were a prayer for both himself and the world – no wild-eyed enthusiasm. Even if they sounded like a battle cry to everyone else.

“Viva Italia!”