The Dream is Dead Part 1: Peace Without Honour

Published: 2018-01-07, edited: 2018-01-07
The war goes on without the Commune of France. The Entente and Mitteleuropa, now sure in their victory, set their sights on the final threat of the Internationale, the Union of Britain.

Part of the campaign:

The Dream is Dead

Previous part:

Game: Hearts of Iron IV

The Dream is Dead Part 0: Über Alles

Images: 22, author: SailorMouthJones, published: 2018-01-07

Carentan, France. 25th of March, 1942. By sunrise, the fighting had stopped as an unnatural calm descended upon the town. For the civilians, anxiousness and fear had become commonplace, especially when gazing towards the clouds of dust approaching them from the roadways. The hum of truck columns grew louder with each passing moment after the sun had risen. The people of Carentan knew better than to expect Communard troops; they certainly didn’t have that many trucks or tanks. Not anymore.

Perhaps it had been foresight that drove them to do it, maybe even some sense of survivalist instincts. The morning saw Communard flags torn down from their poles, replaced with white linens and bed sheets. Once proudly draped from windowsills, they were now relegated to the puddles in the streets.

By mid-morning, Carentan was flooded by Chevrolet’s, Renault’s, and Opel’s. Troops disembarked quickly and efficiently. Civilians watched on nervously, particularly at the columns of French Republic infantry now making their way through the clogged roadways.

Windows and doors quickly shut, but even then, the members of the 2e Division d’Infanterie could feel the presence of eyes on them. As they made their way towards the Notre-Dame de Carentan, the common feeling of an audience permeated the ranks. Civilians they met were skittish, often gazing on the columns in silence.
“Why are they staring at us like that?” Private Eliot LeBatelier asked, “We’re not here to hurt them.” Private Luc Marcil chuckled at his friend’s naiveté, something the young man would probably never shake. Rural living sure messed with people’s heads.

“Let me ask you this, LeBatelier,” Sergent Didier Batard said, “The home you’ve known your whole life, it’s back in Tunis, right?”

“Yeah.”

“So, one day, a column of men with rifles comes marching through your farm back in Tunis, never having set foot there before. How’d you think you and everyone you know would react?”

“Probably the same, Sergent.”

“Very good, LeBatelier. There’s some hope for you yet.” The platoon quickly erupted in laughter at the poor boy’s expense. Sergent Batard, assuring the soldier he meant no malice, patted him on the shoulder. LeBatelier smiled back sheepishly as they continued their march forward.

Luc Marcil could hear the curses of the front of the column, apparently now soaked from a large puddle out of his view. Regardless, the platoon stayed in formation, trudging through with vigor and resolve. If the civilians wanted a show, the men would put on the theatrics.

When Luc reached the puddle, he caught the glimpse of a Communard flag lying tattered at the bottom. Being at the end of column, he stopped as the rest of the platoon continued on. He bent down, gazing at the ruined flag. Luc stuck his hand in the mud, pulling out the Syndicalist banner. Using a cloth to clean off the dirt and mud, he held it out in front of himself to examine.

It was the most intact one he’d found, despite some slight tears and frayed corners. The tricolors, defaced with Syndicalist symbols, were discolored from being out in the sun. He quickly crumpled it into a ball and stuffed it in his bag. He stood silently for a second, before feeling a set of eyes on him. He turned his head towards the bakery on his right.

A man, probably similar in age as his father, glared at him. The man stood at attention, arms placed behind his back. Luc figured him a veteran, as no civilian he’d dealt with could stand so still. The private had thought about stopping to talk to the man, assure him all was well.

Luc took a step forward, quickly stopping in his tracks. The man crossed his arms in front of his chest, huffing at the young soldier. Luc nearly gasped at the man’s left forearm, or lack thereof. Just below the elbow, a rounded nub remained. The skin appeared red and irritated from Luc’s view. The man’s gaze turned to look behind Luc.

Turning around to see what was there, Luc saw a convoy of German troops drive past, joyously singing as they went. Luc turned back to the older man, now sizing him up and down. The man spit in Luc’s direction.

“Private Marcil!” Sergent Batard yelled, “Get back up here!” Luc obliged in a hurry, eager to distance himself from the man. The platoon continued on with the eyes from the bakery following them until they were out of sight.

https://yoshisa.deviantart.com/art/Kaiserreich-Union-of-Britain-Flag-641779396
“Everything?” General Georges Vanier asked. He looked to his counterpart, Général Charles de Gaulle, and to the translators. The two Entente representatives stood across from the German officers, General Erwin Rommel and Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein. The Canadian and French leaders were perplexed by the German offer.

All of the Commune of France’s territory was to be surrendered to the French Republic, provided further assistance in the war against the Internationale. In return for the territory, France would also respect the current border along the Meuse. Both sides’ political leaders had already agreed to the deal, but the dirty work of the exchange was to be left to the militaries of the Entente and Mitteleuropa.

“Our forces will garrison the territory under our control until Entente forces can take over,” von Manstein’s translator said, “Though we ask for access to French air bases for the duration of the war. We will compensate the French government for space and resources required.” The Entente leaders figured it reasonable, as the German air force vastly outnumbered their own. Though de Gaulle’s frown at the mention of the Meuse border did very little to hide his disdain for the German’s tight grasp on Nancy and Alsace. Vanier wasn’t much of a fan himself, but they needed the German planes far more than they cared to admit.

“It can certainly be arranged,” de Gaulle said, “but that would have to go through political channels first.” The translator talked to von Manstein, who nodded.

“Ja. Ja.” Von Manstein extended his arm to de Gaulle, who accepted it. Both sides continued on discussing plans for the deal. Troop movements and deployments. Pockets of resistance. Captured leaders and release of prisoners. Times and dates for everything at hand. And plans were thrown about of tribunals for the higher-ranking Communard officials. Most had fled to Britain, but those left behind were to be held responsible for their treason. Discussion had continued well into the evening, as it had for multiple days. Finally, sensing a need for rest, both sides excused themselves for the night. Final exchanges were had between Rommel, de Gaulle, Vanier, and von Manstein.

The Entente members walked out of the Notre-Dame de Carentan towards their driver, a twitchy young man fighting the urge to sleep. His jeep remained idled as the two generals took seats, discussing the evening’s events.

“One step closer, Général,” Vanier said in French, the Anglo-Canadian driver oblivious to the chat with the Frenchman. De Gaulle appeared distant; gazing out unto the candlelit windows of Carentan, power having not yet been restored to the streetlights. “De Gaulle? Something wrong?” The French general did not return the Canadian’s gaze.

“I fear we’ve made a pact with the devil.”
Paris was burning. Despite the surrender of the Commune, Syndicalist partisans remained in the capital, fighting desperately to hold on. But day-by-day, German artillery besieged the city, reducing much of it to rubble. International divisions and surviving French troops dug in as best they could, waiting for the Germans to attempt to march into Paris. For the panicked civilians, the International volunteers clung to one road out of the city, north to Saint-Denis, where fighting had largely been reduced to brief skirmishes. The Germans had outrun their supply lines, and had run low on fuel; the lull in the fighting had allowed refugees to escape.

But inside Paris, many still remained, including a troop from the No.22 Commando, a small unit deployed by the Union of Britain. While most British forces had evacuated the continent, small teams remained behind for the escort of key figures and destruction of any equipment better left out of German or Entente hands.

That’s how Private George Donnelly found himself sifting through the offices of the College de France, burning old memos and letters. The scent of kerosene permeated his nostrils. He held a folder full of letters, a correspondence between British and French scientists. He dumped it in the steel drum in the middle of the room, watching as the flames engulfed the folder. The smoke burned his eyes as the embers of charred paper flew up into the air.

“George? George?” the boy heard, turning around to see his friends. Privates Ethan Ferguson and Joshua Craig ran into the room, folders of their own to be torched.

“What is it?” George asked as he grabbed papers off the ground.

“Lieutenant says it’s time to go,” Ethan replied, “Trucks are outside.”

“Yeah, just give me a hand with the last of these papers.” The trio collected the scattered folders and letters, throwing stacks and years of research into the flames.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“These things weigh-,” Private Noah Price said, gasping for breath, “a fucking ton.” His face was red as the veins in his neck were visible; he struggled to lift the steel drum into the back of the truck despite the assistance of both Ethan and George. His armpits and his face were dripping in sweat. Finally, the soldiers, with the help of few more of the men in the squad, were able to get the last drum into the back of the truck.

As the group, took a moment to stretch, the unit’s commander, Captain William MacLeod walked over. The men watched as their fellow soldiers hopped into the bed of the first truck in the convoy. George looked to the third truck, filled with VIP’s and their assistants. He turned back around to see MacLeod now standing directly in front of him.

“Donnelly,” Captain MacLeod barked, “You’re driving the second truck. Ferguson, you follow behind him. We’re moving out.”

“Yes, sir.” They both replied. George opened the truck’s driver door, climbing inside with Sergeant Bishop sitting to his right.

“Remember Donnelly, don’t stop for anything,” Sergeant Bishop said. The private nodded and turned the key. The 3-ton truck roared to life, vibrating the entire driver’s cabin. George looked up and watched as another soldier pulled Josh into the first truck’s bed; his friend stared back, giving George the middle finger with a smile on his face. And with that, the trucks lurched forward.
George honked the horn again as he cursed under his breath. The convoy crawled its way through the mass of evacuating civilians. Their trucks remained surrounded on all sides by civilians on foot and in vehicles; a few even made their way with horses.

“We’ll never make it out of here like this,” George said to Sergeant Bishop. The middle-aged man grimaced though remained silent. He appeared to be contemplating the situation, looking for a way out. Something caught the man’s attention as he stuck his head out the passenger window.

“Stop!” the sergeant yelled. George slammed the brakes, sending both men forward in their seats. They watched as civilians had begun banging on their convoy’s lead vehicle. While most of the refugees had quietly parted for their trucks, they had apparently reached a rowdier group.

The men in the first truck readied their weapons as the civilians began climbing on the sides of the truck and in the bed. George could hear his friends shouting at the crowd to disperse. One young man, whether it be accidental or purposely, had latched onto one of the men’s rifles. He was quickly met with the butt of a rifle.

Apparently, that had turned the crowd into a mob as the civilians began to throw small rocks and other items at the commandos. Sergeant Bishop fired a pistol into the air, scaring off much of the crowd. However, some of the angrier young men remained, surrounding the convoy in all directions.

“Get back! Get back! Off of the bloody trucks!” Orders were shouted to no avail. George could only watch as one of the men in front of him aimed into the crowd. He targeted at a young man who lobbed a stone in retaliation. The commando pulled the trigger.

Within seconds, bullets were being fired on the mob. Nearly a dozen fell immediately as blood began pooling in the streets. The roads remained clogged with bodies both living and dead. The trucks began driving forward; ignoring the screams, the convoy continued on at a faster pace, running over bodies as they drove. A moment later, the three trucks were moving as fast as they could out of Paris.

The gunfire must have caught the attention of nearby German reconnaissance, as the sounds of artillery grew louder. Thundering above filled George with dread as they drove into an area being hit with artillery. The overcast skies added to the ominous moments as George felt his chest ready to burst. He panicked, as the noise grew louder, deafening everything around him. The trail from a shell above caught his eye. This one was going to be a direct hit. He flinched. Like instinct, he veered left into the oncoming lane.

The shell landed in front of the lead truck; it quickly spun out, flipping as it crashed. The bodies of most of their platoon were flung from the bed of the truck. They looked like ragdolls to George as he drove right past them. He gazed into his side mirror, seeing Ethan in the last truck right behind him still in one piece. George wanted to stop and help. Sergeant Bishop looked at him. It was out of the question. They both knew what they had to do. George eyed the crashed vehicle in his side mirror for a final time. It had stopped rolling. No one moved. The convoy continued on.
The sun faded as the remnants of the No.22 Commando pulled up to their first safe house. George pulled up to a small farmhouse when he noticed a man outside flagging him down. He pointed towards the barn attached to the house, its doors swung wide open. George slowly brought the truck to a stop with Ethan pulling up right behind him.

As they turned off the truck’s engines, the platoon’s survivors disembarked with the French scientists. The farm’s owner ushered them inside the house, offering them food and water. He shut the doors on the barn as his family walked outside with plates of food for the soldiers and scientists. The farmer looked confused by the number in the convoy.

“Where are the others?” he asked.

“Didn’t make it,” Noah said. He patted the farmer on the shoulder as he followed the others inside. The man seemed rattled by the news. Sergeant Bishop and George walked over to the man, who had appeared to pray under his breath. He looked at Bishop.

“Désolé. I didn’t know.” The sergeant waved away the man’s apology.

“They knew what they signed up for. Is everything ready for the next rendezvous?”

“Oui. They’ll be ready for you.”

“Good. We’ll be out of here in the morning.” The farmer nodded, escorting the two remaining commandos inside.

“Come, come. Eat.”
George sat alone in the barn that night, lost in his thoughts. Everyone else slept or at least tried to, but George couldn’t rest. His mind was too active and his heart sank. Images of his friends flashed through his mind. Conversations and jokes just days before were quickly replaced by the mental image of the crashed truck, their lifeless bodies strewn across the road. Screams from the panicked civilians echoed in his throbbing brain.

He clasped his left hand as it continued to twitch; thankfully, he had hidden it well during dinner, but alone in the barn, he didn’t mind as much. The kerosene lantern, his source of light, cast fidgety shadows on the wall next to him.

“Still up?” a voice called from the barn door. Startled, George quickly stood up and looked over towards the lantern in the doorway. His eyes took a second to refocus and meet the gaze of Sergeant Bishop.

“Couldn’t sleep, sir.” The sergeant walked towards him and took a seat next to George, who sat back down.

“Keep seeing them, too?” Bishop looked to his subordinate, offering him a cigarette. George took one of the two left in the pack and pulled out his lighter. “You’re not the only one.” George lit Bishop’s cigarette and then his own.

“Do you think we could’ve done something?” George asked.

“You saw the bodies, you saw the crash.” Bishop shook his head. “No one walks away from that.” The end of the sergeant’s cigarette glowed orange as he took another drag. George kept seeing their faces: MacLeod, Oliver, Thomas, Clarke, Leo, and Josh. All gone with a dozen more. George’s guilt wreaked havoc on his mind.

“I-,” George said, but Sergeant Bishop cut him off.

“Before you say anything, know that there was nothing more you could do. Don’t blame yourself.” George looked to Bishop; the sergeant shook his head as if telling George not to say another word. Instead, his thoughts drifted back to his friends. Jokes. Stories. Faces. His mind quickly went to the crash. He tried to force his brain away from the images, only to mentally replay the moments after the shootout with the mob. Bump after bump. Most had been living. Wounded, sure. But how many could have been saved?

Trying to sooth his self, George pictured Josh with that stupid grin plastered on his face. He thought of happier times and began to chuckle to himself. Sergeant Bishop gave him a quick glance. George’s chuckle turned to laughter but the lump in his throat failed to go away. His grin soured and the laughter quickly contorted into a weep, then a sob. The tears came between ragged breaths as the shoulders sank. As George’s composure failed that night, Sergeant Bishop never left his side.
On the 28th of March 1942, the Commune of France’s unconditional surrender was completed on paper. With the Treaty of Carentan, the Commune’s territory was officially absorbed back into the French Republic. The Entente and Mitteleuropa had come to an uneasy peace that afforded them the ability to mobilize against the final holdout of the Third Internationale, the Union of Britain.

The Socialist Republic of Italy, having been obliterated by Entente invasions, offered peace so long as it kept sovereignty of its lands. With the French, Canadian, and German forces stretched thin, they accepted the offer, seeing the Italian front as little more than a backwater arena, something to be dealt with later.

Britain was the only true threat left, its army, navy, and air force all appearing to be in one piece. But the nation’s spirit was on the tipping point. Britain’s armies had barely escaped the continent intact, its fleets remained dry-docked and in repair, as well as a woefully undermanned air force that had been staving off bombers for months. Against Mitteleuropa alone, casualties neared two hundred thousand. The figures against the Entente were smaller but over a hundred thousand nonetheless, most of those on the British mainland. Good men and women had fought in the Revolution nearly twenty years prior, and now their sons and daughters were doomed to bleed as they had.

Even as the British held on, the newest member of the Internationale, the Turkish Commune, wrestled control away from Mosley’s clutches. The Italians, led by Filippo Turati and the Social Reformists, saw closer safety with their Mediterranean neighbor. Britain’s leadership waned as its two remaining allies distanced themselves in a desperate move to escape annihilation.
Eric Blair walked through the halls towards the office of Chairman Oswald Mosley. Despite his “promotion” to an official of the Ministry of Education, Eric had kept some semblance of connection with the Maximist leader. Most saw the position for what it was: a retirement from the real work. Going from General-Secretary to an administrator for schoolchildren didn’t quite seem like a reward to most, but Blair got to keep his head despite his own failures in the former role.

He still held much expertise, using his knowledge from the days of the militias to help prepare conscripts for their training. It wasn’t much but he liked to think he had kept a bright mind or two from getting their heads blown off. The lectures had grown on him quite a bit. Students would ask him of the 1925 Revolution, to which he did his best to differentiate fact from fiction. They were always so eager to learn, to hear.

He reached the Chairman’s Office and glanced to the guard on post. The guard let him in, knowing full well that Mosley had summoned him. Blair’s mind had found itself haunted by Mosley these days. Was it guilt? Perhaps. For many, Eric’s speeches and writings to the Trade Union Congress had been one of the reasons Mosley had been elected as Chairman in the first place. Eric had been a member of the Maximists then, in mind and on paper. Now, the paper was all that remained.

“Mr. Chairman,” Eric said as he walked into the room. Mosley, seated at his desk, looked up and smiled. “You requested me?”

“Yes, Councilman Blair, I was hoping for your assistance with the draft campaigns.” Mosley’s eyes appeared glazed over, his body twitching slightly. Eric thought he looked exhausted, probably having been up the whole night. “We’ve been reaching out to refugees for volunteers, but numbers have been in decline of late.” The Chairman yawned.

“Oswald,” Eric said, “Have you slept?” Mosley laughed.

“I look like shit, don’t I?” he asked. Eric preferred not to be honest.

“I’ve seen worse.” Not a lie.

“Do you mind if I take a seat? I haven’t eaten much lately.” Eric could tell the man appeared skinnier than the last time he had seen him. Mosley stumbled as he neared the desk.

“What about your rations?” Eric asked.

Mosley shook his head. “Later.”

“This work would be a bit easier with a full night’s sleep and a full stomach.”

“So is most work,” Mosley snapped, “But this isn’t most work, is it?” For a moment, Eric had seen the man he had fought for years ago. The stubborn zeal had remained, probably having increased with his current burdens. Eric had wished that the man’s strength could be swayed in ways to better Britain and her people; a strong leader, elected by the people, to lead them against the tyrants of the world. Mosley had proven that he had the strength and resolve, but it had left him with more power than the trade unions would normally allow. Eric feared for a day when Oswald began to see threats in the eyes around him.

“Lets get started then,” Eric said, taking a seat.
The two trucks stopped, having apparently reached their contact. Private George Donnelly saw the man flagging them down. He wore a Communard uniform, a bit tattered and muddy, but it was nice to see a friendly face. As dawn approached, Sergeant Bishop used his flashlight to signal the code to the Frenchman. He took a second then used his own flashlight to signal back.

“That’s him. Pull over there.” George parked the truck off the road and shut off the engine. As he exited the truck, a few French soldiers welcomed George. They looked pretty battered; judging by the bloodstained, muddy uniforms. Of the French squad, their leader stepped forward while the men went to help the scientists from the other truck. George left to help the others while the two men talked.

“I’m Caporal Veilleux. I’m sure you’re all tired but we both know there isn’t much time.”

“Sergeant Bishop,” the sergeant said, pointing to himself, “We understand, Caporal. We’re just looking to load up and get the hell out of here.” The Frenchman nodded a bit glumly.

“Over here.” Veilleux walked through the tree line towards an object covered by a tarp and fake foliage; he nodded towards two men, who helped pull off the tarp. A Junkers Ju 52 was parked quietly on the edge of the flat open field.

“Only one?” Bishop asked. There were supposed to be two.

“All we could manage,” Veilleux replied. Bishop covered his mouth, obviously disturbed by this development. He shook his head.

“We’ve got to load this thing up. All non-essentials get tossed.”

“It’s taken care of already.” The two men grimaced. They both knew they would be cutting it close.
Between the French and British soldiers, the twenty-six drums were loaded in relatively quickly. The scientists did their best to help, but were mostly relegated to dumping items out of the plane as instructed. The afternoon had arrived as the last drum was loaded; the group took a collective sigh of relief. Just as things appeared to look up, a runner came up the road, shouting in a blind panic.

“Veilleux! Veilleux!” he yelled. The French and British soldiers turned to the runner. “Dieppe! Boches! Boches!” The British were confused, but Veilleux’s face went white. He turned to Sergeant Bishop.

“Germans.” Bishop’s eyes went wide.
“Ferguson, Donnelly!” the sergeant said, “Get whatever weapons we have in the trucks! Price, Richards, help the scientists!” Walton and Finch stood beside him. “You two, block the roads to the north and south. Use the trucks as a barricade.”

“We have mines,” Veilleux said, “that they can use to slow them down.” Veilleux handed the duo a satchel with the explosives. Veilleux looked at Bishop. They were all thinking the same thing.

“Fuck.”

__________________________________________


Bishop and Veilleux continued to take inventory for their defenses: two Bren machine guns with several magazines each, a Brandt 60-mm mortar with a couple dozen or so shells, and a crateful of grenades. Bishop had himself and the six other men left of the No.22 Commando. Caporal Veilleux had four of his own men plus the two pilots, who were frantically trying to refuel the plane. It wasn’t much but it would have to do.

Veilleux’s scout had reported back with just moments to spare, as the German trucks were already on their way to the group’s current position. The scout had said a villager he worked closely with had been interrogated; he gave up the plan after a few days with the Kaiser’s best interrogators. The poor lad.

Overall, their group was dug in facing a T-junction in the road. The two trucks had blocked the roads to the north and south while the eastern route entering the junction had mines scattered about. Bishop had given Ferguson and Donnelly the first machine gun; Price and Richards had been given the second. Veilleux and his men had prepared the mortar while Privates Walton and Finch hastily dug foxholes along the tree line by the road.

The terrain gave them an advantage, however. The Germans, no matter which way they came, faced an incline in the road. Sergeant Bishop and the men hoped it might buy them enough time once the fighting had actually begun. One of the Frenchmen shouted out. He pointed to the east. Dust clouds and trucks appeared on the horizon.

“Alright, lads,” Bishop said, “This is it.”
The lead truck was engulfed in flames as the first of the mines launched it off the ground. The other trucks, now blocked by the wreckage, were forced to stop. George watched as the Germans began to dismount.

“Wait for it,” Ethan said, holding the next magazine once the Bren needed to reload. The Germans came around the sides of the truck. “Now!”

George fired the Bren in bursts, dropping two infantrymen to the ground immediately. Noah and Adam, facing the troops dismounting to north, began firing as well. Shouts and screams could be heard in German; George and the others yelled back, but it was masked by the sound of the gunfire. Within seconds, nearly a dozen Germans lay dead or dying while their comrades took cover in the ditches next to the road.

“Reload!” George yelled, but Ethan was already in the motions. George continued to pin down the Germans the best he could. But the commandos had begun to take fire, the Germans proving to be rather calm enough to take shots at the machine guns. Bullets began to snap and whizz past George’s head. He cursed under his breath.

An all too familiar sound soon followed. George couldn’t see them from his position, but he knew well enough what a German mortar sounded like. He assumed they had set up to behind one of the trucks. George glanced to his left as Noah’s Bren had run out of bullets.

“Mortars!” George yelled. His friends must not have heard him, as the gunfire continued to deafen their voices. The only person George could hear was Ethan right next to him, and that still took shouting directly into the ear.

Two mortars landed succinctly. The first exploded in the road, a small cloud of dirt and rock flying into the air. The second proved to be a better aim, a direct hit. George had only blinked, and Private Noah Price and Private Adam Richards lay mangled and silent. George could hear Ethan yelling profanities in his ear; Ethan slapped George’s shoulder, signaling that the machine gun was reloaded.

George kept firing. He ran out of bullets. Ethan reloaded. George kept firing.
Sergeant Bishop had sent Private Finch to recover the second Bren while he used his No.4 rifle to shoot any Germans that tried to stray too far away from the trucks. Private Walton was to Bishop’s right, taking pot shots on Stahlhelms that popped up just a little too high.

The Germans had begun to retaliate in force, as machine gun fire began strafing the commandos. Bishop and Walton ducked as the gunfire started kicking up the dirt in front of them. The sergeant looked back at Veilleux; his mortar team had begun firing on the German trucks, mostly guessing on where the other mortars were located. Mortar shells reigned down on both sides while they continued to guess where the others were.

Bishop heard the hum of an engine. He looked to the plane; the pilots had finished refueling and had begun to maneuver for takeoff. The passenger doors opened as the scientists began flagging down the soldiers. Mortar rounds had begun landing past the tree line. They missed Veilleux’s men. But they had gotten closer to the Ju 52 with each mortar that fell.

“The plane!” Bishop yelled. He ran towards Veilleux. The Frenchman had noticed him after a few seconds. Sergeant Bishop pointed at the aircraft. “They’re going for the bloody plane!” Veilleux stood up and ran towards the transport. The scientists tried to wave him onboard. Bishop shooed them away with his hand. Veilleux shook his head as he and the scientists shouted in French.

Another mortar landed, this time right next to Veilleux. The scientist flinched as Veilleux’s body flew through the air in two separate directions. Bishop continued to sprint towards the aircraft.

“Go! Go!” Bishop arrived at Veilleux’s position. The man was very well alive, but screaming at the eviscerated stumps that remained of his two legs. One of the pilots looked back at Sergeant Bishop. “Fucking go!” The pilot got the message and began quickly moving the aircraft farther into the open field. The scientists closed the passenger doors not soon after.

Bishop’s attention quickly turned back to the injured soldier in front of him. Veilleux continued to scream and groan as Bishop grabbed him, preparing to pick the soldier up.

“This is going to hurt a bit,” was all the warning the sergeant could give. Bishop threw the howling Veilleux onto his shoulders and began to carry him back over to cover near the tree line. He prayed that the mortar wouldn’t hit them both. Bishop controlled his breath as he ran, his shoulders straining under the weight of carrying Veilleux’s body.

The French, having lost their leader, attempted to take him from Bishop, but he yelled at them to keep firing the mortar. Walton, having seen the whole incident, met Bishop to help carry Veilleux to cover. Walton pulled morphine from the bag in his hand, injecting it into the Frenchman. The two commandos attempted to bandage the wounds; it was difficult, as the flesh and bone had been shredded, dangling string-like from the thighs.

“One tough son-of-a-bitch, Frenchie,” Sergeant Bishop said. Veilleux’s eyes appeared glazed over, an after effect of the morphine. Bishop looked to Private Walton. “Make sure he’s comfortable.” The private nodded.

Bishop went back to his foxhole on the tree line. He grabbed his rifle and prepared to rejoin the firefight. The German machine guns quickly made him duck back behind cover. Despite how unlucky the day had been, Bishop allowed himself a quick moment of happiness. He had a perfect sight of the Ju 52 taking off from the field. Bishop smirked.
Spent bullet casings littered the foxholes, some still hot to the touch. Unfortunately for the commandos, they had run out of ammunition for the machine guns. They were down to rifles and grenades while the French used their last mortar shell. Abandoning the Brandt Mle 1935, the four Communard soldiers grabbed their rifles and joined the British in the trees.

The German mortars, however, continued to rain down around the commandos. Private Finch, slightly isolated from the group in a position to their left flank, ditched his Bren and tried to make his way closer to the main group. Bishop waved him over, prepared to hand him some grenades. But a German machine gunner must have spotted him. The Maschinegewehr 34 sprayed the trees around Finch with pinpoint accuracy.

The machine gun connected inevitably, riddling Finch’s torso with bullet holes. The private’s body collapsed, tumbling backwards due to the force of the gunfire. Bishop turned to his right, attempting to signal to Private Walton. Just as he was about to get the soldier’s attention, a sniper round pierced Walton’s helmet, exiting through the back of the skull and knocking the helmet off. Walton’s body collapsed.

“Fuck!” Bishop yelled. The only men he had left were Donnelly and Ferguson. Between himself and them, the French had taken positions along the tree line. The left flank, now gone, collapsed as the Germans advanced along the eastern road. Some eager Panzergrenadiers had already reached the main roadway were firing near Bishop, forcing him to fall back.

The sergeant fired back, moving towards the French between shots. As he was forced to reload, another mortar shell landed on the tree line, pulverizing the few of the trees around him. Pieces of splintered wood acted as shrapnel, cutting through the flesh and uniforms of the French soldiers. Bishop, with a few small pieces in his shoulder blade and neck, ran towards the French. The first two he checked on were gone, with the third, Veilleux’s scout, holding his intestines and the fourth blinded by debris to the face. The two injured men panicked, but Bishop tried to calm them down.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” he said. But they continued to flail around. Bishop pointed to the bag he had grabbed from Walton’s body. “Everything’s alright. Morphine.” The one holding the intestines understood, letting Bishop inject it without incident. The man’s eyes fluttered for a few moments before he appeared to pass out.

The blinded soldier, on the other hand, thrashed about like a caged animal. He clawed and hissed as Bishop tried to grab him. The Frenchman kicked and screamed, unable to see and hear what was happening around him. Bishop felt guilty for the young man. The kid kept muttering phrases in French, none that the sergeant could decipher.

The young man’s frantic yelling quickly turned to panic and shouts of pain, but he continued to thrash to Bishop’s dismay. The two soldiers were taking fire from the Germans breaking through the left flank. Bishop grabbed some more morphine, and went to grab the Frenchman’s right harm. The blinded soldier tried to throw a punch with his left arm, which Bishop quickly dodged while firmly grasping onto the arm. He jammed the morphine’s syringe into the bicep, hoping it would simmer the young man down.
The kid quieted down, allowing Bishop to try to tend to the wounds between rifle shots. But the German fire proved to be too overwhelming, forcing Bishop to leave the kid alone. He tossed the kid’s MAS-36 away to prevent the Germans from getting the wrong idea. The sergeant fell back to Donnelly and Ferguson’s foxhole.

When he got there, the two commandos were pinned down by a platoon-size group of Germans. Bishop fired at the flanking group of Germans coming from the north, while the other two fired on the group advancing from the east.

“Any ammo, Sergeant?” Donnelly asked.

“Just a few grenades.” Bishop handed one to each of the commandos before pulling the pin on one and lobbing it overhead and into the platoon.

“We’re all out on the rifles, sir,” Ferguson said, pulling the pin on his grenade. The private angled his body to throw it, but he had raised his head up too far. Ferguson’s head snapped back as the bullet entered just below his right eye. The body collapsed to its knees before falling down entirely, the primed grenade still clutched in Ferguson’s hand.

“No!” Donnelly yelled, diving onto the explosive. It went off but was largely masked by Ferguson’s body and Donnelly’s torso. Bishop cursed to himself and grabbed the last grenade he had. He pulled the pin and threw it through the trees.

Then the bullet struck.
The Ju 52 hadn’t crossed the Channel by the time British Spitfires had intercepted their plane. They were in place and on time as planned. The copilot, knowing the next step, made his way to the aircraft’s machine gun turret near the tail. He grabbed the smoke grenade, holding it up for the Republican Air Force pilots to see. The green smoke trailed the aircraft, which gave the Spitfires their signal to escort the plane to safety. The lead fighter flew up next to them and waggled his wings.

The trip for the passengers was solemn at best; no one dared speak even as they reached the safety of British airspace. The pilots left the scientists to their thoughts, instead focusing on fuel levels and concerning themselves with their cargo. As the aircraft had landed, the scientists noted a small group of individuals waiting for them on airfield’s runway.

As they finished taxiing on the runway, the pilot killed the engines. The copilot opened the passenger doors and assisted the scientists as they disembarked. Soldiers from the group waiting for them prepared to help any way they could.
Two men in suits and one in a British military uniform stood waiting for the scientists. As the last of the passengers were loaded off, the military officer ordered his men to escort the scientists’ assistants to vehicles waiting to transport them to proper lodging. A few stayed behind, preparing to talk to the officials in the suits. A man and woman who stood in front led the small group. The two suits approached them while the officer remained a step behind.

“Doctors Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie, I presume?” Chairman Oswald Mosley asked. The couple nodded.

“I wish we’d have met under better circumstances, Mr. Mosley,” Frédéric Joliot-Curie said.

“Likewise. I hope the trip proved to be satisfactory,” Mosley replied.

“As good as one could hope,” Irène Joliot-Curie said. Mosley nodded, understanding that something must have happened. He hadn’t seen a single member of the commando unit return. And with the second plane unaccounted for, he could only assume the worst.

“Well, we have much work to do,” Mosley said, “Major-General Lawrence’s men will assist your team with any wants or needs. Perhaps later, we can conduct the debriefing and discuss our steps going forward.” The Joliot-Curie’s nodded, though Irène pointed to the two scientists behind her.

“We wish to have Dr. Halban and Dr. Kowarski attend the briefing with us. They’ve worked closely with us on this project and it would help to have them there.”

“Of course. For now, lets make sure everyone is taken care of. It was a long journey.” Mosley and some of the soldiers helped the scientists with their bags and escorted them to the trucks with the other members of the team. Silence followed as Major-General Thomas E. Lawrence and Councilman Eric Blair were left standing alone. They watched as members of the airfield ground crew as well as Lawrence’s men unloaded the steel drums.

Twenty-six drums by Blair’s final count. Filled with heavy water smuggled out of Norway into the British-occupied Netherlands, then into France. The twenty-six drums were the only amount currently in existence. The Communards had been working on building nuclear reactors. It was a far off technology, but could possibly solve energy shortages in the Internationale. With the Commune’s surrender, it was imperative to retrieve the resources and the knowledge behind the Damocles Project.

“Quite the sight, isn’t it, Mr. General-Secretary?” Lawrence said. The two had watched in silence as the heavy water was to be transported to the Union of Britain’s research facility at the University of Birmingham. But Lawrence’s sudden discussion had broken the other man’s reverie.

“I’m no longer General-Secretary, Major-General,” Eric said, “And yes. It is quite a sight.”

“Apologies, Mr. Councilman.” Councilman Blair shook his head.

“A promotion like mine deserves its rightful title.” The two chuckled. As the trucks with the heavy water drove away, the two pilots walked over.

“Apologies about your men, sir,” the pilot said to Lawrence, “From what I could see, they fought well.” The copilot handed Lawrence an envelope; it was fairly hefty, well worn and stuffed with papers. “Letters, Major-General, one of your men left it on the plane.” Lawrence nodded.

“I’ll see they get delivered back home.”
The evening had come, and Major-General Lawrence sat back in his chair to exhale. He had finally sorted through the folder, separating letters from the members of No.22 Commando. Discussing the mission with the pilots had given him some glimpse of what had occurred. Lawrence managed to piece together the events based on information relayed in the letters as well as the pilots’ information. The commandos had done well, better than anyone could have hoped. Lawrence prayed that the scientists would be enough to turn the tide of the war.

Air raid sirens started blaring through the Workers Palace. Searchlights illuminated the sky from his office window. If he had even taken a glimpse behind him, Thomas could have noted the flashes of the anti-air defenses on the London skyline. Instead, he dug into the bottom drawer of his desk.

A gift. A bottle of scotch that he was given as congratulations to his promotion of Major-General and Director of the R.E.D. The man was a politician that Lawrence knew little of at the time, who must have been unaware of his abstinence from tobacco and alcohol. He laughed at the time, correcting the man, but taking the gift anyway. He had no intentions of opening it, but the present moment felt like a good time to start. Lawrence eyed the bottle, daring himself to continue.

He had failed the Arabs. He had failed the dissidents in Germany. In Belgium. In Poland. In the Baltics. Everywhere he had gone, everyone he had tried to help. All were either dead or rotting away in windowless cells. When they transferred him to the Commune, he had hoped to fair a bit better with allies to support him. Lawrence cursed himself for thinking there would be a different outcome. And yet, the British people still gawked at him in the streets when they saw him. They worshipped him like he was a celebrity. The people had labeled him a hero. Lawrence was far from that.

He closed the drawer.

Taking out a folder with information from No.22 Commando, Lawrence found himself some blank paper. He grabbed a pen as he read through the names and the addresses to relatives. He grabbed the first pile of the commandos’ letters and matched the identity to the family’s address on file. Lawrence set pen to paper.

“Dear Mrs. MacLeod,”
The following weeks had seen bombers over Britain become a daily occurrence. Air raid sirens had been an annoyance prior to the fall of the Commune, but now were so frequent, that citizens spent more time in bomb shelters than out of them. Hundreds of aircraft flew over southern England to their targets: cities like London, Plymouth, Southhampton, Portsmouth, and Dover.

German goals were simple: destroy the defenses of the ports and major industrial centers while the fighter squadrons secure air superiority. The Luftwaffe had numerical advantage in its own right, but cooperation with the Entente and Mitteleuropa had bolstered the abilities completely in German favor.

The Luftwaffe, however, had seen a large loss of skilled pilots and aircraft on the continent, so had largely begun to sit back and let its allies perform a bulk of the early fighting. Russian TB-3’s and Canadian Halifax’s, striking from France and the Benelux, had begun bombing campaigns of Britain.

The Republican Air Force assisted by anti-aircraft crews on the ground and newly established radar systems, had been doing its best to intercept the bomber squadrons. The No.1, No.2, and No.3 Fighter Wings were overwhelmed and stretched out across southern England, while the No.4 Fighter Wing was assigned to defend northern England and Wales.

Day by day, the skies grew increasingly overcrowded, and British cities faced the consequences. Portsmouth, Southhampton, Bristol, and Dover had all been occupied by the Entente earlier in the war; the destruction from their liberations had been mild compared to the destruction brought down on them now. The horizon glowed from the fires in the evenings and smoke darkened the skies during the day. Casualties continued to mount in the air and on the ground.
On paper, the Union of Britain’s defenses were in a reasonable state if compared to the pre-war situation. Its ports had been secured by the Home Guard, the First and Second Armies were well trained in mobile warfare and well equipped, as well as the People’s Marine Corps, which was the backbone of its elite forces.

But the numbers simply were not enough. And with the casualties from the Entente’s invasion plus the failures on the continent, Britain simply needed more men. The Republican Army called upon conscripts and volunteers alike in hopes to raise more troops. If facing another invasion, Britain would have nowhere to turn to for help. France had become the staging ground for the inevitable.
The Combined Syndicates of America had been a potential ally once. But those in power saw the writing on the wall. DC had finally fallen, with much of the upper leadership fleeing to Philadelphia and New York. MacArthur’s troops continued to push into the Appalachian Mountains, hoping to reach the Delaware River and move south to encircle the CSA’s army, capturing Philadelphia in the process.
The Norwegian Socialist Republic had been reborn as the Kingdom of Norway, a puppet to the Swedish crown. The Swedish monarchy remained neutral, though King Gustaf V and German-born Queen Victoria of Baden were both pro-German. R.E.D. intelligence remained wary of Sweden’s entrance into the Second Weltkrieg, as the Kaiser continued to sink his talons into the nations around him.
In the Far East, the situation fared even worse. The Empire of Japan, hoping to capitalize on Germany’s distractions in Europe, declared war in hopes of gaining the Kaiser’s Asian colonies. The Imperial Japanese Navy had been sunk, now residing at the bottom of the Pacific. The Fengtian government, a Japanese ally, had surrendered to the Russians, while Japan’s dwindling army fought on in Korea and in the Transamur Republic.

Britain had remained hopeful when the Japanese had first joined the war, but now saw the flaws it had ignored. The Japanese navy and army were rivals at best, uncoordinated and at each other’s throats. The Union of Britain had seen the error of its ways in time, combining the Republican Navy and the Republican Army under the control of the Chairman; Chairman Mosley and then General-Secretary Blair had seen to dismantle the independence of the armed forces, instead forcing cooperation.

The modern battlefield and rules of war dictated a cohesive unit; communication, speed, and quality training had allowed Britain’s forces to survive against larger foes. Japan proved a mirror of what would go wrong if Britain had not acted in time. The island nations had proven themselves opposites in approach. And now, Japan’s fate had been sealed.
South America, while largely ignored by much of the world, had remained a beacon of hope for the Syndicalist cause. Venezuela, Brazil, and Bolivia had been waging war against the reactionary governments around them. The mountains, jungles, and deserts had been turned into a hellish landscape of guerilla warfare. The Radical Socialists in power fought well, but certainly weren’t in any shape to truly assist the Totalist cause. Britain’s goal was to send weapons in trade for food.

Whatever could make it through the blockades would be a great boost to the rations and an even greater boost to morale. Fortunately, dietitians in Britain had carefully planned for such an occasion, which allowed the British Isles to remain self-sufficient on its homegrown crops. Citizens would simply have to tolerate the reliance on potatoes and the fiber-rich diet until tropical fruits could break the blockades.
The Damocles Project, now with the addition of the Joliot-Curie’s and their assistants in Britain, was progressing at incredible speed. With the evacuation of their research and the heavy water, the Union of Britain stood a great chance of constructing the world’s first nuclear reactors. Similar attempts had been ongoing in nations across the world, but the Commune’s research had seen the most progress. Now, it belonged to the Union of Britain.
Times had certainly changed for the Internationale, as the fledgling Turkish Commune was now the second most powerful military in the alliance. Yet, the Turks sat idly by as the reactionaries amassed on the Channel. The Italians had already abandoned Britain, so why not the others?

The Union of Britain, however, would not take this sense of self-preservation lightly. The general public, indoctrinated by over a half decade of Maximist propaganda, condemned their allies as cowards. Chairman Mosley and members of the Trade Union Congress ranted and raved to the applause of their citizens. However, behind closed doors, deals and trades were being discussed. Britain needed friends, now more than ever. But, their allies’ hesitance would be remembered; the traitors would face wrath, either from their enemies or allies.
Logistics had become imperative for Central Command, now operating out of the Workers Palace. Hyde Park had become a centerpiece for the command structure of the Union of Britain’s military. Staff from all branches operated in offices both above and below ground. The coordination of all military units as a singular force had saved London when the Canadians had advanced on the city. They had been repulsed, of course, but at heavy cost. The entirety of the Republican Army was recalled from the Benelux Command in order to stop the Entente troops. The loss of the Benelux, in turn, had doomed the already retreating Communard forces.

Victory had been snatched away from the enemy in Britain once, but organizing the military into a professional force would be the only way to prevent disaster from happening again. Never again. It had become a call for the politicians and military alike.
The concept of Mobile Warfare had been around for much of modern combat. Entrenched forces, like the First Weltkrieg, had done little more than waste lives. The Union of Britain’s approach was on an establishment of mobile infantry as well as speed-oriented armored divisions. Motorizing the entire army allowed movement that outmatched much of the world’s basic foot infantry. Foreign militaries lauded the Republican Army, particularly its highly organized infantry.
Despite the ongoing effects of the war on the population, support continued with a zeal that even surprised members of the TUC. The Maximist Party enjoyed a supermajority, and had been praised by the British for most of their party’s efforts. Favor had dipped recently with the fall of the Commune as well as the Canadian invasion. But support had never gone below 50% in the polls. The British remained united behind the Totalists and their cause.

The Federationists had toed the line with Mosley, particularly on affairs with the military. Congregationalists had fallen largely out of favor with the public due to their anti-war stance, with many switching towards the Federationists out of survival. The Autonomists had been politically neutered back in 1936, as the calls for increased autonomy to Wales and Scotland was seen as crippling to Britain at large. As the war dragged on, their support base grew smaller, proven wrong on most fronts.

Under Maximist control, Britain had weathered through the early conflicts of the Second Weltkrieg. While much of the nation faced hardships, the citizens’ Spartan lifestyle had made the public adaptive and unified. Britain faced the Kaiser and his cronies with defiance, increasingly zealous as time went on. This unity had made the nation as a whole relatively stable. Crime was down, work was plentiful, and supplies continued to flow. The Union of Britain had become a well-oiled machine.
The Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank (PIAT) had been developed out of necessity. The Republican Army, while very much mobile, had been all but halted by German armor. Early weapons had proven to handle very poorly against tanks and mechanized units, so the PIAT was designed to fill that role. Used in small-scale operations in the Netherlands, commando units had praised the prototypes for the lack of muzzle smoke but the reliability of the weapon was put into question. Since, the necessity of such a weapon was so high and the design of the barrel so cheap, Central Command had allowed the mass production and implementation of the PIAT. Anti-tank weapons would be in dire need when the enemy came ashore with Panzers.
In the early hours of May 7th, landing craft deploying in the Irish Sea had stormed the beaches of the Isle of Man. The Kaiserliche Marine, ferrying eight infantry divisions, had begun bombardments of the shore defenses. The Mann Home Guard Division, a garrison of nearly ten thousand, was outnumbered 8-to-1. The number of German troops alone had outnumbered the island’s population. The Republican Air Force, overstretched as it was, could only muster a few aircraft to assist. Facing destruction, the Manx Division dug into bunkers and foxholes. The soldiers of the Home Guard couldn’t do much other than pray. The Battle for Britain had truly begun.
St. Patrick’s Isle had become a hunting ground for British rifles. The Germans had been arrogant, trying to sail a large chunk of their invasion force into Peel unopposed. It had quickly degenerated into a slaughter. Machine guns, artillery, and well-protected marksman had been picking off the first wave all morning. Spotters, held up in the ruins of Peel Castle, had been providing support.

Private Liam Yates crouched behind cover as he overlooked the causeway connecting the island to the rest of town. His Lee-Enfield had just been reloaded and he popped up out of cover. A small detachment of the German landing force had been dispatched to take Peel Castle.

Unfortunately for them, machine gun crews had their sights aimed on the causeway’s beach. By the late morning, corpses had piled up on the beach. The wreckage of landing craft had severely hampered the Germans’ ability to land more men on shore. Yet they kept coming.

Private Yates saw a soldier on the beach aiming for the nearest machine gun. He fired his rifle, piercing through what appeared to be the other man’s shoulder blade. Yates watched the body collapse, as so many had before him. As the next wave of men trudged to shore, he shot whoever tried to distract the machine guns. One unfortunate fellow had been in the water up to his shoulders. He wasn’t a threat at that point, but Yates still shot him. The German’s helmet had fallen off with the last shot of the magazine.

The private crouched down to reload again and listened to the machine guns do their work. Screams and shouts came from the beaches followed by brief periods of silence. By the time Yates had finished reloading, there wasn’t much noise left.

Except for one particular scream. Yates scanned the beach, no sign of the soldier to be found. The man’s yelling still persisted, despite the machine guns pointed at the beach. Yates looked to his side and realized they were letting the guns’ barrels cool down.

Farther off shore, Yates had spotted the screamer. One of the landing craft had been hit with a shell out at sea and had begun to sink. Yates had assumed everyone aboard dead with the hit they had taken. Yet, one German had been persistent enough or lucky enough to survive.

Lucky might have been the wrong choice of words. Yates could see the German struggling to stay afloat; he screamed and hollered, desperately trying to paddle. He yelled to shore for what Yates assumed to be help. But no one responded back. His head had dipped below the water a few times, as the weight of his equipment seemed to drag him down. Down and back up again, the German grew louder and more desperate. He waved at the British soldiers, pleading for help. Yates even thought the German had looked at him personally; he placed his rifle down.

Yates watched the German. There wasn’t anything that he could do; even if there was, Liam’s thoughts drifted to his brother. Aaron had died when his destroyer was sunk in the Channel. Cathartic justice. The German’s movements grew slower as he thrashed about in the water. It was too deep and too far. He began holding his breath every time his head sank below. He popped up with a massive gasp of air; still desperately clinging onto any hope he’d be saved. Maybe he’d hope for mercy, but Yates didn’t think anyone would bother wasting ammunition.

The German took another gasp before going under the waves; he had failed to properly catch his breath, so his arms tried to pull him back up. But they merely waved around at the surface, making little splashes above the water. They soon disappeared and the silence had returned to St. Patrick’s Isle.
For three days, German and British forces had been engaged across the Isle of Man. The Germans, inexperienced at naval invasions, had walked its men into a slaughter. Thousands of bodies littered the beaches; the waves turned red from the blood spilled before they could even make it to shore. The Mann Home Guard Division had successfully repulsed the 113th, 61st, 74th, 44th, 24th, 27th, 92nd, and 51st Infanterie-Divisions at the cost of nearly a thousand of its own troops and with civilian counts still not totaled. Britain and Germany would have time to lick their wounds. Britain, in particular, had savored its victory, knowing that she still held strong.
A lack of resources had forced the Union of Britain to produce with conservative numbers in mind. And as the bombings continued daily, the industrial capabilities of the nation had diminished. The application of synthetic fuel and rubber had at least made those resources plentiful for the time being. Britain’s trucks, tanks, and planes could still run but the fear was that they’d run out of vehicles before running out of fuel.
Mid-May had seen an increase on the bombing campaigns in Britain. England had faced much of the enemy’s destruction, as longer-ranged bombers now flew to northern England. Seventeen bombers at the cost of sixteen Spitfires and Hurricanes; these numbers weren’t sustainable in the long run, but the Union of Britain hadn’t faced the brunt of the enemy’s bombers before. Now, the nation saw thousands of aircraft flying overhead, emptying payloads on every city and factory.
It wasn’t until June 1st that Britain received definitive word from her allies. The Socialist Republic of Italy had vowed to return to the war while the Turkish Commune wished to assist by surprising the Russians in the Caucasus. Chairman Mosley dismissed their offers outright, a clear absurdity that would end in total defeat. The offer was too little, too late. To be more diplomatic, the Chairman explained that the Internationale’s survival hinged on their survival. It was a lie but an effective one.
Maximist propaganda had continued throughout the war, particularly targeting those who were pacifists or anti-war. The Second Weltkrieg had become “The Final Struggle,” a war for their very way of life. Many of the borderline individuals had found themselves bombarded with patriotic fervor, and it certainly held sway. The Maximists had run the government well, the pacifists whined for self-rule at a time for unity. The nation of revolutionaries didn’t take kindly to the thought of kneeling to a German king again, whether it was a Hohenzollern or a Windsor.
Construction on anti-air defenses had become the number one priority for Central Command. Those looking for work were given jobs constructing parts for the weapons, building infrastructure, and maintaining the defenses. An advanced network of AA guns had taken over the British countryside, a desperate attempt to make the island a fortress.
Despite the hardships, the Maximist Party continued to dominate even down into local politics. The arm of propaganda had done its job at stirring up the citizens. The British people had been transformed by the war, molded into a martial society zealous in its cause. Britons would never be slaves to a crown again; the Windsor’s chains would remain broken.
Recruits and conscripts alike were trained in an attempt to bolster the Republican Army. Commissioning sixteen more infantry divisions, Central Command promised to double the size of the army within months. Strategists remained worried, as they were uncertain if the men would be ready in time.
The Republican Air Force, desperate to hold off the Luftwaffe, had deployed its reserves of aircraft. Gloster Gladiators, outdated in every sense, would take to the skies once again. Bf 109s had become a familiar sight to the Hurricane and Spitfire pilots, but the RAF’s oldest aircraft had been assigned farther north, away from the Germans. At least there, maybe they could make some sort of difference.
For the people of the Union of Britain, there wasn’t much but to cling onto whatever hope was available. Alone and abandoned, the last true beacon of Syndicalism shone bright and defiant. To the Entente, she was a mirage, an image from days gone by. To the Germans, she was a menace, the final threat to the Kaiser’s place in the sun. To her allies, she was doomed, heading to a fate worse than death. Like it or not, the chains inched closer with each passing day.

Yet, here she stood, bold and proud. The world united against her, eager to finish off the Revolution of the People. Slaves to the crowns of old. Slaves to the wages of aristocrats. Slaves to a system that deemed them unworthy at birth. The Great Deception had fooled the world, but the Britons had seen behind the curtain. Smoke and mirrors could keep one complacent for only so long. Britannia may stand alone, but Britannia still stood.

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