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EmpireofOne

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Hello everyone, my name is Steven and I'm here to give you a narrative AAR on Nationalist China. I've written AARs for EU3, Total War, and a CKII AAR on this forum which I couldn't finish due to save game difficulties and my busy schedule. This AAR will follow many perspectives and characters as the dark clouds of war look to engulf the world.

The Warlord - A Narrative Nationalist China AAR



Table of Contents

Prologue: The Men of 14 Lujun Shi
Chapter 1: Home is Behind us
Chapter 2: Back into the Fire
Chapter 3: A Bitter Embarrassment

Chapter 4: The Man Named Marco Polo
Chapter 5: Hot Iron
Chapter 6: Left to its Own Devices
Chapter 7: The Red Offensive
Chapter 8: White Lotus
Chapter 9: Section Blue
Chapter 10: Truth
Chapter 11: Survival
Chapter 12: Traitors and Collaborators
Chapter 13: An Arrangement
Chapter 14: Warlord's Gambit
Chapter 15: The Dragon Comes
Chapter 16: Mirror
Chapter 17: Boys
Chapter 18: Work
Chapter 19: Feels Good to be Home
Chapter 20: Waiting
Chapter 21: Moving Up
Chapter 22: Brotherhood
Chapter 23: Renaming Ceremony

Chapter 24: Dragons
Chapter 25: Chiang's Chosen
Chapter 26: Obsession
Chapter 27: A New World
Chapter: 28 Flyby
Chapter 29: Cornered Dogs
Chapter 30: Belly of the Beast
Chapter 31: Hell Hath no Fury
Chapter 32: Arthur
Chapter 33: New Friends, New Enemies
Chapter 34: The Gap
Chapter 35: Back
Chapter 36: The Breaking Point
Chapter 37: Turmoil
Chapter 38: Desperation
Chapter 39: Heroes
Chapter 40: Confidants
Chapter 41: Throats
Chapter 42: Truth II
Chapter 43: Hope

 
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EmpireofOne

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Prologue: The Men of 14 Lujun Shi
China is not well. The revolution that great men like Sun Yat-Sen worked so hard to build are now being assailed by the forces of disorder and defiance. Warlords, bandits, and communists plague the territories not being held by the grip of the Kuomintang lead by Chiang Kai-Shek who claims to continue Sun Yat-Sen's legacy. In the east, the Japanese continue their conquests; the Sino-Japanese wars are still a sour taste in the mouths of the Chinese who are eager to liberate their occupied brothers. In the ports along the coast and the borders to the southwest are the imperialist powers of Europe who look to cling onto the colonial empires they have built. China is surrounded by those that would see it be destroyed, to be ripped apart by vultures reminiscent of the horrific days of the Victorian Era.



April 10th, 1936
13:45
Northern Sichuan, border with the communists.
14 Lujun Shi



"Damn you sorry excuses for soldiers!" Sgt. Lei Shi-Lin yelled. "The commies don't need their guns to beat us if you keep giving me this shit!"

The Sergeant continued berating his squad of privates who were green and fresh, his corporal, Feng Yunxu stood beside him and watched the recruits try to do jumping-jacks. Not that far from the base was the no-mans land that was communist territory. Private Min Zhen wondered at where the commies were hiding, Pvt. Min was eager to take up the cause of the revolution as his father did under Sun Yat-Sen many years ago.

"Did you kill many commies, sarge?" Pvt. Min asked.
The proud and angry man smiled. "Many, lots with my gun, a few with my bayonet. If you bastards would get in shape, maybe we could actually go and take the fight to them."
"Sir," Cpl. Feng interrupted, "you've been putting the squad through quite an amount of training, maybe you should give them a break."
"Nonsense! They need to shape up, the commies got a lot of training when they decided to retreat with their tails between their legs and their backpacks on their backs. I want soldiers to fight the commies, not peasants."
Pvt. Lao Wang whispered over to Pvt. Shao Dewei, "Sarge is killing us."
"I-i'm so t-tired, I can't keep doing this," Pvt. Shao whispered, trying to keep his breath.
"You idiots better shut up before sarge makes you run around the base until your boots burn off," Pvt. Pang Jian angrily whispered.
"Pang!" Sgt. Lei yelled. "If you can talk, you're not exercising hard enough, five laps around the perimeter of the base! Rest of you, start doing push-ups!"

Pang gave a dirty look to Shao and Lao and walked off to do his laps. The other privates started to do their push-ups while Sgt. Lei and Cpl. Feng continued to watch. Shao barely had any feeling in his arms. His arms wobbled while his pale face turned to a bright shade of red. Sgt. Lei payed close attention to Shao, he could see the man struggle to continue the exercises. Shao could not do another push-up, with the last of his breath, he dropped to the floor and felt the hard dirt press against his chest. The Corporal rushed to Shao and helped him sit up while the Sergeant took slow steps.

"Are you alright?" Cpl. Feng asked.
"You're turning quite a shade of red there, if I pissed on your face I could make the commie flag," Sgt. Lei said.

Lao almost choked trying not to laugh at the comment. He was worried about Shao, he was from a nearby village and he was the closest thing Lao had to his home. Lao watched Shao get helped up to his feet by the Corporal who helped him into the arms of other privates who took him to the barracks.

"Sir, I must protest this regimen, it's too excessive," Cpl. Feng said.
"Excessive is what the commies are gonna give these boys; I'm preparing them for the real fight."
"The other squads are not even training as much as you are doing to our squad. These men are going to be sore for the rest of their lives," the Corporal argued.
"I will gladly be sore for the rest of my life for the cause!" Pvt. Min declared as he did another push-up.
"The miller's got strong arms, and a strong heart. You see corporal? The men need this for the cause," Sgt. Lei said with a smug grin.
"I'd die for the cause as much as you, sir. But we need to give these men some rest; when their rifles recoil, their arms will be devastated."
"Need I remind you, corporal, that you and these privates have yet to see any action. Our guns will be useless a half-hour into the fighting, when things come to that, I will ensure these men are ready. I will not speak of this matter any further."

The Corporal retreated and put his head down to hide his face from the Sergeant. Cpl. Feng returned to his spot by Sgt. Lei's side and remained there in silence. Pang returned from his laps covered in sweat and joined the other privates in doing push-ups. Like Shao, some of the privates were beginning to collapse from the exercise and soon the only one left doing exercises was Pvt. Min. The Sergeant told the men to stop and the men were relieved that they could now relax in peace.

"Pvt. Min, I see good things for you," Sgt. Lei complimented.
"Thank you, sir!" the man responded and saluted, he slowly retracted his arm as it was sore from the push-ups.
"The commies will fear men like Min. He is brave, strong, and loyal; if we had more men like him, we'd get rid of all the damn warlords by now."

Just then, a soldier approached the Sergeant and gave him a slip of paper. Sgt. Lei glanced over it quickly and folded it to put into his pocket. He was smiling slightly, looked like he was waiting to figure out what to say.

"What is it , sir?" Pvt. Min asked.
"Big things have been planned in Nanjing, we're strong-arming local warlords to launch an attack on the commies, and our division is moving to support them as the Kuomintang's representatives," he answered.



The privates looked at each other with uncertainty while the Sergeant looked at his ragtag band of soldiers.



(Hope you guys enjoyed this first taste of my AAR, it was a bit short since it was more of an introduction.)
 
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EmpireofOne

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Chapter 1: Home is Behind us
April 11th, 1936
10:37
Shaanxi, Communist territory
14 Lujun Shi

Communist territory had the men on edge, even the full force of a Kuomintang division could not mitigate their fears. Cpl. Feng was no fool, the division and even the rabble that were to link up with them had only one advantage and that was their numbers. Companies often missed out on supply deliveries and some men did not even have a rifle; the proud army of the revolution was nothing but a uniformed band of poor bandits. The entire division marched on foot, only the finest of troops were allowed the best equipment, and even then, they too suffered shortages. Feng looked to his sergeant, he seemed calm, happy even.

"Why would Field Marshal Tai use the local warlords? Why not launch a larger offensive instead of sending one division to Shaanxi?" Feng asked.
"Chiang Kai-shek doesn't want to waste too many of his men is my guess. If warlords and commies die, then I'll be happy," Sgt. Lei answered.

The privates' arms were still extremely sore from the painful exercises their commander put them through. Pvt. Shao looked like he was going to collapse from the long march.

"Hey Shao, keep your head up, commies could be hiding in the trees and hills," Pvt. Lao warned.
"My arms... I can barely feel them," Shao cried.
"Why march on a road? It's almost like command wants to taunt us for not having automobiles or horses," Pvt. Pang complained.
"The road takes us to the commies much faster, we'll get to fight our first battle! My father would be proud," Pvt. Min said proudly.
"I want to go home," Shao muttered to himself.

The squad's position in the column soon reached a hilly and forested area surrounded by men wearing rags and carrying various weapons that ranged from cheap and outdated rifles to swords and spears. Sgt. Lei took a look at the large encampment, the troops of the various local warlords were milling about and doing nothing; they did not exercise or even maintain their equipment, the men just sat around and played cards or drank wine. One of the other sergeants looked at Sgt. Lei and gave him a disappointing head-shake, signalling that it was not just him that thought that this rabble would be slaughtered as soon as the bullets started flying.

The squad planted themselves in an area surrounded by Kuomintang tents and settled themselves in their temporary home. They neatly placed their rifles on a makeshift rack made from the trunk of a tree and several branches as the Sergeant instructed and made they also prepared their cots. Cpl. Feng pulled a book out of his backpack and sat on a cot to read while the privates continued preparing their campsite. Min gathered wood the local troops were handing out and placed them to prepare a fire for later in full view of the Sgt. Lei.

"Strong, loyal, and survival skills. Min, you're a man after my own heart," Sgt. Lei said.

Pang scoffed quietly enough that only Shao and Lao could hear him. He was tying knots for the weapon rack and started gripping the rope harder and handling it more rough. The branches snapped from the pressure and Sgt. Lei turned around to see a few of the squad's rifles fall to the ground.

"Dammnit Pang, you're tying knots not making firewood!" the Sergeant yelled. "Go clean the rifles that fell, someone go tie an actual knot."

Pang picked up the rifles that were on the ground and went inside the tent to clean them. Lao took over and remade the weapon rack with sturdier branches, the Sergeant gave an approving nod. Shao found no work to do and sat down near the firewood Min laid down and looked around the big camp. It was nothing like the base, it was like a large village very similar to the woodcutter's village that he called his home back in Kuomintang territory.

Runners were moving through the camp calling for all officers and squad leaders for a briefing, Sgt. Lei left the camp and put Cpl. Feng in charge of the men until he returned. An hour had passed and Sgt. Lei had yet to return, the men sat around the unlit fire and talked about the camp and the men inside it.

"I heard some of the older locals used to fight for the Qing," Pang said.
"What gave that away? The fact they're using ancient equipment or the fact they hate our guts almost as much as they hate the commies?" Min asked.
"Both, I guess."
"I have a bad feeling about sitting here in a camp surrounded by men with swords and spears," Feng said.
"They're probably working with the commies; this is their territory," Lao said.
"I can't sleep knowing they could just kill us all tonight," Shao said.

Feng looked over at one of the alleyways of the tents. He could see officers returning from where the runners had told them to go. A few minutes later, Sgt. Lei returned to the campsite and sat down with the men.

"Have a good lunch men, we'll be marching against a commie position at 13:00," the Sergeant ordered.
"What are we attacking?" Feng asked.
"The position is a fairly large command post and supply base situated on a hill. It'll be heavily defended by the commies as this raid could bring a shift to the balance of power in this civil war."
"Attacking a hill? I don't have to be a general to know that's suicide," Pang said.
"Our platoon will be part of the second wave," the Sergeant responded while drawing lines in the dirt, "we will be hitting the eastern portion of the position here."
"What are the locals going to be doing?" Lao asked.
"They'll be attacking the front along with several battalions of our own, hopefully those local bastards take all the fire," Sgt. Lei answered.
"Are you scaling your drawing right? A position that big could inflict serious casualties on us," Feng warned.
"Yes, corporal, the position is that big. I have no doubt the losses will be great, but home is behind us, victory here means victory for home."

The Sergeant dismissed the men and went to the tent to take a nap. The other men ate their lunch and mentally prepared themselves for another long march.

April 11th, 1936
15:44
Shaanxi, Communist territory
14 Lujun Shi

Gunfire and explosions were muffled by the forest the troops were hiding in. Sgt. Lei and the other sergeants were discussing their plans with the platoon commander Lieutenant Han Bo-fu. The privates were scared, they could hear the battle that they would soon take part in. Min was jumping up and down and taking deep breaths.

"Soon it will be our turn to join the battle," Min said.
"It doesn't sound like they just have rifles," Feng said.
"If they send us in, doesn't that mean everyone that already went in is dead?" Shao asked.
"We will keep coming, we will show those commies that they must kill every man woman and child if they wish to succeed against us!" Min declared.
"They might just do that," Pang said sarcastically.
"Look alive men, the Sergeant is returning," Feng ordered.

The Sergeant returned to his squad and fixed his helmet.

"The signal for the second wave will come any moment now, remember your training!" Sgt. Lei ordered.
"Do push-ups upon engaging the enemy, yes sir!" Pang joked.
"I should really shoot you, but I'll let the commies do it," Sgt. Lei said angrily.

Whistles were being blown throughout the line and many men let out a great yell and pushed themselves forward. Sgt. Lei urged the men forward and pushed Shao who was hesitating to move. The squad ran forward and the rays of light coming from the open ground outside were fast approaching. The echoing of gunfire and explosions morphed into the regular sounds of battle. The squad made it past the trees and the open ground was revealed to them.

The fortress was ahead and the green of the hill and field was covered in the colours of Kuomintang uniforms and local rags. One of the faster soldiers aimed his rifle and took a shot before being gunned down by enemy fire. A dark cloud erupted in front of the unit and brought several men to the ground. The squad passed by a few men crawling on the ground or aimlessly walking around the field while covered in blood. Lao saw a man on the ground who had lost his legs taking shots at the hill with the only limbs he had left. Machine gun fire started mowing down men still charging to the base of the hill. Shao tripped on a corpse and narrowly avoided a barrage that wiped out the men who were right behind him.

Min saw that he was approaching a dropped Kuomintang flag and reached for it as he passed it. The flag had several holes of different sizes and was dirty from being dropped on the ground. Dark clouds kept appearing near the men as the base of the hill was only a few steps away. Sgt. Lei continued urging the squad forward and stopped to take a shot at the enemies at the top of the hill. There were still men from the first wave that were alive in various stages ranging from bleeding to death to men that seemed to be unharmed physically.

"Up the hill men! Let's kill commies!" Sgt. Lei yelled as he finished loading his weapon.
"Come brothers! Fight!" Min yelled to the men that passed him as he waved the flag.

Pang saw a communist straying out of his cover to get a better shot at the men at the base of the hill. Pang aimed his weapon carefully and held his breath. He pulled the trigger and the weapon recoiled just as the man he was aiming at dropped out of view. He wanted to celebrate his kill but the battle was still ranging and his arms were incredibly sore. He started climbing the hill like the others were.

Lao had been separated from his unit and was with a few other Kuomintang soldiers who were supporting a large amount of locals. The locals let out their battlecry as they charged with their ancient weapons. Those that were carrying swords and spears rushed up the hill while those with guns held back and covered their advance. The climb up the hill was incredibly difficult not because of the hill itself, but the mounds of bodies that blanketed it. Some men used the corpses of their own men as cover against enemy fire. The machine gun slaughtered the locals carrying blades with ease and forced their bodies to roll down the hill like boulders.

Cpl. Feng had almost reached the top and shot a communist loading his rifle and forced him to the ground. Men were starting to come with him and the enemy defences were starting to feel the pressure. Feng looked down the hill and could see the troops advancing and then he looked back and saw that the third wave had been ordered to attack. He joined a few men in storming a bunker with a bayonet charge and cleared it and stopped the machine gun from firing.

Min had made it to the top of the hill and planted the flag into the ground by the sandbags. He took his rifle and fired a round at a communist retreating from the sandbags but missed. He followed Sgt. Lei who took another shot at the inner defences and rushed forward at enemy stragglers with his bayonet.

"Commie scum!" he yelled as he stuck his bayonet into a young communist who screamed in great agony.

Pang witnessed the Sergeant pull his bayonet out of the suffering man and reload his weapon. Without hesitation, he executed the communist with a shot to the chest. Pang almost wondered if the Sergeant was actually serious about shooting him earlier. He looked back at the allies coming in when he heard an unfamiliar tone from the whistles of officers. The Sergeant came over to where Pang and Min were standing after the whistles kept repeating.

"That's the retreat whistle!" the Sergeant yelled.
Min barely heard the words from all the gunfire, explosions, and screaming he had been subjected to. "Retreat from what? We're winning!"

The men turned to look at the open ground to the hill and saw red flags approaching from the horizon to the west.

"Commie reinforcements! We'll be overrun if we stay here!" Sgt. Lei yelled.
"Let's take this hill and use it against them!" Min yelled.
"Stand down! We'll be overtaken before we seize this hill, with me!"

The Kuomintang forces and locals began their retreat and ran down the hill. Feng took the machine gun from the bunker he had stormed and threw it down the hill so the communists could not use it against their retreat and followed his allies down the hill. Pang stumbled and rolled down the hill, hitting bodies and dropped equipment along the way. When he regained consciousness, he had only been out for minutes and was being carried off by two soldiers that were not part of his unit. Min followed the Sergeant closely and took a shot at the sandbags as communists retook the outer defences. Machine guns started spraying lead onto the retreating nationalists.

Lao had made it to the bottom of the hill when he saw a corpse that looked like it was shaking. He ran over to it and shot back at the sandbags to cover himself. He turned the shaking corpse over and saw that it was Shao, hiding behind a small wall of bodies.

"What are you doing?!" Lao yelled. "Get up! They signalled the retreat! We have to go!"

Shao did not move and continued breathing heavily and shook like he was freezing to death. Lao called over a few men to help him lift Shao to his feet and get him to run. The locals and Kuomintang that were attacking the west were unlucky, Lao could see them engaging in a gunfight while the locals ran at them with swords and spears. Lao and Shao managed to reach the trees where snipers and infantry were covering the retreating troops. Lao gave Shao to the others who were helping him and looked back at the fortress on the hill they had failed to take. Machine guns were finishing off the last of the nationalists running while the communists in the fields overran the locals and soldiers in the west with a bayonet charge of their own. It was a grim sight and a preview of the battles to come.



The sun had yet to set before the myth of a weak communist army who only knew retreat was shattered; they knew the attack was coming and repelled the nationalists with great effect. The men made it back to their camp which was a scene of chaos and disorganisation. The panic at the enemy coming to finish them was great. Tents and equipment were abandoned as soldiers thought to bring only the essentials in their flight back home.

"Home was behind us, now it's ahead of us," Pang said to Min and Sgt. Lei.
"Shut up and pack up, do you think Cpl. Feng, Shao, and Lao made it?" Sgt. Lei asked.
"It was going so well..." Min said.
"Just stay quiet and pack everything you can," the Sergeant ordered.
 
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Chapter 2: Back into the Fire
April 14th, 1936
14:56
Nanjing, Capital of the Kuomintang
Chiang Kai-shek



"The warlords took the majority of the casualties, but our attack was repulsed and our losses are expected to be in the tens of thousands," Xie Juezai, a political advisor reported.

Chiang Kai-shek clasped his hands together and rested his elbows on his desk as if he was going to pray. He let out a sigh and rested his face on his hands with his eyes closed. He came from his resting position and slammed his fist on the desk while letting out a loud grunt.

"Field Marshal Tai has failed me. I tell him to minimise our losses and he decides that means not sending enough men! Mao's going to make the 11th a damn national holiday!" Chiang Kai-shek yelled.
"Might I suggest a war of attrition?" Xie suggested. "We have the manpower and industrial capacity to outlast them."
"No! The communists have gained a considerable amount of morale from this battle. I hear Stalin's purging his people, maybe I should do the same."
"What will you do against the communists generalissimo?"
"We'll launch an actual offensive against the communists, Mao's gained a false sense of confidence and I will break him of that, we must not lose face to the people lest we want those within our borders to join the communists," Chiang Kai-shek ordered.

Xie Juezai saluted and left the room to send the order. The Generalissimo went back to reading reports of Japanese movements sighted along the borders and seas.



May 2nd, 1936
14:32
A small village, Shaanxi
14 Lujun Shi

The communists were fighting to protect the village to the last man. Sgt. Lei urged the remaining men of his squad further. Min and Pang moved forward with men from other squads to a low stone wall that laid parallel to the village which was returning heavy fire. Min laid on his stomach and arched his back up to stay in cover while returning fire at the communists. Stones were breaking off as bullets whizzed by or lodged themselves into the stone.

"Another squad is going to try to hit the village from behind! Just keep these bastards distracted!" Sgt. Lei ordered.

Pang postured himself just like Min and aimed his rifle at a communist firing from a window. He fired and the communist fell backward in almost perfect unison with the bang. Min reloaded his weapon and tried to line up another shot on a man hiding behind the well near the outskirts. Min pulled the trigger and a small white cloud from the bullet forced the man behind it to hide.

The other squad that was planning to attack the rear of the village began to move. The sounds of a machine gun joined the fray and the men were on edge.

"Machine gun! They're hitting the other squad hard!" Sgt. Lei yelled.
"Come on! Let's attack while the machine gun is busy!" Min told all the men.

Some men followed and rushed to the left of the village while under attack from the enemy. They let out a great yell and kept moving despite slowly being picked off by rifle fire. Pang aimed his rifle at an enemy exposing himself to fire at the advancing units. The communist took a bullet to his arm and fell on his behind. Another shot from another soldier brought him to the floor.

Min ran as fast as he could but took a bullet to the shoulder. He pushed himself to the limit to reach cover that the others that followed him were hiding behind. They were hiding behind a small hut and fired shots into the window. Min sat down and looked at his wound, it suddenly started hurting more now that he had seen it. The men next to him were helping one of the men climb into the window and threw his rifle in with him. More men climbed in and soon the Kuomintang troops had a foothold in the village.

Sgt. Lei signalled one of the officers that followed Min to cover his advance with the men still at the wall. The other officer acknowledged the plan with a nod and instructed the men.

"Some of you stay here and cover us, the rest of you, on me!" Sgt. Lei ordered.

Men left at the stone wall fired heavily at all the windows that could see the open ground Sgt. Lei's advance was going to use. The men in the hut to the left covered the open yard and other huts with suppressing fire of their own.

"That machine gun hasn't been firing for awhile," Pang told Sgt. Lei.
"It's setting up to fire at us now that we're pushing," Sgt. Lei said.

If almost on cue, the machine gun fire resumed and a hail of bullets went down the open court. Pang peeked around the corner and saw someone hiding around the corner of another hut. He brought his sights to where the man's chest would be if he came and waited for his prey. The man came out to take a shot and immediately went down on the pulling of Pang's trigger.

A man from another squad was preparing to fire a shot at the machine gun when Sgt. Lei suddenly pulled the man back from the corner. The machine gun fire stopped and looked around and saw the squad from the rear of the village struggle with the machine gun crew. Sgt. Lei smiled and ordered the men around him to follow him. The men charged and the enemy was in a panic when their machine gun was no longer helping them. The survivors tried to flee into the trees east of the village but were gunned down by the many Kuomintang rifles before they could escape.

"Take care of the wounded and send someone back to the Lieutenant and tell him the village is secure," Sgt. Lei told the men.

Just as the runner was leaving, a man coming from the allied lines stopped the runner and brought him back. Sgt. Lei and the sergeants that survived the battle met with the man.

"The offensive's stalled and commies are reinforcing!" the man reported before catching his breath. "Division wants to pull back to our original frontline because it's more defensible!"
"How many poor bastards did we lose just for us to turn back?!" Sgt. Lei yelled as he grabbed the man by the collar of his uniform.

The other sergeants joined in yelling obscenities at the messenger and manhandling him. Things were looking to turn violent when another messenger coming in from the direction of the enemy lines yelled for whoever was in charge. Sgt. Lei threw the first messenger to the ground and went over with the other sergeants to the second.

"Our platoon's a bit more ahead, we were fending off warlord troops and need to retreat, our lieutenant wants you to cover us," the second messenger reported.
"Our lieutenant's not with us, go over there," one of the sergeants said.

Distant gunfire was starting to get louder. Pang could see distant allied soldiers retreating through the rice paddies.

"Get the machine gun to cover the rice paddies!" Pang yelled.

Some men brought the machine gun to a window facing the paddies and prepared to fire what ammo it had left. The allied troops were getting closer when Pang thought he could see a familiar face among the units; he could have sworn it was Cpl. Feng. The first of the retreating men reached the village at the urging of the men already guarding it. Pang watched the man who looked like Cpl. Feng get closer.

The man stopped when he locked eyes with Pang. He looked back at the retreating mob and walked up to Pang.

"Corporal! You made it!" Pang yelled.
"You made it out too! Where's the Sergeant and Private Min?" Cpl. Feng asked.
"Min's over there getting his wound checked, Sarge is with all the other sergeants. What happened to you and did Shao and Lao make it?" Pang asked.
"Now's not really the time but I joined a unit when I couldn't find our platoon. Shao and Lao luckily found me but they're still back over there."

Cpl. Feng patted Pang on the shoulder and ran over to Sgt. Lei. The Sergeant could barely believe his eyes, he had resolved to believe that the Corporal and his other privates did not make it out from the last attack.

"Dammnit Feng, you made me think you were dead," Sgt. Lei said.
"Shao and Lao were with me, but they haven't made it back yet."
"Hopefully they make it, it'll make this reunion a bit sweeter."
"I see you've been busy," the Corporal said as he looked at the bodies of communists laying around the village.
"Good to have my number two back, it's been quite lonely with only Pang and Min."

Min let a man look at his wound when he could see a man running faster than any man around him in the rice paddies. He squinted his eyes but could not make out who this running man was. He got closer and Min was shocked that it was Shao who was running faster than any man he had ever seen. As he got closer, he could see the poor man was in a great panic.

"Shao!" Min yelled.

Shao did not hear him and continued running past the village and back to the allied lines. Min pushed the man looking at his wound off and followed Shao as best as he could.

Meanwhile in the fields and rice paddies, Lao was running for his life as bullets splashed in the water in front of him. A man not that far ahead of him took a bullet to his thigh and dropped into the water, the man called out for help as loud as he could. Lao looked back and saw that the warlord troops were rushing to catch the retreating soldiers with swords and spears. They were too close, Lao had no choice but to keep running forward and avoid looking at him.

The village the men were retreating to was in view, and he could see the men guarding it were shooting at the approaching enemies. The machine gun opened fire and the locals dived into the water or to the ground. Lao finally made it to the perimeter his friendly troops set up. Lao turned around and fired a shot at the locals trying to get past the suppressing fire. Some of the men guarding the perimeter told him to head back to allied lines while the fresh troops covered the retreat.

Lao walked to the southern side of the village in the direction of allied lines. He saw the Corporal and the Sergeant talking and ran over. The Sergeant pointed at Lao and the Corporal turned around.

"Lao! You made it you lucky son of a bitch!" Sgt. Lei yelled.
"Shao was ahead of me, did you see him?"
"Looks like your pursuers are turning back, come on, let's go see if we can find him," Sgt. Lei said.

Near the platoon headquarters at a small lumber mill, Min continued chasing Shao who was starting to slow down. The Lieutenant of the platoon was organising the men who were moving the headquarters to a new location.

"Shao! It's me! Min!" Min yelled.
"Min? I thought you were dead," Shao said.
"Come on, let's get back to the Sergeant and the rest of the squad," he said as he wrapped the arm opposite of his wound around Shao's neck.

Sgt. Lei lead Cpl. Feng, Pang, and Lao back to the lumber mill and spotted Min and Shao. The squad reunited and everyone seemed calm and happy when distant gunfire started up again. The Sergeant ordered his entire squad for the first time in weeks and gave them the command to retreat.



The campaign ordered by Nanjing to attack the communists ended in failure. With the lack of resources, training, and equipment, the campaign soon turned against the Kuomintang and their momentum in the initial push was stopped by the communist's resolve to fight and the support of local warlords. With yet another defeat for the Kuomintang, the nationalists lost face to their people who wondered if it would truly be Chiang Kai-shek that would unite China into one like the ancient warlords Qin Shi Huang or Liu Bang.
 
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EmpireofOne

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Chapter 3: A Bitter Embarrassment
November 13th, 1936
15:12
Xi'an, a room in an unknown location
Chiang Kai-shek

"Generalissimo, the Japanese are on the borders! We must suspend all operations against the communists to fight the bigger threat!" Marshal Zhang Xueliang pleaded.
"These battles against the communists are fruitless, we are going to leave the country open to a Japanese assault," General Yang Hucheng warned.

Chiang Kai-shek was incredibly disappointed. He looked at these two high-ranking men with contempt and gave them both a dirty look.

"I come here to investigate the inaction on the front and find you are collaborating with the communists?" Chiang Kai-shek said in a low and sharp voice.
"We are not collaborators! We're trying to give us a chance to resist the external threats that surround us," Marshal Zhang explained.
"Don't say anything else," Chiang Kai-shek ordered. "Zhang, I respect you, your father was a good man and I sympathise with your hatred for the Japanese. I agree, China must be united against our external threats; that can only be achieved by defeating the communists and other warlords."
"You've seen it for yourself generalissimo, we've been pushed back every time we attack, this is our chance to fight the Japanese," General Yang said.
"You two have been pushed back, along with Marshal Tai. The imperial powers are positioned to strike at us, I agree, and a united front will only benefit the communists and warlords who we can easily defeat. Dismissed."

The two generals begrudgingly left the room and slammed the door on the way out. Chiang could barely believe the insubordination from his staff, willing to suspend all offensive operations involving tens to hundreds of thousands men. He called in his advisor, Xie Juezhai to discuss the fate of the two generals, along with the offensive that has completely stalled.

November 15th, 1936
11:27
Xi'an, a courtyard in an old palace
Chiang Kai-shek

Chiang Kai-shek and his entourage were laughing and smiling, just returning from lunch by the old palace's pond. Chiang was to leave for Nanjing later in the day but decided to take a detour to tour the old palace he and his entourage were staying at. The guide took the generalissimo and his men to the palace gardens which were in terrible condition and covered in natural bushes and grass rather than arrangements designed by gardeners and architects.

Something about the gardens unsettled Chiang. The patrolling guards were nowhere to be seen and the bushes were high and blanketed all the alleys and paths that were not in use. Before he could usher his group out of the gardens, men with rifles emerged from the bushes and grass and kept their weapons pointed at the group. Chiang's small unit of bodyguards would be gunned down instantly if they resisted, and his advisors and friends would not escape the chaos of a battle. Marshal Zhang Xueliang and General Yang Hucheng emerged from the company of men with pistols aimed at Chiang Kai-shek.

"We have a chance to resist the bigger threat, we cannot allow you to jeopardise that, generalissimo," Marshal Zhang said.
"Order your men to stand down and come with us quietly," General Yang ordered.
"This is treason! You will be brought to justice and executed for this!" Chiang warned loudly as he looked at all the men staring at him.
"Treason is sending hundreds of thousands to die against people we should not be fighting," Zhang responded.
"Traitor!" one of Chiang's bodyguards yelled and aimed his weapon at Marshal Zhang.

The hundreds of traitors fired at the man before he could shoot and the stray bullets hit several members of Chiang's entourage. One of Chiang's advisors tried to flee when the traitors gunned him down in the back before he could even make it to the garden's entrance. Nobody else moved, and all eyes looked to Chiang.

"Stand down men, no more need to die," Chiang ordered.

The men reluctantly put down their weapons and put their hands up, the traitors cautiously approached and took the weapons on the ground along with checking the pockets of the bodyguards for anything else. Chiang was the only person to not put their hands up, the two generals kept their pistols trained on him as they conversed with the generalissimo.

"Come with us, generalissimo, we have much to discuss. Will you comply?" Marshal Zhang asked.
"I have no other choice, but I will not surrender myself like a cornered dog," Chiang answered defiantly.


The two generals and a handful of traitors lead Chiang and his staff away while the rest of the traitors dealt with the bodyguards that surrendered. General Yang led Chiang's advisors and staff away and soon it was only Chiang alone with Marshal Zhang and his bodyguards.



November 25th, 1936
20:23
Xi'an, a hastily made conference room
Chiang Kai-shek

Communists and Nationalists sitting in a room and not immediately getting at each other's throats was a sign that confirmed that this was a room of diplomats and politicians. Outside the civil and organised conference were armies waiting for the other to make a move. Chiang wondered if the men outside would be able to storm Xi'an and rescue their leader before the communists who surely wanted him dead could deal with him.

The room was filled with a grand variety of characters. The communists Zhou Enlai and Ye Jianying sat across with their cronies. The two traitors who called them to this room stood around and watched the proceedings. Chiang's wife Soong Mei-ling and her elder brother T.V Soong were present to support him along with other nationalist officials. Even white men from the imperialist powers were present to watch and monitor the conference to report to their governments thousands of miles away.

"There are many that want you dead within the party, rest assured, the men sitting here are ones who see your value in the fight against our external enemies," Zhou Enlai said.
"My men have been fighting yours for years, do you really think they can come together when brothers and fathers have been killed by the men who wear the opposite uniform?" Chiang asked.
"Your generals have made it quite clear why we're here, a truce must be negotiated between our parties; we must unite just like we have before during the Northern Expedition," Zhou proposed.
"How would we benefit from this? You will be spared of defeat from us and we be hit by the Japanese the hardest. How can you honestly believe resistance can be possible when we are fragmented? I intend to unify the nation so that we can truly rebuild."
"Do you think you can unite the nation with the Japanese invading us?" Zhou argued.
"You keep using Japan as your argument," Xie Juezhai said, "war with Japan will eventually end, and what happens then?"

The communists whispered among themselves. Chiang felt the negotiations were going his way, as the communists could not bring any convincing arguments other than the looming Japanese threat.

Zhou sighed. "You give us no choice, we did not want it to come to this. But if we do not come to an agreement, you will not be released and we will take you and all in this room back to our territory under house arrest; those from foreign countries are allowed to leave."
"It says a lot about your regime that diplomatic talks must be conducted with threats and violence," Soong Mei-ling, or Madame Chiang as she was called interjected.


Zhou was angry. The communists continued to whisper to each other while the others in the room looked on. Zhou was nodding his head with the man he was speaking with and turned his head back at the nationalists across from him.

"We will let you go. We will return all equipment and dead left behind from your previous offensives which you can use for political gain among the people. We will also cease all of our operations and hostilities in exchange for your assurance that you will not attack us and agree to form a united front against Japan," Zhou proposed.

The nationalists talked and agreed that there would be some benefit to them. Chiang wanted more but he could see his opponents were not willing to give more easily. But there was one last thing Chiang wanted before agreeing to the terms.

"I would also like Marshal Zhang and General Yang to accompany me back to Nanjing," Chiang demanded.

The two generals looked panicked at the demand. They were looking at the communists in hopes of gaining their sympathy knowing full well what Chiang Kai-shek would do to them. Zhou Enlai was taken by surprise by the demand and discussed it quietly with his companions.

"Agreed," Zhou said.

The members of the conference taking part in the negotiations began signing the document that brought the two parties together. Chiang Kai-shek and Zhou Enlai shook hands while the flashing bulbs of cameras bombarded them with bright light.



November 28th, 1936
16:45
Nanjing, a nearby airfield
Chiang Kai-shek

The trip from Xi'an was silent. The two generals were anxious about what awaited them as soon as they got off the plane. Chiang took his wife's hand and helped her down the stairs and onto the solid ground. Marshal Zhang and General Yang were having reservations getting off the plane. They saw that the runway was relatively clear and cautiously stepped off while Chiang and Madame Chiang watched them with disgust in their eyes.

"Why are you afraid? You are generals of the Kuomintang!" Chiang stated.

The two men almost looked relieved at the statement when suddenly four trucks drove on the runway at top speed. Soldiers got out of the backs of the vehicles and formed a circle around the generals before they could run back inside the plane. Their weapons were aimed at the traitors just as they had their bodyguards aim at Chiang when they first kidnapped him.

"Marshal Zhang Xueliang, General Yang Hucheng, you are both under arrest for treason, kidnapping, and conspiracy. Surrender yourselves and follow us," an officer ordered.

Both men put their hands on their heads and did not move. The two generals looked back at Chiang who watched with cold eyes. Madame Chiang kept her head held high and watched the two men be taken away by the hundreds of soldiers loyal to Chiang Kai-shek.
 
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CaribbeanBlues

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What would have happened if you had decided to keep up the civil war and abandon the idea of a United Chinese Front? Do you think that it would also have been possible to defeat the Japanese and the communists?
 

EmpireofOne

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Good update was their not an event to let them go
The only event the game brings up for this particular incident is the one that I showed in the screenshots. I did a little research into the Xi'an incident and based the narrative loosely on the events. The generals who perpetrated this incident don't appear in the game so there isn't an event to let them go.

What would have happened if you had decided to keep up the civil war and abandon the idea of a United Chinese Front? Do you think that it would also have been possible to defeat the Japanese and the communists?
I don't know if I could take on the Japs alone; it's definitely possible, but they have quite an army. I've seen China get destroyed enough times to make sure I protect my ports so I put my two field marshals with defensive traits to guard the ports carefully and hope for the best.

I'm writing Chapter 4 as we speak, so stay tuned later today for that; a lot is going to happen.
 

Alex Borhild

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I always enjoyed playing as Nationalist China and defeating the Communists in HOI2, though after a single failed attempt I never tried defending against the Japanese invasion. I've recently thought about trying Nationalist China in HOI4. I like the narrative style, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
 

EmpireofOne

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Chapter 4: The Man Named Marco Polo
The hostilities between the Kuomintang and rival Communist party were but a recent memory. As per the agreement, the 1st Army Group was reassigned to guard the Japanese border not far from Beijing. The unit had received many reinforcements after a reevaluation of the military's priorities and was soon China's largest army.



The Japanese were quick to respond to the massive buildup of troops on their Manchurian frontier and reinforced their border troops with an actual army.



In response to the Japanese threat, Chiang Kai-shek enacts a massive industrialisation campaign in hopes of producing equipment necessary to halt the Japanese ambitions in China.



The inevitable struggle against Japan was coming.

March 30th, 1937
19:23
Nanjing
Chiang Kai-shek

Chiang Kai-shek was staring at a table with a map of the border with Japan along with his political and military advisors. Li Zongren, the Guangxi warlord was present at this meeting. Chiang did not enjoy Li's company, he was a warlord with territory outside of the Kuomintang's influence. He also did not enjoy admitting his kidnapper's fear were not entirely unfounded, the Japanese were planning something and something needed to be done to stop their buildup.

"Our troops assigned to guarding the ports along our coast are in position, the Japanese will not be able to establish strong supply lines without any of our major ports," Li Zongren reported.
"Our navy is close to nonexistent, should we work on building enough ships to stop their attacks?" Chiang asked.
"Don't bother," Li answered, "Japan's navy will be extremely competent and numerous, focus on fielding more divisions to resist the Japanese. This whole plan hinges on forcing the Japanese into our extremely fortified positions in the north."
"The Shanxi warlords refuse to allow our troops to move into their territory, building a frontline against the Japanese will be difficult," Xiao Yisu said.
"They will come crawling to us when Japan realises how open their territory is compared to ours," Chiang bragged.
"There was one more thing I would like to ask. Beijing and Tianjin lay on the eastern side of the Hai river, it is vulnerable to a Japanese attack and I would like to suggest forming our defences on the western side," Li proposed.
"We cannot just abandon Beijing and Tianjin, how would that look to our people?" Chiang said.

Li began moving the wooden blocks that were supposed to be armies of men. He arranged the Japanese army and Kuomintang forces in their current positions and used the Japanese blocks to push the nationalists guarding Beijing and Tianjin. He picked up the blocks he pushed and threw them across the room, almost hitting Xie Juezhai who was sitting in a chair.

"The Japanese are too strong and too numerous, the men guarding Beijing and Tianjin will be slaughtered and the frontline will collapse from a full-scale rout," Li explained.
"My wife carved those blocks, don't throw another. I cannot afford to give up major cities so easily, Mao's influence grows and this will put the communists in a better light," Chiang said.
"This is why politics should have no place in war, thousands will die because a few men in Nanjing don't want a few men in Yan'an to look better than them," Li ranted.
"You haven't changed Li, you're still the same Li Zongren from the Northern Expedition."
"Don't flatter me. Xiao, you haven't said a word, what are your thoughts?" Li asked.
"Oh," Xiao said as if he was not paying attention. "I agree with Li Zongren, the river and built fortifications could give the Japanese a difficult time to push through. From there we can engage the majority of the enemy which will definitely push through Shanxi."
"I'm no novice in strategy, I know the river will give us the advantage and Beijing and Tianjin will definitely fall. But we must make some effort to defend it, we will have some men establish defences on the western bank for our troops defending the cities to retreat to," Chiang proposed.
"I was hoping to establish heavier defences, but if there's no convincing you, we'll have to go with your adjustments," Li said in a disappointed tone.

The men agreed on the order of battle and continued discussing other fronts.

July 27th, 1937
4:45
Beijing, Marco Polo bridge
14 Lujun Shi

The mayor of Wanping was just returning from negotiations with the Japanese across the bridge. Sgt. Lei could see the man was not happy or satisfied, his head was slightly down and his strides were slow and small. The men of the Kuomintang were on edge when a firefight broke out last night over the garrison of Wanping not allowing the Japanese to look for a missing soldier. It was still relatively dark outside but the bridge was kept well lit to ensure that nobody could cross without being seen.

"The mayor doesn't look happy or relieved, that does it, we're at war with Japan," Sgt. Lei said.
"They haven't attacked yet, maybe he's just tired from negotiations," Cpl. Feng said.
"We'll be ready for them, we have the bridge and river guarded, we'll kill them like we killed the commies!" Min proudly declared.
"These are Japs, not commies," Pang said.
"There's barely a hundred of us guarding this bridge, the Japs are gonna come across and kill us all," Shao said.

The Sergeant slapped Shao on the back on the head. He was annoyed that not even the German military advisors could weed out the fear in the Kuomintang army. The mayor walked past the defences with all soldiers watching him, he picked up the pace when he realised everyone was staring.

"I don't like your attitude Shao, you survived the campaigns against the commies, how can you still be afraid?" Sgt. Lei asked.
"The Japs are a whole new enemy, I'm scared of them too," Lao admitted.
"They are but men, the generation of men who fought for the Qing against the Japs have gone old and senile; we are a new breed of soldier, ready to face whatever these bastards will throw at us," Sgt. Lei encouraged.

A familiar noise was heard in the distance. It sounded like thunder to the untrained ear, but to the men who fought against the communists, it was obvious that was the sounds of artillery. The Kuomintang army did not produce enough artillery to give to its divisions which made the culprit of the shelling to be the Japanese.

"Wanping's in that direction," Cpl. Feng said in a worrying tone.
"They beat back one assault, they'll do it again," Sgt. Lei said.

Whistles suddenly blew from across the bridge and loud screams and yelling were heard just as a swarm of men appeared into the lights that shone over the bridge and opposing bank.

"Fire at will!" Sgt. Lei ordered.

July 27th, 1937
5:12
Nanjing, Chiang Kai-shek's room
Chiang Kai-shek

The ringing of the phone woke Chiang Kai-shek. He was up late last night monitoring the situation at Wanping between his men and the Japanese and wondered why another call would come. Madame Chiang was awoken and also wondered about the call.

"Chiang Kai-shek," he answered.
"It's Xiao," Xiao Yisu said. "A new development's just come in. The Japanese are shelling Wanping and are attacking our position on the Marco Polo bridge."
Chiang sighed. "Organise the nearest division to reinforce the bridge; our men at Wanping are sufficient. How is the bridge holding?"
"They're holding for now, but the Japanese are relentless."
"I'll be right over, goodbye," Chiang said before putting down the phone.

Madame Chiang put her arm around Chiang's waist.

"What's happening?" she asked.
"The Japanese are attacking," Chiang answered as he moved her arm away and put on a jacket.

July 27th, 1937
5:47
Beijing, Marco Polo Bridge
14 Lujun Shi

The Japanese assault continued to press hard on the defences at the bridge. The machine guns placed at the end made quick work of any enemy that foolishly came out of the cover of their lines. Sgt. Lei aimed at a Jap trying to cross the river from under the bridge. He pulled the trigger and a splash of water appeared near the man's knees.

"Keep watch on the river and under the bridge!" Sgt. Lei warned while reloading his weapon.

Pang came over to Sgt. Lei's position and aimed at the man the Sergeant was aiming for. He fired the weapon which brought the man into the water and his body laid lifeless in the shallows of the riverbank. The Japanese launched another wave of men across the bridge at the urging of an officer at the front who had his sword drawn. The second wave suffered the same fate as the first as suppressing fire from rifles and machine guns slaughtered them to the last man.

"Keep it up! Let's kill them all!" Min yelled.

Lao was kneeling with Shao a bit west from the rest of the squad. Lao tried to hit a few of the Japanese across the river who were firing back at him and his friendly troops. He looked over at Shao who was reloading and firing seconds within doing the other. Lao decided to watch Shao aim his weapon, he was not even trying to hit the enemy.

"What are you doing? Aim your rifle at them," Lao said.

Shao continued doing what he was doing and paid no attention to Lao.

"If you're so scared of killing them, take my ammo and load both rifles for me to shoot."

Shao reluctantly agreed and reloaded the rifles for Lao to fire. Lao looked behind him and saw what looked like a horde of men. Reinforcements had arrived and hundreds of rifles were peppering the enemy positions. The Japanese troops soon realised the great number of enemies and retreated from the attack. The defenders let out a great cheer and hurled insults at the Japs still in view. The position was safe and the men had held their ground.

July 27th
7:00
Nanjing, a conference room
Chiang Kai-shek



The men were tired, it was not too long ago that many of them were awoken to the sudden news of a Japanese attack. Despite their grogginess, they were happy, their forces had held off a Japanese attack with minimal losses; the Chinese were the one with the advantage now.

"The Marco Polo Bridge Incident they're calling it," Li Zongren said.
"The Japanese are demanding an apology and the territories of Beijing and Shandong," Xie Juezhai reported.
"They want to flex their diplomatic muscle now that they've been driven back by our forces. We have the support of western powers and have defeated several of their attacks," Chiang Kai-shek proudly stated, almost smiling to the men around him.
"This won't be the end of it," Li warned.
"I know, but we were ready and we still are, if the Japanese think I will hand over more land than they do not understand me at all."
"I pray you're right about us being ready," Xiao Yisu said in a worried tone.
"Order a partial mobilisation, we'll be sure of it," Chiang ordered.



The men agreed and went their separate ways. Some went to carry out the orders by Chiang Kai-shek while others went back to sleep to make up for the precious time they had lost planning and monitoring the situation.

September 23rd, 1937
14:58
Nanjing, Chiang Kai-shek's office
Chiang Kai-shek

The generalissimo was reading the reports he was constantly receiving about Japanese activity in the seas, Taiwan, and most importantly, the northern border. His office was quiet, not even the loud bustling of Nanjing outside could be heard, there was something about this quiet that comforted him; a stark contrast from the sounds of battle and war he had heard for most of his life. He took a sip from his cup of coffee when Xiao Yisu burst through the door followed by a calm Li Zongren.

"What is it?" Chiang asked.
"Japan has invaded Shanxi," Xiao reported.



"I knew it," Chiang said, "They knew our forces were too strong to attack directly, they'll have to let my troops in to protect them now."
"They haven't declared war on us just yet, they might be trying to provoke a response, hoping to draw us from our fortified position," Li said.
"The communists are already readying their forces for battle," Xiao said.
"I thought I'd never have to fight alongside those bastards ever again," Chiang said, not trying at all to hide his disgust.
"Nevertheless, Japan's army has experience and are well equipped, this will be a tough fight," Li warned.
"God help us all," Chiang said quietly.
 
Last edited:

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Chapter 5: Hot Iron
September 26th, 1937
14:00
Nanjing, An auditorium
Chiang Kai-shek

Hundreds of voices echoed through the chamber. Flashing bulbs, lead scribbling on paper, and typewriters fought to make their voices heard among the many noises that inhabited the auditorium. The audience was filled with people from different regions, countries, and societal classes all awaiting the speech that was to be given. The crowd's voices began to die down when Chiang Kai-shek made his way to the podium.

The speech he had spent the last few days writing was in front of him. He looked to the crowd, acknowledging their attendance and waited for total silence. Madamed Chiang was sitting near the front and was eagerly awaiting her husband's speech. The crowd was finally silent and he began his speech.

"Esteemed guests, I speak to you today as China's leader," he began. "On September the 23rd, 1937, the Empire of Japan attacked China, much to the condemnation of not just the Chinese people but many of you that sit in this room. Japanese aggression has been a constant threat to our nation and I can assure you all that sit in this room, that their insatiable hunger will not end in China. I beseech all Chinese people to take up the cause and defend our nation, as we know our failure to do so only opens those around us to their wrath. Even if the world will not even remember our sacrifices to halt Japan's advance, we will still fight, knowing that victory is worth more than the thanks of our neighbours and allies. This speech is not just for my fellows in the trenches facing the Japanese as we speak, this speech is for all the world to hear. We ask for support in defeating Japan, as their ideals threaten the democracy and freedom we have worked so hard to build."

The crowd gave Chiang a standing ovation and their clapping dwarfed all other sounds. There were no pigments of skin, no social standing, nor was there man or woman; there was only people clapping to Chiang's words.

The speech had been broadcasted to the world and Chiang had also recited the speech in Mandarin to be broadcasted to the entire country. His speech worked great wonders in bringing China together, many of the warlords joined forces with the Kuomintang and the communists began marching to Shanxi to oppose the Japanese forces. Even the Soviet Union was interested in sending volunteers to fight for the Kuomintang.



October 5th, 1937
13:08
Beijing, the western bank of the Hai River
Chiang Kai-shek

The frontline, an old friend that Chiang Kai-shek had not seen in a long time. Li Zongren and Xiao Yisu accompanied him to the front and were with him in planning their war against Japan. The eastern bank of the river was quite silent, it seemed the Japanese were not attacking the Kuomintang positions even after weeks of quiet on the northern front. Chiang was staring at his men on the other side of the river with binoculars.

"The reports have been saying the enemy is making a massive push into Shanxi, the communists are moving to meet this thrust," Xiao reported.
"Our positions are too strong, we must have overestimated the enemy," Chiang said.
"No, generalissimo, the enemy is most likely planning to hit our coast; but we are more than ready for that," Li answered.
"The armies of the various warlords have swelled our numbers greatly, the Japanese are focusing on their offensive into Shanxi," Chiang said.
"You're planning on attacking, aren't you?" Li asked.
"We must strike while the iron is hot, our troops outnumber those against us and we can disrupt the momentum of the Japanese," Chiang explained.
"We had planned entirely to bleed the Japanese dry against our positions," Xiao said.
"We will achieve an early victory, if we launch an offensive to secure the western bank of the Luan river, we can reclaim much of Manchuria and keep Beijing and Tianjin well behind our lines."
"Might I suggest we launch a more limited offensive? To see how well the enemy can resist our offensive. We also have not fully secured the western bank of the Hai river so that in the worst case scenario we can secure ourselves behind the river," Li advised.
"Fair enough, if the Japanese want a quick victory, we will give them a war of attrition," Chiang declared.

Xiao and Li left Chiang's side to send out his orders. Chiang continued to look at his positions through the binoculars, almost anticipating them moving as soon as they received his orders.

October 7th, 1937
13:58
Beijing, the frontline on the western bank of the Hai river
14 Lujun Shi

Sgt. Lei seemed unfazed by the bumpy road. Shao was barely staying on his seat and dropped his rifle multiple times every time the truck jumped from a large pebble or sudden drop in the road. The Kuomintang army was not the ragtag group that fought the communists more than a year ago. The men had trucks to take them to the frontline, tools to entrench themselves, weapons that even the most professional of armies could be proud to have, and artillery that could support their advances.

The beating war drums of artillery were beating in a rhythm. Gunfire ahead of them sounded like the popping engine of a broken down truck. Pang and Min were silent, waiting for their moment to join the battle. Lao kept his eye on Shao, sometimes he wondered if he was the only reason Shao was still alive.

"Two other major engagements are going on to secure the western bank of the Luan river, our Corps will be launching a three pronged attack on the enemy positions on the western bank of the Hai river to secure a fallback line," Sgt. Lei briefed.



"I was getting bored of waiting for the Japs to come!" Min said happily.
"How are we going to attack them?" Cpl. Feng asked.
"We've got the numbers and the enemy is entrenching themselves, the Corps might just send us to launch a massive infantry attack; at least we have artillery support," Sgt. Lei answered.

Lao looked outside, behind them was another truck following them. On the other lane of the road, empty trucks were heading back the way they came from, most likely picking up more troops to bring to the front. As much as everyone was grateful to have the latest tools of warfare, there still wasn't enough to fully go around and the trucks ferrying men back and forth confirmed that.

The truck made a turn and came to a stop. The gunfire was much louder which meant the fighting had to be close. Machine gun fire occasionally joined the popping of rifles and was a grim reminder of the battles the men had previously fought. Min kicked the back rail down and jumped from the back of the truck and onto the ground. The rest of the squad dismounted and waited for Sgt. Lei to lead them to the battle. Friendly planes were flying by in the sky, in the distance they could see planes coming from the enemy lines.

"Where the hell were those guys when we were fighting the commies?" Min asked loudly.
"Come on, let's get to the front," Sgt. Lei ordered.

The squad followed their leader as they passed the lot of trucks dropping men to join the fighting. Mortar crews were loading and firing their weapons in the direction of the enemy. Lao watched the crew of one of the mortars move away from the barrel just as the tube discharged a large amount of smoke while launching a small black object at great speed into the air.

"Everyone get low," Sgt. Lei told the squad as he arched his back forward to keep his head low.

Bullets were whizzing past their heads while little pieces of dirt were flying from the ground signifying the enemy could hit them. The Sergeant lead the squad to the hastily dug trenches where the rest of the platoon were gathering. The trenches of the Chinese and Japanese stretched farther than the eye could see. Between them was a dark landscape ravaged by artillery. Lieutenant Han Bo-fu greeted Sgt. Lei and called over the other sergeants.

"Fix your bayonets! The enemy position's been shelled by artillery and mortars for the last three hours, all that's left are the ones who made it to cover in time so we're going to rush them with a mass assault. We'll have machine gun and rifle fire as cover so just get across to the enemy trenches and kick those Japs out!" Lt. Han briefed.
"Yes sir!" The sergeants acknowledged.

In the sky, allied planes manoeuvred against the Japanese planes to wrestle control of the skies and provide cover for the infantry on the ground. Lao could count twenty-two planes flying over the battlefield. The Sergeant returned to the squad and briefed them on the mission and pointed where he wanted his men to go. Everyone fixed their bayonets and prepared for their first real taste of hand-to-hand fighting. The battle between positions was still going on for a few more minutes when the Lieutenant blew the whistle.

The men climbed over the top of the trenches and rushed forward while black clouds and the faint yellow glow of machine gun fire surrounded them. The enemy trenches were still being hit by Kuomintang artillery which kept the amount of men shooting at the charging Chinese minimal. Some men took the chance to fire a few shots while the rest charged forward with their bayonets ahead of them. Kuomintang flags were well above the ranks of troops that were rushing to cross the open black field covered in craters.

The resistance was almost minimal as the Kuomintang troops were three quarters of the way to the Japanese line. The casualties were quite limited but enemy machine guns still had the chance to fire at the advance. By the time the allied troops were close to the enemy line, the artillery had stopped hitting the enemy. The first of the men were about to get over the crest of the hill into the trenches when they all suddenly dropped dead and fell backward, some of them ejected pink clouds before falling.

Sgt. Lei knelt down and pulled the pin of a grenade. He threw the grenade over the crest of the hill and rushed forward. More men climbed over the crest and jumped into the trenches or fired their rifles. The squad formed up on the Sergeant who was more than eager to lead his men into the fray. The squad made it over the hill and jumped into the trenches where some men were already struggling with the Japanese. Min fired his rifle at a Jap that was wrestling with a friendly over a rifle.

Pang thrust his bayonet into the side of a Jap who was firing at the open field. He pulled his bayonet out of the screaming man and kicked him to the floor and used the butt of his rifle to push aside a Jap charging at him with his bayonet. The two men wrestled on the ground and the Jap managed to get on top and tried to grab hold of a dropped rifle.

A cloud of pink mist and several chunks appeared at the side of his head, a friendly who was just rushing into the trenches had saved Pang's life. The man jumped to the other side of the trench to advance but was shot in the air and dropped into the trench and landed in a way that most certainly broke his neck.

Lao had lost Shao in the middle of the struggle for the trenches. He made his way through the battle, helping men fighting the enemy or taking shots at those he was confident he could hit. Lao looked up and could see the planes still trying to shoot each other down. The planes with Kuomintang symbols far outnumbered the Japanese, but the enemy had skill and grace in their movements that kept them in the fight. One of the planes started trailing smoke and fire and plummeted to the earth and crashed right into a few charging allies.

Shao was hesitant to move, the trenches were tight and friendly soldiers pushed him down to get past him and engage the enemy. To his right, a Japanese officer cut a man down with his sword and saw Shao who was sitting on the ground. He readied his sword and approached Shao who rolled a bit to the left just as the blade cut into the wooden planks the trenches were reinforced with. Shao screamed and grabbed the hilt of the sword and struggled to keep the officer from pulling it out of the wall.

The officer was yelling at him and stomping him in the chest and belly in hopes of getting him to let go. Shao coughed and let go of the weapon to put his hands on his chest. Another Kuomintang soldier stabbed the officer in the side with his bayonet, the officer swiped quickly at the man, cutting his neck. The friendly dropped to his knees and grabbed at his bleeding neck while spitting blood like a broken fountain. The officer turned to Shao who was still coughing and gasping for air. Before the officer lifted his sword to prepare to finish Shao, a very loud gunshot was heard and the officer flew to the ground from where he stood.

Walking into Shao's view was Min, whose rifle was still smoking from the shot he took. Min knelt down and helped Shao stand and lean against the wall.

"Come on, there's still a lot of Japs out there," Min said.

Sgt. Lei, Cpl. Feng, and Pang could no longer see any live Japs for miles down the trench. Some of the troops advanced forward while others felt that their orders were to only secure the trench. Machine guns and artillery fire resumed and started hitting the trenches.

"Another line of trenches?" Cpl. Feng assumed.
"It's too close to be another line, scouts said the Japs only made one line anyways," Sgt. Lei answered.


Pang looked over the trench and saw what was causing the heavy fire. Hulking beasts of steel were slowly approaching the trenches while laying down heavy fire at anyone not in cover.

"Tanks!" he yelled.

Everyone rushed to get into the trenches and kept their heads down as dirt and bullets were flying everywhere outside. The tanks stopped moving and waited for anyone to pop their heads out. In the sky, one of the planes exploded and plummet to the ground. Sgt. Lei watched and estimated it would land on the tank right in front of them. The plane made impact and the shockwave of the explosions was felt even in the trenches.

Sgt. Lei peaked over the trench wall and saw that the tank was burning and covered in wreckage. Kuomintang solders were rushing at the tanks and taking heavy casualties. Sgt. Lei could see the tanks did not reverse fast enough and the men were able to climb on. Sgt. Lei lead a small group of men to rush at the tank closest to them who was preoccupied with the men in front of it trying to get close. Sgt. Lei jumped onto the tank and helped Cpl. Feng and Pang get on.

The men climbed onto the turret and Pang kept his weapon pointed at the hatch while Sgt. Lei prepped a grenade. Cpl. Feng pulled the hatch open with the help of another soldier and waited for the Sergeant to drop the grenade into the cockpit. Pang took a shot at a crewman he could see try to pick up the grenade. Cpl. Feng and the other soldier quickly pushed the hatch closed and everyone jumped off before the grenade exploded. Sgt. Lei could hear the thousands of ricochets from shrapnel causing chaos in the cockpit of the tank, he could even hear the screaming.

The enemy retreated toward the horizon while still being harassed by rifles and their own abandoned machine guns. Standard-bearers were planting their flags along the trench line in order to announce to everyone that the enemy position now belonged to the Kuomintang. The squad gathered together with the rest of the platoon to do headcounts.

Shao was still shaking and looked as if he could see the islands of Japan from where he was standing. There was a dried blood trail leading from his lips and onto his chin while the rest of his face was covered in dirt with spots that were clean from the sweat washing his brow. Everyone else was also dirty and bloody, although non of it was theirs.

"We've beat the Japs. But we've still got a lot of work ahead of us if we're going to secure the western bank of this river," Sgt. Lei said in a solemn voice.
"It'll be a bloody one by the time one side wins," Cpl. Feng said.
"Bloody or clean, this river will be the Kuomintang's when we're done with it," Min said loudly for the entire platoon to hear.
 

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Chapter 6: Left to its Own Devices
October 11th, 1937
18:43
Nanjing, a dining room
Chiang Kai-shek

As much as the frontline was a place Chiang Kai-shek called home, it was good to be back eating good food in a comfortable chair. He hastily returned from the front when he received a call from his good friend Alexander von Falkenhausen who lead the German military mission to China. It was him and his band of military men that turned the Kuomintang into the army that was holding against the Japanese today. His government had allied with the Japanese and they were withdrawing the German advisors as a sign of goodwill. Chiang was hosting one last dinner with him and his family to bid him farewell.

"We've been good friends for quite some time, Alexander," Chiang said in his heavily accented English.
"It's almost like leaving behind my children, I've seen this army become a modern army." von Falkenhausen replied with accented English of his own.
"We will miss your company," Madame Chiang told von Falkenhausen and his wife.
"And yours too, we will not forget your hospitality," von Falkenhausen's wife, Alise thanked.

The food was delicious, but the thought of friends separating was bitter. With the Germans leaving, only the Soviet volunteers were left assisting the Chinese in their struggle; all other powers left China to its own devices.

"I've shared quite an amount of military intelligence with you, I trust you, but what will happen to it?" Chiang asked.
"You need not worry, I will not reveal any of your plans."
"I thank you for that, Alexander. Good men like you are what China needs to truly shine among the world."

Everyone smiled and laughed, the mood was light despite the subject of the dinner. Everyone continued enjoying their food, today could be the last day they would all get to eat together. By the end of the next day, the German advisors had left the country and returned to Germany.



October 20th, 1937
11:08
Shandong, City of Weihai
83 Bubing Shi

"Guarding a stupid port," Lieutenant Ma Dong complained, "we didn't get to fight the commies and now we're missing out on the Japs!"

Captain Yuan Bao paid him no attention. Lieutenant Ma was an eager soldier, and the Captain used to sympathise with his attitude before his ascension to Captain. Ma's ideas and plans were not entirely wrong, but many times they had conflicted with the synergy of the entire company. It was most likely the grace of something greater that battle had not come to the company and show that the conflicts between him and Ma's platoon could prove fatal.

The Captain also was jealous of the troops on the front, he had a lost a brother during the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and wanted to take the fight to them. But Cpt. Yuan was aware of the importance of guarding the major Chinese ports against any invasion. He worried about the defences of Weihai, almost half of the troops assigned to the city were cavalry which were almost entirely useless in an urban setting.

"Our job is very important! Command knows what they're doing," First Sergeant Tan Liang said.

Cpt. Yuan always hoped for a competent assistant, but command had sent him a man who climbed the ranks through kissing the right asses rather than valour and combat prowess. He used to enjoy Tan's company, but that was before Cpt. Yuan realised he was nothing more than a yesman. Tan was no farmer or beggar, he was a businessman; Cpt. Yuan wondered if all rich people were like Tan. In the eyes of the Captain, Tan could only redeem himself by having skills no other man among them possessed, but the Captain did not see that as likely.

"They really should have brought more infantry here and sent the cavalry to the front," Lieutenant Zhai Yong said.

Lieutenant Zhai was a man of the people. When he wasn't meeting with the Captain, he spent all his time with his platoon. He ate with them, he slept in the same tents as them, and was not shy of being at the front with the privates. Lt. Zhai was also a competent man, he often shared the same thoughts with Cpt. Yuan on situations; Zhai was a godsend to Cpt. Yuan's staff.

"I still can't believe they ordered an offensive, I thought they were planning to hold the Japanese in the north," Lieutenant Jiang Zu said.

Lieutenant Jiang was ranked second among Cpt. Yuan's favourite Lieutenants but that did not say much since he only had three. His observations concluded that Jiang was a very passive man in conversation, always waiting for the conversation to start and never picking the topic himself. The Captain was worried that this passiveness would also translate to battle if it ever came.

The buildings by the beach had been evacuated of civilians and were converted to makeshift pillboxes that formed a secondary defensive line to the actual coastal fortifications. Cpt. Yuan's company was not on coastal duty, the officers were all sitting at a plaza which also served as a company headquarters. They were watching the beach while their men were smoking and playing cards. Since the beginning of the war with Japan, they had not made a move against Weihai or any other port along the coast. Many soldiers criticised the policy of guarding the ports when there was a massive army of Japs slowly being pushed back in the north.

"As much as I want to be on the front, I do enjoy the peace and calm of a beach," Cpt. Yuan said to his officers.
"I do too, sir. Hopefully the Japanese do not attack us," 1SG. Tan agreed.
"I'm tired of exercising, I want an actual battle," Lt. Ma whined.
"How much would you want battle when you take a bullet to the head," Lt. Zhai said.
"Screw off, I'm bored of this," Lt. Ma said angrily.
"Get along you two, last thing we need is a three-way battle," Cpt. Yuan joked.


The officers laughed while Lt. Ma was still bitter. The Captain looked at his watch and noticed it was almost 11:30.

"It's almost 11:30," Cpt. Yuan said, "gather your men and take up your posts on the coast."

The Lieutenants went off to gather their platoons while the Captain and First Sergeant stayed at the headquarters. 1SG. Tan was the only person he knew at the headquarters, he soon realised he would be alone with him until the next hour when the next company took over the position his company had taken.

"Hold the fort, I'm going to the beach to check if the company's taken their positions," Cpt. Yuan ordered Tan.
"Yes sir!" Tan yelled and saluted.

He approached the line of trenches and bunkers along the beach and saw Lt. Zhai ordering the privates by name to certain spots in the line. The troops seemed to not take the orders seriously, but they moved to where their officer wanted them out of their respect for him.

Lt. Zhai turned around and saw the Captain and saluted. "Sir!"
"At ease, just wanted to get away from Tan," Cpt. Yuan joked.

The two men chuckled and looked down at the beach where tank traps were placed as far as the Captain could see either way with footprints blanketing the sand.

"Sir! You need to see this!" a man in the nearby bunker yelled.

The Captain and Lieutenant rushed into the bunker and Cpt. Yuan snatched a pair of binoculars out of a soldier's hands to look at the sea. In the distance he could see a large fleet of ships. He followed the outline of the bridge of a ship and saw the rising sun flying prominently on the pole. Cpt. Yuan handed the binoculars to Lt. Zhai and grabbed the landline inside the bunker.

"Tan, we've got lots of Jap ships off the coast," Cpt. Yuan said into the phone.
"Yeah, calls are coming in from command telling us to get ready, they're calling for reinforcements to help us," Tan responded.
"The ships are firing!" Lt. Zhai yelled.

Cpt. Yuan slammed the phone into its receiver and ducked down with everyone else in the bunker. The whistling of the shells could be heard for a few seconds before the ear-shattering sounds of impact were heard while the ground shook.

"Looks like Ma got his wish," Cpt. Yuan joked.

Lt. Zhai did not laugh and rushed outside to his men when the impacts stopped. Cpt. Yuan grabbed the binoculars Zhai had dropped on the floor and looked out to sea again. Japanese planes and landing craft seemed to come out of nowhere and were approaching the coast, spreading out to show their numbers. The warships continued their bombardment of the coast, trying to soften the defences of the Kuomintang defenders.



Another impact of shells forced Cpt. Yuan to the ground. He could hear the allied bunker guns firing back at the enemy transports and warships. The guns were not enough to stop the enemy landing, the transports were just too many and the transports that were sunk were replaced by another ten. The small squadron of planes were getting near and the anti-aircraft guns on the beach began to shoot at the planes. The machine guns in the bunkers and trenches opened fire on the transports and attempted to wipe out the enemies on their open-top craft.

On the other side of the company's assigned area, Lt. Ma was checking his rifle one last time. It was finally here, battle, what he was waiting for after all these years of sitting at a port. He was berating those that shook with fear and others that did not come from cover after the impact of naval artillery. The transports were close, they were almost at the tank traps placed in the shallow water. One of the transports that was about to open was hit by one of the shore guns and exploded. The transport slung forward and launched a Jap into the air and landed some distance beyond the shallows.

Ma kept his eye on one of the transports and aimed a rifle he picked up at the door, waiting for the it to open. The door fell to the ground and the Japanese soldiers pushed to get into the water. Machine guns and rifles made short work of the men still in the funnel of death while those that escaped tried to trudge through the rough water. After finishing the last of them, Ma looked up, seeing that the enemy planes were either being shot down or retreating.

Lt. Jiang looked behind him and saw the makeshift pillboxes set up in windows of the buildings behind them began shooting heavy fire at the beach. His men fired at the Japs trying to advance up the beach and he tried to personally direct their fire. The men seemed to wait for their sergeants to order them instead of the Lieutenant. Another barrage of artillery landed on the Chinese positions and one of the buildings along the beach collapsed into a pile of rubble.

Cpt. Yuan was still at Lt. Zhai's side who was firing his pistol at the enemies that were close. The Captain also had his pistol drawn and peaked over the trench wall to see how close the Japs were. They were slowly advancing up the beach despite the heavy amount of resistance the Chinese were putting up. Another shell landed and smashed right into the bunker that he and the Lieutenant were standing in not too long ago.

"What do you think the cavalry are doing?" Cpt. Yuan asked Lt. Zhai.
"I don't know!" he yelled. "They could get off their damn horses and help!"

Behind a wall of open transports were more transports landing. The men inside them had not yet appeared and the Captain wondered where they could be. The amount of landing craft still in the water and heading for the beach was thinning, it seemed that this was only a first wave.

Suddenly, the men hiding behind the wall of transports charged forward with their officers ahead of them and rushed for the trenches and bunkers along the seawall. The officers had swords while their soldiers had bayonets.

"Some of you! Fix bayonets!" Lt. Zhai ordered.

Cpt. Yuan fired his pistol at the incoming crowd and downed an officer, one of his soldiers behind him stepped on the blade and cut his foot. The machine guns continued to cut down the crowd and a few managed to jump into the trench. Lt. Zhai loaded a new magazine into his pistol and shot a Jap charging at him. Cpt. Yuan emptied his magazine at approaching enemies and picked up a dropped rifle with a bayonet to hold back the Japanese assault.

The Captain wielded the rifle like a spear and stood with the others who were forming a wall of blades that kept the enemy back while they fired their guns. Japanese officers were blowing whistles and enemies on the beach were now shifting their focus to the left of the defenders. The Captain tried to get a better look but a bunker was blocking the way, he could only see the Japanese were shooting at something down the beach while trying to take cover from the coastal defences.

Coming into view were hundreds of cavalrymen riding down the beach. Some of them were shooting the enemy from horseback while the majority used their sabres to run down the enemies on the beach. The artillery fire from the ships began hitting the cavalry, hoping to protect their troops. Horses were crashing into each other, others impaled themselves on the tank traps, and many were shot or stabbed to death by the Japanese.

The men in the trenches let out a great cheer and did what they could to cover the cavalry as they ran down the enemies on the beach. Japanese troops fled to the right, hoping to escape the cavalry but were gunned down by allied troops. After a few more minutes of mopping up, the landing had failed and the constant heavy bombardment resumed. The cavalry scattered to avoid the naval bombardment.

"We held our ground!" Lt. Zhai cheered.
The Captain looked out to sea again. "That was only the first wave, here comes the next."

The two men ducked deep into the trench when the whistling of a shell was close.
 

volksmarschall

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Nationalist China has always been one of my favorite HoI nations to play as. Like the style so far. Continue the good work.

Cheers!
 

EmpireofOne

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Nationalist China has always been one of my favorite HoI nations to play as. Like the style so far. Continue the good work.

Cheers!
Glad to see people are enjoying the AAR and are especially fond of Nationalist China. Chapter 7 is being written immediately after this is posted so stay tuned for it later today.
 

Fullbordad

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Great read, got me interested in trying out china too :)
 

EmpireofOne

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Chapter 7: The Red Offensive
October 26th, 1937
6:32
Shandong, City of Weihai
83 Bubing Shi

Six days of fighting, six days. The Japanese were just too much, their forces had overwhelmed the defences at the beach and now desperate fighting took place within the tight streets and suffocating buildings. Cpt.Yuan's company had taken heavy casualties and the panic and retreat had left many poor men behind to suffer the wrath of the Japanese.

First Sergeant Tan had not left the Captain's side since the second day of battle. As comforting as it was to never have to fear being alone, out of all the men to accompany him, it had to be Tan. Lt. Jiang's platoon was not that far from the Captain's position ahead of the fallback. On the flanks a bit further away were Zhai and Ma's platoons who were ensuring that the Japanese could not overtake the company. A squad of soldiers was running in the direction of the outskirts when Cpt. Yuan stopped them.

"Who are you with?!" Cpt. Yuan asked loudly while artillery shells landed around the area.
"Lieutenant Chang!" the Sergeant of the squad answered.
"What happened to 3rd Company?" Cpt. Yuan asked in a worried tone.
"Overrun at the beach, sir, I wouldn't be surprised if we were all that's left."
"Cowards! You didn't stay to fight!" Tan yelled.
"Quiet! You men are with our company for now!" the Captain ordered.

A small group of Kuomintang emerged from the rubble of a nearby building and came onto the street.

"They're right behind us! They're right behind u-ugh!" one of them yelled before getting killed by gunfire coming from the hole they came from.
"Find some cover and watch that hole!" The Captain ordered the men.

The men found what cover they could and aimed their rifles at where the enemies would be coming from. Japs stormed out of the hole and onto the open street where the Chinese made quick work of them before they could find cover. In the distance, Lt. Jiang was falling back to the Captain's position with what remained of his platoon not far behind him. Some of the men were looking back and around a street corner while taking shots at their pursuers.

"There's too many of them," Jiang said, "we had to fall back!"
"Did you send runners to warn Zhai and Ma you were retreating?" Cpt. Yuan asked.
"I-I didn't," Lt. Jiang meekly said.
"Damn it, Jiang! I'm heading back to battalion headquarters' new position, if Zhai and Ma don't make it, it'll be on your head."
"What are you waiting for! Do as the Captain said!" Tan yelled angrily.
"That's enough out of you!" the Captain yelled.

Lt. Jiang organised his men while sending runners in the direction of Zhai and Ma's platoons. The Captain and First Sergeant ran to where the battalion headquarters was moved to. The Lieutenant-Colonel Chau Tong was sitting with a man with a Lieutenant's hat that had his head down on the table that had been hastily set up.

"Captain Yuan!" LtCol. Chau greeted.
"Lieutenant Chang?" Cpt. Yuan said to the man whose head was down.
The man lifted his head up. "I left them all to die."
"I found a small squad of your men while I was retreating," Cpt. Yuan reassured.
"Pay him no mind, I've reported what he's done to command; he's accepted his fate," The Lieutenant-Colonel said.
"We're losing ground, what do we do?" Cpt. Yuan asked.
"If the reinforcements don't arrive soon, we'll be overrun and a whole new frontline will be open in Shandong."
"Sir!" an assistant called, holding up the phone.

The Lieutenant-Colonel answered the phone and nodded his head along. His whole demeanour changed and his voice had become happy.

"The reinforcements are here! Two infantry divisions and a cavalry unit!" LtCol. Chau reported.


The fresh reinforcements stormed into the ruined city and slowly pushed the enemy who were tired and exhausted of fighting back to the shore where they tried to evacuate back to the safety of their fleet. Within hours of arriving, the Japanese had been thrown out of the city of Weihai and one of China's major ports was safely in Kuomintang hands.



November 13th, 1937
16:52
Beijing, the frontline on the western bank of the Hai River
14 Lujun Shi

The offensive against the Japanese had stalled after bloody fighting for control of the west bank. The Japanese had sent many divisions to maintain their foothold across the river and ensure the Chinese could not gain another inch of territory. The 14 Lujun Shi had taken a great amount of casualties along with the other divisions involved in the West Bank Offensive. All that remained of the Kuomintang's momentum were the Soviet volunteers that finally arrived who were tasked with harassing the Japanese.



The units of the division were in a pitiful state. The morale of the division was low as everyone had lost someone in the offensive. The many brigades involved in the offensive often rotated to ensure fresh troops were always in the fighting. It must have been fate for Sgt. Lei's unit to have not been involved in the last few days of fighting where the sudden increase in casualties seemed to come from.

Sgt. Lei was returning from the mess when he passed by the field hospital where Soviet soldiers were being treated for their wounds. He could see the surgeons and medics were struggling to figure out what they needed to do as their patients only spoke Russian; only a few of the officers of the volunteers who were still at the front knew the language. Some of the Russians who were well sat outside with their heads down or leaning against the wooden pillars of the hospital.

It was not only the Russian soldiers that looked down, many of Sgt.Lei's own people were also in poor shape after the disastrous campaign to secure the river. Many of the men were staying in their tents and sleeping while others were refusing to listen to their officers who failed to bring them victory. Sgt. Lei returned to his squad's tent where Pang and Min were playing cards.

"This is a stupid game," Min said.
"You're just mad the cards you got dealt were bad," Pang replied.
"What are you two playing?" Sgt. Lei asked.
"A game we learned from some other men, two players play their top card and the player with the higher card takes the loser's. We keep playing until someone runs out of cards," Pang explained.
"Almost like war, we keep fighting until one side retreats," Sgt. Lei joked.
"Except this card game is boring," Min said.
"War's exciting for you?" Pang asked.
"It's not boring like this damn game."
"Calm down you two, where's the rest of the squad?" Sgt. Lei asked.

The two men pointed in the tent where Sgt. Lei could see Cpl. Feng reading a book. Shao was sitting on his cot while Lao was sleeping.

"What are you reading?" Sgt. Lei asked.
"Sun Tzu's Art of War, you know, this camp's not really in the best position in case of an attack," Cpl. Feng replied.
"I wonder how different that book would be if he knew about all the things we're fighting with today," Sgt. Lei said.
"It wouldn't be different," Cpl. Feng said.
"It would."
"What makes you say that?"
"Radios, guns, tanks, planes, trench warfare, need I say more?" Sgt. Lei replied.

Both men smiled. The camp was very quiet aside from the sounds of passing trucks and scout planes heading to and arriving from the front. Pang called the Sergeant outside where a messenger relayed a message from command. The Sergeant called the squad to gather around and waited for them all to be ready to listen to what command had in store.

"What is it, sir?" Cpl. Feng asked.
"The communists and Russians are launching a new offensive, we will be joining them to finally secure the western bank," the Sergeant answered.



"After all the casualties we took?" Pang asked.
"Our unit wasn't part of the last few days, so we can't exactly complain about losses. We've been rotated to join the fighting," Sgt. Lei said.
"It's about time, I'm tired of waiting around doing nothing with the Japs still threatening our homes," Min said.
"What makes this different from the last few days?" Lao asked with concern.
"Hopefully the Japs focus on the commies and Russians; it'd make things a lot easier for us once the war with Japan is over," Sgt. Lei replied.

The men all agreed. The Sergeant ordered the squad to check their equipment and make sure it was ready for the march tomorrow to the frontline. Everyone in the camp began calling this new renewed assault the "Red Offensive" which people interpreted as either about the commies or the fact that it was most likely going to be bloody. Whatever interpretation the men had, the new rotated units were rested and ready to fight on the front once more, hopefully with much better results.
 

EmpireofOne

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Chapter 8: White Lotus
December 28th, 1937
10:24
Jehol, west of the Luan River
14 Lujun Shi

It was hard to trudge through the snow. Sgt. Lei had urged the men to walk slowly to avoid making too much noise while walking in the snow. His squad had been tasked with scouting a nearby forest for enemies and secure a flanking route for his company in preparation of a new string of attacks to secure the Luan River. The trees were leafless and the cold winter breeze blew through the forest without much obstruction.

After months of fighting, the cities of Beijing and Tianjin were comfortably safe behind Kuomintang lines. The cost to bring safety to the people of these cities was great, a staggering 300,000 had been lost since the war had begun months ago.



Sgt. Lei was wondering about the new soldier in his squad. His name was Chang Yi and from what he heard about him, he had fought on another front when he did something that forced him back to the rank of private. Lieutenant Han had warned the Sergeant not to dig too much into his past which only spurred his curiosity even more.

"I heard a commie sniper was active in this area," Pang said.
"He knows we're in the area, just keep an eye out for the Japs," Sgt. Lei reassured.

The squad was also wondering about their new squad mate's past. Min had tried to dig out the truth but Private Chang was very defensive. Cpl. Feng had tried to take a more calm approach, but even that could not figure anything out. Lao, Shao, and Pang did not really care about the mysterious private as long as he didn't kill them all in their sleep. A squad spotted a hand in the snow with small amounts of red snow ahead of them.

"Pang, go take a look," Sgt. Lei ordered.
"Yes, sir," Pang acknowledged.

Pang had his rifle ready and walked slowly to the hand. The squad spread out and watched the area around them to keep Pang covered. In the hand of the dead man was a white lotus made from paper; it was not folded in the way the Japanese would have done it. Pang used his hand to wipe away the snow and could identify the uniform as Japanese.

"Who is it?" Cpl. Feng asked.
"It's a Jap," Pang answered.


The squad gathered around the corpse in the snow. The man was just a private, a regular soldier and not someone important.

"How do you think he died?" Lao asked.
"Hopefully something long and painful," Min said.
"What do you think the paper lotus is supposed to mean?" Pang wondered.
"It looks like someone put it in his hand," Cpl. Feng said.
"Do you think they know he's gone?" Sgt. Lei asked.
"Nobody will care that this one's gone," Private Chang said.

A gunshot was heard in the distance. It sounded like a sniper rifle and then it was followed by several shots and men shouting in Japanese.

"That's north of us, let's go," Sgt. Lei ordered.

The squad moved forward behind their Sergeant and stuck to the trees to avoid being seen by whatever they were approaching. Gunshots and yelling Japs could still be heard except the amount of time between the shots had grown. The Japs were in view and the men stuck to the ground or hid behind trees while peaking around them.

The Japanese were a relatively big group, there were twenty soldiers still standing while there were around ten men lifeless on the ground. Pang watched a Jap hit the floor after the loud bang of a gunshot. He looked at the area where the shot came from but could not find the shooter. The Japanese squad slowly advanced and fired their weapons in the direction of the shot while the shooter seemed to stop.

"Sniper's finding a new place to fire from, he's good," Pang said.
"How do you know this?" Sgt. Lei asked.
"Used to be a hunter, although you don't move around this much when hunting an animal," Pang answered.

Another shot was fired and another Jap went down.


"You think there are multiple snipers?" Cpl. Feng asked.
"No, he moved from somewhere here to there, you can tell by how the Japs are getting hit," Pang answered while pointing at the respective points.
"They're heading toward us," Chang said.
"Stay in cover and prepare to engage, the sniper's helping us, but we're still outnumbered," Sgt. Lei ordered.

The men stayed on the ground or behind the trees they were hiding behind. The Japanese were getting closer with every shot that passed. Pang was ready with his rifle, aiming it at the one who was closest to the squad. Another enemy hit the floor after another shot. The Japanese were in a panic and emptied their rifles at the new direction of the shot.

"Fire!" Sgt. Lei ordered.

The entire squad fired at the enemy who were in cover against the sniper and were therefore exposed to the squad's fire. Many of the Japs went down in the initial barrage and they tried to find cover against both the sniper and squad. Some of the enemy dropped their weapons and ran into the forest while the remaining few started a cover and retreat manoeuvre. The sniper fire started to sound distant and none of the resisting Japs were falling to sniper fire.

"Sniper's stopped shooting at these ones!" Pang yelled.
"We don't need him!" Min yelled.

Lao fired another shot at one of the Japs, the bullet lodged itself into the tree the enemy was taking cover behind. Shao was not shooting and sat in a fetal-like position with his rifle held upright with his knees. Lao hid behind his tree as two bullets whizzed by. Two Japs were advancing on Lao, one advanced while the other fired which did not allow Lao to fire back.

"Shao! Help me!" Lao cried.

Shao looked away from Lao and scooted slightly to keep out of the advancing Jap's view. Lao fired his rifle blindly and almost got hit; he felt the small shards of bark rain on his hand. Chang quickly came from the left and fired at the two advancing enemies while they were focusing on Lao. The two men took cover and fired at Chang who had fled behind a tree. Lao turned and fired from the other side of his cover and shot an exposed Jap in the leg.

The other one had fled back to the remnants of his squad but was shot in the thigh before he could reach them. Sgt. Lei and Min moved aggressively and slowly flanked the remaining enemies. The Japs stopped firing and threw their weapons into the open. Sgt. Lei ordered the squad to stop shooting and they slowly approached the enemy who had surrendered. The Japs came out into view and kept their hands up while one of them held a piece of white cloth.

Chang fired his rifle at the Japs who screamed and ducked for cover. Cpl. Feng tackled Chang who was still shooting, Pang and Min helped Cpl. Feng restrain the man.

"Chang! Stop! We're not supposed to shoot prisoners!" Cpl. Feng yelled.

He struggled but did not say a single word. Sgt. Lei, Lao, and Shao kept their eyes on the remaining two Japs that were unhurt. The other three that were shot were slowly bleeding out on the ground. Cpl. Feng managed to wrestle the rifle out of Chang's hands and threw it away. The squad had seen Chang fight, but this was his first encounter with prisoners.

An allied squad arrived who claimed to have heard the gunfire. They took the prisoners while Sgt. Lei's squad stayed at the site of the battle. They went in the direction of the men that fled and found their bodies laying at various distances as if the sniper simply shot them in the backs as they fled. Each of them had their fists closed and the men opened them and found crumpled paper lotuses in the hand of each soldier.

"White lotuses, is this supposed to be some kind of mark?" Sgt. Lei asked.
"Could be a way to scare the Japs," Pang said.
"It's scaring me," Lao joked.
"If only this 'white lotus' wasn't a commie," Min said.


The squad continued their mission and allowed their company to move through the forest which helped open the new offensive to secure the Luan River.



Sgt. Lei reported the incident with Chang to his Lieutenant who had the man detained for a few weeks. The Sergeant expected a much harsher punishment and was uncertain about his thoughts on Chang returning to the squad after his punishment. Whatever he thought, this incident could help him and his squad figure out Chang's mysterious past.



 
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