The Hohenzollern Empire 5: Renewed Phoenix - A Roman Reich Megacampaign in New World Order

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GhostRider124

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This is my next update. It covers the world from the start of the Second World War in 1939 to the end of the fighting between the Reich and China in 1944 so that means one update to go. I do have a question though. In Chapter 405: Hope and Self-Reliance you said that Korea became independent under Syngman Rhee and I was just wondering what happened to Kim Il-sung and the Workers' Party of Korea in TTL?

The World on Fire

The Chinese would end up supporting the Imperium but stopped short of actually joining the war.

At the Royal Palace in Vilnius Lithuania on 9 May 1939 at 4:00 PM a note was given to the Lithuanian King Mindaugas saying that if it does not hand over a group of Lithuanuan soldiers that killed a group of Soviet soldiers, along with allowing a new government to be formed and allow Soviet troops in Lithuania, or else they would invade.

At 6:00 PM, the Red Army invaded, by 10:00 the reds reached the capital and by midnight they took the Royal Palace. Both the Kingdom of Lithuania and Baltic State were forced to surrender and become parts of the Soviet Commune.

In South Eimerica the Tawantinsuyuans were attacking the Roman forces there. Meanwhile the Inranian Army would advance from the east causing the Romans to lose their influence over the Persian Gulf and paving the way for Iran to strike Baghdad.

The war in Central Asia was not doing much better Iranian and Indian troops linked up and Imperium forces were conquering the Caucasus.The war in Central Asia was not doing much better.

Iranian and Indian troops linked up and Imperium forces were conquering the Caucasus. By early June parts of western Neurhomania and parts of Provincia Mittelafrika had fallen.

By June 29, 1939 Abyssinian troops reached the Medditeranian Sea and were besieging Alexandria.

By June 29, 1939 Abyssinian troops reached the Medditeranian Sea and were besieging Alexandria. On the 1st of July, 1939, thirteen Soviets were attacked near the Soviet-Finish border. The Attack left four dead and nine injured on the Soviet side.

This would lead to the Soviet Commune to declare war on Finland. More recent historians have come to the conclusion that the Soviets did it themselves to have a reason to invade.

On July 6th the Suez Canal was taken by Abyssinia cutting the Roman government in Constantinople from its African territories.

On July 21, 1939 Indian forces had arrived at the gates of Samarkand. But due to it having been so difficult to reach the city Gandhi didn't listen when his commanders complained that their soldiers were attacking civilians.

On the 27th of July Indian troops reached Baghdad. By the first of August the three thousand men that were supposed to be defending the city deserted their posts. By the next day the city had fallen.

On August 3, the Finish government surrendered to the Soviets. Grand Duke Toghoril II, was able to escape to Tsarist Russia. However despite this victory Molotov agreed to peace with both Tsarist Russia and Noregr.

On the 10th, the Chinese despite sending supplies to the Angeloi Chancellor Wang Jingwei, sent numerous requests for the Reich to join the Tianxia Alliance. Not knowing what the Chinese angle was the Romans refused each time.

A Chinese witness wrote during the bombing of Vinea "By every test and measure I am able to apply, these people are staunch to the bone and won't quit ... the Daqin are stronger and in a better position than they were at its beginning". People referred to raids as if they were weather, stating that a day was "very blitzy".

By May 24, 1940 the Romans looked like they were coming back from the brink of destruction. The Imperium had taken all of the provinces of Germania, Gallia, Britannia, Caledonia, Hibernia, Taurica-Alania/Caucasia, Italia, Macedonia, and Borneo. Most of Carpathia-Dacia, Illyricum, Bulgaria, Greece, Illyricum, Mittelafrika, the Middle East and Neu Rhomania. Parts of Hispania, Ostafrika, and Sudafrika.

The only territories that were loyal to the Reich and Kaiser Otto were the Peloponnese, Anatolia, Indochina, Mittagsland, and the Pacific Semiautonomous Territory. The gates to Constantinopal were open and some expected the city to fall within a few weeks.

In June 19, 1940 The UPM would join the Tianxia Alliance,in the hopes of getting help against the Equintern. However the UPM was not doing so well which led to China not intervening in the Mayan Civil War. China’s statement was that since a Democratic government was not in Panama City meant that China was not obligated to help out. The UPM would hold out despite the odds.

On the 27th of August, the last of the Imperial Indian Army was destroyed outside Dar es Salaam, causing the Indian government in exile to retreat to Madagascar. However not before Samrat Chakravartin Purandaradasa was executed by the Ethiopians. Ending the Indian monarchy.

In Rome's blackest hour on January 1, 1941 Kaiser Otto gave a speech to try and reinvigorate his people. This was his speech,

“On Friday evening last I decided to form a new Administration. It was the evident wish and will of God and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties, both those who supported the prewar government and also the parties of the Opposition, to pool all available talent together to provide the best leadership moving forward.

To form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many points in Thrace and Morea and Dardanella, that we have to be prepared in the Aegean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations have to be made here at home. In this crisis I hope I may be forgiven if I do not address the Diet again at any length today.

I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make all allowances for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the Diet, as I said to those who have joined the government: 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.'

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalog of human crime.

That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the Roman Reich, no survival for all that the Roman Reich has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.

But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, 'Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.'

Turning once again, and this time more generally, to the question of invasion, I would observe that there has never been a period in all these long centuries of which we boast when an absolute guarantee against invasion, still less against serious raids, could have been given to our people. There was always the chance, and it is that chance which has excited and befooled the imaginations of many tyrants, both within and without us.

Many are the tales that are told. We are assured that novel methods will be adopted, and when we see the originality of malice, the ingenuity of aggression, which our enemy displays, we may certainly prepare ourselves for every kind of novel stratagem and every kind of brutal and treacherous manœuvre. I think that no idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered and viewed with a search, but at the same time, I hope, with a steady eye. We must never forget the solid assurances of sea and land power and those which belong to air power if it can be locally exercised.

I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of my government – every man of them. That is the will of God, the Roman people, and the nation. The Roman Reich will defend to the death its native soil, its citizens aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Eurasia and many old and famous states have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gurapu and the Black Tagmata and all the odious apparatus of Rasa and Angeloi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in Greece, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Reich, whatever the cost may be.

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this city or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the Imperial Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the dominions, with their power and might and zeal and hope, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of their motherland.

God save the Empire! Long live the Reich!"

By noon on the 3rd of March it looked like even Constantinople would fall and fall like it did at 2:00 PM. However this did not mean the end for Kaiser Otto and many Reich loyalists went underground and started a resistance movement against the Imperium.

By the 25th of March, the region of Thrace was liberated. Pretty soon it appeared that Bulgaria and Greece were being liberated as well.

By April 2 a failed loyalist counter attack failed to retake Constantinople and the loyalists ofessive in the Balkans was stalking. The Imperium was beginning another counteroffensive to potentially end the loyalist cause for good.

However the loyalist struck back on 9 April 1941, at 11:00 AM. the loyalist struck with everything they had. On the 25th of April, 1941, loyalist troops marched through Constantinople. The Queen of Cities was liberated. But Kaiser Otto knew that they still had a long way to go before they reached Berlin.

But the Angeloi were falling back and most of Western Anatolia and northern Greece was expected to be liberated over the next few days.
On the 17th the Soviet government announced that Leon Trotsky was killed. The Soviets claimed the assassin was an Angeloi agent. The Angeloi denied the charges and demanded an apology. The Soviets refused and so by June 22, 1941 the Imperium and the Axis declared war on the Soviet Commune.

This proved to be a great help to the loyalist war effort. By October 1941 Greece, Anatolia, Crete, Cyprus, the Levant and parts of Mesopotamia and Aegyptus were under loyalist control.

On the early morning of December 7, 1941 in the Gulf of Siam an aircraft carrier strike group lead by the carriers Sun Tzu, Cao Cao, Guanyu, Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei, and Yongle launched aircraft from their decks on a mission that would change history.

Singapura, the capital of Provincia Indochina would be attacked by 353 Chinese aircraft in one of the most famous battles in the Second World War. the Romans put up fierce resistance but many of their planes were shot out of the sky. In total, 2,403 Romans died and 1,178 were wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk or run aground, including five battleships.

Whereas on the Chinese side Fifty-five Chinese airmen and nine submariners were killed in the attack, and one was captured. Of China's 414 available planes, 29 were lost during the battle (nine in the first attack wave, 20 in the second), with another 74 damaged by antiaircraft fire from the ground.

Despite many generals wanting Hong to launch a third attack he refused due to the stiffening Roman resistance. The Chinese Empire’s formal declaration of war on the Reich would take place at 6:00 PM.

After the attack Chinese forces began attacking other Roman possessions through the Asian Pacific region.

The attack caused severe outrage in the Reich and an immediate declaration of war by the Reich on China. This meant that for the second time in thirty years, two of the world biggest superpowers were at war.

A new year of 1942 dawned, China continued its advance in Asia. Taking Ayutthaya and following that taking Prachinburi and parts of Indonesia. But many Loyalist Roman legions were preparing to attack Chinese Aetearoa.

At Prachuap Khiri Khan, thirteen thousand Roman loyalists held off a Chinese attack. It was one of the only victories that the loyalists were able to achieve in Indochina. However the loyalists were still driven back on the 6th of February. But this ended up giving the loyalists time to regroupe.

Again this would be for not due to the Chinese being able to take Kuala Lumpur on April 4th with no losses. Malacca would fall on the 8th of April.
Singapura fell on April 12th and with it capital of the Reich in Asia had fallen. What followed was Chinese troops massacred many of the surrendering Romans.

On the 14th of April Iran would fall. Leading to a major blow to the Axis war effort.

In late April the Romans began their invasion of the South Island of Mittagsland by landing five legions. However the island was relatively undefended.

On the 3rd of March the Chinese completed their conquest of Singapura. A harsh Sinicization program began with many European settlers being sent to laogais in Siberia and any non-European being “reeducated”.

On the 13th of May in order to counter the Chinese dominance in the Indian Ocean. Kaiser Otto ordered unrestricted submarine warfare.

Roman General Markos Doukas started the assault on Penglai on June 19th by attacking Blenheim. By the 26th the Chinese garrison surrendered. Five days later the Chinese attacked Kaitaia, north of Haizhou. They were then able to take Banda Aceh in Indonesia. This meant that the last territory in the Asia-Pacific Region that the Romans had was Mittagsland and a few Pacific Islands.

On the 24th of July, 1942, the Empire of Mali surrendered unconditionally to the Romans. This was a huge morale boost to the loyalist cause.

On October 1, 1942 the loyalist forces would launch an operation to invade Italia code named “Operation Husky”. It was the largest amphibious operation in the war so far. This was soon supplanted by an even more ambitious amphibious operation named Operation Overlord in which the loyalists invaded Hispania on October 15th. This would allow loyalist forces to relieve some pressure from the Balkan Front.

On June 7th, 1943, a skirmish between Chinese and India took place near the Kwai bridge, on the Chindwin River. This led to China and the Tianxia Alliance to declare war on India and the Axis powers.

In early July 1943 the Chinese started engaging Angeloi ships in the Far East. The most noticeable so far was the KMS Friedrich the Glorious.

By July 31st more than half of Mittagsland had fallen to Chinese forces. By August 16th the Chinese had taken the island. This meant that the loyalist control of the Pacific Ocean and most of the oachian east of Madagascar was lost.

The Indian front grew even more complicated in late August with the Chinese arriving in full force. Chinese troops, having overrun most of the former Turkestan already, quickly pushed the loyalists out of Bukhara and Samarkand and pushed westwards, easily crushing what remained of the Indians and Iranians in Khiva. Eduard von Habsburg, commander of the troops in Central Asia, ordered them to retreat to Afghanistan and northern Persia, which were much better defended.

On September 1st the loyalist naval intelligence claimed that the Angeloi were moving transport ships to Taiwan and the Qiandao Islands. Many in the Chinese high command dismissed these reports claiming them to be fake.

By the third Angeloi troops did land on Chinese territory. Landings took place on Qiandao, Borneo, other Indonesian islands, Vietnam, mainland China, and even southern Japan. The Angeloi Operation "Dragonslayer" surprised everyone.

Chinese Chancellor Wang Jingwei was running for reelection but asked that the Emperor suspend the election until the crisis was averted. The Emperor agreed andMartial Law was declared and most of the Mingzhi Constitution suspended. This completed China's move towards dictatorship.

In Vietnam calls for an independent Vietnam free of both the Angeloi and Chinese started to grow. In Qiandao due to the people resisting so much the Angeloi used barbaric methods to maintain control, sometimes massicareing entire villages. This made the people of Qiandao fight harder.

Within two weeks Taiwan fell. In Indonesia many Sulawesi natives hardly resisted but in return the Angeloi put many into ether camps, enslavement, or execution. In Japan Emperor Hirohito denounced the invasion and Shogun Shiba Iesato sent his samurai to try and stop the invaders but they were ineffective.

On the 9th, Angeloi troops started siegeing Ningbo and Huangyan. Huzhou would fall the next day. On the 11th Shanghai was under siege. The defending general Chiang Kai-Shek knew that if Shanghai fell then nothing would stop the Angeloi from reaching Nanjing and execute the Emperor.

There was even an Angeloi invasion of southwestern Penglai but strong resistance prevented the invaders from moving inland.

The loyalists saw this in a good way. The Angeloi invasion meant that many Chinese troops in Central Asia would have to be sent back to defend the homeland. Despite this several armies remained in the region.

The Chinese were able to retake Fukuoka, Saigon, Vietnam and Guangdong. The Chinese army started attacking both loyalists and Angeloi as revenge for the invasion of their country.

Pretty soon, most Angeloi footholds were eliminated leaving only the Yangtze Delta, Sulawesi,
Yangtze Delta, most of Sulawesi, and all of Taiwan and Qiandao in Angeloi hands. In response Angeloi bombers in Taiwan and Qiandao started firebombing Chinese coastal cities.

In early november loyalists troops were advancing into India taking most of the west coast of the country.

The Angeloi invasion force was being pushed back on all fronts. The loyalists would win a battle in Central Asia only for more Chinese reinforcements to arrive.

By the later half of November the only Roman provinces in Angeloi hands were Carpathia, Gallia, Britannia, Caledonia, Hibernia, and Germania.

At noon on December 12, 1943 Indian leader Gandhi ordered his troops to lay down their arms and unconditionally surrender to Roman and Chinese forces.

Despite India surrendering to Roman and Chinese forces the war was still going on. The loyalists were launching another invasion this time in Hibernia as well as pushing in on the Hispanian, Italian, and Balcan fronts.

Chinese forces would soon continue their advance and by December 20th Chinese forces had reached the Persian Gulf. This meant that all of the legions in eastern Iran, Afghanistan and South Asia were surrounded.

On Christmas Eve 1943 the Romans launched Operation "Sanktniklaus" which was the plan to retake Neurhomaina.

In late December off the coast of Sanktludwig in the Atlantic Ocean three Chinese submarines were spotted trailing the Roman transport ships startling the Roman High Command for they thought China could not reach that far from the Indian Ocean.

At the beginning of January 1944 the Chinese were making huge gains in India reaching as far as Raipur and Lucknow. In Persia the loyalists were still unable to dislodge the Chinese from the Persian Gulf and were barely stopping them from taking the rest of Persia and Mesopotamia.

Despite the Angeloi only controlling the Qiandao Islands, Taiwan and most of Sulawesi three puppet governments were established. The first one was the Republic of China on Taiwan led by Christian general Feng Yuxiang. The second was the Republic of Qiandao led by Mangalus Taruc who proclaimed a ethnic Qiandao state. The third one was the Sulawesi Republic under Angeloi military rule.

There was even a pro-Reich uprising in northern Sumatra by Indonesian nationalists who wanted a country free of the Romans and Chinese.

The Chinese continued to make gains in Persia creating a pocket of loyalist forces near the island of Hormuz.

Despite the Indonesian’s liberating the northern part of Sumatra by January 12th the Chinese were sending troops to the area with the rebels being crushed on the 17th. But this only speared more protest across the island that was met with harsh reprisals by the Chinese.

By February 1, 1944 the Chinese were within artillery range of Delhi and on the 5th the Chinese would take Isfahan and Tehran. These cities would be retaken by the loyalists on March 11th.

With the Chinese offensive in the west staled many soldiers dug in to defend what they had. On March 26th the Chinese flagship the Guangzhou was sunk by the Angeloi despite them losing the war in Europe.

On the 28th of March the loyalist retook Paris which was one of the largest cities in the Reich from the Angeloi.

April 1st would see the Chinese would defeat loyalist armored divisions in Hyderabad. Even if the Romans sent in reinforcements it would only save the city by a few more weeks.

In mid April the Chinese would launch a surprise invasion of Tawantinsuyu. They were quickly able to capture most of a suyu as well as the capital Cusco. But the Sapa Inca and his government retreated to a bunker in the Andes refusing to surrender.

The world would change forever on July 19, 1944. For it is during this day that the cities of Warsaw, Konigsberg, and Dresden were distri=oide in a flash of light that killed almost everyone in those cities and leaving behind a giant mushroom cloud. The atomic age has begun.

End of WWII took place on July 19, 1944. At the end of the war the Reich got its old borders in Europe along wirth western Germania, Csalidonia, anand Hibernia. The Soviets took the Reichs eastern provinces of eastern Germania, Bohemia, Taurica, Transcaucasia, Dacia, Carpathia, and Polonia. However the world was still not at peace. The Reich was still at war with the Chinese and the Soviets began a massive espionage campaign against the Reich.

With the war in Europe over the Reich turned its attention to Asia. However even as newly freed legions made it to Persia and India the Reich continued to fall back under relentless Chinese advance. This led to protest through the free territories of the Reich demanding that they end the war so more men are not killed.

There were similar protest in China but they were brushed aside by the Chinese military. This lead to Chinese leader Wang to call on his Tianxia allies to help win the war. Pueblo and Nepal answered immediately The UPM and Mayapan were more reluctant but did so anyway not wanting to incur the wrath of the Chinese military. The Tawantinsuyu government refused but its military attacked anyway.
Despite the Reich sending reinforcements to the area they were unable to take Busehr, a city on the Persian Gulf from the Chinese. This made both sides in Persia and India dig in from the human wave assaults that the other side would conduct. This would cause a lot of casualties with hundred thousand men being killed on the Chinese side alone. With the Reich’s casualties as bad as those from Grodno and Vilnius decades ago. Over time China again gained the upper hand and started to push toward Delhi again.

Over the following months both sides would continue to lose men at an astounding rate. The Roman reinforcements were tired after fighting in Europe and the Chinese were losing more men than they expected. This led to Wang being forced to send seven more armies from areas like mainland China, Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. However this would embolden pro-Democracy advocates at home. This made Wang realise that if he doesn't get a victory soon then he could be removed from power.

Wang believed that this victory would come in South Eimerica. The Romans were exhausted but the Tawantinsuyuan soldiers were still committed to winning the war. Wang would order a general offensive across the Andes and into the Amazon basin. This caught the Romans completely by surprise. However the offensive stalled due to resistance by the Quechua people on the outskirts of Rome's South Eimerica territories.

In the beginning of the war the Quechua people tried to reach out to the Tawantinsuyu but due to their cultural ties the Tawantinsuyu viewed them as traitors leading many Quechua to side with the Reich. In the end Wang's decisive victory was a complete disaster.

The Chinese offensive did unite the Quechua people and the German settlers in the region. This led to a growing sense of Neurhomanian national identity with many Neurhomanian nationalists and over time some Neurhomanian’s to lobby the Reich for Neurhomanian Independence.

Wang realised that his chances of winning a quick war were over. The Xuantong Emperor, normally out of politics, told Wang that he had to surrender or the Romans and the Chinese would be too weak to resist the Soviets. Even his second in command Wang agreed. And so on October 27, 1944 at 5:00 PM a peace treaty was signed dubbed "Second Gentleman's Peace" with the signing of this treaty the Second World War was officially over.
 

TWR97

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Well. That shooting is gonna be controversial back home that's for sure. Great job on the Chinese update btw, feels like reading a page from a history book.

By the way, i take it we're retconning Kim Jong Un being the Alex Jones of this universe then? Since I seem to remember you mentioning way back when his grandpa made a cameo in beheading that statue. Also I picture Kim Jong Il being a director here given how he seems fond of movies in OTL (Pulgasari being notorious since I read he kidnapped a director and his wife). I'm gonna bet that Kim Jong Il would definitely be inspired by Ishiro Honda's kaiju works in order to create something for Korean cinemas. Hell he'd definitely be well known mostly in Asian cinemas too, which would explain how Kim Jong Un managed to ride to his father's success and built his own.
 
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zenphoenix

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In Chapter 405: Hope and Self-Reliance you said that Korea became independent under Syngman Rhee and I was just wondering what happened to Kim Il-sung and the Workers' Party of Korea in TTL?
The Workers’ Party never formed, and the Kims were never involved with the far left. But there are other far left movements in modern Korea.
Well. That shooting is gonna be controversial back home that's for sure. Great job on the Chinese update btw, feels like reading a page from a history book.

By the way, i take it we're retconning Kim Jong Un being the Alex Jones of this universe then? Since I seem to remember you mentioning way back when his grandpa made a cameo in beheading that statue. Also I picture Kim Jong Il being a director here given how he seems fond of movies in OTL (Pulgasari being notorious since I read he kidnapped a director and his wife). I'm gonna bet that Kim Jong Il would definitely be inspired by Ishiro Honda's kaiju works in order to create something for Korean cinemas. Hell he'd definitely be well known mostly in Asian cinemas too, which would explain how Kim Jong Un managed to ride to his father's success and built his own.
Yeah I guess I’m retconning the Alex Jones thing, although I don’t think I was totally serious about it. Good idea on KJI being a movie director, which would spur KJU to go into YouTube.
 

zenphoenix

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Heaven Does Not Have Two Suns

Berlin - October 11

“We categorically condemn this act of extreme and unprecedented violence,” Thierry said, “October 10, 2029 will surely be remembered as one of our nation’s darkest days. This was a well-planned terrorist attack, and I hope the relevant authorities bring this clearly demented young man, whom I will not name out of respect to the victims, to justice.”

Diana turned away from the television.

“This is my fault,” she said, “All my fault.”

“Don’t say that,” Heinrich said, “You had nothing to do with this.”

“I failed to stop the attack in Paris,” Diana said, “What they did there revived Mexicanist extremism as a threat, and extremists on the other side were inspired to hit back. And now many innocent Nahua in Adamshaven are dead because of that.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll bring the man responsible to justice,” Heinrich said, “He’ll stand trial in a court of law, and the world will see just how pathetic he really is.”

“Somehow, I doubt that will happen,” Diana said, “Just look at the rhetoric being thrown around by the campaigns.”

“Emotions are running high,” Heinrich said, “You can’t blame them.”

“I’ve heard the same thing being said my whole life,” Diana said, “First it was the equalists, then it was the Chinese, then it was the Mexicanists, then it was the Eimerican Federation, then it was the Paulluists, and now it’s the Mexicanists again. This is not healthy for our country.”

“So you’re hoping that private investigation of yours will fix things?” Heinrich said.

Diana looked around the office, making sure nobody was listening.

“I know it’s not going to be the cure-all,” Diana said, “But at least I can get to the bottom of this. There is something going on, and it’s related to the Uberbowl attack.”

“You know Minister Thalman won’t like it if he finds out about this,” Heinrich said, “And I can’t help you if that happens.”

“I know, and I’m prepared to go down when it happens,” Diana said, “I just want the truth. Before it’s too late.”

But something told her it was too late already.


Constantinople - October 23

Anders sat in the interrogation room, casually tapping a beat on the table with his fingers.

“So…” he said. “What am I here for?”

“You know why you’re here,” Agent Moria said.

“No, not really,” Anders said.

“I’m also kind of confused,” Kresge said.

“Commissioner Kresge, Herr Humboldt here has been found misusing information found in public databases for the purpose of defamation and lèse-majesté,” Moria said.

“I was not!” Anders said. “I was merely fact-checking a sensational interview by the Kaiser just last week! He was claiming there’s been an increase in Mexicanist terrorism in Neurhomania and Nahua refugees are putting towns across the province under Colli religious law, as well as establishing ‘no-go zones’ in certain New Berlin neighborhoods. And that is a lie.”

“Agent, what business does Heimat Security have directing the Metropolitan Police to carry out this arrest?” Kresge said.

“Because this man here insulted His Majesty,” Moria said.

“So what?” Anders said. “It’s every citizen’s duty to find the truth and hold people accountable, including the Kaiser. He is not above the law, despite what he may think.”

“I’m not sure what make-believe country you live in, Humboldt, but here in the Reich, all authority derives from the Kaiser,” Moria said, “He sets the laws. If he doesn’t like the laws, he can simply change them at will.”

“Yeah, and there are certain customs and traditions he must adhere by to uphold our laws and values,” Anders said.

“And there are certain customs and traditions you must adhere by,” Moria said, “You must show proper respect to your divinely ordained Kaiser.”

“I am,” Anders said, "My country right or wrong, right to keep it right, and wrong to set it on the right path."

Moria turned to Kresge. “Do you see this man’s insolence?”

“Agent, he’s only doing his job,” Kresge said, “I can’t arrest him for that.”

“What do you mean you can’t arrest him for that?” Moria said. “Of course you can!”

“But it would not reflect well on the Metropolitan Police,” Kresge said, “And my own record. I’d be seen as biased and heavy-handed.”

“This is because of your personal connection with Humboldt, isn’t it?” Moria said.

“This has nothing to do with that,” Kresge said, “Just like he’s only doing his job, I’m only doing mine as well.”

Moria glared at him. He shook his head.

“Heimat Security won’t forget this,” he said.

Moria stormed out of the room.


October 24

“What do you mean you were fired?” Anders said.

“It’s literally what happened,” Kresge said, “The mayor came into headquarters and personally sacked me.”

“He did that?” Anders said.

“You know the CB types,” Kresge said, “Always talking about corruption and holding people accountable for their misdeeds. And then they come after people like me. Said I was letting criminals off easy with my rehabilitation program!”

“Sue him or something,” Anders said.

“You think that’s going to work?!” Kresge said. “They have the courts too!”

“Calm down, Kresge, don’t overreact,” Anders said, “We’re not in a dictatorship. The judges are obligated to impartiality, regardless of affiliation or who appointed them.”

“These days, I’m not so sure about it anymore,” Kresge said.

“I can write another report,” Anders said, “I’ll get to the bottom of this.”

“No,” Kresge said, “I’ll handle all this myself. I don’t want you to get involved.”

“What do you mean?” Anders said. “I’ve handled much worse before.”

“This feels…different,” Kresge said.

“You can’t stop me, Kresge,” Anders said, “I have to get this done. I've survived worse.”


Stuttgart - November 2

“‘Heaven does not have two suns’,” Theresa read, “‘And nor can man serve two masters, for he will hate one and love another. You cannot serve God and money’.”

“Why’d they give the speech to all of us?” Vincent said. “They don’t usually do that.”

“Don’t know,” Theresa said, “But it makes my job a lot easier. I can just quote this script.”

“I guess,” Vincent said.

The event began, and upbeat campaign music played.

“Ladies and gentlemen, our next chancellor, Thierry Baudet!” an announcer said.

Thierry walked onstage and waved to the crowds.

“Thank you everyone!” he said. “It’s so nice to see so many of my fellow Romans dedicated to changing our nation! Together, I’m hopeful we can achieve great things!”

He reached the podium and took out his script. Scanning it, his eyes widened, but he quickly adapted and composed himself.

“Our world is falling apart around us!” he said with an unnatural enthusiasm. “Forest fires rage in Gallia, Neurhomania, and Penglai year round! Hurricanes and monsoons batter more and more land over more and more time! People are drowning and burning as we speak. The book of Genesis says God put us in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it, but we have forgotten that commandment today!”

Thierry obviously looked displeased. But he kept going with his speech.

“The party cartel has forgotten that commandment!” he said. “They look at Genesis 1:28, which tells us, ‘Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground’. But they see that as an encouragement to take what they want from the planet without giving back! And what do you know, the planet is dying! This is unnacceptable! This cannot be allowed to go on! They think they are invincible because they have money! They call us the heretics and say they serve God while we are the crazy ones! That is a lie to keep us complacent while we burn and drown and they get richer and richer! We must tell them something profound, that we will no longer let ourselves be lied to! We will no longer let ourselves die to enrich them! We will no longer let them dictate our lives! We must tell them…”

“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” the crowd roared.

Theresa noticed he was reading from his script much more than usual, unlike in previous events. It didn’t look like he was that familiar with what he was supposed to say. She checked her script, making sure he was saying what was on it…and then realized what was happening.

“Heaven does not have two suns, and nor can man serve two masters, for he will hate one and love another!” Thierry proclaimed. “You cannot serve God and money!”

“Never knew that guy had so much fire in him,” Vincent said.

“He doesn’t,” Theresa said, “I’m more concerned with who wrote this. Sounds like something Gertrude would say.”
 

zenphoenix

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TheAnguishedOne

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Kresge getting fired for doing his job. Forget going on his own, he sounds like the perfect new pal to hang out with our protagonists.
 

zenphoenix

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Kresge getting fired for doing his job. Forget going on his own, he sounds like the perfect new pal to hang out with our protagonists.
And add another name to Diana's death list?:eek:
 

CaptainAlvious

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And add another name to Diana's death list?:eek:
We’ll considering how useless the list of names Wihelm gave to the Hohenzollerns in Vicky 2 ended up being, we can only hope the same could be true for Diana. I’m probably in the denial stage of griveing for the X-Division crew’s inevitable deaths at this point.:p:(

Speaking of visions, I still remember the foreshadowing you did at the end of Vicky 2 where you showed Berlin being nuked in the future, which alluded to the Soviets nuking Roman cities at the end of HOI3. Guess that means what we saw in Diana’s visions of the future might be how things play out in Stellaris. Definitely getting some Attack on Titan vibes with this level of foreshadowing.

Speaking of visions, I take it Henrich III seeing his wife and spymaster killing him the future after Wilhelm saved him means he was in a similar situation that Diana is currently in or Franz Joesph was in prior to Sisi’s death.
 

zenphoenix

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We’ll considering how useless the list of names Wihelm gave to the Hohenzollerns in Vicky 2 ended up being, we can only hope the same could be true for Diana. I’m probably in the denial stage of griveing for the X-Division crew’s inevitable deaths at this point.:p:(
Maybe Wilhelm’s predictions aren’t as good as the Worm’s...
Speaking of visions, I still remember the foreshadowing you did at the end of Vicky 2 where you showed Berlin being nuked in the future, which alluded to the Soviets nuking Roman cities at the end of HOI3. Guess that means what we saw in Diana’s visions of the future might be how things play out in Stellaris. Definitely getting some Attack on Titan vibes with this level of foreshadowing.
As with above, Wilhelm isn’t that good at predicting the future, while the Worm is...well, the Worm.
Speaking of visions, I take it Henrich III seeing his wife and spymaster killing him the future after Wilhelm saved him means he was in a similar situation that Diana is currently in or Franz Joesph was in prior to Sisi’s death.
I am currently planning on a flashback focusing on that (no idea when it’ll be posted, most likely not in this thread), but yes, that’s the general idea. Wilhelm saw his death and tried to prevent it, but the Worm was ahead of him.
 

zenphoenix

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Nothing Will Change

Damascus - November 15

While the cafe buzzed around them, Alex and Magnus sipped their coffee.

“So let me get this straight, you had a thing for this Joan girl?” Magnus said.

“Back in middle school,” Alex said, “Long before Thea.”

“What was she like?” Magnus said.

“I really don’t remember,” Alex said, “It was at least ten years ago.”

“Ah, school life,” Magnus said, “We’ve all had our moments.”

“What about you?” Alex said.

“I was pretty bookish in middle school,” Magnus said, “Nothing serious until I met Alexandra in high school.”

“And that was that?” Alex said.

“Well, yeah,” Magnus said, “Sorry, I don’t have any stories. And you already heard the prom one before.”

“Oh yeah, the prom one,” Alex said.

The two men laughed. Alex sipped his coffee again, and his ears picked up the chatter coming from a TV screen.

“…fallout from this morning’s leaks has increased,” the reporter said, “It is believed Korean hackers are responsible…”

“So did you hear?” Magnus said.

“Bits and pieces,” Alex said, “Korean hackers? Qualifications?”

“Apparently the hackers leaked the identities of every single examiner,” Magnus said.

“Aren’t examiners’ identities supposed to be kept private?” Alex said.

“Yeah,” Magnus said.

“So what happens now?” Alex said.

“I suppose they’ll have to choose new examiners now,” Magnus said.

“Now?” Alex said. “It’s November already.”

“Qualifications has no choice,” Magnus said, “The examiners’ impartiality is already tainted. You hear of all those influence campaigns happening on Dikastirio and other social media sites?”

“This isn’t going to end well,” Alex said.

“Who knows?” Magnus said. “Maybe we’ll be selected.”

“Honestly, I hope it’s not me,” Alex said, “Politics isn’t my thing.”

“Why not?” Magnus said. “It’s our responsibility to choose the leaders who will represent us.”

“Yeah, but they’re all the same in the end,” Alex said, “Whoever we choose ends up doing the same old stuff. Nothing will change. And you?”

“Me?” Magnus said. “I’m just annoyed this is taking attention away from our research. First the Uberbowl attack, then Adamshaven, and now this? It seems people just...forgot about what we found.”


Berlin - November 17

“How are the numbers, Sebastian?” Thierry asked.

Sebastian projected a spreadsheet on the wall.

“Well, before the 15th, the CMU was well on its way down,” he explained, “After you pledged to improve the gear and living conditions of the troops at the last debate.”

“We saw another bump for us after Josiah released his updated budget plan,” Joel said.

“The one redirecting the Russian subsidies?” Jacob said.

“Yeah, that one,” Josiah said, “Merkel’s dropping in the polls.”

“And then came the 15th,” Emilio gloated, “They blamed both the CMU and SPR for the fiasco two days ago.”

“How did things change?” Thierry said.

“Well, for starters, Qualifications is doing an unprecedented emergency reselection,” Joel said.

“They’ll be selecting from underrepresented areas this time since the usual areas are tainted.”

“The eastern provinces,” Thierry realized, “This could be our break.”

“About that…” Jacob said. “This already is our break. We didn't even need your plan, Elias.”

"Patience, Jacob," Elias said.

Sebastian flipped to the next slide.

“As a result of the fiasco, we’re slightly ahead of the CMU,” he said, “Though it’s less of us pulling ahead than them falling behind even more. Even the LKR is ahead of them now.”

“The LKR could prove useful,” Joel said, “They hate the establishment as much as we do.”

“Although they have little in common with us,” Sebastian said.

“They barely have a platform of their own!” Emilio said.

“What does it matter?” Josiah said. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

"Soon, we'll have new blood in the Reichstag,” Elias said.


December 4

Wilhelmina looked up from the invitation. Francesca sat across from her.

“Well?” Francesca asked.

“I wonder why you’re delivering it in person,” Wilhelmina said.

“I thought it would be a courtesy to my niece,” Francesca said.

“I should’ve clarified,” Wilhelmina said, “I wonder why you’re delivering it in person instead of my uncle.”

“You know your uncle,” Francesca said, “He’s very busy guiding the ship of state.”

“And you aren’t?” Wilhelmina said. “You’re Kaiserin Consort after all.”

“Best not to think too much about it,” Francesca said, “And please, we’re family. I couldn’t just let an invitation this important be delivered by some random courier.”

“You could’ve just sent a email,” Wilhelmina said, “Or called me, saying I was invited to the New Year’s address. Like you did with Prince Karl.”

Karl von Hohenzollern was a distant relative of Otto’s, descended from one of Franz Joseph’s daughters. He and his brother, Uncle Anders, were the old guard, having been generals and advisors during her grandfather’s reign. Uncle Anders passed away a few years ago in a car crash, but Karl was still around. She had fond memories of Karl’s war stories about fighting the Soviets. Perhaps he’d share another one at the New Year’s Day event.

“Your uncle and I are a little old fashioned that way,” Francesca said, “So what will it be?”

“I’ll need some time to think it over,” Wilhelmina said.

Francesca sighed.

“You know, even Wilhelm Jr. doesn’t take so long,” Francesca said, “He made up his mind very quickly when he accepted the Heer commission.”

“Perhaps a little too quickly,” Wilhelmina muttered.

“What was that?” Francesca said.

“Nothing,” Wilhelmina said.

“My son at least knows when to talk,” Francesca said, “Maybe if you didn’t spend most of your college years playing Fire Emblem and Persona, you’d have learned the same.”

“And maybe if Wilhelm was allowed to do more than just study in college, maybe he’d be better adjusted and actually earn that commission!” Wilhelmina said.

Francesca sighed.

“Insolent girl,” she said.

“I’m 47,” Wilhelmina said.

“Didn’t your mother teach you better?” Francesca said.

“She taught me to speak my mind,” Wilhelmina said.

“And look where speaking her mind got her,” Francesca said, “It would be a shame if…that happened to you as well. Who would look after Joseph?”

“Joseph’s 19,” Wilhelmina said, “My son can handle himself. Just like I did when I was 19.”

“Because your mother was foolish enough to—” Francesca said.

“Don’t EVER talk about my mother like that,” Wilhelmina said, “You hear me? I think it’s time for you to leave.”

Francesca got up and went to the door.

“So will you be there?” she asked.

“Does it look like I have a choice?” Wilhelmina said.

Francesca quietly looked at her, a disapproving look on her face, and then left. As a princess of the royal family and the Kaiser’s niece, she was obligated to attend such a high-profile event. All Hohenzollerns traditionally attended the New Year’s address. Even if she and her uncle weren’t on good terms, not showing up would reflect badly on both her and the family.


Constantinople - December 31

“This has been a very unprecedented and messy campaign,” Bysandros said, “But at long last, it seems to be over. Despite having to reselect the entire examiner pool last month, Qualifications reports no irregularities with the final results, with His Majesty the Kaiser stepping in occasionally to guide the process along. And what an outcome it is.”

Diana held out her hand.

“Alright, you win,” Anders said, handing her 50 marks, “Again…”

“After 25 years in power, Angela Merkel has finally been ousted from the chancellery,” Bysandros continued, “Just five minutes ago, she conceded the race. With a majority of Länder reporting in, it’s official: Thierry Baudet will be our next chancellor on February 2. We now go live to Jerusalem, where Baudet is preparing his victory speech. The chancellor-to-be plans to give a short speech before flying to Berlin for His Majesty's annual state of the nation address.”

“And so it is,” Diana said.

“Okay, we’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow,” Anders said, “We got what we wanted from this broadcast, so we should go to sleep.”

“No,” Diana said, “I’m not sleeping. I’ve booked a red-eye flight back to Berlin.”

“We’ve gone over this,” Anders said, “You’re overreacting.”

“No,” Diana said, “I’m close to figuring this out. I know it. I need all of the time in the world to blow this plot wide open.”

“You still have time,” Anders said, “You don’t have to get it all done tomorrow.”

“Actually, I do,” Diana said.

“And why’s that?” Anders said.

Diana looked Anders in the eye. “Because I’m going to die tomorrow.”
 

zenphoenix

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GhostRider124

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This is my latest and final update on the History of China. It covers the first few years of peace from the end of the war in 1944 to 1946 and the first few opening salvos of the Cold War.

New Era

Due to both sides being stretched thin the peace held. The Chinese got north and east Iran and the eastern part of India. The Reich got southern Iran, most of Afghanistan and western India. China also relinquished control over Indochina and Indonesia and would help the Reich retake control of the region. The borders would be temporary as both sides were still negotiating the finer details of the peace.

In China some nationalistic officers were not happy with the peace with the Reich. It got to the point that one disgruntled officer shot Wang in the chest at point-blank range. Despite the general being arrested and executed the damage was done because Wang would die on November 11th.

Wang's successor was Field Marshal Chiang Kai-Shek who after he became Chancellor he ordered a purge of the Army, Navy, and even many in his cabinet. Chiang’s son Jiang Jingguo was his successor. Chiang would go on to unleash the Jinyiwei on the citizens of China where any decent was purged. This effectively put the last nail in the coffin for democracy in China.

When the Chinese left Indochina as opposed to it being liberated by Roman legions infuriated many people in the region. Especially the Siamese. This growing sentiment would see a group rise up that by 1944 would have 500,000 members spread out across Ayutthaya, Malaya, and Prachinburi. This group was known as the Seri Thai or "Free Thai Movement". They wanted an independent Siam not influenced by the Reich or China.

After the war Mainland China experienced a period of economic growth. However despite this China faces growing nationalist movements in its colonies. One instance of unrest was a series of Seri Thai bombings in northern Siam. Chiang would create a semiautonomous kingdom in the hopes of preventing a full on rebellion.

In the Reich the Kaiser was dissatisfied about how the Council of Nations prevented another world war. He vowed to make the organisation stronger so that another world war would not happen again. On June 14th the Roman Kaiser Otto sent invitations to every head of state to meet in Vienna to formulate how this new organisation should be.

On June 26th the Charter of the United Nations sometimes known informally as the Treaty of Vienna was signed. This new United Nations would have its first meeting planned for January 1, 1946, and it would be headquartered in Constantinople with regional branches planned for Nanjing and Delhi.

July 24, 1945 would see the first round of trials for Axis war criminals with the first person tried being Field Marshal Phillip Petain. A veteran of the first World War he would join the Angeloi when his home province of Gallia joined the rebellion. Petain was the military governor of the province from 1940 to 1944.

After the Angeloi surrendered he turned himself into the Reich and after a passionate speech in which he pleaded guilty the Kaiser had him stripped of all of his positions and was sentenced to life in prison. His sentence was later changed to house arrest but his titles were still revoked. He died in 1951 broken and deceased.

However the Kaiser would not show mercy to other Axis leaders.

On August 4, 1945 the last Angeloi holdouts on Taiwan and Qiandao surrendered to Chinese forces. They would soon be sent to the Reich for the war crimes tribunal being held in Vijayanagara, India. Meanwhile the Seri Thai continued to resist the Chinese and Roman forces in southeast Asia.

The famine of 1944–45 was a major issue to the Chinese government. One of the main reasons for it was the Chinese forcing local rice farmers to stop growing rice and focus on other crops. This caused rice production to decrease in the north but famine was prevented due to supplies coming in from Malaya. These supplies would be commandeered by the Chinese military for their purposes. The Seri Thai used this opportunity to raid storehouses and give the rice to the people. This won them a lot of support from the local Siamese.

As the Chinese pulled out of the region the Seri Thai launched a rebellion in which they would take Bangkok on August 19. With the Kingdom of Siam being declared on September 2, 1945. The Seri Thai would face difficulty in the northern part of Siam due to it being more ethnically diverse and being close to the Chinese border. So on August 25 the Siamese would rule the south but allow China to rule the north.

The new Roman Chancellor Adenauer responded by ordering the troops in Provincia Indochina to crush the rebellion by force.

This would fan the flames of nationalism in were on August 17, 1945, the Kingdom of Indonesia was declared by the Central Indonesian National Committee (CINC) with General Sukarno who commanded the Indonesian Resistance movement designated as regent.

As the Romans were moving in to crush these rebellions they received news that the Chinese were negotiating with the Seri Thai in where they would be reunited with their brethren in the north if they remained a Chinese ally.

On August 24th the Reich was able to retake Bangkok and capture most of the Seri Thai's leadership. Their remaining militias soon surrendered. But news came that China was negotiating with the Indonesian rebels.

Cooler heads prevailed and so on September 2, 1945 an agreement between China and the Reich was reached in the Treaty of Singapura. In the treaty China would withdraw from Indonesia in exchange for some cities in central India, along with parts of Turkestan and Kashmir. The Reich would get Afghanistan and the Chinese would withdraw from southern Persia.

After the treaty was signed Indonesian leader Sukarno would try to become a Chinese tributary. This angered many Indonesians due to them feeling that Sukarno was "selling them out". In the end Sukarno would ask the Reich for autonomy in exchange for ending the revolution.

On September 19th a typhoon struck the coast of Zhenqishi (Makurazaki), and Luerdaoxian (Kagoshima) in southern Japan. Despite the storm being small and only lasting for two days about 3746 people were killed with many more missing or homeless. Due to the area's remoteness it would take a week before relief could reach the area.

Due to this perceived incompetence anti-Chinese sentiment continued to grow. Japanese Emperor Hirohito told the Chinese that they should leave since their presence has only brought hardship to the Japanese people. This caused protest across the Japanese Islands but they soon dispersed due to many not wanting to use violence to achieve their aims.

Chiang immediately ordered all Chinese media to cover the ratification of the United Nations Charter which would go into effect on October 24th. The first official meeting of the UN took place on January 1, 1946. The UN consisted of the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Secretariat, and the International Court of Justice.

The main UN Headquarters is in Vienna, The International Court of Justice is located in Jerusalem, and other regional offices in cities like Geneva, Frankfurt, and Nanjing with a fourth one in Nairobi a few years later. The main languages of the UN are German, Chinese, Greek, Quechua, Nahuatl, Meskwaki, Russian, and Norse.

China, Russia, and the Reich were members of the Security Council with each able to veto the other on a resolution that they did not like. The Secretary-General is the head of the UN and acts as the "chief administrative officer" for the UN with a rule that the Secretary-General not be a citizen of a member that is on the Security Council.

China joining the UN fueled the rise of nationalist thought the empire but mostly in Mongolia. Many Mongolian nationalist wanted the UN to support their bid for independence but it never came. In fact during the referendum on Mongolian independence many Mongols voted against it due to the fact that an independent Mongolia would be surrounded by China on all sides.

In October 1945 the Indonesian revolution was nearing its end. Rebels would take weapons from the Chinese in Surabaya and set up two different organisations. Those organisations were the Indonesia National Committee (INC) and the People's Security Council (PSC). However after the Romans emerged victorious in the Battle of Surabaya Sukarno opened negotiations with the Reich. In the end the Indonesian special administrative region was reorganised into a semi-autonomous province, Provincia Indonesia, with Sukarno as its first provincial governor.

Meanwhile the Vijayanagara Trials would take place in Vijayanagara India on November 19, 1945 . During the trial 24 Axis leaders were tried with the most prominent ones being Reza Khan, Mohandas Gandhi, Habte Giyorgis, Wolde Tzaddick, and Inca Roca Yupanqui.

The Gandhi trial was the most publicized of all of them. During the proceedings as his crimes were read out millions across the world waited to see what he would say. Gandhi would reply with "Guilty.". During the week of deliberations the true extent of Gandhi's madness would be reviled. In the end he was “Guilty on all counts." his reply was "I am sorry it had to come to this.".

During the course of the Vijayanagara Trials Twelve were given the death sentence, seven were given either 10 years or life in prison. On December 16, 1945 the death sentences were carried out with the accused being killed by hanging. Originally criminals like Göring, Keitel and Jodl were going to be executed by firing squad but the Soviets disagreed saying that they lost the right to a dignified death so they were interned in Landsberg Prison in 1946.

Of those hanged two were not executed. Gandhi disappeared before his execution and Göring killed himself. In the end many were happy that justice had been served and now the world can move on into the future.
 

TheAnguishedOne

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The race is on for Diana, and everyone else for that matter. A tight timeline, but they've pulled miracles before.

@GhostRider124 Well done, glad to see you've reached the finale.
 

zenphoenix

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The race is on for Diana, and everyone else for that matter. A tight timeline, but they've pulled miracles before.

@GhostRider124 Well done, glad to see you've reached the finale.
They’ve beaten the odds before. And that was with giant government or corporate sponsored conspiracies. They can do it again.
 

TWR97

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The odds are heavily stacked against Diana and her family, something big is gonna happen in the new year, and one that I dread. Hopefuly that isn't the case but I've already made peace knowing our modern day protagonists are gonna bite the dust.
 

zenphoenix

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The odds are heavily stacked against Diana and her family, something big is gonna happen in the new year, and one that I dread. Hopefuly that isn't the case but I've already made peace knowing our modern day protagonists are gonna bite the dust.
There's still a chance they can turn things around.
 

zenphoenix

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New Blood

Friedrich the Great International Airport (formerly Tempelhof), Berlin - January 1, 2030, 4:00 AM

Diana hurried through customs as fast as she could. She showed her ID to the customs agent, who waved her through. She didn’t need to stop to pick up her luggage. All she needed was a simple backpack full of her stuff. As soon as she got outside, she called Angelica.

“Yes, Director?” she asked.

“Any updates on the targets?” Diana said.

“Nothing conclusive yet, ma’am,” Angelica said, “But I suspect they may be onto us.”

“Stay on their trail,” Diana said, “We’ve never been this close before. We won’t have another chance.”

“Got it,” Angelica said.

“I’m heading to Headquarters as fast as I can,” Diana said, “I’m taking personal command of our little operation.”

“We’ll be waiting for that,” Angelica said.

“No, don’t wait, keep at it, even if Thalman tells you otherwise,” Diana said, “We’re running out of time.”

“Got it,” Angelica said.

“I swear, I’m going to get something by the end of today, even if it costs me my life,” Diana said, “I don’t have time for failure.”


Wilhelmina’s house - 6:00 AM

Wilhelmina ran down a hallway, her heart beating loudly. Her son Joseph ran behind her.

“What about Dad?” he asked.

“He was right behind us,” Wilhelmina said.

Bullets struck the walls around them, shattering mirrors and picture frames.

“Run!” she said.

They continued running down the hallway, but Joseph tripped on the carpet and stumbled.

“Joseph!” Wilhelmina said, turning back.

“No, Mom!” Joseph said. “There’s no time! You have to—”

But he was shot in the head.

“JOSEPH!” Wilhelmina shouted. “NO!”

She turned to run, but several gunmen blocked her path. She turned back the other way, but more gunmen blocked the other path. They closed in on her, guns raised.

“No!” she shouted. “NO! NO!”

Wilhelmina shot awake, panting heavily. Adrenaline coursed through her veins, and she could barely feel her hands, which clutched her blanket tightly. She looked around her room to make sure she was safe.

Her husband, Franz, stirred awake. “Willie?”

“Sorry, Franz,” Wilhelmina said.

“Had that nightmare again?” Franz asked.

“Yeah,” Wilhelmina said, “Only way more vivid.”

“You sure you’re fine?” Franz said. “Maybe you should see a doctor about this.”

“And tell them what, a dream’s stressing me out?” Wilhelmina said.

“I suppose so,” Franz said, “Maybe you should take a rest today. I’m sure they’d understand.”

“No,” Wilhelmina said, “You know my uncle. He’d demand the entire family show up just to watch him drink coffee if he wanted.”

Franz rolled over. “At least sleep for a couple more hours, Willie. We have time.”


Reichstag, Berlin - 8:00 AM

The Argus truck pulled up in front of the Reichstag building. Kurt’s battalion got out.

“Alright, we’re finally here,” he said, “Remember, today’s a very important day. We’ve all heard plenty of threats the Mexicanists made against this event. We’re here to make sure they don’t get any ideas. Understood?”

“Yes, sir!” the Argus men shouted.

“When do we get to kill some terrorists?” Josh said.

“Hopefully, we don’t,” Kurt said.

“Lame,” Josh said.

Gustav sighed to himself. Kurt tapped on a touchscreen built into the sleeve of his uniform.

“I’m relaying your assignments now,” he said.

A minimap marked with a location popped up on Josh’s Panopticon. The same location was also marked in his line of sight.

“Take your positions and check your gear,” Kurt said, “The event may not start until 6, but we can’t afford to be lazy. We really need all of the time we can get.”


Pentagon, Constantinople - 10:00 AM

Heinrich looked around the empty situation room, a briefcase in his hand. He remembered when he first set foot in this building a long time ago. After a long period of time spent on guard duty for secret Bureau of Defense projects, he got his big break in Russia during the war and then afterward with the KGB defector resettlement program. After that, he settled in a comfortable desk job. And there he remained for many years, believing that was the peak of his career. Until fifteen years ago, when he became Megas Domestikos. He never thought he could live up to Princip’s legacy, but Merkel apparently saw potential in him. And now Merkel was gone, though he would remain in his position. Guess he had to thank her for getting him here.

His aide walked into the room.

“Yes?” Heinrich said.

“Sir, your flight leaves in two hours,” the aide said, “We have your car ready outside. Are you ready to go?”

“Yeah, I’m ready,” Heinrich said, “Just a couple more minutes.”

“Sir, if you don’t mind asking, what was the purpose of stopping here?” the aide said.

“Just feeling a little nostalgic,” Heinrich said, “Since I have time.”


Downtown Berlin - 12:00 PM

Elias and Gertrude entered the restaurant and found Theodor’s and Josiah’s table.

“Hey,” Theodor said.

“You look tired,” Josiah said.

“We had to take a detour,” Elias said, “Abandoned the car and took the subway here.”

“I took the bus,” Gertrude said, “We had to split up.”

“I think we’re being followed,” Elias said.

“Athanatoi?” Theodor said.

“Most likely,” Elias said, “So we’ll have to make this quick. Gertrude, we shouldn’t take the car later today.”

“I don’t know if we have the time to go over what we need to go over today,” Josiah said.

“We will have time,” Gertrude said, “Have faith.”

Elias took out his phone and sent a few texts, making sure they were encrypted and didn’t contain any direct details. A waiter brought their food over.

“I took the liberty of ordering for you,” Theodor said, “Bill’s on me. Though technically not since I own this place.”

“You sure this is safe enough?” Josiah said.

“There is no problem that cannot be solved with more money,” Theodor said.

“Yeah, but if you throw too much money at it, you get inflation,” Josiah said.

“Which is where you come in,” Theodor said, “You’re the economy guy, go fix it.”

"DON'T CALL ME THAT!" Josiah said.

“Shh,” Gertrude said.

Elias turned to Theodor first.

“So, did you make your proposal to our committee?” he asked.

“Yeah, but I’m not really one for these detailed white papers,” Theodor said, “As long as I get my company back from Mina and crush those equalists. Also my tax breaks and deregulation as we discussed.”

“And you, Josiah?” Elias said. “Did you publish your article?”

“No, I'm still working on it,” Josiah said, “Got to work out the details. You have any idea how difficult it is to talk about moral imperatives, theological precedent, and biological destinies alongside your average budget?”

“Perhaps I could put that in a book,” Gertrude said, “Or not. I honestly didn't think I would ever write another book after what happened to the previous one.”

“You should,” Elias said, “It's a great idea.”

“Maybe I will,” Gertrude said.

Elias’ phone vibrated. Someone texted him back.

Thank God, it’s heaven on earth

“What?” Gertrude said.

“It's happening,” Elias said, “They issued the final orders. The signal should be going out later.”

“Like what we proposed,” Josiah said.

“It’s finally starting,” Theodor said.

They raised their glasses of water.

“Praise be,” Elias said.

Gertrude smiled. “Things have to change.”

“I know,” Elias said.

“There's still going to be a lot of pain,” Gertrude said.

“There's pain now,” Elias said, “So much of it. We're saving them.”

He looked Gertrude in the eye. “We're doing God's work.”

Several tables away, Angelica checked her wiretap and made sure she was recording. She sent a quick text to Diana confirming their suspicions. After finishing her light lunch, she paid her bill and left. Outside, she took a small mechanical bee out of her pocket and tossed it into the air. Her state of the art drone took off to tail Elias through the city. Back at headquarters, she'd see where he went and who he talked to. Once she got him on record with all of his accomplices, she and the Director would strike.


Bureau of Justice - 2:00 PM

“What?!” Diana said.

“You heard me,” Justice Minister Thalman said, “I’m not going to entertain this lunacy of yours, Director Frank.”

“I did not drive all the way across town from the Athanatoi headquarters for you to say no!” Diana said.

“No,” Thalman said.

“Come on, I have this wiretap right here which directly implicates the Anhorns, CB, and Theodor Tesla in a conspiracy of some sort!” Diana said.

“An illegal wiretap you carried out without a warrant,” Thalman said, “On top of that, the wiretap doesn’t even say what they’re planning. This proves nothing.”

“You clearly heard how they were talking,” Diana said, “Something is suspicious. I need to bring them in now.”

“The previous Ministers of Justice may have put up with you and your husband’s antics over the last thirty years, but I have had enough,” Thalman said, “We are a nation of laws, and everybody must be held accountable. That includes you. If you don’t follow the law, you’d be no better than the leader of the old KGB. We can’t just go around arresting people on a whim. You're close friends with an ex-KGB agent, so you should know.”

“They got to you, didn’t they?” Diana said. “What did Gertrude Anhorn dig up?”

“You’re out of your mind, Director Frank,” Thalman said.

“Fine!” Diana said. “If you won’t do something about this, I will!”

“You try to pull anything, I’m going to have you arrested,” Thalman said.

“Try me,” Diana said, “I’ve got no time for this.”

She had no time to call Theresa anyways. The wiretap wouldn’t be of much use of her, and it would take a while to email all of her files to her. She hoped Theresa had enough on her side. As for herself, she didn’t care what Thalman would throw at her. She was running out of time.


Reichstag - 4:00 PM

The Kaiser’s motorcade pulled up in front of the Reichstag. Wilhelm Karl’s Varangians saluted as he, Francesca, and Wilhelm Jr. got out. A small crowd had gathered, some of them tabloid reporters eager to get a photo or video of the royal family. He had maybe two hours before his speech began, but it was better to be early than late, and he had a lot of guests to welcome.

“How long do we have to be here?” Wilhelm Jr. complained.

“Son, you can leave before the speech begins,” Wilhelm Karl said.

“Thanks, Dad,” Wilhelm Jr. said.

“Are you sure, Wilhelm?” Francesca said. “It wouldn’t look good for the crown prince to be absent from his father’s own speech.”

“He’s my son,” Wilhelm Karl said, “And I’m the Kaiser. They will fall in line.”

“With or without the plan?” Francesca said.

“Both,” Wilhelm Karl said, “I’m tired of waiting for those idiots and their so-called plan. If I don’t see results soon, I will do it all myself with a few decrees.”

He began shaking the hands of the people who had turned out to support him.

“I hate to break it to you, Karl, but these people aren’t exactly representative of the public,” Francesca said.

Wilhelm Karl stepped back from the crowds. “What should I care for the opinions of the common people? They will fall in line eventually. That’s the nature of humans. They must be led by someone. Someone must be in control.”

“And you are that someone?” Francesca said.

“Of course I am,” Wilhelm Karl said, “I was divinely ordained by God, after all.”

They went into the Reichstag, where the guests and other dignitaries had begun gathering in the main lobby. Wilhelm Karl first walked over to former chancellor Merkel.

“Hello, Merkel,” he said.

“Your Majesty,” Merkel said.

“How are things here?” Wilhelm Karl asked.

“Fine,” Merkel said, “If you expected platitudes, you asked the wrong person.”

“No, I was just asking if you were comfortable,” Wilhelm Karl said, “It wouldn’t do for a Kaiser of the Romans to not provide adequate service for his own citizens.”

“Of course,” Merkel said.

He next walked over to Thierry, the chancellor to be.

“Afternoon, Chancellor-to-be Baudet,” he said, “I hope everything here is to your liking.”

“Things are great, sir,” Thierry said.

“Glad to hear it,” Wilhelm Karl said, “You know, I was quite surprised when I heard you won.”

“Well, with good old fashioned hard work and a little faith in God, we prevailed,” Thierry said, “Too bad Brad came down with the flu and couldn’t attend.”

“What will you do now?” Wilhelm Karl said. “You’ve achieved your goal of getting into office and pushing out the party cartel.”

“We have a long road ahead of us,” Thierry said, “In my first hundred days, you can expect us to pass a lot of legislation regarding the climate and corruption. We have been given a mandate by the masses to govern on your behalf, and our current coalition holds control of both houses, so we should get things done quickly. The planet needs saving, and the remnants of the party cartel must be purged to do that.”

“Sounds great,” Wilhelm Karl said, “Soon, we'll have new blood in the Reichstag."

Nobody noticed a dozen men carrying musical instrument cases passing through the Teicheiotai’s security checks.


Schulz Building - 6:00 PM

Angelica’s phone beeped. She turned to her team of agents, all having suited up in riot gear.

“That’s the Director's signal,” she said, “We got what we needed. Move out!”

They rushed to the garage and got in waiting pursuit vehicles. Angelica got behind the wheel of the leading car, four of her agents getting in with her, and started the engine. Ahead, Teicheiotai officers ran in through the garage exit and began setting up a barricade.

“Whatever you do, focus on the mission!” Angelica radioed.

“Copy that,” every car driver replied.

Angelica floored the accelerator and charged for the exit, not slowing down at all. The Teicheiotai scattered to avoid being run over, and she crashed through the unfinished barricade, her convoy right behind her.

“Our destination is the Reichstag!” Angelica said. “It doesn’t matter what route you take, as long as you get there ASAP!”

Police cars turned onto the street behind them.

“Split up!” Angelica radioed.

The Athanatoi cars scattered, but one of them crashed into a police car and skidded to a halt in the middle of the street, causing traffic to stop.

“We don’t have time for this, go, go, go!” Angelica said.


Reichstag

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Kaiser of the Romans,” a herald announced.

The national anthem played, and the people in the Reichstag applauded. Wilhelm Karl stepped up to the podium, Thierry and Merkel sitting behind him.

“Thank you, thank you,” he said, “My fellow Romans, this past year has been most challenging for us. In May, terrorists attacked the Uberbowl, and in response, a mentally challenged man took it upon himself to attack innocent civilians. This violence must end. I promise, I will do everything in my power to bring those responsible for such heinous acts to justice. This country will not bend to the demands of terrorists. We are Romans, and we will fight back against any who plot to tear us apart. This is no time for division or disorder…”

At the back of the chamber, the dozen men unlocked and opened their instrument cases, while Argus locked the doors from the outside.


Downtown Berlin - 6:05

Wilhelmina checked her phone and cursed. She was going to be late to the address.

“Hey, how much longer until we reach the Reichstag?” she asked.

“Sorry, ma’am,” the driver said, “But this traffic jam shows no signs of moving. Think there was an accident involving an Athanatoi agent and the Teicheiotal.”

“What the frak are they up to?” Franz said. “On today of all days.”

Wilhelmina lurched forward, a sharp pain in her head.

“Ow…” she said.

“Mom?” Joseph said. “You okay?”

“Just…a headache…” Wilhelmina said. “And a…bad feeling…”

“A bad feeling?” Franz said.

“Something…terrible…about…to happen…” Wilhelmina said. “We’re…out…of…time…”


Reichstag - 6:06

Josh paced impatiently across the stairwell entrance he was assigned to. He cursed his luck. First he had to spend most of his day guarding this insignificant doorway near the lobby. Then he had to miss out on his chance to see the Kaiser in person. And now he couldn’t even listen to the speech because he was waiting for the signal.

“Goddamnit, why are we just mall cops?” Josh said. “Everybody else gets to do something.”

“Patience, Josh,” Gustav said, “Our time will come.”

As if on cue, everybody’s phone rang. Gustav tapped his earpiece, and Josh followed his lead.


That was it. The signal they had been waiting for. Josh slowly began to grin.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” he said.

He brought up the Panopticon’s system controls and went to “Safety Settings.”

Lethal mode engaged

He loaded his gun just as the doors burst open and Angelica’s team stormed in, guns ready.

“Athanatoi!” Angelica shouted. “The event must be stopped! We have evidence to suggest it may be attacked!”

Josh slowly walked over to the agents, followed by the rest of the team. One of the agents approached Angelica, holding the bee drone in his hands.

“Ma’am, we found the drone that was tailing Anhorn,” he said.

“Wasn’t that supposed to follow him everywhere?” Angelica said.

“Yeah, but he’s not here,” the agent said, “Maybe he went into the chamber?”

“No,” Angelica realized, “He was never here to begin with. He knew.”


Reichstag chamber

“…we will not be silenced!” Wilhelm Karl declared. “We will not falter in our resolve, and with our hearts held high and our spirits strengthened, we will prevail, because Rome is eternal! And so will…”

His voice faltered, and his eyes wandered to the back at the room. There, Otto, Victoria Louise, Elisabeth Alexandra, Georg, and Horst quietly watched him, a worried look on their faces. Otto mouthed something.

“Run.”

Then he noticed the men in the back pulling out assault rifles.

“The gods are awake, and we are their sword!” they shouted in broken accented Nahuatl.

He hid behind his podium and his Varangians stepped in front of him just as the men opened fire.


Downtown Berlin

Wilhelmina screamed in mental agony, feeling the pain of each wound.


Reichstag lobby

Josh heard gunfire coming from the chamber. It was beginning.

“It’s time,” Kurt said, raising his gun.

“Sic semper tyrannis,” Josh said, smiling eagerly.

“Eliminate all witnesses,” Gustav said, his face turning cold.

They approached the Athanatoi agents and opened fire without another word. In seconds, all of the agents were on the floor, their blood pooling over the polished stone tiles. Angelica quickly hid behind a pillar, avoiding the initial assault.

“Fall back!” she shouted.

But nobody answered. She cursed and tapped her earpiece.

“Hostiles engaged, shots fired!” she reported. “Need immediate backup!”

She heard laughter on the other end.

“Unfortunately for you, there’s no help coming,” Theodor said.

“Theodor Tesla?!” Angelica said.

“You should’ve known better than to use Tesla Dynamic equipment, both for your drone and for this earpiece,” Theodor said, “Now you’ll die with the rest of your agents. You see, you were never in control of the situation. We were always…”

Angelica took off the earpiece and smashed it on the ground.

“I don’t have time for monologues!” she said.

When the suppressing fire stopped for just a second, she made a break for the entrance. She ran as fast as she could, blindly firing her pistol behind her, although none of her shots landed. Josh finished reloading and fired again. His bullet struck Angelica in the leg just as she ran through the door, and she stumbled down the stairs outside, startling pedestrians outside.

“Get out of here!” she said. “Someone call the police!”


Reichstag chamber - 6:07

The chamber was now in uproar as everyone stampeded for the exits, only to find the doors were not only locked but also jammed shut with crowbars. Desperate politicians and guests banged on the doors, screaming for people outside to save them. But nobody was going to come save them. With all of their targets trapped, the gunmen took their time getting around the chamber. They fired at everyone in the area. A senator attempted to hide, but he was shot in the head. A representative tried fleeing, but he was also shot. A guest, probably a veteran, lunged at the gunmen with no weapons other than his fists, but he went down all the same. As they stepped over heaps of bodies, they made sure to shoot them all again to make sure they were dead.

The Varangians were the biggest threat, but they couldn’t do a thing. The Diet had just passed a law banning all weapons from the chamber, and the ban applied to everyone, even Varangians. So they took a little longer to go down. But they didn’t intend to fight the gunmen. They were only buying time for Wilhelm Karl, Francesca, and Prince Karl to escape. Wilhelm Karl was escorted through a backdoor near the podium, flanked by several Varangians.

“Wait!” Jacob said, running over. “You’ve got to get me out of here!”

The Varangians waved Jacob through, and with all of the Hohenzollerns secured, they began closing the door just as Merkel ran up.

“Wait for me!” she shouted.

But she was too late, and the door slammed in her face. A second later, five bullets tore through her head and upper body, and she was instantly killed. Time was up for the “eternal chancellor.”


Downtown Berlin - 6:08

Wilhelmina was now curled up in a fetal position, rocking from side to side in her seat.

“No…” was all she could say. “No…no…”

Their car was still stuck in traffic. The driver was watching a screen of static on his phone, the video feed having been cut off a minute earlier.

“Oh God…” Franz said.


Brandenburg Palace

The security cameras in the August Chamber were being replaced that week. If anybody was in the hallway at that moment, they would have seen Enonon shining bright white.


Reichstag chamber - 6:09

Thierry groaned. He could barely stay conscious, let alone get to his feet. He was sprawled on the floor near the Kaiser’s podium, powerless to do anything as he watched the Varangians escort the Hohenzollerns and Jacob out and Merkel was gunned down in front of him. Even now, her unblinking eyes stared at him, and he wondered if he would end up like her soon. He rolled on his back and pulled himself into a sitting position. Now he could see where he was shot, several times in the legs and twice in his stomach. No wonder he couldn’t stand. He looked to his left and saw the bodies of Lothar, Emilio, and Joel slumped over in their seats. His entire cabinet, aside from Brad, was gone.

Sebastian, his face and hands bloody, ran up to him and said something, but he couldn’t hear what he was saying. A second later, he was shot in the head, and he fell to Thierry’s side. A gunman approached him and raised his gun. Thierry’s eyes focused, and he could see the gunman didn’t look Nahua.

“Elias Anhorn sends his regards,” the gunman said in perfect German before putting a bullet between Thierry’s eyes.

Idealists never ended well.


Reichstag bunker - 6:10

Wilhelm Karl arrived in the bunker and found a seat.

“Sir, are you okay?” a Varangian asked.

“I’m fine,” Wilhelm Karl said, “I’m a little angry, even. I want to know who was responsible for this breach in security.”

“We will conduct a thorough investigation once the situation is resolved,” the Varangian said.

“How do we know we can trust you?” Francesca said. “How did those gunmen get into the Reichstag chamber? Security at the Reichstag is the tightest in the entire nation, especially on New Year’s Day. They must have had inside assistance.”

“Nobody is above suspicion,” Wilhelm Karl said, “Not even my own bodyguards. I do not want to be protected by the Praetorian Guard.”

“Sir, if I may humbly suggest, perhaps you should speak to the people from here to tell them of your survival,” Jacob said, “It wouldn’t be wise to keep them unaware of your status.”

“You’re right, Baldouin,” Wilhelm Karl said, “Maybe I’ll do that.”

Several more Varangians escorted Elias and Gertrude into the room.

“Ah, Elias, you’re finally here,” Wilhelm Karl said, “What took you so long?”

“Traffic,” Elias said, “Nasty traffic jam outside. Almost impossible to find parking. We came in through the back door to avoid the crowds just as the shooting started. Wrong time, I guess.”

“Well, we’re here now,” Gertrude said, “Not how I envisioned spending my time today.”


Schulz Building - 6:11

Diana sent her last text and made sure everything she had was backed up on the cloud. Then she tossed her phone in a bucket of water. While her phone shorted out, she opened her desktop and took out the hard drive. Then she shredded her remaining notes and left her office. She didn’t trust the elevator, so she took the stairs down to the next floor. There, she hid the hard drive in Angelica’s desk. After this detour, she went down the next few flights of stairs and arrived at the recording studio, where the Director usually gave press releases to the public. A camera crew was waiting for her there.

“How’s the signal?” she asked.

“We’re trying to get through, but all frequencies are being jammed right now,” a crewman said.

“Keep working on it,” Diana said, “We’re out of time.”


Damascus

Alex’s phone chimed. He picked it up.

Remember, Alex, no matter what happens, I love you.
-Mom


Reichstag bunker, Berlin - 6:12

One of the Varangians suddenly pulled out a gun and aimed at Wilhelm Karl. Just as he fired, Prince Karl pushed Wilhelm Karl out of the way, taking the shot. He slumped to the ground, and loyal Varangians tackled the traitor, forcing the gun out of his hand. Elias quietly walked over Karl’s dead body, picked up the gun, and shot the traitor twice in the head. Wilhelm Karl remained where he sat.

“This proves it,” he said, “I can’t trust any of you Varangians. Leave my presence and bring in one of those Argus men!”


Outside the Reichstag

The police finally arrived, along with an ambulance. Paramedics rushed over to Angelica and loaded her onto a stretcher, putting pressure on her wound.

“You have to do something!” Angelica pleaded. “There are gunmen inside! Argus went rogue!”

“Argus?” one of the paramedics said. “Are you out of your mind?”

“Frankly, I find that insulting,” Kurt said, in the middle of giving a statement to the police, “You can check our Panopticon records. We were fighting off terrorists. We just killed the gunmen in the Reichstag chamber.”

“You were not!” Angelica said. “I was there! You guys attacked me!”

“We didn’t,” Kurt said, “If not for our intervention, those guys would’ve killed you.”

Behind him, Josh’s team got in a car and drove off.

“And where are your men heading now?” Angelica said.

“I’m sending teams across Berlin to flush out any other terrorist cells,” Kurt said, “We’ll have our targets in no time at all.”

The paramedics loaded Angelica into the ambulance and drove off.


Pentagon, Constantinople - 6:13

The General Staff convened in the situation room. TV screens showed live footage of the Reichstag and the surrounding areas.

“Alright, what do we know about the situation?” General Bohm-Ermolli said.

“Approximately seven minutes ago, gunmen stormed the Reichstag and began assassinating everyone inside,” General Haner said.

“The Kaiser’s status?” Bohm-Ermolli asked.

“I think he’s holed up in the Reichstag bunker,” General Steuben said.

“What are we going to do about this?” Megas Droungarios Halderman asked. “This is…completely unprecedented. Not even November 9 was this devastating.”

“Well, we need to activate emergency reserves,” Haner said, “KNMB should be activated too. We need to start searching for the next in line to head the civilian government. And then protect them from subsequent threats.”

“Where’s the Megas Domestikos?” Bohm-Ermolli said. “He should be here for this.”

“I heard he was flying up to Berlin for the address, but his flight was delayed,” Steuben said, “He got lucky.”

“Hey, who left this briefcase under the table?” Haner asked.

The briefcase detonated, killing everyone instantly.


Suburban Constantinople - 6:14

Explosions echoed across the ancient capital. Fireballs engulfed the Augustinian Court, the Imperial Court of Justice, and the buildings where other national courts met. In the suburbs, Minister Thalman watched the news in horror. The doorbell rang. He didn’t get up from the dinner table, because the visitor would have to answer to his Varangians first.

“All clear,” one of the Varangians said.

Thalman walked over to the door and opened it, only for the visitor to pull out a gun. He was so focused on his attacker he didn’t notice the Varangians pulling out their guns and shooting him and their fall guy in the head. Across Constantinople and the rest of the country, similar incidents happened with other ministers, judges, and justices. Within minutes, all of the justices on the Augustinian Court and other national courts were dead.


6:15

“Hey, did you hear?” Manfred’s wife Joan said.

“Hear what?” Manfred said.

“The terrorists put out a statement claiming responsibility,” Joan said, “Here.”

She played a video on her phone. Manfred recognized the voice of Ocuil Zolin.

“Remember me?” Zolin said. “I’m back. Thordarsson thought he could lock me away forever and be done with it, but he forgot one thing: an idea can’t be killed as easily as a man. For many years we have been waiting for the perfect moment to strike back against the Kanatan invaders and their godless Roman masters. Now we have struck at the heart of the Reich, in revenge for the terror in Adamshaven and the crackdowns in Neurhomania, and we shall strike again! Soon, all of you will know the true meaning of fear. The gods are awake, and I am their sword. Huitzilopochtli demands sacrifices, and I shall satiate his thirst!”

“Oh,” Manfred said, “That.”

Oh?” Joan said. “That’s your reaction to Zolin reappearing after all these years? After spending the last twelve or so years in a Kanatan prison?”

“Eh, I’m not surprised,” Manfred said, “I’ve got other things to worry about.”

“Like the Berlin attacks?” Joan said.

“No, that’s a tragedy, but it doesn’t affect me,” Manfred said.

He focused on Zolin’s image. “Wonder who’s going to get in trouble for letting the guy escape that prison.”


A prison in Kanata

Prison guards rushed to Zolin’s cell, their pistols in their hands. They stopped outside the door and raised their guns. On the count of three, they unlocked the door and barged inside, only to find Zolin’s dead body on the ground. Nobody noticed the bee drone nearby.


Tesla Dynamic office, Berlin - 6:16

Theodor leaned back in his chair and smiled. Everything was going exactly as planned. And now for the next step. He pushed a button.


Outside Mosul

Bombs hidden by “construction workers” over the last few months detonated at strategic points across the Mosul Dam, causing the whole structure to collapse. With nothing to hold it back, the Tigris River roared forth, its waters washing away anything in its path. Within two hours, it would crash through Mosul, inundating entire neighborhoods and killing thousands, before proceeding on to Baghdad several hours later.


Nicaea - 6:17

36-year-old Karina Wissman searched her purse.

“Hey, sis, do you know where my keys are?” she asked. “I can’t find them anywhere.”

Her little sister Natasha was still watching the news. “No, sorry.”

“And to think Dad was a KGB agent,” Karina loudly said.

“Yeah, well we aren’t,” Natasha said.

Karina finally found the keys on a nearby table. “Oh, here they are.”

“You sure you have to go?” Natasha said.

“You sure you don’t want to go?” Karina said. “The firm’s calling up every lawyer.”

“Yeah, because there’s going to be a lot of lawsuits coming,” Natasha said.

“What, you don’t want to work a case?” Karina said.

“Eh, I’ll check tomorrow,” Natasha said.

Someone knocked on the door. Karina answered it, finding a suspicious looking pair of exterminators outside.

“We’re here to fix a rat infestation,” one of them said.

“I didn’t call an exterminator,” Karina said.

The other “exterminator” shot her in the head. They entered the house and approached Natasha.

“Hey!” she shouted. “What’s going on here?!”

They shot her as well. Then they crossed the the Wissmans’ names off a list of lawyers. They were the rats, and it was time to exterminate them all.


Schulz Building - 6:18

“Sorry, Director, we can’t get it to work,” a crewman said, “Signal’s too weak.”

“We need a stronger signal,” Diana realized, “The IBC headquarters, that’s it!”

She quickly left the room. Two of the crewmen secretly followed behind her. She descended the stairs to the lobby and walked outside to where her car was parked, not noticing the window washers cleaning the glass above her. Or rather, they thought she didn’t notice them. The camera crewmen pulled out pistols, while the window washers descended, also pulling out guns. But Diana knew they were attacking. She ducked out of the way just as the first bullet zipped through the air where her head was, striking the sidewalk. Pushing her gray hair to the side, she spun around and shot the crewman before he could fire again before kicking the other crewman, throwing off his aim and slamming him against the pavement. The window washers jumped down and opened fire, but their aim was off, and Diana quickly shot down both of them. With no more attackers around, she got in her car and drove off. Time was of the essence.


Reichstag bunker - 6:19

Heinrich arrived in the bunker, escorted by Kurt and Gustav. He had no briefcase with him.

“I’m here, got caught in traffic,” he said.

“Oh, finally,” Wilhelm Karl said, “Good to know at least one member of the cabinet other than Folger survived. How’s the situation outside?”

“Bad,” Heinrich said, “They took out the governors of Baden, Bavaria, Lombardy, Thrace, and Nicomedia just in the last five minutes. The casualties could be higher.”

“I’m going to have a lot of paperwork to fill out tomorrow, am I?” Wilhelm Karl said.

“Who is responsible for these attacks?” Gertrude asked.

“Ocuil Zolin,” Heinrich said, “He put out a statement just a couple minutes ago claiming responsibility for these events.”

“That monster,” Wilhelm Karl said, “I knew we should’ve executed him twelve years ago. Ollin was up for it. Thordarsson’s too soft.”

“Sir, the cameras are ready,” Jacob said, wheeling a camera into the room.

“Alright, clear the room,” Wilhelm Karl said.

Everybody left the room, except Elias.

“Sir, if you wouldn’t mind, perhaps we could have a chat later?” Elias said.

“I have a lot to discuss with you later,” Wilhelm Karl said.

Elias left. The recording light turned red.

“My fellow Romans,” Wilhelm Karl said, “Just a few minutes ago, my national address was attacked by cowardly terrorists seeking to kill me. As you can see, I’m not dead. And I will not bow to the whims of these terrorists. Many of them are still on the loose and committing crimes across our country. They must be stopped before more lives are lost. Which is why I am now declaring a nationwide state of emergency effective immediately. In the absence of coherent civilian authority as a result of these attacks, I will place this nation under martial law and assume many of the responsibilities and duties previously delegated to the civilian government in my capacity as Kaiser. Any act which undermines public peace and order or national security, the Throne, or administration of state affairs will be crushed. I am in control here, not those radicals who seek to destroy our values. Further details will be outlined later this night or tomorrow.”


Brad’s house - 6:20

“Are you sure I’m safe here?” Brad said over the phone, occasionally coughing.

“Don’t worry,” Elias said, “They’ve sent the Teicheiotai to protect you.”

“Yeah, well I’m a pretty big target now, am I?” Brad said. “Are you sure they’ll be enough?”

“Relax,” Elias said, “You’re the chancellor now. We’ll spare no expenses.”

“Me…chancellor…” Brad said.

“I wish it would’ve been under better circumstances,” Elias said.

“I don’t even have a cabinet,” Brad said, “Only person I’ve got is Dandolo.”

“You should start assembling your new cabinet,” Elias said.

“Right, right, of course,” Brad said.

“Starting with Vice Chancellor,” Elias said, “In the event of your…untimely demise, it would be wise to plan ahead and have someone to replace you.”

“Who do we have?” Brad said. “All of the Diet’s dead.”

“Me,” Elias said.

“You?” Brad said. “You’ve got no experience.”

“Need I remind you of what I have on you?” Elias said. “Should I so desire, I could make an anonymous tip to Der Spiegel…”

“Okay, okay!” Brad said. “I’ll talk to the Kaiser when he’s available.”

“Good,” Elias said, “Thanks, Brad. You’re a good man.”

And there was no place for good men in his world. They always ended up as roadkill for the vultures.


A Berlin hospital - 6:21

Angelica lay in a hospital bed. Her leg was wrapped in bandages, and she had been hooked up to an IV drip and a heartbeat monitor. Her room had a view of the street outside, and she could see military vehicles pulling up on the corner and soldiers getting out.

“This is the Imperial Guard!” one of them shouted with a megaphone. “Effective immediately, a nationwide curfew is now in effect! Please return to your homes!”

While she looked outside, she failed to notice the Argus men posted outside as the hospital’s security guards. One of them turned to the other.

“Shouldn’t we just kill her now?” he asked.

“No, let her be,” the other said, “She’s only one woman. Nobody will listen to her hysteria.”


Mainz - 6:22

“In light of the tragic events which happened in Berlin, I am in full support of the Kaiser’s martial law decree,” the Rhineland governor said, “We must take steps to restore order to our broken nation, under His watchful eye.”

Anna, Annie, and Walter intently watched the TV. All of them had serious expressions on their faces.

“It’s the same thing in many other states,” Anna said, “Neubrandenburg, Asturias, Normandy, Bohemia, Siebenburgen…”

“Heard there are riots in other places,” Annie said, "Like Bremerhaven."

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Anna said.

“Have you heard from Diana?” Walter said. “I can’t get through to her.”


Bremerhaven - 6:23

In violation of the curfew order, hundreds of locals gathered in Bremerhaven’s city center, facing off against rows of Argus guards and regular soldiers.

“You can’t be serious about this!”

“The Kaiser is overreacting!”

“The order was too vague!”

“We had nothing to do with what happened in Berlin!”

“Don’t punish us all for the actions of a few!”

One of the soldiers simply stepped forward. “Disperse at once! You are violating curfew!”

When the crowd remained, Argus stepped forward and began firing tear gas. The protesters scattered in all directions.


Somewhere in Berlin - 6:24

Wilhelmina’s car finally arrived at their new location, a safe house in the suburbs. The Varangians escorted Wilhelmina, Joseph, and Franz inside and locked the door behind them. Several of them remained outside to watch for intruders.

“Are you sure...we’ll be...safe here?” Wilhelmina asked.

“Hopefully,” one of the Varangians said.

“How long is this going to last, Mom?” Joseph said.

“I…don’t know,” Wilhelmina said.

"Are you okay, Willie?" Franz asked.

"I'm...feeling...a little better..." Wilhelmina said.

"What happened back there?" Franz said.

"I...don't know..." Wilhelmina said. "It was as if...I felt...everyone's pain..."

"We should see a doctor about that," Franz said.

"Yeah...good idea," Wilhelmina said, "Once things...calm down."


Brandenburg Palace

Enonon was no longer glowing.


Reichstag bunker - 6:25

Jacob handed Heinrich another sheet of paper.

“Casualty report, sir,” he said, “From the Pentagon bombing.”

“Do they know who did it?” Heinrich said.

“No,” Jacob said, “They couldn’t identify anything from the bomb fragments, other than the bomb was likely carried in a briefcase.”

“Shame,” Heinrich said, “Who could’ve done such a thing, killing those men?”

“I understand many of them were your colleagues?” Jacob said.

“Yes,” Heinrich said, “I served with Bohm-Ermolli in Mexico. And I knew the others quite well. Attended their kids’ events. We spent so many evenings at the Pentagon bar, sharing war stories over glasses of beer…”

Jacob patted Heinrich on the back.

“It must be hard, losing all of your friends like that,” he said.

Heinrich looked at Jacob. “You have no idea.”

He slowly began crying, realizing just what he had done. He told himself he would have to live with what he and Elias did, but he only now understood what he would have to live through.


IBC headquarters - 6:26

Diana staggered into the building, her hair disheveled and her hands covered in grease like she was working on her old motorcycle. The reporters in the lobby stepped away from her. She held up her Athanatoi badge.

“It’s me, Director Frank,” she said, “I need a studio and a camera, fast!”

Understanding her, the reporters rushed to the back of the building, where the studios were. Diana followed after them, wasting no time. Although she was almost out of breath, she pushed on and kept running, not caring about that. She soon reached a studio, where a camera crew had set up a camera.

“I need an emergency broadcast, all major channels!” she said.

“But the Kaiser is still broadcasting—” one of the reporters said.

“We don’t have time, cut him off or something!” Diana said.

“Understood,” one of the crewmen said, typing on a computer.

The cameraman readied his camera. “Recording in 3…2…1…”

She stepped in front of the camera just as it flashed red.

“My fellow Romans, this is the Athanatoi Director speaking, and I really have to apologize for interrupting your scheduled programming, but I have to get the truth out there,” she said.


Reichstag bunker

“Sir, it appears our broadcast was cut off,” one of the Varangians said.

“What?!” Wilhelm Karl said. “Who has the nerve to cut off a message from the Kaiser?!”

“Uh…” Jacob said. “Take a look.”

Wilhelm Karl looked at Jacob’s phone.

“Cut them off and restore my broadcast!” he ordered.


IBC studio

“As you know, roughly twenty minutes ago, gunmen stormed the Reichstag and opened fire, causing many casualties,” Diana said, “I can’t share details at this point because I frankly don’t have enough information. What I want to talk about is who is responsible. Over the last year I have been tracking a group of radicals who were responsible for the Uberbowl attack as well as this one. I was unable to move against them due to interference from the Bureau of Justice, particularly Minister Thalman, who refuses to believe me. And now look at what happened. The tragedy at the Reichstag could have been prevented. The video from Ocuil Zolin is fake, because I know who is really responsible for this attack. Their names are El—”

The recording light turned off.

“Ma’am, it appears our signal was jammed,” the cameraman said.

“Increase the signal strength, we don’t have time!” Diana said.

“Working on it!” the cameraman said.

A few tense seconds passed, but the recording light turned red again.

“Got it!” he said.

“The ringleaders of this conspiracy are Ger—” Diana began.

Before she could finish her sentence, shots rang out, and the camera crew fell to the floor, riddled with dozens of bullets. The camera rolled out of the cameraman’s hands, still focused on Diana as Josh and his squad entered the studio, their feet being recorded by the camera. Diana pulled out her gun, but Josh shot her arm. A bullet tore through her wrist, rendering her right hand useless and forcing her to drop her gun. She groaned in pain. Josh approached, his rifle still aimed at Diana.

“Hello again, Josh,” Diana said.

“What, you’re not going to beg for your life or run?” he said.

Although she was in immense pain, Diana managed to laugh.

“No,” she said, “You misunderstand.”

“I think you misunderstand, Director,” Josh said, “Or should I say, Alex’s mom.”

“Is this what it’s all about?” Diana said. “Because of my son?”

“You’re a coward, you know that?” Josh said. “You ran away from your son to die here.”

“I didn’t run away from him,” Diana said, “I was doing all this to protect him.”

“And yet you failed in the end,” Josh said, “No more peasants for you to boss around. I won’t have to hear your shrill voice again.”

“Yes, you won’t,” Diana said.

“Why do you even do all this?” Josh said. “Go to such great lengths to try and stop us?”

“Because it’s my job,” Diana said, “I’ve been doing this long before you were even born, kid.”

“Your own agents don’t even respect you,” Josh said.

“Oh, they do,” Diana said, “And they’ll pick up right after me.”

“They won’t, because we killed them all,” Josh said, “At least those that stood in our way. Admit it, Chernobyl Frank, you lost.”

“No, you’re the one who’s lost,” Diana said, “Such pain…and suffering…I see…sometimes, I pity that you ended up like this.”

“Well, I don’t pity you one bit,” Josh said, “You’re a traitor to this nation, and you’ll be given a traitor’s fate. And after I’m done with you, I’m going to hunt down the rest of your family. They deserve the same fate being the family of a traitor. And then you’ll realize you never protected your alligator of a son.”

“It’s not too late to turn back, Josh,” Diana said, “There’s still time for you to choose the right path and redeem yourself.”

“Oh, you misunderstand,” Josh said, “I don’t need redemption. I’ve already chosen my path.”

“I’m sorry, then,” Diana said.

“You’re apologizing to me?” Josh said.

“No, I’m apologizing to myself,” Diana said, “Because my path is already chosen too.”

She pulled out a knife and stabbed Josh in the shoulder. Josh responded by emptying his entire cartridge into Diana’s body. She fell to the ground, watching as Josh pulled out the knife and stabbed her in the heart with it. She wasn’t feeling any more pain. She wasn’t scared or regretful at all. She did what she could. And just like she predicted, her death had arrived at the scheduled time.

As the life bled out of her, her gift overwhelmed her weakening senses. She had heard the trope of a life flashing before one’s eyes before, and it did happen to her before, but it was just so vivid when it happened right now. There she was as a three-year-old, hugging her mother when she came back from Siam. Then her brother came along, and they played “rescue the princess” in the backyard often, with herself as the knight of course. She remembered meeting Pavel, Theresa, Olga, and Irina as kids. She remembered helping fix her friends’ cars and joining motorcycle races in high school. Those were exhilarating. She remembered going off to the Athanatoi academy against her mother’s wishes. One fateful day there, she was studying on the lawn when a basketball slammed into her back, sending her sprawling on the grass. She looked back and saw a red-faced boy named Anders Humboldt standing on the basketball court, trying and failing to hide his guilt. She remembered falling into and then out of love with Anders. She remembered the war years, when she, at a very young age, impulsively volunteered to rescue her mother in Vienna. That was where she met Olga again, having spent the last twelve or thirteen years being trained as a Soviet assassin. The first thing Olga tried to do was kill her, but fortunately for both of them, she failed. Then she remembered the Chernobyl fiasco and SVI. She bit off more than she could chew in college, majoring in two or three things at once. Why did Mina even agree to that to begin with? She remembered working at the Berlin office, then back with X-Division again. Then she remembered reuniting with Anders and slowly reconnecting with him. They covered many cases together before Anders was abducted and Olga brought back into her life again. Then came November 9, her mother’s death, and the years in the wilderness. Olga left again, and she married Anders and had Alex. Although she had little contact with the outside world in those years, she remembered being happy with her family in those days. Then she was reinstated, Olga came back again, and she visited the other side and met her other self and her mom there, among many other things. After that was done, she did a few more cases before Sentinel was exposed, their team split up, and she got her mother’s job. She missed Olga. Olga was her best friend, and she would never see her again. She could clearly see how every one of her decisions led her to this moment, bleeding out on the floor of the IBC studios, trying one last time to get the truth out, like she always did. She had no regrets over how things turned out.

“I’ll see you soon, Mom,” she said, with her last breath, “Hope I made you…proud…”

And Diana Frank was no more.


Constantinople - 6:27

Anders’ eyes remained glued to the screen, still trying to process what he just watched. He couldn’t hear what the gunmen said to Diana, and all he could see of them was their shoes, but he clearly saw what happened to Diana. He looked away and put his head in his hands. He couldn’t believe it. She had been predicting this for a while, and they’d gotten their affairs in order, but he couldn’t believe it actually happened. She was really gone now. He scrolled through his phone to find anything from Diana which would convince him otherwise. He wanted proof the broadcast he just watched was faked. He wanted the truth.

After digging through heaps of news notifications, he found Diana’s last message to him, and there was the truth he was looking for.

Anders...

It feels weird to say this, but thanks for hitting me with that basketball. I had the best time of my life with you.

Love you.

~Di

Anders laid on the couch and cried.


Damascus - 6:28

Alex turned off the TV. He got up and walked to his room.

“Alex?” Thea said.

Alex said nothing. Thea followed him into his room. She found him crying into his pillow.

“Are you…” she said.

“You don’t deserve me, Thea,” Alex said, “What kind of man cries like this?”

“It’s okay, Alex,” Thea said, “We all go through this at one point. Crying is normal.”

“I…I should’ve been there for…” Alex said.

His throat choked up. He couldn’t finish that sentence. Thea reassuringly hugged him.

“I lost my mother too,” she said, “I know how it feels. To be so powerless and watch as the people you love are taken from you…I get it. And I’m sorry this happened. Nobody should have to suffer like this.”

“So what can I do?” Alex said. “What can I do?”

“Honor her memory by moving forward,” Thea said, “We continue like we always have, not letting tragedies hold us back.”

Alex sadly looked at her, his eyes red and his cheeks wet. “I guess so…”

He hugged her closely and continued crying. She decided not to tell him about the sudden call she had received during the broadcast from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory director saying her grant was cut and the betharium research project put on indefinite hold. He had enough to worry about.


Executive Yuan, Nanjing - 12:29 AM China standard time (6:29 PM Imperial standard time)

Tsai paced around her situation room. The projector screen mounted on the wall displayed video from other world leaders, who had joined her conference call at a minute’s notice.

“Thank you for agreeing to meet with such little advanced notice,” she said, “I know the circumstances aren’t exactly ideal, and the time zones might screw with people, so I apologize for that. But we need to talk about the elephant in the room.”

“Well, it’s only about 1:30 here, so I just got back from my lunch,” State Commissioner Jorvik Thordarsson said.

“It’s half past ten here, so I’m more on Tsai’s side,” Samrat Chakravartin Jayasimha said.

“I don’t know what you all are on about, we use imperial standard time here,” Livonian Chancellor Boris Bradziunas said.

“Okay, okay,” Tsai said, “I’m told Olaf of Scandinavia will not be joining us later, but maybe Srivijaya’s Comissioner Nguyen and the new Russian chancellor will. I’m not sure. We should begin now.”

“Of course,” Jayasimha said, “How bad is it?”

“Bad, very bad,” Boris said, “Heard the entire Diet got massacred.”

“Oh, it’s even worse,” Jorvik said, “Heard there were other attacks on the courts and state governments across the Reich.”

“Who could’ve carried out such a brazen and widespread attack?” Jayasimha said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. And I’ve seen the Naxalite uprising and the East African civil war.”

“For the record, I know it’s not Zolin,” Jorvik said, “I’ve had him in solitary confinement for the last twelve years under careful watch, and I know he did not have the means to contact any of his old terrorist friends, those that are still alive and free of course. What I’m more concerned about is who got in and killed him to prevent him from talking. The cameras caught nobody suspicious going into his cell over the last week.”

“We’ll handle that later,” Tsai said, “I think what we should focus on is standing with the Reich and helping it through the difficult times ahead.”

“Agreed,” Jorvik said, “I think the Federal Assembly will be more than happy to approve aid, should the Kaiser want it.”

“Livonia will do whatever it can to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Boris said, “We’ll task Tiger’s Defense with seeing if those responsible had an Internet presence.”

“India is the Reich’s oldest friend,” Jayasimha said, “We will stand with the Reich. Because that’s what friends do.”

“China may not have been a friend of the Reich for that long, I admit,” Tsai said, “But we are friends now. For too long, we fought nonsense wars over scraps of land and world dominance, and I will not continue that legacy. The future of humanity and Earth lies with Romans and Chinese not fighting to dominate the other, but working together as equals. And I will make sure that continues.”

“Yeah, about that…” Jayasimha said. “You may have a problem there.”

“What problem?” Jorvik said.

“What, you didn’t hear from the other side of the pond?” Boris said. “Tell him, Tsai.”

“It’s Han Xianyu,” Tsai said, “He’s running against me again in 2032.”


Reichstag bunker - 6:30

Wilhelm Karl entered the room where Elias and Gertrude were lounging.

“You wanted to speak?” he said.

“Yeah,” Elias said, “Could you close the door? So we can discuss the plan.”

Wilhelm Karl shut the door and locked it. The room was soundproof, which relieved him. Because he had a lot to say about the last half hour.

“WHAT THE FRAK WERE YOU THINKING, ANHORN?!” he said. “SENDING PEOPLE TO SHOOT UP THE DIET AND ALMOST KILL ME?!”

“Killing you wasn’t part of the plan,” Elias said, remaining calm, "I gave ample instructions to everyone involved which would ensure your survival. I also wanted a legitimate reaction to sell it better.”

“I want answers, and I want them now,” Wilhelm Karl said.

“You wanted the Diet to fall in line,” Elias said, “I wanted the party cartel brought down. I found a way that satisfied both of our goals in a timely manner.”

“You couldn’t have just won more examinations?” Wilhelm Karl said.

“We spent the last fifteen years doing that and we didn’t get anywhere until Merkel and Nahles frakked up in 2025,” Elias said, “What else was I going to do? Ask nicely?”

“You know, I could just have you arrested right now for treason,” Wilhelm Karl said, “It would be very easy to get evidence. I’ve got loads of it. Including this very conversation.”

“But you won’t do that, and you won't use this conversation,” Gertrude said.

“And why’s that?” Wilhelm Karl said.

“Because I have something you’ll want to hear,” Gertrude said.

“And what is it I want to hear that’s more important than me having you all shot for treason?” Wilhelm Karl said.

Gertrude took out an ancient diary and flipped through it.

“You’ve heard the theories, haven’t you?” Gertrude said. “That Kaiserin Ida, wife of Friedrich the Great, was unfaithful. It’s believed she carried on an illicit affair with two other men. The prime suspects are Doge Manfredo Doria, a financial backer of her husband, and Count Jesek Markvartic, who distinguished himself during the crusades.”

“We all know that,” Wilhelm Karl said, “Nothing conclusive. Historians write them off as overblown speculation by both court chroniclers and nobles who didn’t like the Hohenzollerns.”

“On the contrary,” Gertrude said, “I have proof. Right here, in Manfredo’s diary. Hidden deep in House Doria's private archives in Genoa. The family didn't want to give me the diary, but I...gave them incentive.”

She flipped to a page. “Dated 1076. ‘It appears my involvement with Ida has resulted in a child. Fortunately the Kaiser is unaware. Ida has decided to name him Adolf Doris.’ That would be Prince Adolf the Lame, founder of the Anatolian branch of the Hohenzollerns.”

“He could have been lying,” Wilhelm Karl said.

“Why would he lie about something that would get him imprisoned?” Gertrude said. “Why would the Doria family bury this diary all these centuries, only revealing it when I came knocking? And it won’t matter in the court of public opinion. A lie can circle the world twice before the truth can put on its pants.”

“Okay, so what if Ida was unfaithful?” Wilhelm Karl said. “What does that have to do with what’s going on right now?”

“The Siegfriedist line of Hohenzollerns claims descent from Adolf the Lame,” Gertrude said, “As a result, all Kaisers since Siegfried II are illegitimate. You are more closely related to the descendants of Sofie Etichonen, Manfredo’s other illegitimate child, than the Hohenzollerns.”

Wilhelm Karl staggered back in shock. Then he composed himself.

“Ha!” Wilhelm Karl said. “You can’t intimidate me! Even if Father and his Siegfriedist ancestors were illegitimate, I’m also descended from the Maximist line! And I know for a fact every Kaiser in that line is legitimate!”

Gertrude took out another ancient diary, and Wilhelm Karl’s face paled.

“Impossible!” he said.

“This is the diary of Count Jesek of Spoleto, which the Markvartic family was 'generous' enough to let me borrow, after centuries of locking it up in their own family archives,” Gertrude said, opening it, “After Manfredo succumbed to illness in 1077, Ida found solace with Jesek, who was a notorious playboy in the imperial court. Historians confirmed he fathered two specific illegitimate children, Duke Radovan Trpimirovic the Drunkard of Slavonia in 1083, and Kreimhild von Kairwan, who later married back into the Hohenzollern family, in 1088. But this diary has proof of a third.”

She flipped it open.

“‘I should really be more careful, because Ida tells me she’s given birth to my daughter’,” Gertrude read, “‘She named her Eva Jessica. The Kaiser fortunately believes Ida's excuse, or else I’d be dead. I think I should stop doing this.’ Dated 1083, corresponding to the year Princess Eva, Friedrich the Great’s youngest child, was born. Jesek ceased his philandering that year as well and took an early retirement to his Spoleto estate with the spoils of war he earned from the crusades.”

She then took out a copy of the official Hohenzollern family chronicle. “And it just so happens Friedrich III was adopted as Kaiser Martin II’s nephew, as stated here. His real father, who was killed by Prince Saltuk of Persia, is a Hohenzollern through descent from Princess Eva.”

She stared Wilhelm Karl in the eyes. “Every Kaiser after Sophia I is illegitimate, in both the Maximist and Siegfriedist lines. The Hohenzollerns have been gone since the Anarchy.”

Wilhelm Karl stumbled back, trying to process and rationalize what he had heard. No, it had to be a lie. But it made sense. And there was the proof, right there. No, it couldn’t be. He wasn’t even a Hohenzollern? Father wasn’t? None of them were for four hundred years?! No, it couldn’t be! Impossible! But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that was true. If news of this got out...the chaos currently out on the streets would be the least of his worries. How...how did they find this information? And what would they do with it?

Defeated, he sighed and bowed his head. “You’ve beaten me at my own game.”

“If you thought I want platitudes, you’re mistaken, Guglielmo Carlo Doria,” Gertrude said, “You’ve always been irrelevant.”

“What do you want?” Wilhelm Karl said.

“You know what I want,” Gertrude said, “What my husband wants.”
 
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As a heads up, this update massively burned me out due to the amount of effort and planning I put into it. The updates for the next five or so years may see a drop in quality, especially one at the end of 2035 I’m currently writing (as of this posting). I tried my best to write something coherent.