The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

When Clio Dances (Version 1.1)Volume 1 – By Adam Santoso

Prologue

Peru, 10 45 Hours, 18 December 1975

When an alliance of Acción Popular and Integralist guerillas overthrew the American-friendly Peruvian government in 1972, the Third Reich had sent in two Fallschirmjager divisions to ensure that there was ‘peace and stability’ in the country. US President Ronald Reagan had warned them – twice – not to interfere in political matters within the Americas, but the Fuhrer had been very insistent: Remove all your nukes from the Middle East, and we would withdraw from South America. Three years later, and it was still the same.

Instead, even with Nazi-backing, the ARPA guerilla forces had given the government grief from time to time since that year. The obliteration of a military convoy headed out of Callao, the assassination of a few Ejército del Perú officers in Piura… this was all just the tip of the iceberg when it came to Bloody Saturday. Two months ago, ARPA insurgents launched an all-out attack across the country. In the midst of the rebellious bloodletting, a pair of Luftwaffe liaison officers was gunned down while strolling along the San Francisco de Asís Church in Lima.

It gave the Third Reich a reason to vent its military might against a third-world nation in the Americas. This was what Admiral Hans Konigsberg and his fleet of sixteen Kriegsmarine warships were going to do. Sitting just sixteen miles off the Peruvian coast, the battlegroup included two SSBNs fully loaded with nukes and the Reich’s latest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Hermann Goering. It was ironic really, given that the name of a Kriegsmarine ship would bear the Luftwaffe’s most famous commander-in chief. The admiral’s grimacing features lightened as he glanced out of the bridge windows. This aircraft carrier was the sign that close cooperation between the two armed services was not out of the question.

The battlegroup consisted of five missile destroyers, four frigates, three landing crafts, two U-Boats and the fleet’s supply ship. That was not counting the Hermann Goering herself. Gazing at one of the He 395s preparing for catapult launch, he silently wondered if there would be war with the United States. In recent weeks, the Americans had moved a large concentration of aircraft and armored vehicles down into Mexico, if the Abwehr intelligence reports were accurate. Deep down inside him, he knew that war with the Amis was something to be avoided, not relished. Their carrier battlegroups were superior to the Kriegsmarine’s recently-adopted concept of Surface Action Battlegroups, and their nuclear arsenal was supposedly beyond belief. Up till now, nobody knew why they had not simply blasted the Third Reich to Stone Age rubble early in the ’50s and ’60s when Germany was still playing catch-up with atomics. The admiral waved his thoughts away as the ship’s captain approached him.

“A beautiful craft eh, Herr Konigsberg?” Kapitan zur See Joachim Scholer asked beside him. “The latest out of Gotha Works and it’s a vast improvement from the original Lippsich P11s.”

“Ja. How’s your family by the way?”

The Hermann Goering‘s captain just smiled. “They’re fine, having just settled in a little farm in Ukraine Ostland just two weeks ago. Contrary to what Signal reports, Madchen wrote in her recent letter.”

There were still Russian guerillas running loose in the wilds of the Ostland woods and steppes, constantly staging barbaric assaults against the German settlers and armed forces there. At least that was what Signal had reported, but one can never be too sure. The recent death count was one German and three hundred guerillas, which Admiral Konigsberg knew was bollocks. He had spoken to countless friends -Wehrmacht men – who were stationed there and their stories didn’t match what the newspapers were saying.

Nevertheless, he was smart enough to know that the regime he served did not tolerate any ‘rebellious’ questions by its servants.

“Good to hear that, Scholer,” he said.

The roar of twin Jumo 069S turbojets signaled the launch of a He 395 as the catapult pushed it out of the flight deck and allowed the engines to take care of the rest. Patrolling the battlegroup, the admiral thought. Would it be sufficient to deter a missile attack?

Queensland, 07 45 Hours, 18 December 2017

“- And it looks like the final winner for the fourteenth season of the Australian Idol is the same one who won the first: Guy Sebastian. In other international news, longtime rap singer and multi-millionaire Marshall Bruce Mathers, popularly known as Eminem, was arrested for harassing Michael Jackson in -”

Holding a hot cup of Starbucks black coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other, John Birmingham – Birmo, for short – enjoyed the splendorous view of a smog-ridden sunrise hanging beyond Moreton Bay. Maybe a decade back, it would’ve been much cleaner and visible but the fifty-three year old author wasn’t about to complain anytime soon. It was still safe to breathe in the air hereabouts, unlike in certain areas in the northern hemisphere.

” – the Indonesian Civil War still rages on, with most of the fighting situated in East Timor between government forces and the Militarist-Jihadi rebel alliance. The US/Australian build-up in Northern Australia and Christmas Island goes unabated, except for one or two fruitless attempts at suicide bombings by Islamic terrorists. Prime Minister Stanhope had stated in an earlier press conference last Saturday that a likely date for Coalition forces to plunge into the Indonesian Archipelago would be sometime between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. Hopes are high that this operation would be much more successful than the Iranian fiasco -”

The Toyota’s battery meter beeped incessantly, which was quickly shut off when Birmingham placed his coffee on the adjacent seat and clicked the thing off. It signaled the solar recharge was one hundred percent complete, and he would have the alternative fuel to go all the way to Townsville. It was a tedious thing that wasn’t to his liking but the Military Centre there told him that if he wanted to do research for his next book, he had to come either today or never. The massive influx of US forces had steadily increased over the past two weeks; soldiers wearing BDUs were increasingly common in the streets of Brisbane these days; there were even the rare occasions of spotting a trooper sporting a FW combat suit, though those were usually near areas of military importance. Since that it was reported the ‘Indonesian Offensive’ would occur sometime next week, it made sense that the Military Centre was going to close down to all visitors in preparation for the Big Thing.

Sipping in the last drop of black coffee, he tossed the plastic cup out of his car and drove off, heading down National Highway One and keeping it straight on the road. He passed Gympie, then Gladstone and before he knew it, his Toyota was passing by the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area in Rockhampton. Columns of Humvees, Stryker IFVs and Bradleys filled the city’s roads, churning dust and smoke as they rumbled across the asphalt terrain. Birmingham even fancied one or two M1A3 Abram tanks, the latest variant of the chobham-armored fighting machine. In next to no time, he was out of the city and traveling along the highway route.

Once or twice, he discovered that the road was pocketed with Humvees and their cheerful American occupants; one guy was even kind enough to point his middle finger at Birmo, to whom he did the same.

The sun was setting in the smog-ridden sky by the time he arrived at the gates of the Townsville Joint Military Centre. A goggles-wearing guard handling an AICW approached his vehicle and asked for his identification pass, which Birmingham promptly showed off with a smile on his face. With a nod, the guard signaled for the gates to be opened and Birmo followed in with his car.

Phew, he thought. That was easy.

Christmas Island, 10 00 Hours, 18 December 2017

When dawn had come over Christmas Island, Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong was still snoring away in his bed bunk. The tropical smell of the day, the chattering of Red-footed Bobbies in the beaches and the roaring din of Lieutenant Christopher Roach calling him to get out of the fucking bed and move your arse at once helped him tore through the veil of sleepiness and roll back into the world of the living to get ready for his company’s daily physical training routine.

Physical training was a bitch, so to speak. For one straight hour, he and the company he served in had to run around the local deserted settlement five times non-stop, followed by another thirty minutes of non-stop pushup and sit-up sequences. The next thirty minutes was spent on running through the dense National Park and back twice.

“Fucking hell, Sir,” PFC Abbey Paterson muttered as he bent his shoulders and puffed like a sweaty dog. “That was tough.”

The lieutenant just shrugged. “Not as tough as that time we had to do PT in a swamp full of crocs with those NORFORCE folks. That was even tougher, so don’t try complaining.”

The private just shut up, and the lieutenant realized his mistake. This guy was one of those fucking newbies; the batch of reserve volunteers recently arrived from Darwin. Still, if a guy like him wants a place under the sun in this regiment, he’ll have to toughen up. They were now having The Break, the period where they could all have breakfast and lounge around like nobody’s business. So Clint went into the base’s canteen, grabbed some eggs and toast and an orange juice to go, and sat down on his mates’ table. Soccer was the main topic of the day, until one guy broke in and asked whether they were really going to invade Indonesia or not. Lieutenant Roach allayed his ‘fears’ by giving him a prep speech littered with vulgarities.

“Of course we fucking are,” he said. “Whaddya fucking thinky we’re all doing here, in the middle of fucking nowhere. Crushing land-crabs and barbecuing them? Or watching those fucking seabirds flying around the fucking coasts in a sight-seeing tour?”

That guy was too shame-faced to do anything except mumble an ‘uh, ok’; the other fellows in the mess hall snickered. Staff Sergeant Wong immediately recognized that it was that same private from before. Still, he had to finish his breakfast before he would do anything to help that poor newbie. Just moment before he chewed his last piece of toast, Clint glanced at where the private was sitting and found it empty.

Looks like this will have to wait, he thought as the deafening roar of a patrolling Raptor filled the air.

SS Berliner, 10 55 Hours, 18 December 1975

What no one but Admiral Hans Konigsberg knew was the reason for a civilian ship tagging along with the fleet. Outside of the Third Reich’s armed services, nobody had known that there even was a civilian ship in the midst of all those warships. It was one of the best kept secrets of the Reich, next to the Final Solution and the Atombombe.

Weighing twenty-four thousand and six hundred tons, the SS Berliner – by all accounts – looked like any other sea-going passenger liners of the early Twentieth Century. Without the helo pad near to its stern, one might mistake it to be a replica of the late SS Kronprinz Wilhelm. Alas, said ship was scrapped in 1923 by an American company. In the late ’60s, AG Vulcan – the company which constructed the Kronprinz Wilhelm – was ordered by the Schutzstaffel to construct a similar ship for state purposes. The furtive reason was simple: a certain Dr. von Braun had developed a revolutionary machine that needed proper testing, but the only place he was certain it would succeed would be if it was carried out at sea. The machine was fitted next to the ship’s engine room, where it was tended by a group of scientists and engineers.

Now, that Dr. von Braun was overseeing a squad of Fallschirmjager troopers lifting a medium-sized crate out of a FW 466 transport helicopter. Symbols in Latin were stamped all over the crate, but they either meant ‘DO NOT TOUCH’ or ‘FRAGILE OBJECT; HANDLE WITH CARE’. It was senseless but with the amount of fools these days, one had to ensure caution to be certain. The leader of the paratroopers approached the doctor with his assault rifle slung back.

“The package as you wanted, Herr Braun,” he said. “Straight from our Integralist friends in Cusco.”

Dr. von Braun took a step close and stroked its wooden exterior, before he slowly opened the lid and unveiled an Incan idol not seen since the age of Cortez and Montezuma. The statuette shimmered an ethereal hue, giving it a mystical feel that ran von Braun’s imagination wild. He was certain that it belonged to a civilization that existed even before the first Egyptian pyramids were built. The Voynich Manuscript had spoke of its existence, and the Pries Kris map had confirmed its location.

Soon, he thought. Soon, only the Third Reich would be fit to rule this worldWith this thing and my Ragnarok Device, how could she fail?

He glanced back at the paratrooper with gleaming fervor. “Take this to the engine room below deck,” he ordered. “Make sure that the crate does not drop, or else the Reichsfuhrer would have all your heads for it. The future of the Reich depends on this piece of rock, gentlemen. Make sure you do not fail.”

“We won’t fuck it up, Herr Braun,” the paratroop commander wolfishly promised.

***

“Fusion, my boy, fusion. It is the wave of the future.”

The dank, dimly-lit room known hereabouts as Engine Room 02 was packed with half-a-dozen engineers and scientists, plus three Fallschirmjager guards. They surrounded a pair of transparent canisters attached on the top of a box-like mechanism that screamed computing machine. The whole thing was powered by a plutonium-derived thermoelectric generator, which was also the main source of power for the entire ship. In many ways, this ship was the culmination of every science the Third Reich had to offer and von Braun knew it. It made his chest swell with pride every time he thought about it.

The Incan idol was placed in one of the canisters; the other contained a greenish rock with a little white-paper label denoting ‘T-268’. At first glance, one might be led to think that the both of them were unrelated. Dr. von Braun knew how false it was, since both were of the same materials. The T-268 was an unknown type of uranium supposedly capable of powering whole continents for decades without end. There were only two places on Earth where such a material exists: deep in the Peruvian interior and the Ural Mountains. The former was the one of two reasons why the experiment was being carried out here, alongside a surface action battlegroup. The other – the doctor had argued – was that if and should the experiment fail, at least it won’t be in the vicinity of the Fatherland. Thus, whatever terrible effects it produced would be spread towards other non-Reich territories.

A young scientist wearing thick goggles was holding sway the monitor console, who von Braun was commenting to.

“Power generation at twenty-five percent, Herr Braun,” he announced. “If this keeps up, we’ll be able to attain zero point two efficiency within four minutes.”

“Good work, Schultz. What about changing the efficiency to 0.1? That would take about four more minutes, ja? Since there isn’t a rush for anything, I’d say we give it a try.”

Schultz the young scientist nodded reluctantly. “But Herr Braun, we never tried doing it at zero point one efficiency because -”

“Because we did not have a relevant, sufficient power source as these two,” Dr. von Braun calmly interjected. “The last time we tried it, we were forced to use zero point two efficiency for the simple reason that we possessed only one T-268 mineral. Now we have two, and I strongly believe that we can take it further with zero point one. How many minutes will it take?”

“Approximately eight more minutes, Herr Braun. Bringing up to zero point one efficiency now.”

“Humph,” he snorted in bemusement. “I thought it would take less than five minutes. Very well then, Schultz. We all could wait for the clock to tick another eight minutes. Where’s the fire, eh?”

The few men surrounding them chortled a bit. Even the stern-faced guards gave the hint of wry smiles, though they were sporadic enough to change back to their usual stony selves. The young scientist queasily smiled, partly it was to show that he agreed with them all and partly it was because he knew something bad was going to happen soon.

The Ragnarok Device was simply a masterpiece that even the production-efficient Americans could never dream of constructing. They may be the first inventors of the atomic bomb, but they still lagged in many areas of science which the Reich excelled in. This was one of those areas.

Four minutes passed as the machine glowed a slight azure hue. It was so insignificant that there were only hints of it, easily detectable with a pair of night-vision goggles. Dr. von Braun fidgeted his hands with a ball-point pen taken from his coat pocket. Another three more minutes passed by before the glow became physically visible to the unshielded human eyes. The whole room was slowly vibrating violently, like the epicenter of a preliminary earthquake.

“Herr Braun, if we keep this up, the whole thing might just blow up,” warned Schultz the young scientist. “The readings are going off-scale… simply impossible for such a thing.”

“No,” Dr. von Braun’s words dashed any hopes of sanity Schultz might have hoped for. “We will continue with the test at zero point one efficiency. Failure, my boy, is not an option.”

Schultz was getting very worried, but if he tried to do something stupid, the Fallschirmjager guards were likely to gun him down without hesitation. They were under von Braun’s command, and had strict orders to shoot anyone attempting to interfere with the trial run. The way he understood it, Dr. von Braun was so obsessed with the experiment that he was already beyond the realm of sanity. The young scientist could only glance back in horror as the console monitor he was manning began sparking wildly. One of the engineers attempted to run out, but the Fallschirmjager man standing at the doorway popped several 5.56mm rounds into his head, dropping him dead. Schultz could see that even that stern-faced paratrooper was heavily sweating with fear that something was terribly wrong.

“Cowards! Traitors!” von Braun incessantly screamed. “Can’t you see that this experiment is working as planned? Schultz, do you -”

He didn’t have time to finish the question before a nanoscale wormhole ripped open inside Engine Room 02 and swallowed every unfortunate human being near its crux. Instead of stopping there, the wormhole inflated like a balloon that would not stop growing. From three microns in diameter, it erupted into a swirling lens of bright azure color fifteen meters across before dissipating just as quickly.

Within one minute the SS Berliner was gone, replaced by a massive azure wormhole that stretched on and ate the world around it. Within two minutes, it had sucked in the Goering battlegroup. But within those two minutes, in that brief amount of time, the veil between several parallel universes was punched through like knife through hot butter. Unlike the Hermann Goering and the rest of her battlegroup, the SS Berliner was not as lucky to travel into that hole created. Neither was Dr. von Braun nor his assistant Schultz, who died with a perplexed expression on his youthful face.

 

 

 

Part 1: Rapid Transition

Baltic Sea, 17 45 Hours, 19 December 1941

The waters were unusually calm in Northern Europe’s inner sea, even with a sky as dark as a stormy night for one straight day now. Kapitan zur See Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel, the new commanding officer of Unterseeboot 140, had been trailing the Baltic waters on the surface for a single day now. Standing atop the conning tower and monitoring the distant horizon with his binoculars, Hellriegel knew that it was perfectly safe to travel the Baltic Sea onboard a surfaced U-Boat. After all, this was a German lake and regulations can be damned.

For one-and-a-half day, the submarine’s Enigma machine had decrypted several incomprehensible messages. An hour or so of scanning and suppositions with the machine operator and the fregattenkapitan had revealed them to be map routes… in the Baltic Sea itself.

Thirty miles off the northern coasts of Usedom sat the source of the mysterious encrypted messages, which U-Boat 140 was heading to. The sea became choppier and long, endless shrouds of ethereal mists seemed to permeate the entire region.

Kapitan Hellriegel was gazing at another spot of the horizon when the fregattenkapitan constantly tapped him on the shoulders. The Kapitan was planning to give him a frank rebuttal once his body was turned, but what he saw prompted a different action instead.

“Mein Gott Im Himmel,” he muttered aloud.

He counted fourteen unidentified ships laying miles off the port of the U-Boat, all of them flying the swastika. They were as still as the strangely calm sea, but what the kapitan found stranger was the biggest ship in the midst of the group. Its massive flat deck was pocketed with sleek craft, with an ‘island’ structure in the background. Unmistakably, even to the new commanding officer, it was an aircraft carrier.

“This must be where the signals originated from,” the Fregattenkapitan gapingly commented. “They don’t look like any of the Kriegsmarine’s surface warships.”

“But they still fly the Reich’s flag, don’t they?”

“True, but even then, the Kriegsmarine does not currently possess any aircraft carrier. The Graf Zeppelin hasn’t even been completed yet.”

“You have a point there, Stuttgart. Do they look still and calm enough to you?”

Ja, why?”

Kapitan Hellriegel’s eyes brimmed with excitement. “I was thinking of getting men to board that large schweinhund, the aircraft carrier ship.”

“Kapitan, are you crazy?”

“Of course not,” he responded vehemently. “Those ships have floated for five minutes without moving an inch. I suspect that they would have signaled or attacked us if they were active. But they do not appear to be so. See my line of reasoning?”

Fregattenkapitan Weldon Stuttgart’s eyes widened with enlightenment. “I see your point, Kapitan. I’ll get this boat headed there at once.”

As his aide went down the hatch, Hellriegel called after him. “Make sure you get everyone on to their battlestations, and start forming a boarding crew too. We have several Mausers and Bergmanns in the armory, if I recall.”

 

***

“Mein Gott Im Himmel!”

It was probably the second time Kapitan zur See Hans-Jürgen Hellriegel swore the ever famous “Oh My God” in German. The flight deck of the mysterious aircraft carrier was huge and full of sleek planes that had to be rocket-powered. At least one of his crewmates had said so, given that they were not equipped with any sort of propellers commonly found on airplanes.

The ones on deck had swept-back wings and bubble canopies, giving the group of Kriegsmarine boarders that the dangerous-and-deadly feeling. He did not know why, but Kapitan Hellriegel silently realized that the Luftwaffe’s prop-driven planes wouldn’t last a second against these sleek things, however talented they were. Seeing the all too familiar iron cross and swastika markings on them made him sigh in relief; they belonged to the Third Reich, after all. A fellow boarder shouted and pointed at another one of those mysterious craft, this time a lumbering craft that had a propeller. The catch was that it was on top of the wingless craft, not at its nose.

“Looks too fat to fly,” one of Hellriegel’s crewmates chortled. “And its propellers are fitted the wrong way.”

Kapitanleutnant Weiss Pieter begged to differ. “Don’t doubt anything, Schwartz. Its engines are probably much more powerful than a Messerschmitt’s, capable of producing force that allows it to lift this huge beast off the ground.”

“How do you know so much, Leutnant?” another boarder joined in the short conversation.

“Books and magazines, I’d imagine,” he answered with sarcasm. “I had a few friends in the Luft who thought that something like this would be useful for carrying Heer troops in and out of battles. Maybe if there were…”

A 7.92 x 57mm bullet ricocheted five inches off the steel ground from where Kapitan Hellriegel was standing. The boarders of Unterseeboot-140 ducked almost immediately, with weapons loaded and safety triggers unlocked. The shot came from inside one of the island structure’s windows, evident from the bullet hole in its middle.

“Attention all hostile boarders,” a booming voice in German erupted from nowhere. “You will lay down your arms and surrender to the men coming out of the bridge, or all of you will be shot. This is a military property of the Third Reich you have trespassed in, hostile boarders. Failure to comply will result in your deaths.”

As if by command, the first door hatch leading into the carrier’s island swung open, and sailors clad in heavy feldgrau came out with strange-looking guns. Their commander – Hellriegel presumed that man was, because he wore a service cap – ordered the sailors to spread out in some sort of defensive-attack formation the boarders could barely decipher. By then, they had placed their weapons down as a gesture of friendly obedience.

Their commander unhurriedly walked up to Hellriegel, with left hand drawn inside the coat pocket. U-Boat 140’s kapitan presumed he had a hidden revolver waiting to be used in case he and his men got ‘adventurous’. A minute passed before he was staring face-to-face with him, and much to Hellriegel’s chagrin, he was in a Kapitan zur See’s Dienstanzug.

“What are you doing here?”

***

The next half an hour was spent on getting settled down and, after a few ‘oh gosh’ moments, chit-chatting their first subject of incredulity. Sitting inside the admiral’s cabin with Admiral Hans Konigsberg and Kapitan Joachim Scholer, and enjoying a cup of coffee made from beans imported from Argentina, Kapitan zur See Hellriegel now knew that this aircraft carrier was known as the KMS Hermann Goering, the pride of the Kriegsmarine since 1972. The rocket-planes he saw on the flight deck were He 395s (with a few Dornier Do22 mid-air refuellers mixed in), while those ‘rotor craft’ – they’re proper names were ‘Hubschraubers’ – were designated as FW 466s (solely for transport and anti-sub works) and FW 1109s (heavy gunships). They were simply beyond words to describe for the contemporary men.

“You know, I used to serve in an Unterseeboot,” the admiral began. “But it was boring duty. Without the thrill of having plenty of ships to sink, submarining is a dry and dreary job.”

Ja.”

“Perhaps in a world after the war,” Kapitan Hellriegel said. “But now it isn’t – or at least for the rest of the wolf packs prowling the Atlantic. Those British and American ships are mightily easy prey, I heard.”

The two men from the future simply startling stared at Hellriegel, eyes widened with astonishment. “Wha… what do you mean, Kapitan Hellriegel?”

Hellriegel gave back a look of incredulity. “Since the Reich would survive this war, don’t you know?” he politely asked. “We have been at war with Britain for two years now, and the Russians came later, and a few weeks ago, the Fuhrer had declared war on America. I’m pretty sure -”

“I thought we defeated Britain in 1940?” asked a terribly-perplexed Kapitan Scholer. “And a year later, we moved onto Russia. That was a really bad idea, caused the Fatherland a lot of problems for more than five years. Even into the 1970s, there are still plenty of Russian guerillas running about the eastern steppes.”

A seaman suddenly burst into the cabin with worrying news. “Sorry to disturb you, Herr Admiral, but the communications technicians have confirmed it: All satellite links are permanently down, and the year is indeed 1941. December 19, to be exact.”

The man was smart enough to stand still at attention while the news sank into his superiors’ mind. He was also thinking that this sort of imprudence was liable to come with punishment, but after weighing the urgency of the message he just spoke, the helmsman quietly shrugged it. Kapitan Hellriegel had never been more confused in his entire life than now. Britain was never defeated in 1940, and the Third Reich had carried on the damnable war by making more enemies in both west and east. Yet, this whole battlegroup from the future had promised the Reich’s existence after the war. Strangely mad and astounding if not for the proof outside, he silently pondered.

Admiral Hans Konigsberg was, however, fast enough to adapt to the situation at hand, already drawing numerous conclusions to the puzzle even with the little information given. The Kapitan of the Hermann Goering was doing the same thing, but on a more cautious scale than the admiral’s wild theories

“I think we popped into another Earth, Joachim,” the admiral finally said, before gesturing for the seaman to leave the room. After the door was closed, he went on. “Different histories – we all know that the United States never went to war with us in 1941, except our newfound ‘friend’ here. Tell me Kapitan Hellriegel, when was the Soviet Union invaded and what do you know about the Eastern Front now?”

The answer was quick. “Sometime in late June this year, and the reports coming out of there seem to be that we are having a fine time there, except for the recent call for donating winter clothing to our troops in the Eastern Front just a few weeks ago.”

“Trust me,” the admiral leaned as close to Hellriegel as possible. “It isn’t fine, not by a long shot. I’ve read a lot of short biographies and survivor reports on that particular war, before ending up in charge of this battlegroup. That single front alone cost the Reich billions of Reichmarks, men and material, and that was without Great Britain hounding our backsides. Or America.”

“Why?” the contemporary Kapitan naively asked. “We smashed the French by 1940, and we have our far eastern allies to help against the Americans and Britishers. I do not see how the war could be worse for us.”

“That’s not what I’m saying. In four years time, the Americans would have their war industries running at top speed, and they would also have something called the atomic bomb. We have similar, deadlier weapons like those, if our U-Boats made it through. Basically, a single atomic bomb is able to wipe a city like Dresden or Nuremberg off the world map.”

“Mein Gott,” Kapitan Hellriegel swore under his breath, pausing to take a sip from his cup of served coffee.

“Going to war with the United States of America is folly,” the admiral grimly replied, before he sighed over a point lost. “Russia should have been invaded in late May, and Britain should have been knocked out of the war after Dunkirk. In the world we came from, America was our opponent in the Lange Ruhepause.”

“Lange Ruhepause?” asked a bemused Hellriegel.

Ja, a Kalter Krieg. If it ever becomes hot, the world would end with radioactive rubbles and desolated continents. Neither the Reich nor the Americans can allow that to happen, for it would mean the end of civilization as we know it. It is also the reason we fear America, which is why I said going to war with the United States is a reckless adventure right from the start.”

These are high-ranking men of the Reich, Hellriegel bewilderedly thought. How could they speak like that, and what sort of future did they come from?

“How did you all come back into this ‘alternate’ past, Herr Admiral?” he finally asked.

“Did it take you this long to ask that?” Kapitan Scholer sniggered. “I expected it to be the first question you’ll ever ask.”

Admiral Hans Konigsberg waved him away. “We honestly don’t know, but perhaps it has something to do with the SS Berliner. A ship which – my men have confirmed – was lucky enough not to come along with us. Or the opposite, we really don’t know.”

“Kapitan Hellriegel,” the Hermann Goering‘s skipper said. “I believe we have a war to fight, so would you start helping us by leading this battlegroup to the nearest German port?”

The three men in the room stood up, though it wasn’t simultaneous. Admiral Konigsberg was the last on his feet, with his face giving off a deadpanned look. Kapitan Hellriegel gave his best Nazi salute, and a ‘Heil Hitler’ to end it. The other men did the same thing.

Ja, I will. The Fatherland can start correcting its mistakes with men like you.”

Christmas Island, 23 17 Hours, 19 December 1941

It was forty-three minutes to midnight, yet the entirety of Christmas Island was still in an uproar unheard of even when the Indonesian Civil War raged on. To be pedantic about it, now it would not have happened for another seventy-six years if history went the same course on this world as it did in the other. Thus, it was a mighty shame that the Transition would change all that.

To the men of the 2nd/14th Regiment, they would have concurred otherwise. Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong was one of them. One of the first few men to wake up from the after-effects of the Transition had proceeded on to shaking the hell out of the staff sergeant, who was slumped on one of the canteen’s tables. He did wake up after five minutes of constant nagging and pushes, but at the cost of getting the man ground-grappled on the floor. After five seconds of noticing who it was, Clint realized his mistake and apologized.

“Oh – so sorry there, Private Abbey,” he grimaced at the man rising from the ground. “Too much of Krav Maga and jujitsu training there. What had happened, by the way?”

“It’s alright, sir. From the looks of it, everyone on the island had been knocked unconscious for… I don’t know. A day or two maybe? A few guys woke up by themselves at the airfield and command centers, and they’re still trying to get a link to Darwin and Canberra.”

“I see. Were they successful?”

“No sir,” Abbey’s mouth was set on a grim line. “Our satlinks appear to be down as well, but they’re remedying the situation by launching the BED-2 drones.”

“Damn, how the fuck could this happen. It can’t be the Indonesians attacking us with knock-out gas now, can’t it?”

“No sir, I would not agree with that,” the private slowly explained why. “It’s highly unlikely that they would be able to bypass our radar screens, even if our sats are down. Unless it was the Chinese or Koreans, which is also unlikely since both of them have very little interests in this part of Southeast Asia.”

The staff sergeant took a good look at the cafeteria. Unconscious men in fatigues and BDUs littered the mess hall in pockets here and there, though some were showing signs of reviving. If the Rebel Indonesians wanted to attack them now, it would be a cakewalk of a slaughter for them. Clint wondered for a moment and realized that it was impossible; they would be detected by the AWDs patrolling offshore. With their AN/SPY-3 radars, they would be able to scan anything within a three hundred mile radius range.

“Let’s go to HQ and see what’s going on,” Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong conclusively said. “See what they have managed to gather on the state of the outside world.”

***

It was dark and dank inside the heart of the Regimental Command HQ, situated just east of the island’s main airfield; its entrance bivouacked in between a row of Quonset huts. By the time Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong and Private Abbey Paterson got there, most of the comm techs and control officers had woken up. Not the battalions’ top brass, but Lieutenant Christopher Roach was the closest high-ranking officer available. The private was demurred into proceeding any further when he saw the captain in the room, until the lieutenant assured him that things were going to alright.

“Don’t worry mate,” he re-assured Abbey. “It’s just him in his post-street punk mood, and probably the depression of never having risen any higher than the rank of lieutenant in the past five years.”

“Um…”

“It’s alright, Private Paterson,” the lieutenant called out. “You can come in and hear what’s being spoken. Doesn’t matter now anyway, since…”

“Lieutenant, what’s wrong?” asked the staff sergeant.

The lieutenant’s eyes were gleaming with depression and impossibility, highlighted by the blue flat-screens permeating the HQ. One of the control officers – Sergeant Myra Mackay – filled in the blanks for him.

“We’re stuck in December 19, 1941,” she dourly spoke. “It explains why all our satlinks are down, and also why there was talk of war between Japan and Germany over the radio waves. Apparently, Queensland has gone back with us too and there’s an American battlegroup somewhere out there in the Pacific.”

Outside, the roar of two patrolling F-22 Raptors soaring out of the airfield shrieked into the air of 1941, distracting Staff Sergeant Clinton Wong for a moment. In just a day, the sparkling image of his wondrous life, his home and his girlfriend in Perth shattered into a billion little pieces from which millions more may spring. Fate was being a real cruel bitch to him now, but that wasn’t a fair thing to say. Doubtlessly, millions more were dying out in this new world. World War II quickly rushed into mind, all its atrocities and depravations, all the hopes and joys of millions while they toiled under the boots of the Nazis and Japanese. And the Soviets too. If these were civvies, he would’ve laughed at them straightaway. Clint had worked with the lieutenant for five long years however, and he trusted the man enough to know that when he said things in such a serious monotone voice, it was probably too good to be true.

“How… how the fuck could this happen?”

“Nobody knows, Clint,” Lieutenant Roach depressingly said, as he walk passed the stunned duo. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be heading to the toilet…”

Townsville Military Centre, 17 22 Hours, 20 December 1941

The dull thudding of a recessing helicopter rotor blade echoed throughout the military compound, where such sights and sounds had been common even before the past two ‘post-Transition’ days. Standing beside civilian author John Birmingham on a gravel path, General Johnny ‘Bullseye’ Beagle knew that that single ominous-looking MRH-90 contained the current, most famous Prime Minister of Australia. John Curtin. The same man who would have led the Down Under through the darkest period of World War II and then some. For six long hours, this particular chopper had been tasked with escorting PM John Curtin from the contemporary capital of Canberra to Coalition headquarters in Townsville. Since the Transition hadn’t brought Darwin or Canberra along, the next best thing to a HQ was here in Townsville.

The side doors slid open, signaling that it was safe to disembark the chopper and allowing PM John Curtin to come out and have a good hard look at the future. From Birmingham’s point of view, he looked shocked and stressed, both of which the PM had tried to hide through a gaze of uncompromised defiance; the latter probably due running a country under wartime conditions and under military threat of an invasion from a hostile power. Tipping his horn-rimmed glasses, the fourteenth Australian prime minister firmly walked up to the colonel and the ‘future-men’ gathered around him.

General Beagle, and every soldier surrounding him, snapped off a crisp salute.

“A pleasure to meet you, Prime Minister,” the general said as his salute recessed. “I am General Johnny Beagle, supreme commander of all Future Australian forces in um, 21C Queensland. I’m afraid that my counterpart isn’t here at the moment. His in Brisbane, I believe, organizing the Future American units.”

The prime minister’s face turned from dour defiance to a smile. “Well, enough with the introductions. I was told that I would be given a tour of this future military base. I want to know if we are ready if the Japanese invades Australia.”

Birmo couldn’t help but snigger at the PM’s last line. A few soldiers who were historically aware of what had been said either rolled their eyes or attempted to suppress a giggle of incredulity.

“Excuse me sir,” the award-winning author cut in, “but the Japanese never had the logistical capacity to carry out a successful invasion of Australia. ‘Impossible’ and ‘Suicide’ would be two words to describe such an event. And with the array of future forces transported back, I would say it’s a pipe dream for them to pull it off.”

“Ah, this civilian here is Mr. John Birmingham, Prime Minister,” the general introduced. “Famous author who won multiple awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, he was in the neighborhood when the Transition struck us out of the blue. I believe that his home in Ipswich came along too, so he doesn’t have to worry about the blues that’s been striking most of the Future Americans.”

Birmo took a step forward and shook the prime minister’s hands.

“Good to meet you too, Prime Minister,” he smartly spoke. “I would never had believe that one of my novels could come back to haunt me, though.”

Curtin raised an eyebrow. ‘Why, Mr. Birmingham?”

Birmo took a thick, paperback-sized book held under his shoulders and passed it onto the prime minister. He sincerely hoped that it would be treated with care and respect, because that was the last of the ‘special’ 2007 editions filled with his signatures.

Curtin grabbed the novel gently and realized that it was no ordinary novel. For starts, it slightly reminded him of the yanks’ pulp magazine covers, albeit in black and white. The drawing was something he had not seen on any book before. Black thunder swarmed above a pair of dissimilar ships facing each other in a silent standoff; one of the ships was sleek and huge, while the other was a familiar battleship. The title read KARATE SCHNITZEL.

The prime minister frowned again. “What sort of novel is this, Mr. Birmingham? I’m supposing it has something to do with this ‘Transition’.”

The general made the reply for Birmo. “The novel, Prime Minister, deals with the same situation we are all facing now. Except that it was a small taskforce of naval warships from the twenty-first century, and it was in the middle of 1942. Mr. Birmingham here was lucky enough to have it in his car before the Transition struck.”

“I see,” Curtin paused as he absorbed what had just been said, placing the book inside his coat. “But I think we’re going a little off the rail, General. Can we just start with the tour now? I want to see what the future would bring to all of us.”

“Not a problem, Prime Minister,” General Beagle smiled. “Not a problem. Now if you’ll come with us, we’ll be first showing you the gears and equipment our troops wear and carry into battle…”

Christmas Island, 05 10 Hours, 21 December 1941

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

The echoes of a SIG-Sauer P226 handgun firing 9mm rounds in triple succession woke Lieutenant Clinton Wong from his near dreamless state. Images of the previous captain’s suicide had kept haunting him ever since yesterday; he doubted it would dissipate anytime soon. The company had lost a good man and all because they were transited seventy-six years into the past. Starting from scratch for somebody with no life was probably easy, but for those who had left friends and families behind, it was an emotionally traumatic occurrence.

It was also something Wong had never experienced in his entire life. Maybe once or twice he had a brush with depression, but not to this traumatic state.

There was a tap on his left shoulder, and he glanced to see a concerned Private Abbey Paterson sitting beside him. It was also then that he realized they were in a cargo compartment of one of two C-17 Globemaster IIIs preparing for action in Malaya, but would be landing in Singapore first just to say hello to the ‘temps. Having been promoted to full Lieutenant after Roach’s suicide, Clint was now in charge of ‘A’ Recon Troop, 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment’s reformed B Squadron. Seated in the plane’s cargo hold – which was where Clint and his men were currently situated – was a trio of ASLAV-26s, probably the biggest improvement on the versatile ASLAV. Fitted with a twin thirty-millimeter Tenix autocannon and programmable missile pods on both sides of its turret, it was probably the most heavily armed fast-attack vehicle on this planet.

“We’re gonna kick arses with these babies right, El-Tee?” asked Paterson.

Clint nodded back warily. “Figure if we could fit in a Leopard tank or two, it’d be so much better. Those Japanese tin-cans were so lightly armored that even a M4 Carbine could’ve penetrated their armoring.”

“What ’bout their planes, sir?” Sergeant Major James Tung, a grizzled Aboriginal who had been in ‘A’ Troop since 2006, interjected from his right. Like Clint, he also had a smattering of interest in WWII military equipment to know how pathetic most Japanese armored vehicles were.

“Reckon that we won’t have enough AA missiles to deal with them should they come in swarms.”

The cargo bay doors were closing, as the last of ‘A’ Troop boarded in. There were another two planes carrying elements of the 2nd/14th LHR’s squadrons, which should have been fully boarded by now. The transport plane’s turbofans were beginning to incessantly spin.

 

“No, but I say that our Thirty Mike-Mikes would be able to accurately deal with them if they came low enough. Besides, haven’t you heard that a future Yank CVBG that came through the other side will be supporting us through the Indian Ocean?”

“No shit.”

“Yup,” Lieutenant Wong warily agreed. “The Japanese are well and truly screwed.”

USS George H.W. Bush, 07 17 Hours, 21 December 1941

The core of a nine-ship battlegroup, the USS George H.W. Bush was the tenth and last of the Nimitz kind, having been launched in 2008 and commissioned in 2009. With ninety fixed wing and helicopter crafts stowed onboard, and having a full array of advanced sensors and processing systems, it was one of the most advanced supercarriers that would had been dwarfed by CVNX-classes that were said to be coming online either in early ’18 or ’19. Too fucking bad that wasn’t going to happen; not for a while on this world anyway.

Two kilometers aft lay the venerable Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser Vella Gulf while two klicks on her portside was the Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer Kandahar. Unlike the Gulf, the Kandahar was special in the way that she was one of the only five Tier Three Burkes ever built between 2006 and 2013. Her cruise missiles included not only Tomahawks, but advanced Super Harpoon ship killers and sub-kiloton penetrators as well. The three different types of cruise missiles were also in use with the CVBG’s Zumwalt-class missile destroyers, which were flanking the massive behemoth on both sides and front. The ZumwaltSchofield and Duck were the latest in the US Navy’s arsenal of guided missile destroyers, packed with the latest in CIWS weaponry and wielding the most advanced sensor equipment on the planet: the AN/SPY-4. In the event that they run out of ammunition, there was always the Backbone – the battlegroup’s combined supply ship – laying in protective comfort between the Zumwalt and the George Bush.

They were also the reason why Admiral Philip Cleburne felt relaxed while overseeing the battlegroup from the safety of the Bush‘s flag bridge. That was not even counting the two SSNs patrolling ahead of the battlegroup, or the two drones seven-hundred kilometers above acting as satellite substitutes ever since the Transition threw them back to 1941. Of current, they were cruising towards Singapore at the full speed of thirty knots with four F-35Cs orbiting the battlegroup, armed with Harpoons and JSOWs to deal with any hostile surface vessels.

“I’d love to see how the Japanese would attempt to sink one of our ships, Admiral,” Captain Gregory Howery commented as he watched an F-35 being readied for launch from the flight deck. “Bet none of them can even pass through our three-hundred kilometer screen, since we aren’t missing any ships.”

“I just got this nifty idea that I want to try out though, Greg. Luring the whole Combined Fleet and sinking them in one single strike. What do you think?”

“Hell Admiral, you’ll have a time trying to lure them in one place. Better sink ’em while they’re in port or moving somewhere else. During this Singapore Op, we’ll probably waste a lot of ammunition if things get too hot and furious. Reckon that won’t happen, if the folks in Queensland and Christmas Isle do their jobs properly. Ya’ know what I think? I think we should’ve headed straight for the Philippines and help MacArthur out. They’re our boys, even if its seventy-six years in the past.”

“Only one problem with that, Greg,” Admiral Cleburne countered. “The Malayan Peninsula is a hell lot closer than the Philippines. If we hold Singapore and a chunk of Malaysia – sorry, Malaya – there’s a good chance that the Japanese attempt on the Philippines would be weakened, and they won’t attempt to hit the Indonesia like in the history books. So I say we hit with the Singapore Op.”

“Fine by me I guess,” the captain shrugged. “Wonder what’ll happen when we return to Pearl. You got to figure how Admiral Nimitz is going to react to this ship once he hears of it.”

“Holy crap, I bet,” the admiral chuckled.

Dawn was just rising over the horizon, and in an hour or so, the blazing rays of the sun would completely engulf the tropical skies high above. The roar of a pair of F-35s shrieking out of the flight deck drew a brief cursory glance from the crew working on the flag bridge, but no one paid real attention to them. It was just normal routine, like every other day.

Admiral Cleburne was busy scribbling notes on a desk for a plan of action against Japan, ever since they popped back in time. Having an encyclopedia of World War II opened right beside him helped too, as the admiral now knew who he would be up against.

Admiral Yamamoto, he quietly thought. You’ll get your wish of a Kassen Kantai, alright.

“How long more until we arrive in Singapore, Greg?”

“In ’bout another two hours,” Captain Howery sporadically answered. “By that time, the bombers from Down Under would be flying out to bomb the Japanese high and low. Reckon it’ll be a one-sided affair.”

“No doubt, Greg.”

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Confrontations

Townsville Military Centre, 20 22 Hours, 20 December 1941

Prime Minister John Curtin’s eyes were red with watery tears. Not because he was sad or depressed, but for the first time in his office term, relief had overwhelmed him with the fury of a raging tsunami. The historical video clips the future men were showing him debunked the possibility of a Japanese invasion of Australia and confirmed the fact that one way or another, the Allies were on the inevitable march towards victory.

“I presume this victory would take four more years of bloody fighting and dying, General?” he skeptically asked, wiping the tears away, whilst a black-and-white footage showing US Marines storming Iwo Jima was playing.

“Probably a lot sooner, Prime Minister,” General Beagle replied from behind. “Due to the Indonesian Civil War prior to the Transition, and in tentative agreement with us, the Americans stockpiled large amounts of modern munitions and weaponry in Queensland, along with their forces streaming in. If the Japanese do try to set foot here, they will – I sincerely assure you – be slaughtered to the last man.”

He continued on. “Of course, that’s if they still have a navy left to escort an invasion force.”

“What do you mean by that, General?”

“We just received word that a Future American naval battlegroup had just materialized in the Indian Ocean. Currently, they’re still trying to shake off the Transit shock but the admiral in charge had told me that he’ll be steaming for Singapore once everything has been settled. Just one battlegroup, Prime Minister, has more than enough firepower to sink the entire Combined Fleet. Once the deed’s done, the Japanese will think twice about adventuring in this part of the world.”

The prime minister’s face lit with respite once more. For now, he could put away the specter of the Japanese enemy and concentrate on things non-related to war. He had wanted a tour of the entirety of Queensland 2017, but that was scheduled for tomorrow. Like many other contemporary Australians who would soon know, he was very interested in the future. After all, it wasn’t like every day where you had the future setting up shop in the past. He turned to look for Mr. Birmingham; quickly remembering that the author had went back to his home in Ipswich.

The ‘color-movie’ they were now playing was a mind-map presentation of the plan to win the war as fast as possible, and the geopolitical and domestic issues to deal with following the war’s end. Being a strong proponent of the ‘White Australia Policy’, he certainly did not like the fact that Australia should encourage non-whites to settle here in order to bolster her population.

I wonder if we could do something about that, he thought.

RAAF Base Scherger, 09 10 Hours, 21 December 1941

Sitting next to a coast overlooking the Gulf of Carpentaria, the small mining town of Weipa was already readying for the long day ahead. Also just next to it was a military airbase designated as RAAF Scherger. An airbase that housed an immense number of warplanes capable of leaving one’s mind boggling with the possibilities of unrestricted violence.

Belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force, RAAF Scherger now hosted a squadron of B-52Hs from Minot AFB in the States. Before the Transition, it was due to inevitable American/Australian involvement in the Indonesian Civil War that prompted the USAF to place the 5th Bomb Wing, 8th Air Force here as part of the big build-up of armed forces. Taking a cue from her past adventures in Iraq and Syria, the United States decided that the best course of action would be a massive build-up of strategic and tactical forces before they plunged into a hostile country. Now, the products of the build-up were going to be used against the Japanese in Malaya.

Of the twelve B-52Hs belonging to the 5th Bomb Wing stationed at RAAF Scherger, only four were participating in the mission today. Rightly dubbed as Big Ugly Fat Fuckers, they have been the USAF’s workhorse for more than six decades. Captain Fredrick Manahan was grappling onto his control stick just as his co-pilot, Lieutenant Mather Lieu, switched on all the relevant switches. His bomber was the first in line, having taxied in the runway next to the others.

“You’re cleared to commence the flight, Big Monkey One,” his earphones filled with the voice of the air traffic controller stationed up in the airfield’s main tower.

“Roger that, control.”

Manahan gauzily pushed the flight throttles forward. The big bomber lurched forward, moving slowly while it gained speed. He was aware that the other three B-52s were doing the same thing, but such thoughts were placed aside as the bomber’s eight Pratt & Whitney engines shrieked to life. Quickly, he recounted the armaments being carried by this half-squadron and where they were going to drop it on.

Fifty-one CBU-71s, twenty-seven of which were stored inside the bomb bays while the other nineteen were attached to the bombers’ HSAB external pylons. Each of these cluster bomblets contained six-hundred and fifty BLU-68B incendiary submunitions which used titanium pellets as the incendiary agents. They were going to drop approximately two-hundred and four CBU-71s on the unsuspecting Japanese-held Malayan town of Alor Setar, which was where General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s HQ was currently located.

It’ll be so much easier to just call it Malaysia, the captain thought.

His earphones blared with the voice of his navigator. “Drone-links from the Bush CVBG verified and secured, Cap’n. They’re feeding clear images of enemy positions in Malaysia. Correction, Malaya.”

“Keep ’em coming, Dave.”

In next to no time, the B-52 was already roaring out of the airfield, with the intent to kill as many Japanese as possible. Captain Manahan could not help but feel a little sympathy for the Japanese about to die from his bombs. They were not supposed to be his enemies, but through a twist of monkey-wrenching fate that brought Queensland back in time, they were now.

“Ain’t no racist or anything like it,” his co-pilot said as the behemoth flew to four thousand feet, “but those goddamn Japs are going to feel what’s hell like pretty soon.”

“Amen to that, Lieu.”

Outside, the glaring rays of the sun splendorously reflected against the metal plates of the B-52 Stratofortress as it climbed towards six thousand feet in the blue sky.

Wewelsburg Castle, 10 00 Hours, 21 December 1941

The chill of winter, coupled with the snowing, made Admiral Hans Konigsberg feel right at home. Wewelsburg was exactly as he remembered in his time, with a remote rural town and a huge castle that served as the headquarters of the Schutzstaffel. The snow-draped pinewoods were still aplenty, also a trademark of the North Rhine-Westphalia region in that other world.

Waiting outside the entrance of the castle was not a pleasant moment, however. The SS guards were as arrogant as those he worked with before, and their leader had told him and Oberst Wilhelm Strasse – commander of the 7th Regiment, 25th Wehrmacht Mechanized Infantry division – to wait out in the cold while he ‘checked’ for their clearance. The Oberst was a man he got along well with, like every other Wehrmacht men it seemed. Perhaps he never got along with egotistical, haughty people – the SS had them in truckload – which was why he did not like them in the first place. But they served the Reich, and that was all he needed to know to work with them.

Even if they are conceited with misleading visions of grandeur, he thought.

A black uniformed SS man – a Standartenfuhrer, by a look on the insignia on his collar tabs – stepped out of the castle’s front entrance with an authoritarian elegance. He was a good feet away from the guests when he stopped dead on his tracks to click his boots and give off a one-arm Nazi salute.

“Heil Hitler,” he saluted.

Both Oberst and admiral answered back in unison. Even after the original Fuhrer had died in the other world, ‘Heil Hitler’ was still the norm instead of ‘Heil Himmler’ or ‘Heil Heydrich’. Letting his mind wonder off for a moment, Admiral Konigsberg wondered why they were sent here in the first place. Indeed, if it was still 1975 and his fleet was off the coasts of Peru, he wouldn’t be visiting this place for another five months. Maybe a year or more.

Today was the second day he and the Hermann Goering battlegroup had spent in the Reich’s glorious history. Having flown in by a Hubschrauber from Wilhelmshaven – where the battlegroup was anchored – nearly thirty minutes ago, the admiral was getting very impatient, evident with his twitching fingers.

“You will proceed with me to the Reichsfuhrer’s office,” the SS man said. “He is expecting both of you.”

Admiral Konigsberg rolled his eyes. As the Americans saynow if that wasn’t just stating the obviousThe past isn’t very different after all.

Walking into the interior, the admiral felt that he was walking back through time again, some three hundred years long past. It had all the trappings of a medieval Teutonic castle, with majestic swastika regalia and SS symbols decorating the walls and hallways. Obviously not much of an infantryman, Admiral Konigsberg felt a little of his will to meet the Reichsfuhrer died as they were led through long stretches of hallways that didn’t seem to have an end in sight. Every time they turned, there was also another corridor or a spiraling staircase to walk through. The Wehrmacht Oberst did not seem overly bothered by the winding trail which they had to walk through, a result of his stint in Ostland and Afghanistan back in the other world.

But finally, the procession ended in front of an old, wooden door. The SS man knocked it twice, and a reply of ‘You may enter’ responded. There was no mistaking of that sound, for Konigsberg was old enough to remember his voice during open-air rallies and radio speeches: It was Heinrich Himmler.

The SS man gestured for both of them to come inside, after which he stepped out of the door himself. Indeed, the SS-Reichsfuhrer was seated behind an old oak desk, with an imposing painting of Henrich the Fowler set on the wall behind him. As the door closed behind them, the former chicken farmer rose from his armchair and instead of giving the usual one-arm Nazi salute, he motioned the future men to sit on the wooden chairs provided.

“In the past two days,” the Reichsfuhrer began, “I’ve heard of many a wonderful and dreadful things happening in the realm of the Reich. The Fuhrer has heard little of this, and it won’t be long before he deigns to speak with the both of you. History has provided the Fatherland a great, immeasurable boon and I will make sure, as long as pure Aryan blood still coarse through my veins, that a single ounce of your gifts shall not be wasted just merely because it is unpleasant.”

His quiet eyes turned into furious excitement in the blink of an eye. “Tell me, all of it, of the course history took in this other world of yours.”

“Well…” Admiral Konigsberg began in his stride, with all the tiny little details he could muster from the long hours spent on speed-reading historical books from his world. From what he could analyze, the Reich of this world wasn’t going down the right path that it should be traveling. He hoped that the tide of history here could be diverted onto a more successful path like his, or perhaps even better.

In Flight, 11 10 Hours, 21 December 1941

It had been two straight hours since they flew off the airfield in Weipa, but Captain Manahan could feel the solitary stretch of boredom gradually creeping into his dulled mind. If the navigator was right – and he was, always – then it’ll be another two hours or so before they would be high above the northern Malayan town of Alor Setar to drop their fiery payloads of death. A small part of his conscious told him that a lot of Malayans were going to get killed too, but such were the fortunes of war. Especially if it was a total war situation as in the Second World War he was about to participate in.

Well, now he and his co-pilot could seat back and enjoy the view of the blue morning sky at forty-five thousand feet. His squadron of four B-52s was on autopilot, slaved to the drone orbiting the north Malaya. The other guys that were going to hit targets in Indochina would have to solely rely on INS, compasses and maps because there weren’t any drones orbiting there now. ECM’s weren’t really necessary since the world of 1941 had barely built a computer, let alone electronic jammers and the Japanese did not have radar at this point of time. Their best fighters were hopelessly inadequate to deal with a subsonic flying jet bomber, which gave more grounds to his comfort. Time to relax a little, he thought.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Lieu spoke through the squadron’s UHF. “I hope you’re all enjoying the flight to the cool and mysterious Malayan town of Alor Setar, which would shortly cease to exist within the next three hours. Please savor the surroundings while you can now, and do fly with us again in the future.”

“The far fucking future,” the intercom chorused.

Forty-five thousand feet below the flying BUFFs was the jungles of Central Sulawesi, currently known as Celebes, which would have been a hotbed of violence between its ethnic Muslim and Christian populations in another future. Before the ‘Transition’, Coalition forces were supposed to land here to root out Jihadi forces and bases scattered throughout the entire island and provide relief for the oppressed minorities. The bombers’ intended target was a city in a country that had yet to exist, because they were currently held by a brutal occupying force rivaling the Muslim Jihadis in Afghanistan and Indonesia.

But if anyone asked him if he missed his future, Captain Fredrick Manahan would have just said that he will never shed a tear for it. Ever.

Wewelsburg Castle, 10 20 Hours, 21 December 1941

Heinrich Himmler could not believe a single word of it, but slowly the realization dawned upon him. Here seated in front of him were two men from a ‘parallel reality’ where the Third Reich defeated Britain in 1940, and proceeded on to eradicate the Bolshevik scum in the next seven years. A world where their Eastern ally would lose the war in the far east in 1943, and be subjugated by American nuclear weapons two years later. Of course, in that world, Japan was never an ally of the Reich after the United States went to war against the ‘yellow men of the east’. The most shocking thing he heard, however, was the Fatherland acquiring his own arsenal of nuclear weapons only two years after the Americans used them. It told the SS Chief that going to war against the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously was a rash and foolish act. Still, with superior hindsight and Aryan resolve, the Reich would still triumph over all – whether they were the barbaric Bolsheviks in the east or the capitalist Jewish pigs of the west.

“The SS Berliner would forever be remembered as the ‘savoir of the Fatherland’, for bringing us your fleet. Now we can be certain that the Allies will be smashed, but how long would that take?”

“It will depend on how we knock them out, and who uses the first nuclear weapon on the battlefield,” Admiral Konigsberg nonchalantly replied. “An armistice in the West is definitely a viable option, given that the Reich would be able to concentrate her war effort against the Bolsheviks in the east.”

“Which leaves our Japanese allies behind,” Himmler pointed out.

“In my honest opinion, Herr Reichsfuhrer, the Japanese should be used as sacrificial goats. They were the ones who made the mistake of drawing America into the war after all, and thus all blame should rest squarely on them. Besides, they will eventually fall.”

The SS Chief pondered the thought over. It was not a bad hypothesis, given that Japan was a faraway ally and that the Fatherland had zero interests in the Asia-Pacific region to date. And even if they were to survive this war unscathed, both of their racial philosophies dictated that only one could be the master race of the Earth. After all, the Asians were inferior peoples not too dissimilar from the Slavic Bolsheviks the Third Reich was fighting and exterminating in Russia.

It is either them or us, Himmler grinned. Der Mensch der Erkenntniss muss nicht nur seine Feinde lieben, er muss auch seine Freunde hassen könnenThe man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends

“How long will it take for you to deploy your forces on both fronts, Herr Admiral?” the SS Chief asked.

The admiral eyes’ stirred visibly for a moment. “We barely have enough forces to focus on one front, let alone two. Or three, as the reports said. But my ships can sink the British ships guarding England, and allow ground forces to land and permanently establish a presence there. If we capture the British Isles, it would certainly block any American involvement in Western Europe and let their attention turn to the Pacific. And if we can develop an atomic bomb and a working ICBM by 1945, I assure you that the Third Reich will be sole master of this world for the next thousand years.”

“The admiral is correct,” Oberst Wilhelm Strasse agreed. “On the note of my ground forces, we can force the Russians out of Moscow before winter’s end. They will have nothing to match our composite-armored panzers, helicopter gunships and my battle-hardened men. With luck, we will capture Moscow so fast that Stalin and Beria won’t be able to escape from the city itself.”

“All is good to hear,” Himmler let a smile play on his face. “I am sure that the Fuhrer would be very pleased with this news. Alas, it is a sad thing that your ‘boomers’ did not survive the journey across time. They would have considerably done much to end this war in our favor.”

“Truth to be known,” the admiral spoke up, “we are not even sure that our ‘boomers’ got destroyed by the ‘Event’ that pulled us through. It could be stuck in another part of the world, and the lack of satellite links obstructs our attempt to verify their survival.”

A look of horror showered the SS Chief’s happy face not for the first time. “You mean that they could be in anyone’s hands, anywhere?”

“Yes, but there is another catch: even if they are captured, the enemy will never be able to launch the missiles without the confirmation codes. They are essentially useless to the enemy in that way.”

“Then what about the Hermann Goering?” Himmler tried another approach with a big wide smile. “Does she – or he – carry any ‘nuclear’ weapons?”

“None whatsoever,” Admiral Konigsberg replied. “Unlike the Americans of our world, we do not possess mini-nukes. And I am given to understand that the Americans employ them for tactical purposes only. Their artillery guns, for instance, use nuclear ordnance in the battlefield but an event as such is extremely rare and unlikely. They do not want to provoke a nuclear war.” Like us, he quietly thought.

“Typical decadent western capitalist attitude,” Himmler muttered. “They are no different than their counterparts in this world.”

He wished he could readily agree with the Reichsfuhrer, but Admiral Hans Konigsberg had lived the better part of his life in a world where America and Germany were locked in a long, subtle struggle of global dominance. Such wishful thinking was for the cinema, and only fools believed that America was still a decadent nation of mongrels. They possessed production lines that were currently untouchable, and their industrial manpower was simply astounding. No, American ingenuity would soon run to full speed and the opportunity to defeat them will then be lost. He did not want Germany to take the path Japan did in his history. Something must be done quickly to bar them from Europe.

“Well then, Admiral Konigsberg, Oberst Strasse, you may go now and ready your forces for war. The Fuhrer would soon be in touch with the both of you. Sieg Heil!”

Alor Setar, 13 24 Hours, 21 December 1941

The heavy droning of thirty-two pulse jet engines could be heard throughout the Malaysian province of Kedah, and no one could say that the BUFF was undetectable. In fact, as Manahan’s squadron passed through this part of Malaya, Japanese anti-aircraft guns opened up on them in vain. At least two squadrons of Mitsubishi A6M2s had also been dispatched to intercept the bombers during the flight from the Malayan coastline, with results similar to the AAAs.

Fucktards couldn’t even shoot a fish in a barrel, Captain Manahan snorted. Their triple As are helluva worse than a Third World nation like Myanmar.

For a moment, he remembered that the Japanese did not have radar at this point of the war and wondered how they had managed to identify his little squadron. He just as quickly shoved the thought back into that dark, dank part of his mind where stupid ideas remained under lock. Even forty-five thousand feet in the sky, the bombers were huge, loud and more often than not left smoky contrails in their wake. They were also flying in broad daylight. Ground spotters probably, though it’s not like they have SAMs or lasers.

“Navigator to pilot,” the intercom cackled, “We’re about two minutes away from target.”

“Acknowledged that, over.”

Switching over to the secure UHF frequency, he announced, “All Big Monkey units, we are about to commence bombing run in two minutes. Weather’s crystal clear, and the drone feeds we’ve received are spotless.”

His squadron was flying in wing-to-wing formation, the bomb bay doors being readied for action. The massive load of incendiary ordnance onboard their B-52s were a sure-guarantee for wanton destruction, even more so once it was unloaded unto a small tropical town in Northern Malaysia.Malaya damnit, its frickin’ Malaya, the captain quietly reprimanded himself. It’ll be sometime before Malaysia pops up on the world map again. Just like many things he took for granted back in the 21st Century.

Two minutes felt like the eternity of a lifetime. The lumbering bombers swept past the lush, tropical jungles and paddy fields of northwestern Malaya before they were directly over the town. Anti-aircraft fire futilely spat torrents of explosive flak, but they burst harmlessly well below the BUFFs. The drone was watching them just one hundred and fifty thousand feet above the bombers, having guided them to the town itself. Its multipurpose sensors now gave their navigators the target box info, which was sporadically passed onto the bombardiers.

The intercom in the four B-52s ringed out. “Bomb release in three, two, one…”

In a minute, approximately two hundred and four incendiary cluster bombs were dropped from a height of forty-five thousand feet. As they dropped, spurred by their cast aluminum fins, the bombs began their speedy descent slicing through the air and gaining by the gravitational pull of the earth. Simultaneously, their SUU-30 dispensers leapt into action at twelve thousand feet, releasing a staggering amount of one hundred and thirty-eight thousand seven hundred and twenty BLU-68/B incendiary submunitions on every piece of concrete, grass, flesh and machine within the targeted box.

The results were fairly spectacular and bloody. A Malay man who was walking along the streets got shredded – literally, from head to toe – in a hail of fiery pellets, while a column of Japanese trucks and armored vehicles were instantly vaporized in an metallic maelstrom. Explosions ripped through every building unfortunate enough to be located inside the target box, and fires began their uncontrollable spread. By dusk, a large portion of the town would be burning like an Iraqi oilfield.

The Imperial Japanese 25th Army headquarters was wasted within twenty seconds. Within five minutes, the only men left inside were the dead and they were aplenty. Charred, skeletal bodies lay unrecognizable. General Yamashita, commander of the Japanese 25th Army, was one of them. This single act of wanton destruction would have heavy repercussions in the near-future, both good and ill.

All of it was recorded by the drone orbiting one hundred and nine thousand feet above, of course.

Singapore, 14 46 Hours, 21 December 1941

Admiral Philip Cleburne couldn’t see the reason behind the name of the Battle Box for this archaic place, other than the fact that it was as square as a box. The Brits are always coming up with all sorts of funny names for mundane places, he thought. No wonder they lost their empire, or soon would anyway.

To be frank, he would rather have the meeting taking place at Raffles hotel than in this abominable place. His 21C counterpart, Colonel Woomera Robertson, showed no signs of discomfort other than the occasional nudge. No one could blame the US admiral really. In his day, nearly every aspect of an admiral’s duties was carried out inside an air-conditioned environment, with proper lighting and wide spectrum access to the Net. He barely remembered a time when such comforts were not taken for granted, and now Admiral Cleburne was ready to miss them like hell.

At least there’s still the George Bushand the rest of the battlegroup. And Queensland too.

In front of the two visitors from the future were maps of Peninsular Malaya and Singapore. A quick glance on a few of them told the admiral that things weren’t looking good. The Japanese held most of northern Malaya, and they were rapidly pushing down south. The British had lost Penang already. More precisely, they had abandoned it and handed the Japanese the keys to the island a day later. By tonight, he knew that British forces would evacuate west of the Perak River. In four days time, the Japanese would control all Malayan territory stretching north and west of the river itself. This was the story of the last days of 1941, and the first half of 1942. Retreat, retreat and more retreating…

It couldn’t be helped. Allied war equipment had yet to be efficient, and the American war industry wasn’t running on full speed yet. Men like General Ernest Arthur Percival made it all the more worse. Sheer incompetence and the lack of affirmative action had unraveled the Allied defenses against the Japanese in Malaya and then Singapore. If he read his history books correctly, the general surrendered Singapore because he was too afraid of having to take part in a long, heavy siege.

The Soviets didn’t flinch when they held on in Leningrad and Stalingrad, he contemptibly thought. The 101st Airborne didn’t give in to German demands of surrender during the siege of BastogneSo much for Churchill’s blood, toil and tears.

On his watch, however, none of this bullshit would come to pass. Already the George Bush‘s strike group was preparing for an Alpha Strike on Japanese targets in Malaya. Tomorrow, an element of 21C RAA’s 2nd/14th LHR would be bolstering the defenses of the Kuala Kangsar area with modern weapons and equipment, supported by his carrier battlegroup. By then, the Japanese should also be reeling from the loss of their theatre command headquarters. With enough fissures applied, Allied forces could push the Japanese 25th Army out of Malaya altogether. And that’s if a timid little cunt like Percival didn’t get in the way of things.

There weren’t any 24-inch flat screens and wireless connectors in place here yet, but word had traveled down fast among the local higher-ups that the B-52 raid had successfully killed the Japanese 25th Army commander and hostile ground forces within the vicinity. The airfield at Alor Setar had gone through the raid unscathed, but a flight of F-35s with mid-air refueling support would be heading back to finish the job within three hours from now.

Seated in one of the Battle Box’s rooms, which had been hastily turned into a guest chamber at the last minute, the admiral and his Australian colleague stood up at the sight of General Percival and his entourage as they came in through the entrance. Without hesitation, he took turns with Colonel Robertson to shake hands with the general and his staff.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir,” Admiral Cleburne shook the man so hard that it nearly pushed him off balance. “I’m Admiral Philip Cleburne, USN Battlegroup Commander. This here is Colonel Woomera Robertson, RAA 2nd/14th Regimental Commander.”

The infantry man got his turn to shake hands with General Percival, with a grip tighter than the admiral’s.

“I’ve heard all about that raid your people pulled off over Alor Setar,” Percival finally said. “It is a miracle that the future is with us.”

“Well general, we’ll have more miracles to show you yet,” the admiral spoke with a typical General American accent, though there was a slight hint of a southern drawl in his voice. “By tomorrow night we’ll put those Japanese airfields in Thailand and Indochina out of action, permanently.”

“What about my men fighting on the ground?” Percival asked. “How will you aid them?”

That was when Colonel Robertson came into play. “In addition to Admiral Cleburne’s supporting aircraft, we will have at least four troops from B Squadron in Kuala Kangsar by tomorrow. Two Australian Air Warfare Destroyers will make the approach to Singapore from Christmas Island tomorrow, and in a fortnight, two RAAF F-22 squadrons should be arriving from there as well.”

That seemed to re-assure the General Commanding Officer (GCO) of Malaya, even if he barely understood what an F-22 or an AWD was. Admiral Cleburne was smiling, but deep behind his façade was utter contempt for this frail man. First thing he asks is our help, he thought, not advices to stop the Japanese dead in their tracks, or even what will transpire.

He remembered that line from Wikipedia now. In spite of instructions from Winston Churchill for prolonged resistance, General Percival surrendered the entire garrison of Singapore. The contemporary general, oblivious to Cleburne’s thoughts, smiled back with warmth tarred by weeks of commanding the Malayan front.

“Gentlemen, now let’s go have some tea and biscuits at the Raffles Hotel,” Percival warmly said. “Can’t be always cooped up in this stuffy bunker, now could you?”

Admiral Cleburne nodded, along with Colonel Robertson. “Sure, we like to, General Percival. There’s still a long day stretching in front of us.” And a long war too.

Deep down, he could not believe it. They were in the middle of a war, the whole joint under threat by the Japanese and the general was asking them for to go have some tea! If it was in an American high school, Percival would be the sort of guy who everyone calls a chickenshit and generally gets bullied all the time. If only Churchill knew what this guy would do on 15 February, 1942…

 

 

 

 

Part 3: Correlation of Forces

Grik-Kuala Kangsar Battlezone, 16 00 Hours, 22 December 1941

Pushing down his combat goggles and switching his rifle’s selector to burst shots, Lieutenant Clinton Wong of ‘A’ troop then toggled his communicator onto the troop tactical network and began his orders.

“All units – advance at all costs. Suppress any Japanese positions along the way. Lenggong is our target and we will reach there by tonight!”

“This is Kangaroo Lead Explorer. We acknowledge that, over. ”

“Kangaroo Assistant is ready for action, over.”

“Kangaroo Buttress acknowledges that, over.”

The industrial staccato of six thirty-millimeter Tenix autocannons lashing out in a furious wall of lead echoed through the afternoon air. The lead ASLAV-26 moved across a muddy trail just as its twin autocannons spat two hundred rounds into a platoon of Japanese infantrymen rushing at its position. The eight-wheeled armored vehicle lurched to a stop, and then almost as quickly drove forward.

Two other ASLAV-26s followed, which were accompanied by a moderately-armed squad. The Australians’ basic infantry weapon, the AICW, looked big and unwieldy on first sight. Thousands of hours of drills and training had seen to it that the men wielding them knew their weapon inside out, but Lieutenant Wong had his doubts whether it was a wise choice to have it as Australia’s main infantry assault weapon. An old F-88 Steyr would beat this beast any day, he curtly thought as bullets glanced off the ASLAV he was hiding behind.

The ASLAV-26s’ autocannons ripped every tree, grass and dirt that were sheltering or just even suspected of holding Japanese soldiers into tiny little pieces. Behind the advancing vehicles of ‘A’ Troop were troops from the 3rd/2nd Punjab Regiment, a contemporary unit that would had pull off an ambush on the Japanese a few miles down the Grik road later today. The Punjabi troops were advancing and firing at the same time, more often than not taking a casualty or two. Unlike him or his men, they did not possess Kevlar bulletproof vests, assault rifles or tac nets. Nor did they have any sort of access to the drone currently orbiting this part of Malaya.

The muffled whumps of three 40mm grenade launchers springing into action could be heard over the jackhammering din, followed two seconds later by fragmentation explosion over a Japanese machine gun nest the ASLAVs missed. Single shots of 5.56mm rounds zipped here and there, each bullet hitting a target with near-godlike accuracy. The Punjabi men began advancing behind the second ASLAV, encouraged by the heavy support they had just received.

About six hours ago, ‘A’ Troop was hastily flown in from Singapore to the airfield at Ipoh, which was several hundred kilometers to the back. Being tasked as a reconnaissance troop, evidently they would be the first to fight the enemy. That was happening now, and the other three troops of the B Squadron, 2nd/14th LHR weren’t far behind. B, C and D troops, the lieutenant thought, firing at a Japanese unfortunate enough to be caught in the open. That means six more ASLAV-26s, plus three Metalstorm-wielding ASLAV variants.

Fighting up a mountain road was easier said than done, but he had lost none of his men yet. The Punjabi contemporaries had twenty dead so far, and they were still going strong, their morale bolstered by the arrival of Clint’s troop. Overhead, a pair of F-35Cs from the George Bush roared to the northwest. The jet planes had been doing this since yesterday night, working on the increasingly poor environment with utmost dedication. If the reports were correct, they were probably heading towards the airfield at Sungei Petani. Butterworth airfield, which was a lot closer to the Grik-Kuala Kangsar road, was now practically non-existent, having been on the receiving end of a sub-kiloton penetrator strike eight hours back.

‘BANZAI!”

Clint shook his thoughts out as more than a hundred Japanese soldiers poured out of the jungle on ‘A’ Troop’s right flank, all of them yelling that inane war cry and charging with bayonets. An officer was leading the rush with his katana, hollering at his men to go forward and kill some white men, only to be sent to his ancestors when a 40mm grenade struck at his feet and detonated, releasing a shower of explosive fragments in every direction. Before a fraction of a minute passed, the ASLAVs’ main armaments were turned against the new threat.

“Keep on firing at those little bastards,” Lieutenant Wong ordered. “Go, go, go!”

In effect, even in the vicinity, ‘A’ Troop’s ASLAV-26s looked like they were pouring rivers of solid fire onto the Japanese intruders. Most of them burst into a gory mess of red mist, while some others were knocked down by the supporting infantry weapons. The leading officer was gone, save for his lower torso and the lower half of his katana. In three minutes, it was all over. None of the attacking Japanese troops had survived in any form.

“Will you look at that,” Staff Sergeant Major Tung said over the troop frequency. “Its nothing like a good piece of hickory though.”

“Alright people, let’s can the chatter and resume our advance.”

The Punjabi soldiers, some of them situated behind him, had the look of unbelievable awe on their combat-worn faces. They were advancing alongside Kangaroo Lead Explorer at the moment; their Lee Enfield bolt-action rifles trained at the jungle from whence the Japanese popped out. Clint did a quick check on his troop, relieved that there wasn’t a single 21C casualty. Yet.

The wonders of modern warfare, he ghoulishly grinned.

USS George H.W. Bush, 17 25 Hours, 22 December 1941

Just some nine miles off the coast of western Malaya, the George Bush was cruising at half her top speed in the Straits of Malacca. Any mischief the Imperial Japanese Navy in this part of Asia would be swiftly dealt with, thanks to her long-range radar and air group. As a precaution against enemy submarines lurking in the area, the Schofield traveled on her portside. Combining their radars and drone coverage would create an impregnable defensive wall only modern weaponry could hope to penetrate.

Captain Gregory Howery watched from a screen in the CIC showing a pair of F-35 Lightning IIs making their return on the flight deck. They had just finished the attack run on the Japanese airfield in Sungei Petani, the action all captured on video by an orbiting drone and sent back into theBush‘s memory core. Radarscopes had picked up nothing hostile in the area, and so the threat boards were green.

“Sir,” the communications suite operator said, “We’d just received an encrypted message from Admiral Cleburne.”

“Alright son, now just let me see this.”

He tapped a few fingers on his own keyboard before a text message popped on the flat screen. Penetrator strikes success. Japanese stopped dead literally, still a possibility of an amphib landing in eastern Malaya though. Prep the carrier and destroyer to return to Singapore for briefing on new operation in the Gulf of ThailandR&R afterwards.

Gulf of Thailand, he thought.

There were only two possibilities on what such an operation might be. Either they were going to expand the drone coverage well into Thailand and Indochina, and future air cover as well, or the battlegroup was going on a ship-hunting cruise. Both were just as likely, but Captain Howery remembered that the admiral said something about sinking the entire Japanese fleet in a one-sided battle…

“Commander Hunt,” he called out.

The carrier’s XO stepped out of the dark. “Yes sir?”

“I want you to go prep the ship for return to Singapore at full speed. And Lieutenant Chestier, I want you to inform the Schofield about the return trip, now. People, lets make it happen.”

Riga, 19 00 Hours, 22 December 1941

The Hermann Goering battlegroup had just entered the Gulf of Riga over four hours ago after sailing from the port of Wilhelmshaven. Most notable of these were the battlegroup’s three landing crafts, which were as big as a cruise liner. Two of them, the Siegfried and Fredrick, carried a total of thirty E-50 panzers, fifteen E-10 armored personnel carriers and ten 20mm Vierlung air defense vehicles, all this belonging to the mechanized detachment of the Wehrmacht 7th Regiment. The lead landing craft, Rommel, carried the regiment’s core, its two artillery battalions and their organic air support, six Überbrücker jump jets and nine FW 1109 gunships.

The city was formerly the capital of Latvia but a year after the Second World War had started, the Soviets annexed and occupied the country. Then a year later, they were replaced by the Germans, who proved to be as brutal as their previous Russian occupiers. If this world war ended like it was supposed to, Riga would exchange hands with the Soviets once more. Oberst Wilhelm Strasse did not know that, because in his world the Baltic regions had been part of the Greater German Reich for more than three decades. Pacing on the main deck of the Rommel, he wondered if the Soviets could be beaten into submission now. The current Reich had failed to capture Moscow before the dreaded General Winter came into play, and if the given reports were true, then every Wehrmacht and SS unit had been pushed out of Moscow’s sight earlier this month. They were now fighting a retreat, even if the Fuhrer said otherwise.

“A fine weather today, Herr Oberst,” somebody spoke from behind.

He immediately recognized the voice without the need to turn and have a look. “Not too bad, Oberstleutnant, but it will be much more pleasant if it weren’t snowing. So how goes the unloading.”

“It won’t be long before the unloading process is complete.”

“Good,” the older man answered. “What about the necessary transportation to the front?”

“It is being taken care of, Herr Oberst. In six days’ time, we should be able to load up all our equipment and head to Novgorod, where the tracks will change to lead us to Demyansk…”

“Then we can start slaughtering the Bolsheviks,” the oberst finished the line for him. “We will blitz Moscow and decapitate the bear’s ability to resist the Reich. A simple yet magnificent plan, achievable if enough pressure is applied in the quickest manner.”

***

Admiral Hans Konigsberg sat in his own private cabin onboard the Hermann Goering, before he reached for his secret pack of Cuban cigars stashed beneath the bed. They used to flow into the Reich in truckloads from Britain, but that was before the Americans included Cuba in their Monroe Doctrine Policy. It was quickly enforced behind a strict naval patrol between the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean and the Atlantic.

A big sham it was, he thought. They left South America out when they could, should have included them in.

For now, that little historical point was redundant as the German admiral lit the cigar and chewed it hard, contemplating on his next moves to counter the enemy. Oberst Strasse had agreed that a speedy blitz on Moscow before the Soviets had time to react would close down the Eastern Front. Stalin and Beria must be eliminated before they can evacuate to Kuibyshev. Once the Bolshevik leadership was destroyed, any further resistance would be short and poorly-led.

While the oberst led the 7th Regiment against Moscow, the Hermann Goering battlegroup would pummel the city of Leningrad into submission, starting with the use of thermobaric bombs on Russian convoys heading across Lake Lagoda. Neither the Fuhrer nor anyone else in the Third Reich’s leadership had heard of this plan yet, but the approval seal from the SS-Reichsfuhrer had allowed him to prepare his strategies without hindrance.

Leningrad and Moscow were two symbolic junctures in the Soviet Union. The first because it was the home of their so-called Glorious Revolution, and the second was obvious enough: the capital heart of Bolshevik Russia. Once their defenses were systematically destroyed by his forces, they could move and captured them; thereby not only gaining two strategic targets and closing down the Eastern Front at the same time, but it would degrade the Russians’ morale.

 

Why they not taken the lessons of the First World War in heart, he wondered. Fighting a war on two fronts is a recipe for defeat.

He sighed. Defending the Fatherland came first and he would have to make do with whatever was at his disposal. The loss of the two SSBNs was staggering; one could go mad thinking of the squandered opportunities. Even with just one of them, this war would not last another week. London, Moscow and even Washington D.C. would be glowing radioactive rubbles, though that might take time without satellite guidance.

It also led him to wonder what he was doing here in the first place. This was not supposed to be his war, and despite what Himmler had said, the SS Berliner can go burn in hell for bringing stranding the entire battlegroup here. Anyway, the war he knew did not have a Western Front from 1941 onwards or a North African theatre either. Feldmarschall Erwin Rommel was fighting down there, instead of participating in the assault on Moscow like it was in Konigsberg’s time. The reports given to him had mentioned only one stunning victory after another against British forces in North Africa.

At least all is good down there, he smiled.

The roar of three He 385s on a patrol flight above his ships did not bother him, but the thought of them ripping into whole enemy squadrons of propeller-driven planes like wild vultures gave the German admiral some comfort. The Allies will not be able to counter them, and there was also a strong possibility that the United States would be knocked out before its industrial muscle came into play. They just had to act fast.

Now, he wondered what his past self was doing. Admiral Hans Konigsberg had served onboard a U-Boat as a lowly Fahnrich zur See during his world’s Second World War, first sinking Allied ships in the North Atlantic and then a year after the 1940 Armistice, his ship went on hunting Bolshevik warships in the Arctic Ocean. By the end of that war, he was a Kapitan zur See. Slowly, over the next two decades, he rose onto the rank of an Admiral. By 1973, he was commanding the Reich’s first carrier battlegroup, which led him to this state…

The admiral sighed again, puffing a large ring of smoke across the cabin. Unlike Kapitan Joachim Scholer, he did not have a family due to the single-minded pursuit of his career, so there was nothing to miss about home. Not a single thing at all.

 

 

 

Part 4: Correlation of Forces (II)

USS George H.W. Bush00 25 Hours, 23 December 1941

“Captain, we’d just received word from the HMAS Quiberon,” the supercarrier’s executive officer – Commander Daniel Hunt – announced over the vidlink. “The Australian AWDs are finally in sight of Singapore.”

Captain Gregory Howery slumped back on his command chair. “Okay, Hunt. Anything else on our threat bubble?”

“Nothing Japanese within 300 miles,” he shrugged. “Looks like that penetrator strike did really hit ’em hard, though AWACS and a BED-2 drone flying out of Ipoh have picked up some air activity along the Thai border, presumably survivors from Singora. Two patrolling F-35s have already been vectored onto their position.”

“Alright, I want you to forward that message to Admiral Cleburne and also tell him that everything here is A-okay.”

“Already done and done, Captain,” he replied without hesitation.

“Good. Go get yourself some R&R then, if there’s nothing else. It’s kinda late and there’s going to be a long week ahead of us, and you’ve been working for two straight days anyway.”

“Thank you, Cap’n. Over and out.” The PDA’s small video screen turned black, leaving the Captain Howery to mull over his thoughts and the Singaporean night outside the flag bridge’s blast windows.

The Bush‘s captain smiled. Of all the naval XOs he knew of, Commander Hunt was the best. He was always two-three steps in front of you, never late in nearly every single thing. He had the potential to command a supercarrier, but there were two problems with that. First, Hunt was very dedicated to his current job and secondly, they’d been thrown seventy-six years back into the past. He highly doubts that the current US Navy would allow a black man to command one of their warships, even if it was a goddamn frigate. And even if they did, for God only knew what reason, he wouldn’t want to in the first place.

Thinking back on the original news Hunt had just announced, the Bush‘s captain wondered what was going to happen. The AWDs were more than capable of defending Singapore from air attacks or naval assault, but what was going to happen to Christmas Island itself? Her three squadrons of F-22s, her garrison and AWDs were being transferred to the defense of Singapore. Probably they would just be replaced by troops and squadrons from Queensland…

It came down to Singapore then. If the Japanese captured it like in the ‘original’ – it brought chuckles whenever he thought of it – history, they would effectively be able to create a chokepoint in this part of Asia that belongs only to them. When that happened, they would be able to use it as a strategic port from whence their ships and planes could attack and consolidate their hold over this part of Asia. There would be widespread massacres of Allied POWs and Chinese civilians as well, and it would be worse than in Bosnia or the ‘live’ Jihadi beheadings that were so occasional in conflicts of the 21st Century.

Admiral Cleburne had been under a lot of pressure ever since the supercarrier anchored alongside the rest of the battlegroup at Changi Harbor six hours ago. Currently, the admiral was having a little chit-chat with the contemporary British commanders at Raffles Hotel. He should be back about soon, but the new atmosphere of tension won’t just disappear. In addition to being stuck in the past and with no way of returning home, the Bush CVBG and every 21C American forces in Queensland now had to follow orders from contemporary Washington.

The ‘temp directive came to the admiral via Coalition HQ in Queensland half an hour after he had sent the message for CVN-77 to return. The message had stated that the carrier battlegroup will cruise for Pearl at full speed, and no more offensive actions were to be taken until after ‘everything was sorted out’. The captain fondly remembered the conversation he had with the admiral on the ship’s cafeteria before the battlegroup mission briefing four hours back. Dusk had just then fully swept the tropical Southeast Asian sky, and there was nothing to be seen but a half moon and a few flickering stars.

***

“Godammnit Greg!” he cursed. “That strike would have struck every single major surface combatant in the Combined Fleet out of the water and bring the war much closer to an end! Those ‘temps in the Hill don’t even know what are our capabilities in the first place.”

“Well we can always go ahead without their consent…”

“And be denounced as rogues and deserters?” Admiral Cleburne finished it for him, before giving in to a long sigh. “As of current, we can’t afford to piss off those guys back in CONUS. That’s our country right there, even if it isn’t in the 21st Century. Washington is pretty desperate for the battlegroup to come home. Fuck me, but they didn’t even want us to help MacArthur in the Philippines. The least we could do before we head for home however is to strike at one of the Japanese’ naval bases in this region. Specifically, Indochina.”

“If I remembered my history right, weren’t their warships mostly anchored in the Marianas if they were outside of Japan?”

“Not at all,” the admiral threw the light on. “They’ve got at least six Type KD3A/B subs anchored in Cam Ranh Bay now, but they will leave in six days time. Pity we can’t nail those KD4 and 5s that will arrive on the 27th, but it’ll do. But probably the biggest fish of them all is Vice Admiral Kondo’s Second Fleet. Thirteen ships in total will be laying anchor in that harbor in about two days – three cruisers, two battleships and eight destroyers. If all of them are down below in Davy Jones’ locker, it’ll further cripple not only their operations in Malaya, but also in Borneo and the Philippines.”

“Cam Ranh Bay?” Captain Howery remarked.

“Yep, that’s up northeast in Vietnam. That’s from where the Japanese invaded Malaya. It would’ve been devastated in 1944 by Task Group 38, but we’re going to make this happen earlier and save Admiral Halsey and his men a lot of trouble.”

***

Captain Gregory Howery wondered just how Admiral Cleburne was going to convince contemporary Washington to let his battlegroup go for this one mission. Probably think his mad, he thought.

Thirty-one and a half hours from now, they will set sail for the Indochinese edges of the South China Sea and begin Operation FAST DRAW. Once that was accomplished, they would head back home via Australia. A great plan that had the chance to go haywire anywhere from start to end, but the Japanese won’t be able to counter the battlegroup’s weapons, the SSNs and the drone coverage. They aren’t exactly the Chinese…

He immediately got out of his command chair and took a great stride towards the carrier’s supermarket located below deck. The self-service store contained everything you can find in a normal 21C supermarket with the exemption of alcohol, due to the Navy’s strict policy of being dry at all times. Captain Howery was more in the mood for a Prozac bar and a cup of coffee from the cafeteria.

Thirty-one and a half hours more, he yawned.

***

Four hours before…

In the George H.W. Bush‘s conference room, the captains and executive officers of the 21C battlegroup sat on office chairs surrounding a video wall. Attached along the grey metal bulkheads and exposed piping above were a triplet of fluorescent lamps that shone light beige instead of the usual white commonly used in office spaces. A barely-visible visual map of Southeast Asia could be seen, and soon it was blocked by the figure of Admiral Philip Cleburne.

The lights were quickly shut off as the admiral side-stepped to his right, allowing the audience of battlegroup commanders to witness the visual display. In turn, the map rapidly refocused itself on the southeastern coast of Vietnam – currently known as French Indochina in the world of 1941.

“This is Cam Ranh Bay, gentlemen,” Cleburne steadily began. “Some of you who majored in Twentieth Century Military History back in Annapolis would recognize it as the major naval port used by the Navy during Vietnam. Historically, the bay had been recognized as a strategic military area since the start of the Twentieth Century. It was from here that the Russian fleet sailed to their doom in the Battle of Tsushima, and more recently, the Japanese had used it as a base to stage their invasion of Malaya.”

He paused to clear his throat.

“Between the 24th and the 28th, there will be approximately thirteen surface warships and six submarines anchored there. The submarines will move out on the 28th, while the warships will set sail sometime early in January next year. Most of you know that I’ve been aching to crush the Japanese Combined Fleet the day after we’d all transited back in time. We still can, but apparently news had gotten onto Washington D.C. of our presence and now they’re screaming at me to bring the whole battlegroup home on the double.”

“Sir, we don’t have to listen to them right?” asked one of the executive officers – Commander Gayle Turner, USS Schofield.

“Nope we don’t, commander,” the admiral smiled, not in a pleasant way. “We’ll just be revoked of our citizenships and the rights to be called an American. That’s how desperate Washington is for us to be back.”

“Excuse me Admiral, but that’s a very stupid idea,” Captain Eagle Duong, USS Duck, said. “We’ll come a long way to winning this war for them if they’ll allow us the autonomy to do our jobs, which of current is sinking every Japanese warship in this theatre.”

Admiral Cleburne sighed. “I can’t blame them. They just don’t know what this battlegroup, indeed the future, is capable of. And I’m not intending to disobey their orders anytime soon, gentlemen, though if they try to remove any ‘Americans of color’ serving onboard my ships, I can assure you that won’t be followed. Of course, you can’t forget that most of the contemporary USN warships have been knocked out a few weeks ago at Pearl. Hence this deal with Cam Ranh Bay…”

“If we can’t strike the Japanese’ capital ships in Hashirajima Naval Base, we can at least cripple their Southern Force. It would undoubtedly screw up their plans for Malaya and Borneo, give them a warning of what we can and will do to them and come back home with a victory to gloat about. Not that there’s any home to talk about when we are stuck seventy-six years in the past, but home nonetheless.”

“Two days from now, at 08 00 hours,” he said, “the George H.W. Bush will set sail out of Changi Harbor. The Zumwalts and the Virginias will be playing escorts, while the two Burkes will remain here to guard the Backbone and Singapore. The RAAF’s F-22s should settle in to bolster air defenses around this part of the peninsula by then. By 19 00 hours, we should be in position to launch Operation FAST DRAW from one hundred miles south-south-west of Binh Ba Island. Using drone coverage, the Virginias will launch their first penetrator salvo against the two battleships lying here and here.”

A laser pointer from behind the seats shifted across the map on the pictorial of two large, oval-shaped objects identified as the Kongo and Haruna. The beam of red light paused for a moment before it moved to another spot.

“Once that’s done, the Zumwalts will target port facilities here, here and here with one sub-kiloton penetrator each. The Virginias will then launch a second salvo against the three cruisers parked here, here and here. A flight group from the Bush loaded with shipkillers will then immediately do a flyby over the eight destroyers stationed here after the rest of the Southern Force has been decimated. After that, we’ll head back for Singapore. Any questions?”

The room was as quiet as a mouse, safe for the vibrating humming emitted by the visual projector.

“I’ll take that as no questions then,” Admiral Cleburne amicably responded.

Latvia, 10 09 Hours, 23 December 1941

A FW 466 transport helicopter took the Fuhrer, his secretary Martin Bormann and two major players of the Nazi Hierarchy – Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering and SS-Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler – from the Wolfsschanze in East Prussia back to the port of Riga. All of them, except Himmler, were impressed just by the mere presence of the twin-rotor aircraft; Goering was even babbling about the need to learn and build more of these marvelous contraptions.

“Imagine it, mein Fuhrer,” he said. “Just hundreds of these ‘Hubschraubers’ flying our troops into Moscow or London would instantly render most of their ground defenses impotent.”

“Yes Reichsmarschall,” Hitler agreed. “But let us leave that for Todt to work out. We are on our way to see this wondrous future ship named after you.”

The Luftwaffe chief’s face lightened up like the dawn of a new day. Though his face was a blank, Himmler was seething like a boiling pot deep inside. Anything that would feed the fat fool’s contemptuous ego was bound to anger him. Even though in that other history his bombers were responsible for knocking Britain out of the war at Dunkirk, it did not happen here. Worse, his promise of no bombs falling on German soil had been broken one two many times. It was a wonder that the Fuhrer hadn’t sacked him yet; probably because both of them were best friends.

The Hubschrauber flew across the forests and railroads once belonging to the Soviet Union with speed that would amaze some. Three hours passed before it was hovering above the port city of Riga. The future battlegroup were arrayed across the harbor in a straight row, with the Hermann Goering in the middle. The aircraft carrier was obvious due to its humongous size and its long flattop deck. The transport craft slowly decreased in height, the rotors slowing their spin and the ground nearer for its wheels to touch.

“Very impressive,” Hitler looked out of a window. “There is your ship, Hermann. Truly, it is the work only Aryans of the Thousand-Year Reich could ever accomplish!”

“I concur,” the Luftwaffe chief acceded, before turning his attention to the SS chief. “You have met this Admiral Konigsberg, Reichsfuhrer. What sort of a man is he?”

“A good son of the Fatherland,” he gloomily responded.

“I shall be delighted to speak with this admiral then,” said Hitler. “It is a good day for Germany, and for every fighting Aryan!”

***

“I like it,” Hitler boomed. “I like it very much. And no doubt, with weapons like this, the war has surely been won.”

They were strolling through the flight deck, draped in thick coats of fur to keep them warm from the Latvian weather. Every flight technician, pilot and sailor on deck stood to attention as the Fuhrer and his entourage passed by. For them, it was an honor to meet the original Fuhrer in person, the one who had led the Third Reich to greatness in their history. The Reichsmarschall was inspecting a He 395 a few meters behind them, awed by the aircraft’s sleek edges and flying wing design while the SS chief was having a friendly chat with the Kapitan Scholer. Martin Bormann had been silent since the whole trip began, even as he strolled across the flight deck with the Fuhrer.

“Yes, Mein Fuhrer,” Admiral Konigsberg, walking beside him, answered. “This ship was built in 1973, and like her predecessor, she is powered by a nuclear engine. Literally, she can sail around the world for nine years, with the need to stop in a port only when it’s replenishing her stockpile of supplies and ammunition, or replacing one of her aircraft and pilots.”

“Marvelous,” the Fuhrer exclaimed. “This means that not even the Americans are safe from our wrath!”

The German admirals’ face contorted in intricacy. That was precisely what he wanted to avoid, ever since the battlegroup was thrown back thirty-four years into the past. They would deplete their powerful weapons against the American center of power in Washington or their shipyards in Norfolk, but what then? The United States would rapidly build and rebuild her war industries, doubling her efforts against Germany and then the Fatherland would meet the same fate as Japan. If there was no Britain, however…

“Mein Fuhrer,” Admiral Konigsberg said. “There are plans I’d like to discuss with you, some of which I have been thinking over ever since our arrival here. Would you mind to come into my cabin for some coffee and biscuits?”

“I certainly would not mind,” cried the Fuhrer. “Anything for a man who would bring victory for Germany!”

South China Sea, 19 00 Hours, 24 December 1941

Despite the planned positioning of long-range strike forces to begin the operation’s first phase at nineteen hundred hours, the USS California was an hour early. Her sister ship, Washington, laid ten meters to her portside. Both of them were submerged at a depth of three hundred and ninety feet, readying for the strike despite the threat from hostile aerial or naval forces. Their threat boards were empty, but the orbiting BED-1 drones, launched upon arrival, provided much more detailed coverage of their intended targets.

“Weapons, are we armed yet?” asked Captain Ryan Leach as he paced the control deck of the USS California.

The weapons officer agreed.

“Missiles one and two ready for launch, skipper. Target locked and verified.”

“Good.”

Despite them ready to fire, the attack would not begin until after every warship was in place. Thus, for an hour, the crews of both nuclear-powered attack submarines idled with fear even though it was remote. Currently two-hundred feet beneath the sea, and with engines as quiet as a mouse, they would not be detected by the Japanese. Still it was a tense one hour. Ninety miles southwest of Binh Ba Island, they were arranging a strike that would rival Pearl Harbor in intensity and scope.

Then the signal came through for Operation FAST DRAW to proceed. Without hesitation, both subs increased their elevation all the way to firing depth. The cameras linked onto their photonic masts revealed an island identified as Ap Binh Ba. Sensing that it was safe to do so, with her sonar suites showing no signs of underwater hostiles, Captain Leach finally gave the order.

“Alright weapons,” Captain Leach said. “Fire away!”

“Aye, aye skipper.”

Within two seconds, four cruise missiles ejected from both submarines’ VLS tubes engaged their first-stage rockets to propel them out of the water. When they finally broke out of the sea surface, their wings rapidly unfolded and their turbofans propelled them further into the night sky. They were Tomahawk Block VIs, commonly known as sub-kiloton penetrators, the latest in a long line of American-manufactured land attack missiles. Unlike their all-weather capable conventional payload-carrying forebears, these Tomahawks carried a 0.5 kt shaped-charged warhead capable of penetrating four thousand meters of soil and reinforced concrete, though this was configurable due to their upgraded impact sensors. Back in 2017, the general public would recognize them as the first pure fusion weapon. The US Department of Defense had painstakingly made sure that was the case, handing out to every military website and researcher slightly modified general specifications on the penetrators. They didn’t want them to think that the United States was actively using nuclear weapons, even if that was the case.

In five minutes, guided by a pair of drones orbiting one-hundred and seventy feet in the atmosphere, they furiously sped past the double-lobed island of Binh Ba and the southern entrance to Cam Ranh Bay. A pair of barely-visible lasers painted the top mast of the Kongo and Haruna, feeding back the data onto the penetrators’ TERCOM radar guidance systems. To anyone gazing upon their arrival, it would seem as if a pair of comets were about to slam right into the harbor.

The sailors working onboard Kongo‘s deck did not have time to sound an alarm as the first penetrator sliced through its 2.75″ deck. It detonated just above the keel, instantly vaporizing every sailor in close proximity and blasting a big hole at the bottom of the ship. The second penetrator slammed into the forward 14″ gun turrets, only to explode in all its brilliance after slicing through 5″ of armor and touching off a massive secondary explosion in the ammunition chambers. Night had turned into day as the battleship was engulfed in the birth of a new sun, with the same happening on the Haruna.

The illumination lasted three minutes, but by then flames were leaping across the smoldering wreckages of what was once His Imperial Japanese Majesty’s Ships. A total of two thousand, seven hundred and twenty men died without knowing what hit them. The whole base was alerted by then, with air raid sirens wailing and soldiers rushing to man their posts. The survivors of the 22nd Air Flotilla in Thudaumot and Soc Trang were warned of the strike eight minutes after the two battleships of Vice-Admiral Kondo’s Southern Force were obliterated in a mini super nova.

All of that was rendered moot when three more penetrators shrieked towards the port facilities and anchored submarines, blasting them into a million superheated atoms.

 

Part 5: A Taste of Things to Come

USS George H.W. Bush, 19 30 Hours, 24 December 1941

Cruising ninety-five miles off the southern coasts of Indochina at a speed of twenty-five knots, the futuristic supercarrier launched a flight of four F-35Cs loaded with two Harpoons each. The Harpoons carried were old AGM-84Ds, each with the speed of eight hundred and fifty-five miles per hour and possessing an explosive payload of four hundred and eighty-eight pounds. Contrary to popular belief, just one of them would not be enough to sink a heavily-armored battleship.

For now, their targets were not massive lumbering battlewagons but rather lightly-armored destroyer escorts. The Lightning IIs streaked past the southern harbor so fast that they resembled the penetrators that shrieked in before them. Only this time they were also manually guided by human pilots, not just microchip processors and laser-targeting systems. Mil-grade combat cams installed on their noses fed everything in front of them back to the Bush‘s combat information center.

Admiral Cleburne watched the attack run in progress from one of the LCD screens. The harbor was brightly lit by the flames from the damages inflicted fifteen minutes ago; the burning wreckages of the battleships Kongo and Haruna, the heavy cruisers ChokaiTakao and Haruna and the port facilities holding the six KD3A/B submarines. There was neither joy nor sadness in what was done; they were, after all, just doing their jobs.

The screen flashed brightly as two blossoms of explosions ripped through the burning night once more. It looked as if an ammunition dump was hit by an ungodly number of heavy ordnance, but Cleburne knew the Harpoons had probably – with luck – penetrated through the ships’ internal magazine stores.

“Captain, Sierra-Fox-One has just launched her first Harpoon,” a technical officer chimed in. “Sierra-Fox-Two and Three’s first Harpoons have scored direct hits on the Akashi and Hagikaze. Sierra-Fox-Four has just armed his Harpoons.”

Before a minute passed, the screen flashed with the explosion of the Akatsuki, the first of the Akatsuki family of destroyers. If Cleburne read that naval history book correctly, it would have been sunk in about a year’s time.

“Sierra-Fox-Four has just launched his first Harpoon,” reported the same officer. Four second later, he frantically said, “Harpoon has splashed one point five meters from target, the Hatakaze. Looks like a malfunction. All strike aircraft are reformatting their attack runs.”

Damn, Admiral Cleburne clenched his fists tightly.

“Commander Hunt,” Captain Howery ordered from the dark. “I want you to get the second squadron ready for action. Also, get those technicians to check their weapons load properly. I don’t want another damn malfunction occurring!”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“Touché, Greg,” Cleburne ribbed.

The screen flashed once more, this time with three violently bright explosions ripping through the night.

HatakazeNowaki and Maikaze are confirmed destroyed,” reported the technical officer. “Sierra-Fox-Two, Three and Four are veering straight for home.”

The only Lightning II left in the area was now Sierra-Fox-One, armed with just one Harpoon and now making her final attack pass. The admiral thought he could glimpse flak bursts raking the night sky, which was probably the case since the Japanese now probably knew it was an air attack.Shrapnel or two might get lucky

“Sierra-Fox-One has launched her final missile. She is now headed for home.”

Those few seconds till impact were tight. Everyone in the heart of the supercarrier were now wondering whether that Harpoon would hit or malfunction like Fox-Four’s first launch. Quickly counting the number of ships sunk, he cursed at that damn faulty ship-killer once more. Even seventy-six years in the past, everything could not be as perfect as he hoped for. If that Harpoon hadn’t broke down, all eight destroyers of Vice-Admiral Kondo’s Southern Force would have been at the bottom of the bay by now.

Then, without warning, the screen burst to life with the brilliant light of a massive explosion.

Michishio has been struck clean,” the technical officer pitched in.

Instead of breaking out in triumphant joy or cheers of success, the final blast was greeted with a grim and unflappable silence. The admiral was still brooding over the Japanese destroyer still yet to receive a subsonic ship-killing missile. Two minutes passed before another technical officer interrupted his dwellings.

“Captain, looks like the Hibiki is moving out fast,” he detailed. “We are detecting radio signals from her… it seems that she’s alerted the airbases in Thudaumot and Soc Trang, though I doubt it’ll be a worrying matter.”

“That’s right, Jim,” Captain Howery complemented. “Keep the drone lock on that ship, and Commander Hunt?”

“Yes sir?”

“Tell second wave to send just one bird up,” the captain ordered. “I want it to be loaded with two Harpoons, however. Have the techs checked out the ship-killers yet, by the way?”

“Done and done, sir.”

***

20 00 Hours

Flight Lieutenant Raymond ‘Shrike’ Tinley didn’t like to clean up other people’s messes, but if he got to do it alone and bag a target – even if it’s an old Japanese tin-can – with a bigass boom, he wouldn’t mind it a single bit. His aircraft was currently loaded with a pair of AGM-84Ds on the external hardpoints beneath the aircraft wings, each weighing one thousand, one hundred and forty-five pounds. The last of the first strike wing had came back ten minutes ago, all still in top condition.

Right now, the lieutenant was concentrating on taxing his aircraft into a shallow groove on the flight deck, which in turn would lead him to catapult slot number two. The bright lights coming from the island structure illuminated much of the darkened surrounding, a fact which made him wonder if any enemy planes or warships were lurking in the horizon, waiting for the right moment to pounce on the battlegroup…

Naw, he coolly dismissed the thought.

Outside his cockpit, a green-shirted ‘hook-up man’ rushed forward to fix up the aircraft’s nose wheel and engage the catapult shuttle. The green-shirted man gestures for the catapult to be tensioned, in which allowing the nose wheel to pull forward and be simultaneously restrained by the hold-back. The catapult operator signaled his acknowledgement with a single finger. The hook-up man immediately whirl his right hand and point forward for the yellow-shirted aircraft director to do his job.

Shrike adjusted his HMDS for better night vision and kept the brakes on. The aircraft director was now standing in front of his Lightning II, waving a clenched fist in the air and shouting at him to keep the brakes on. He gave the director a thumb up, indicating that he was following the usual procedure for catapult launch. Ten seconds later, the director unclenched his fists and shouted over the rising din of the P&W F-135 engine powering up.

“Brakes off!” he yelled. “Full power, now!”

The helmet display mounted system within his helmet hinted at what he should do next, and gave him an objective list which he already knew by heart. There was only one goal, and that was to sink a destroyer christened as the Hibiki. The threat boards didn’t mention any SAMs or lasers, only a smattering of good ol’ triple A for which he was glad for. The probability of him getting shot down was less than two percent.

Now the catapult officer took over the hook-up man’s job. He promptly thrust both hands into the air, two fingers extended and rotating in a circular, rapid motion. The hook-up man, standing far back, gave the ‘all-clear’ signal for flying. Immediately, the officer gestures for the shooter to play her part now.

Shrike snapped off a quick, slouchy salute to signify his readiness to yank this beast off the ‘Bushwagon’, as the supercarrier was known hereabouts among the lesser ranks working onboard, and nab a bad guy in between his ass.

“Make sure you come back alive,” the officer yelled once more. “You still owe me a coupla drinks.”

The flight lieutenant jerked a quick thumb up before the catapult officer pointed forward, hitting the deck with his signal. Behind Shrike’s aircraft, the shooter got the signal to launch the bird and put her into action. Without warning, the Lightning II was hurtled forward at nearly one hundred and fifty knots, with Shrike pushing the throttles up. His HDMS denoted that everything had gone off without a hitch, as it blinked in a direction marker pictured as a compass-like arrow.

Before long, his plane was two hundred feet up in the air. Shrike followed the directional arrow like just as a mule would with a carrot stick.

***

With a speed of more than three hundred and thirty meters per second, the F-35 was shrieking over the burning harbor of Cam Ranh Bay in less than ten minutes. Shrike could have gone faster, but the two Harpoons slung beneath his craft were adding obstructing weight. Still, he dandily took his time to link up with one of the orbiting surveillance drones above to verify and lock onto his target.

Flak bursts and tracer lines were popping here and zipping there, but they were – in his accurate judgment – too far apart and too little to cause serious concern. Just as a safety precaution, he leveled his craft from eleven thousand to twelve thousand feet. His plane lurched upwards, as the gravity pull of the Earth forced Gs upon the airframe and its pilot. Then, the flight stabilized once more and his HDMS visual was giving him a big green target box.

“This is Sierra-Shrike-Zero,” he announced over the UHF secured lines. “I have target visual in sight, at approximately…”

He read one of the screen charts presenting the increasing distance between his aircraft and the Akatsuki-class destroyer. It was trying to get out of the burning harbor.

“Approximately forty kilometers to the northeast,” he finished.

He selected the first Harpoon, flipped on the ‘arm-weapon’ switch and steadied his middle finger over the red button. The range was closing in now at one hundred and twenty, one hundred and fifteen, one hundred and ten…

Without hesitation, the flight lieutenant pressed down the switch hard. The AGM-84D detached from its hardpoint attachment, dropping to four feet above the water before it engaged its turbojet engine and homed in on the drone-painted ship. The subsonic ship-killer sped right above the water surface, heading straight for the oblivious one thousand, nine-hundred and eighty ton warship.

“An early Merry Christmas,” he chimed as the missile reached ten meters from target, “to you, Mr. Hibiki.”

The anti-ship missile slammed through the Hibiki‘s mid-structure and exploded, shattering the fragile vessel in a fiery eruption of heat and shrapnel. It broke the warship in half, and what was left of it, the stern and the bow, sank to the bottom under three minutes. Circling the whole area, satisfied that he had a job done with a big bang, Shrike reported in his success.

George Bush, this is Sierra-Shrike-Zero. The Hibiki has been obliterated, no survivors anticipated. Mission accomplished, I’m now headed for home.”

“Roger that, Shrike-Zero,” the UHF cackled.

The F-35C Lightning II rapidly spun in a hundred and eighty-degree Immelmann, leaving in its wake a trail of burning warships and port facilities once thought secured. Slumping back on his seat, Shrike took a minute to relax. The one and only concern on his mind right now was landing, even if he done it more than a hundred times already.

***

20 25 Hours

The CIC of the George H.W. Bush, despite being calm, was frantic with activity. The data techs were dissecting footages of the three-pronged modern assault on the Japanese-held bay, under orders from Admiral Philip Cleburne. When they got back to CONUS, the footages would then be converted for theatre viewing nationwide. In one of his deep thought moments, the admiral wondered what contemporary men would view of such a powerful assault, especially when it’s dubbed as ‘Japan’s Pearl Harbor’.

His PDA beeped, indicating that he had received a message. Surely, he clicked open the new message file to see what it carried. Much to his dismay, it had only one sentence of a question.

From: General Jefferson Hale, US COFORCE CMDR

To: Admiral Philip Cleburne, USN

Phil, how did the strike go?

Nonchalantly, he clicked on the reply button and began wording up a simple message of achievement.

RE: All targets serviced and obliterated, General. Op FAST DRAW is an astounding success. The battlegroup is on its way back to Singapore, and will leave for Australia in a fortnight.

As soon as he sent his message and locked the PDA, the electronic officer operating one of the sensor arrays got more than thirty blip signals coming from the bubble’s edge. Their AN/SPS-49 array was connected with an AN/WLR-2 ESM, a Hawkeye plane orbiting the battlegroup and the escorting Zumwalts’ AEGIS sensor systems, which granted the battlegroup a mastery of three hundred and forty-five miles. Anything flying within the bubble was bound to be detected, unless it had a stealth profile or was flying very low.

“Admiral,” he reported. “I have a total of thirty-eight hostile aircraft are flying in from the southwest, bearing two-eight-nine, on my radarscopes. At their current rate, they would reach the battlegroup’s current locale in an estimated thirty minutes.”

“How many CAP birds are up there now?” Cleburne asked.

“None Admiral,” replied Commander Hunt. “Last CAP plane touched down for R&R six minutes ago. We can get every other bird up in the bird pretty quickly, though.”

“Never mind then,” Admiral Cleburne finally said. “Sending that bird up would be a waste of irreplaceable missiles and fuel. We’ll continue our course back to Singapore, and shoot down any plane that tries to bomb us.”

***

20 41 Hours

Squadron Leader Yukio Yamada wondered if he and his squadron were being led on a nighttime wild goose chase. More than an hour ago, the naval base at Cam Ranh had been attacked. Some spotters along the coasts there had sighted a large group of unidentified warships, and thought they were responsible for the destruction of Vice-Admiral Kondo’s Main Body. The droning of twenty-four other fourteen-cylinder Sakae 12 engines accompanied his, and they were the undisputable kings of the air. In this part of Asia, their only opposition was the slow and unwieldy Buffaloes and Hurricanes of the British, and the Warhawks and Wildcats of the Americans.

His squadron of fighters was also accompanying thirteen twin-engine G3M2 bombers from the same force that was responsible for the sinking of two British battleships off the coast of Malaya. Surely then, any enemy ships sighted around here would all the more have reason to fear them and flee in terror, which he thought was the way of the white man. Inside, Yukio wished that the 22nd Air Flotilla had thrown more planes in. With a total of one hundred and thirty-four G3M bombers and thirty-six Mitsubishi fighters, not even the American fleet sunk at Pearl Harbor could have stopped them.

There used to be such a massive flotilla, but two days ago, the main airbase in Saigon was for all intents and purposes gone. Only a massive charred patch remained of the airfield that contained had contained eighty-six bombers and five transport aircraft. It was either the work of some unknown weapon or even perhaps the gods themselves. Yukio was not prone to superstition, but nothing could explain how the airbase was destroyed. Similar events had occurred in Soc Trang and Thudaumot yesterday, but they were light-hearted compared to what had happened at Saigon.

It must be the Americans, he swiftly concluded. A secret weapon of theirs, for they know they cannot match the warrior spirit of Nippon. Sooner or later, their weapons too will become redundant in the face of our relentless onslaught!

“Taisho,” his radio cackled to life. “I think I see some lights in the distant waters ahead. They seem to be -”

The report abruptly went dead as an explosion shook the air around his fighter. Yukio quickly wrested control of the light aircraft, hoping to shoot down whoever was responsible once his plane stabilized.

“All units – break formation, now,” he ordered through the radio, as another explosion shook the air.

His attention was diverted by a streaking ball of fire that faintly appeared right in front of his cockpit, growing bigger in size as the gap between him and it was closing. He briefly wondered what it was before the world disintegrated into a mess of fire and metal, and finally darkness. As he died, Yukio’s last thoughts were how glorious his service to the Emperor would be as he scythed all his enemies down with a divine blade in the form of his nimble Zero.

***

20 48 Hours

“That’s the last of them, Admiral,” Commander Hunt announced. “No survivors detected.”

“Alright then,” Cleburne acknowledged. “We’ll maintain course for Singapore.”

After the Zumwalt escorts had eliminated the threats, he figured that then and there, Japanese air power in this region had been comprehensively fucked to the bottom. There won’t be any more air raids on Singapore for however long it took for the Japanese to ship in new aircraft and repair the bases. Even then, Allied air defenses would have been strengthened by the full power of modern technology to the point that attacking Singapore or parts of British-held Malaya was the surest way for any man to die.

“Greg,” he turned to the Bush‘s captain. “You can have your ship’s C&C center back. I’m going up deck for a little fresh air.”

“Many thanks, Admiral,” Howery grinned.

“It’s your ship after all, Greg,” the admiral’s voice trailed on as he exited the CIC.

 

 

 

Part 6: Australian Blues

Queensland, 16 31 Hours, 24 December 1941

The reports were completely unbelievable. To John Birmingham’s steady eyes, it looked like the transcript of some terrifying science-fiction novel. The mish-mash of black and white and colored photos helped to convince him that it was real. The Transition had turned out to be a rough deal, and it wasn’t just like in his novels. Some of its effects were even thought to be taken out of the Twilight Zone.

Seated inside his newly-given office at the Townsville Joint Military Centre, Birmo’s table was surprisingly cluttered with little paperwork and more books instead, and an IBM ThinkPad desktop in the middle. Hardcovers detailing topics on Quantum physics, the Dummies Guide to Modern Militaries and even the odd, cheap conspiracy theory novels that were taken for granted back in Twenty-One could be found on his Ikea work desk.

“Holy shit,” he muttered to no one in particular.

The photo he was viewing showed an asphalt pavement on Cassowary Street in the central western town of Longreach. It resembled every other twenty-first century modern road, except for one glaring detail. The arms of a human being sticking out of the ground could clearly be seen, and from closer inspection, the arms’ bottoms were fused to the asphalt surface. The picture was taken over two days ago, and it was not a local event. Areas, in 21C Queensland, not in close proximity to the sea had suffered some variation of this Transition anomaly.

As it turned out, bits of contemporary Queensland had remained along its southwestern state border. The big catch was that most of them were devoid of contemporary human life, reminding Birmo a lot of those old ‘Ghost Towns’ scattered in arid areas of the American Mid-West. The survivors of Birdsville, in particular, were all dazed and confused, wondering what in the world had just happened to their friends and neighbors on that faithful evening of December 19.

Birmo shook his head as he carefully placed the report file on the left corner of his desk. He was thankful that Ipswich wasn’t located inland. The flat screen lying in front of him never wavered for a second though, and it pained him that he had to finish this piece of work given by General Beagle in lieu of writing his latest novel.

For some reason, he started to think of the Twilight Zone, which brought onto the case of Springvale. The report had mentioned that the town winks into existence by day and out by night. Strangest of all, her inhabitants were constantly running in some sort of fast reverse temporal loop during the day, but at night, nothing could be seen except this thick, green fog that envelopes the entire area.

The handphone within his left pocket suddenly rang, playing the tune from Blink 182. Without checking who the caller was, he placed an ear piece on his right ear and answered the call.

“John Birmingham speaking,” he spoke in a businessman-like tone.

“Hey honey,” a sweet voice chimed in. “I’m here at home thinking of what to cook for our Christmas dinner. It’ll either be cold salad spread with baked ham and chicken chop, or lasagna with seafood leftovers, prosciutto and loads of mozzarella cheese. What say you?”

“I’ll say both,” he smiled. “Is Thomas giving you a helping hand in this?”

“Yes,” a sigh came from the other side. “I’d prefer if Anna helped me instead, but she’s out getting all the Christmas goodies ready for tonight.”

“Tommy will do just fine,” Birmo assured her. “He’s a good and strong lad. If he can learn how to climb a nine-foot tall monkey bar when he was four, and come home after getting lost in Brisbane at seven, he’ll learn how to cook just fine.”

“You give him too much credit, John,” his wife teased.

“I won’t comment on that,” he laughed back. “On a pleasing note, I’ll just take that lasagna option for dinner just ‘coz it’s Italian. The ham can wait for lunch tomorrow.”

“Alright honey. Don’t be late for dinner.”

“I won’t.”

The line went statically dead.

He locked the phone’s keypad and put it back in its original space, turning his attention onto the task at hand. It was an outline of how Queensland could help the Allied war effort, and what should the Allies do to leapfrog their own industrial bases to produce modern technologies. The latter would take at least two decades, but if it was done properly, things like helicopter gunships and ship-mounted missile launchers might make an early appearance.

As for the former… he had rang up his old buddy Mick in Brisbane and asked about Queensland’s heavy industries. The answer was slightly positive and mostly negative.

“The only things I can remember,” Mick had said, “is that they have an aluminum smelter in Gladstone and a production line for the Tiger ARH here in Brisbane. Heard that they recently opened a new line in Rockhampton, but the main point is that Queensland does not posses any heavy industries to speak of.”

Most of what he had said was true. 21C Australia’s defense industries were based mostly in New South Wales and Victoria, both of which were currently contemporary pre-transistor states. The large amount of physics and engineering students found throughout the country could be sent to the ‘States to boost the Manhattan Project, however. He typed that down and rapidly clicked the save box, just in case the computer blacked out like it did on his old Pentium 3.

As he entered the fortieth page of his report, a worrying thought clogged his working mind. What if the Axis had gotten their fair share of future technological wonders?

There were a bunch of naval warships missing in Cairns, and the Bush carrier battlegroup was a fine example of the randomness of temporal juxtapositions. Before the Transition, it was sailing two-hundred miles northeast of New Zealand, but had landed in the middle of the Indian Ocean after some Manning Pope Wannabe had decided to play God with time and space. Birmo wondered if a secret government experiment in the heart of North America was responsible.

Just then, there was a knock on the door.

“Mr. Birmingham,” it was Captain Stevenson Stirling, the general’s aide. “General Beagle wants you to come along with him to Mount Helen immediately.”

“Thank you, Captain,” Birmo gave a shout. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

He moved the mouse cursor over the save box once more, double-clicking it and repeat on the close window box. It took him less than forty seconds to switch the computer off, after which he turned off the room’s lights, drank half a bottle of Evian recycled water found on the guest sofa and walked out of the door, into the sight of the military officer. Locking the door, he gave himself a satisfactory grunt and accompanied the officer to wherever he was intended to go to.

***

17 10 Hours

“… at least eight cases of suicide in our armed forces, while the Americans have had to deal with twenty-four such cases,” Captain Stirling reported. “Of the eight cases, six were successful and two were, well, failed attempts. Those two men are currently being held under rehabilitation programs. In other news, rationing has gone into full effect throughout Queensland. There’ve been a few food riots in Brisbane and Cairns, but nothing as serious as in Zimbabwe or Uganda in 2015.”

They were seated inside the passenger cabin of a MRH-90 transport helicopter; a variant of the European NH-90 bought in 2005 and entirely replaced the Royal Australian Armed Forces’ collection of Blackhawks and Sea Kings by 2015. Birmo had been caught in between the state of liveliness and sleepiness for the past thirty minutes or so inside the spacious place of the passenger cabin.

“ETA two minutes,” the pilot announced over the intercom.

General Beagle turned at Birmo. “Well John,” he said. “It looks like you’ll soon be seeing where one of the USN’s ships went to. In fact, I think you can have a little glimpse outside now.”

That certainly caught the Pulitzer award-winning-turned-advisor author’s attention. He slowly rubbed his eyes and took a look at the window beside him. Fifty feet below the rotary craft was the base of Mount Whelan, which was one hundred and twenty-two miles west of the anomalous town of Springvale. Aside the pack of Kangaroos bouncing up and down, the most shocking thing of all was that near the bottom of the mountain was the hull of a ship sticking out, unable to touch the skyline.

“That was supposed to be the USS Ingraham,” the general explained. “It was an old Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate which was responsible for the ASW defense of the 4th MEU during its trip to Cairns. There’s the forward 76mm naval gun on deck, plus a MK13 missile launcher next to it.”

“Wow,” Birmo gasped. “It looks like something out of the Philadelphia Experiment.”

Or one of your novels, John,” General Beagle offered. “Karate Schnitzel had a frigate appearing right on top of a mountain too, if I could correctly recalled, except that it was an Indonesian vessel and the materialization had taken place somewhere in New Guinea.”

“True,” Birmo muttered. He was too engrossed by the sight of that weird cut-out, which could be forgiven since it was not everyday that anomalies such as this occurred.

The helicopter touched down with its forward wheels rather smoothly. Before he could do anything, the door was slid open by a soldier – a Sergeant, from the looks – from outside. Unhurriedly, the men inside the passenger cabin came out into the sun-glaring outdoors of southwestern Queensland. The heat was unbearable, due to the fact that it was always summer in December. Birmo took out a military-issued bush cap slung along his pocket and wore it, giving his face some much-needed shade.

“Here we are, gentlemen,” General Beagle announced. “We are at the base of one of the most remarkable findings of the Twentieth Century. A modern warship stuck into the slope of Mount Whelan.”

Walking alongside the general and his aide, Birmo noticed that there were plenty of heavily-armed, goggle-wearing soldiers across the mountain foot. Overhead, a trio of insect-looking Tiger attack helicopters buzzed like hornets, guarding the area with the utmost vigilance. Birmo suspected that a few surveillance drones were up high in the sky as well; it made sense to secure this site with every modern war-fighting technology, due to the nature of this particularly unfortunate vessel.

They were approaching one of the makeshift tents, in which a group of contemporary men had made home. John Birmingham thought he seen them from a history book somewhere, but the man he immediately recognized was Robert Curtin. They had met before during his tour of the Townsville Joint Military Centre, and Birmo wondered if he had read his novel.

“Ah,” the Australian prime minister awed. “It’s nice to have you here, Mr. Birmingham.”

Both of them quickly shook hands without Birmo realizing it.

“I had read your book,” Curtin commented. “And I love it. It’s simply fantastic and well-detailed, even if there were parts which I do not understand. I do especially like your portrayal of a tense, war-weary prime minister. That, of course, is long past us now.”

The author just chuckled a bit and nodded. For once in his entire life, John Birmingham had felt a complete loss for words. He began to wonder who was the ‘temp here, but the depressing thought wore off as fast as it reared its ugly head. He just had to play along, be a good host and all that stuff, before home came to him. Home, and Christmas.

Betong Battlezone, 18 52 Hours, 24 December 1941

The Siamese town was full of rising black smoke by the time the sun was ready to set into the west. The incessant chatter of antique Japanese machine guns and rifles, and the deep jackhammering of thirty-millimeter autocannons shattered whatever hopes this small, quaint town might have for a quiet evening.

Overhead, a quartet of Apache gunships from the Bush make several strafing passes with their autocannons, once or twice lashing out with their rocket pods as well. The environment was pretty poor for targets, since those IJA vehicles caught out in the open had been vandalized beyond repair for over an hour. The first powerful shots of the joint attack between modern infantry and airpowers had decimated any Japanese hope for a coherent defense outside the town.

Inside, however, was a different matter. Scattered resistance was still widespread, but the most organized of them all was situated at the town center. It was bristling not only with machine guns of all sizes and fanatical Japanese, but anti-tank rifles used in the sniping role as well. The center would have been continuously hosted down with aerial cannon and rocket fire, but after two passes half an hour back, some suicidal Japanese decided that launching a mortar while a gunship passed in low and slow overhead was a sure way to kill them. He did just that, and with some luck, the AH-64 in question was blown into bits and pieces of metal wreckages tarred with human gore.

Lieutenant Clinton Wong squatted behind the corner of a street leading to the last Japanese stronghold, along with Private Abbey Paterson and a corporal who went by the name of Michael Cassafold. Gripping their AICWs tightly, they were prepared for any SNAFU or clusterfucks that would inevitably occur in a hot battlezone. The troop was ‘building-up’ for the last push into the Imperial Japanese Army’s last bastion in Betong, after having lost two men and that Apache.

“Okay El-Tee,” his tac-net burst to life. “Gives us the word and we’ll blitz in before they even know what hit ’em.”

“How many FGM-15s are there again?”

“Two, El-Tee. And both are loaded up with thermo rounds. We could hit ’em before their snipers pop us, and none is the wiser.”

“Five more seconds then,” Clint announced.

The deep-bass rumble of moving tracks filled the air as ‘A’ Troop’s three ASLAV-26s were getting into position. Their autocannons were whirring steadily as their missile suites were being pre-programmed for infantry suppression. As the lead ASLAV vehicle moved onto the street junction, a row of Type 97 anti-tank rifles boomed in anger. Their twenty-millimeter rounds merely panged off the lightly armored vehicle’s explosive reactive armor.

“Now!” the lieutenant ordered.

A pair of soldiers hiding within one of the abandoned houses overlooking the stronghold began leaping into action. From the interior of the second storey, a pair of FGM-15 Marauder SRAWs began poking out of the broken windows. Their black barrels soon spat two 83mm PBXIH-140 warheads that went as fast as ten meters per second, and they ducked back in once the deed was done.

In nine seconds, the warheads impacted against the concrete support of an ancient building, and exploded. The metallized explosion quickly consumed everything within a circular radius of twenty meters in a large, dense fireball. Everything within it was cooked and asphyxiated simultaneously, leaving a large vacuum that suffocated those who managed to survive somehow. The surviving Japanese who were not wedged in the explosions were caught off guard as the ASLAVs started depleting known or suspected positions with autocannon and missile fire.

The trio of AH-64 gunships re-entered the carnage with unrestricted vengeance, hosting down any Japanese in sight with its linear-linkless, thirty-millimeter M230 automatic guns and Hydra-70 aerial rocket pods. Under their covering fire, Lieutenant Wong advanced with the privates, picking off hostiles with single 5.56mm rounds. One foolish noncom had tried to ambush Clint with a bayonet charge from his flank, but he quickly ducked and gave the man a kick to the groins, finishing off with a quick butt-swipe on the forehead that rendered him unconscious.

“Abbey, Cassafold,” he spoke over the tac-net. “I want you both to haul this man over to the Punjabi regiment camping at the southern side of this bloody town. Make sure he doesn’t get to pull off any naughty tricks, like hidden grenades and whatnot, or I’ll have your fucking hides for it. Assuming you survive, that is.”

“Yessir!” Both replied in unison, though from their faces, one could tell that they were distressed with the prospect of being on end run of a suicide bomber.

‘A’ Troop’s lieutenant quickly left them to their task, heading over to the ASLAV marked as Lead Kangaroo Explorer. Amidst the chatter of the four-bladed twin-rotor attack helicopters above, the battle was more or less won. His tac-net suddenly beeped, with the gruffly voice of Staff Sergeant Mackay filling in not long thereafter.

“El-Tee, looks like that was the last of them. They don’t really like being taken prisoners, do they?”

“Nope Sergeant,” he warily agreed. “It’s something to do with their twisted sense of honor, which makes them a hell lot worse than AQ.”

“I can see that,” she said.

“Anymore casualties taken in that last big one?” Clint finally asked.

“Nope, but if you count the wounded -”

Someone else interrupted the conversation with haste. “INCOMING ZEROES!”

Clint only had time to wonder who it was before an earth-shattering roar of a five-hundred and fifty pound bomb going off a good five feet away from the ASLAVs instinctively told him to slam his body flat on the ground. The all-too familiar ratatatata of machine guns – or was it cannons? – burst in the rapidly-darkening skies above town.

“This is Eagle Two, I am taking heavy enemy fire, requesting for immediate assis -”

The line went dead as the Apache lost its pilot, killed when a mixture of 7.7mm machinegun and 20mm cannon fire punctured through his cockpit. Abruptly, much to the horror of the men and women of ‘A’ Troop, it went on a speedy downward spiral that ended with an ear-piercing crash and a huge explosion. With haste, Clint ran for cover among the building corners and caught sight of the aerial attackers. Two of them, gleaming on them the red-painted meatballs of Imperial Japan, were turning in for another strafing pass.

The first prop-driven plane didn’t make it when a missile from one of the ASLAVs whooshed into the air, intent on tracking one of the buggers down. Without fail, it penetrated through the aircraft’s engines and burst in a fiery storm of heat and shrapnel that engulfed the enemy bird. The second Zero was lucky enough to complete its turn and had the responsible ASLAV in its gun sight, when another ASLAV popped another missile from one of its pods, with similar results.

“I think that was the last of them,” Staff Sergeant Tung announced over the tac-net. “I wonder where they came from.”

“Probably one of those survivors in Singora,” Lieutenant Wong coldly replied. “The USN did such a piss-poor job on that one, for some reason.”

Overhead, the remaining two Apaches were constantly circumventing, just in case more Japanese fighters came back. Without adieu, the lieutenant continued. “Alright people, let’s finish securing this town and bunk down for the night. We’ve got a lot of work to do once supplies start flowing in.”

 

 

 

Part 7: Laying Down the Path

Hsinking (Changchun), 01 00 Hours, 25 December 1941

General Yoshijiro Umezu, the chief commander of the Kwantung Theater Army, simply stared in disbelief at the lighted sight a distance in front of him as he stepped out of his Nissan sedan. His mouth opened and closed twice without a word coming out, shocked by the newfound spectacle. Reports had filtered in yesterday morning of this, but he had nearly dismissed them. The reporting officer had persistently badgered him with the outlandish claim, along with twenty other witnesses.

Still, the army commander had refused to believe them. In fact, he had even planned to have them arrested and disciplined with the utmost severity for disrupting his time. Now, Umezu took back his words and swallowed the bitter fruit of truth. By the Emperor, it was an abominable sight to behold. A warship fused, for the lack of a better word, onto a blackened ground. The same officer had told him it was a mysterious vessel whose crew was either dead or unconscious when the strange ship was discovered.

The 1st Searchlight Battalion had done a good job by ringing their searchlights all around the strangely beached warship, illuminating the Manchurian night for the general and his men to see. In addition to the patrolling soldiers assigned from 7th Guard, as a farfetched precaution, anti-aircraft batteries from the 23rd and 56th anti-aircraft battalions were being hauled into prepared dugouts. Thanks to the same officer’s initiative, the triple-barreled twenty-five millimeters would be fully emplaced by tomorrow night along with the heavy seventy-five millimeters, but for now they had to rely on the 30th antiaircraft battalion’s 13.2mm machine guns to shoot down any enemy aircraft that dared to approach into this part of the Japanese Empire.

The weather was very chilly tonight, but that was frequent at this time of the year in Manchuria and the general felt insulated inside his rabbit fur coat. As General Umezu walked three meters down on the guarded path leading to the ship, the same officer from before approached him with unmistakable pride, stopping only to snap off a crisp salute. Glancing at his winter tunics, the general suddenly remembered the officer’s name and rank.

“Colonel Hiro Okagi,” he firmly spoke. “You have done the Emperor a great service, and bring much honor to your family and ancestors in taking the initiative to inform me of this unusual thing.”

“Hai, Umezu-sama,” he snapped off a salute. “My men have also managed to grab hold a small group of dazed survivors, eight Americans sailors. Of current, they are being held under guard in one of the tents behind me.”

“Americans?” The general stammered in disbelief.

“Shocking as it may be,” the colonel braced himself for a reply, “they themselves do not know how their vessel ended in such a predicament. They were also bewildered when one of my interpreters told them that a war between our Empire and their nation exists of current. Apparently, in the future, we are their allies.”

Depressed lines arched General Umezu’s eyebrows. The future?

He took a good view back at the amazing sight beholding the front. Lighted in all its glory by searchlights, it looked menacingly sleek and diminutive. There was only a single forward gun mount, with additional barrels of unknown purpose strewed throughout its deck, leading the general to believe that it was a destroyer.

But even a destroyer has more guns than this ship, he thought. He was no expert on naval matters, but giving the Navy the chance to determine the American ship’s nature was an option placed at the very bottom of his mind. Both services reserved a cold reserve for each other at best, if not outright hatred.

“Colonel Okagi,” Umezu returned his attention to the situation at hand, “I must say that this outlandish claim is one too many.”

The Japanese colonel looked surprisingly insulted. “Oh no, Umezu-sama, these are genuine claims. I even have transcripts taken from their interrogation, though it was unfortunate that one of them died when the interpreter shot him in a fit of rage. I had him punished for that, but I could also understand why he took such an action and no doubt you will as well.”

“I am listening,” General Umezu impatiently replied.

“In their future,” Colonel Okagi’s tone turned to a whisper, “the future where they came from, Nippon had been pacified by America for more than half a century. They told me that in four years time, the Home Islands will be burned to the ground by their massive bombers. After which, two super bombs will wipe off the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the face of the Earth, ending the war and subjecting Japan to decades of American occupation.”

Enough!” General Umezu hollered. Several men were turning in their direction now, curious on what had angered the Kwantung Army’s chief commander. “Are you trying to tell the Emperor, your family and ancestors that we will ultimately lose this war to the decadent Americans and their British brothers?”

“No Umezu-sama,” Okagi tried his best to calmly reply, “I was merely saying that that was what had happened in their future. With these forewarnings and knowledge of the technical devices onboard the ships, we can thwart the gaijin’s plans to subjugate Nippon.”

The general thought about this for a moment, and nodded in approval. “But then the problem arises. While I am no naval expert, I do believe that this future warship cannot be replicated in our factories. Am I correct?”

The wintry winds howled like a wolf bathed in moonlight. “That is true, but the amount of historical materials these future Americans hold is equally vital. I have not assigned any of my men to the task yet, simply because it is hard-pressing to find someone who can understand their written language and be trusted with them at the same time.”

“I will handle that matter myself, Colonel,” the general assured him. “As for the American prisoners, make sure they are well taken cared of. For now, they are as important as the War Cabinet, understand? But make sure that they reveal to you the functions of their ship’s weapons as well, and how powerful it is to the Combined Fleet. A little pain to encourage them to talk would be sufficient.”

“Hai!”

“Now first,” the general’s tone softened, “I want to inspect the defenses being readied to secure this area. In that field, I would have to congratulate you for taking the initiative. Men like you are hard to find in the Army these days.”

They strolled down the path, inspecting the dugouts that will host the heavy antiaircraft artilleries and the soldiers patrolling them. As for the ground, rows of barbed wire and trenches filled the outer edges of the designated area, covered by multitude of machine guns. Soon, concrete bunkers would be built behind the wires to impregnate the ship’s surrounding vicinity. There were no armies that threatened Nippon here, but if the Russians caught wind of it…

No, Colonel Okagi played down the thought. They are desperately fighting for their lives against the Germans in the west.

The prospect of having to face off numerous hordes of large and lumbering Soviet armored vehicles pouring into Manchuria at an alarming rate was not something he wanted either. Two years ago, the colonel, then a major, had fought in the border skirmish at Nomanhan and had seen first hand to what happened when the Russians were really pissed off. Their tanks made the Army’s puny in comparison while they simply flooded the skies above the battlefields with their warplanes.

The heavy, rapid steps of a rushing messenger shook the colonel from the battlefield of Khalkin Gol. Right away, Colonel Okagi knew that he was a lowly corporal from the 3rd Field Radio Company. Saluting immediately, the corporal explained his coming and a certain new development that had just occurred near Harbin, which was less than a hundred miles nor-nor-east of Hsinking.

“This is a folder containing a transcript of the report from Major-General Morimoto,” he handed it over to General Umezu. “My commanding officer specifically said that no one but you must see this.”

Clicking his heels together and saluting crisply, the corporal messenger rushed off as soon as he came.

“Contrary to what the major-general thinks,” the Kwantung Army’s chief commander chuckled, “I believe you should have a look as well, Colonel Okagi. This ‘development’ may be related to the ship in front of us, and you deserve the right to know for what you have done to secure this prize.”

“Thank you, Umezu-sama,” he bowed.

Untying the knot clipping the folder shut, General Umezu carefully slid his hands in. Much to his dismay, there was only a single sheet of paper. It must have been a short and quick report. Cautiously, he took it out and strode with the colonel to a lighted spot amongst a pair of snow-draped birch trees for a clearer view.

An airbase appearing in Harbin over an hour ago, belonging to some nation called the People’s Republic of… He squint his eyes for better vision, and quickly wished he hadn’t. ChinaFrom 2017. The world was indeed becoming crazier, but if such craziness could be harnessed to bring Nippon out of her hypothesized fate, then let it be all the more stranger. It was the will of the sun that Japan should triumph over all who opposed her.

Hermann Goering, 11 45 Hours, 25 December 1941

The German carrier had sailed out of Riga more than an hour ago at top speed, accompanied by only three missile destroyers and another three frigates. The rest were lying anchored at the harbor, waiting for them to return from the operation. In another hour or so, they would reach the port of Tallinn in Estonia, where the arrayed ships would remain until the 27th. Operation Thor’s Vengeance would begin later that day, followed by the thrust into Moscow in the next sunrise.

Admiral Konigsberg viewed the fog-shrouded sea the battlegroup was passing through now from the Goering‘s bridge. He thought, for a split second, that they might be transiting into another world, perhaps back to theirs. The notion was absurd because the last time that happened, everyone onboard the ships had blacked out.

Bah, he thought. It’s just the weather.

“Cruddy weather eh, Herr Konigsberg?” Kapitan zur See Scholer remarked.

“Not as bad as the trip through the Southern Ocean though,” he jibbed in reply. “That one had a killer weather just like in Siberia.”

“Ja.”

Even with the meager amount of warships assigned to protect the Graf Zeppelin-class carrier, their defensive weapon systems would decimate any contemporary hostile attempts to attack her by air or sea. The Hermann Goering himself could ward off any prop-driven air raids with her twelve radar-guided Vierlung guns and nine RTM-8 SAM launchers. If only the nuclear U-boats had made it through

“Herr Admiral,” one of the radio operators shattered his brooding, “we have just received word from Riga that something unusual had occurred in Poland. It looks like we were not the only ones to make it through the Event.”

Admiral Konigsberg stepped forward to overshadow the man.

“Is it one of our U-boats?” he sporadically asked.

“Nein, Herr Admiral,” the operator corrected him. “The IX SS-Panzer Korps, the 11th Fallschirmjager division and the 6th Fliegerkorps consisting of four ME 464 Jagdgeschwaders and one Arado Ar-269 Kampfgeschwader, in addition to their Unterstützung der nahen Kampfgruppe of Stuka-100s, had made it through at about nine hundred and thirty-eight hours today.”

“Mein Gott,” the Kapitan swore.

The operator continued. “He also states that the operation might be pushed back until after New Year’s Day, but neither the Fuhrer nor the Reichsfuhrer had confirmed that.”

In all, this operation answered not to Grand Admiral Erich Raeder or the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, but the two most powerful men heading Germany. During their first and last meeting, the Fuhrer had decreed that only he and the SS chief were to know and be in charge of Operation Thor’s Vengeance. It would be the Aryan remedy to the recent blows dealt to the Reich’s forces by the suddenly numerous Bolshevik hordes. The Wehrmacht regiment’s staging point, Demyansk, was more than three hundred kilometers northwest of Moscow, with the Russian-held town of Kalinin in between. With the advent of a Waffen-SS Panzer Korps in Poland, they could simply smash their way through the Bolshevik counteroffensive while Oberst Strasse’s mechanized regiment moved in from Moscow’s rear without the risk of getting ambushed by swarms of Russian men and tanks.

Admiral Konigsberg wasted no time in replying. “Tell him that the battlegroup will wait in Kalinn until the assortment of recently arrived forces can be sorted into the operational parameters.”

“Jawohl, Herr Admiral,” the operator acknowledged.

Indeed, this plan might just work beyond expectations. Admiral Konigsberg shook the thought off, concentrating on leading the battlegroup to their intended destination. The fog was slowly clearing, though a visible sum was still blockading the sun’s glinting rays in this part of the Baltic. His ships were prowling through the blanketing mists like a penknife through a white sheet of soaked paper, waiting to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting communists. Once they fell, so to would their Western Allies.

In all his years serving the Fatherland through its Lange Ruhepause with America, Admiral Konigsberg had never felt this elated before.

Central Java, 14 55 Hours, 25 December 1941

At approximately twelve hundred hours at the start of December 25th, the military-oriented industrial city of Semarang and a small assortment of Indonesian Jihadi-Militarist bases scattered throughout the Dutch East Indies were thrown across the gulf of time. The temporal side-effects of Dr. von Braun’s unfortunate experiment had far-reaching consequences for a world at war. It was unfeasible to guess at what might or would come through again, as the strange geometrics of the Multiverse were impossible to grasp in meticulous details.

Major General Bassim Yasser examined a column of burning Dutch Army trucks and armored cars lining up on one of the roads leading out of the modern Javanese city. He understood that to the Indonesians, the Dutch were malign oppressors driven out after the end of the Second World War. He could understand their hatred, being a former Palestinian himself. The Dutch were after all Western infidels, no different than the Americans and their Zionist lackeys of his time.

In addition to his incessant body odor, the major general’s thick beard added to the appearance that he was some sort of orang utan. The sweltering tropical heat didn’t help either, and it was nearly the middle of an afternoon. Ripples of sweat rolled down his cap-shaded forehead, which he wiped off with a heave of his right shoulder.

He approached a group of his men straying along the asphalt road. They were guarding a small batch – seven of them to be exact – of Dutchmen who had the misfortune to be part of this ill-fated convoy. Crude but efficient AK-47 rifles were slung over their shoulders, but Yasser knew they could shoot faster than a running cheetah. He had personally trained them after all, thanks to half a decade of blood and toil. The prisoners, he silently noticed, had a mix of shock and contempt registered onto their tanned faces.

“Which one of you here is the highest in rank?” he spoke in heavily-accented English.

None of them uttered a single word, but continued their incessant stare of contempt at the men guarding them. Whatever patience he had for the situation was quickly running out under the tropical sun.

“Not a single one of you?”

In a whiz, he unclasped his holster and aimed his trusty .50 Desert Eagle at the first man. As Yasser clicked the safety trigger off, the seven other prisoners relieved their mask of contempt and began looking very, very worried. Some were even trying to wriggle their way out of the bounds cuffing their hands. The major general gleefully knew that they were expecting to be treated under the rules of the Geneva Convention.

As if war requires rules, Yasser scoffed. They are the sins of western decadence, of which Allah has willed me to cleanse.

“I will ask one last time,” he said, evidently growing impatient. “Which one of you has a rank higher than a private? If there are no answers by the count of three, I will shoot the second man next to him.”

The first captive did not have time to react before a .50 magnum round tore through his cranium and blew a chunk of his head into a mess of splattered gore. Some of his men were edging away from the scene while pointing their assault rifles at the captives. Major General Yasser shifted the barrel of his handgun towards the head of the second captive.

 

“One…”

“Two…”

Niet schieten,” the chosen man frantically begged. “Niet schieten! Schiet me niet neer.”

The major general relaxed his posture, and the soldier’s begging stopped. His eyes widened, filled with hope that he would not be shot.

“Finally!” he heartily exclaimed. “Somebody will finally speak up. Alas, it is a sad thing that none of you can speak the universal tongue.”

The Dutch soldier did not have time to shift his emotions before a .50 round tore through his forehead. The other captives looked in horror as the gas-operated semi-automatic handgun was pointed at them, its glistening barrel flashing with deadly, repeated fire. One by one, they were capped without mercy, without pity, without remorse. The last two men tried to run, only to be blocked by the rifle butts of the major general’s men and be shot in the torso twice. Yasser’s men were equally indifferent to the massacre their master wrought among the prisoners, for they too had participated in cold-blooded acts back in the 21st Century. The killings were all carried out in the name of Allah the Merciful.

“Captain Dulyani,” Yasser let his men glimpsed the full weight of his blood-splattered appearance, “you will dump all the bodies anywhere as long as the place is peaceful and quiet. I do not want evidence of this little ‘war crime’ scene available once this mess is sorted out.”

“But sir,” the captain stammered in, “you are not planning to ally with the Dutch are you?”

The major general shook his head and laughed.

“Sometimes when one stares too long at the abyss,” he said, switching back to Bahasa, “the darkness will stare back.”

With that, he holstered his Desert Eagle and made his way back to his base of operations in the city of Semarang, leaving Captain Dulyani and his men to clean up his bloody work. The day was still long, and the years longer still. The radio broadcasts his men had picked up from Australia were damning. Most of the COFORCE in Queensland had made it through, arriving earlier than his forces in fact!

They will not be the only problem he will have to face; already, his aide had begun advising him to prepare for eventual war with the Dutch colonizers, and then the Japanese invaders. He did not know much of Indonesian history, but from what he had heard, the Asian infidels were even worse than the Dutch. So he must struggle for a way to balance between the two sides, and gain independence for Indonesia, with the ‘correct’ way of life installed nationwide.

The Islamic Caliphate-Republic of Indonesia, he thought. That sounds very tempting.

 

 

 

Part 8: The Big Hill

Washington DC, 13 10 Hours, 26 December 1941

It was snowing heavier than usual in the capital heart of the United States of America, though whether this was a side-effect of the Transition or just another daily occurrence in December remained indefinite. If not for the remaining flake-covered greenery permeating the presidential grounds and the building windows, the White House would blend in with the heavy snow with its white-painted Aquia sandstone-built Georgian-styled structure. The center of the scene was neither staged on its snow-draped lawns nor inside its East Wing part, but rather centered in the Oval Office located within the West Wing.

Seated in front of three large south-facing windows, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat his hands against the Resolute desk, rubbing them for warmth while patiently waiting for the ‘future’ technicians to finish adjusting the newly-installed flat-screen LCD’s network connection. He, along with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Admiral Ernest King, General George Marshall, Secretary of Navy (SECNAV) Frank Knox and Secretary of War (SECWAR) Henry Stimson, had learned that in their world, such adjustments were unnecessary due to something called the ‘internet’ and space contraptions dubbed as ‘satellites’. He had tried to wrap the notion of putting man-made objects in space but could only think of Buck Roger’s rocket.

“One more minute, Mr. President,” announced one of the future technicians – Sergeant Matt Haugdasal, if he remembered correctly.

 

The sergeant and his team of technical operators were from the 1st Brigade Combat Team’s 115th Support Battalion, which was part of the 1st Cavalry Division in turn. The president had heard about their ‘Transition’ since last Sunday. He had nearly dismissed it as a hoax, until elements of the 1st Cavalry Division arrived at Hoover Field on a really huge jet-driven transport yesterday evening.

Christmas for him, Uncle Sam and the rest of the Allies could not have gotten any better than that. For weeks since the seventh of December, the United States and Britain had gotten their butts repeatedly whipped by Japanese forces in Asia. Even after the godsend Transition had occurred, the Japanese had overrun Hong Kong, Guam and Wake Island. The situation in the Philippines was nothing short of disastrous. If they had not intervened in Malaya, the Japanese would have run amok even further.

Most interesting of the ‘transited’ forces was Admiral Philip Cleburne and his carrier battlegroup. When news of the unexpected reversal of forces in Malaya had reached the White House on Monday morning, it had thrown the entire office into an uproar. Admiral King had demanded them to return immediately or face charges of treason. He had reasoned that since the US Navy had been effectively knocked out by the sneak attack, every available fighting ship they could lay their hands on should be returned home to prevent another Pearl Harbor.

The president and the Secretary of Navy had to agree with the admiral’s point, but Roosevelt was also beginning to see a mad scramble by the United States’ military services to own the future. The future men that had arrived here yesterday had explained to him and the Navy and Army joint chiefs that the George Bush naval battlegroup possessed more than enough firepower to reduce the Japanese Combined Fleet into ashes, literally.

“Now why don’t I believe that,” Admiral King had scornfully remarked. “We couldn’t even catch them in a proper fight.”

Roosevelt shook the thought away. The flat movie screen had a small round thing labeled as a ‘webcam’ on top and a countdown timer on the screen’s upper left hand corner, denoting that there was only ten seconds left until the connection was made. The monitor was another future marvel; in their world, everyone had one or two of these mini-movie screens at home. If they were advanced enough to launch space contraptions and give everyone their own movie screens, would their weapons be any less sophisticated?

That he had to disagree with Admiral King.

“Connecting in three…” Sergeant Haugdasal said, “… two… one…”

USS George H.W. Bush, 13 11 Hours, 26 December 1941

The communications suite of the American supercarrier beamed to life as a vidlink connection between Washington and the supercarrier was made. For a second, Admiral Cleburne wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do in front of the gathered contemporary leaders of the United States of America, with the exception of Winston Churchill. Up until now, the closest historical personality he had met was General Percival, and that was physically up close and personal. The screen showed the nearly-familiar Oval Office, with President Roosevelt seated behind the Resolute desk and the rest on sofas at the front.

“Good afternoon to all of you,” Cleburne began, trying his best to be warm-sounding as possible. “My name is Admiral Philip Cleburne, commander of the George H.W. Bush carrier battlegroup. The battlegroup is currently fifteen miles south-southeast of Singapore, and will probably arrive in Hawaii by the end of next week.”

His face and speech would be recorded by a webcam and then sent over to the other side as instantaneously as possible. The image fuzzed for a second, the consequence of not having a network-friendly environment, but the connection would last for another two hours. He was thinking about what else he needed to say before the 32nd President of the United States broke the ice completely.

“Well Admiral Cleburne,” he spoke, “I’ve heard all about your exploits in Malaya, and Winston here would like to congratulate you on that part.”

The deep, rousing voice of the British Prime Minister rumbled in from the front row. “Your remarkable display of technological prowess and strategy had helped to avert what would have become a disaster of the first order for the British Empire and the Allies in Malaya. Indeed, never in the field of human conflict was so much owed to so few.”

“Thank you Mr. Prime Minister,” Cleburne acknowledged. “But that complement should also go to the Queenslanders too.”

 

“Now, about the business in raiding Indochina,” the president quickly switched the mood. “I believed you were given a specific set of orders not to carry out any further offensives. We are all very interested in hearing what you have to say about that, Admiral.”

Cleburne tightened his jaw muscles. He could smell a cornholing coming from ten thousand miles away, and with all his will mustered, the admiral explained as clearly and precisely as possible on why he had went against orders and ventured off to sink the entire Japanese Southern Force’s Main Body anchored at Cam Ranh Bay.

“We possessed weapons that could render the entire Japanese Combined Fleet impotent,” he laid down. “I know that four of the Japanese aircraft carriers responsible for bushwhacking the US Navy in Pearl are laying anchor in Hashirajima Bay, and Yamamoto has two of his battleships located there right now. If you would just -”

“I’m afraid I can’t take anymore of this nonsense,” Admiral King spat. “I can’t see how your ships would get within range of Japan, let alone their harbor, before they are blasted into smithereens.”

“With all due respect, Admiral King,” he countered, “our doctrine and weapons are light-years ahead of anything this world can field at the moment. The Japanese will have nothing to match our long-range ship-killer rockets, fast-flying rocket planes and our surveillance systems. They are more than capable of turning entire air wings of prop-driven planes and old-fashioned battlewagons into flaming scrap metal. The footages from our action in Malaya and Indochina should help you visualize what we are truly capable of.”

The even-tempered CINCALT had backed down, though it looked like he still refused to acknowledge the fact smacked right at his face. Admiral Cleburne remembered that in four days time, he would be the overall commander of the US Navy. He wondered if something could be done to curb that. Perhaps he should tell the President and the SECNAV that King’s Anglophobia was letting a lot of Allied convoy ships to be sunk near the East Coast.

President Roosevelt calmly filled in the void.

“Admiral Cleburne,” he amicably began. “I do not doubt for a second that you will be able to give the Japanese their Pearl Harbor, but Winston here has received some unsettling news this morning from one of England’s secret services.”

He had to guess that it was the Special Operations Executive, a Special Forces organization that had been tasked by the British Prime Minister to ‘set Europe ablaze’. Along with the task of blowing up enemy property and personnel, they had also hidden intelligence operatives throughout occupied Europe. Cleburne had to wonder what that unsettling news was all about, which led him to wonder about the…

“Apparently, some of their agents in Germany and Poland had spotted several unusual aircraft and ships in the past few days. Now, I do not want to jump to any conclusions, but…”

The British Prime Minister finished it for him. “We have reason to believe that the Germans have gotten their dirty little paws on future equipment like yours, Admiral. Indeed, at any moment now, England’s defenses could be devastated by an entire squadron of German rocket planes screeching out of France, and we cannot do a damn thing because your weapons are on the other side of the globe.”

The screen fuzzed for a moment again, before it blacked out entirely. The bold pale words ‘Connection lost – Reconnecting Again in 00:03:00’ dimmed over the blackness of the display as the sysops scrambled for a link once more. Captain Howery took the time to walk into the comm suite and have a little chit-chat with the admiral.

“So how did it go, sir?” he asked.

“Not good at all, Greg,” Cleburne muttered. “Damn vidlink isn’t like what it used to be back home, and I’ve just gotten the word from the British Prime Minister that we may have ‘counterparts’ in Germany.”

What?”

“Yeah, apparently the Transition didn’t only just pop us and Queensland back to ’41. Some thing must have gotten through in Germany, and I’m beginning to worry if there might be more Transitions in Japan and Russia.”

“Well sir,” the Bush‘s captain unwillingly spoke, “your hypothesis is out of date. We’ve picked up radio signals from the Indonesian Archipelago, and it looks like the Jihadi-held city of Semarang had come along too.”

“Goddamn it!” Admiral Cleburne swore loudly. “When did you pick this up?”

“Ten minutes ago,” Captain Howery answered. “We would be passing into the Java Sea in a few more hours, sir. The Burkes could expend their Tomahawks and penetrators on that little city sometime then, if you wish.”

Admiral Cleburne kept quiet for a minute, even as the connection timer reached down to 00:00:50. Back in 2017, they were the sole reason why COFORCE was formed in Australia in the first place; the United States and Australia were the only countries who took upon the task of bringing back peace into war-torn Indonesia. Circumstances and fate had changed the whole outlook of the mission goals. Now, they might even have to ally with the Jihadi-Militarists to crush the Axis and help rebuilt the country after the war was over. Not that it was something he relished, but the enemy of my enemy is a friend as the old saying went.

“We don’t do anything, Greg,” he finally spoke up. “Simple as that. The battlegroup will continue on for Australia at full speed, and if the Jihadis try to challenge us, we’ll take action without hesitation. Excuse me now, but it looks like my conference is going to start again. We need to reserve all our ammunition for the Nazis.”

“Aye, aye sir.”

With that, the Bush‘s captain walked out of the comm suite to commandeer his warship, just leaving Admiral Philip Cleburne ten seconds to spare before the vidlink reconnection was completed.

***

13 21 Hours

“Say what?”

Admiral Philip Cleburne cleared his throat the second time. Three minutes after the connection was re-established, he had tried to explain to them that a rebellious city from the ‘successor’ state of the Netherlands East Indies had tagged along through time and space. Therefore, there existed a state of war between the United States and the Indonesian Jihadi-Militarists. The last minute had not gone on well.

“Admiral Cleburne,” President Roosevelt said. “I suggest that you leave them alone and make haste for home instead. I believe your friends in Queensland can deal with them, am I right?”

“Yes, they can, Mr. President,” the admiral answered. “And my original intention was to avoid wasting further ammo stocks until we are in the Atlantic.”

“Good,” the president murmured. “Now, let’s talk about the Germans and those sightings. The scuttlebutt is scaring the crap out of many people on both sides of the Atlantic. ”

 

 

 

Part 9: The Right to Hammer Bears

Demyansk, 09 40 Hours, 2 January 1942

Located more than a hundred kilometers south-southeast of Novgorod, Demyansk was a typical Soviet urban-type settlement that had no more than fifty of its original inhabitants left. There were about five contemporary Wehrmacht infantry divisions dug in alongside the 3rd SS-DivisionTotenkopf, shivering through the brutal Russian winter that had stalled the Reich’s advances towards Moscow and victory altogether. If the terrible winter did not get them, then Russian shells and bullets would.

Trench lines manned by cold and weary Aryan men stringed round the entire settlement, giving one the impression that it was heavily fortified. Amongst the ruins of buildings littering the settlement’s edges laid snipers and machine gunners, patiently waiting for an imminent attack which may or may not come. Some of them had proper winter clothing; most were just wearing uniforms of summer. Inadequate for the terrible Russian winter, for one had to have skins like bears just to survive. At the settlement outskirts, examples were made in the form of frozen men and vehicles, draped in white snow and laying motionless for all time.

The focus of activity centered upon the railways that passed through the town. For a week and a day, the trains had been rushing to and fro despite enemy artillery fire and the occasional Russian strafing run. Most of the Soviet planes, propeller-driven Ilyushins and Yaks, that had attempted to attack the trains had met a new kind of anti-aircraft weapon, one too advanced to have been built by contemporary Germany. The RTM-12 handheld anti-aircraft weapon, a missile launcher designed to home in on its targets’ exhaust engines and blast it to kingdom come. That was not the only new weapon coming into play in the Eastern Front.

Guards, both Wehrmacht and SS, had simply stared in awe as the last E-50s from the latest batch of the 7th Regiment’s panzers was unloaded onto Russian soil. One more batch to deliver and everything would be set for the operation. Armored with composite armor, the Standardpanzer was more than a match for anything the Bolsheviks could throw at the moment. They simply dwarfed a Panzerkampfwagen IV, and the only thing that could probably stop it was a 120mm gun fired from a hundred yards.

Up ahead, a squadron of FW 1109 gunships hustled through the falling snow with abandon, gliding from one end of the settlement to another diligently. The pilots were more than confident that their gunships’ integrated radar, its thick armor and immense firepower would deter all who sought trouble. Each Hubschraubers were bristled with one 30mm rotary gun, two 20mm autocannons and an assortment of ATGM and unguided rocket pods.

Oberst Wilhelm Strasse gloomily watched a pair of his K-50 auto-mortar vehicles rumbled through the streets, trailing a trio of E-50 panzers heading for the staging ground at the settlement’s southeastern outskirts. Having just arrived here a week ago, he began wondering when the action would start. It might take an entire week, but Moscow would fall just like it did in his history. Stalin and Beria would be trapped within the city and killed. The Oberst wanted to see how they would attempt an escape as his troops and armored vehicles surrounded the Bolshevik capital building, with gunships raking every Russian in sight in a maelstrom of bullets and rockets.

His thoughts broke off when a pair of Überbrücker jump-jets blazed through the wintry morning sky at a speed less than Mach 1. Their flying altitudes were much higher than his Hubschraubers, thus there was no need to worry of collisions occurring at any time soon. The regiment’s organic air support was probably heading to the Russian-held town of Kalinin, which was two hundred kilometers south-southeast of Demyansk. With a pair of thermobaric bombs slung under their hardpoints, the oberst could not see why they cannot decimate Kalinin’s defenses.

“Herr Oberst,” an SS-Oberscharfuhrer stepped in front and saluted, “Gruppenfuhrer Eicke requests to see you immediately in the planning room.”

“Tell the Gruppenfuhrer that I will see him in a minute.”

The SS-Oberscharfuhrer saluted again and left without hesitation. The 3rd SS-Division was one of the most highly respected Waffen-SS units in his world; even the Oberst had to give in to that, having participated on several anti-guerilla operations in Ostland and Afghanistan alongside them. Being a Wehrmacht man, however, meant that he would occasionally come into conflict with the SS. Comparisons between their utter fanaticism to the Nazi ideology and duty to the Volk was where blows were usually traded with.

The Oberst took a good hard look at his panzers once more and shrugged inwardly. The fact that an entire Waffen-SS Panzer Korps from his time had appeared in Poland brought the war to an entirely different level. Last he heard, two battle-hardened ’75er Waffen-SS panzer divisions, covered by a squadron of ME 464s, were unloading in Vitebsk and Smolensk. It wouldn’t be long before the sledgehammer came upon the Bear’s head with the ferocity of a thousand poundings.

“A minute is too damn long, Oberst Strasse,” Gruppenfuhrer Eicke remarked from behind. “If not for the fact that you and your forces are vital to winning this bloody front for the Reich, I would have had you shot for disobedience.”

Oberst Wilhelm Strasse spun around and saluted as quickly as possible. Even though he was a Wehrmacht man from the future, a SS-Gruppenfuhrer still outranked him.

“But that is beside the point,” he suddenly asked. “How soon can your regiment hit the Slavic mongrels in their rear?”

“Not too soon but not too long, Herr Gruppenfuhrer,” Oberst Strasse responded. “We have to wait for our supplies to be unloaded here, and the Fuhrer had told me to pause while two ‘future’ SS Panzer Divisions finish moving into Minsk. A frontal assault by them would stall the Bolshevik winter offensive and allow my regiment to hit from the rear without too much trouble.”

“Will it guarantee a victory in this front?” the SS-Gruppenfuhrer asked, not for the first time.

“That depends on how fast we can pummel Moscow, and whether we can chop off its rail transportation network before Stalin or one of his cronies escapes. Without the Party leadership, the ensuing confusion would crumble the Bolshevik defenses and without them, Moscow would fall. Without Moscow, any surviving Bolshevik government will find it very hard to move troops and supplies in and out. After that, who knows?”

SS-Gruppenfuhrer Eicke now realized why the Fuhrer was counting on the Wehrmacht man, other than the fact that he belonged to the future. The reasoning was sound and clear, and more than achievable with the ‘future’ weapons at his disposal. Still, it was inevitable that Aryans would plough the Slavs and Jews inhabiting the land. Even without the 7th Regiment and their SS counterparts, victory was already decided for the Reich, yes? The future merely reinforced the historical verdict that the Third Reich was to dominate the world, with or without their help.

“Herr Oberst,” the Wehrmacht commander’s aide rushed in, quickly saluting, “We have just received word from Poland that several changes have been to the mission parameters.”

“What would those new circumstances be, Hauptmann Sinister?”

The young Hauptmann took out a slip of paper from one of his breast pockets and passed it onto his commander. Without hesitation, his aide saluted again and left.

“What is it now, Oberst Strasse?” the Gruppenfuhrer asked, as if he had the right to do so, “Another delay in the offensive, or perhaps more units arriving from Poland?”

“No, I do not think so,” the Oberst replied as he unfolded the slip. “Just let me see…”

For a while, Oberst Wilhelm Strasse simply stared at the paper. His face was a blank, showing nothing but his constant chilly breathing. The SS-Gruppenfuhrer took the time to move up from behind and see what the whole thing was about. It had to be some new development to have shocked the Wehrmacht regimental commander. Not every detail on the slip was understandable to Eicke, however.

“Arado Ar-269s?” he stammered in disbelief. “I take it that they are some sort of bomber from your time, ja?”

“Ja,” Strasse agreed, as his mouth widened into a smile. “Not merely just bombers, Herr Gruppenfuhrer. They have the range to reach America and back with a full bomb load, which effectively surpasses the current Junkers and Heinkels in the Luftwaffe inventory.”

SS-Gruppenfuhrer Eicke’s eyes widened as well.

“We will be invading America next, after we are finished with the Judeo-Bolshevik scum here?” he spoke like a five-year old child receiving his birthday present.

The regimental commander privately sighed. Only fools continued on to believe that invading the North American continent was a feasible prospect. With two wide oceans and a landmass as big and mountainous as Siberia, if not larger, the logistical nightmare would engulf the invading force like a ton of bricks falling on top of a man’s head. He did not want to antagonize the SS commander by pointing out at reality though; the man had more political power than Erich von Manstein and Erwin Rommel combined.

“Maybe,” he lied.

“That is a distraction from matters at hand,” the SS-Gruppenfuhrer grinned. “These Arado bombers, they are going to bomb a town southwest of here? I can’t see how they will make it through the weather.”

“They are used to that,” Oberst Strasse shrugged. “Since they were based in Poland before the ‘Event’ misplaced them here, I daresay that their crews and equipment were conditioned to operate in the hellish Russian winter. The Ar-269s were designed to fly and bomb targets from higher than forty thousand feet, thus I highly doubt that Russian anti-aircraft fire would hinder their flight.”

Another pair of E-50s rolled by this time, drawing the SS-Gruppenfuhrer’s attention from his little conversation. To him, they were monstrous things exceeding the latest Russian tanks in terms of size, mobility and no doubt firepower. They still gave him an unforgettable impression, as much as the 7th Regiment’s other armored vehicles and organic air support. Once more, the SS commander was reminded why the Fuhrer’s ‘new’ offensive would succeed when the original one had fail- no, not succeeded yet. The Russian mongrels were using the weather to their advantage, because they had dared not stand against a proper Aryan army face-to-face.

“I suspect that this war may already be won,” Eicke remarked, “just by looking at your panzers. How many does that SS-Panzer Korps possess?”

“Let us take a walk to the staging point, Herr Gruppenfuhrer,” Oberst Strasse said. “A little movement would reduce the frosty chill. I must admit that winter is not my favorite weather at all, even though my better of part of six years had been spent serving in the chilliest regions of Ostland.”

“Really?” SS-Gruppenfuhrer Eicke seemed genuinely surprised. “I only spent half a year in this God-forsaken mud land when the weather took a turn for the worse. My men not only have to worry for Bolshevik counterattacks, but frostbites and hypothermia as well.”

It was then that the Oberst took his first step through the ruined, snow-draped streets of Demyansk, followed by the SS-Gruppenfuhrer. Strasse carefully crumpled the slip of paper and placed it inside his pocket, having the details remembered by one long stare. It would not do to leave such vital pieces of paper around as litter for scavengers to pick up, even if it was outdated information.

“Unlike the current rolled homogenous armored Panzerkampfwagens,” he began explaining as the distance grew shorter, “the E-50 Standardpanzer’s armor utilizes a composite shield of boron carbide within a matrix, layered between its rolled homogenous armor. It might be complicated to understand, but this simply means that every anti-tank gun within the Bolshevik inventory does not possess the means to destroy one of my panzers. It is, to a certain extent, invincible.”

“And the SS-Panzer Korps,” Eicke persistently asked, “How many E-50s do they possess?”

The Oberst suddenly realized that he was being subtly interrogated, but the thought whisked back to the bottom of his mind at once. For one, he was a loyal son of the Fatherland. Second, he had an entire mechanized regiment, armed with advanced weapons, at his command. If the Gruppenfuhrer tried to place him under arrest for some ambiguous reason, he would be the one arrested instead. Still, the both of them continued on walking towards the southeastern side of town.

“That would depend, Herr Gruppenfuhrer,” he spoke with an undertone blurring the lines between derision and fatigue. “But you might deign to ask their commander – Oberfuhrer Manfred Eugen I believe, for he surely knows more about his force dispositions than I do.”

Eicke simply gave him a hard glare that said you finally figured it out, didn’t you. Inwardly, Oberst Strasse nearly laughed his head off. After all, the Schutzstaffel in his day were much more efficient in the methods of interrogating a man than this. Quickly, he changed the subject to prevent further provoking his SS host.

“I believe you were asking about the Arado 269s just now, Herr Gruppenfuhrer,” he said. “The long-range strategic jet bombers you were so interested in minutes ago.”

“What about them?” Eicke nonchalantly asked.

“The town of Kalinin is about to be flattened by a squadron of them very soon,” the Oberst grimly put it. “Not only will the Bolsheviks not know what had struck them, they will be too dead to wonder what happened. With them out of the way, I could land my men in and take the town before nightfall. Moscow won’t be long in falling.”

“Excellent!” the SS-Gruppenfuhrer exclaimed. “Would you not need additional forces to secure the mongrel town completely? I believe Totenkopf has not seen any offensive actions since the start of this damnable winter. Besides, the other Wehrmacht divisions can keep Demyansk and surrounding area secure.”

“Perhaps,” Oberst Wilhelm Strasse replied. “We shall see how my men fare when they land from their Hubschraubers. If there is heavier resistance than expected, we will ferry your men in. Nevertheless, it will become our new staging grounds from whence we will strike the biggest blow history have ever known.”

Kalinin, 13 30 Hours, 2 January 1942

The dull thudding of several Hubschrauber rotors echoed through the blackened ruin of what was once a rural settlement. Leutnant Herman Becker, along with twenty-nine other men in his platoon, sat still in the cabin as the FW 466 hovered down for a landing. Gazing out of the slid door window gave him a slight vision of what hell might be like. Amidst the heavy snowing, there were still thin flickers of fire lighting up the charred landscape, where bodies laid mangled alongside crumbled structures and the burnt-out vehicle hulks.

“You all know the drill,” he growled at the rest of his platoon. “This is not the first time we have done this. I do not want to see any of you dying just because procedures were not followed.”

“Jawohl, Herr Leutnant,” the crisp voice of thirty men echoed through the cabin.

About two hours ago, two squadrons of Arado 269s had flown all the way from Lublin to unload an ungodly amount of high explosives onto Kalinin, in addition to a previous attempt by the regiment’s Überbrückers air support. At least two armored divisions belonging to the Soviet 29th Army had been completely decimated, prepping the ground for an airborne assault by elements of the 7th Regiment. The trip over miles of snow-draped, forested terrain had been relatively uneventful; the only serious opposition the transports had encountered was a series of uncoordinated tracer fire that didn’t hit anything.

Checking one last time that his Sturmgewehr Model 72 was fully locked and loaded, Becker gripped the door handle and flung it open.

“Gehen Sie schnell, gehen Sie, gehen Sie,” he hollered as his jackboots stamped out onto the open ground.

The twenty-nine men behind quickly followed suit, just as the FW 466 transports began unloading their human cargo. Without delay, a total of 120 men belonging to 3rd Company, 1st MechInf Battalion were forming perimeters around their respective landing zones. Most of them, prior to the Event, had served in the partisan-ridden regions of Reichskommissariat Moskau for years, sometimes decades. The latter applied to Becker, who had been in the Wehrmacht since 1957. It had been a grueling experience, but it had familiarized him in the ways of war.

Usually, the company would be carried inside the regiment’s E-10 armored personnel carriers to the frontlines, where they would be unloaded to fight. Due to the changed circumstances and the fact that the element of surprise was necessary, Hubschrauber transports from the Hermann Goering‘s complement of rotary crafts were used to deliver the troops into battle instead. It was fast, simple and efficient. The Leutnant had heard that a Fallschirmjager regiment from his world had come through, and wondered why they were not used for this assault.

“Feldwebel Koenig!” the Leutnant yelled, jabbing his finger at a pile of rubble two yards from the landing zone. “I want you to get your squad and machine guns set up against those shattered bricks there.”

“Jawohl!” Koenig answered, before he passed down the message to the rest of his squad.

The other platoons were setting up their own defensive perimeters, blistering not only with general purpose machineguns but a Panzerschrek or two as well. Becker’s platoon was the first to send in a single squad into the settlement’s scorched interior, keeping the other two in defensive reserve. Instead of encountering the expected heavy resistance, there was nothing but burning buildings, burnt-out vehicles and charred corpses. Grudgingly, the section leader accepted the fact that there would be no fighting for the rest of the day, so he sent a runner back to inform the Leutnant of this new discovery.

By the time the news reached Becker’s ears, the landing zones had been thoroughly secured. Three gunships buzzed like insects overhead, traversing the entire line of the settlement’s eastern entrance. From a theoretical tactical point of view, the entire area could now be considered as safe. Leutnant Becker’s personal experience begged to differ; there might be survivors from the aerial bombing, hidden beneath piles of corpses, rubbles and wrecks littering the entire blasted town while waiting to ambush a German or two. The Russians were experts in the field of camouflage after all.

“Oberfeldwebel Kaufmann,” he turned to one of the squad leaders in charge of the platoon’s LZ perimeter. “Take your squad and follow Unteroffizier Hartmann to bolster first squad’s defensive position since it looks like there might be no Russians left for us to fight.”

The section leader acknowledged Becker’s order by saluting and then hollering at his men to get their arses moving. A hand signal from the adjacent platoon’s commander told the Leutnant that the whole area was three-quarters secured; the only Russians observed were the charred corpses strewing Kalinin’s broken streets.

Perhaps there truly are no more fucking Russians left in this fucking mud town, he circumspectly thought.

Leutnant Becker began considering moving his position to where first squad was located. Even in his thick winter feldgrau, the cold was beginning to get to his skin. Not that he was unfamiliar with the hellish Russian weather, but the Leutnant had seen perfectly normal men freezing out of the blue and he was not about to let that happen to himself. Without adieu, he commanded the last platoon tasked with securing the landing zone to stand firm and headed off for the susceptibly warmer part of town.

Across the southern outskirts of town, its crew having finished their reconnaissance, a lone BA-20 gunned its engines and drove all the way south where the massive remnants of the 29th Army waited.

***

17 30 Hours

The first shots were sounded when a reconnaissance squad, tasked with the single job of patrolling the southern side of Kalinin, was fired upon by more than a dozen Mosin-Nagant rifles and Ppsh-41 sub-machineguns. Two men died as their unguarded faces were ripped to bloody shreds by a combination of 7.62mm and 9mm rounds; their surviving comrades were able to rush back to the settlement interior to report the latest situation just as two Soviet divisions poured out of the bush.

Hauptmann Wieland Strummer did not harbor any illusions of his enemy; even with their advanced weaponry, his MechInf Company was probably outnumbered in a ten to one margin. So he ordered two platoons to bolster the southern part of town, to be supported by the battalion’s mortar components.

“How many did you saw?” he turned to the survivors, after having issued his orders.

“They were probably hundreds of them,” one chilly survivor answered. “We heard the rumbles of vehicle engines as well, and the ground was shaking violently. I guess that means Russian panzers and a lot of them too.”

“Alright Unteroffizier,” the Hauptmann said. “Go take your men back to rejoin your platoon. It seems that there’ll be plenty of fighting to do yet.”

“Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann!”

He turned to the rest in the small room they occupied.

“Felix, Ernst, I want you to follow me to the front,” he ordered. “Bring your field radio set along, Felix; I will undoubtedly need it.”

“Jawohl!”

Grabbing his assault rifle from a broken coffee table and strapping on his M1958 helmet, Hauptmann Strummer and his two followers rushed out into the wintry day. They were able to glimpse the company’s mortar crews, situated beside a broken farmhouse, working into frantic action. At the rate they went, the crews looked like they were lobbing three rounds of high explosives per minute. Strummer ignored them completely; there was a job to be accomplished, something which he wasn’t about to lag in. He wished that the FW 1109 gunships hadn’t returned to Demyansk two hours earlier; they could have provided some quick aerial support.

When the Hauptmann got onto the frontlines, the shock that befell him would live on forever. Swarms of men and panzers were rushing onwards, oblivious to the rattling machineguns and Panzerschreks picking them off one by one. The usual enemy he had fought against for so long was now trying to use crushing weight of numbers to overwhelm the front and re-capture Kalinin. Back in his day, they were guerillas they attacked in groups of threes or fours, not a ten thousand men army.

With all the bullets and shrapnel flying about, Hauptmann Strummer thought it best to lay prone to minimize the chance of getting killed. He had barely squatted before a bullet zipped right above him, striking Ernst on his feldgrau-covered torso instead. The well-muscled Wehrmacht soldier simply flew backwards due to the kinetic impact caused by the bullet as it penetrated through his body armor. Within seconds, he was yelling and cursing out in pain.

“Hey! The two of you there!” the Hauptmann hollered, pointing at a pair of Schutzes that were taking a breather. “Come over here and get this wounded man back to the medics, now! Schnell, Schnell!”

Leaving the two men to their newly-issued job, Strummer took out his 7×40 Hensoldt binoculars and carefully peered through them amidst the chorus of battle, relaying the charging enemy’s coordinates to Felix with the aid of a map. The chart was an inaccurate plot of Kalinin, something he had gotten from one of the contemporary quartermasters in Demyansk. It was still better than nothing.

“The coordinates are two-five-four-eight-one-two,” he relayed it to Felix, clutching his helmet tightly as an explosion resounded and brushing away snow and dirt that had landed on the paper chart. “Get our mortars to fire some red smoke on that coordinate. Then, call Demyansk and ask them to send in the Überbrückers.”

Acknowledging the Hauptmann, the Gefreiter put on his headphones and adjusted the feldfunksprecher’s channel switch to the correct transmission line. From there, he relayed the coordinates to the mortar teams in the middle of Kalinin even as an earth-shattering explosion smashed an already ruined building to further rubble several meters to their right. The radioman adjusted the channel switch to the secured lines to Demyansk, relaying the same order with an addition of ‘targets painted in red smoke’.

Just as he finished his task, the first batch of 81mm smoke rounds slammed upon the Russian ranks. Instead of tossing shrapnel in every direction, the canisters merely dispersed a thick screen of harmless red smoke that would remain in the field for an indefinite period of time. Hauptmann Strummer knew it won’t be long, and he hoped that the fighter-bombers could reach the battlefield in time.

 

***

“This is Bear Hunter Leader,” the flight intercom roiled with a single human voice. “All Bear Hunters, prepare to arm your weapons and drop them.”

“Acknowledged, Herr Oberleutnant,” the voice of five other pilots chimed in.

The 7th Regiment’s complement of six Überbrückers ground attack jets were swooshing above the snow-draped Russian terrain at seven hundred and thirty kilometers per hour, with the prevailing intention of inflicting wanton destruction in their pilots’ hearts. Each was carrying a pair of 1500 kg thermobaric bombs, slung onto their hardpoints located beneath the aircrafts’ fuselage.

Staffelkapitan Karl Hipper made sure that his lumbering jump-jet was steady for the bombing run. As his squadron swished past large patches of pale-white forests, the viscous red smoke marking the mission targets became viewable from their windshields. He smiled. The Bolshevik horde will not know what had just hammered them so hard.

“All units,” he announced, “prepare to drop your payloads in three… two… one…”

It must have felt like an eternity going by, but the moment turned to reality when Hipper pulled the trigger and dropped his pair of thermobaric payloads. The other five jump-jets followed their squadron leader by jettisoning their vacuum bombs, before they increased elevation for fear of getting caught in the ensuing blasts. The bombs detonated as they dropped onto a height of eight hundred meters, dispersing highly volatile propylene oxide fuel that mixes with the air within the target zone. Soon thereafter, a secondary detonation ignites the fuel and completes the work by creating an explosion within the chemical cloud.

Twelve such detonations occurred over the attacking Soviet forces, simultaneously cooking and asphyxiating anyone caught within their blast zones. The massive shockwaves created killed anyone who had managed to survive through that hellish ordeal. In a matter of three minutes, most of the Soviet 29th Army was decimated by incineration and the overpressures generated. The survivors, if any, were dazed and stunned by what had just hit them out of the rapidly darkening winter sky.

“Good frying, Bear Hunters,” congratulated Staffelkapitan Hipper as he swerved his aircraft away from ground zero. “Let us all turn back for base.”

***

18 12 Hours

“Looks like that was the last of them, Herr Hauptmann,” Leutnant Herman Becker said.

“Are you sure, Leutnant?” quizzed 3rd Company’s commander as he surveyed the scene from his binoculars. “Survivors could be hiding in that shattered forest, just waiting for us to let our guards down.”

“I have seen what a string of fuel-air explosives could reduce a village bigger than this place to,” Becker dismally answered. “Afghanistan had plenty of villages the size of this, most of them packed with restless natives not too dissimilar from the Russians. Most of them were reduced to ash and cinders by fuel-air bombs too. No one could have survived such a strike, and even if they did, they’ll probably be fleeing from this place.”

“Humph…”

By now, another company was being airlifted to bolster the defenses of Kalinin, arriving probably in another hour or so. At nightfall, the regiment’s gunships would be moving in to their new ‘home’ here. Tomorrow afternoon, the armored elements of the 7th Regiment were scheduled to arrive at the western outskirts of town. In all, things were looking good for the Hauptmann. It felt even better when he took another glance at the remains of the Russian assault, to see the carnage wrought by the Überbrückers.

The forest was burning brightly for the last twenty minutes, an assortment of wrecked Russian tanks added to the bonfire. Tens of thousands of Russian Bolsheviks lay dead amongst the spaces separating the town’s southeastern edge and the burning woods. No doubt plenty more corpses filled the charred woodlands up ahead. It was a terribly testimony, a venomous warning to those who dared oppose the glorious march of the Third Reich.

Ostensibly, the price paid in blood and toil did not come in cheaply. At least thirty-seven Wehrmacht men had died in the settlement’s defense. Hauptmann Strummer suspected there might be more, but the tallying could wait until tomorrow. The town of Kalinin had been secured, and with it, the means to assail Moscow from the rear and achieve the greatest victory the Fatherland has ever accomplished. He had deserved the right to hammer the bears.

 

 

 

 

Part 10: Thor’s Vengeance

The Kremlin, 10 00 Hours, 6 January 1942

Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin stared at the sheet of paper, and felt the first visages of fear seeping back once more. It was the sort of feeling that he had been experiencing for the third and fourth quarters of last year, ever since the German fascists stabbed him in the back by launched a surprise offensive, catching most of the Rodina’s forces arrayed along the border with their pants down. The autumn mud and the Russian winter had stalled them since the last month, allowing the Red Army to recuperate and take the initiative in the inevitable counterattack.

The events of the last four days had changed all that. Last Friday, the 29th Army was decimated overnight by ‘advanced Nazi weapons’ at Kalinin. Worryingly, the town was only one hundred and eighty miles northwest of Moscow, and the few partisans operating in the area between here and Leningrad had sent in a report yesterday detailing that a massive German build-up was occurring in the north. Stalin had no illusions of where their intended target was, but that was not the only locale to be anxious about.

The Moscow Front had been ominously quiet for the past week. The Germans had been on the defensive since December, but recent Soviet attempts to slice through their front of late had been repulsed heavily. Entire squadrons of fighters and bombers sent in to blast holes in the enemy’s lines had simply disappeared without trace.

It was very worrying, indeed.

More concerning was the Japanese Army crowding back into Korea, Manchuria and China with seemingly renewed interest; from the hazy details procured by a certain agent in Japan, it looks like there were a lot of ‘advanced weapons’ and vital war materials to be found littering in the regions they controlled. The crushing defeat they had suffered in Malaya – by weapons from the far future – had forced them to consolidate their northern territories too, it seems.

Putting the sheet of paper away, he turned his steely gaze to the men seated in front of his desk. The dim, flickering lights emitted from the room’s fireplace cast large, frightful shadows over them.

“Vyacheslav Mikhailovich,” he started. “What news do you bring us from the rest of the world?”

The Soviet Foreign Minister straightened his posture. “Comrade Stalin, my recent conversation with the British and American ambassadors has confirmed that ‘things’ from the future are indeed in the hands of the capitalists. They also suspect that the Nazis may have their own windfall, but the rumors coming out of Manchuria have escaped them so far.”

“Good,” Stalin murmured. “Very good.”

After taking a short break to sip from a cup of black tea, the Steel Tsar questioned Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov further. “Mikhailovich, can you pressure the American and British governments to share their future ‘things’ with us? If not, can we form an alliance with the Japanese?”

The Foreign Minister paused to think it over. “I could, but it seems that the Allies will be extremely reluctant to do so.”

“And why is that, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich?” Stalin thundered.

“Comrade Stalin,” NKVD director Lavrenty Beria interrupted, “our sources in Australia indicate that the future… despises the ideals of World Communism. In fact, there has been calls in the Future Australian territory to reduce the amount of supplies reaching Murmansk and Archangelsk. The extreme ones had even called for the elimination of the alliance between us and the West.”

The Steel Tsar’s facial features were wrapped into a scowl. Soviet Russia and the West were never friends in the first place, despite the support given throughout the second half of last year by the respective populations of Britain and America. They had allied only out of mutual convenience, one that Russia desperately needed of current. What did this new turn of events mean for the Soviet Union?

“But I do not think we would have to depend on the West or the Japanese for future technology,” Beria now spoke with a tinge of fear, “Not when we possess our own.”

Stalin’s eyes widened. Molotov kept his face straight, but deep inside, he was intrigued and wary as well. The secret police chief had the reputation of a cruel executioner who took great pleasure in torturing numerous opponents of the State and then executing them in Lubyanka. By all accounts, Beria had survived the Great Purge not only because he was its chief executor but also because he, like Stalin, was a Georgian who had supported him since 1926. The General Secretary was rumored to trust his fellow Georgians more than anybody else.

“Speak on, Lavrenty Pavlovich,” the Steel Tsar cynically said. “Perhaps this would turn out to be some confession about your liking for little schoolgirls, yes?”

The NKVD chief stuttered in response as Stalin chuckled; Molotov was silent and still as always, but one could see that he was wryly amused. Beria’s mouth shut closed once he realized that there will be no perfect reply to Stalin’s retort; the only replies he had in mind would quickly land him in a gulag, and that was if the stars were shining above him. The thought of it caused painful spasms in his stomach. So instead, the NKVD chief opted to keep on track by saying what was needed to be said.

“No-no-no, Comrade Stalin,” he said. “My men have found something unusual in Siberia two days ago. A military base, from seventy-five years into the future. It belongs to a nation called the Russian Federation.”

“Really?”

The entire room suddenly became eerily quiet for everyone except Stalin. Beria tried to utter another word, but with one flick of his hand, Stalin wordlessly told him not to. Instead, the General Secretary took his time to reach for his corncob pipe, lit its bowl and then chews its mouthpiece. As the first puff of grey smoke flew out of the bowl chamber, Stalin gazed at the head of the NKVD with the voracious seriousness of a lion cornering its prey. The NKVD chief gulped, for he knew that the Steel Tsar had just been displeased. Bad things had happened to people who antagonized him, and Beria was already imagining himself being tortured in one of his own prison cells.

“Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria, I will take it that you are not serious of the war effort, yes?” the General Secretary snapped, “You will side with the German fascists to de-rail the Rodina’s defenses. Therefore, I cannot understand why a Georgian like you would do such a thing. I am patriotic, and so are every other Georgians I have known. But not you it would seem…”

“But Comrade Stalin,” the NKVD chief argued, “I am speaking the truth. I can bring in their tanks for you to inspect by this Friday. They are even bigger and superior than our T-34s.”

Stalin’s furious gaze signaled that he still refused to believe. “Enough of this fucking bullshit!” he yelled. “Did the war fuck your brains, you child-raping faggot? I want fucking victories, Beria. I want information on the Germans and what they are doing, not far-fetched claims of discovering the fucking future, because there will be no future if we let those bastards win!”

The Steel Tsar halted briefly to take a breather, breathing in and out slowly. His cheeks were as red as tomatoes, and one could fear that it would burst with an almighty pop. Of late, Zhukov and Vasilevsky’s forces had been unable to punch through the German lines. The fact that they were actually preparing for a major offensive instead of retreating unsettled him further; even General Winter was not stopping them cold, which had been the case for December. But if Beria was speaking the truth, then there might be a chance for a reversal of the historical dialectic towards the side of communism once more.

“Very well, Beria,” he said, never removing his steely gaze from the NKVD chief’s eyes. “I will give you until the day after tomorrow to bring me an example of your fantastic claims. If it is genuine, I will make you a Hero of the Soviet Union. If not, you would already know what will happen. I believe Malenkov has been vying to take over your job, Pavlovich.”

The NKVD chief smiled wanly.

“But before you go,” the General Secretary continued, “Explain to me what the ‘Russian Federation’ is, since you have ‘discovered’ their military base in the Siberian wilderness.”

The NKVD chief stalled dead on his tracks, giving the look that he had just seen a ghost or something. “It is still too early to discern what that might mean, Comrade Stalin. But rest assured that all be clear by this Thursday.”

“Good,” the Steel Tsar hummed approvingly. “It had better be. Now get out and do your job for a change.”

Leaving the head of NKVD to his duties, Stalin turned back to Molotov. “You have not answered my question, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich,” he growled. “Can we form an alliance with the Japanese and get them to share their future ‘things’ with us?”

“If what Comrade Beria had said was true,” the Foreign Minister explained, “then we could use our own ‘future’ discoveries as leverage. We could even get them to share their findings with us, in return for production facilities and subtle support in their war against the West. So, in that case, I would say yes.”

“Would they accept it?” Stalin skeptically asked. “I find it hard to believe that they have forgotten the defeat we handed them in Mongolia. They, like the West, are also an imperialistic power who also believes that their Emperor is a god on Earth.”

“Yes, Comrade Stalin,” Molotov agreed. “But one should also remember that they are walking on a tight rope. The Japanese cannot compete with the vast industries of Britain and America, especially once the latter is running at full speed. Even if they are Germany’s ally, the both of them have differing racial philosophies. Inevitably, a clash between both nations would occur at some point should they win this war.”

“But a clash between both of our ideologies is similarly unavoidable, am I right?” the General Secretary countered. “We have not forgotten that they defeated us at Tsushima, and our issues regarding Mongolia and Manchuria have not been settled yet. Therefore, a war between us is inescapable.”

“Just as a conflict between us and the West is inevitable,” Molotov nodded in agreement. “But unlike the Nazis, we would not exterminate their populace just simply because they are Asians. Indeed, there are even elements within their imperialistic society sympathetic to the cause of World Communism. Their ideals of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, even if it is a fib, echo the dialectics of the workers and peasants of the Soviet Union. If a war does occur, it would be us liberating our eastern brothers rather than just exterminating an Asian sub-race.”

“Certainly it would,” Stalin consented. “You will discuss this matter with the Japanese Ambassador then, Vyacheslav Mikhailovich. I have to attend to the defense of the Rodina now.”

The Soviet Foreign Minister got out of his seat and left the room, leaving the General Secretary of the CPSU to his own fiddling. Once the door was shut closed, Stalin immediately grabbed the piece of report and took another good look at it. Strangely, he felt relieved as he read through the NKVD’s details of the German build-up occurring north and west. The faint, distant wail of half a dozen air raid sirens suddenly filled the atmosphere, followed by explosions. He dismissed them as nothing more than another nuisance raid.

Our anti-aircraft weapons should be sufficient to shoot them down, he calmed himself with the gleeful thought.

Just then, the telephone rang.

Slowly putting down the paper, Stalin picked up the phone and placed the handset against his right ear.

“Comrade Stalin,” it was Zhukov, sounding very exhausted. “The Germans have just launched their counter-offensive from the front’s north and west. My spotters say that they are heading towards Moscow in some sort of rotary craft.”

The Steel Tsar’s weary eyes were awakened in fear. “What do you mean, Zhukov? Where are they coming from?”

The sounds of several large explosions echoed through the Kremlin, shaking the very foundations of the General Secretary’s office. The dim lights were flickering all of a sudden. The telephone handset was flung out of his grasp, and when he picked it up once more, the line was long dead. Deep reverberations shook the building once more, and Stalin realized that this was more than a bombing raid. Calmly, he opened the desk’s bottom drawer, took out his semi-automatic Tokarev pistol and cocked its firing pin.

And then, the Steel Tsar lumbered out of the room as fast as possible.

***

11 20 Hours

The deep droning of the Arados’ pulse-jet engines resonating much further west instead of east told Leutnant Herman Becker that they were going home. The mission briefing had stated that thirty of them were going to be used to carpet bomb Moscow with torrents of napalm and fuel-air bombs before 3rd Company was inserted into the Kremlin along with a separate Waffen-SS detachment. For some damn reason, the Fallschirmjagers were being kept in reserve by Hermann Goering himself. There were rumors that they were being prepared for combat in the Mediterranean, due to ‘changed’ circumstances in the Pacific.

Becker washed the thought away, because he had other important things to attend to. Like fighting a war and making sure that no more Germans under his command will die under Russian guns. At the moment, the Leutnant was standing in front of a large door within the Kremlin’s interior with five of his men. The defense of Kalinin had killed half of his platoon, and the firefight at the LZ had chopped up another four. This brought him to his current predicament.

“Cover the entrance, Koenig,” Becker ordered as he prepared to smash a wooden door with his rifle butt. “The rest of you – watch out for any popping Russki trapdoors.”

With brutal force, he kicked the door open and brought his assault rifle to bear. There was nothing but the sight of an office room lavishly decorated with rich Russian ornaments and a portrait of some communist figurehead the Leutnant barely remembered of. He regretted then for not paying more attention in history classes during his Mittelschule years. The spaciousness of the room awed him and his men, however.

“Look at the size of this filthy rich room,” Schutze Cowan Diamant remarked from behind. “It could fill a dozen apartments back in Wilhelmshaven.”

“Bah,” Feldwebel Koenig scoffed. “This is a small shrimp compared to the Fuhrer Dome in our Berlin. Herr Leutnant, what do you think?”

“Same as you,” Becker muttered. “It seems there is nothing here, so let’s go check the other rooms.”

One of his men, a Gefreiter who went by the name of Meyer Thandie, had moved over to a large bookshelf and pored over its contents. Whether it was by accident or sheer luck, the Gefreiter grabbed the book by its binder and a hidden door opposite the shelf was unlocked. It earned him a long hard stare from the Leutnant and his peers. The man just shrugged like nothing had happened.

“Looks like there is something here after all,” Becker remarked, gesturing with hand signals for the squad to move in.

With their guns armed and ready, Schutze Diamant was the first inside, followed by another Schutze, and his Unteroffizier peer, then the Gefreiter who ‘discovered’ the door, and finally Feldwebel Koenig and Leutnant Becker. Since there was a distinct lack of lighting inside, they had to put on their Siemens night-vision goggles to see through the darkness. Thanks to the low-light amplification provided by his goggles, the Leutnant was able to immediately recognize that they were walking inside a corridor. Time slowed to a snail’s pace as they went further and further into the darkness, until the light from the entrance was invisible.

This has to end somewhere, he thought.

***

11 33 Hours

Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria was shuffling through a set of papers with the speed of a chasing foxhound, his unwholesome eyes frantically marking what was relevant and what was irrelevant under the wavering lamps above. The former was placed inside his briefcase while the latter was burned. Stalin might have panicked him time and again, but the Nazis frightened him beyond his wits. He knew what they were doing in the areas of Russia stamped beneath their jackboots, and their Commissar’s Decree forbade any party member to be spared a bullet, including him and the General Secretary. Beria might have escaped from this miserable place, but in the confusion of the bombings, he had hid in here instead. Half an hour later, reports filtered in that the Germans have landed troops in the Red Square using rotary craft. However hard it might be, he had to try and make it to Kuibyshev.

He was inside a bunker located beneath the Kremlin grounds, with intertwining tunnels that linked to his office in Lubyanka. The subterranean room was choked full of filing cabinets and communications equipment used by the NKVD. There were only a few entrances to this place from the Kremlin, and all of them were well-hidden. The invading fascists would never find him and his men down here, thus it would make his escape route all the safer. The NKVD chief wondered if the Steel Tsar was alright, concerned not out of loyalty but of cautiousness. If he were to take over the Soviet Union, Iosif Stalin must be dead first.

“Captain Buzzam confirms that the General Secretary’s train has made it out of Moscow,” Colonel Sarkisov, his bodyguard and one of the three remaining radio operators, reported. “Thus, we can be assured that Comrade Stalin and family is well and alive, heading towards Kuibyshev.”

Beria smiled wanly at the news, but his hidden left hand was tightly clenched. “That is all good to hear, Colonel,” he said, half telling the truth. “We may be able to push back these fascist dogs yet.”

Before he could pack another stack of papers into his briefcase, one of the entrance doors swung opened and all hell broke loose.

***

11 35 Hours

The Russian voices led Leutnant Becker and his men to the hidden NKVD bunker, thanks to the echoes produced in the long, wide corridors. He had paused for four minutes just outside the door, intent to let them finish their little ‘chit-chat’ before a kick on the door and a burst of 5.56mm bullets put them all six feet under the ground. Becker smiled whenever he thought of that American phrase. It was the epitome of gallows humor.

“Everyone,” he whispered. “Switch off your goggles. Gefreiter Thandie, you will have the honor of kicking down this door for us.”

Someone snickered from behind. ‘If everything goes wrong, blame Thandie.”

Ignoring the jib directed at him, the Gefreiter solidly slammed down the door with a well-aimed kick. The door was rusty and worn by the ages, perhaps even dating back to the time of the deposed Tsars. The communists who took over hadn’t bothered with replacing it with a modern metal entrance. Evidently, it was a fine example of how crude and simple the Worker’s Republic was in everything they did.

As light poured onto their battle-worn faces once more, a single bullet struck Becker on his feldgrau-covered chest and bounced off. It caused him to stagger for half a second, before he brought his rifle to bear at the would-be killer. It was a short, bald man in a uniform that marked him as an officer of the Red Army. The Leutnant and his men immediately recognized who it was, and opened fired like tomorrow was a forgone conclusion.

Torrents of steel-jacketed bullets filled the room, tearing anything they ripped through with frightening velocity. Lavrenty Beria was the first to be shot, with half a dozen rounds piercing through his head and torso in milliseconds. The rest of the room wasn’t spared either – three radio operators, two guards armed with submachine-guns and the contents of the room were shot to pieces. Futile screams in Russians – whether it was for mercy or vengeance – were simply cut down with the incessant chatter of six StG 72s. The worn-down reinforced walls, tables and communications equipment were staining red with blood and gore.

“I think we killed them all, Herr Leutnant,” Feldwebel Koenig commented on the bloodbath wrought. “Our squad would probably get another Iron Cross for killing that Bolshevik bastard over there.”

Becker’s mouth was set on a grim line. “Too many damn Iron Crosses,” he shook his head. “Too many unmarked graves too. Gefreiter Thandie, I want you and Schutze Diamant to go get the Hauptmann here to see this place. In the meantime, the rest of you will secure this godforsaken hiding hole.”

As Thandie ran out of the Russian bunker, Becker’s men spread out across the rather-packed bunker, sifting through piles of gore-draped documents and machinery with disinterest. Russian was a Cyrillic language that was too dissimilar and alien to German. Whatever those documents were, they must have been very important before the room’s capture. The former NKVD chief had been tried to burn most of them while packing the rest into his now gore-stained briefcase.

“This war is as good as won, Herr Leutnant,” Feldwebel Koenig said. “With Beria dead and probably Stalin too, the Bolsheviks is as good as dead goose.”

“Don’t bet the farm on it,” the Leutnant snapped, “as the Amis would say. The Bolsheviks were still resisting us for decades even after we dropped the bombs on Moscow and Kuibyshev, remember?”

The Feldwebel thought over this for a moment, and remembered that Leutnant Becker had been serving in Ostland far longer than he did. He wished he had not said that.

“I, um, apologize for that, Herr Leutnant,” he expressed regret.

“Don’t worry,” Becker’s battle-worn face was lightening. “For now, we have scored a great victory for the Volk and the Fatherland. Not ours, but nonetheless, the Volk.”

***

11 34 Hours

Even as the NKVD bunker was being scoured clean by Leutnant Becker and his men, Stalin’s personal train was already churning its way out of the suburbs of Moscow; its destination was the Samara city of Kuibyshev five hundred miles to the east. The Germans had not yet captured Moscow – the first ’75er armored spearheads being four days away -but merely attempted to decapitate the Soviet leadership in a single strike heavily based on the principles of Blitzkrieg. For now, the third and fourth companies of the Wehrmacht 1st Battalion, along with the 2nd SS-Luft Company, were digging into the Kremlin’s grounds to await their evacuation.

Though the strike had been considered as successful, people like Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov and Nikita Khrushchev had survived and escaped alongside the Steel Tsar. These were the people Iosif Stalin was taking east, and it was from the Rodina’s east that the Russian counter-offensive would begin.

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