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CatKnight: Wow ... your first post to the forum, and it's in one of my AARs. :)

Sindai: We shall see ...

Yakman: Thanks. :)

Farquharson: Well, there are Starfleet records of Borg drones being cut off from the Collective and gaining some degree of individuality, as well as sharing information with their captors ...

Judge: Thanks. It's nice to be back in the saddle again.

And now, for Chapter 4 ...
 

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March of the Habsborg
Chapter 4 - Evil Restrained

Venice
June 15, 1541


The light inside the Doge's conference room was dimmer than a California governor. Only the flicker of a candelabra on the table in the center of the room kept the occupants from being completely blind. "So the Tuscan war is over?" asked Doge Pietro Lando of his top general and military advisor, Leonardo Foscolo.

"Yes, sir. The Enemy has forced Tuscany to cede Romagna."

"The Borg demon grows ever more powerful, and Christendom remains silent," lamented the Doge, shaking his head slowly.

"To be fair, sir ... most of the crowns of Europe still do not believe that the Habsburgs are possessed, and they are unwilling to oppose them when, after all, they were only punishing Tuscany's aggression against Romagna."

Lando slammed the table with his fist. "If only the Vatican had sense enough to keep control of its lands, this matter might have been prevented. The enemy now controls almost the entire coast of the Gulf of Venice - if it comes to war again, our navy will be trapped. What news of the Turk?"

"They have been preoccupied in Hungary ever since our agreement to cede Corfu and Dalmatia, but of course any treaty signed with the Sultan is worth little more than the paper it is inscribed upon."

Lando grunted. "It would seem we are surrounded by enemies whom we have no hope of defeating. Surely things cannot get any worse than they are now."

As if on cue, a messenger entered the room. True to his station, he silently crossed the room, handing his charge to Foscolo, after which he beat a hasty retreat. Foscolo opened the note and held it over the candelabra, using the heat to expose the invisible message contained within. His general's sigh and sagged shoulders upon reading the message told the Doge all he needed to know about its contents. Curiously, that didn't stop him from seizing it from Foscolo's hands.

"So," began the Doge after reading the paper. "The Turk has been halted, but Zapolya is dead, and now all of Hungary is a Habsburg possession. I would have preferred the Turk to take Hungary rather than the Borg-infested Habsburgs. I'm open to suggestions on how to proceed, Leonardo."

"We need allies, Doge. If we can surround the Enemy and force them to fight in multiple theaters, we may yet defeat them, or at least reverse their advance."

"Agreed, but what allies have we? You said yourself that nobody believes us."

"That's not exactly true, sir. The Duke of Savoy is firmly in our camp, and they've convinced the Scots of the Borg threat ..."

"Heh," Lando interrupted. "The Scots really will believe anything."


Kassel
March 15, 1543


Duke Philipp I of Hessen shifted uneasily in his chair. "You are certain this man comes on the authority of the Emperor?" he asked of his guard.

"No, but that is who he claims to be, nonetheless. He did arrive in a carriage with the Emperor's arms on it."

Philipp furrowed his brow. "Curious. Very well, show him in, and direct him to the balcony. Then, leave us."

"Sir?"

"Do as I ask. I would know right now whether these rumors of the Emperor's 'possession' are true, and as long as this messenger is outnumbered, I don't believe he will reveal his true intentions."

"Yes, sir," replied the guard, and with a dutiful click of his heels went out to fetch the mysterious Habsburg ambassador.

Philipp rose, crossed over to the locked chest in the corner of the room and opened it with the key hanging from his neck. From the chest he pulled a small bodkin and a length of rope. Using the rope, he tied the bodkin to the underside of his left forearm. The long sleeves of his cloak hid the blade, but by hyperextending his wrist, he could expose its tip.

Weapon in hand (or sleeve, as the case may be), Philipp walked out to the balcony to wait for the Habsburg messenger. In a few moments, the man arrived, dressed entirely in the black armor that had become the odd new fashion in Austria. The Duke wasted no time.

"My men tell me that you claim to be here on the authority of the Emperor."

The messenger's response spoke volumes to Philipp. "We are the Habsborg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is fu-"

The drone's reply was cut short as Philipp plunged his dagger into its chest. Continuing to push on the blade's hilt, he drove the drone over the edge of the balcony, after which its internal organs were messily introduced to the stone path leading up to the castle.

Perhaps, thought Philipp, it is time to take the Doge of Venice a bit more seriously ...


Venice
February 1, 1545


Another explosion in the city sent shockwaves through the Palace of the Doge as Foscolo made his way to the war room. The general wondered how much more punishment the building could take. Doge Lando greeted him as he entered the chamber. "What news, Leonardo?"

"Mixed blessings, I'm afraid. First off, our navy has the Enemy completely outclassed, and they are nicely blockaded in Trieste."

"That's good," interrupted the Doge.

"But as you know," said Foscolo as another explosion rocked the city, "their army has routed ours in Genoa and laid siege to Venice."

"That's bad," Lando said with a scowl.

"On the other hand, the Savoyards and Hessians have had moderate success on the battlefield, and have repulsed several Habsburg attacks."

"That's good," chimed the Doge.

Hiding his annoyance, Foscolo continued his briefing. "Alas, the Scots lost their entire navy and a sizable army in a doomed invasion of the Low Countries, and the Emperor has concluded his wars with the Electorates of Baden and Würzburg, forcing both of them to become tributary vassals. We can only assume that their leadership has been possessed by Borg, thus making it impossible for us to accomplish the principle goal of this war."

"That's bad."

Foscolo let out an angry sigh. "Finally, the Austrians have requested that both sides cease hostilities and return to the status quo. They appear to recognize that we have forced a stalemate."

Lando furrowed his brow, unable to comprehend if that last statement was good or bad. Foscolo settled the issue.

"That's good, Doge. While we have not saved Baden and Würzburg, we have shown that this 'Borg' can be fought. If we take some time to rebuild our forces and rally more nations to our side, we may yet defeat this threat."

"That's -", began the Doge, but his final annoying interjection was cut short by a cannonball that picked that particular moment to smash into the Palace and take out the principle load-bearing member of the section housing the war room, thus causing its ceiling to collapse upon poor Pietro. Let it not be said that cybernetic lifeforms do not have a sense of empathy.


Will the Venetians be able to rally humanity in time to defeat the Borg?
Read March of the Habsborg, Chapter 5 - The Crawling Blackness to find out!
 

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Oh well, secretly I hope you'll swap lands some time... poor Europe :( ;) don't you feel a certain obligation to free the planet from the plague you have unleashed upon her? :rofl:

I can see the headlines:

Le Moniteur:

King Jean-Luc *cough* Picard *cough* the First marches into Vienna at the head of his phaser-wielding French army!
 

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TheBee said:
King Jean-Luc *cough* Picard *cough* the First marches into Vienna at the head of his phaser-wielding French army!

Now that would be highly amusing. :rofl:
 

Machiavellian

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First: A very enjoyable AAR thus far. Great fun to read.
Second: A bit of Trek-talk, I wonder whether the Borg will attempt to assimilate Picard's great ancestors?
Third: I can not believe I am actually -Rooting- for the Venetians!!
 

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CatKnight: I've a feeling you've got plenty of company on this board. :D

Sindai: Nice catch. ;)

J.P.: Nah. The Doge wants to save humanity, not conquer it. Oddly enough, AI Venice slapped the Ottomans around several times after losing Corfu and Crete, but never took any territory. I've tried to work it into the story by alluding to the notion that the Venetians were funding my enemies. Poppycock of course, since AFAIK the AI nations don't exchange gifts, but it works from a literary standpoint.

jwolf: Well, he was probably going to attempt to assimilate the Duke. In game terms, this would normally translate to an attempt at peaceful vassalization. But since Hessen was allied to Venice, that's clearly not the case. That scene was really just a convenient way to explain why an Electorate would side with Venice, Savoy, and Scotland against the Emperor.

TheBee: I am deliberately telling the story from my enemies' perspective since narration from the Borg point of view would be repetitive and boring. The game is already complete, and I did not swap nations at any time. As for Jean-Luc Picard, I would remind you that he will not be born for several hundred years. But who knows, perhaps his great^n-grandfather (where n is a number greater than 20) will show up. :) As for the use of phasers ... they are not invented yet, and the Borg would only adapt to them anyway. Much more effective to continue using projectile weapons.

Machiavellian: Well, you really ought to be rooting for the Venetians ... they are the heroes of this AAR, after all. Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not they are tragic heroes ...

And now, for Chapter 5!
 

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March of the Habsborg
Chapter 5 - The Crawling Blackness

Venice
March 1, 1560


Doge Girolamo Priuli walked through the rebuilt Palace, pondering his next move. It had been more than 10 years since the Republic's last war against the Habsburgs, and efforts to convince other nations to join forces to combat the Borg threat had not gone well. Spain and Portugal were too busy dividing the spoils of the New World, while France and England were sorting out their own internal religious matters. Efforts to band the various German electorates together were futile; ever since the Emperor had decreed at Augsburg that the Princes could choose their religion, the northern electorates had refused to side against him. The one German prince with any sort of good sense had been the Duke of Hessen, but he had lost his land to the increasingly belligerent Saxons, who now controlled Magdeburg, Mecklemburg, and Bremen, in addition to Hessen and Saxony proper. Then there was the wave of Fanaticism in Flandern, which had seen the population of one of Europe's largest cities spontaneously convert back to the Holy Church and collectively decide to adopt German as the local language.

Emperor Charles' abdication in 1556 was something of a good note, as it transferred the Habsburgs' Italian possessions to Spain, which would be henceforth be ruled by Felipe II, who, according to Priuli's spies, had not yet become possessed by Borg. In fact, the Spanish Habsburgs were overall rather cool to their relations in Vienna, and as long as the family remained divided, hopes for eventually defeating the Borg remained.

Nevertheless, the situation was becoming bleaker by the day, and as Priuli entered the Palace's main conference room, he saw by his advisors' countenances that today's briefing would not be pleasant. "What news, gentlemen?"

Admiral Barbarigo spoke first. "Sir, we have word that the Habsburgs have declared war on Poland. Their puppets, Baden and Kleves, have joined them, while Poland is backed by Lithuania, Wurtemburg and Strassburg."

Priuli frowned. "Well, we expected as much, what with the Polack's retention of Erz and Moravia even after the Emperor's coronation as King of Bohemia. Can we strike ourselves, and assist the Poles?"

"No, sir," Barbarigo responded. "Our forces are still depleted from the latest war with the Ottomans."

"Damn those heathens ... the Sultan's elevation to Khalifa has truly been a harbinger of doom." Priuli slumped his shoulders and sighed. "Very well, let us send the Poles what funding we can spare and hope for the best."

The Plains of Podolia
May 16, 1561


As dawn broke over the fields outside Czernowitz, General Jan Tarnowski mulled his predicament. To call his situation bleak would be such an understatement that it pains the author to even consider writing such a thing, so let us simply say that it was less than favorable, and drop the matter.

His own force consisted of roughly 5,000 infantry and as many horse, while the enemy numbered 13,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, and 30 cannon. The Habsburgs had entered Podolia 10 days ago, from the northwest, where they had just captured Lwow. He'd been fighting the enemy for most of that time, and while the operation was more or less a stalemate, his forces were dwindling. As if that weren't bad enough, the Lithuanian reinforcements he'd been promised had been foolishly diverted to the siege of Breslau. Why the Lithuanians needed 50,000 men to starve out a garrison of only 10,000 was beyond Tarnowski's ability to comprehend, but at any rate, he was clearly in a stew pot now.

Action on other fronts was not encouraging. In addition to Galizien, the Austrians were in total control of the provinces of Erz and Moravia. Attempts to invade Hungary via the Carpathian passes had failed miserably. About the only bright spot was the destruction of a 25,000-man Habsburg army that had been besieging Krakow. If Tarnowski could not hold Podolia, the Sejm would surely decide to hand over Poland's Bohemian possessions. That would likely upset the Venetians, who kept trying to convince the Sejm that all of House Habsburg was under the control of some demon named "Borg". Tarnowski wasn't sure if he believed it or not. One one hand, it was a pretty fanciful tale, but what purpose would it serve Venice for the Doge to concoct such a story? At least their gold was good.

His concentration was broken by his aide, who pointed out a flag of truce crossing the field. "Surely they don't think we will surrender?" The aide shrugged his shoulders in response. "Well, let's see what this is about."

As they rode to meet the delegation, the Habsburg rider carrying the flag spurred his horse, accelerating as they closed the gap. Aiming for Tarnowski's aide, the rider lowered his banner like a lance and knocked him from his horse. He then turned and began making a run at Tarnowski. Drawing his sword, Tarnowski turned his horse toward the oncoming rider, deflecting the blow of his makeshift lance. But by this time, the enemy general had joined the fray, and riding up behind Tarnowski, he leapt from his mount and tackled the Pole, sending him to the ground.

The dazed Tarnowski felt something sharp pierce his throat, just before his vision began to cloud over.

Hannover
April 1, 1578


"What?! That's preposterous!" bellowed Wilhelm V, Duke of Braunschweig-Luneburg and patriarch of House Hannover. "The Emperor would never do such a thing!"

"Sir," responded the guard. "We are certain he was from House Habsburg. He was dressed in that queer black armor, and kept saying 'resistance is futile', just like all the Emperor's diplomats. We slew him, just as you ordered us to, and found the message you now hold on his person."

Wilhelm read the note again. It stated, quite bluntly, that the newly-elected Rudolf had no intention of being bound by the peace of Augsburg, and that he intended to bring all the Lutheran electors back to the Church by force of arms. Even worse, it stated that Hannover was to be made the first example of this new policy.

Will the Borg succeed in their bid to assimilate the Holy Roman Empire?
Read March of the Habsborg, Chapter 6 - Sacrilege to find out!
 

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Crimson King said:
Poppycock of course, since AFAIK the AI nations don't exchange gifts, but it works from a literary standpoint.

Sure they do. While the AI probably isn't smart enough to "fund a war against its enemies", gifts are the only way for them to diplovassalize and diploannex. The AI never gifts humans, though, because human actions aren't controlled by relations the way the AI's are, and it might make things too easy.
 

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Crimson King said:
Then there was the wave of Fanaticism in Flandern, which had seen the population of one of Europe's largest cities spontaneously convert back to the Holy Church and collectively decide to adopt German as the local language.

The conversion I understand, but then their culture changed to German? :confused:

The battle scene with the Poles was great! But you make the Borgs so villainous we're all rooting for the opposition now!
 

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Sindai said:
Sure they do. While the AI probably isn't smart enough to "fund a war against its enemies", gifts are the only way for them to diplovassalize and diploannex.

*smacks head* Duh! I knew that. Really, I did. *schedules brain for defrag*

jwolf said:
The conversion I understand, but then their culture changed to German? :confused:

Yep. I received the following random event (one of Ebbesen's creations):

Code:
event = {
	id = 97319
	random = yes
	name = "Fanaticism"
	desc = "The true faith was spread by the word of the faithful, bringing
the divine to the unbelievers. Occasionally it was even strong enough to
shatter the cultural ties of the converts, though not without a struggle."
	style = 0
	trigger = {
		countrysize = 30
		NOT = { countrysize = 200 }
	}

	action_a = {
		name = "Welcome brothers!"
		command = { type = religiousrevolt which = -1 }
		command = { type = revolt which = -3 }
		command = { type = conversion which = -3 }
		command = { type = provinceculture which = -3 value = -1 }
		command = { type = provincemanpower which = -3 value = 1 }
		command = { type = provincetax which = -3 value = 1 }
		command = { type = stability value = -1}
	}
}

As a result of that conversion, Flandern, the richest province under Borg control, was converted back to Catholicism, and took on German culture, making it subject to no income reductions whatsoever, save the "no land connection" modifier. (And that modifier will soon disappear, as well.) Also note that the Dutch rebellions have been avoided entirely, as a result of being almost max Innovative. (I believe I alluded to this in the AAR's first OOC post.) Suffice to say, the occurrence of this Fanaticism event made the decision over which possessions to keep after Charles' abdication quite trivial, since by that time the Netherlands were accounting for roughly a third of my income.

No story update tonight, but here are some game stats, as of 1580:


Provinces: 34
Income: 96d
Badboy: 5.1 / 45

Tech:
Land 15
Naval 12
Trade 4
Infra 5

Support Limits:
Army 163k
Navy 78

Sliders:
Aris 8
Cent 6
Inno 8
Merc 8
Offs 2
Land 8
Qual 4
Serf 4
 

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Really a good AAR.
Sorry if I was so silent lately, but your updates are faster than mine!!!

VERY original, and probably amongst the best I ever read! Congrats!
Oh!Yeah, I also found myself rooting for the opposition, but there is a little error in your stats...

The domestic policies weren't changed to fit Habsborgs, were they? I mean, Land 8??? I didnt see any naval battles with these heavy thingys called Borg! They's probably sink through their boats!

But seriously, great AAR, I am following with eagerness!

Th :rofl:
 

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AmbassadeBelgie said:
The domestic policies weren't changed to fit Habsborgs, were they? I mean, Land 8??? I didnt see any naval battles with these heavy thingys called Borg! They's probably sink through their boats!

And a cube-shaped boat wouldn't move very fast in the first place, come to think of it. :D
 

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AmbassadeBelgie: Keep in mind that those DP stats were in effect in 1580, which is 88 years into the game. Thus, they represent 9 manual DP-clicks plus a few event-driven ones. Going land-oriented made the most sense, since I'd decided not to build a colonial empire.

Sindai: Actually, the Kin'Rashar of Betelguese VI perfected cubic ship design in the late twenty-second century (Earth calendar). Sadly, their society was eventually destroyed, collateral damage of the war between the Klingon Empire and the Tribbles.

I'm hoping to get the next chapter up tonight. Humanity is about to get a powerful new ally.

BTW, for those of you who are über-trekkers, the stardate mentioned in the AAR's opening scene is actually "real", i.e., it was selected to fit into a specific period of the Trek chronology. It occurs appoximately one month after a significant event. Anyone care to guess which one? :)
 

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While not an uber-trekkie or even a really a trekkie at all (though I really did enjoy Star-Trek:TNG and Star-Trek:DS9 and kind of like enterprise) I'll wager a guess at after the battle in the wolf system? I'm probably not right.

Anyway, looking forward to the next update.
 

CatKnight

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Machiavellian said:
While not an uber-trekkie or even a really a trekkie at all (though I really did enjoy Star-Trek:TNG and Star-Trek:DS9 and kind of like enterprise) I'll wager a guess at after the battle in the wolf system? I'm probably not right.

Anyway, looking forward to the next update.

That was my initial guess, but that's a little early. How about this?

Stardate 50893.5: The Borg make a run on Earth, and Enterprise-D intercepts them. 'Historically' both ships wind up in the 21st century to deal with getting Earth's first warp-capable ship operational in time for the Vulcans to see them.

(Star Trek: First Contact)