Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Ahigin, Aug 7, 2017.
Confirming my intentions to join as Iberian Republic next turn.
It seems impossible to Naoki that Ieyasu cannot somehow feel the impenetrable depth of his hatred. Indeed the old samurai-industrialist barely seems to notice Naoki at all. Impossible.
To Naoki, the hatred he feels for Ieyasu is the entire globe, a seething, writhing tentacled monster from the depths of the sea encircling them all and leaving room for nothing else. This is the man who casually slew Naoki’s secret lover and threw him into a covert grief that all but consumes his every thought. Ieyasu has sworn revenge upon the old jitsugyōka and dreamt of the day when he would drive his sword into the old man so many times it almost seems like a memory.
And yet the old man sits there, listening attentively, nodding, occasionally adding question or comment as samurai-jitsugyōka Atorasu discusses his plans for a holding company dedicated to motor development and how it would address the tekunokurashī’s plan to industrialize beyond the coal-plants. Naoki hears almost nothing. Still alive?
The morning passes and outside the grand hall the full green leaves of the summertime garden’s trees dance in a gentle breeze. The meeting of the bugyō comes to an ebb and Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu calls for a break. Aides arrive with new print-outs and notes and a particularly youthful boy arrives with a bowl of Manjū. Naoki chuckles to softly to himself, his thoughts far away. For the crew of the Masayoshi Baindo, “manjū rules” was a sort of code that meant flying the air-yacht under arms. It must surely be a sign. Delirious with grief and the weight of seeing his lover’s killer, almost without thinking, Naoki slowly reaches for the bowl of the brightly colored buckwheat desserts and walks across the hall directly to Ieyasu. The older samurai finally turns from the man he is speaking with, samurai-jitsugyōka Mitsu, and rests his gaze upon Naoki.
Naoki doesn’t bow. He doesn’t say anything. He just stares at the old samurai. A moment passes, then another. There is a murmur at the far end of the hall and many eyes turn but somehow neither Naoki nor Ieyasu break their stare to discern what is causing the murmur. Naoki feels that perhaps now Ieyasu has finally discerned the depth of his hatred, his great need for vengeance. Jitsugyōka Mitsu says something to Naoki, something regarding respect but Naoki does not hear. Instead, slowly, without thought, he reaches out with the bowl of desserts as if offering them to the old samurai but as his arm extends, his fingers relax and slowly the bowl and the dessert fall from his hand and onto Ieyasu’s kimono.
And suddenly, just like that, the moment of shared intimacy, of distantness, is gone. Now returns and they are two samurai staring at each other, sticky dessert on the floor between them. Standing, Ieyasu finally speaks to Naoki. “Bow and apologize,” he demands. The jitsugyōka-samurai Atorasu and Mitsu nod in agreement, explaining Naoki’s disrespect as if he did not understand it.
Naoki's answer is quiet but clear and it hushes the room, “No.”
Now there is no one amongst the bugyō who is not staring at Naoki and Ieyasu. Ieyasu will lose face if he does nothing and his hand, almost instinctively, goes to his katana. Naoki realizes this is the same instinct that ended his lover’s life, some response to a perceived slight at having a rocket-powered bicycle slam into his horse. And now it would end his. Ieyasu will claim his right to kiri-sute gomen once again.
But no. The murmur that swept the room was due to the return of the Shogun and Ieyasu dares not strike down the lesser-ranking samurai within the grand hall before the Shogun.
Instead, he issues a challenge, “Samurai-savant Ima Naoki, you have disrespected my person and insulted my honor. You have refused to apologize for the affront. Honor demands that I challenge you. We will duel.”
Naoki’s mind is racing. Perhaps this is the chance he has long dreamt of. But the older samurai is a much greater warrior than he. Any duel of swords will leave Ieyasu alive and unmoved and Naoki’s body cooling on the cobblestones. A failure. What does that leave him? Daikyu? No, again the older samurai is much superior. And so what can there be?
Naoki spares a glance at the shogun and his fellow samurai-savants. He pulls himself to his full and impressive height and speaks loudly for the room, “I accept your duel. Instead of swords, we will fight with armed air-yachts. You will have to the winter solstice to produce your ship and when it flies, we will do battle in the clouds of Mount Fuji.”
OOC: All my little pets, I mean friends are getting players.
The Shining Card Full of Small Square Holes
Manjiro Makime is fourteen years old. He lives outside Osaka and attends a good school in the city. He is an intelligent and attentive student, an accomplished track and field runner and baseball player, and a member of the Youth Courage Organization. His father served as a riflemen for the Shogun during the Boshin war and both he and his mother are pureblood Yamato.
Arriving from school on a rainy day in late October, a stern-looking man in a dark western-cut suit waits outside his door, leaning heavily on a silver-topped cane. Makime dismounts from his bicycle and bows to the man. As he does, he notices his mother peering from the window. Seeing her son she runs past the dark-suited man and throws her arm protectively around her son, guiding him back into the home.
“Konichiwa Mrs. Makime,” the man begins. “If I could just speak to your husband and son please?”
Clearly anxious his mother answers, “Actually my husband is not home yet. He works at the shipyards. He’ll be home around nine.” She doesn’t wait for an answer and rushes her son into the home.
The evening passes. Super is prepared and Manjiro dutiful studies his mathematics and history. The rain continues to fall and the suited man continues to wait outside the door.
Ten minutes after nine o’clock, Kazuoo Makime trudges up the walkway, posture straight and a smile on his face despite the wet and dark. Seeing the man outside his door his smile fades somewhat. Manjiro watches as his father and the man speak in hushed tones. At one point the man pulls an envelope from his jacket and proffers it to his father. His father opens it and withdraws a camphorated parkesine difference engine punch card. There is stylistic calligraphy across its left margin. The man continues to speak and the older Makime smiles. He glances at the window and seeing his son, smiles widely, pride evident in every feature. The suited man continues to speak and very quickly the elder Makime’s smile quickly disappears. When he next looks to his son his features are fraught with worry. Manjiro’s mother hugs her son closer.
The two men finish their conversation and the suited man finally leaves.
Manjiro’s father enters the home and says, “That was an agent of the kempeitai.” He holds up the shining card full of small square holes. “This is your citizen identification card my son and your life, and our lives, will never be the same.”
The Spy - Part 2
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
Min woke to a bucket of cold water and shouting. Somehow she had managed to remain rigid when the water hit her. The spy in her said it was because of her iron discipline, but the women behind the spy figured it had more to do with her muscles seizing after being left on a hard dirt floor for hours. The sound of steps moving away allowed Min the chance to breath and listen.
She heard rough peasant voices demanding that the thief be hung right away. Focusing carefully she heard between the peasant outbursts the sound of a Nanjing accent. The magistrate she guessed. Min heard footsteps and felt hands under her armpits half-dragging her outside into light. Her eyes flickered and she heard a gruff voice "See I said she was awake!"
The ruse over, Min opened her eyes and saw an open field filled with hundreds of peasants and a unit of soldiers surrounding the magistrate. The magistrates deep red robes, the color of divine justice, giving him away as much as his accent. Min also saw with dismay that the solders had red ribbons of the House of Merciful Vigilance wrapped around their right arms.
Death was approaching. That much was clear. She would be hung as Mei the thief or Min the traitor. She supposed Min the traitor would get a swifter death. The peasants might want to keep Mei the thief alive in an iron cage until she died of starvation. She had heard that was something the peasants liked to do in this part of the world. Under her breathe she began to hum:
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
The peasants had quietened now. A big peasant, his faced scarred rose and began to speak:
"Now let's hang the thief. We don't need an investigation - we can just hang her now and try her later. That's what the commune says. Isn't that right?"
The peasants roared as one: "Death to the thief who would rob from horse village!"
The magistrate waved for the crowd to be silent and when that failed he gestured to one of the soldiers who raised his rifle into the air and fired. The crowd scattered in fear and the peasant out front cursed.
"Mister Headman", he said gesturing at the big peasant, "there are procedures to be observed!"
"It's MASTER Headman. You are talking to a Veteran of the Revolution, First Class, Magistrate."
The Magistrate's was raised now, angry. "Well MASTER Headman, there are legal considerations to take into account and it's LORD Magistrate to you."
"What are these legal considerations?"
"She's not a member of the commune, so she's mine to try. Your power only extends to your members."
"That's nonsense. She stole from the commune. She's ours."
"You might have a moral claim to her, but she's legally mine."
"As you no doubt know, MASTER Magistrate, this is a military village under the jurisdiction of the Third Revolutionary Army."
"Well yes, I am, and fortunately the glorious Third has deputized me to handle certain matters on their behalf."
"Prove it! I have not heard about this and I should know I'm a Veteran of the Revolution, First Class."
The magistrate reaches into his robes, draws out some papers and with a flourish hands them to the headman.
The headman is silent.
"Well, MISTER headman what do they say then?"
"Are you assuming my literacy? How dare you assume my literacy! I am a Veteran of the Revolution, First Class. I demand you respect my rank!"
"WELL, can any of you people here read?"
A sea of angry eyes met his gaze. The peasants, Min thought, were not impressed with the magistrate or his paperwork. Min wondered if she might get to watch the Magistrate being beaten before she was hung. The thought amused her.
A soldier shouted out: "I can read. Let me look at it Mister Magistrate". The crowd roared at the snub to the Magistrate. The soldiers it seemed were on the peasants' side. Min increased her mental odds of seeing the Magistrate being beaten. "It is, as he says, I'm afraid peasant comrades".
"Well - then. I have the law on my side. We can get started now. All rise for the court!"
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
Spoiler Why France will win the war :
Federal Bureau of Nutrition
The Federation reminds citizens that meat, and meat products, are required to feed our soldiers in the Franco-Dutch Front. Limited rationing measures are now in effect. The Federation asks for your understanding in these trying times.
Otis scrunched the notice in the palm of his hands. Music from the stage filled the air, along with murmur from the crowd of drinkers and revelers in the bar. He was an intelligence agent, on a new assignment regarding French sympathizers in the Rhineland, attempting to meet with a contact in the region. A senior agent was next to him, having ordered an ancient bottle of Scotch Whiskey from the bartender. “You have no idea how many favors I had to pull in order to get this one bottle,” the senior agent said, lighting a cigar. “You know, it’s kind of funny. Once upon a time, British were Germans’ best friends, and whiskey was served in every high class social gatherings. Then the liberation happened and the English monarchy wasn’t our friend anymore, so they served korn and wine instead. And then the English prohibition happened and Scotch Whiskey became a luxury truly unaffordable and valuable treasure. Now the French are our enemies and British aren’t, and the whiskey didn’t change, but now we don’t serve French wine in social gathering anymore. Interesting, isn’t it?”
“I’m sure French wine is still popular in the front, sir, it’s what’s available.”
“If you have been working on this job for as long as I have, friend,” the senior agent said, carefully arranging three glasses on the table. “You’ll realize that people on the front doesn’t really matter in determining the course of the war and history.”
“That doesn’t make sense sir.”
“Whatever, I’m not paid to teach you about politics.”
“You actually are, sir.”
“Oh sod off.” The senior agent placed the amber bottle of whiskey in the center of the table. “Do you think this looks presentable?”
“Does it really matter?” Otis said, looking around the crowded pub. “I don’t even know why we are discussing matters of national security in the public.”
“Relax relax relax,” he said. “We aren’t going to be discussing anything too important. We are just trying to make sure the contact knows your face. You know how important first contact and letting people know or faces is. Haven’t they taught you anything in training?”
“Learning is why I’m here.”
“Then start learning. Arranging a table to look pretty is about as important as knowing modern political structure and surveillance technique. You know who we are meeting?”
“Monsieur Durand. A Lotharingen native willing to assist us regarding the Rhineland issue. I have certain questions regarding this decision. Namely, why are we even trusting this man?”
“Because he’s an unprincipled opportunist and thus makes him the most reliable, predictable, and trustworthy man in Elsass Lothringen.”
“Speak of the devil, here he comes.” The senior agent rose from the seat. “Hello Herr Durand!”
Monsieur Durand turned out to be an aging old man with white hair, with a friendly smile and heavy French accent. “Hello my friends!” Monsieur Durand said. “Is that whiskey I see in the table?”
“Indeed, sir,” the senior agent said. “We really dug out the treasures for this meeting.”
“You shouldn’t have—I’m not an important man. Pour me a glass, young man,” he told Otis. Otis complied for the moment. “Now how may I help you—with the issue of socialists in Germany?”
“We just need you to keep an eye on them, sir, nothing special,” the senior agent said. “Ultimately they have the right to say whatever they want. We just want to make sure they don’t plan on anything violent.”
“Of course. Peace and progress and all that,” the old man nodded. “Anything to help the Federation lose less.”
The senior agent laughed it off. Otis did not. “Losing?” He said incredulously. “How could we be losing? German army is the most well equipped, well trained, and well fed army in the world! How could we be losing against the French?”
“Oh, the French are losing too,” the old man said dismissively, sipping from the whiskey glass. “Us Lorrainers will win the war.”
“Your leadership decided to defect to Bavaria years ago, and then got occupied by France in the recent war. And then by all likelihood, the French will be driven out soon, and Bavarians will occupy your duchy. How is that winning?” Otis remarked. Senior agent elbowed him below the table but he ignored it. The old man sighed. “You modernists put too much emphasis on winning wars,” he said. “Trick is losing wars, and knowing which wars can be lost and should be lost. Italy lost wars constantly, and they have done splendidly. England won wars all the time and are in constant state of crisis. France won wars all the time and have the same problem. Germany has been losing wars all the time and are still prosperous. Point is, French will be driven out, and we will still be here. In a few years, Germans too will return home, and we will still be here in Lorraine. Nowadays, Lorrainers are not being killed, but French and German troops and officers are. I would say that is winning. Yes, I would say that us Lorrainers are doing well, and will continue to do well long after both French Commune and the Federation is destroyed.”
“Federation is not going to be destroyed!” Otis said incredulously. “Will it not?” The old man said equally incredulously. “Rome was destroyed. Spain was destroyed. United States was destroyed. Empire of France was destroyed. What makes the Federation or the Commune special? No, it’s nothing special. Look at the recent history of the Commune. The prospect of victory against the old royalist holdouts in Lorraine and the Bavarians gave them such insane appetite for war that they agreed to get into a war that they had no real hope for winning, but I guarantee you that now they are losing this war again, everything will turn towards the better in France.”
Otis stared in abject amazement at the topsy turvy dream logic the old man spouted. “I was a socialist and French nationalist,” the old man continued, “When the French chased the old duke out of his demesne, I dumped a bucket of red paint upon my white bedsheet and waved it at the French liberators proudly marching into the city. Now that Bavarians are likely to march into the city, I have prepared a Bavarian and North German flag in my closet for me and my friends and families to wave at our protectors and are now fanatically pro-German. You will find no more loyal partisan in France and Rhineland other than me.”
“You are an unprincipled opportunist!” Otis charged. The senior agent coughed, but Otis did not care. He wanted to punch the old man in his smug friendly smile. “Do you have no principles?”
“I am old.”
“I am a very moral man,” he said sarcastically, downing an entire glass of whiskey and pulling on the bottle for more. “Lorraine is a place full of very moral people. That’s why we will come out on top again if we succeed in being defeated twice in the same war.”
“You are talking like a madman! Like a shameless turncoat! It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”
“Technically,” the senior agent said. “He’s kneeling to us now.”
“And you got it wrong anyways,” the old man said. “It’s better to live on your legs than die on your knees. I know, because I’m an old man, and my homeland was fought over between Germans and the Kings of France for quite some time. Why do people have so much belief that submission can’t be coerced by lethal methods? A dead man cannot fight against whatever tyrant happens to be in control. Better to live, as a people. Lorrainers know this. Quebecois know this. Canadians know this. This is why they will win this war, while the British, French, Germans, and Americans will lose it. Just a year ago, nobody cared about what happened in Lorraine or Quebec or Canada, but now there’s nobody in Western Europe who have not heard of us. We have already won.” “Enough!” the senior agent said. “Otis, could you drink by yourself at the bar and leave the philosophical discussion for later?”
Otis grumbled as he stood away from the table, storming away while listening to the senior agent’s mumbled apologies to the old man from Lorraine.
Otis did not know what to do. For all likelihood, he was now likely marked by the intelligence bureau for insubordinate behavior. He sat at the bar, but did not particularly feel like drinking. His attention drifted over to the conversations.
“Any news from the war?” a man in his late forties said to his drinking friends somewhere behind the rookie agent. “Just the same as always. Imminent victory, la di dah.”
“I still think it’s amazing what happened in Metz,” another voice interjected. “Where’s Metz again? Is it in French or Austro-Bavarian side of the border?” “The Confederation’s,” the voice replied patiently. “But it used to be in the Empire of France, before the duke there defected to Bavaria with elements of the royal French army. Or something.”
“But seriously,” the voice continued. “How could just ordinary civilians be so dissatisfied with their lot in life that they are willing to betray their own government and shoot other people? And against the Royal Bavarian army too!”
“Oh they are just radicals. They are everywhere,” a dismissive voice said. “I find it more incredulous that the Federation isn’t suppressing those Francophiles in our own homeland. Sure, they may be Germans too, but come on, this is basically treason!”
“Relax, will yah?” another drinker said. “What are we going to do, arrest every malcontent? It’s better to let them have a stake in our society so that they become part of us willingly.”
“Of course disagreements and issues of oppression should be handled peacefully,” a voice with a Polish accent said. “What, you think England and Bavaria is the only people with minority issues and radicals? We have them too, be it the Czech or the Polish or the Africans or our own radicals. I’m just glad France jumped the gun and exploded the issue in Austro Bavaria, rather than in the Federation. I say we use this opportunity to campaign for change of our own minority policies and urge democratization in the Princely Confed-”
“Hey! My friend’s in the war! Be more respectful!”
“Isn’t this all the bloody British and Bavarians’ fault anyways?”
"Maybe we should just let the people decide in a referendum? That worked for the Federation so far!"
Otis didn’t join the conversation this time or argue.
A Scene Behind the Scenes
“Do you know what a Sikh Man is?”
“... Is this a riddle?”
“Not-at-all, Your Majesty. It is an item of interest for your cabinet in recent times.”
“You – must be talking of that beverage, then.”
“Indeed, Your M-”
“I might be detached – and aloof – and pampered, but I have eyes and I attend banquets.” It was rare for the Maharaja to give a stare that seeped of resentment.
“I know that Your Majesty does not indulge in such pleasures.”
“Dear Manish: you are awfully sloppy today.” So fast his whole being receded to affability, when affability displeased his company. “Every man needs rest. The Grand Vizier is no exception.”
“Please, your Majesty, we have been over this one thousand times.”
“Manish – Manish.” He indulged the Vizier’s despair each time he said the name. “You are the only pleasure I want to indulge in.”
“And one thousand times, your Majesty, I cannot let you.”
“One thousand times I cannot let myself. Go on with your business then, Vizier.”
“As your Majesty knows, many people in the country indulge in the consumption of alcohol.” Nod. “With the years, foreign alcohol has entered the country. Along with foreigners.” Nod. “But the people cannot afford those, and keep on drinking tharra. This is still sometimes used by foreigners to substitute for rum.” Nod. “We must therefore regulate and promote the distilling of tharra.”
“Bhajan Singh! You must be out of your mind!”
“Please, your Majesty, let me go.” For indeed, the Maharaja had quite literally jumped out of his seat and grabbed his Vizier by the shoulder.
“Why do I call you Manish? You have clearly lost your mind.”
“Please, Your Majesty. Thanks.”
“Explain yourself, before I appoint someone else.”
“You never would.”
“I never would. But explain yourself nonetheless.”
“People will always drink.-“
“But they will. Let me finish, your Majesty.” A wrist flicked discreetly. “People will always drink. We tolerate this, because they always have, and because it keeps many from otherwise being troublesome.” Nervous nod. “Sometimes, however, people die.” A feint at a word. “They die poisoned by the drink.”
“And you say that we should promote it!”
“No, Your Majesty. I suggest we fix this. Foreigners prefer rum because it is safer. Tharra is brewed in homes and with no control, and the result can be lethal sometimes. I say that we regulate it. That we define how tharra is distilled, and enforce these standards on distillers, that we bring people with experience to help in his task, as we have alwys done.”
“So people will drink and not die.”
“To make vice more tolerable.”
“Not at all, Your Majesty.”
“Yes at all-”
“Not at all. Your Majesty. We cannot seek to impose our own religious creed upon all of our subjects. That we cannot.”
“That we should not, and yet...”
“Yet we cannot. It would be antithetical to our very State. This may be a Sikh Empire, but Sikhs are a minority within it. Religious tolerance and cinvivence are the pillar of our State, as embodied by you. Your Majesty, you set an exemple leading a pious life, but you cannot demand your every subject to be as pious. Not everyone can afford it.”
“Even those who can never will, will you Manish?”
“In short, we cannot impose prohibition on religious grounds and, even if we did, it would only make drinking even more dangerous, not less common. Therefore. We must make it legal. We must make it bigger. We must make it safer, and we must hope that, on the side, foreigners will like the novelty, as foreigners do.”
“While it is repugnant – I will not oppose it. Is this why I call you Manish? You have clearly lost your mind.”
“I will pass down the decision, Your Majesty.”
“You are dismissed, then.”
The Vizier left his daily struggle with a smile of satisfaction.
The Other Spy
She is an ordinary Chinese girl. Standing on the veranda of a house. Her gaze sweeps across the bay below her. The faintest hint of white visible on the turquoise water below. The ferries which ply the harbor are visible by their wake, the big ships riding at anchor but smudges and the wharves that reach out deep into the turquoise faint lines. On the far horizon she can see the thin haze that marks the mainland and its tens of thousands of factories where not so long ago were only rice paddies.
She looks down at the garden which is in the French style. A rectangle of grass with a single tree in the middle, neatly framed by a low wall of white stones. Behind the wales is a single row of red roses. There is nothing personal about the garden. The whole arrangement is ordered perfection as if the gardener's sole object was to banish the disorder that sat just outside the mansion's walls. The one piece out of place is the single azalea which sits isolated off to one corner. The azalea's flowers are white with the faintest hint of red.
The house is hidden in the dip of a hill. Dark shadows hang over it lending the house a coolness out of place with the beating heat that had assaulted her on the long walk here. The house is in the modern English style, wooden with lots of glass, a fake bell tower and delicate carved woodwork on every surface. The one nod to the Orient are the roof tiles which are a deep green and gave the house a dream-like feeling, blending as they did into the green of the hill behind the house. From a distance it looked as though the house had no roof that all there was to it was a facade like the ones used in plays.
From the veranda she noted the colored glass and wood doors opened into a living room. The furniture and arrangement were Western: couches, armchairs, carpets, mahogany mantlepiece and three clocks. But hidden among all this were small Chinese touches. A statute in ivory of Mary done up to look like Demon Queen Guanyin. A small screen with a motif of white lotuses. Pretty flowers, true, but politically charged ones nonetheless. These oriental touches had been put there, she was sure, for the benefit of foreigners. The Europeans had come so far to see something of China. But this was Chinese as Westerners imagine it exquisite, exotic and fragile. She smiled at the subterfuge and wondered at the kind of man who would so openly show his contempt for the Europeans like this.
The reflection of the glass door showed the girl was Oriental. Her clothes were those of the well to do. A dark blue starched silk tunic that reached to her knees over narrow white silk trousers. The tight fit of her trousers served to accentuate her slight figure. Her shoes were deepest red and laced with golden ribbons. She looked in her estimation rather like a Qing era courtesan. The only other touches to note were a hint of rouge and a jade pin in her hair.
Facing the glass doors she straightened her collar and smoothed her hair. Her face is small and round. Pretty but not memorable. The one feature that did stick in the mind were her eyes. They were long and lovely, fine creases over the lids reached almost to her hairline. Her nose was delicate and thin, her lips plump. Her skin was ivory. Where she had been born it was common and unremarkable. But here in the tropics she found that her complexion was an ornament. The Cantonese beauties here had olive complexions. Scarcity pushes value up and she had no end of suitors chasing the exotic.
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893Global changes
Sparked by a Franco-North-American ultimatum to Great Britain over the status of free Canada, the Second Atlantic War has started, pulling the British Royal Commonwealth and its continental allies, the Netherlands and Sardinia-Piedmont, into a conflict with the Union of North America and Communard France. To surprise of the many, Sardinia-Piedmont was also supported by its regional rival, the Italian Republic, while the Franco-North-American alliance was joined by the Free Boer Republic in their crusade against everything British. The Commonwealth’s call to war was also answered by their secret allies in the CSA, although out of all new-joiners the Confederates were the only ones whose legislature ratified only the enactment of war economy, but not full military mobilization of its population. (British Royal Commonwealth adopts “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost, Netherlands adopts “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost, Sardinia-Piedmont adopts “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost, Italy adopts adopts “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost, Union of North America adopts “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost, Free Boer Republic adopts “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost, Confederate States of America adopts “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost)
In an act of war distinct from the Transatlantic conflict, the Konbaung dynasty of Burma has declared the Indian Ocean War against the Free Boer Republic and has announced its highly limited war goals of clearing the Indian Ocean of the Boer naval presence. To many observers’ surprise, the Burmese were joined by the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in their anti-Boer stance. The limited scope of the war and contained scope of hostilities naturally justified lack mobilization measures by both nations, as long as no significant escalation takes place.
The Central-European War has effectively split into two distinct conflicts: the War of Hungarian Containment, run by Directorial Russia, Poland, Italy, Illyria, the North German Federation, and the Princely Confederation of Austria, Bavaria, and the Rhineland against the Kingdom of Hungary and its Romanian satellite, and the Anti-Communard War of the North German Federation and Austria-Bavaria against Communard France (effectively aligning the German powers to the British Commonwealth and its allies in their continental rematch with the French). Out of all participants of that bi-partial conflict, only Russia did not fully mobilize its resources for war, which is a result of a compromise struck between the interventionist and isolationist factions of the Directorial Assembly. (North German Federation adopts “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost, Poland adopts “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)” for no additional cost)
Portugal-Brazil has performed a masterful diplomatic maneuver this fall, negotiating a purchase of British Guiana, Malacca, and the Antilles in exchange for non-intervention in the Second Atlantic War against Great Britain combined with supplying urgent needs of the British army with Portobrazilian military equipment. The latter transfer, while humble compared to the size of both of the nations’ industries, has pushed overburdened Portobrazilian manufacturing capabilities to their limits, creating a real possibility of material shortages across the growing Braganza empire itself. The transfer of lands, meanwhile, went rather smoothly, although the shifts in colonial administration and economy, while uncoordinated by either nations’ economic supervisors, put some temporary caps on regional development. (Caribbean Region gains -0.65% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Portugal-Brazil gains +13% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth loses -13% Regional Influence, region Amazon Region gains -0.25% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Portugal-Brazil gains +5% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth loses -5% Regional Influence, region South-East Asia gains -0.22% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Portugal-Brazil gains +4.39% Regional Influence,British Royal Commonwealth loses -4.39% Regional Influence, region Asian Pacific Isles gains -0.5% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Portugal-Brazil gains +10% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth loses -10% Regional Influence)
(Portugal-Brazil: -30 MC; British Royal Commonwealth: +30 MC)
Confederate American Senate has been under de-facto full control by the Democrat Party for long enough to effectively transform Southern political system into a directorial apparatus, with functions of the head of the state being split between the President, the Vice-President, and the Senate majority leader. (Confederate States of America adopts “Directorial government” for -349.03 HC)
Another consequence of the Democratic dominance in Confederate politics is the fact that the Supreme Court of the CSA has started moving to effectively legislate from the bench. However, the changes that policy change has required to the labor market and the structure of the society could not be completely fulfilled in a term of barely three months. (Confederate States of America progresses 50% adopting “Kritarchy” for -209.42 HC)
Hoping to keep healthy balance between public welfare and a hands-off approach to the free market, the CSA has established a network of soup kitchens for its poorest citizens, especially the ones too old or disabled to earn enough money in workhouses. (Confederate States of America adopts “Soup kitchens” for -146.3 EC)
Every free man in the CSA can participate in politics, but in all reality only the rich, wealthy, and well-connected have the resources and support to run for a public office. (Confederate States of America adopts “Authoritarian democracy” for -140.86 IC, -146.3 EC)
Female suffrage was introduced to the Confederate electoral system, albeit under the premise that it would benefit established and respectable gentlemen rather than various vagabonds and bachelors, because “surely wives would obediently follow their husbands’ votes.” (Confederate States of America adopts “Female suffrage” for -292.59 EC)
Joint development of a modern war hospital system has also brought both nations’ pharmaceutical and medical companies together, with Confederate medicines flooding the Italian market, and Italian surgical equipment being widely used in the CSA. (Confederate States of America: -60 EC, +10 MC; Italy: +60 EC, -10 MC)
The Union of North America mobilized its population for war and embarked on a major naval expansion program, stretching its manufacturing capabilities to the limit. (Union of North America: +7 Corps, +6 Squadrons (-259 HC, -134.3 IC, -230.6 EC, -318.4 MC))
Mexico’s presidential regime is gradually shifting away from free press to a state-funded propaganda apparatus centered on supporting the ruling party. (Mexico adopts “Mass propaganda” for -77.35 IC)
While Mexican democracy is being eroded, justifications for increasingly authoritarian political phenomenon of Porfiriato come in a form of various programs, supporting the urban and rural poor, ranging from food stamps to soup kitchens. (Mexico adopts “Soup kitchens” for -121.01 EC)
As Mexican have-not’s are being placated via social welfare reforms, the growing class of urban intelligentsia is receiving its own hand-out in a form of state-funded art endowments that, in addition, also make sure that Porfiriato is depicted as positively as possible in arts. (Mexico adopts “Art endowments” for -78.87 HC, -181.52 EC)
Fast industrialization of Mexican economy is creating a growing urban underclass that is widely seen as a source of a lot of criminality in Mexican cities. As a way to tackle that problem, the government has announced a variety of family support measures. (Mexico adopts “Family support” for -181.51 EC, -25.61 MC)
As another side effect of its aggressive industrialization, Mexican traditional rural family seems to be eroding, with bigger and bigger number of workers choosing to travel to cities and live lives in much smaller core family units. In order to help single elderly people to take care of themselves, the President has announced institution of humble, but much needed pensions for the elderly. (Mexico adopts “Seniority pensions” for -181.52 EC)
If a recently put down peak of Caribbean piracy has taught the Emperor of Haiti something, it’s that his nation’s independence depends on its ability to defend itself. This has led to a series of directives aimed to rearm and fortify Haitian island garrisons. (Haiti adopts “Fortified districts” for -0.5 HC, -1.5 EC, -0.25 MC, adopts “Light mortars and infantry support” for -1 EC, -1.25 MC)
The Iron Confederacy’s warband leaders are starting to realize that the time of petty tribal warfare have past and that any realistic protection of the entire Confederacy’s territory is impossible without a (relatively) modern logistical system. For now, this has led to a wide use of skis and sleds in winter, as well as mules and draft horses (both bought from Transpacific native tribes) in summer. (Iron Confederacy adopts “Bicycle-riding and ski infantry” for -7.5 HC, -3 EC, -0.75 MC, adopts “Supply train regiments” for -6 HC, -1.5 EC)
Now that the first stage of Director Volya’s broad plan to turn the Pacific Directory into a unified regional power is well on its way to completion, plans have started to be drawn to prepare the emerging nation for buildup of its industry and infrastructure. To this end several of the larger artels owned by the Directorial Government were turned into state-guided cooperative enterprises. To supplement this effort a national bank is established to provide the enterprising artels with funding for their more ambitious efforts. (Pacific Directory: +1 Mission, +2 Enterprises (-34.6 HC, -26.6 IC, -85.7 EC, -43.2 MC))
While participation in the Pacific Board of Officer-Directors remains being barred from many commoners due to a big (and growing!) set of qualifications and requirements, municipal and mayoral offices were just recently opened for completely free elections, allowing simple, grassroot democracy to start developing on the Pacific shores. (Pacific Directory adopts “Universal male suffrage” for -45.83 HC)
The Civil Conscription Corps of the Pacific Directory continued producing hundreds of tons of labor-intensive goods, primarily agricultural and mining products, for shipment to other countries. The main beneficiaries of the Transpacific economic boon were the kingdoms of Die Viet, Illyria, and Sweden, as well as republics of Directorial Russia and Italy, some of them using this opportunity to outsource a significant share of their home economy to the Russian Far East in exchange for more intensive cultural and economic exchange with the Directory, while others were more interested in a more straightforward mercantile exchange of their industrial and military goods for Transpacific consumer products.
(Pacific Directory: -35 HC, +10 IC; Dai Viet: +35 HC, -10 IC)
(Pacific Directory: -35 HC, +10 IC; Illyria: +35 HC, -10 IC)
(Pacific Directory: -90 EC, +15 MC; Italy: +90 EC, -15 IC)
(Pacific Directory: +80 HC, -50 EC; Directorial Russia: -80 HC, +50 EC)
(Pacific Directory: +8 IC, -20 EC; Sweden: -8 IC, +20 EC)
(Pacific Directory: +20 IC, -50 EC; Switzerland: -20 IC, +50 EC)
Andean manufacturing collectives continue solidifying into a force to be reckoned with, turning the United Communes into a regional industrial powerhouse. (Communes of the Andes: +2 Enterprises (-25.6 MC, -5.8 IC, -54 EC, -37 MC))
Anean communal government’s fascination with airship transportation, combined with its more practical attempts to improve other, more conventional means of transportation, have led to introduction of modern propellant engines and sources of power generation across the United Communes. (Communes of the Andes adopts “Dirigible airships” for -3 EC, -10 MC, adopts “Direct electric current” for -7 EC, -6 MC, adopts “Internal combustion engine” for -6 EC, -5 MC, adopts “Still engine” for -4 EC, -6 MC, adopts “Liquid-propellant rocket engine” for -6 EC, -3 MC)
In a big contrast to its intelligence service’s practice of utilizing foreign criminal lords for achieving espionage goals overseas, the Twin Crowns of Portugal and Brazil are revamping their judicial code to make all of the Empress’ subjects equal before the law. The impact of this policy on Portobrazilian control of Gran-Colombian cocaine trade are yet to be seen. (Portugal-Brazil adopts “Rule of law” for -223.6 HC, -63.48 EC)
As the Portobrazilian colonial empire becomes more and more spread out across the globe, the importance of the navy opens a lot of ways of political advancement for its admirals and designated shipbuilders. (Portugal-Brazil adopts “Thalassocratic government” for -115.88 IC)
De Braganza dynasty continued working hard on creating a good name for itself among its non-Gran-Colombian subjects, especially the commoners, by putting forward dynasty-sponsored social services, particularly the ones providing government funds for veterans of the Portobrazilian navy, army, and intelligence service. (Portugal-Brazil adopts “Veteran pensions” for -126.95 EC)
Empress Isabel of the Twin Crowns stopped at nothing to display to its subjects that she is the true “mother of the nation,” despite her young looks and reputation of an avid socialite. Of the efforts that was designed to become her signature publicity move was the introduction of the pension system for Portobrazilian elderly citizens.(Portugal-Brazil adopts “Seniority pensions” for -190.43 EC)
By now, the colonial resurgence of the Portobrazilians has turned them into another “Empire Where Sun Never Sets,” analogous to only Great Britain. That has naturally made it possible for the monarchy to push for the policy of splendid isolation, creating a self-sufficient global Portobrazilian economy that favors its own actors in competition with foreign importers. (Portugal-Brazil adopts “Protectionist economy” for -253.9 EC)
Through a sequence of diplomatic zigzag maneuvers, the Twin Crowns of Portugal and Brazil have managed to stay away from the Second Atlantic War, while gaining a lot from its neutrality. However, rushed expansion of the Portobrazilian military and civil assets attests to the fact that the nation’s leadership is preparing to be dragged into any sort of conflict. (Portugal-Brazil: +4 Missions, +3 Enterprises, +1 Squadron (-97 HC, -87.6 IC, -218.2 EC, -120.5 MC))
Increased outward economic focus of the Southern King-Under-Heavens has led to a series of agreements between the Heavenly Kingdom and Portobrazilian colonial authorities in Macau and Indochina that have opened the Twin Crowns’ colonial ventures to wide use of Chinese manual labor. (Portugal-Brazil: +155 HC; Taiping Mandate: -155 HC)
A wave of patriotism is sweeping through the British Empire, and the Lord-Protector made a good use of it by initiating a major war bond sale, combined with voluntary donations for the front and the navy. (British Royal Commonwealth converts 2000 HC and 1750 EC for 171.42 MC)
Desperate to outfit its Indian garrison and littoral fleet with armaments and equipment for war time, Great Britain eagerly purchased a surplus of outdated equipment from its new unlikely ally, the Third Burmese Empire. (British Royal Commonwealth: -140 EC, +35 MC; Third Burmese Empire: +140 EC, -35 MC)
Urgency of protecting the Commonwealth against the vultures of the Triune Pact has forced the Lord-Protector to initiate a vast expansion of the Royal army and navy. (British Royal Commonwealth: +16 Corps, +6 Squadrons (-476.8 HC, -188.2 IC, -344.4 EC, -419.8 MC))
The Central-European War was a rude awakening for Directorial Russia, a powerful country suddenly realizing its time for troubled is over. Expanding the nation’s assets of cultural, political, and economic power projection, the Uchreditelnoye Sobraniye has established several directorial bureaus and transcorporate meeting boards. (Directorial Russia: +2 Missions, +2 Enterprises (-49.6 HC, -44.6 IC, -121.4 EC, -73.2 MC))
Russia’s geopolitical reawakening is being followed by a wide range of technological advancements in all spheres, particularly reflecting its broader range of international interests. (Directorial Russia adopts “Hand grenades” for -15 EC, -45 MC, adopts “Dispersed combat tactics” for -120 HC, -15 IC, adopts “Nationalism and imperialism” for -16 HC, -4 IC, -12 EC, adopts “Kinotropy and clack-animation” for -4 IC, -8 EC, -28 MC, adopts “Ocean liners” for -45 MC, adopts “Integrated rail networks” for -40.5 MC, adopts “Amphibious operations” for -58.5 HC, -3.25 IC, adopts “Naval inter-branch cooperation” for -19.5 IC, -13 EC)
A heated political campaign between Pan-Russian interventionalists and libertarian isolationists in the Siberian Popular Assembly has led to sophistication of Siberian free press culture, financial sector, and political thought. (Siberian Popular Assembly adopts “Hisbah and venture capital” for -0.5 HC, -6.5 IC, -19.5 EC, adopts “Nationalism and imperialism” for -2 HC, -3.25 IC, -9.75 EC, adopts “Oligarchy and political corruption” for -9.75 IC, -22.75 EC, adopts “Analytica philosophy” for -9.75 IC)
Incredible artistic success of the Young Latvians, a diverse group of Baltic clack-animators and kinotropists, has brought the United Baltic Duchies to the forefront of modern arts and leading to a solidification of the Duchies’ hold on its cultural unity. (United Baltic Duchies: +1 Mission (-7 HC, -14.6 IC, -22.3 EC, -2.3 MC))
Seeing Hungary’s geopolitical troubles as a chance to emerge as another major regional player, the Polish government hurried to expand its administrative, intelligence, economic, and military capabilities, going as far as forming its first navy in the form of a humble, but proud Vistula river flotilla. (Poland: +1 Mission, +2 Enterprises, +1 Corps, +1 Squadron (-71.2 HC, -32.1 IC, -106.5 EC, -67.4 MC))
Mobilization, combined with robust dictatorial policies, has allowed French Communard leadership to draw upon an almost unlimited resource pool (or so it seems), which the embattled nation is definitely not afraid to do, especially given that now it’s fighting for its survival. (Communard France: +5 Missions, +10 Corps, +5 Squadrons (-428 HC, -221.5 IC, -378.5 EC, -346.5 MC))
A swirl of geopolitical realignments that led to the formation of the Anti-Communard Coalition has left the Dutch ruling class highly insecure in its resistance to foreign and internal threats, which, in turn, helped the Director-Admiral persuade the Queen to enable the creation of the Bureau of National Security (Dutch: Bureau voor Nationale Veiligheid). (Netherlands: +2 Missions (-20.8 HC, -32.8 IC, -53.6 EC, -5 MC))
Pulled into a war with France for the second time in three decades, the Dutch Royal Army (Koninklijke Landmacht) hurried to rearm its soldiers to match the standards of the modern war, especially for one launched in the muddy fields of Flanders and Northern France.. (Netherlands adopts “Semi-automatic small arms” for -5 EC, -20 MC, adopts “Moving barrage” for -25, -2.5 MC, adopts “Dreadnaught wheels” for -17.5 MC, adopts “Pontoon bridges” for -5 HC, -12.5 EC, -10 MC, adopts “Fortified districts” for -5 HC, -15 EC, -2.5 MC)
In spirit of social responsibility and accountability, the Council of Savants of the North German Federation has pushed for a veteran pension reform that should go hand-in-hand with the North-German declaration of war on Communard France. (North German Federation adopts “Veteran pension” for -170.11 EC)
The Fraternal Defense And Prosperity Act was signed by the North-German government, directing a significant part of the nation’s labor, technical expertise, supplies, and military equipment to its southern allies from the Princely Confederation. (North German Federation: -100 HC, -150 IC, -100 EC, -100 MC; Austria-Bavaria: +100 HC, +150 IC, +100 EC, +100 MC)
War needs are taking priority over consumer demand in North Germany, as the Council of Savants has started redirecting production chains all across the country to feed the frontlines. (North German Federation converts 200 EC into 10.16 MC)
The High Seas Fleet of the NGF is clearly preparing to expand its support of the Anti-Communard war effort by launching amphibious invasions along the Atlantic coast or by assisting land troops with river crossing. (North German Federation adopts “Amphibious operations” for -45 HC, -2.5 IC)
The North German Federation started aggressively expanding its navy, army, and especially its intelligence service to serve the needs of the ever-expanding Central-European War. (North German Federation: +5 Missions, +3 Corps, +2 Squadrons (-180.2 HC, -174.7 IC, -248.4 EC, -155.7 MC))
Newly researched machine pistols are being mass-produced by Italy, with a significant part of production being supplied to the NGF, while North Germany, in turn, supplies Italian field hospitals with high-quality synthetic pharmaceuticals. (North German Federation: -30 EC, +5 MC; Italy: +30 EC, -5 MC)
Along with other participants of the Second Atlantic War, Italy is mobilizing its troops for a prolonged conflict. (Italy: +4 Corps (-128.8 HC, -32 IC, -59.2 EC, -48.8 MC))
While expanding for the war, the Italian military has also started to modernize its staff services, field anti-personnel defenses, and chain of command structure. (Italy adopts “HQ difference engines” for -15 IC, -7.5 MC, adopts “Barbed wire” for -10 HC, -7.5 EC, -5 MC, adopts “Army inter-branch cooperation” for -10 HC, -20 IC, -10 EC)
In benevolent move of armed solidarity with its monarchic ally most seriously worn out by the Central-European War, Italy has taken upon itself to provide additional assistance to the Princely state of Austria-Bavaria in the form of workers, specialists, every-day need goods and military supply. (Italy: -100 HC, -40 IC, -40 EC, -25 MC; Austria-Bavaria: +100 HC, +40 IC, +40 EC, +25 MC)
It seems like geopolitical charity is in vogue among the Italian kleptocratic elites, as this year many influential Mafioso families have donated large sums of money, as well as other forms of support, to assist a new libertarian Greek government with its reforms. (Italy: -100 HC, -80 IC, -80 EC, -25 MC; Greece: +100 HC, +80 IC, +80 EC, +25 MC)
Confusing parliamentary elections of 1893 have resulted in a victory of the Libertarian Party, led by one Charilaos Trikoupis, who now assumed the position of Prime Minister of Greece. As his first action in the office, he promoted a set of policies known as New Liberalism (Νέος Φιλελευθερισμός), that are essentially a watered down libertarian view of government as an egalitarian, democratically-elected, minimalist force ensuring adherence to contracts and basic human rights protection measures. (Greece removes “Kleptocratic government” for -1.39 IC, -2.87 EC, -1.37 MC, removes “Thalassocratic government” for -4.64 IC, removes “Plutocratic government” for -5.55 HC, adopts “Minarchy” for -9.08 HC, -1.37 MC, adopts “Universal male suffrage” for -4.04 HC, adopts “Female suffrage” for -3.83 EC, adopts “Rule of law” for -4.04 HC, -0.96 EC)
Charilaos Trikoupis’ most dedicated friend and follower, Georgios Theotokis, Professor of Economy at the Economic University of Athens and now Finance Minister of the country, has followed the new Prime-Minister’s call for economic deregulation of Greek economy, going as far as removing generally popular seniority pensions as an example of “the government trying to do individuals’ work.” (Greece removes “Regulated market economy” for -1.86 IC, adopts “Laissez-faire economy for -7.57 HC, -5.26 EC, removes “Labor unionism” for -1 HC, -2.87 EC, removes “Plutonomy” for -1.37 MC, removes “Seniority pensions” for -2.87 EC)
Modernization of the Ottoman Empire proves to be a costly affair, and the nation looks for ways to increase its industrial output via excessive use of cheap manual labor or process-level innovations. (Sublime Porte converts 251.15 HC and 361.32 IC into 66 MC)
The Sublime Porte’s technocratic policies of modernization have finally started penetrating from the high administrative level down to the very foundation of the society, impacting everyday life of virtually all citizens of the sprawling empire. (Sublime Porte adopts “Eugenics and racial science” for -70 HC, -7 IC, -17.5 EC, adopts “Mass culture and popular art” for -35 HC, -7 IC, -3.5 EC, -3.5 MC, adopts “Business regulations” for -7 HC, -3.5 IC, -17.5 EC, adopts “Corporate ethos” for -28 EC, adopts “Hisbah and venture capital” for -3.5 HC, -7 IC, -21 EC, adopts “Socialist and class consciousness” for -7 IC, -3.5 EC, adopts “Psychoanalysis” for -21 IC, -3.5 EC, adopts “Biologism and evolution theory” for -7 HC, -21 IC, -7 EC, adopts “Environmentalism” for -10.5IC, -28 EC, adopts “Cartels and economic crime” for -38.5 EC, adopts “Engine clacking” for -7 IC, -10.5 EC, -35 MC, adopts “Punchcard cryptocurrency” for -3.5 IC, -14 EC, -31.5 MC, adopts “Citizens’ dividend cards” for -35 EC, -3.5 MC, adopts “Spark-gap radiotransmitters” for -10.5 EC, -28 MC, adopts “Gambling modus” for -14 IC, -10.5 EC, -3.5 MC, adopts “Vaccination” for -2.5 IC, -22.5 EC, adopts “Dirigible airships” for -7.5 EC, -25 MC, adopts “Ocean lines” for -25 MC, adopts “Hydraulic power network” for -17.5 EC, -12.5 MC, adopts “Dreisines and velocipedes” for -35 HC, -2.5 EC, -2.5 MC, adopts “Internal combustion engine” for -15 EC, -12.5 MC, adopts “Gas turbine” for -12.5 EC, -20 MC, adopts “Direct electric current” for -17.5 EC, -15 MC, adopts “Defense in depth” for -35 HC, -5 IC, adopts “Specialized troops” for -45 HC, -5 IC, -2.5 EC)
In a revolutionary move for the Middle East and for its own historical tradition, the Grand Divan of the Sublime Porte was given a sister apparatus consisting entirely of popularly elected deputies. Known as Meclisi, or the Assembly, it is elected bi-annually by all men with citizenship of the Ottoman Empire and has limited ability to influence or veto legislative decisions passed by the Grand Divan. (Sublime Porte adopts “Universal male suffrage” for -373.36 HC)
A detailed audit of the previous cabinet’s economic legacy has led to a public outcry in the Free Boer Republic when it was found out that the nation’s current demand for industrial machinery and tools could not be satisfied with its production, which became particularly critical at times of war and possible blockade. To gradually start climbing out of that manufacturing deficit, a newly created Kommissie van Nasionale Veiligheid (Commission of National Security) arranged mass use of slave and conscript labor on specialized factories and sweatshops. (Free Boer Republic converts 837.24 HC into 30 MC)
The Free Boer Republic, despite all the libertarian rhetorics of its ruling class, seems to be continuously led by politicians who like to spend more than they like to pay the bills. While flourishing demographically, intellectually, and financially, the South African nation is starting to suffer from the effects of industrial machinery shortage. No major sacrifices were made yet this year, but the new cabinet’s ambitious plan of grand expansion of the Republican Navy had to be completely scrapped, and the President had to settle down on creation of a dedicated intelligence and counter-espionage apparatus, known as the Office of International Defence (or Kantoor van Internasionale Verdediging). (Free Boer Republic: +3 Missions (-38.4 HC, -62.4 IC, -87 EC, -21.3 MC))
Displaced Japanese villages find other travel destinations, despite all encouragements they receive to migrate to the Southern Seas Islands. One of the most popular ones, with a blessing from the Japanese pen-and-sword technocrats, has become the Confederate States of America, viewed as a sort of a payment for the favor made by them to the Bakufu regime earlier this year. (Confederate States of America: +425 HC; Tokugawa Shogunate: -425 HC)
Another outlet for useful expulsion of surplus mouths to feed out of the Japanese Home Islands was found in Europe, gripped by a series of wars. Migrant labor corps of Japanese landless peasants were formed in Romania, helping to work the fields and perform all sorts of civilian manual labor, thus freeing more Romanian men to fight for the Domnus’ Own Army, in exchange for export of discounted machine tools to Japan. (Tokugawa Shogunate: -75 HC, +5 MC; Romanian Domnate: +75 HC, -5 MC)
Japanese agricultural goods and sea products, as well as authentic textile, pottery, and kitchenware became of high value on the world market, leading to some lucrative exchange with nations of Europe and South Africa. (Tokugawa Shogunate: +45 IC, -125 EC; Free Boer Republic: -45 IC, +125 EC)
(Tokugawa Shogunate: -110 EC, +10 MC; Iberian Republic: +110 EC, -10 MC)
(Tokugawa Shogunate: +25 IC, -100 EC; Switzerland: -25 IC, +100 EC)
Zaibatsu grip on Japanese internal affairs is strengthening, and a new generation of warrior-clerks driven by the same old notion of clan loyalty is offering its services to their “factory daymos.” (Tokugawa Shogunate: +2 Missions, +6 Enterprises (-117.2 HC, -65 IC, -263.6 EC, -186 MC))
Japanese corporate citizenship is growing in sophistication, along with its management and production processes. (Tokugawa Shogunate adopts “Citizens’ dividend cards” for -15 EC, -1.5 MC, adopts “Hisbah and venture capital” for -1.5 HC, -3 IC, -9 EC, adopts “Electrified manufacture” for -30 MC)
Facing an array of local rebellions, possibly supported by its greedy neighbor, the Ma Dynasty has put its best effort into expansion of the imperial police and secret intelligence apparatus. (Ma Dynasty: +2 Missions (-18.4 HC, -26.2 IC, -44 EC, -0.2 MC))
Taiping authorities continue pushing for literacy campaigns among the least educated parts of the working class, while the booming economic growth is being eagerly converted into mass purchases of industrial equipment for the needs of the nation’s growing manufacturing base. (Taiping Mandate converts 1000 HC and 500 EC into 151.45 IC and 25.45 MC)
First formal ministries are being created under the Council of Kings-Under-Heavens, reinforcing Taiping state apparatus and adding a variety to its economic assets. (Taiping Mandate: +2 Missions, +1 Enterprise (-55.4 HC, -45.6 IC, -95.1 EC, -31.8 MC))
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893War update - Europe:
War of Hungarian Containment: Romanian Campaign
Q3 1893: As it was revealed in independent press this year, Russia’s declaration of war on Hungary was long coming, with interventionist and isolationist factions of the Directorial Assembly secretly negotiating compromise conditions acceptable for both sides. While that was being done, Russian troops that participated in field exercises this spring were ordered to remain in the Cherson region and secretly prepare for a possible opening of hostilities. For some time, these preparations could be kept completely undisclosed thanks to a new, advanced form of military deception practiced by the Russians, but eventually a Hungarian intelligence network in the Ukrainian Hetmanate managed to gather enough analytics to suggest that Directorial Russia was up to something. Therefore, in last two weeks of June Romanian conscripts were huddled on to Hungarian train cars and started their hurried redeployment to their homeland, along with some forces of the Hungarian Honved. Still, Russian declaration of war came before the redeployment could be completed, and Moldavia was easily occupied by Russian troops within barely a week. Romanian Dobrudja, however, was well-protected by a joint Romano-Hungarian river flotilla, forcing the Russian Black Sea fleet to intervene. On June 8th, the Hungarian river squadron attempted to challenge the Russians in the Danube Delta, but the seafaring ships of the Black Sea fleet easily repulsed Hungarian river monitors and cutters, and Russian Chornyye Bushlaty (lit. “black pea coats,” naval assault infantry) secured the river’s mouth by fighting a surprisingly close battle with Hungarian river sailors battalion for the Serpent Island. Once the mouth was cleared of enemy resistance, slow, but maneuverable caterpillar steamers of the Russian riverine fleet entered the Danube and pushed their way to Bucharest, where they were temporarily stopped by Romanian gunboats and armed packet boats. By then, the land campaign was in full swing once again, as Russian forward troops (mostly, cavalry wings) started to come into contact with deployed Romanian conscript brigades. Engagements in Muntenia and Oltenia proved to be highly one-sided, as Romanian irregulars were easily broken and sent into fleeing or taken prisoners after sustaining very few casualties. The only determined stance of the campaign on the Romanian side took place in early August, when Domnus’ Own guardsmen and dismounted dragoons attempted to prevent the Russians from entering the capital. At this, they failed, and on August 5 the Domnus formally requested an armistice. That option was granted to him, and Prolocutor Pavel Milyukov even guaranteed to respect Romanian territorial integrity and independence in exchange for Romania’s neutrality, disarmament, and right of passage for the Russian army and supplies, which allowed directorial roops to be joined by crack troops of the 1-aya Udarnaya Armiya (1st Shock Army) under Aleksei Brusilov. At that point, Hungarian troops had already started to arrive to Romanian Eastern Transylvania and the Carpathians, so chunks of the country were effectively placed under Hungarian occupational authority. The campaign was, however, far from ending, as Brusilov’s forward brigades started to come into contact with the Hungarians. First engagements were highly successful for Brusilov’s troops, showcased by a four-day battle of Hátszeg in late August, in which Russian Batalyony Smerti (Battalions of Death) first showcased their assault tactics, breaking Hungarian trench defences without waiting for artillery support. However, as the offensive started to enter deeper into the Carpathians, the Hungarian resistance thickened, assisted by an arrival of unusually early snowfall, eventually forcing Brusilov to give his triumphant troops a well-deserved rest. (Region Danube Region gains -2.12% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Directorial Russia gains +21.17% Regional Influence and releases -15% Regional Influence, Romanian Domnate loses -7.09% Regional Influence and gains +15% Regional Influence, Hungary loses -14.08% Regional Influence, Romanian Domnate: -3 Corps, -1 Squadron (-maintenance), Romanian Domnate removes “Military mobilization (short term)” and “Economic mobilization (short term)”, Directorial Russia losses: -48.98 HC, -18.37 IC, -31.3 EC, -25.47 MC, Hungary losses: -51.19 HC, -4.93 IC, -29.91 EC, -30.95 MC, Romanian Domnate losses: -45.88 HC, -8.47 IC, -23.74 EC, -6.73 MC)
Battle for the Red Tower Pass
Q3 1893: The Turnu Roşu Pass is located in Southern Carpathians and is the main gateway from Wallachia into the Transylvanian Plateau and, from it, into the Hungarian plains. Its name is translated as “the Red Tower” from Romanian, after ruins of a Medieval castle overlooking the pass and the Olt river going through it. Among all Carpathian mountain gorges, the Turnu Roşu Pass is the least impacted by early snow this year, presenting the best chance for the Russians to break through Hungarian defences and pour into Hungarian proper. Several assaults already took place in this area, but so far Hungarian troops have been highly successful at repulsing them. Now both armies are starting to channel more and more resources into what is already becoming known as the Battle for the Red Tower Pass.
War of Hungarian Containment: Slovakian Campaign
Q3 1893: Poland entered the War of Hungarian Containment with cheers and high expectations, its political class viewing the conflict as a chance to establish the country as a dominant regional player. The army was mobilized for war and deployed to the foothills of Western Carpathians in an expectation of a triumphant offensive. Unknown to them, facing them was a recently redeployed, battle-tested Third Hungarian Army under General Friedrich Freiherr von Georgi, a hero of the Burgenland Offensive against Austria-Bavaria earlier this year. Outnumbered almost two-to-one, he prepared a strong defensive belt in the Fatra-Tatra area, with secondary defences set up in Slovakian Ore mountains. The secondary line, however, never got engaged, as Polish attacks were easily repulsed in a string of ill-coordinated offensives that saw bayonet charges against machine gun emplacements and, on one case, even an ulhan attack on the Third Special Mechanized detachment of Hungarian infantry, in which a cavalry lance was first tested against landship armor, to the latter one’s triumph. As foreign war correspondents pointed out, Polish soldiers did prove to have a superior morale to the Hungarians, but their officer corps was too deeply in favor of Jominian doctrine of leading from the front, ignoring technological sophistication of modern warfare despite having access to a wide array of rather high-quality equipment. Once it became clear the enemy was exhausted and caught flat-footed, von Georgi launched a decisive counterattack, breaking Polish superficial defences and spilling into Red Ruthenia and southern Lesser Poland. Hungarian “Laszlo” landships played an important role in breaking through Polish frontlines, delivering Honved infantry into Polish rear time and again. However, losses were very high among von Georgi’s outnumbered troops, and by the time Krakow suburbs were reached, the counteroffensive was runnin out of steam. Yet, this sent quite a scare through the Polish Sejm, which sacked its army commanders and appointing “soldiers’ general” Władysław Wysocki to organize Krakow defences and stabilize the frontline for another push into Slovakia in late fall. (Region Poland-Czechia gains -0.74% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Hungary gains +7.95% Regional Influence, Poland loses -7.95% Regional Influence, Poland losses: -40.03 HC, -11.44 IC, -20.47 EC, -12.64 MC, Hungary losses: -45.3 HC, -12.99 IC, -25.34 EC, -25.19 MC)
War of Hungarian Containment: Austrian Campaign
Q3 1893: Escalation of the War of Hungarian Containment syphoned a lot of Hungary’s resources away from the Austrian front, presenting Austrobavarian leadership with a perfect chance to counter-attack and push the Magyars from the German soil. A general offensive was declared in the first week of June all across Oststeiermark (East Styria), mirroring Hungarian advance of the last year. However, Hungarian trench systems dug out in wooded hills provided great cover for the Honved, and the entire campaign saw minimal Austrobavarian success, despite huge losses suffered on both sides. Yet, by late September the Battle of Wien turned into a disaster for the Crown of St. Stephan’s military, and Italian push through Slovenia started to threaten the Fifth and Second Hungarian Armies’ southern flank, so a general retreat across Burgenland was declared for the sake of stabilizing the frontline. Now, it seems like the Honved is about to fight a different kind of defensive war in Transdubnia, invoking dark memories of the Independence War of 1849. (Region South Austria gains -0.02% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Austria-Bavaria gains +0.25% Regional Influence, Hungary loses -0.25% Regional Influence, Austria-Bavaria losses: -49.02 HC, -14.05 IC, -27.29 EC, -23.86 MC, Hungary losses: -58.34 HC, -16.73 IC, -32.64 EC, -32.44 MC)
Battle of Wien
Q1-Q2 1893: The focal point of the Austrian campaign for both sides, Wien is one of the key industrial and cultural centers of Europe. Besides its material and strategic value, it also is highly important for the Austrobavarian morale, symbolizing their resolve and sacrifice. General Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza of the Hungarian High Command insists on taking Wien at all cost, prompting a series of violent assaults that has bled Austrobavarian forward defenses white and have finally pushed to the city’s very outskirts. Artillery duels have already turned many districts of one of the most beautiful cities of Europe into ruins, and some shells are already raining on the Schönbrunn Palace, where young Archduke Otto and his staff defiantly hold their planning sessions.
Q3 1893: Early days of July 1893 were the peak of the Hungarian tide in Austria. Rushed defenders, supported by a few non-evacuated civilians, were building barricades across the city, and where such fortifications couldn’t be built, rifle companies were deployed, outfitted with newly produced mobile gun shields. Still this novelty equipment could do little to protect soldiers from high-explosive shells of enemy heavy artillery, and Honved troops soon broke into ramshackle industrial suburbs of Floridsdorf and Donaustadt on the north-eastern bank of the Danube. HHungarian river monitors moved in in an attempt to cut remaining Austrobavarian units on the left bank from the city center, but the battle of Leopoldstadt district located on an island between the Danube and Dannau Canal Austrian and Hungarian sailor battalions ended in a surprising repulse of the better supported Magyars, stabilizing the situation in the city for the time being. It was then that the turn of the battle started changing. North-German reinforcements started to arrive by late July, and a Hungarian assault on highly strategically important Südtiroler Platz-Hauptbahnhof train station in the south ended in a failure due to murderous fire of North-German urban scharfschutzen (snipers). Damage done to the railway lines, however, hurt the supply situation inside the city, and for a time being Duke Otto had to patiently wait for his binational troops to resupply and prepare for a counterattack. When it came, though, there were no doubts about its conclusion. Hungarian semicircle siege line around the city quickly proved undefendable against numerically and technologically superior enemies, and soon retreat turned into a rout. Only by the last week of September did General Kövess von Kövessháza stabilized the frontline, checking three North-German cavalry divisions with his own reserve force in a counterstrike at Szombathely. However, by then the damage to the Honved was already done, with six undermanned divisions surrendering to the Germans at Sopron. (Battle quest completed with success, region South Germany gains -2% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Austria-Bavaria gains +3.54% Regional Influence, Hungary loses -3.54% Regional Influence, region Danube Region: Hungary loses -4% Regional Influence, Austria-Bavaria gains +4% Regional Influence, Hungary: -2 Corps (-maintenance), Hungary losses: -105.69 HC, -30.52 IC, -60.2 EC, -60.85 MC, Austria-Bavaria loses: -27.68 HC, -7.95 IC, -16.13 EC, -14.96 MC, North German Federation losses: -31.65 HC, -12.86 IC, -17.11 EC, -14.34 MC)
War of Hungarian Containment: Slovenian Campaign
Q3 1893: Italy’s official goals for declaring war on Hungary were exactly that: containment of a dangerously deluded neighbor. All subsequent planning, therefore, was done with the assumption that the Hungarians must suffer one defeat, large and demonstrative enough to break the kingdom’s will to fight. As a result, a plan was developed to break through Hungarian defences in Subpanonian lowlands from Croatia and turn the bulge in Hungarian frontlines into one big pocket. However, redeployment of 80% of Italian troops across the Dinaric mountains with their thick boreal forests took a better half of June, and by the time Esercito Italiano was ready to launch their attack, the Hungarian Fourth Army was ready to meet it. Almost immediately, Hungarian technical superiority and surplus of modern war experience showed themselves, and a few successful breakthroughs in the lowlands were reverted thanks to a timely deployment of “Laszlo” personnel carriers, against which Italian forward troops struggled. Still, by late August the grinding fight for Slovenia started to decisively shift in Italian favor, as Marburg an der Drau (Maribor) and Laibach (Ljubljana) fell to Esercito Italiano. This coincided with the news of Hungarian defeat at the gates of Wien, leading to a brief offset of panic in the Honved, with a few South-Slavic regiments even capitulating to the enemy. By September it looked like the Hungarian Fourth Army may be a step away from a complete defeat, but then the news of Illyria’s troubles arrived from the south, forcing the Italians to regroup and rethink their plans for the remainder of the year. (Region South Austria gains -0.12% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Austria-Bavaria gains +1.2% Regional Influence, Hungary loses -1.2% Regional Influence, Italy losses: -26.31 HC, -6.54 IC, -12.09 EC, -9.97 MC, Hungary losses: -43.01 HC, -12.33 IC, -24.06 EC, -23.91 MC)
War of Hungarian Containment: Croatian Campaign
Q3 1893: As Hungary found itself surrounded by enemies from all sides, plans started to be drawn in Budapest about quickly kicking its foes out from the war one-by-one. As the weakest of all Austrobavarian allies, Illyria was naturally chosen for the questionable honor of being the first nation to feel the taste of that new strategy. As Romanian “rabble army” was sent home, a shock hadsereg (army) was formed in Slavonia out of veterans of Styrian offensives of the last spring. Once ready, they unleashed a dedicated assault of Croatian proper, forcing outdated and doctrinally obsolete Illyrian forces to fight brave, but doomed defensive battles. Once the Sava and Drava rivers were crossed and last cavalry counterattacks smashed at Bjelovar and Sisak, the fate of the Triune Kingdom was predetermined. Defense of Zagreb briefly gave the Illyrian king hope to keep the country fighting long enough for the Italians to redirect troops to is support, but by September 7 Zagreb was in Hungarian hands, and forward hussar regiments were already seen across the Hrvatsko Zagorje. On September 9, Illyria capitulated, but unlike the Romanian capitulation, which took place a month earlier, this armistice wasn’t followed by restoration of Illyrian authorities across the land. On the contrary, Hungarian army took charge of all local administration, preparing to contest Italian attempts to advance across the region. (Region Balkans gains -1% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Hungary gains +10% Regional Influence, Illyria loses -10% Regional Influence, region South Germany: Hungary gains +0.3% Regional Influence, Austria-Bavaria loses -0.3% Regional Influence, Illyria loses -2 Corps, Illyria losses: -22.93 HC, -5.54 IC, -10.31 EC, -3.31 MC, Hungary losses: -8.37 HC, -2.4 IC, -4.68 EC, -4.65 MC)
Anti-Communard War: Provence Campaign
Q3 1893: During the First Atlantic War, Sardinia-Piedmont suffered a full-scale French invasion, and that experience couldn’t help but shape Sardinian General Staff’s war planning for the new conflict. Sardinian troops under Antono, the Duke of Montferrat, were concentrated in Savoy and Western Alps in preparation for a French onslaught. Their unlikely allies from Italy also started to arrive by mid June, led by infamous and charismatic Ricciotti Garibaldi, son of the leader of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Grand Unifier of Republican Italy. The two leaders almost immediately set to hating each other, mostly due to huge differences in education, personality, and upbringing. Their relationship were generally reflective of mutual attitudes between Sardinian and Italian soldiers and officers, who came from vastly different backgrounds and lacked trust in each other (with a sole exception of Venetians, and Emilians, who at least shared very similar dialects with their Piedmontese allies. On the other side of the Alps, meanwhile, the mood was grim. France, it its turn, also was preparing to be invaded by an overwhelming horde of enemies, and general plan for all regional HQs was drawn around the same goal: to stall enemies before the grand defensive perimeter is completed around the nation’s industrial core. In Provence and Dauphiné, this task fell on a young (for a general) hero of the Jurassic Forest offensive of the last spring, Commissioner-General Gilbert Chamorin. Unlike his peers on other fronts, Chamorin was in favor of war of maneuver, even on the defensive, and he composed his troops to stage a fighting retreat full of ambushes and short, but decisive counterattacks. However, July passed with no shots being fired across the border, and Chamorin decided to probe enemy defences in Alpes-Maritimes and the Cottian Alps, which on both occasions resulted in bloody, but strategically indecisive battles that saw brief French tactical success, followed by inevitable withdrawal in the face of overwhelming odds. This, apparently, only intensified rivalry between the Duke of Montferrat and Garibaldi Junior, both of which chose to abandon their defensive stances and venture into the French territory with improvised, uncoordinated offensives. These resulted in tactical disasters, as Chamorin smashed Sardinians at the “closed valley” of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and then checked the Italians near the mouth of the Verdon River, successfully creating local superiority via energetic redeployment of troops. These losses were followed by a decisive French counteroffensive in the French Rivera that ended with a successful capture of Nice held by Sardinia-Piedmont since the end of the First Atlantic War. However, soon it became clear that the enemy was concentrating numerically superior forces once more, and Chamorin left the gains once again, leaving Nice undefeated and preparing to continue his game of operational fencing with his disunited opponents. (Region Italia gains -0.02% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Region South France gains -0.02% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Communard France losses: -26.77 HC, -7.42 IC, -12.52 EC, -11.74 MC, Italy losses: -15.58 HC, -3.87 IC, -7.16 EC, -5.9 MC, Sardinia-Piedmont losses: -20.13 HC, -5.77 IC, -10.28 EC, -5.07 MC)
Battle for the Western Mediterranean
Q3 1893: As France was concentrating its navy to fight off British, Dutch, and North-German fleets in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean fleet was locked in the inner sea by the merit of British control of Gibraltar. Meanwhile the Sardinian navy, for the most part, was split between naval exercises off the coast of Sicily and protection of its Zaire colony. Out of all Anti-Communard allies, only Italy was willing to dedicate its ships to striking into the French “soft underbelly,” harassing its vital shipping lanes with Egypt. Ironically, French strategy in the Western Mediterranean also was built around harassing enemy merchant marine, resulting in an extended game of cat and mouse. Very few actual engagements between military-grade vessels occurred, as most of the losses suffered belonged to cargo ships raided by each of the sides. As of October 1893, it seems like France’s losses are higher than its enemies, mostly due to a significant inequality in numbers. Unless the French find a way to turn strategic warfare around, the Western Mediterranean may end up being completely off-limits for their commerce ships. (Battle quest progress: 76.57%, Italy losses: -8.57 HC, -5.37 IC, -12.92 EC, -22.58 MC, Communard France losses: -12.82 HC, -9.51 IC, -21.45 EC, -36.81 MC)
Anti-Communard War: Elsass-Lothringen Campaign
Q3 1893: Just like in Austria and Styria, Austrobavarian forces suddenly found themselves in a position to launch an offensive war this fall, thanks to a sudden expansion of the war scope. And just like in the east, Bavarian and Rhinelander troops were better equipped for defensive warfare than for assaulting enemy positions (a problem that recently has been impacting a lot of military forces across the world). Crossings of the Mosel River were easily done, thanks to superb pontoon work on part of the Austrobavarian pioneers and support from a humble Mosel riverine flotilla. However, decisive French counterattacks eradicated such bridgeheads with ease, as was a case with the battle for Toul in early August. However, in French Lorraine the situation was different. The bulge in the frontlines made French positions untenable after Duke Philipp of Württemberg and his XIII (Royal Württemberg) Army Corps threatened Metz, forcing the Communards evacuate south-east and abandon newly liberated Lorraine to the enemy, et least temporarily. Still, French defensive lines along the Moselle remained strong despine enemy superiority in numbers, and only the crisis in the north and the continuous meat grinder in the south can help to dislodge them back into the Franche-Comté.(Region South Germany gains -0.13% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Austria-Bavaria gains +1.26% Regional Influence, Communard France loses -1.26% Regional Influence, Communard France losses: -80.37 HC, -22.30 IC, -37.59 EC, -35.26 MC, Austria-Bavaria losses: -73.92 HC, -21.19 IC, -41.15 EC, -35.97 MC)
Battle of the Jurassic Forest
Q1-Q2 1893: French reliance on critical superiority in numbers in a critical spot of the frontline was a great tool at their tactical and operational disposal since the Napoleonic wars. In the Franche-Comte campaign, too, it served them well - up until the “blue coat tsunami” hit the slopes of the Jura mountains. With their northern flank being protected by a river the French struggle to cross, and the southern flank pushing into the Swiss border, the Austrobavarians have made sure the Communards had to pay dearly for every patch of burned, desolated copse they take. French seemingly unlimited reserves have helped them to push rather far west through the area, but at this point their forest bulge is open to a concentrated fire of the Austrobavarian artillery, and their rear is crammed with supply wagons being pulled through dirt roads and mountain trails. It is likely that the Battle of the Forest, as it is known in both nations, will decide if a significant breakthrough into Elsass could be achieved.
Q3 1893: Just like near Wien, the attackers became the attacked in the battle for Jurassic Forest. Outnumbered by their enemy and out of position, French troops started their fighting withdrawal west, looking to shorten the frontline and hold their positions, while making the enemy pay for every patch of land and every meadow. At that they succeeded, partially because a combination of extremely dry fall weather and intense artillery bombardment on both sides caused forest fires in mid September and turned woody hills into hell on Earth, temporarily putting all fighting to a stop. However, once fires were put down, clashes continued across the ashen, desolate landscape compared by a Communard avant-garde painter to a giant hedgehog whose back is swarming with flea-soldiers. By now, the French occupy only the westernmost part of the forest, holding the key to the Burgundian Gates, and through them, to the fields of the France-Comte and Burgundy. (Battle quest progress: 75.14%, Austria-Bavaria losses: -43.56 HC, -12.49 IC, -24.25 EC, -21.2 MC, Communard France losses: -60.61 HC, -16.81 IC, -28.35 EC, -26.59 MC)
Anti-Communard War: Champagne-Ardenne Campaign
Q3 1893: North-German offensive at Châlons-sur-Marne, regional capital of French Champagne, was expected to become one of the decisive attacks of the war in Western Europe. Importance of that area was clear to both sides, and the French were preparing for an open field campaign they weren’t sure they could win, while their North-German opponents expected an easy push south once the Ardennes are passed. At first, it did play out according to the both sides’ expectations, with the Germans taking Sedan and surpassing Verdun with its sizeable garrison to push for Châlons-sur-Marne. However, Champagne landscape, with its vineyard-covered hills and hedged land enclosures proved to be a land favoring defenders in open field engagements, so the North-Germans were forced to rely on artillery for decisive advances. That gave the Communard army a chance to thicken its defences and prepare for a counter-attack at Very-le-Francois that came in like a wrecking ball and sent the North-German left flank retreating all the way back to Verdun. Eventually communications were re-established with the Verdun fortress garrison, but the Austrobavarian advance in Lorraine checked the French counter-offensive. Late September, still saw yet another joint push by the Dutch and North-German troops, with the former army surprising many observers with its performance (possibly, thanks to not having to deal with Verdun bunker defences in the center of its frontline). The campaign was an overall Anti-Communard success, but the French army in Chapmagne seems to have managed to evade a crisis similar to the one that’s unfolding in Picardy. (Region North France gains -0.51% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Netherlands gains +1.55% Regional Influence, North German Federation gains +3.56% Regional Influence, Communard France loses -5.11% Regional Influence, Communard France losses: -60.24 HC, -23.24 IC, -31.87 EC, -27.16 MC, North German Federation losses: -62.87 HC, -17.44 IC, -29.41 EC, -27.58 MC, Netherlands losses: -8.76 HC, -2.06 IC, -3.78 EC, -2.22 MC)
Anti-Communard War: Picardy Campaign
Q3 1893: The city of Saint-Quentin is one of the critical railway junctions of Pickardy and thus of all Hauts-de-France (Upper France). Therefore, it was selected as the focal point of an ambitious offensive planned by a promising rising star of the North-German military general Frederick von Lyncker. A member of an old Prussian junker dynasty and an avid proponent of mechanization of the Bundeswehr, von Lyncker proposed a bold breakthrough in the western Ardennes, slipping past French defences via local dirt roads, with mounted and bicycle-riding infantry leading the way, supported by self-propelled heavy cannons and supplied by road locomotives instead of horse-powered supply trains. Numerous civil engineering companies were employed by the Federation, to be used to improve logistics for the breakthrough-oriented experimental I. Stormkorps. The plan worked out like a charm, with the Ardennes being surpassed by two attack columns out of three in barely a week of fighting. Then the I. Stormkorps had to pause, waiting for the rest of the Bundeswehr and its Dutch allies to catch up after mopping up French Ardenne resistance, but by then French operational posture was as bad as it gets. At Coudry and Giese French defenses were beaten once again, and the I. Stormkorps descended on Saint-Quentin, becoming the first (and only) Anti-Communard army to reach the yet incomplete line of French defences, nicknamed by the Germans as “Fortress France.” There von Lyncker would meet his equal, a woman now known to the world as “Joan of Arc of the Commune.” (Region North France gains -0.88% Regional Growth Fluctuation, North German Federation gains +7.62% Regional Influence, Communard France loses -7.62% Regional Influence, Communard France losses: -69.95 HC, -19.4 IC, -32.72 EC, -30.68 MC, North German Federation losses: -55.53 HC, -22.21 IC, -34.29 EC, -28.45 MC, Netherlands losses:: -8.76 HC, -2.06 IC, -3.78 EC, -2.22 MC)
Battle of Saint-Quentin
Q3 1893: As a key railroad hub of Picardy, the city of Saint-Quentin was planned to become one of the key rear supply depots for the Fortress France line. However, General von Lyncker’s advance caught Communard engineers and civil workers completely unprepared, penetrating the yet unfinished defensive perimeter. For a few days in late September, it looked like the French resistance in Pickardy was doomed, but then a miracle occurred, brought about, as it’s already happen in French history, by a woman. Simone Cixous was in charge of a women’s engineering brigade working on Saint-Quentin fortifications at the moment. When bicycle-riding reconnaissance troops of the I. Stormkorps were seen in the town’s vicinity, she ignored local Commissioner-Colonel’s orders to retreat and instead armed her female subordinates with weapons from an arsenal left unguarded by the panicked soldiers. The engineers were soon joined by a hospital and signal units, both also partially female, and that humble irregular formation would later become known as the Valkyries of Saint-Quintin, with their leader being compared to Queen Boudica of ancient Britannia and to Joan of Arc herself. In truth, the “Valkyries” really engaged in a fight only with light infantry spearheading the North-German advance, but they did buy enough time for the Communard high command to recognize that the situation could be salvaged and send fresh or reformed divisions to Saint-Quintin. For her symbolic value and in recognition of her extraordinary leadership, Simone Cixous was granted a title of Extraordinary Tribun of Saint-Quentin, essentially providing her with full dictatorial powers over the French administration and army units defending the city. Now the battle is starting to turn into a symbol of French defiance, as both armies struggle to take hold of this key chain link of France’s defensive lines.
Anti-Communard War: French Flanders Campaign
Q3 1893: Anti-Communard plans for invasion of France would be incomplete without at least some attempt at amphibious landing. In French Flanders, Dutch forces planned to pin the French, while their British allies land at Dunkirk and rush to Lille, taking hold of France’s northern industrial areas. Almost immediately, the weakness of that plan was revealed. With most of the French Atlantic Fleet concentrated in Brest, British, North-German, and Dutch squadrons were always threatened by a French sortie, so a landing date was moved several time, until, finally, royal marines attempted to storm Dunkirk beaches on August 8. French troops, however, were waiting, and more Communard brigades were being redeployed from Normandy and Brittany to assist at holding down the Dutch. At Boulogne and Calais, the British Expeditionary Corps was checked and ended up being contained to a few pockets along the shore for the most of the campaign, until Dutch offensives forced the French retreat south. Still, Lille held against joint Anglo-Dutch attacks, and Communard positions in the north remain fairly strong. (Region South Germany gains -0.14% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Netherlands gains +1.37% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth gains +1.03% Regional Influence, Communard France loses -2.4% Regional Influence, Communard France losses: -45.31 HC, -12.57 IC, -21.19 EC, -19.87 MC, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -17.68 HC, -7.42 IC, -12.49 EC, -9.88 MC, Netherlands losses: -30.68 HC, -7.21 IC, -13.21 EC, -7.76 MC)
Battle of La Manche
Q3 1893: From the very beginning of the Second Atlantic War, it was the Anti-Communard League’s plan to concentrate their Atlantic fleets and beat the Triune Pact’s navies one by one. Of France’s side, a correct guess was made, predicting exactly that kind of development, so the bulk of the Communard navy was concentrated in Brest and mostly stayed in the harbor, following the good old “fleet-in-being” naval strategy, threatening British communication lanes through its sheer presence. For the most of July and August, commerce raiding was the only type of activity French captains indulged themselves in. Their success at that, however, was limited, since submerged vessels were short-range and lacked on-board electricity to make submerged attacks effective, while above-surface raiders could wreak havoc on British supply lines only if they were to slip past the Anti-Communard League’s naval blockade into the open Atlantic. However, by mid August, French naval inactivity became unsustainable, because British landings in Calais and Boulogne kept being supported by the British armada’s high-caliber guns, checking any attempts of the Communard army to push the enemy back into the sea. That finally forced French admiral Louis Jobelin to take a risk and assemble his own gigantic fleet for a sortie against the Anti-Communard League’s navies. Three of the sorties resulted in small-scale naval action in the English Channel, successfully distracting the joint Anglo-Germano-Dutch joint naval force before returning to the port. However, on August 29 British Admiral Hornby, the hero of Sao Tome and a leader of the League's navy in the Eastern Atlantic, succeeded at drawing Jobelin’s fleet into a decisive action which featured more than sixty dreadnought ships on both sides and is now considered the biggest naval action of modern history. Known as the Battle of the Pointe le Barfleur, it featured a collision of French and British armored cruisers and pre-dreadnought battleships early on, followed by a temporary British withdrawal, which might have or might have not been a part of Admiral Hornby’s original plan. It, however, helped to keep Jobelin’s fleet engaged in a pursuit, which then allowed Hornby to execute a wide flanking maneuver placing his main line between the French fleet and Cap de la Hague, blocking their retreat to Brest. At that point, all of the League’s fleets descended upon the French navy, initiating a battle that would last until complete exhaustion on both sides. The French fleet emerged victorious, but significantly damaged. Having failed to fully repeal the League’s forces, Admiral Jobelin became afraid that twelve of his significantly damaged dreadnoughts could be sent to the bottom of the sea, negating the tactical success he’s just received. Seeing no way to break through Hornby’s remaining battleships without losing a good chunk of his strength, Jobelin made a call to return to the port of Cherbourg in Normandy. Surprisingly, this turned out to be a great miscalculation on his part, because it allowed Hornby’s fleet to lock the bulk of the French navy in a port they could easily keep an eye on. This significantly limited France’s capability to launch commerce raids across the Atlantic or to project power across the English Channel - even despite the tactical victory they achieved. However, not all is lost for France yet, as Jobelin still has a chance of turning the naval campaign around by launching a decisive naval sortie this fall or winter, before it's too late and the English Channel becomes truly English not only by name. (Battle quest progress: 97.76%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -30.84 HC, -20.35 IC, -44.13 EC, -73.9 MC, Netherlands losses: -5.3 HC, -3.18 IC, -7.91 EC, -13.7 MC, North German Federation losses: -18.1 HC, -13.42 IC, -30.26 EC, -51.95 MC, Communard France losses: -52.6 HC, -40.34 IC, -86.07 EC, -147.34 MC)
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893War update - North America:
Battle for the North-West Atlantic
Q3 1893: British Atlantic strategy of concentrating the bulk of the Royal Navy against France while simultaneously nigh-abandoning the North-West Atlantic was a risky one. If successful, the Brits had a chance of kicking a powerful French navy entirely out of the war before returning to North America with vengeance. However, if anything were to not go ideally, Britannia could cease to be the Mistress of the Seas. That, in a sense, is exactly what happened in the North-West Atlantic this summer. Several British squadrons were stationed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before the beginning of the Second Atlantic War, supporting the Commonwealth’s efforts to supply counterinsurgency troops in Canada. As soon as hostilities were declared, the Halifax fleet was ordered to immediately head for the Albion in order to join the rest of Great Britain’s Atlantic navy and challenge the French. Unknown to the British, North-Americans under Admiral George Dewey were already on their way to Halifax, ready to initiate a port strike as soon as the Triune Pact’s ultimatum is refused. That, ultimately, meant that by the time the North-American navy started approaching Nova Scotia from the south-east, the Halifax fleet was just leaving the harbor. Instead of committing a port strike, Dewey’s force collided with the British one near the Sable Island. The battle was highly one-sided, since both numerical and tactical superiority was on the North-American side. Least damaged ships of the British navy embarked on a long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, but more hurt ones were forced to return to Halifax, only to be bombarded later by Dewey’s fleet (who, luckily to the Brits, didn’t want to risk his worn-out battleships and dreadnoughts in an attack on the harbor). Adding an insult to the injury, British ships that managed to break through the North-American blockade of Bermuda earlier this July were also soon intercepted on their way to Halifax, ensuring that the North-West Atlantic was fully under the North-American control and de-facto cut off from the rest of the Commonwealth, not counting a few Portobrazilian cargo ships that were allowed to deliver non-military supplies to Canada. (Battle quest completed with full success, British Royal Commonwealth: -100 HC, -40 IC, -200 EC, -15 MC, British troops in North America receive -1 CR penalty, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -31.13 HC, -20.54 IC, -44.54 EC, -74.59 MC, Union of North America losses: -14.25 HC, -12.78 IC, -24.2 EC, -38.91 MC)
North-American War: Maritimes Campaign
Q3 1893: North-American strategy in Canada was predictably concentrated on taking control of Quebec and Upper Canada, leaving the Maritimes as a side show. The Union’s army planners knew full well that one of the key supply hubs of Eastern Canada, the city of Fredericton, lay just across a river from the Union’s territory, meaning that the entirety of New Brunswick could be contested if only Fredericton were to fall to North-American soldiers. Which, of course, would worsen British supply situation in the St. Lawrence River valley, since no supply would be now coming from Halifax, British Canada’s only all-year-round naval port. To the Union’s bad luck, defense of New Brunswick on the British side was given to an experienced General Harry Ashmore, a controversial figure among the British ranks, a hero of the First Atlantic War and an open critic of the Lord-Protector and his policies (especially the prohibition). Ashmore knew the way the Union was going to fight the campaign and he prepared his corps for a war of maneuver, ambushes, and flanking movements. Early Maritimes campaign in July-mid August saw two North-American assaults on Fredericton and Saint-Jean, repealed on all occasions. Just by late August, the Union managed to cross the Saint-Jean river by Oromocto ford and triumphantly enter Fredericton… only to learn that they were flanked at Woodstock and now besieged from the north and north-west. Soon, the campaign turned completely against the North-Americans, who were kicked out of Fredericton after barely a week of holding it and then beaten decisively in an open field battle near St. Stephan. Wise enough to not pursue the enemy into the Union’s territory, Ashmore returned to the Maritimes and spent the rest of August and all September cracking down upon any pro-Union discontent and insurgency there, solidifying the Royal Commonwealth’s grip on the region. (Region Atlantic Canada-Quebec gains -0.9% Regional Growth Fluctuation, British Royal Commonwealth gains +8.99% Regional Influence, Union of North America loses -8.99% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -5.43 HC, -1.82 IC, -3.07 EC, -2.96 MC, Union of North America losses: -8.72 HC, -3.16 IC, -4.86 EC, -5.33 MC)
North-American War: Quebec Campaign
Q3 1893: In the end of the First Atlantic War, the United States of America (as the North-American Union was known then) was holding a swath of land in southern Canada, which was officially recognized as the nation’s gain from the wall when all exhausted sides agreed to set new borders along the frontlines. Not only did it make a lot of political analysts and historians call the Truce of Washington “a water break before another fight,” but it also shaped the Union’s high command’s perception of its Canadian offensives in 1893. Infrastructurally crucial towns of Cornwall, Montreal, and Quebec City lay just a few dozen miles away from the contemporary border, making the head of the North-American high command, General Nelson L. Miles, believe that a single determined push north could leave the Union in firm possession of all supply hubs, crucial for controlling Quebec. What Miles failed to recognize was that his own supply situation was also rather questionable, because the territories gained by the Union from Britain in the First Atlantic War were mostly deprived of any significant infrastructure, not counting the Cape Vincent-Ogdensburg-Massena railway branch east of the Ontario lake. Still, Miles had all reasons to be optimistic: Lower Canada rebellion was in full swing, British troops were severely outnumbered and overstretched, and an upcoming fall season was promising to shut down all riverine traffic along the Saint Lawrence river and in the Hudson Bay. On the British side, planning was highly rudimentary and in a way reflected outdated perceptions of Canadian campaigns from the First Atlantic War. The Commonwealth’s troops were expected to perform a tactical retreat, bleeding the enemy through a series of ambushes and scorched earth tactics. However, two factors were miscounted. Firstly, the Brits now, unlike in the previous conflict, had no stable rear, with Patriote militias effectively taking charge of entire municipalities across Quebec.Secondly, even without them, the British army’s positions simply lacked the operational depth required for any deep defense strategy. So, both armies’ shortcommings, resulted in a generally chaotic campaign of badly planned and badly executed small skirmishes and anti-insurgency actions that still easily favored the North-Americans. Kingston and Cornwall, two British supply depots that the North-Americans had the easiest time reaching, fell after hectic assaults in on August 9 and 13, but not before British garrisons of Upper Canada successfully evacuated through them and went up north. Montreal and Quebec City were episodically contested by Patriote rebels and approaching Union army columns, but both were eventually retaken by the British troops, much thanks to the stellar work done by British military intelligence teams which sabotaged North-American supply lines in Maine and New Hampshire to a degree when any offensive action became unsustainable. Still, in late September Bécancour fell, allowing North-American artillery to start pounding British ad-hoc supply lines going through the city of Trois-Rivières lying halfway between Montreal and Quebec City. By early October, it became clear that the British army in Canada was in dire straits, with its rear unsteady, its supplies being delivered via a single makeshift infrastructure line stretching all the way from Halifax, and with its Atlantic communications from Great Britain cut off. (Region Atlantic Canada-Quebec gains -2.02% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Union of North America gains +9.65% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth loses -9.65% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -30 HC, -12.74 IC, -21.43 EC, -16.77 MC, Union of North America losses: -15.51 HC, -5.62 IC, -8.64 EC, -9.47 MC)
Siege of Ville de Québec
Q3 1893: Quebec City is known to Franco-Canadians as Ville de Québec, and it is one of the oldest modern cities in North America, thus bearing symbolic significance both for the newly proclaimed Free Quebec government and for the North-American Union. Besides, it is located in a strategically important narrowing of the Saint Lawrence River, that connects the rest of Lower Canada and the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The river freezes in winter (something that British logisticians have always had to take into account), but during other months it provides British Canada with the most reliable and broadband supply network that requires little maintenance and cannot be damaged as easily as a railroad. All of these factors make Ville de Québec a focal point of the prolonged Lower Canada campaign, with Patriote militias being active in Old Lévis, North-American Army of Maine pushing up north-east from Bécancour, and the British garrison force desperately fortifying La Citadelle in the heart of Quebec City. If this critical chain in Canadian infrastructure system were to fall to the enemy, all British troops outside of the Maritimes could be doomed.
North-American War: Ontario Campaign
Q3 1893: Unlike Quebec, Upper Canada was a corrupt, but generally well-managed part of British North-American colonies, so some generals before the war even bragged that, should it be surrounded by the Union, it could survive on its accumulated war supplies for a year or two. That bravado was quickly forgotten, though, when first shots were fired across the border and the weakness of British positions in Canada became obvious to everyone. The Union’s war plan for the Ontario campaign, on the other hand, was rather humble and pragmatic, with attacks planned mostly in order to pin British troops there, while the main struggle of the war took place along the Saint-Lawrence river. However, since the very early offensives it became clear that the British weren’t intending to stay in Upper Canada for another year as some of the had promised. By mid-August, Hamilton, Sarnia, and Sault Ste. Marie fell to the Union troops, and British divisions were abandoning Toronto in order to rush north-east, past barely holding Kingston and Cornwall. Forced to receive supplies mostly across the Great Lakes, the North-Americans pursued half-heartedly, entering Toronto without a single shot fired on September 23, thus concluding the campaign.. (Region Atlantic Canada-Quebec gains -0.67% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Union of North America gains +6.74% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth loses -6.74% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -18.46 HC, -6.2 IC, -10.44 EC, -10.06 MC, Union of North America losses: -13.57 HC, -4.92 IC, -7.56 EC, -8.29 MC)
North-American War: Prairies Campaign
Q3 1893: Manitoba and the Prairies were of little value for both the Union and the Royal Commonwealth, which didn’t mean that the British weren’t going to try and stop North-American incursion into their territory. However, the campaign turned out to be rather anticlimactic, as the Second Red River Rebellion and municipal coups performed by local Metis councils and Hunters’ Lodges thrashed British rear into shreds. Already caught on back foot, the British clashed with their enemies in a series of violent cavalry clashes and skirmishes at Thunder Bay, Steinbach, and Portage, fought in the most brutally humid and gnat-infested northern summer. Fortunes swung back and forth in these small battles, but the overall turn of the campaign was never in question. British disasters to the east meant that the Commonwealth troops in Manitoba had to soon abandon all attempts to preserve remainders of British authority in Central Canada and reconnect with their troubled comrades in Ontario and Quebec. (Region Atlantic Canada-Quebec gains -0.63% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Union of North America gains +6.29% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth loses -6.29% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -5.43 HC, -1.82 IC, -3.07 EC, -2.96 MC, Union of North America losses: -2.91 HC, -1.05 IC, -1.62 EC, -1.78 MC)
North-American War: Phoney War in the South
Q3 1893: When the history of the Second Atlantic War is written, very few military notes would be left about the so-called Phoney War, as the Southrons call it, or the Border Lull, as it is known to the Northerners. A few cross-border clashes between misguided patrol units took place here and there, and on a few cases overly energetic (or overly drunk) artillery captains would shell enemy positions they knew they’d been forbidden to shell, but all in all, June, August, and September of 1893 produced very little fighting between the Union and the Confederacy. (Confederate States of America losses: -3.88 HC, -1.22 IC, -1.94 EC, -1.95 MC, Union of North America losses: -4.11 HC, -1.05 IC, -2.15 EC, -1.6 MC)
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893Central Russia
Fast-growing, populous region with powerful agriculture and developing manufacturing industry.
Guns, cookies, and social democracy
1892: The city of Tula is the capital of Russian armaments industry and the seat of the Demidovs family cartel that owns the lion’s share of it. Besides manufacture of materiel, that prosperous and ancient city is also famed for its production of samovars (tea-making devices) and pryaniks (Russian gingerbread cookies). To nobody’s surprise, that employment-friendly environment has recently become the center of well-educated, well-paid, and well-organized labor. One Ivan Saveliev, a medical orderly of social-democratic views, has recently organized study circles among literate workers. This study group is growing in respect and influence and is starting to attract revered following all across the country, with some workers’ groups trying to imitate Saveliev’s circles with various degrees of success. Law enforcement officers so far haven’t complained about that development and even were pleased to declare the circles a positive thing for the local communities. At the same time, some corporate lobbyists are feeling threatened by the well-paid and educated leaders of their own workforce, hoping to nip that trend in the bud, before it’s led to some labor reforms.
Q1-Q2 1893: The so-called Golden Ring of Russia is formed by eighteen ancient Russian cities northeast of Moscow, which played an important role in the formation, reunification, and growth of the Russian nation in the 12-18th centuries and which have preserved most of their architectural landmarks untouched by either wars or the progress. In recent years, Russian economic growth has spurred a debate as to how the nation could make use of this agglomeration. Some members of the Directorial Assembly propose to make these cities tourist destinations and cultural centers of new Russia, which would require significant improvement of infrastructure, law enforcement, and ecologic regulations in some of them. Meanwhile, industrial lobbyists say that kremlins, monasteries, and onion-domed cathedrals could never generate the wealth that could be produced through hard work and toil, suggesting to turn the Golden Ring into an industrial heart of the nation, it’s own Rhein-Ruhr. Some more extravagant proposals include even turning these lands into a settlement area for displaced Serbs, but that suggestion was mostly laughed at during the most recent Directorial session.
1892: A domestic crime with significant repercussions is shaking the Russian political scene. Two heirs to politically influential houses were found near a body a dead woman in a room of a wealthy condominium in the city of Pavlovsk. Both were in the poorest condition of mind and provided little help for the local law enforcement in establishing the full picture of events. One of the suspects, one Prince Myshkin, is a kind, but emotionally unstable epileptic, and also a descendant of a still powerful landowning dynasty with ties to the isolationist Bure-Smirnov political lobby. The other one is Parfyon Rogozhin, a rough-cut, larger-than-life figure known for despicable drinking habits and terrifying wroth, is a heir to a prominent merchant clan directly supporting the Secretary and the ruling Russobalt-Putilov corporate coalition. The first one seems to have descended to complete imbecillia, while the latter one is suffering from a bad case of delirium tremens. While the criminal case goes along, the representation of the crime in press could be used to either support the Secretary and his coalition, or to undermine them, somewhat compensating for the defeat that the federalists have suffered as the result of the recent lobbying transparency campaign.
Kompromat and modern blackmail
Q3 1893: Recent cooperation between the ruling interventionist coalition and its prominent opponents (such as Karl Bure and Piotr Smirnoff) on geopolitical and internal matters was quite surprising for many observers. More knowledgeable analysts point out that it appears that that Russian operatives from the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (Committee of State Security) have developed and perfected the art of gathering (or combating) compromising materials about a mission-critical person (a public figure or an agent) that is used to create negative publicity, for blackmail, or for ensuring loyalty. (Technology quest completed with success, Directorial Russia adopts “Kompromat and modern blackmail” for no additional cost, Directorial Russia losses: -1.84 HC, -3.02 IC, -4.44 EC, -1.12 MC)
Booming cultural center with well-established fur industry and access to foreign markets.
Where the sea doesn’t freeze
1892: Growth of the White Sea commerce and commodity turnover with Scandinavia has created a high demand for modern port facilities that are accessible year-round. The problem is most of the White Sea coast is covered by ice throughout winter months, making the existing ports of Arkhangelsk. Severodvinsk, and Kem useless for that purpose. A project exists of expanding the little fishing town of Kola located on the northern tip of the Kola peninsula that doesn’t freeze in winter, but that project would also require construction of a Transkarelian railway, connecting the port to the Russian heartland via a stable land route. The Admiralty has also expressed its interest in the affair, arguing that not only the merchant marine, but also the Russian fleet could benefit from a year-round access to the Arctic Ocean.
Q1-Q2 1893: Russian (primarily Siberian and especially Pomor) corporations invested heavily into the Kola port infrastructure and a railway to connect the new year-round export gateway to Saint-Petersburg. The port construction was completed with record speed, months ahead of contractual obligations, and only a few sections of the Transkarelian Railway are still pending to be delivered. (Regional quest progress: 96.43%, Directorial Russia losses: -1.6 HC, -0.36 IC, -3.86 EC, -2.95 MC)
Q3 1893: Rushing to complete the construction of the first year-round Arctic port before the sea got covered by ice, Russian construction companies shifted their deadlines to October 1, 1893. That expectation was met almost to the day, as completion of the Transkarelian Railway put the last piece of the puzzle in its place. With Kola harbor open to military and merchant shipping, the region experience a great growth bost, and Directorial Russia has gained a way to project power across the Northern Atlantic. (Regional quest completed with success, region Northern Russia gains +15 EC, +10 MC, Regional Growth Fluctuation +2.25%, Directorial Russia losses: -2.6 HC, -0.58 IC, -6.44 EC, -5.88 MC)
White Sea-Baltic Canal
Q3 1893: The entire naval history of Russia consists of overcoming its natural geographic challenges, including lack of steady oceanic access and significant separation of fleets between several inner seas. As the port of Kola has helped to overcome yet another limitation placed on the Russian navy and merchant marine by the very weather of the land, more and more investors and Admiralty officers are starting to put forward yet another infrastructure project designed to help the nation with trade and power projection. The White Sea-Baltic Canal is supposed to connect the White Sea of the Arctic Ocean to the Baltic Sea, going through a sequence of lakes: the Vygozero, the Onega, and the Ladoga. Not only could it boost the region’s prosperity by letting Pomor traders gain better access to Northern European markets, but it could also allow the Russian Arctic and Baltic fleets transfer their ships (albeit of smaller displacement) between their water areas quicker, cheaper, and with minimum risk.
The New Land
1892: The Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya (lit. “New Land”) was known to Novgorodian seal hunters since the 11th century, but it wasn’t until the Age of Discoveries that that territory became seriously claimed by major powers in the region, ranging from England to the Netherlands to Norway. In order to claim that territory for Russia, a group of Nenets polar deer herders was resettled on the archipelago in the 1870, and for the time being that Arctic territory was forgotten. Very recently, however, it all changed, because a geologic expedition sponsored by a newly rich Pomor merchant family has discovered large deposits of copper, lead, and zinc on the southern island. Now it appears that money may start to flow to this hostile, frozen lands, the Nenets villagers are the ones to benefit from the accommodation and guidance they could give to anyone resourceful enough to make Novaya Zemlya a mining island.
1890: A bizarre occurrence took place in Saint-Petersburg and was covered in most of local yellow press. A mediocre official was discovered in a barber shop in the most disturbed state of mind and with mutilated face. He was insisting that his nose had turned into a real person, walked away from him, and even started a career in Republican administration. While the man’s nose was indeed missing with few signs of a surgery, his story is agreed to be ludicrous. The poor gent is believed to either be either an addict of a synthetic North-German narcotic that recently has flooded the port city’s black market, or, maybe, a victim of a mysterious illegal surgery experiment. Either way, the story’s got a lot of visibility among voters and can be easily spun one way or another.
Fast-growing and populous infrastructure hub of Russia, with well-developed riverine transport, strong agriculture, and up-and-coming industrial sector.
1890: Volga Tatars, Chuvash, and Bashkirs have recently benefitted from the policy of religious and economic tolerance introduced by the Directorial Assembly in the late 1850s. However, all three groups and local political lobbies representing them have been clashing over economic and territorial disputes along the Volga river. The Bashkir families enjoy a lot of influence in the Directorial cavalry and are primary horse producers for military and farming. The Tatars dominate oil production and have recently started bringing a lot of heavy industry to the city of Kazan. The Chuvash lobby is the weakest one, representing agriculture and honey production. Recently, a lot of Directorial Assembly members have received advances from either of the three groups in exchange for federal lobbying.
1892: In an effort to gradually put down the old quarrels, intercommunal mediation courts were established with impartial judges presiding over them. This endeavor started producing great results, although, not surprisingly for anyone, old grudges die slowly. One way or another, it seems like Russia’s attempt to establish peace between all of its ethnic diasporas instead of choosing only one to uplift (as the old Tsarist regime used to do) is working quite well. (Regional quest progress: 44%, Directorial Russia losses: -1.94 HC, -3.27 IC, -5.10 EC, -1.26 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: Directorial auditors have continued to provide mediation in solving economic, territorial, and legal disputes between the ethno-financial cartels along the Volga River valley. It seems like at this point Russia’s non-zero sum game solution is set to dissolve the problem in a safe, diplomatic way that will provide only limited value for the nation in the short term, but will definitely have very positive long-term implications for the multiethnic state. (Regional quest progress: 72.93%, Directorial Russia losses: -2.59 HC, -4.5 IC, -6.8 EC, -1.68 MC)
Q3 1893: Directorial government’s mediation of inter-ethnic disputes among the Tatar, Bashkir, and Chuvash business elites has finally paid off this fall. Complete erasing of tensions was never truly a goal for the Russian courts tasked with handling the issue; rather, the mediation was used to gradually take the heat out of the debate and let all sides settle down to a compromise that doesn’t force the Directorial Assembly to favor one ethnic elite over another. As a result, the Transvolga region is expected to experience a higher growth rate in the upcoming years, becoming a peaceful melting pot of various cultures that for the longest time were deprived of ways to reach financial and cultural comfort. The only downside was that a few fringe groups of disaffected Tatar, Bashkir, and Chuvash businessmen now prefer to deal with their cultural kin from other countries rather than with “holier-than-thou” Russians. (Regional quest completed with success, region Volga-Don Region gains +10 EC, +5 MC, Regional Growth Fluctuation +1.25%, Regional Growth Trend +0.25%, Directorial Russia loses -0.75% Regional Influence, Khiva gains +0.25% Regional Influence, Basmachi State gains +0.25% Regional Influence, Finland gains +0.25% Regional Influence, Directorial Russia losses: -1.84 HC, -3.02 IC, -4.44 EC, -1.12 MC)
Q3 1893: Bahawetdin Wäisev, a Tatar preacher of a Sunni spiritual order of Naqshbandi, first appeared in sight of the Russian police in the early 1880s, when he and his madrasi in Kazan started teaching a mix of Islamic purism and economic socialism to their flock. Back in the day, Russia was still overcoming the consequences of the Second Time of Troubles, and the issue was swept under carpet, but now it seems like his movement, the Wäisi, has gained more traction than the newly-formed Committee of State Security would wish to see. Wäisi emigrants from among the preacher’s first generation of Islamic students are arguably the main inspirers behind the victorious Basmachi Revolution in Kokand and Bukhara. They also possess a lot of influence in the international Ummahist circles, being highly respected in Egypt and having some followers in Turkey and in the Caucasus (although their economic and nationalist views are too progressive for disaffected Turkish and Caucasian villagers). One way or another, now the Wäisi movement needs to either be put down or somehow castrated. Some adventurous KGB experts, meanwhile, go as far as suggest recruiting Wäisi savants and using them as Russia’s agents of influence and espionage in the Middle East.
Grass on the other side
1890: The Don and Terek Cossacks were one of the rural groups that has benefited the most from gradual mechanization of agriculture (tax loopholes in exchange for military service were a great driver in this social group’s success). However, recently a number of clashes took place between the Cossacks and Chechen horse herders along the Terek river, mostly caused by fights over valuable grassland. It’s hard to pinpoint who started the vendetta, but at this point tensions are running high between Directorial Russia and the Caucasian Imamate, which, in turn, is receiving some support from the Sublime Porte.
1891: Russian army was dispatched to guard the Terek border and support local Cossack militia in pushing back any transgressions by Chechen herders. Several low-intensity skirmishes did take places, but not much progress was achieved at solving the problem, since now Cossacks are feeling more emboldened to cross the river and shepherd their cattle on its southern bank. (Regional quest progress: 2.5%, Directorial Russia losses: -3.75 HC, -1.02 IC, -1.83 EC, -1.61 MC)
1892: In an attempt to ease the tensions, Russia’s ambassadors reached out directly to the council of Chechen teips (clans), requesting their cooperation in terms of containing trespassing and border violations. The Chechen response was firm, but generally seen as cooperative, since at least some limited pressure was put on near-border communities to prevent further escalation of tensions. While the attempts to enforce strict border regime through concentration of troops had limited efficiency, this year was seen in a positive light, and chances are that the problem may eventually be resolved in a year or two. (Regional quest progress: 59.64%, Directorial Russia losses: -3.75 HC, -1.02 IC, -1.83 EC, -1.61 MC)
Q3 1893: Russian mountain patrols are starting to become more rare, but the Terek Cossack Host and the local zemstvo (representative municipality) have started to establish closer horizontal relations with Chechen teips, surpassing any intervention from the Russian directorial and Caucasian Imam’s authorities. (Regional quest progress: 87.07%, -2.12 HC, -3.49 IC, -5.12 EC, -1.29 MC)
1892: In the 18th century, a number of Romanov monarchs of German descent (including Catherine the Great herself) encouraged German settlers from Bavaria, Baden, and the Rheinland to immigrate to Russia and settle along the Volga River in an area around the city of Saratov. Now that the problems of the Astrakhani Jewish community (and, by association, of other Jewish shtetls across Russia) have been solved, eyes of the many have turned to the communities of the Wolgadeutsche that draw critique from some circles for preferring to make business with North German and even African Dutch investors instead of Russian businessmen. Defenders of that practice, however, point out that it does help bring a lot of money to the region from all across Europe - money that would otherwise be spent somewhere in Germany. Other than that, the Volga German community is rather well-integrated into the Russian society, and the matter of its assimilation may require a soft and measured approach.
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893
Fast-developing breadbasket of Eastern Europe with a big labor market.
Q3 1893: Directorial Russia’s companies invested heavily into the economy of Ukrainian Volynia, hoping to help the nation’s political effort in the Ukrainian Hetmanate by pushing Hungarian economic influence out of the region. (Regional Growth Fluctuation +1.44%, Directorial Russia gains +2.41% Regional Influence, Hungary loses -2.41% Regional Influence, Directorial Russia losses: -2.08 HC, -0.46 IC, -5.15 EC, -4.7 MC)
Draining the swamp
1892: Expansive Pripyat Marshes lie in the Polesian Lowland, taking up vast tracts of land and standing on the way of any infrastructure project with a potential to connect Russia with Europe. Several projects have been proposed aimed at finally making some use of that inhospitable land. The most ambitious, but most practical project suggests that gradual drainage could help Russia reconquer a lot of arable land. The All-Russian Geographic Society, meanwhile, proposes turning Pripyat Marshes into the first Russian “national park,” a place where wild nature is preserved in its primordial state. That project, they argue, would increase Russia’s prestige in the world and, besides attracting tourists, would also make Russia a destination for many natural scientists. Finally, a few dark minds suggest that, now that Siberia is a formally a separate nation, the marshes could be used as a universal exile location for unwanted types capable of penal servitude. That, of course, would require some basic penal colony infrastructure to be built, and the government would have to come up with criteria for the types of crimes that could qualify for that stereotypically Russian kind of punishment.
Hetman and his mace
1890: The Ukrainian Hetmanate is at the crossroads. A state based on a compromise between urban bourgeoisie and Ukrainian Cossack military, it’s struggling to establish itself as a solid nation with its own geopolitical course. Hetman Oleksander Barvinsky himself is in favor of building a state lead by military staff, similar to Poland or the Sublime Porte. The Rada (the Parliament), on the other hand, consists of Galitsian and Volynian Catholic urban bourgeoisie, and therefore opposes him and argues for an enlightened, modernized monarchy similar to Hungary or Austria-Bavaria. Scientific elites and intelligentsia from Kyiv and the Levoberezhye (the left bank of the Dnieper) region argue that the young nation’s ties with Russia should be exploited more. Whichever way the nation turns, it’s certain major powers will plan an active role in establishing its course.
Q3 1893: A political crisis over Central European diplomatic realignment is sweeping through the Rada. Looking to pull the Hetmanate out of the Hungarian military and economic orbit, Directorial Russia didn’t waste time and money on launching a heavy pro-Russian campaign in Ukrainian press and politics. The message sent to the Ukrainian public was an amiable one: Russia wished not to interfere with Ukrainian independence and territorial integrity, but also wanted to see Ukraine on its side in the War of Hungarian Containment - or, at least, not on the side of Hungarian royal militarists. That message was happily accepted in Kyiv and other areas of the Levoberezhye, but rubbed Hetman Barvinsky himself in the wrong way. Widely seen in Russia and Poland as a Hungarian puppet, Barvinsky quickly put together an ad-hoc counter-campaign, sponsored by Galitsian and Volynian magnates and supported by Hungarian diplomatic corps and agents of influence. The municipal elections of September 1893 have shown that the Russian position is clearly winning, but the Hungarians and their lobbyists continue exercising a lot of influence in the Rada, still. Luckily, unlike the ongoing political crisis of Gran Colombia, the Ukrainian “great game” is bloodless and so far rather civil. (Regional quest progress: 10.52%, Directorial Russia losses: -3.59 HC, -5.91 IC, -8.68 EC, -2.19 MC Ukrainian Hetmanate losses: -2 HC, -3.39 IC, -5.65 EC, -0.07 MC, Hungary losses: -2.79 HC, -3.7 IC, -5.77 EC, -1.09 MC)
1891: Ukrainian national revival is a newly found phenomenon that is sweeping through the Hetmanate and Malorossian provinces of Directorial Russia. One of the key features of this artistic and social movement of local intelligentsia is fascination with Ukrainian peasantry, or Chlopomania (lit. “Peasant-mania”). City painters and poets, journalists and writers travel all the way to the countryside to breathe in the serene spirit of hromadas (Ukrainian village communities). While some find the intellectuals’ fascination with romanticized peasantry dangerous or pervert, others think it could help establish closer ties between the city and the village across the entire region.
North Black Sea Region
Fast-developing gateway to Black Sea trade and an export hub of Russian and Ukrainian agricultural goods.
Q3 1893: Looking to get rid of Hungarian economic influence in this region critical for Russian commercial export and for Russia’s ongoing war against Hungary itself, Directorial Prolocutor Pavel Milyukov persuaded key oppositional oligarchs, including Karl Bure (the owner of the Baltic Clockwork Trading House), to invest heavily into the Moldavian and Bessarabian markets, ridding them of Hungarian competitors. (Regional Growth Fluctuation +2.24%, Directorial Russia gains +3.73% Regional Influence, Hungary loses -3.73% Regional Influence, Directorial Russia losses: -1.91 HC, -0.43 IC, -4.72 EC, -4.31 MC)
Seamen left behind
1890: The city of Aqyar, previously known as Sevastopol, used to be the main military base of the Russian Black Sea fleet before the Ottoman takeover of Crimea in the late 1850s. Since then, it’s become a key base for the Sublime Porte’s naval capabilities in the Black Sea. Local authorities, however, are growing concerned over the presence of a big (albeit aging) Russian community in the city. Many Russian seamen and their families never relocated to the mainland and now, as some Turkish secret agents argue, could serve as a pro-Russian spy nets overlooking one of the key military harbors of the Porte.
Loyalty and representation
1890: Ever since then-Imperial Russia was pushed back out of Crimea, the Turkish authorities have been providing significant support to the local population of Crimean Tatars. This year, however, local Mejlis (the Assembly of Elders) has surprisingly voted for Crimean independence or significant autonomy (although even the hottest heads support an alliance with the Sublime Porte). It seems like the Crimean Tatars feel underrepresented in the Grand Divan, as no visiers or pashas of Crimean descent are there to lobby the proud people’s interests. What’s worse, the Crimean Tatars have not produced a magistrate or officer high-ranking enough to be quickly promoted to hold a seat in the Grand Divan. For now, the tensions stay pretty low, but the situation may escalate in upcoming years.
1890: The port city of Odessa has been enjoying a status of the main Russian Black Sea port ever since the loss of Sevastopol, with most of Russian agricultural supplies being exported through it. A majority Jewish city, Odessa is quickly growing into an unlikely cultural jewel of Eastern Europe, a center of unusual new music, writing, theater, and art. On the other hand, its libertarian culture and the grow-rich-overnight economy is turning it into a den of corruption, gambling, and illegal information brokerage. Jewish, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Greek, Turkish, and Gipsy gangs fight for their clandestine control over the booming beautiful city, and the violence is quickly spinning out of control.
Q1-Q2 1893: Despite their hands-off approach to most of state governance aspects, Directorial Russian authorities have been consistently displaying their dedication to strict principles of law and order. This year, the dispatched national police, combined with investigative teams of the newly formed Komitet Gosudarstvenoy Bezopasnosti (Committee of State Security) to address the issues of organized crime and embezzlement in the city of Odessa. KGB detectives earned a good name among their less sophisticated colleagues at that, cracking down upon the Jewish mob led by the infamous Venyamin “Benya” Krik, nicknamed Korol (the King). After Benya Krik’s lightning ascent and horrid end, several other gangs stepped into the power vacuum created by the collapse of the King’s criminal empire. Still, experts think that the dark days of Odessa may be closer to their end than it appears if one were to read local periodicals. (Regional quest progress: 66.07%, Directorial Russia losses: -1.03 HC, -1.8 IC, -2.72 EC, -0.67 MC)
Q3 1893: Once Benya Krik’s underworld empire collapsed, the rest of the snake pit soon followed. The Committee of State Security made sure to crack down upon any remaining gang that attempted to use Korol’s demise and the subsequent power vacuum to partition the city. Russian, Greek, Turkish, and Georgian gangs were quickly mopped up, followed by the most well-established of all, the Gipsy-Romanian cartel that was, according to rumors, connected to Hungarian intelligence. One way or another, once criminal syndicates were broken down, a city-wide law enforcement reform soon followed, turning “the Gem of the Black Sea” into a safe and orderly metropolis. (Regional quest completed with success, region North Black Sea Region gains +10 EC, +1.75 Regional Growth Fluctuation, Directorial Russia gains +6.27% Regional Influence, Hungary loses -6.27% Regional Influence, Directorial Russia losses: -1.84 HC, -3.02 IC, -4.44 EC, -1.12 MC)
Place of the Gagauz
Q3 1893: Russian imperialism has always had a messianic taste to it, and even the woes of the Second Time of Troubles couldn’t fully cure the Russian society of its fixation on bringing its own sense of justice and order to the world (regardless of how false and corrupt that vision truly was). Now, the War of Hungarian Containment has brought with it resurrection of the Russian national spirit, but with a new messianic twist. The notion that Russia should be not a conquering empire, but a “haven of peoples” was spearheaded in a brilliant (and, as some claim, alcohol-infused) speech by Directorial Prolocutor Pavel Milyukov himself. First among these welcomed refugees are Southern Slavs, increasingly seen in Russian society as betrayed brothers, mostly due to a guilt complex of Directorial Russia staying out of the Great Balkan War. While vague discussions about relocation of Serbs are ongoing, a similar offer was made for accepting Bulgar emigrants to Russia. That offer has much more specificity to it, thanks to a Bulgar-populated territory already being present in Russia. A small enclave of Gagauzia exists in the very west of the Russian-held Black Sea shore, huddled between the Dniester River in the east, Transdnistrian province of the Ukrainian Hetmanate in the north and the Moldavian duchy of the Romanian Domnate in the west. Since the Russo-Turkish Wars of the 18th century, Gagauzia and southern Bessarabia host a big Bulgarian diaspora that has been very active in support of their Balkan brothers during the Great Balkan War. However, just as with any patch of land in the vicinity of the Balkan peninsula, not everything is so simple with Gagauzia. The land derives its name from the Gagauz people, descendents of Seljuk and Oghuz Turks that settled in the region in the 13th century. Despite being Orthodox Christians and also supporting Russian armies during their wars with the Ottoman Empire in the past, Gagauz people are afraid that a mass Bulgarian migration could turn them into an ethnic minority in the land they call Gagaúz Yerí (lit. “place for the Gagauz”). Besides, they are afraid that some of the more disgruntled refugees may choose to make distinction between Turkish Muslims of the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Orthodox Christians of Bessarabia, potentially leading to tensions and pogroms. One way or another, the idea of creating a Bulgarian autonomous province on the Black Sea shore was met with a lot of enthusiasm by Bulgarian nationalists across the world, and it’s up to the Russian directorial government to resolve (or ignore) any complications.
Fast-developing center of European education and science, hitting above its weight in economic sector.
Path for the lion
1890: Swedish Riksdag (the Parliament) grows increasingly uncomfortable with how much the nations spends on its needless pretense at Scandinavian domination. Instead, the deputies would rather see it develop a more vibrant economy akin to the bustling market of the North German Federation. Current king Oscar II is more supportive of a strong, yet old-fashioned monarchy, which is supported by his close dynastic ties with princes of Austria-Bavaria. His primary successor Prince Carl, however, is an energetic military man who views the British Commonwealth as a stronger, dynamic alternative to the venerable Swedish regime. The political struggle stays rather contained, but presents a temptation to major powers to intervene.
1891: A strong anti-war campaign with clear anti-British undertone has started in Swedish press, arguing for a quick change of course in economy and foreign policy and generally sympathising with the interests of Central European and particularly North-German capital. This has forced Swedish secret police open a costly investigation into the funding of these publications. (Regional quest progress: -28.48%, ??? losses: -4.03 HC, -7.3 IC, -10.72 EC, -3.16 MC, Sweden losses: -3.48 HC, -4.09 IC, -6.45 EC, -0.59 MC)
Meanwhile, Great Britain itself has continued posturing as the main ally of Crown Prince Carl himself, openly supporting his faction at the court and wooing the prince himself to their side, thus somewhat diminishing (but not cancelling out) the effect the anti-British press campaign had on the Swedish public opinion. (Regional quest progress: 7.69%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -2.11 HC, -2.68 IC, -4.50 EC, -1.46 MC)
1892: Just like in Denmark-Norway, the British efforts to influence regional politics came to a sharp stop, leaving observers and foreign informants guessing if there was any behind-the-scene agreement between them and the new regional powerhouse, the North-German Federation. The latter one put little effort into hiding its involvement into the lobbying campaign that seeked to tarnish the image of the British Lord-Protector and his government in the eyes of the Swedish royal family and its supporters. Even though the Royal Gendarmerie attempted to limit foreign involvement into the business of the Swedish royalty and Swedish politics in general, little could be done to stop the well-orchestrated and well-funded North-German political action. It appears that Sweden stands barely a year away from falling into the North-German geopolitical effort, just like Denmark-Norway did this year. (Regional quest progress: 87%, North German Federation losses: -3.45 HC, -6.27 IC, -9.2 EC, -2.72 MC, Sweden losses: -5.56 HC, -6.55 IC, -10.31 EC, -0.94 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: To the North-German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, winter-spring of 1893 looked like the time to finally bring Sweden into the Federation’s sphere of influence once and for all. North-German diplomatic and propaganda campaign across Sweden continued at a normal pace, and it looked like the expectations were going to be met. Until on May 7 the NGF’s leading ambassador made a gaffe in an interview to a Stockholm newspaper, hailing North-German Federal government’s recent support of Prussian aristocratic militarism, apparently forgetting that the main selling point of the entire pro-North-German campaign in press was that the Federation was a peaceful, economics-minded soft power in the region, as opposed to British stratocrats. This, of course, disappointed Swedish liberals and failed to attract Swedish jingoists, who were still displeased with the Federation’s last year propaganda. Using that chance, Swedish press and pro-stratocratic factions in the royalty threw all they could against the liberals, but all they achieved was delaying what seems to be inevitable. (Regional quest progress: 98.57%, North German Federation losses: -1.65 HC, -3.37 IC, -4.41 EC, -1.23 MC, Sweden losses: -7.49 HC, -8.81 IC, -13.88 EC, -1.27 MC)
Q3 1893: Hoping to erase the negative impression left by the last year’s diplomatic gaffe, the North-German diplomatic corps made sure to distribute talking points memo, outlining the things to say and not to say to the press, Swedish colleagues, and even relatives. Playing it safe has payed off, and by fall of 1893 elections to the Riksdag brought Swedish liberals to dominating the cabinet, effectively pulling the kingdom into the NGF’s sphere of influence. An anglophile Prince Carl lost his authority within the royal family and retreated to his winter mansion in Malmö to fume over his failure, while some disgruntled reactionaries (most of them, experienced army and naval officers) chose to leave Sweden to serve the British Crown instead. (Regional quest completed with mixed results, region Scandinavia gains -5 IC, +5 EC, North German Federation gains +4% Regional Influence, British Royal Commonwealth loses -4% Regional Influence, region England-Wales gains +5 IC, North German Federation losses: -1.41 HC, -2.77 IC, -3.75 EC, -1.05 MC)
The Barley Question
Q3 1893: It’s one thing to be a liberal when you’re a well-off urbanite and quite another if you’re a poor farmer trying to make-do by growing wheat in one of the northernmost agricultural belts on the planet. Sweden’s inclusion into the North-German economic sphere was beneficial for many, but it has flooded the Swedish home market with extremely cheap German barley. For city-dwellers, it was a welcomed change, but Swedish farmers are facing a serious financial trouble, unable to compete with the behemoth of North-German mechanized agriculture. As rural areas gradually devolve into poverty, a conservative Lantmanna Party steps up its agitation for protectionist measures in the Riskdag. Known as a party of rich landowners and poor villagers, the Lantmanna faction argues for installing a net of import taxes for a variety of foreign (and especially North-German) goods, with barley being barely the face of this legislative campaign. For North-German businesses with ties in Sweden, such a measure would be unacceptable, since it would defeat the very purpose of pulling Sweden into the NGF’s sphere of influence, at least in their eyes. It appears that the Barley Question has become the very first test for the North-German economic dominance over the Scandinavian peninsula.
1890: A new academic movement is being spearheaded by a group of social-utopist agitators in Helsinki and Turku. They argue for creation of a transnational state of Baltoscandia, including the territories of Finland, Sweden, Baltic Duchies, Prussia, and Danish islands. As a pan-Scandinavian entity, they say, such union would prevent any future wars between Baltic nations and would help them act more independently on the world stage. Some of these sentiments were positively accepted by disillusioned workers and frustrated students who view themselves as hostages in the prolonged stand-off between Sweden and its neighbours. Conservatives, however, call such ideas traitorous to the spirit of national unity, and reactionaries also point out at the destruction of the social hierarchy such transformation would bring. As dreamy as that fringe idea is, it keeps shaping social debate among Scandinavian intellectuals.
1891: Social-utopists and social-communards across all Finland and the Baltic Duchies were actively engaged in Pan-Baltoscandian agitation, probably funded by some foreign source. It seems like the public discourse is progressing rather quickly, and the topic’s ideological base is shifting to the left. (Regional quest progress: 32.21%, ??? losses: -0.91 HC, -1.41 IC, -2.07 EC, -0.67 MC)
At the same time, Russian Foreign Ministry was not interested in letting go of cordial relationship with Finland in favor of allowing a creation of a new Baltoscandian nation which elites it would be unable to control. Therefore, the Russians chose to encourage the opposite trend, lobbying for survival of an independent Finnish national identity (under a Russian wing, of course). To demonstrate the benefits of staying a sovereign, but pro-Russian nation, they invited Finnish delegates to Moscow to demonstrate the venerable “Ilya Muromets” analytical engine, hinting that should the new calculating machine be built in Saint-Petersburg, parts of its processing power could be offered to Russian Baltic allies. This sort of persuasion, combined with lavish banquets, went a long way to tie Finnish political elites to Russia, although the political situation around the proposed national unification of Baltoscandian nations is still fluid. (Regional quest progress: -50.86%, -0.36 HC, -0.61 IC, -0.95 EC, -0.23 MC)
The land where grass is greener
1892: As British Canada is becoming an increasingly hostile place for anyone not completely siding with the British military rule, hundreds of families try to escape it for more welcoming lands. While more left-leaning people find refuge in the Union of North America, those opposed to the “populist hydra” head for the Danish colony of Greenland. A harsh land with limited self-rule, Greenland is having an ambivalent impact from that influx of English-speaking immigrants. On the one hand, this provides the Landstings (local twin parliament) with the demographic resources to continue exploring, settling, and developing the large icy island. On the other hand, given the current pace of migration, Kalaallisut-speaking locals are about to be outnumbered by the Canadian newcomers unfamiliar with the Greenlandic way of life, which greatly disturbs the colony’s stability and economy. Whether this wave of immigration will become a blessing or a curse for Greenland remains to be seen.
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893
Slowly-developing, ethnically divided backwaters of the British Isle.
Our day will come!
1890: The Irish rabble is at it again! Reports of Irish nationalist terror attacks against the Protectorate’s officers and administrators are widespread all across the island. Partially in the expectation of disloyalty, Irish youth has been excluded from conscription, and now it seems that an ever greater percentage of the Irish population is becoming virtually “invisible” for British economy and civil life. The course of action against this resurgent threat is yet to be determined.
1891: An unknown foreign power started agitating Irish nationalists and push them to more radical leftist ideas. Luckily for the British authorities, foreign agents failed to support the underground movement with anything but ideological literature and pamphlets, but even that little intervention seems to have aggravated the problem to a degree, making it harder for the British authorities to control the region. (Regional quest progress: -12.29%, ??? losses: -1.37 HC, -2.11 IC, -3.11 EC, -1 MC)
1892: Leftist agitation in Ireland quickly raised a red flag for the British counterintelligence, so several independent counter-espionage and anti-insurgency teams were deployed to Ireland, along with several newly trained Kingsmen (mostly, green novices). There, they put a good fight not only to the foreign agents (who were suspected to be of French origin, although no distinct proof emerged), but also to the numerous Irish nationalist cells, who were this time armed by their continental sponsors. By the end of the year, Ireland was deeply engulfed in the flames of this clandestine war, which British Intelligence seemed to be slowly turning to their favor. (Regional quest progress: 15.9%, British Royal Commonwealth: -3.17 HC, -4.88 IC, -7.21 EC, -2.32 MC, ??? losses: -2.11 HC, -3.26 IC, -4.8 EC, -1.55 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: British agents continue uprooting Irish nationalist and leftist terrorism slowly and methodically, at every step facing countering efforts by same continental dark forces. At this rate of engagement, the issue seems to be frozen in a costly stalemate. (Regional quest progress: 17.57%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -5.93 HC, -7.54 IC, -12.66 EC, -4.11 MC, ??? losses: -6.3? HC, -9.7? IC, -14.4? EC, -4.6? MC)
Q3 1893: With the Secret Ward resources being urgently needed on the frontlines of a new war, Ireland was left virtually uncovered by the agency’s counterespionage network. This allowed foreign sponsors of Irish nationalism to continue their work unopposed. Surprisingly, instead of using that opportunity to up the stakes, they made an unexpected shift for more peaceful methods and less nationalist, more labor-conscious tone. Low-key strikes, petitions to the local authorities and peaceful demonstrations became commonplace, alienating some of the experienced crack freedom-fighters that viewed such actions as completely toothless. Despite the walkout of radical nationalists, plenty of progress was made, as ideas of Pan-Gaelic independence are starting to become mainstream on the Emerald Island. (Regional quest progress: 48.81%, ??? losses: -3.6? HC, -5.6? IC, -8.2? EC, -2.6? MC)
1890: A decorated spy of the Secret Ward of the Royal Protectorate residing in his family estate near Edinburgh keeps bringing troubles to the local community. Besides being a heavy drinker and an avid womanizer, the man is infamous for engaging in needlessly risky escapades and at least on two occasions was a target of violent ambushes set against him by mysterious enemies of the Queen and Her Protector. Despite their loyalty to Mother Britannia, the locals are appalled by the amount of harm this servant of the Crown has brought to the earldom. What’s worse, this particular case appears to be just one episode among the countless occasions when such unruly activities involving state agents took place all across Britain. Most experts say it alienates both gentry and commoners, and greatly hurts local economies, especially in usually quiet areas, such as Scotland and Wales.
1892: In order to distract the “loose cannon” agent from damaging civilian property, he (and his colleagues of similar habits) were put back to the service of the Crown, this time in the role of instructors for the new generation of special, even deadlier agents. Of course, having instructors of that kind led to a series of “uncalled incidents” in training locations, but the Protectorate Ward was happy to pay for such kind of damage, as long as Double O’s trainees could outmatch any foreign competitor in the field. On the negative side, this solution did little to compensate British citizens for the damage they suffered from the retired agents’ adventures, which didn’t help their sense of loyalty to the Lord-Protector at all. (Regional quest progress: 45.86%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -1.42 HC, -1.81 IC, -3.04 EC, -0.99 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: The Secret Ward continued working on the thankless job of cleaning up after its unruly agent(s). Awards were offered to those who had suffered from their misadventures, which did shut some mouths, but also created a scandal when a lady who Double O promised to marry (and who claims to carry a child of his) made a public stance that, thanks to local censors, didn’t gain any traction in the national press. All in all, the incident is considered a result of bad luck, and the task keeps dragging on, slowly but surely. (Regional quest progress: 62.29%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -1.11 HC, -1.41 IC, -2.36 EC, -0.77 MC)
The Old Ones
1890: A series of mysterious sightings has been reported around the Loch-Ness lake in Scotland. It all started when villagers and fishers began telling stories of a big monster surfacing amid the lake, something that reporters were quick to denounce as drunken gibberish. But later this year a trustworthy magistrate transferred to the region from Sussex reported to the authorities that some sort of a shadowy cabal of cultists regularly gathers at the lake shore at night. If he were to be believed, the cultists worship an ancient entity known as the Old One, and talk of upcoming events of utterly apocalyptic nature. Sadly, nothing has been heard of the vigilant official ever since, and the entire region has been full of worrisome rumors ever since.
1892: Agents of the Secret Ward were sent to investigate the bizarre reports from the Loch-Ness lake. While the locals proved to be suspiciously tight-lipped about any sect activity, one finding has been made so far. A young assistant detective tried to chase a stray dog that stole his hat and accidentally came across a hidden little dock with an improvised wharf in an abandoned location on the lake shore. As it turned out, a Portuguese inventor of a submergible device for deep water salvage named “bathysphere,” disappointed about his home nation not wishing to invest any money into his project, chose to settle here, far from the smirks of other academics and bureaucrats. Chances are high that it was his deep water boat that people saw in the middle of the lake, mistaking it for a giant lake monster. That, however, doesn’t explain any rumours about delusional sectants who believe in strange old gods. (Regional quest progress: 8.14%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -1.74 HC, -2.21 IC, -3.72 EC, -1.21 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: With the mystery of the “lake monster” being solved (at least, in the minds of more informed and rational experts), the Secret Ward has continued digging into the questions that surround the Cult of the Old Ones and associated disappearances of people. What the agents have managed to discern by now is that some part of the cult revolves around monetary “sacrifices” to a man known as the Starchild, who claims semi-divine descent and who grants his congregation members some sort of godly blessing in a form of white powdery “mana.” That secret man also seems to claim ownership of a highly valuable cryptic journal he calls Necronomicon and forbids even his closest trustees to read or even open. (Regional quest progress: 38.71%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -1.9 HC, -2.41 IC, -4.05 EC, -1.32 MC)
Fast-developing, populous heart of the British Empire, famous for astounding level of scientific activity and education, combined with rich labor market and strong urban and rural economies.
Return of the Great Stink
1890: The Great Stink of 1858 is back to London again! This time, it’s caused not as much by the pollution of the Thames river (although this keeps being a recurring problem), but by the booming industries of the London sprawl combined with aggressive expansion of London Underground trains system and above-ground Gurney steam carriage transportation. Whoever could afford it, have left the city for country houses, but vast majority of the population remains in the suffocating megapolis. With it, the smog has brought unprecedented level of health issues and crime, especially in the working class neighborhoods by the Thames. Most importantly, the London crisis is merely the most noticeable of such events. “The Stinks” have been known to happen on and off in major industrial cities of England for the past decade. Perhaps, it’s time to do something?
Long live the Queen!
1890: Now that the threat of a populist revolution seems to have withdrawn, the Queen and her closest relatives no longer feel that they need the iron-grip “protection” offered by the Lord-Protector himself. Their position is shared by landed gentry that would rather have returned to the time before Lord Wellington altogether. On the other hand, British bankers and industrialists have benefitted greatly from the protectionist (no pun intended) policies of the current stratocratic administration. And as for the officer corps, it is split between their loyalty to the Queen and their appreciation of the power and privileges they enjoy under the Protectorate’s militarist practices. Meanwhile, the working class and the peasantry keeps growing ever more alienated from all three of the groups. And the colonies? Nobody even asks them.
1890: As cheap labor from the British colonies arrives to the British Isles for the wages unthinkable in their homelands, the heart of the Royal Commonwealth starts facing a true problem with a severe surplus of work-eligible men and, as a result of it, unemployment. Workhouses and steep increase in the size of the army and navy were designed to mitigate these issues, but the country is still dealing with huge masses of unemployed men who don’t even get to participate in the “shadow economy,” because of how effectively the Secret Ward has been cracking up on underworld activities. As of today, it looks like a crisis waiting to happen.
We don’t want to fight, but by Jingo if we do
1892: After the Atlantic War and subsequent national crisis, it seemed like it would be a long time before British public would be acceptive of thoughts of another war again. However, the last year’s Sao Tome Incident near the Zaire coast, combined with ethnic purges of English settlers in the Cape, has reversed that pacifist trend. Atlantic War veterans that yesterday were praying in churches for eternal peace under the sun, now march in London singing “By Jingo” and decrying the “sinkers of the Challenger and rapists of Capetown.” The stratocratic nation of British authority makes the Lord-Protector formally immune for any, even most passionate, display of public demand, but it seems to be harder than ever to dissuade the nation from yet another foreign entanglement.
Q1-Q2 1893: The Boer campaign against the British shipping around the Cape of Good Hope stirred even more trouble in the Albion’s politics, shifting popular mood further to the right. The Second Lower Canada and Second Red River Rebellions didn’t help the case, as more and more hawkish demagogues demand that the Lord-Protector actually does what he volunteered for and “protects” the Royal Commonwealth and its current and former subjects from Celtic and Canadian lawlessness, most importantly, from the perfidy of the Boers. Drastic actions may be required to display British actions as just the right type of response to all of the threats the nation is facing across the globe, and effective retaliation could please a lot of “hawks” and help the Lord-Protector regain popular support. (Regional quest progress: -30%)
Kingsmen and license-to-kill agents
1891: A series of attire shops for gentlemen, named Kingsman, started to appear across Britain, visited by the most fine-looking dandies of Old Lady England. The business doesn’t seem to be booming, with the stores being visited mostly by the same people over and over again (not always in their best disposition or physical health), but the venture, nonetheless, persists. Some strange rumors swirl around the nature of these mystery visitors, with some saying these are a new breed of special agents of Her Majesty and Her Lord-Protector, specialized in unique, high-importance missions that justify significant collateral damage. (Technology quest progress: 7.83%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -2.6 HC, -3.31 IC, -5.56 EC, -1.8 MC)
1892: Training of enough new license-to-kill agents to fill all critical espionage roles across the globe has proven to be a tough task, partially because of the high mortality rate at, apparently, highly volatile and dangerous “examination process.” Royal supervisors of the program point out that a true progress at creating such a unique type of special agents is achievable only through a more concerted state effort at finding prospective candidates and outfitting them to match their unique set of skills.(Technology quest progress: 14.55%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -2.85 HC, -3.62 IC, -6.08 EC, -1.97 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: Besieged on all fronts, the British government has finally recognized the crucial importance of having an edge over the Crown’s and Protectorate’s enemies in the field of espionage. Huge progress was made this year over the “Kingsmen” program, and if the investments remain the same, experts predict that license-to-kill agents will be able to serve the Queen and Her Protector before the end of this year. (Technology quest progress: 68.02%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -3.01 HC, -3.82 IC, -6.42 EC, -2.08 MC)
Q3 1893: Old Mother Britain is in perils once again, and at this time, like in no other, does the monarchy needs its Kingsmen. The long and trouble superspy training program has completed its long a troubled course this fall, and first license-to-kill agents are soon to deliver their deadly message to the enemies of the Queen. (Technology quest completed with success, British Royal Commonwealth adopts “Kingsmen and license-to-kill agents” for no additional cost, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -2.85 HC, -3.62 IC, -6.08 EC, -1.97 MC)
Blowlamp brazing and soldering
1892: Many in the British Industry Ward recognize that the Commonwealth, while still a powerful industrial nation, is starting to fall behind in terms of technology and economic output, when compared to some more dynamic nations. As a mean to combat it, a series of research projects has been initiated, concentrated on creation of fuel-burning tools for applying flame and heat to various types of metalworking, useful in construction and engineering. (Technology quest progress: 26.75%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -2.1 HC, -0.55 IC, -5.64 EC, -4.73 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: The Industry Ward continues heavily concentrating its resources on improving tools and methods of brazing and soldering, hoping to finish this industry-critical project by Christmas. (Technology quest progress: 90.21%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -1.05 HC, -0.28 IC, -2.82 EC, -2.36 MC)
Q3 1893: As the nation plunged into the heat of the Second Atlantic War, the first victory arrive from the home front. The Industry Ward proudly announced that blowlamp brazing and soldering practices and tools are now fully integrated into British industrial practices, showcasing a few examples of that extremely useful construction technology. (Technology quest completed with success, British Royal Commonwealth adopts “Blowlamp brazing and soldering” for no additional cost, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -2.1 HC, -0.55 IC, -5.64 EC, -4.73 MC)
Fast-developing region with moderately strong economy.
1890: Thanks to the British support, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands has been enjoying a period of resurgence of its colonial ambitions. However, recently it has become obvious to everyone but Director-Admiral Willem Jan Derx that the Kingdom’s resources are overstretched, while its home provinces are suffering from a prolonged economic and demographic stagnation. While North Germany and France are preparing to make the Netherlands their economic playground, the Kingdom’s British “protectors” are looking increasingly incapable to help the country’s continental economy grow. It seems like a brutal struggle for de-facto economic control over the region is brewing.
1890: The idea of reconquering land from the sea through construction of dams was always a popular one in the Netherlands. Recently, however, several of such dams, mostly the older ones, have started leaking, plagued by years of neglect brought by redirection of most of the nation’s limited resources to supporting its colonial empire. So desperate is the Kingdom’s Ministry of the Interior that an open tender is offered to pretty much any enterprise that could assist the Netherlands in preventing a catastrophe and, if everything goes well, reconquering more land from the sea.
1891: North-German enterprises stepped in to provide some repairs and extensions to the levies systems in Friesland, hoping to gain a foothold in the region. Simultaneously, French “engineering commissions” tried to offer their services to the Dutch, hoping to outcompete the Germans thanks to their state support and centralized planning. That, in turn, prompted the Commerce Ward of Great Britain to concentrate its economic efforts on countering Communard creeping economic expansion. This three-way competition resulted in a series of hotly disputed tenders and lobbying wars, followed by an ugly rat race toward completion of the project won by each side. Out of all sides, the North-Germans seem to be the most successful, both thanks to their superb engineering expertise and an attractive, market-friendly approach to competition. Either way, while the three major powers compete, the problem solving is progressing at a slower speed than it could if some agreement was reached by all parties. (Regional quest progress: 21.29%, North German Federation losses: -2.06 HC, -0.46 IC, -4.93 EC, -4.56 MC, British Royal Commonwealth: -1.82 HC, -0.48 IC, -4.87 EC, -4.08 MC, Communard France losses: -9.67 HC, -2.34 IC, -26.2 EC, -24.1 MC)
1892: Through some back channels, the Communard leadership learned about negotiations that took place between Great Britain and North Germany, looking for an economic “ceasefire” over competition in the Netherlands. That made the French falsely assume that British and North-German companies would not attempt to do business in the Low Countries. The Communards chose to use that assumed vacuum to become the main contractors for the Dutch dam fixing project, thus gaining a strong economic foothold in otherwise ideologically hostile region. North-German competition was indeed gone, but British companies still put a good fight over each tender and contract, stealing some of them for themselves. Enjoying quite a lot of support from the Dutch political lobby, the Brits were, however, outmatched both in technology and materiel, so the war for the economic domination of the Dutch dam infrastructure continues with unlikely French superiority. (Regional quest progress: 63.21%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -4.09 HC, -1.07 IC, -10.95 EC, -9.18 MC, Communard France losses: -2.76 HC, -0.67 IC, -7.48 EC, -6.88 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: With both North Germany and Great Britain concentrating on expanding their own industries at home, French construction commissions were the only ones left to work on dam construction in the Netherlands. Most of French industrial capacities were also dedicated to war efforts, but even the remaining commissions were expected to get significantly ahead of their British and North-German competitors. However, to many people’s disappointment, Dutch quality control engineers found a big variety of defects in French construction, an alarmingly high rate of them serious enough to cause the collapse of entire segments of the dam system. French contractors at first dismissed these defects, then tried to downplay their severity, but eventually were forced to recognize them under contractual obligations and promised to re-do most of the work and punish all culprits. Dutch nationalists and royalists hurried to decry foul play on the French part, claiming that the defects were acts of Communard sabotage, but cooler heads eventually prevailed. Some small progress was achieved since then, but mostly the season was considered a lost opportunity for French economic expansion. (Regional quest progress: 64.64%, Communard France losses: -1.11 HC, -0.27 IC, -3 EC, -2.76 MC)
The Belgian question
1890: In the 1830s, the Belgian Revolution was put down by the British and French royal regimes that were spooked by the partial success of the Russian Decembrist Uprising. Since then, the lands of Flanders and Wallonia have recovered their economic significance for the Kingdom, but never truly grew to like the royal Dutch authorities. Nowadays, the idea of one day joining the North-German Federation as its semi-autonomous region is becoming increasingly popular among the Flemish, while the Walloons seem to be swayed by French Communard propaganda. Decisive actions are needed before the Belgian Revolution repeats itself.
1891: Radical leftist teachings started to dominate the Belgian nationalist discourse, acting as a catalysis for the Pan-Belgian national identity that is being increasingly shared by both the Flemish and Walloon extremists. The Dutch political police was quick to react to this opportunity to prove themselves to the crown, engaging foreign agents in a war of arrests and assassinations, in which, however, their technical and organizational backwardness was exposed. Either way, the Belgian question is a long way from being solved. (Regional quest progress: -0.76%, Netherlands losses: -1.57 HC, -2.45 IC, -3.70 EC, -0.39 MC, ??? losses: -2.1 HC, -3.24 IC, -4.78 EC, -1.54 MC)
1892: Foreign agitation and even some low-scale smuggling of weapons continued this year, especially in Walloon-populated areas. However, both the Dutch Royal police and the foreign espionage network seemed to be locked in a stalemate, incapable to achieve a significant advance either in destabilization of Wallonia or in uprooting any separatism. (Regional quest progress: 0.86%, ??? losses: -1.5 HC, -2.31 IC, -3.41 EC, -1.1 MC, Netherlands losses: -1.18 HC, -1.84 IC, -2.77 EC, -0.29 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: Nationalist agitation has continued among the Walloons, although it took a drastic turn from their Belgian identity toward the French one. This and the general intensification of foreign propaganda has made the first qualitative change in the Belgian Question, because the Royal Dutch secret police found itself outsmarted and outnumbered in its attempts to contain the that development. A small consolation for the Dutch, though, was the fact that the agitators’ emphasis on French Walloon identity pushed Flemish nationalists into the Dutch camp. (Regional quest progress: 28.67%, Netherlands losses: -3.14 HC, -4.9 IC, -7.39 EC, -0.77 MC, ??? losses: -0.9? HC, -1.3? IC, -2.0? EC, -0.6? MC)
Q3 1893: Stirring of troubles in Belgium continued throughout late summer and early fall of 1893, but this time agitation focus shifted once again from Pan-French identity to socialist and social-revolutionary propaganda. This continuous inconsistency finally started to derail the entire movement, as various Belgian nationalist, Pan-French, regionalist, and radical socialist factions sponsored by the same foreign source, started to clash over a big variety of subjects. This helped the Dutch Royal police to start cracking on the Belgian underground, slowly stabilizing the situation. (Regional quest progress: 25.52%, Netherlands losses: -2 HC, -3.16 IC, -5.16 EC, -0.48 MC, ??? losses: -2.5? HC, -4.?? IC, -5.9? EC, -1.9? MC)
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893Baltia-Prussia
Fast-developing, lightly populated and quiet region with highly literate population, acting as a connecting hub between the Russian and German markets.
Lithuanian national awakening
1892: Lithuania is not only the most populous of the Baltic Duchies, but also the one with the most prominent history. Throughout the last century and a half, however, it was somewhat reduced in its national self-awareness, partially caused by the fact that the political and academic life of the Grand Duchy was almost entirely monopolized by members of the German and Russian diasporas. Now, it seems, the Lithuanian national spirit is being resurrected, as seen in art and political publications. One part of the movement views the United Baltic Duchies as an artificially created pan-national entity that should agree to Lithuanian leadership if it wishes to achieve true unity and greatness. More radical and militant student groups, instead, romanticize Lithuanian past as a one-time Eastern-European powerhouse and the leader of the Rzech Pospolita, arguing that Lithuania should abandon the Baltic Duchies and seek to align itself to proud and ferociously independent Poland. Finally, a minority group is seeking simple independence, ideally as a neutral confederative republic akin to Switzerland.
Legend of the Bear-slayer
1892: An artistic and literary movement known as the “Young Latvians” is drawing attention of European critics for their bold interpretations of Latvian national folklore and mythology. Particularly notable among them is an epic poem “Lāčplēsis,” dedicated to the life and deeds of a Medieval Latvian folk hero. Re-interpreted as an avant-guarde opera, contemporary ballet, and a revolutionary kinotropic clack-animation film, the Legend of the Bear-slayer is a visionary depiction of the future of arts, a mass culture phenomenon driven by bold interpretations of the classics and popular demand for highly technological special effects. Now it gives a chance to any interested powers to adopt to this new wave of popular art and research it on the Latvian example.
Q3 1893: Russia has a long history of employing foreigners for its services, and now this trend has spread to the artistic and cultural sphere. The phenomenon of the Young Latvians’ contemporary art has attracted plenty of attention from Russian arts critics, as well as entrepreneurs who wanted to monetize Latvian advancements in kinotropy and clack-animation on the Russian market. The Baltic Duchies’ own producers attempted to protect their talent pool, but were ultimately no match for the growing leviathan of Russian entertainment industry, which only now has had a taste for kinotropic films. In a series of negotiations and business deals, Russia’s kinotropic studios have secured most of the Latvian talent pool for themselves, although it has probably benefited the city of Riga and resort town of Jurmala just as much as is did Saint-Petersburg, turning the Baltic coast into the center of world clack-animation. The success of such masterpieces as “Ruslan and Lyudmila” (produced by a Russian Khonzhonkov Studios, based on an epic fantasy poem by Aleksandr Pushkin) and “Daumantas of Pskov” (a historical novella about the life of a Lithuanian-born military leader and medieval ruler of the Russian city of Pskov) has only cemented the Young Latvians’ reputation as the biggest competitors of the Manhattan film industry. (Regional quest completed with full success, region Baltia-Prussia gains +10 IC, +10 EC, Directorial Russia gains +1% Regional Influence, United Baltic Duchies loses -1% Regional Influence, region Northern Russia gains +10 IC, +10 EC, United Baltic Duchies gains +0.25% Regional Influence, Directorial Russia loses -0.25% Regional Influence, Directorial Russia losses: -5.33 HC, -1.8 IC, -13.19 EC, -11.37 MC, United Baltic Duchies losses: -5.68 HC, -1.27 I, -13.23 EC, -8.38 MC)
Estonophiles and estonophobes
Q3 1893: Ever since the times of Teutonian Northern Crusades, the region of Livonia (also known as Livland to the Swedes) was administered by semi-autonomous Livlandic Landtags (Liefländischer Landtag) attended exclusively by German Baltic nobility that aggressively protected its rule to keep German customs, laws, and even language to govern their lives. However, ever since the United Baltic Duchies gained independence from Russia, local Baltic cultures were growing in their social, economic, and political influence. This has brought local ethnicities to dominating administration of all of the duchies, with the sole exception of Livland, and now Landtags have fallen under a political siege. The Livonian German community is split as well, with so-called Estonophiles being in support of promoting and resurrecting the Estonian self-rule and cultural tradition, and Estonophobes standing firmly on the position of Baltic civilizational inferiority to the Germans.
Q1-Q2 1893: Polish-North German relations have been tense for decades, owing mostly to the North-German control of the territory of Pomerelia and the city of Danzig (Gdansk) containing a large Polish and small Kashubian minorities. To surprise of the many, Hungarian adventurism in Eastern and Central Europe somewhat changed that geopolitical trend, helping the Polish state trust German Federal politicians more. Now, a cautious question was brought up to the Council of Savants’ deliberation. If the so-called “Polish corridor” cannot be simply passed along to the Polish national state, at least the Council could provide Pomerelia with a certain degree of municipal autonomy, thus allowing greater Polish economic penetration into the region without any formal change of borders. That would ease Poland’s access to world markets via the Vistula River and the port of Danzig (formally, still fully in North-German hands). In response, Polish leadership would be delighted to establish much closer diplomatic, economic, and even military ties with the Federation, hopefully ending the old rivalry. On the negative side, such a move on the part of the Council of Savants could anger Prussian aristocrats, whose favor it has just won and who continue seeing Pomerelia as Marienwerder, an integral part of West Prussia.
Q3 1893: In a move that surprised many members of the Polish Sejm, the North-German Council of Savants has approached Polish leadership with a proposal to provide Poland with a significant level of cultural and especially economic penetration in the Marienwerder region (particularly along the Vistula river and in Danzig), in exchange for a significant detente in the Polish-North-German relations. This carefully phrased proposal was fully accepted by the Polish side which went on to establish a network of West Slavic lyceums, Sokoly athletic clubs and, of course, Polish-owned riverine transportation businesses and trading companies in Pomerelia and especially in Kashubian lands. Polish efforts, however, suffered from the same problems that hamper the proud nation’s government in general: low funding and all-round unsophistication of methods. That meant that the lion’s share of leg work was done by their North-German colleagues, who have started to cautiously propagate the ideal of mutual benefit of Germano-Polish cooperation in West Prussia. (Regional quest progress: 68.64%, North German Federation losses: -0.65 HC, -1.28 IC, -1.73 EC, -0.49 MC, Poland losses: -1.4 HC, -1.67 IC, -2.57 EC, -0.29 MC)
Fast-developing region with big labor market, booming culture, rich agriculture, and formidable industrial capacity.
Poland is not yet lost!
1890: Ever since regaining its independence in the 1830s, Polish political elites and the general population has been extremely paranoid about the prospects of losing it yet again. Russia, even in its much more democratic form, is still being viewed as a potential threat, especially by the older generation. The North German Federation still holds lands with significant Polish minority. Finally, Hungary is increasingly viewed as a dangerous and arrogant regional rival. In this atmosphere, a West-Slavic nationalist organization called “Sokoly” (lit. “the Falcons”), formally centered around a culture of physical athleticism, has started to breed clubs all across Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia. They advocate a creation of a Pan-Slavic European state similar to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, dissolution of the corrupt and ever-deadlocked Polish Sejm (the Parliament), state censorship in favor of promotion of stricter “Slavic national ideals,” as well as “a stronger hand” of military administration in the affairs of the state. Sokoly are quickly becoming an influential force in Poland, Moravia, and Northern komitats of Hungary.
Q1-Q2 1893: West Slavic nationalism experienced a sudden rise in Hungarian komitats with large Slovak minorities. Terrorist attacks, propaganda campaigns, and blackmailing cases against royal officials have become widespread and daily. Hungarian State Protection Department dispatched significant forces to counter this trend, clearly inspired by foreign influence, and to a degree the fire of Sokoly resistance could be contained if not put down. Yet, Hungarian agents again found themselves outmatched by better equipped and diversely trained foreign agents, which reflected on the losses they suffered. (Regional quest progress: 38.86%, Hungary losses: -13.39 HC, -17.74 IC, -27.68 EC, -5.25 MC, ??? losses: -4.5? HC, -7.9? IC, -11.9? EC, -2.9? MC)
O tempora, o mores!
1890: The Margraviate of Moravia is a quiet, prosperous nation, which economy is heavily dependent on tourism and manufacture of luxury items, such as crystal glassware. This year, however, a series of scandals occurred in the resort town of Ostrava, when a French cinema director and his wife (known in certain circles as an exotic dancer from Dutch West-Indies) settled down there for a living. Presence of an avid Parisian social-revolutionary would be shocking enough, but the outrageous lifestyle of the sinful couple quickly became public and sent Moravian newspaper audience reeling. A series of explicit performances followed up by drunken orgies have taken place in Ostrava, and a petition has been signed to expel the paramour couple from Moravia for public indiscretion. However, no laws have been broken so far, and a rash action could create a precedent hurtful to the fragile local economy. After all, as some are willing to admit, “everyone knows” that most of gentlemen arrive to Moravia not just for sanatorium springs, but also to have an affair away from the family. Why should our income suffer because of one Frenchman who doesn’t bother to hide it?
Third Mining Clamour
Q1-Q2 1893: The German word “Berggeschrey” means “mining clamour” and is analogous to the American English idiom “gold rush.” Throughout the history of Middle Ages and Renaissance, two major “mining clamours” occurred, both of them centered around silver mining in the Ore Mountains that surround the region of Bohmen (Bohemia). Very recently, the ore extraction in these forest-covered areas was dropping in profitability, with deeper and more complex underground water management systems required to keep excavation going. However, in recent years a series of geological discoveries was made, indicating presence of large gold, silver, iron, and urannite ore deposits at reasonable depths. The latter type of ore, also known as “pitchblende,” is mostly a peculiar scientific novelty, containing chemical element Uranium known for its ability to glow in darkness, a mostly harmless phenomenon discovered by chemists. One way or another, it seems like another Berggeschrey is coming to the Ore Mountains.
Fast-developing trade hub of Central Europe with formidable labor market, strong agriculture, and blossoming culture.
1890: Artistic and scientific intelligentsia of German origin is leaving Hungary faster than the country is producing its own clercs, engineers, educated officers, artists, and scientists. Despite the Habsburg compromise of 1849, current Palatine-King Istvan I of the House of Habsburg seems to have failed to retain the respect and confidence of old Austrian intellectual elites residing in Hungary. A great deal of contempt toward German-speakers still exists among the population, pushing “the brains of the nation” away to places that welcome either their culture or their knowledge. It remains to be seen what can remedy the situation.
1892: In an attempt to keep the South German intellectual elite from leaving Hungary, scientific regulations have been eased, leading to a series of quite progressive, but also ethically questionable scientific experiments being performed in the country. Beyond that point, however, the deregulation was not the strongest approach, since it didn’t address the problems of non-scientific thinkers and, in general, didn’t improve the treatment of German-speakers across the nation. One way or another, at this rate the problem is likely to resolve itself in the upcoming years, and the question is whether or not Hungarian nation would benefit from it. (Regional quest progress: 48%, Hungary losses: -1.58 HC, -0.33 IC, -3.81 EC, -2.66 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: German-speaking Hungarian citizens were, in their majority, horrified by the actions of Palatine-King Istvan I, escaping into Illyria, Austria-Bavaria, and at times even into the Ottoman Empire during the early days of the ultimatum and while the inconclusive Congress of Brno dragged on. When the first shots got fired and the way west got blocked, the nature of South-German resistance radically changed and became much more desperate. Partisan squads and urban terrorist cells started forming throughout the country with the assistance of an unknown foreign power. Hungarian Államvédelmi Osztály (State Protection Department) was vigilant and responded to that insurgency in force, starting a high-scale spy hunt and counter-terrorism crackdown across the nation. That so-called “War Within” proved to be a costly one for the Hungarian authorities, since their opponents, it seemed, were better equipped, more motivated, and, in some instances, just too nihilistic in their destructive drive. By June 1893, some semblance of order still existed in the lands of St. Stephan, but the casualty rate for the Hungarian law enforcement and counter-espionage agencies was staggering. (Regional quest progress: 4.4%, Hungary losses: -17.28 HC, -22.9 IC, -35.71 EC, -6.77 MC, ??? losses: -5.9? HC, -12.1? IC, -15.8? EC, -4.4? MC)
Dreams of Yugoslavia
1892: After the dissolution of the Austrian Empire, the province of Slavonia was divided between Illyria and Hungary, with Hungarian Slavonia witnessing a major influx of Hungarian settlers. Displacement of Vojvodian Serbs, however, broke that short-living demographic parity between Slavonian Hungarians and South Slavs. For now, local Croats mistrust the Serbian refugees, as a result of a long history of ethnic tensions between Balkan Catholics (Croats) and Orthodox Christians (Serbs). But observers from the Hungarian secret police are afraid that this division is just temporary. They warn that a new, Pan-Slavic sentiment is growing among Southern Slavs, who view Hungarians, South Germans, and Turks as their universal oppressors, as proven by the bloodshed of the 19th century, and especially the last three decades.
Q1-Q2 1893: Motivating Croatian and Serbian conscripts from Slavonia to fight a war against their brethren in Illyria was a hard task by itself. To make matters worse, it appears that someone is helping to rebuild South Slavic unification movement again, abandoning too Serbo-centric and now barely alive Black Hand and forming a new Serbo-Croatian organization known as Chetniks. The Chetniks, trained and supplied by their shadow sponsors, have started a campaign of terror and sabotage against Hungarian officials and even commoners. To make matters worse, some officers report that Pan-Yugoslavian agitation takes place in some army units, meaning the Chetniks have penetrated them as well. Hungarian counter-intelligence has done a lot to contain this potentially explosive movement, but loss rate has been very high among their agents. (Regional quest progress: -7.14%, Hungary losses: -5.58 HC, -7.39 IC, -11.53 EC, -2.19 MC, ??? losses: -3.?? HC, -5.2? IC, -7.9? EC, -1.9? MC)
Q3 1893: The Chetnik movement continued its resurgence this late summer, but was seriously hurt by a mass deployment of Hungarian military police and secret service in Slavonia and Vojvodina. Clearly dealing with foreign agents in possession of sophisticated equipment and training, Hungarian operatives still managed to compensate their relatively simple methods with overwhelming network saturation, forcing Pan-Yugoslavian terrorists and agitators into hiding in many places. Still, given the progression of the War of Hungarian Containment, this dynamics is likely to swing back into Yugoslavian favor soon. (Regional quest progress: -32.49%, Hungary losses: -7.25 HC, -9.61 IC, -14.99 EC, -2.84 MC, ??? losses: -8.5? HC, -14.1? IC, -20.7? EC, -5.2? MC)
Doctrine of the Holy Crown
Q1-Q2 1893: According to a popular belief, king Stephen I during his coronation held up the crown to offer it to Virgin Mary, sealing his divine right to the lands of Hungary. In the 17th century, that legend was expanded with a concept of personified crown: the Hungarian royal title now had will and character of its own, staying above any mortal monarch. Now it’s this so-called “Doctrine of the Holy Crown” is being referenced in Hungarian pro-war propaganda, with which the monarchy is trying to motivate its dumbfounded subjects to fight its neighbor and ideological ally, the Princely Confederation of Austria, Bavaria, and the Rheinlands. However, the new propaganda bureau did little to expand on the old tradition or to bring the multitude of conflicting views existing in the kingdom to some common denominator, leading to a well-funded, but unimaginative propaganda campaign that may take quite a while to fully persuade the nation that the war is truly necessary. (Regional quest progress: 13.81%, Hungary losses: -4.9 HC, -6.49 IC, -10.12 EC, -1.92 MC)
1891: If the recent story of “vampire hunters” has left any trace in anyone’s imagination outside of European spy agencies, it’d be tourists. Captivated by the dark mysteriousness of Eastern European gothic, many rich travellers choose to abandon trips to distant sunny islands and boring sanatorium springs, and instead head for the dark castles of Hungarian and Romanian Transylvania. Local villagers are shocked to see such a flocking of well-heeled sightseers in their lands, and it’s now up to the local authorities to build a tourism industry that would accommodate the so called “grief tourists” and help the region prosper off of that.
Q3 1893: Tanatourism has received a surprising popularity boost this year from an unusual source. Dozens of Romanian and Hungarian soldiers started disappearing from their posts and patrols in Croatia and Slovenia, only to be found a few days later hanging by their necks or their feet off of tree branches, looking like victims of severe bloodletting. Tiny hole markings on their necks were rumored to be discovered by their comrades, starting a swirl of rumors about vampires hunting their prey amid the war. The pattern of disappearances and exclusivity with which the supernatural beings were targeting only Hungarian and Romanian troops made it clear for anyone with even most basic sense of common sense that this was but an element of psychological warfare launched against Hungary and its allies by one of their enemies (later to be proven to be the Italians). While the war of espionage and counterintelligence raged all over Slovenian and Croatian theaters of war, exhausting Hungarian military police and checking Italian saboteurs’ successes, the rumors of the supernatural spread into Russian, German, and Turkish press, and, having received even more bizarre and unplausible details, spread around the world. While the entire affair failed to do any significant morale damage to the Hungarian and Romanian armies, it did, however, create an enduring reputation for the Northern Balkans and Danubia as a land of dark mystery, which will certainly attract plenty of tourists to these lands once the war is over. (Regional quest completed with success, region Danube Region gains +5 IC, +15 EC, +0.5% Regional Growth Fluctuation, region Balkans gains +10 EC, Italy losses: -3.51 HC, -6.13 IC, -9.42 EC, -2.93 MC, Hungary losses: -9.81 HC, -13 IC, -20.27 EC, -3.84 MC)
Penicillin and antibiotics
Q3 1893: The Central-European war has brought about bloodshed previously unseen in Europe, surpassing even that of the late Napoleonic Wars. That prompted the Hungaria high staff sponsor the development of modern (and often times, revolutionary) antimicrobial drugs used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections, especially useful in military hospitals. With almost the entirety of Hungarian industry being dedicated to that research, by late September first batches of antimicrobial medicine started arriving to the frontline. (Technology quest completed with success, Hungary adopts “Penicillin and antibiotics” for no additional cost, Hungary losses: -2.98 HC, -0.63 IC, -7.2 EC, -5.03 MC)
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893
Slowly-growing region with once-formidable culture and education, now suffering from recent war and intercommunal conflicts.
1890: Illyrian authorities have been long suspecting that a ring of Italian spies existed in its Adriatic shore, a theory based on a rapid spread of ochlocratic and social-revolutionary ideas among local seamen and workers. In an attempt to bust smugglers of forbidden political literature, the Illyrian Gendarmerie initiated an all-country night raid around port facilities and warehouses. To their excitement, several Italian boats were indeed captured, but instead of banned books they were loaded with rare sorts of alcohol, tobacco, and factory-made clothing. It appears that the gendarmes have discovered “just” a criminal operation by the the Italian mafia, and resolution of this touchy situation is up to interested great powers.
An eye for an eye
1890: Albanian traditions of vendetta are turning Western vilayets (provinces) of the Sublime Porte into a truly dangerous place to live or travel through. As Albanian village communes spread throughout most of Turkey-held Balkans (mostly filling in the vacuum created by the displacement of the Bulgars and the Serbs, who were the leaders of the anti-Ottoman Great Balkan War), so does the culture of vengefulness, honor killings, and intercommunal warfare. While usually not aimed at non-Albanians, these lawless acts make administration, law enforcement, and infrastructure development increasingly hard for any newly-assigned magistrates. To make matters worse, they alienate other Balkan peoples and demonstrate the weakness of the High Porte’s authority in the region.
Q1-Q2 1893: The Sublime Porte’s focus has so far been concentrated in the Near East, Arabia, Anatolia - everywhere, but on the Balkans. As a result, Albanian clan wars continue growing more and more violent, and a powerful underclass of semi-tribal warlords and strongmen with connections to Albanian road bandits has developed all across the devastated region. Meanwhile, Turkish population is starting to see Anatolia as a more welcoming and better developed land, and Southern Slavs, having suffered so much in the recent decades from Ottoman and Hungarian persecution, are starting to leave their homelands for Russia and the Americas. (Regional quest progress: -25%)
Q3 1893: The Porte’s response to the issue of Albanian brigand tribalism was a surprisingly rough one. Traditionally viewed as Muslim allies of the Turkish regime and main beneficiaries of the Ottoman dominance over the Balkans, the Albanian kachaks (rural outlaws) suddenly found themselves on the receiving end of the countrywide banditry purge. While some parts of the greater Albanian diaspora were wooed into accepting Ottoman policies by being offered opportunities to integrate into the national economy deeper, most of the rural communities simply saw no reason to abandon the old ways that had benefited them so much, unless being threatened with a force of arms. The latter threats, however, did little to break the fighting spirit of these traditionally warlike people who still considered the Turks owing them the victory in the Great Balkan War that saw Orthodox South Slavs being so handily beaten. While the issue of kachak banditry is being quickly suppressed, it seems like Sublime Porte’s inflexible transition from a network of unspoken alliances to a more European rule of law is turning its biggest Balkan allies into its most determined enemies. (Regional quest progress: 69.95%, Sublime Porte losses: -4.17 HC, -2.47 IC, -4.45 EC, -2.06 MC)
Little envelope for an island
1891: The scope of the Italian underworld takeover of the failing Greece state is just becoming to be known. It appears that after the demise of all major “shipping barons,” who de-facto controlled Greek economy, in the heat of Italian pirate hunt has put mafia viceroys in charge of the vast majority of local businesses. The Greek state is becoming increasingly corrupt, and tax evasion in exchange for a bribe (known as fakelaki, or “little envelope”) becomes widespread. It’s especially noticeable in the islands of the Aegean sea, where all businesses depend on Italian consiglieri in one form or another. For the Italian government it opens an opportunity to gradually push for a transfer of Greek islands under Italian jurisdiction.
Booming region with great labor capacity reflecting on vibrant agriculture, formidable industry, and prosperous trade with limited number of partners.
Opium for the masses
1890: The relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the young Italian Republic is a complicated one. The Roman Revolution and the subsequent Unification movement never were openly atheist, reflecting the mood of then largely agrarian nation. However, as old power structures and hierarchies have been dissolved, so were the economic and political privileges of the Church. Right now, the clergy and those Italians who have remained loyal to it (mostly, uneducated rural underclass) are clearly not contributing their share of civil responsibility to the Republic. Upcoming years will show what solution (if any) that problem will have.
Paradoxes of unity
1890: The Unification of Italy has generated a lot of nationalist ardor three decades ago, but now that the excitement has died down people of Italy are discovering that it’s not always easy to find a common tongue with fellow co-citizens, sometimes quite literally. North Italians have a trouble understanding southern dialects, often resulting in legal and economic disputes and even differences in interpretation of laws. Meanwhile, Piedmontese citizens of the only sub-national state of the peninsula that chose not to join the populist revolution of the 1860s feel quite comfortable talking to their neighbors from Lombardy or Venetia. This is quickly turning into an awkward (some say “dangerous”) love-hate triangle, and Italian authorities are yet to resolve it.
1891: Some low-key agitation was taking place in North Italy among order-loving conservatives, as well as some clergy and old regime aristocracy (mostly landless and ruined by now). No serious destabilizing efforts were discovered, though, and the source of agitation is unknown. Either way, it makes true unification of Italy slightly harder when trust in the national government is low. (Regional quest progress: -1.9%, ??? losses: -1.28 HC, -1.76 IC, -2.76 EC, -0.54 MC)
1892: Even though the timid conservative agitation in North Italy ceased this year, the Republican authorities (and especially their mafia patrons) took the threat very seriously and chose to resolve it in a blunt way, more popular among criminal strongmen than legal government officials. A series of threats, kidnappings, arsons, and even extrajudicial killings took place across the Po river valley, ensuring that those who oppose the mafia rule over Italy (and Italian unity in its current from) stay quiet and scared, at least for now. (Regional quest progress: 9.33%, Italy losses: -2.49 HC, -4.06 IC, -6.62 EC, -1.86 MC)
Camorra doesn’t die
Q1-Q2 1893: Unlike Sicilian mafia, Campanian Camorra is rather cross with the Shadow Council’s conclusions. While mafia clans are pyramidal and strictly hierarchical, Neapolitanian and Calabrian ‘ndrina gangs are horizontal, highly competitive, and decentralized, so the administrative compromise of Rome made little sense to them. While many ‘ndrinas simply refused to abandon their street turf (thus becoming, as a Turkish journalist nicknamed them, “criminals among criminals”), others chose to unite into a loosely-knit syndicate known as ‘Ndrangheta, dominating southern businesses and especially influential among populist politicians. So far, any attempts to bring the Camorra to the knee have failed rather bloodily.
Draining the Pontine Marshes
Q1-Q2 1893: Looking to expand arable lands available to the Italian nation, its Ministry of Home Development has embarked on an ambitious project to drain the Pontine Marshes of the Lazio region. The approach to the project was cautious, but rather coherent and well-thought-through, as several geologic expeditions have explored the area and the soil in a search for the optimal mapping of drainage canals, while workers’ camps have been set up in preparation for the actual construction, and necessary medications and vaccines were distributed among laborers. (Regional quest progress: 50.5%, Italy losses: -1.69 HC, -0.38 IC, -4.18 EC, -3.65 MC)
Q3 1893: In order to provide labor for the marsh-draining project, Italian government officially freed all construction workers needed in the Pontines from military conscription. Having secured their work force, land development companies proceeded to build pump stations and drainage canals all across the swampy region, finishing all work before even the most optimistic deadlines. By late September 1893, the Pontines were made arable and even started to be settled by some of the workers’ families, as well as displaced poor farmers from the south, boosting up the region’s agricultural output significantly. (Regional quest completed with success, region Italia gains +30 EC, Regional Growth Fluctuation +1.25%, Italy losses: -1.69 HC, -0.38 IC, -4.18 EC, -3.65 MC)
Q3 1893: French declaration of war on Great Britain and its allies have raised a big wave of anti-Communard thought in Europe. The House of Savoy was savvy to specifically request Papal support on their anti-Socialist stance, being one of the closest allies of the Catholic Church in Europe. Pope Leo XIII responded with issuing a Papal encyclical Quanta Cura, in which Communism and Socialism were called a “fatal error” of the Western society. The encyclical is now being used as a propaganda tool in Sardinian war against France, and it has a potential of turning into a major ideological pillar of the House of Savoy’s regime. (Regional quest progress: 32%, Sardinia-Piedmont losses: -2.7 HC, -3.7 IC, -5.8 EC, -1.13 MC)
1891: North-Italian urban armourers associated with powerful mafioso families have received major funds and technical support from the Italian government and are rumored to be working on new types of automatic handguns of entirely new design. So far, lack of involvement of giants of Italian industry has prevented this endeavor from moving as fast as it could. (Technology quest progress: 5.36%, Italy losses: -1.85 HC, -0.38 IC, -4.42 EC, -3.76 MC)
1892: In an attempt to speed up the project, the Italian Armaments Commission directed the construction bureau engaged in the project to treat precision and rate of fire as secondary priorities for the new design, while concentrating on creating a simple and reliable prototype. The problem with that order, however, was that simplicity and reliability required just as much design innovation, meaning the project continued progressing at roughly the same pace as before. Until more construction bureaus and enterprises get engaged in the process, it’s unlikely that the pace of research significantly changes. (Technology quest progress: 14.52%, Italy losses: -2.37 HC, -0.48 IC, -5.65 EC, -4.81 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: After two years of extremely slow progress, the Italian government tried to motivate its engineers with a message of patriotic duty, which, predictably, had little effect on the development of reliable machine pistols. What did save the project, however, was allocation of significant resources to the construction bureaus, and first combat-ready prototypes of these handguns have already been field-tested this spring. Now, Italian factories need to be prepared to mass produce its new weapons of war. (Technology quest progress: 88.67%, Italy losses: -3.07 HC, -0.7 IC, -7.6 EC, -6.63 MC)
Q3 1893: Escalation of the Central-European War and its merge with a much bigger, Transatlantic conflict, has forced participating countries to look for solutions to improve their troops performance on the battlefield. Luckily for the Confederate States of America and North German Federation, their unlikely new ally, the ochlocratic Republic of Italy was more than willing to share their development of machine pistols, as long as they received expertise assistance from such well-established armaments giants as the North-German Friedrich Krupp AG and and Confederate Tarpley, Garett, and Co. Concerted efforts of all three sides (with the Italian Cosmi Americo&Foglio spearheading the development) led to a successful completion of the first internationally mass-produced machine pistol that will be joining service in the military of all three countries this late fall. (Technology quest completed with success, Italy, North German Federation, Confederate States of America adopts “Machine pistols” for no additional cost, Italy losses: -0.77 HC, -0.17 IC, -1.9 EC, -1.66 MC, North German Federation losses: -0.81 HC, -0.19 IC, -1.99 EC, -1.79 MC, Confederate States of America losses: -0.86 HC, -0.19 IC, -2.1 EC, -1.97 MC)
Field hospital system
Q1-Q2 1893: Recognizing the colossal human cost of modern warfare, Italian military thinkers and logisticians have proposed several different systems of small mobile medical units that temporarily take care of casualties on-site before they can be safely transported to more permanent hospital facilities. A few of these theoretic proposals were put together into a well thought out roadmap for integrating field hospitals into divisional order of battle. With any luck, in a year Italy may find itself in possession of the best military medical units in the world. (Technology quest progress: 40.29%, Italy losses: -1.34 HC, -2.34 IC, -3.6 EC, -1.12 MC)
Q3 1893: The Second Atlantic War promises to become the bloodiest conflict in modern history, and military leadership of the CSA, NGF, and Republican Italy clearly demonstrated their realization of this fact this summer. All three nations joined their efforts in developing and testing a new system of frontline field hospitals that could accommodate modern troops in their need to replenish losses and restore manpower after combat. By the October 1893, first mobile field hospitals have started to pop up beyond the frontlines of the Second Atlantic War on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. (Technology quest completed with success, Italy, North German Federation, Confederate States of America adopt “Field hospital system” for no additional cost, Italy losses: -0.61 HC, -1.06 IC, -1.64 EC, -0.51 MC, North German Federation losses: -0.33 HC, -0.64 IC, -0.87 EC, -0.24 MC, Confederate States of America losses: -0.46 HC, -0.69 IC, -1 EC, -0.28 MC)
Arditi and small-unit tactics
Q3 1893: Italian army attempts to place itself on the forefront of modern infantry warfare. In addition to revolutionizing handguns and casualty treatment systems, they are also starting to experiment with an application of army military doctrine for the independent combat deployment of platoons and smaller units in a particular strategic and logistic environment. Mountain assault units known as Arditi (“the daring ones”) have had their first limited-scope field exercises in the Julian Alps near Goritsa, proving the concept and outlining the path for future development of small-unit tactics. (Technology quest progress: 18.29%, Italy losses: -5.25 HC, -1.3 IC, -2.41 EC, -1.99 MC)
Crossing the T
Q1-Q2 1893: While the bulk of the Sardinian navy was busy protecting the nation’s communications with Africa, one naval squadron participated in a naval drill near the shore of Sardinia, practicing a battle tactic in which a line of turret warships crosses in front of a line of enemy ships, allowing the crossing line to bring all their turret guns to bear while receiving fire from only the forward guns of the enemy. The first results were promising, but significantly more practice will be required before all captains and fleet commanders familiarize themselves with the maneuver and its coordination. (Technology quest progress: 13.57%, Sardinia-Piedmont losses: -2.13 HC, -1.35 IC, -3.21 EC, -5.48 MC)
Q3 1893: Sardinian navy has continued to familiarize itself with new naval tactics, this time launching a limited-scale naval exercise near Sicily in hopes to prepare itself for a conventional battle with their French counterparts. (Technology quest progress: 47.68%, Sardinia-Piedmont losses: -2.32 HC, -1.47 IC, -3.5 EC, -5.98 MC)
Gas warfare and protection
Q3 1893: The Second Atlantic War has already seen a number of revolutionary military innovations, and it’s no surprise to anybody that Sardinia-Piedmont, one of the closest British allies, is working on yet another one. According to certain rumors, a secret facility located, most likely, on one of the Mediterranean islands, is working on developing poison gases that can be used in warfare. In parallel, Sardinian general staff is learning about emerging military techniques and methods that involve using toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons, as well as protecting friendly troops from their effect. (Technology quest progress: 24.62%, Sardinia-Piedmont losses: -3.74 HC, -0.87 IC, -8.94 EC, -6.2 MC)
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893North Germany
Fast-developing supernova of European economy, with unrivaled levels of prosperity, industrial ingenuity, and education.
Music of the jilted generation
1890: The success of the North-German Ostafrika colony is reflected in the labor market. Thousands of Maasai, Luo, and Zaramo natives are arriving to the nation’s bustling ports by sea and find their way to the labor market in industrial centers of the Federation. This has brought along a strange cultural phenomenon. Low-key musical performances that feature a combination of African drums, industrial equipment used as musical instruments, tribal dance, and recitative, dark lyrics are taking place in workers’ clubs and gatherings across the Ruhr region. Somehow, this musical aberration nicknamed by locals as “industrielle musik” has found its way to the hearts of the white working class youth and is spreading across the country like a plague. What’s worse, this folkish counter-culture has become a breeding ground for social-revolutionary agitators and anarchists of all kinds. Only time will tell what effect it will take upon the Federation and the continent as a whole.
Q1-Q2 1893: Communard invasion of Austrobavarian Rheinlands is causing a wave of social-revolutionary sympathizers to make their voices heard throughout Europe again. These voices are especially loud in the North German Federation, which Constitution protects their right of free speech and of political activism. The radical leftists, united into the Spartacus League, promote the idea of creating a pro-French Cisrhenian Commune in the most industrially developed regions of West Germany, drawing analogies from the French Revolutionary period, when a similar radical-liberal Cisrhenian Republic was formed by the victorious French. For now, this agitation is somewhat muted by the early wave of Pan-German solidarity, but nobody knows for sure what dangerous fruit may grow from these seeds of discontent.
Q3 1893: Predictably, the Anti-Communard War became a decisive factor in crystallization of the Cisrhenian socialism. Communard agitation among workers, proletarians, and African migrant minorities of the Rhineland grew exponentially with every day of the conflict, forcing the North-German leadership come up with an entire variety of responses. First of all, French expatriates forced out of their motherland during or after the Communard Revolution openly spoke out (both verbally and on the pages of periodicals) against the social-revolutionary regime that rules it now. (Surprisingly, one of the Francophone anti-Communard public speakers accidentally caught on film was later recognized by some of his family members as a missing senior engineer of analytical engine “Delecluse.”) When that produced little effect, North-German liberal politicians and publicists attempted to turn demagogic speeches into fancy debates, with obscure academic references being mentioned, abstract concepts being discussed in the most intellectual tone, and, eventually, rotten eggs and tomatoes being thrown at them by the mob of simple workers and lumpen who had no time for the liberals’ high-minded sophistics. What truly turned the trend around and, eventually, knocked the ideas of Cisrhenian Communism completely out of public consciousness (at least, for the time being), was a cinematic motion picture “The Unrelenting,” made by the Babelberg Studios and depicting a highly romanticized version of life of General von Blucher and his participation in the German War of Liberation against Napoleonic France. The film was a huge success, capitalizing on the surge of militaristic patriotism and leading many groups of citizens to organizing on their own against what they perceived as French (or French allies’) attempts to disunite the nation. It won’t be a few years or, if the war keeps getting bloodier, a few months until it becomes safe to openly speak about one’s socialist sympathies in North Germany. In fact, the patriotic zeal is so powerful that many North Germans now choose to buy exclusively German products, helping the government to reach near-monopoly on the home market. Meanwhile, some disaffected workers and intellectuals simply chose to abandon their efforts to work for the betterment of the technocratic regime and joined the ideological underground. (Regional quest completed with mixed results, region North Germany gains -5 HC, -5 IC, North German Federation gains +5% Regional Influence, Free Boer Republic loses -3% Regional Influence, Directorial Russia loses -2% Regional Influence, North German Federation losses: -5.69 HC, -7.59 IC, -15.09 EC, -6.99 MC, ??? losses: -22.4? HC, -34.6? IC, -51.?? EC, -16.4? MC)
Q3 1893: Even in the most prosperous society, there’s always place for someone to fall to the very bottom. A term “lumpenproletariat” (lit. “ragged have-not’s”) used by German moderate socialists describes just that group of people: a poor underclass that lacks political consciousness to participate in a struggle for workers’ rights against capitalist oppression. Recent talks of the Cisrhenian Commune and their grassroot shutdown by hysterical patriots exposed just how wide the divide between North-German workers and lumpenproletariat currently is. While organized labor may be sympathizing with the Communards to some extent, the homeless, the unemployed, drinkers, pimps, prostitutes, career criminals, and all sorts of vagabonds and misfits seem to be quite easily swayed by nationalistic, chauvinistic sentiments, providing the Council of Savants with some sort of counterbalance for socialist agitation among working classes. The remaining question is, do the high-minded Savants wish to rely on dirty mobs in their anti-Communard struggle?
Q1-Q2 1893: Decades of economic, political, and cultural liberalism are starting to transform North-German religious landscape. More and more German Protestants choose to leave the embrace of the Evangelical Church of Germany and instead associate themselves with various small congregations that stress their separation from any government influence (or influence on government), support secularism, and denounce dogmatism of large church organizations (ranging from prominent giants like the Russian Orthodox Church or the Roman Catholic Church to more shadowy international unions, such as the New England-based Fabian Society). These “free churches” also support economic entrepreneurship, cultural freedom, and plurality of opinions, making many traditionalist thinkers question if “free churches” are churches at all. In North-German politics, “free churches” are being seen mostly as a decentralizing factor, although many deputies on the Council of Savants see it as a positive thing and a true manifestation of its Constitution’s ideals.
Aerodynes and heavier-than-air flight
Q3 1893: Where others see a practical joke endangering spectators, a scientific review commission established by the North-German Academic Society of Practical Science apparently found a promising technological breakthrough. A new type of a winged motorized vehicle capable of supporting a prolonged, piloted flight was developed in Prussia by one Gustav Albin Weisskopf, and his invention captured the minds of several North German industrialists, including the famous Junkers, who agreed to provide a plethora of personal funds to the development of mass-produced and affordable heavier-than-air flying machines deriving lift from dynamic motion through the air via propeller motors and used as single-person means of transportation. The project was so well-funded and supported with technical expertise that the first factory-made aerodynes have started to appear in the skies of Germany by October leaf fall. (Technological quest completed with success, North German Federation adopts “Aerodynes and heavier-than-air flight” for no additional cost, North German Federation losses: -2.71 HC, -0.63 IC, -6.65 EC, -5.98 MC)
Fast-developing, populous melting pot of German regional cultures with powerful industries and vibrant agriculture.
The Last Knight
1890: Karl Dietrich, the Count of Sigmaringen, is known across Europe as “the last knight king.” Obsessed with Arthurian epics and Medieval romanticism, the young aristocrat is known to live in a majestic castle built for him by an emigre French architect, and he is known to uphold annual jousting tournaments in which he participates as a humble “green knight.” That fairytale life of his, however, seems to be not as whitewashed as appears on the surface. A series of police reports from local villagers have surfaced, suggesting that the count has taken upon an ancient habit of demanding the right of the first night with local brides. To make matters worse, the sole groom who denied him that “right” has recently disappeared. It’s clear that story doesn’t reflect well on the state of the Princely Union of Austria, Bavaria, and the Rhineland. At the same time, Count Karl Dietrich is well-known and well-connected, and any leak from the investigation may cause just as much damage to the Princely Union as banal non-interference.
Q3 1893: Strange reports started reaching the Princely Council about events in Sigmaringen. According to the locals, they were being approached by strangers who identified themselves as private investigators looking into Count Karl Dietrich’s misdeeds. In any other situation, they would be happy to help bringing the self-proclaimed “knight” to the justice, at the times of patriotic zeal and spy scare they decided to confirm they were doing the right thing with the local police office. Which, of course, quickly elicited response from the Princely Union’s secret police. Geheimpolizei soon used some of the witnesses as a bait to ambush the “private investigators” and determine their allegiance. The plan half-worked. Most of the “private eyes” got caught, but they swallowed poison capsules and killed themselves rather than be interrogated. However, it became clear they were working for one of the Princely Union’s foes. Looking to evade any future threats to public image of state, Geheimpolizei made sure to take non-disclosure agreements (supported with lavish financial compensations) from all witnesses in the case, but not before solving the “knight king’s” issue in a final and radical way that shocked many in Europe with its macabre gallantry. One of the Geheimpolizei inspectors, a Swabian native from an officer’s family, challenged Karl Dietrich to a duel for an insignificant and likely made-up offense. A knight as he is, the Count couldn’t refuse, and the two fought Europe’s last fencing duel on a cliff near Karl Dietrich’s castle. According to a tone-deaf press release made by a Siberian Russian artel company, the weapon of choice were Zlatoust-made cavalry sabers, and that same night the Count was brought to a local hospital, his right wrist missing and his neck deeply lacerated. He would be proclaimed dead by the next morning, and his entire inheritance would pass to his socially awkward, but pragmatic and reasonable uncle, who is rumored to run Sigmaringen in quite a shrewd and mercantile way. (Regional quest completed with success, region South Germany gains +10 EC, +5 MC, Regional Growth Fluctuation +0.25%, ??? losses: -7.6? HC, -11.8? IC, -17.4? EC, -5.6? MC, Austria-Bavaria losses: -4.4 HC, -8.55 IC, -11.35 EC, -2.58 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: To no one’s surprise, the French Communard declaration of war to Austria-Bavaria was followed by a big uptick in Communard and French nationalist agitation across the land. The latter one was of not much success, since most of Francophone citizens of Elsaß-Lothringen were avid anti-Communards or reactionary or, less often, liberal views, and their sympathy for the Motherland was counterbalanced by their antipathy to its ruling regime. Nevertheless, the agitation started giving its results when first cells and rural bands of so-called francs-tireurs (“free shooters”) started to commit acts of terror and sabotage in the Austrobavarian rear. To that, Austrobavarian secret police responded in force, starting a major counter-insurgency operation mirroring the rebel hunt that took place in Hungary at the same time. Despite successfully containing the damage done by the franc-tireurs to the Princely Confederation, the secret police has suffered significant losses and is very slowly losing its control over the situation. (Regional quest progress: 21.86%, Austria-Bavaria losses: -10.81 HC, -21 IC, -27.86 EC, -6.34 MC, Communard France losses: -8.06 HC, -12.43 IC, -18.35 EC, -5.91 MC)
Q3 1893: While the free shooters continued receiving their support from France, the resistance movement scope was broadened by savvy Communard ideologues. Instead of targeting primarily French-speakers, they started spreading leaflets referring to Der Hessische Landbote (“The Hessian Courier”), a political treatise written in the 1830s and evoking ideas of liberty and pacifism with simple and attractive aphorisms, such as "Frieden den Hütten Krieg den Palästen" (Peace to the huts, war to the Palaces). If that was not enough, they tried to organized South German peasants into armed resistance units, bringing back the ideas of the German Peasant War of the 16th century, along with such peasant heroes as Florien Geyer and others. Specific attention was given to creation of a particularly well-trained guerrilla force known as the New Black Company (Das neue Schwarze Haufen) consisting of a few runaway serfs and converts to the Communard cause. The New Black Company became infamous for attacking Austrobavarian outposts and supply depots in daylight while defiantly flying the New Bundschuh flag (Neu Bundschuh flagge), a triangular banner featuring a traditional peasant wooden boot and a gearwheel. However, for all their ingenuity, the French-supported francs-tireurs and peasant battalions were doomed from the very beginning. As the frontlines were pushed back into the French proper, the flow of supplies for the guerilla fighters shank to a trickle. Besides, the expected stream of volunteers never materialized, because vast majority of Austrobavarian serfs remained loyal to their nation, having few material needs (despite all shortcoming of serfdom) and too low political consciousness to carer for workers’ plight. This allowed Ausrobavarian secret police and North-German propagandists quickly put down all pro-Communard resistance cells through a wily combination of motivation and violence. Perhaps, when Austrobavarian society becomes more war wary, the words “The Hessian Courier” will be more evocative, but for now, the Princely Confederation’s grip on South Germany has only solidified, and a wave of Pan-Germanic sentiment made it so that a lot of nobles with ties to the Twin Crowns monarchy chose to closer associate themselves with Austria-Bavaria. (Regional quest completed with mixed results, region South Germany gains -10 HC, +5 IC, +5 EC, Regional Growth Fluctuation -0.25%, Austria-Bavaria gains +0.5% Regional Influence, North German Federation gains +0.5% Regional Influence, Portugal-Brazil loses -1% Regional Influence, Austria-Bavaria losses: -2.8 HC, -5.44 IC, -7.22 EC, -1.64 MC, North German Federation losses: -3.63 HC, -7.11 IC, -9.64 EC, -2.71 MC, Communard France losses: -17.35 HC, -26.75 IC, -39.47 EC, -12.72 MC)
The Final Problem
1890: A mysterious sequence of deaths has put Switzerland in the international spotlight. Two British gentlemen visiting Reichenbach Falls as tourists are believed to be killed as a result of a brutal duel that involved no weapons but bare hands. One of them was known in certain London circles as a private detective, and his surviving friend, a doctor, insists that the deceased gentleman was trying to escape England for the fear of assassination. His nemesis (and the second victim of the duel) is much less well-known, although it’s known that he’s had an academic record in Great Britain as a professor of mathematics. A publication by a local investigative journalist, however, suggests that the detective was in possession of some ciphered papers compromising the British Protectorate Ward, while “the professor” was on service of the British Commonwealth as a spy and acted upon secret orders of the Lord-Protector himself. If so, that murder may well translate into a serious diplomatic incident, especially depending on what happens now to the doctor friend of the dissident detective.
Q1-Q2 1893: The British Secret Ward never officially responded to the enquiries made by the Swiss police and even failed to acknowledge the problem’s existence (at least, in its external communication and press releases). This has meant that the investigation is expected to continue this year progressing at a steady pace, not helped by the British intelligence, but not hindered by it either. At this point, it seems like another year or two of inactivity by the Royal Commonwealth may cost the nation dearly not only in terms of its prestige, but also in financial losses, as several leads seem to be pointing at shady bank accounts that may be used by British spies across the world for their expenses.
Q3 1893: Preoccupied with the multifaceted conflict growing on boths sides of the Atlantic, the British Secret Ward had no resourced to spare to covering its tracks in Switzerland. Late summer of 1893 was promising to be a time of triumph for the Swiss chief investigator tasked with investigating the case of suspected international crime with connection to British authorities. However, to the Swiss shock, a foreign power intervened into the case, as several key suspects were found dead in their hotel rooms, and the main witness, one Dr. Watson, disappeared from his temporary residence in Bern. Just when it looked like the case was completely lost, help arrived from two unlikely sources. Union of North America’s Justice Department declared that pursuing the case was in the nation’s highest interest, due to suspicions of money laundering that involved some North-American citizens and banks. In addition, French High Communal Court dispatched its own representatives, insisting that Mr. Holmes suspected murderers were involved in crimes on the French territory before the Revolution. Quite soon, North-American federal marshals and French commissaires extraordinaires (extraordinary commissars) were fully involved into a full-scale hunt for the shadowy foreign power that so bluntly violated Switzerland’s neutrality and its right to pursue justice. The chase took a grim turn when one of the blackguards, captured at a local ski resort and interrogated by French inspectors in the gazette room, popped a capsule with a poisonous substance inside, resulting in a mass intoxication and permanent loss of cognitive functions by some of France’s top investigators. (The toxine he released is believed to be a synthetic drug capable of producing incredibly long-lasting, powerful effect on people.) North-Americans were luckier at their search, as they managed to take prevent border crossing by Mr. Watson’s kidnappers via a lucky ambush, but their attempt to catch the malefactors’ internal combustion wagon failed, despite a long and dangerous chase along zigzagging mountain roads. At the very least, they managed to take hold of a scribbled note that is believed to belong to Mr. Watson himself, consisting of just a few words: “He couldn’t just die. Beware the Tiger Hunter.” (Regional quest -8.57%, Union of North America losses: -3.19 HC, -5.37 IC, -7.87 EC, -2.47 MC, Communard France losses: -7.18 HC, -11.07 IC, -16.34 EC, -5.27 MC, ??? losses: -5.2? HC, -10.2? IC, -13.8? EC, -3.8? MC)
While mysterious shadow war kept boiling in the Swiss Alps, Swiss police forces didn’t waste their time, knowing that numbers and papers could be better witnesses and suspects at times. Showing plenty of determination to save the investigation, the Swiss inspectors were assisted by a quickly put-together counterintelligence commission, deciphering a good portion of the ledger that managed to get a hold of via their channels with an offshore bank. By now, they ar confident that at this rate some key aspects of the investigation may be made public by Christmas. (Regional quest progress: 81.71%, Switzerland losses: -1.37 HC, -2.1 IC, -3.14 EC, -0.74 MC)
Neutrality and dishonor
Q3 1893: Recent development of the Reichenbach Falls murder investigation has flashed out what was already obvious to many Federal patriots in the Swiss politics since the times of fraternal bloodshed of the Sonderbundkrieg: Switzerland is not going to be untouchable by the foreign powers simply because it declares itself neutral. Even if the “great” powers of Europe agree to recognize Swiss military neutrality de-jure, they are still just as likely to intervene into internal matters of the confederate state, unless Switzerland finds a strong protector or gets ready to protect its own political independence on its own. The debate has just started on all levels of the Swiss society, ranging from municipal city halls with their long history of direct democracy and all the way to the Federal Council.
Of serfs and soldiers
Q3 1893: Despite an early fiasco of the first peasant guerilla battalions, problems of serfdom and resulting inequality between peasants and their noble landlords continue being sharp and divisive. The total nature of the Central-European War now has brought a strong argument against serfdom, namely full conscription. Austria-Bavaria has suffered heavy field losses, and greater and greater portion of is standing army has to comprise of peasant recruits, many of which are, indeed, serfs. That brings a few problems. First of all, landowners have started to complain about the financial losses they’ve already suffered from missing the harvest, while a good portion of their workforce was absent fighting the war. Secondly, urbanites and free farmers find it unfair that they are prioritized in conscription in order to protect other rich men’s profits. Finally, soldier bonds prove to be a strong factor of horizontal solidarity, with many veteran companies starting to secretly vow to do all they can to help those of their brothers-in-arms who are serfs to regain full freedom after the war is over. Some members of the nobility (especially active-duty lower-rank officers who have seen combat firsthand, often side by side with fellow serf soldiers) are starting to openly and volunteered free all of their veteran serfs and their families as a sign of gratitude for their sacrifice. This, of course, angers those who are ineligible for service or were forced by their owners to stay and work the fields despite their patriotic zeal. In other words, service and serfdom don’t go well together.
Q3 1893: The Duchy of Swabia historically was a source of a lot of South-German migrations to various regions along the Danube River, especially during the height of the Austrian Empire in the 18th century. Their diasporas formed three major communities in Hungary, Banat, and Satu Mare. Hungary’s aggression and eviction of many Germans from the lands of the Crown of St. Stephen has led to a mass migration of Hungarian and Romanian German settlers back to South Germany. Now these refugees crowd Autrobavarian cities and create a lot of challenge for local administrators to establish habitual German ordnung (order). Some Princes suggest recruiting the men and employing women and even teenage children on local factors (that historically suffer from a lack of workforce caused by serfdom), while others point out that the War of Hungarian Containment has turned completely against the Magyars, and quite soon Danubian Swabians will be able to return to their homes, increasing Austrobavarian influence in the region post-war.
Stud farms and horse-powered mobility
Q3 1893: While world militaries grow in sophistication, attempting to motorize their logistics, Austria-Bavaria seems to be trying to rejuvenate the tried and tested mobility tools of old, albeit with a new industrial approach. The Princely army (and especially its rear services) is starting to extensively use establishments for selective breeding of livestock in order to provide operational mobility and logistical support for its troops through modernized horse transportation. With most of the nation’s economic assets being dedicated to that development, the Austrobavarians have managed to develop a stable horse-breeding industry for its military, and now almost all niches of army logistics have a surplus of horse transport to compensate for the country’s shortage of mechanized transport. (Technology quest completed with success, Austria-Bavaria adopts “Stud farms and horse-powered mobility” for no additional cost, Austria-Bavaria losses: -2.45 HC, -0.49 IC, -5.31 EC, -4.56 MC)
Booming center of progressive art and sciences, with quickly recovering, expansive urban and rural economies.
Fruits of equality
1890: The Paris Commune and the subsequent Grand Revolution did release an enormous wave of popular enthusiasm and productive capability. What it failed to make, though, was to increase the standards of living of an average French citizen. While the distributive system of collective ownership has saved countless lives of proletarians and unemployed, it also has sucked the few objects of wealth that average French citizens did have. It may be wise to find a way to console those who have contributed to the national revival so much only to gain so little.
1891: The Communard government felt that asking the public opinion was the key to solving the issue, and assigned part of its state apparatus to a series of public opinion studies regarding the wants and the wishes of the people. The results, predictably, were very complicated, ranging from some that were incredibly straightforward (and thus, predictably, horribly uninformed) to some that were fairly reasonable, but not very popular among the badly educated masses. Now that the massives of data are gathered, it’s up to the Commune of Communes to decide how to turn it into policies. Some factions in the council lobby for the simple solutions understandable by the masses, while others argue for a less purist approach to social equality, but a lot of gradient opinions exist between these two extremes. (Regional quest progress: 12.28%, Communard France losses: -1.37 HC, -2.11 IC, -3.11 EC, -1 MC)
1892: In an effort to please everyone, the Commune of communes has attempted to perform a piecemeal Welfare and Entitlement reform across the nation, implementing some of the popularly proposed measures of rewarding workers in the equality-based economy. While that reform saw rather low-key reception due to its lukewarm, generic nature, the Commune of communes did hide a bold experiment into the reform package. Three “experimental regional communes” were created in Brittany, Burgundy, and Aquitaine, provided with enough autonomy to implement more radical or one-sided decisions regarding the Welfare and Entitlement reform. While auditing commissions still supervise administrative loyalty and ideological purity of these new semi-federal entities, the experiment seems to be rather well-received by the regions. (Regional quest progress: 46.71%, Communard France losses: -2.37 HC, -3.65 IC, -5.39 EC, -1.74 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: As the nation started a new revolutionary war, a significant part of its resources was pulled into other, more critical tasks, leaving regional experiments with self-rule and welfare schemes undermanned and underfunded. Some small progress was still achieved at monitoring progress of various welfare and entitlement solutions, but on high level the regional communes were mostly busy with unrelated administrative tasks, enjoying the lack of central supervision and becoming trampolines for provincial deputies’ careers. (Regional quest progress: 48.24%, Communard France losses: -2.68 HC, -4.14 IC, -6.11 EC, -1.97 MC)
1890: The grand analytical engine of Paris (originally named “Napoleon,” but recently renamed “Delecluze,” after the leader of the Communard Revolution) is malfunctioning. While most of the functions of the colossal machine still run smoothly, it seems like some of the output cards contain garbage data or presentation errors. Technical commissions have concluded that no major maintenance gaps have been observed, and all critical testing has passed. The only suspicion left is that some engine clacker has managed to run a ruinous punchcard programme that contaminated the central analytical block with a trailing error function that now runs indefinitely, occasionally impacting unrelated programmes. The conundrum is not the easy one. Some argue that security of the Commune’s engines (be they simple difference machines or giant analytical monsters) has been compromised, and perpetrators have to be found before any technical solutions are applied. Others argue that it may be a good time to retire venerable “Delecluze” altogether and build a newer engine instead. Some fringe group of ideological renegades even suggests that there’s nothing shameful in outsourcing some less sensitive programmes to foreign analytical engines for a reasonable pay, although that option comes with a series of security risks, still.
1891: A number of high-profile programme encoders and scheme engineers that used to work on the “Delecluze” analytical engine have disappeared from Paris, along with their families, some of them being seen in towns near the Franco-Iberian border. Past that point, their path cannot be traced. French investigators trying to get to the bottom of that mystery became aware of foreign spies helping the scientists escape, but a series of failed arrests and steam carriage chases resulted in a series of tragic deaths for little gain. Meanwhile, the Commune of Communes has appointed a commission tasked with constructing a new, more modern analytical engine instead of the venerable “Delecluse.” So far, it appears that the damage done to French centralized computing systems by the spies has thrown the nation back at least a full year, and the problem is deteriorating. (Regional quest progress: -57.7%, ??? losses: -3.1 HC, -4.93 IC, -7.26 EC, -2.3 MC, Communard France losses: -4.13 HC, -6.93 IC, -11.01 EC, -3.84 MC)
1892: Disturbed by the disappearance of some of its leading cyberneticists last year, the French government put a lot of effort into investigating the events as a top-priority counter-espionage case. Formal requests were dispatched to the Iberian police, but the latter proved to be just as cooperative as it was disorganized and uninformed. Meanwhile, the internal investigation pointed out at a motley cabal of people (who by now have already left France, of course) of rather diverse political views and with a plethora of foreign citizenships, mostly of other Central and Northern European countries. Despite the fact that the actual culprit hasn’t been found, the Extraordinary Investigative Commission has identified the security gaps and resulting breaches that had caused “Delecluze” to disfunction, and now it is only a matter of time and investment of engineering efforts before the mighty analytical engine is back to its top performance. (Regional quest progress: 15%, Communard France losses: -1.58 HC, -2.43 IC, -3.59 EC, -1.16 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: The Extraordinary Investigative Commission has continued its two-pronged effort to fix the technical issues experienced by France’s oldest analytical engine and to investigate any newly introduced defects and their causes. At this point it seems unlikely that any saboteurs could be found, since the foreign spy network has been laying low for the past year and a half, but at the very least it did help find and fix a big number of old (possibly, unrelated) issues with “Delecluze,” suggesting that at this rate the engine will be fully operational and working at top processing speed by the end of the year. (Regional quest progress: 85.79%, Communard France losses: -1.88 HC, -2.1 IC, -4.54 EC, -2.46 MC)
Q3 1893: The Extraordinary Engineering Commission finished its work on fixing “Delecluze” this September, helping the already functioning analytical engine to regain all of its functions. Besides, the investigation managed to unearth some of the culprits of the initial sabotage. The original defect was introduced into “Delecluze’s” programme cycle by a cryptic organization known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, unaffiliated with any political power. As for the later disappearance of engineers and subject matter experts from France, that act was completely unrelated to the initial sabotage and was performed by North-German spies. Despite no arrests being made, the biggest result of the investigative work was establishment of a much more robust counterintelligence network across France and especially its more industrialized northern departments. This came in handy when the Second Atlantic War was unexpectedly joined by Italian “false ochlocrats” and the Commune of Communes easily expelled, arrested, or nationalized all foreign assets in the north of the country.(Regional quest completed with success, region North France gains +5 IC, Regional Growth Fluctuation +0.75%, Communard France gains +10% Regional Influence, Italy loses -10% Regional Influence, Communard France losses: -1.6 HC, -0.39 IC, -4.64 EC, -3.76 MC)
Lorraine land redistribution
Q3 1893: French liberation of most of Lorraine from Austria-Bavaria during the first part of the year opened an opportunity for French Tribuns to perform a publicity stunt showing to the oppressed population of Europe why French overlords are best overlords. A land redistribution program was announced across newly liberated territories, offering land and real estate confiscated from nobility and bourgeoisie to numerous local workers and peasants, who were encouraged to unite into democratically managed factories and collective farms. The program had its challenges, since a lot of poor farmers were quite happy to receive land grants, but didn’t wish to share them with anyone else, but retribution against such “individualists” was swift and rather harsh (although it did depend on their class origin). Despite all of its local victories, the land redistribution program was eventually put to a complete halt by a simple and immitigable factor: forced retreat of French armies from most of Lorraine. (Regional quest progress: 55.86%, Communard France losses: -2.05 HC, -3.16 IC, -4.67 EC, -1.51 MC)
1890: Revolutionary spirit is great, but sometimes enthusiasm spills over the edge in France. In the first days and months of the Commune, a lot of well-off people were forced by raging mobs to give up their luxury in favor of the community, but since then the public fervor seems to have subsided. This year, however, sees a resurgence of the same pattern. What’s ironic, some of the victims of crowd racketeering and lynching were not old regime sympathizers, but political leaders of the young state who were seen as living too opulent a lifestyle compared to their fellow compatriots. With a heavy heart, the Commune’s authorities have to look into this new issue before their geopolitical rivals have used it against them.
Languages of the Commune
Q1-Q2 1893: The region of Picardy in the fart north of France is known not only for its sugar beet agriculture introduced and promoted by Napoleon to combat French dependence on sugar imports, but also for the wide use by locals of Picard language, known simply as chtimi. Similar to Cosmopolitan French, Picard language is the first of the regional dialects that has recently been introduced to local school and university programs, run by Picardian communes of various levels. This development is rather new for France, since the nation has seen a significant drop in regionalism since the times of Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and is considered to be very unitarian by contemporary European standards. Now, some members of the Commune of Communes are afraid the Picardian grassroot experiment is the first step toward reversing that unifying trend, while their opponents suggest that what unifies all Communards should be not the language they speak, but the ideas they believe in.
Fortress France (du Nord)
Q3 1893: The array of enemies of the People’s Revolution is spectacular, but so is the French determination to fight until inevitable triumph. But meanwhile, the workers’ nation simply needs to survive. In order to do that, French General Staff has come up with an idea of a continuous fortified line that combines simple infantry trenches, cement bunkers, artillery emplacements, and, innovatively, loudspeaking devices for playing inspiring music and pre-censored political news for the friendly troops and warning announcements for the enemy soldiers indifferent languages. In theory, this can become the most sophisticated and virtually unbreakable continuous line of defense since the Great Wall of China. In practice, French engineers are struggling to complete the giant project before shells start exploding above their heads. (Regional quest progress: 31.05%, Communard France losses: -2.22 HC, -0.54 IC, -6.42 EC, -5.21 MC)
Agit-trains and agit-boats
1892: In an attempt to improve the public morale and unite the nation even closer around the Communard ideals, the French government has introduced so-called agit-trains and agit-boats to its infrastructure and traffic. These are mobile propaganda centers touring around the country, outfitted with on-board printing press, government complaint office, printed political leaflets and pamphlets, library books, and a mobile cinema. The pilot project aiming to bring the “only true ideology” to the train stations and landing stages of French towns and villages was received with curiosity and enthusiasm by the commoners, but now a lot more investment of administrative effort and equipment would be needed to make that innovation nation-spread. (Technology quest progress: 18.93%, Communard France losses: -1.58 HC, -2.43 IC, -3.59 EC, -1.16 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: With the national focus centered on the war with Austria-Bavaria, only limited resources could be dedicated to pushing the extravagant propaganda project forward, reflecting on humble progress. (Technology quest progress: 22.64%, Communard France losses: -2.53 HC, -3.89 IC, -5.75 EC, -1.85 MC)
Q3 1893: The railway system of France was clogged from July to September with trains requisitioned for continuous redeployment and mobilization of troops, but this didn’t stop project supervisors from continuing some local experiments with the use of agit-trains and agit-boats. (Technology quest progress: 46.79%, Communard France losses: -1.74 HC, -2.68 IC, -3.95 EC, -1.27 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: In a bold feat of modern engineering, France is rumored to be working on new ways to deliver bomb loads of explosives to targets hidden from direct sight of artillery or even its plunging fire. Fields of Anjou became the testing grounds for electrically-powered, unmanned land vehicles, nicknamed by the French “land torpedoes,” remotely controlled via air pressure cable and carrying major demolition charges for destruction of enemy defenses. (Technology quest progress: 27.05%, Communard France losses: -1.6 HC, -0.39 IC, -4.33 EC, -3.99 MC)
Q3 1893: As French troops switched their roles from the attackers to the defenders in the war, the “land torpedoes” project was significantly deprioritized by the French high command, but intervention by the engineering corps experts helped to keep it on the books and receiving funding. (Technology quest progress: 62.48%, Communard France losses: -2.22 HC, -0.54 IC, -6.42 EC, -5.21 MC)
Snorkel and long-range submarines
Q3 1893: Out of the three members of the Anti-British Pact, only France outfits a significant number submerged attack vessels for its navy and considers them in its doctrine. The Union of America and the Free Boer Republic, on the other hand, lack close-proximity targets that could be attacked using contemporary, short-range submerged attack vessels. This, however, might change, as French engineers have come up with a special device that could act as a breathing tube for submarines, allowing them to outfit much longer underwater voyages without being detected. This attracted plenty of attention from the French allies as well, as the work on the joint project began at full speed in Brest. Combined with reinforced hull, powerful diesel engine, and, if the dynamo research goes well, electrification of the internal cabins, the Triune Pact is now looking at a new generation of large submerged attack vessels designed to be able to perform long-range expeditions and withstand the conditions of the open ocean. (Technology quest completed with success, Communard France, Free Boer Republic, Union of North America adopt “Snorkel and long-range submarines” for no additional cost, Communard France losses: -0.86 HC, -0.21 IC, -2.33 EC, -2.15 MC, Free Boer Republic losses: -0.42 HC, -0.11 IC, -1.08 EC, -0.92 MC, Union of North America losses: -0.81 HC, -0.21 IC, -2.33 EC, -2.21 MC)
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893South France
Booming center of Eastern Mediterranean trade and industry, with well-developed countryside.
1890: Social-utopists, social-revolutionaries, communards, marxists, anarchists, and even random pariahs of capitalist society of all sorts come to the French Mediterranean ports in thousands, attracted to the flame of the Revolution. Alas, not all of them prove to be law-abiding types, and even those who don’t cause trouble often end up enjoying life of leisure subsidized by hard-working French citizens. This is causing plenty of issues in the Azure Coast already, and the problems threaten to spill into the heartland soon.
Where the world comes to rest
1890: French Occitania and the Rivera once used to be known as one of the best tourist destination in continental Europe. The Revolution, however, made travel to France a much less welcoming experience for all but the most enthusiastic populists and socialists. However, many leaders of local popular communes suggest resurrecting tourism in Cote d’Azure, although it’d clearly required some change in attitude to foreigners (something that locals would be willing to do, given it improved their communes’ economic standing). Purists in the Communard party have angrily rejected this offer, although many political leaders suggest turning the region into a sanatory trip destination for outstanding workers and heroes of labor. More flexible experts think that tourists from other left-leaning countries would also be beneficial for resurrection of the Rivera tourism. One way or another, the opportunity is there for the taking.
1890: The change of French public morals after the Grand Revolution is remarkable. As fruits of labor start being redistributed among commune members across the country, some more radical communes have started suggesting redistribution of family responsibilities, including love making. In such free-love communes, anyone can sleep with anyone, given consent, and some corvee-like annual duty is required from every man or woman in terms of sexual pleasures. One result of that practice was quite predictable: a rise of venereal diseases. To combat with that woe, free-love communes have made it much harder for outsiders to become members, which brought the other, less expected, side effect. Free-love communes, as rare as they are, are quickly turning into a sort of elitist closed clubs, membership in which is desired by many, but hard to achieve. Ideologically, this is starting to turn into something quite opposite to the idea of equality and inclusion that sits at the foundation of the Communard worldview.
Everything for the frontline!
Q3 1893: Modern war is an insatiable monster, and one of its favorite snacks, besides human beings, are machines and tools of all kinds. Facing enemies on all fronts, France’s leadership has put efforts into increasing industrial production at home. In order to make new factories less vulnerable to potential enemy invasions, the factories were built in the heart of Occitania, in working suburbs of Toulouse and Bordeaux. The construction effort was well-scoped and quickly executed, and by October new armament factories were already churning out guns, rifles, and shells for the frontline (Regional quest completed with success, region South France gains +15 MC, Regional Growth Fluctuation +0.25%, Communard France losses: -0.86 HC, -0.21 IC, -2.5 EC, -2.02 MC)
Fortress France (du Sud)
Q3 1893: French Communard leadership was never afraid of taking upon British ally of Sardinia-Piedmont in an open field, but Italian declaration of war on British side made quite a few strategic intelligence officers in the national staff look like fools. Now, in order to prepare for an inevitable Sardino-Italian onslaught, French construction communes were dispatched to build a line of fortifications stretching from the Swiss border to the Mediterranean Sea, a few dozen kilometers behind the Alpian frontlines. Fortification planning was just as superb and inclusive of propaganda tools as in the north, but, just like there, the scope of the project was too big for the few engineering resources the nation could spare. Now the Civil Engineering corps leadership requests more reinforcements and soon, if the nation were to have any hopes of finishing the impenetrable defensive line before the enemy pushes French troops against it. (Regional quest progress: 22.29%, Communard France losses: -1.48 HC, -0.36 IC, -4.28 EC, -3.47 MC)
Fast-developing, but socially unstable region with dynamic, strong labor market and expanding economic capacity.
1890: The Iberian Revolution is young, and the state it’s produced is trying to define itself as a nation. The years of semi-feudal Carlist rule under a branch of the Bourbon dynasty had eroded the Spanish Crown’s subjects’ sense of national unity briefly merged during the Peninsular War. Now a question stands as to what attitude to ethnic policies the new republican government will take. Social-liberals argue for copying the North-German constitution in regards to local self-rule. Social-anarchists want to take that idea to the next level by turning the nation into a confederation of semi-independent communes. French-influenced communards argue that communes are indeed the way forward, but they should be united into a more unitarian Greater Commune akin to the French one. Meanwhile, social-populists think that the maquis, heroic bands of brigands-cum-do-gooders, should become the gears of the new state, similar to Italian mafioso, which would resolve the ethnic question all by itself. What can be said for sure, the final decision will most certainly be influenced by some great powers.
1891: Pro-monarchist agitators, probably funded by an unknown third country, were extensively promoting return of the Bourbon monarchy with less conservative lean. Despite proper funding, these words were not received well at all, even in the circles of remaining Iberian market conservatives, who viewed the old Bourbon dynasty and its policies as the ultimate reason the country was in such dire straights now. As for the remaining political circles, they vehemently opposed that agitation, and many agents of the Bourbon-supporting foreign power were arrested and executed by the inexperienced, but energetic Iberian secret police. Experts say that all dedicated reactionaries and Carlists by now are either dead or have emigrated to Portugal, so the only way to sway Iberia back to monarchism would be to expose its population to a triple amount of Carlist propaganda and prepare for a long uphill battle for their hearts. Meanwhile, pro-Communard agitation openly sponsored by the neighboring France received little attention among Spaniards, perhaps due to the fact that it took the French quite a while to set up their print publications. (Regional quest progress: -2.29%, ??? losses: -2.55 HC, -3.43 IC, -5.49 EC, -1.05 MC, Iberian Republic losses: -1.12 HC, -1.89 IC, -2.69 EC, -0.33 MC, Communard France losses: -0.82 HC, -1.27 IC, -1.87 EC, -0.60 MC)
1892: Last year’s ideological struggle between Spanish Communards and monarchists has temporarily died down (perhaps, thanks to the loss of foreign funding), but the political vacuum was filled by a resurgence of liberal, regionalist thought across all Spanish Iberia. Academic lecturers and working class demagogues across the country opened a political campaign that depicted the Communard ideology as a hyper-centralist twin brother of Carlist monarchism, with its desire to “unite and equate” ethnically unique regions of Spain into a uniform state with little to no regional and municipal political independence. While not entirely true, these statements were well-received by Spanish urbanites (despite the efforts by the Iberian counterintelligence to get to the bottom of the foreign funding liberal speakers kept on receiving), and it seems like liberal federalization is becoming a new political trend across the peninsula. (Regional quest progress: -56.62%, ??? losses: -3.88 HC, -7.02 IC, -10.31 EC, -3.04 MC, Iberian Republic losses: -3.27 HC, -5.55 IC, -7.9 EC, -0.96 MC)
Prodigal sons of Asturias
1892: During the heyday of the Spanish colonial empire, the entrepreneurs that made their fortune in the Spanish Americas and chose to return to Europe with all of their capital were known as Indianos. Today the Spanish Empire no longer exists, but the Iberian Revolution has given rise to the sentiment of hope and Asturian ethnic pride. As the economy of the region started to blossom under the stream of Italian investments, a growing number of moderate liberals and even conservatives that previously chose to abandon the country are now returning to Asturia, happy to invest into their homeland. These “new Indianos” coming from Brazil, Mexico, Gran Colombia, and Gran Paraguay, are happy to establish new businesses all across the region, but some ideological purists (and just envious paupers) point out at the “modernista” villas of the returning Indianos as an example of their corruption, opulence, and exploitation of the working folk.
Veins of the land
Q3 1893: The Spanish word “acequia” comes from Classic Arabic “as-sāqiya,” meaning “water conduit.” Acequias (and their Portuguese analogs, known as levadas) are stone-lined water irrigation canals that were introduced to Iberia by the Moors after their conquest of Spain and have been used to carry melted snow water from the mountains to dryer lands. Most of the 18th and 19th centuries was the time of economic decline both for Spain and for Portugal, and it wasn’t until very recently that the resurgence of Portugal-Brazil and Italy-supported economic recovery of Iberian Republic brought about the resources needed to reintegrate acequias and levadas into local agricultural practices.
Empty fields of Old Castile
Q1-Q2 1893: Unlike the booming Asturias, the region of Leon and Castille, and especially Castilla la Vieja (so called “Old Castille”), is still suffering from withdrawal of capital that followed the Iberian Revolution. With most of farmsteads and plantations being left uncultivated since the landowning nobility left them for the New World or Portugal, Spanish farmers had few resources at hand to make use of all of the land they suddenly inherited. That was where the Italians stepped in! Capitalizing on the scientific and industrial advancements of their “fat years,” Italian companies brought both capital and expertise of mechanized agriculture to Old Castile, creating booming agricultural enterprises and liberally employing local workers for good wages. Despite a few offsets, mostly from rural Communards who tried to stage a few boycotts of this “capitalist exploitation masked as a gift,” the program was very well-received, and with any luck it’s going to be completed in the upcoming months. (Regional quest progress: 92%, Italy losses: -1.38 HC, -0.31 IC, -3.42 EC, -2.98 MC)
Q3 1893: A poor harvest caused by unusually rainy weather somewhat hit the Italian agricultural investment into Castilla la Vieja during the late summer-early fall of 1893, but even that only proved resilience of the agricultural chain the Italians are building in Spain. As yet another firm step in the triumphant march of Italian economic projection across the Mediterranean region, this project has showcased the strength of the anarcho-liberal economic approach practiced in Italy over centralized communal planning that was popular in some post-revolutionary circles of the Iberian Republic. (Regional quest completed with success, region Iberia gains +15 EC, Regional Growth Fluctuation +1.5%, Italy gains +3% Regional Influence, Communard France loses -3% Regional Influence, Italy losses: -1.53 HC, -0.35 IC, -3.8 EC, -3.31 MC)
To Portugal and beyond!
1890: Since the first days of the Iberian Revolution, Spanish aristocracy, landed gentry, and some members of bourgeoisie have been trying to find refuge in neighboring Portugal which monarchic regime seems to be standing quite strong. At the same time, a number of Portuguese noble families have started moving their assets from the continent to Brazil, fearing the proximity of European ochlocratic regimes. That, in turn, means the Porto-Brazilian Imperial Crown is losing a great deal of economic power in the region, while, surprisingly, having a chance to gain in manpower as a number of Spanish refugees have already formed into several anti-populist battalions known as falanges. Whichever solution to this problem the Emperor chooses, it is likely to shape the region for years to come.
1892: In an effort to improve military readiness across continental Portugal and the Algarves, Portobrazilian army started working on integrating the Spanish Carlist falanges into its military structure, trying to mimic the paramilitary organizations developed in Mexico. Despite the enthusiasm (most of the Spanish emigres are unemployed and are happy to be armed, fed, and given some purpose), the progress has been slow, mostly because Portugal-Brazil is still new to the lessons that the army of Mexico has learned by heart. Still, the prospects of this initiative are looking good. (Regional quest progress: 37.43%, Portugal-Brazil losses: -1.29 HC, -0.4 IC, -0.68 EC, -0.48 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: Organization of Carlist falanges militias has continued throughout the season at even quicker pace, and military advisers think that Portugal should be a good source of manpower and officers for the Twin Crowns’ military once that effort comes to fruition. In, perhaps, a bit of a naive attempt to go beyond that utilitarian move, the Portobrazilian general in charge of the militia draft attempted to create militia settlements with vibrant economy and culture. Needless to say, the only thing vibrant about these “grunt villages,” as the locals called them, was the color of militiamen’s feathered Carlist berets. (Regional quest progress: 87.79%, Portugal-Brazil losses: -0.99 HC, -0.31 IC, -0.51 EC, -0.37 MC)
Q3 1893: By late September 1893, the Carlist military settlements have been completed and turned into a connected network of fortified garrisons with vehemently reactionary, anti-Communard population. Meanwhile, observers of this change state that continental Portugal keeps diminishing in its significance for the Twin Crowns, gradually becoming merely a miliary march on the outskirts of the sprawling global empire. (Regional quest completed with mixed results, region Iberia gains +10 HC, -5 EC, Portobrazilian troops defending in region Iberia gain +1 CR for defending against enemies attacking from same region or from Atlantic Ocean, Portugal-Brazil losses: -1.68 HC, -0.52 IC, -0.84 EC, -0.62 MC)
Booming region centered around the Nile river delta, with still average intellectual, economic, and labor capacity, but potential to connect European, African, and Asian trade.
Q3 1893: Egyptian companies have continued enthusiastic expansion of the nation’s infrastructure what has been, to this day, consisting of primarily riverine shipment along the Nile river. Thanks to that road-building effort, the Khedivate has continued to push deeper into the Egyptian and Libyan deserts. (Region Nile Region gains +0.59% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Egypt gains +0.98% Regional Influence, uncolonized loses -0.98% Regional Influence, Egypt losses: -1.86 HC, -0.49 IC, -4.55 EC, -3.21 MC)
Death and taxes, and infidels
1890: The Ummahist movement dominating the politics of still formally monarchist Khedivate of Egypt is taking pride in building a socially progressive and relatively egalitarian society based on the dogmas of the Quran. One of the natural consequences of that political alignment, however, is the jizya tax applied to all dhimmis, or non-Muslims. In Egypt, it means that the Jewish and Coptic communities that traditionally contribute quite a lot to the nation’s science, banking, and art, are being relatively disenfranchised. Reintegrating these minorities into the fabric of the Ummah could provide a great boon to the development of the region.
1891: The Khedivate has tried to move away from the ancient, straightforward definition of jizya as an “infidelity tax” toward a more flexible approach of “extra contribution” required from non-Muslims toward commonly shared social and economic goal. That effort, predictably, suffered from extreme vagueness of definitions and no literal rules that could be directly implemented and enforced. A very small number of non-Muslims volunteered to perform some meaningful contributions to the state, while the vast majority either emulated some useless social activity in order to escape the extra taxation or opted in to continue to pay the old, predictable jizya tax. Unless the approach is changed (or unless significant resources are dedicated to addressing this issue the current way), solving this confusion may take many years. (Regional quest progress: 2.45%, Egypt losses: -1.29 HC, -1.13 IC, -3.04 EC, -1.35 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: It took a year for the Egyptian authorities to take a step back and rethink its previous attempt to address the jizya tax. The new solution the government came up with turned out much more functional and streamlined. State agencies were instructed to forward the revenue gained through jizya taxation toward municipal projects benefitting those very communities that have paid it, which was relatively easy to do in the communitarian society of Ummahist Egypt. Some of the more radical Muslim activists were displeased by that “preferentialism,” but independent mullahs had to agree that the new practice was unusual, but perfectly legal within the scope of Islamic law. While more years (or a bigger concentration of efforts) may be required to make the new practice widespread and common, it seems to be working quite well, helping to reimburse more disenfranchised communities across the nation without hurting everyone else. (Regional quest progress: 35.48%, Egypt losses: -2.99 HC, -4.39 IC, -7.05 EC, -1.29 MC)
Q3 1893: Judging by the Khedive’s persistence on the current reform vector, Egypt’s leadership is quite happy with the way the jizya overhaul is advancing. Complaints from traditionalist Muslim communities are being consciously ignored, while more liberal Ummahists praise the new approach as the best way forward for Islamic socialism. (Regional quest progress: 47.29%, Egypt losses: -2.5 HC, -3.65 IC, -5.81 EC, -1.09 MC)
A viceroy without a king
1890: For over twenty five years the Khedive (lit. “viceroy” in Turkish) has been de-facto independent from the Sublime Porte. However, the title remains to be seen as an obvious sign of the relative geopolitical immaturity of the Egyptian state. Many political experts in the Ummah suggest that the state should reform both its formal facade and its foreign policy to match what they consider Egypt’s true role in the world. Mullahs that represent rural areas of the region think that Egypt should act as the leader of the Arabic Muslim world by resembling the idyllic view of the true-believers society. Military and naval elites stand on more practical grounds of war-driven colonial expansion. Finally, rare westernizers, primarily among the Hebrew and Coptic communities, think that Egypt should use its natural geographic position to be a trading hub between prosperous Europe and quickly developing Asia, staying neutral in major political games.
1891: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and state press of the Khedivate of Egypt were tasked with starting to establish a new, independent course for the nation, contrary to the Ottoman domination of the Arabic world and at the same time clearly aimed at African colonial expansion. However, this effort turned into a series of overly general statements and geopolitical truisms, charging absolutely no one among the Egyptian public with enthusiasm. If anything, to many it looks like the Khedivate’s resurgence is turning into a sudden stagnation. That strongly contrasted with the enthusiasm brought to the Egyptian public discourse by pro-French Communard newspapers, cultural missions, as well as “legation communes” and “foreign development commissions.” They were instructed to support Egyptian Ummahism and the Khedivate administrative hierarchy, while simultaneously promoting a positive image of ochlocratic regimes, thus drawing Egypt into the Mediterranean ochlocratic camp. A combination of propaganda and economic investments, this effort proved to be very successful, starting to pull conventional Ummahism farther left ideologically. (Regional quest progress: 55.57%, Egypt losses: -1.11 HC, -1.62 IC, -2.55 EC, -0.49 MC, Communard France losses: -1.67 HC, -1.35 IC, -4.2 EC, -2.87 MC)
Q1-Q2 1893: Just like with the jizya tax reform, it took the Khedive and his advisors a year to re-evaluate the nation’s geopolitical alignment and mission. The new vision for Egypt they came up with and presented to the public via a series of publications, diplomatic assignments, and education programs was much more attractive than the old one. Egypt was depicted as a nation entitled by its very geographic position to be a connecting link between European, African, and Oriental economies, a middleman in every deal and a friendly, shrewd economic player on the world market. The Suez Canal, built by Bourbon France before the Atlantic War and inherited by Egypt after the Communard Revolution and the French Imperial collapse, played a big role in that new vision, being in specifically high demand due to the economic boom in the Orient and insecurity of shipping going around the Cape of Good Hope. This geopolitical realignment effort, however, had to face a lot of resistance from Communard France which still held a lot of influence among more radical Ummahists and Egyptian communal guilds. The war of ideas was non-violent, taking place mostly on periodicals’ pages and in cabinets of various ministries and offices, but right now it seems like the Khedive’s vision is winning, gradually pushing Egypt out of the ochlocratic orbit. (Regional quest progress: 67.71%, Egypt losses: -1.82 HC, -2.66 IC, -4.28 EC, -0.79 MC, Communard France losses: -2.45 HC, -3.77 IC, -5.57 EC, -1.8 MC)
Q3 1893: Pro-Communard agitation stopped bombarding the Egyptian society, perhaps, driven by reorientation of French diplomatic resources to the European conflict. However, support of ochlocratic ideals came from a surprising source this fall. The Khedive himself, along with a group of loyalist Ummahist theologists and social thinkers, have declared that market-friendly mercantilism to which Egypt is naturally drawn to by the merit of its geographical location should not stand on the way of promoting social welfare in full accordance with the teachings of Prophet Mohammed himself. As the Khedive himself has stated during one of his public appearances, “Egypt will stand proudly on the world stage, but it will stand alongside its people, not on top of them.” That has naturally drawn the nation commercially closer to the more radical ochlocratic regimes, while still keeping Egypt an acceptable trade partner for more moderate nations. The new cycle of national discourse has created a strong intellectual legacy in Egypt, while also forming an optimistic investment climate among its capitalists. Some observers also point out that the change of tone was either an extremely lucky or extremely prophetic move, as it came at the time when Republican Italy came into a drastic conflict with Communard France and also lost its positions in Unionist North America. By committing to the ochlocratic ideas, without sounding too confrontational at the same time, Egypt easily replaced Italian interests in many regions at the time when the markets were in disarray. (Regional quest completed with complete success, region Nile Region gains +15 IC, +15 EC, Regional Growth Fluctuation +0.25%, Egypt gains +2.5% Regional Influence, Communard France gains +0.75% Regional Influence, Italy loses -4% Regional Influence, Communes of the Andes gains +0.25% Regional Influence, Basmachi State gains +0.25% Regional Influence, Union of North America gains +0.25% Regional Influence, South France: Italy loses -4.15% Regional Influence, Egypt gains +4.25% Regional Influence, New England: Egypt gains +1.25% Regional Influence, Italy loses -1.25% Regional Influence, Egypt losses: -2.14 HC, -3.13 IC, -4.98 EC, -0.93 MC)
Q3 1893: Ever since its construction by Imperial French engineers, the Suez Canal was considered somewhat a game-changer for world and regional commerce and oceanography. One consequence of its creation, however, was never thought of. Invasive species from lush tropical waters of the Red Sea are starting to infiltrate the Mediterranean Sea, a temperate region with significantly lower productivity, imbalancing local zoological balance and starting to impact fishing businesses all across the Eastern Mediterranean region. The case became so well-known that marine biologists have started to refer to an phenomenon of invasive species migration as a Lessepsian migration, named after an Imperial French diplomat who secured the contract of Suez Canal construction in the 1850s, before the canal was nationalized by Egypt. Now, the Mediterranean marine biosphere has become so imbalanced that it’s threatening economic stability of numerous fishing enterprises and businesses, from Egypt to Turkey to Greece to Italy. If anyone were to solve the problem in any way, some out-of-box thinking may be required.
Protectors of the White Monastery
Q1-Q2 1893: The Senussi are a group of clans, united into a political-religious tariqa (Islamic Sufi order), controlling the outback of the Western Egyptian and Libyan Deserts and projecting their power upon other Bedouin tribes from their theocratic capital of Zawiya Bayda (“White Monastery”). Formed in the middle of the 19th century around the notion of loss of purity and spirituality in contemporary Islam, the Senussi are the core opposition to any colonial expansion into non-coastal Libya, rejecting suzerainty of even Muslim rulers of Egypt and Maghreb over them. Now it’s up to any interested power to decide how to make use of the proud Senussi devotees or how to move them out of the colonizers’ way.
Q1-Q2 1893: Egyptian metalworks have announced that they are working on developing a new type of stainless steel notable for its corrosion resistance and that could be eventually be used for food handling and cutlery among many other applications. Previously rejected as a scientific investment proposition by the Sublime Porte, this project has had a rough start in Al-Kahira foundries, with first batches of the new metal not meeting the announced standard either in quality or in cost of production, thus turning away some investors. The Khedive’s advisors, however, point out that it’s time for him to exercise his extraordinary powers as a guide and steward of the Egyptian Ummah and divert more enterprises to this promising project, as well as modernize the way Egyptian businesses function. (Regional quest progress: -3.14%, Egypt losses: -3.55 HC, -0.93 IC, -8.68 EC, -6.13 MC)
Q3 1893: Despite the first half a year’s failure to impress investors with a new sort of steel, the Khedive has retained a positive (some say, too positive) perception of the project. Al-Kahira Steel Works were encouraged to continue their development of stainless steel technology, this time concentrating on its quality. Luckily, the optimistic directive was also supported by an assignment of additional metallurgic experts to the research team, which helped to turn the project around and produce first batches of material by October 1893. A lot of work still lies ahead, still, because the metallurgic processes still need to be revised and improved to make stainless steel production truly economically viable and competitive. (Technology quest progress: 27.57%, Egypt losses: -2.03 HC, -0.53 IC, -4.96 EC, -3.5 MC)
Zamburak and mounted fire support
Q3 1893: While some militaries follow the path of increasing mechanization, Egypt has joined a camp of major powers that look to bolster their tactical capabilities by polishing old technology to perfection, saving precious industrial resources for other, more crucial needs. In a demonstration of that approach, the Khedivate’s military has launched a major military wargame and field exercise in the Nile Delta, during which they utilized mounted forces (mostly, camelry) with swivel cannons, Gatling guns, or machine guns installed on mounts’ backs, making them capable of delivering direct support fire in between active maneuvering. (Technology quest completed, Egypt adopts “Zaburak and mounted fire support” for no additional cost, Egypt losses: -2.18 HC, -0.6 IC, -1.18 EC, -0.74 MC)
Update 4: July 1, 1893 - September 30, 1893North Africa
Fast-developing gateway to Sub-saharan Africa with big Islamic cultural and educational centers, but uneven economic development and mediocre population density.
Q3 1893: Maghrebi peaceful colonization of the Sahara Desert and inner Gambian and Senegalese territories continues at a crawling pace, plagued by poor infrastructure and stubborn resistance of Tuareg chiefs to change. (Region North Africa gains +0.83% Regional Growth Fluctuation, Maghreb gains + 1.98 Regional Influence, uncolonized loses -1.98% Regional Influence, Maghreb losses: -4.48 HC, -3.4 IC, -10.53 EC, -5.06 MC)
1892: Italian expatriate diasporas, trade posts, and even colonies of Genoise and Pisan settlers have existed in Tunisia for centuries, but it wasn’t until now that their demographic and economic weight have become a matter of discussion in the Maghrebi society. Tunisian Italians (most of them of Jewish heritage) are not very numerous, but posses a very strong sense of community and cultural independence. They do not oppose the power of the Maghrebi sultan, but demand their traditions of semi-independence to be respected. And the Sultan has few other options, since the Tunisian Italians traditionally dominate regional commerce, being so influential that Italian language has become the lingua franca of South-Eastern Mediterranean. However, recent trade war with Portugal-Brazil and fears of Italian corrupt-economic expansion have pushed a lot of Maghrebi hardliners to demand a more strict, if not entirely nationalistic approach to the “Italian Peril” from the Sultan.
Lords of the desert
1890: The expansion of Moroccan authority into the territories previously controlled by the French Empire took place right around the time of the collapse of the French colonial administration in the end of the Atlantic War. That action helped build a new Maghreb national entity and generated a lot of enthusiasm along the coastline. However, the outback remains rather indifferent and sometimes even hostile toward the Sultan’s authority. Reactionary warlords of various nomadic Tuareg tribes don’t see any benefits of the rapid modernization the country is undergoing, and they prefer to use their knowledge of Transsaharan caravan routes to act as middlemen, guides, and supply providers in the light of Maghrebi colonial ambitions.
1890: Maghrebi takeover of French colonies along the coast of the Senegal River after the Atlantic War was applauded at the sultan’s court as the proof that the resurgent sultanate can compete with pesky Europeans at their games of imperialism. Now, however, the young nation is seeing what British poet Kipling has called the “white man’s burden.” Ungrateful natives, surprisingly, don’t quite accept “the gift of civilization” from their masters. Moreover, a series of popular riots and attacks on outposts suggest that conquest of Senegal might have been only the beginning of a long struggle with unknown losses waiting ahead.
Stagnant, relatively populous region, suffering from low socio-economic development and semi-absent infrastructure..
Fanatics and prophets
1890: Egyptian Sudan is still recovering from a rebellion of Mahdist fanatics, who tried to overthrow Khedivate’s authorities in the 1880s, but were since then pushed out into “uncivilized” lands of West Sudan. Still led by by their legendary leader, fakir (or holy man) Muhammad Ahmad ibn as Sayyid Abd Allah, the Mahdiyah (Mahdist regime) is starting to spread its ideology among local tribes, gathering resources for their return to the Nile river basin. A series of attacks on outposts and frontier villages of Sudanese Arabs have taken place, and Khedivate authorities are afraid that some cells of Islamist radicals are still lying dormant in Egyptian Sudan, waiting for a Mahdist intrusion to start wrecking havoc among loyalists.
1891: The Egyptian Khedivate threw its secret police, military intelligence service, and the army into suppressing the growing threat of Mahdi insurgency in Egypt-controlled Sudan. The secret police action was rather effective at discovering and arresting a number of radical preachers and terrorist cells, but the army failed to produce the results that were expected from it. This was mostly because the central government never made up its mind to formally declare war on the Mahdist State in Western Sudan, so Egyptian generals were confined to anti-insurgency warfare and border skirmishes against Mahdist groups trying to infiltrate Egyptian Sudan. Some success was achieved on that front, but the Mahdist cause is still alive. (Regional quest progress: 21.02%, Egypt losses: -2.82 HC, -1.12 IC, -2.04 EC, -0.99 MC)
Legacy of the Era of Princes
1890: When Sunni emir of Harar, Ahmad III ibn Abu Bakr, became the Emperor of Abyssinia at the twilight of Zemene Mesafint (or “Era of Princes”), it was viewed as a great victory for Egyptian diplomacy. For the first time in centuries, a friendly Muslim dynasty controlled the rich, populous region south of the Khedivate. However, now it seems like the victory has brought troubles with it. Muslims are a minority in Egypt, and the current emperor 'Abd Allah II ibn 'Ali 'Abd ash-Shakur is deeply unpopular among his subjects, and a noble rebellion is brewing in Abyssinia. Some advisors recommend the Khedive to support the Emperor with troops directly, while others think that such a blunt move would only infuriate Monophysite Ethiopians and Egyptian Coptic diaspora. For now, a range of solutions may be devised, but the clock is ticking, and the situation may explode any moment.
1891: Egypt chose to extend its influence over Abyssinia through the sheer presence of amassed armed forces near its borders and in its waters. While the fleet’s maneuvers did little impress the largely landlocked nation, the army did dissuade a lot of northern Miaphisite warlords from voicing their opposition to Emperor Ahmad III. This did not solve the issue in its entirety, but helped at limiting its scope. (Regional quest progress: 24.17%, Egypt losses: -2.95 HC, -0.88 IC, -1.8 EC, -1.45 MC)
Q3 1893: Egypt’s quite smartly moving away from heavy-handed aggressive posturing to some sort of constructive political and cultural influence. Unfortunately, the way the new approach was applied led to nothing but a slight loss of positions in Abyssinia. Egyptian envoys were tasked with encouraging the current Sultan to embrace Ummahism and Islamic socialism as the leading principle of the Ethiopian state. That, however, was met with a wall of silent misunderstanding on the part of Abyssinian nobles, who viewed their power and wealth through a lense of feudal social structure. Even worse was the idea’s reception among the clergy and the commoners, who were completely alien to any modern ideas of social welfare, coming from a completely backward, pastoral socioeconomic background. If socialism was merely strange and confusing to them, its Islamic version became simply toxic, primarily because vast majority of the Abyssinian Sultan’s subjects remain Miaphisite Christians who, until recently, enjoyed benign neglect on the part of their Muslim rulers. The damage done to the Egyptian influence in Ethiopia was humble, but it has flashed out limitations of the nation’s ideology. (Regional quest progress: 22.14%, Egypt losses: -3.75 HC, -5.48 IC, -8.72 EC, -1.64 MC)
Loyalty of the Slaver King
1891: The success of Egyptian colonization of Somalia has opened up the gates for colonization of the Great Rift Valley. While the north of this wilderness (all the way to Sudan) is controlled by the defiant Mahdi state, the south is an amalgam of tribes bound together through a web of caravan routes that belong to the infamous “Slaver King” Al-Zubayr Rahma Mansur. Despite the nickname, that enigmatic trader has built his fortune on ivory trade and controls his network via trade posts known as zaribas. It appears that the Slaver King is open for negotiations with foreign powers over his allegiance, but at the same time he is extremely ambitious. Whoever wins his loyalty is likely to become not just the owner of the Great Rift Valley and Sudd, but also the controller of its flourishing trade.
Stagnant region with complex ethnic composition and once rich, but now semi-abandoned mining industry.
No two slavers are same
1890: British and Dutch colonial slavery practices, surprisingly, generate plenty of tension between these rather homogeneous administrations. Dutch interior colonial territories are badly patrolled, so runaway slaves from British West Africa (at least, those who fail to make their way to Liberia or the Toucouleur Caliphate) often find shelter in Dutch Ghana. Despite formally agreeing to return British “runaway property” back to their owners, Dutch colonial gendarmes are rarely paid well enough to risk their lives in raids on runaway hideouts. In Amsterdam, British demands of action are very unpopular (most common response being, “Don’t you tell us what to do!”), while the General-Governor of Ghana is afraid that these holdouts are becoming melting pots of African social-revolutionaries, where tribal divisions (so beneficial for outnumbered white colonists) are being eroded and a new pan-Malian culture is forming.
Freed and enraged
1890: The state of Liberia was an idealistic (or, as some say, misguided) attempt to establish a democratic nation of freed states, organized by the Union of North America after the brutal Atlantic War. However, it seems like the scars of slavery and warfare are preventing new citizens of Liberia from living according to the ideals of racial tolerance, as it was intended. In fact, two dozen ship crew members were lynched in Monrovia this year during racial riots sparked by a bar brawl. Whites from the North-American Union and allied nations are mostly tolerated (not without some contempt, though), but for other foreign nationals of fair skin color a visit to Liberia may be a risky enterprise.
Weapons of the Jihad
1890: The Toucouleur Empire is struggling to prepare itself for its seemingly inevitable confrontation with the British. For that, they need modern weapons, and some advisers cautiously suggest that Emir Saidou should create his own manufacturing capacities for a prolonged war. The only currently available source of these dangerous innovations is through Trans-saharan trade with the Maghrebi Sultanate, but it’s possible other major powers would try to use this opportunity in the future. Now, it is time to decide what the Massina people could offer to their future weapons importers. Access to local rich salt and gold deposits is the most obvious offer, but who knows what else could attract foreigners’ greedy stares.
1891: Looking to dissuade any close cooperation between the Toucouleur Empire and Maghreb arms traders, British colonial authorities went on to dispatch significant army resources just to posture next to the Anglo-Toucouleur borders. This move didn’t succeed at cooling down Massina zealotry; if anything, the calls for allying to any Muslim nation that could spare the Toucouleur from British conquest only became louder at the Emir’s court. (Regional quest progress: -4.82%, British Royal Commonwealth losses: -2.87 HC, -0.97 IC, -1.62 EC, -1.57 MC)
Troubled, desolated by war, and religiously divided region with unexplored resource potential, but wide opportunities for agricultural development and big population.
White Aethiopians to rule them all!
Q1-Q2 1893: Devastation of Hausan nobility of the Sokoto Caliphate in the Portobrazilian conquest of 1892 has left a deep demographic and sociopolitical scar in the region. With old feudal power structures being in tatters, Portobrazilian colonial administration is trying its best to find local collaborators who would like to act as an administrative interlayer between the natives and their white-skinned overlords. For the slavery-dominated Portobrazilian society, this search ultimately comes to the matter of skin color, and that has become an unexpected bliss for Fulbe people living in the far north and west of the region. Described in some sources as Leucaethiopians (lit. “White Aethiopians”), the Fulbe people have a light-dark skin color which Portobrazilians, perhaps impolitely, like to compare to the color of hot chocolate. Some voices, including the colonial general-governor, propose elevating the Fulbe to the position of tribal or even feudal dominance in the region, letting them oversee other ethnicities and absorb their discontent, if it arises.
1890: Rice cultures have been consistently failing all across the region in the past three years, mostly due to a sequence of droughts. In Sokoto, local princes were encouraged by the Caliph to share some of their surplus supply of food with hungry peasants (at the coast of debt slavery for many of them), but in the Gobir Confederacy there is no authority centralized enough to stop the galloping inflation and famine resulted from the fact that local nobles and trade guilds hoard their rice and sell it for tenfold of its price. How this crisis develops may either weaken Gobir or help another power get a mercantile bridgehead in the region.
1892: Dissolution of the Confederacy changed little in the economic situation across the region. The authorities may now speak a different language, but the merchant class is still the main hoarder of wealth across the region, and the commoners continue to suffer.
Q1-Q2 1893: Portugal-Brazil, to a surprise of many observers, showed itself a benevolent overlord. Rice and grain were imported from Brazil to be distributed among the poor, which hasn’t solved the crisis yet, but at least proved to be a good display of intent. Attempts to purchase provision from the merchant class for prices only slightly above the market price, however, didn’t play out as well. Knowing full well that the entire region cannot survive solely on Brazilian grain and rice imports (at least, at the current level of economic investment from the Twin Crowns), the merchants prefered to hold onto their goods and keep prices speculatively high, although some lowering of prices did take place thanks to a growing supply. (Regional quest progress: 21.71%, Portugal-Brazil losses: -2.51 HC, -0.69 IC, -7.16 EC, -5.41 MC)
Q3 1893: After addressing the most immediate food shortages last season, Portobrazilian colonial authorities went for a more long-term and holistic solution to the famine problem. While Royal West African Company was established to continue supplying the region with most needed resources and goods from the global empire, a number of agricultural initiatives was launched, mostly providing incentives, grants, and expertise for local farmers willing to adopt intercropping agriculture, with drought-resistant cowpea being particularly promoted as a dull and cheap, but reliable sustenance produce. At current rate, chances are that the problem will be solved completely quite soon, turning the Niger river valley into a modest, but self-reliant imperial colony. (Regional quest progress: 85.46%, Portugal-Brazil losses: -2.01 HC, -0.55 IC, -5.72 EC, -4.33 MC)
1890: The Yoruba nation of Oyo once controlled most of the Nigerian coast. Soon after the French colonial demise the Portobrazilians stepped into the resulting vacuum mostly thanks to their promises of relative independence to the Oyo king Adeyemi I. Now, however, it seems like the promised independence was mostly cosmetic and found its reflection in titles and ceremonies rather than in any meaningful decisions. That’s making Dahomey Yoruba people increasingly upset by the Porto-Brazilian colonial rule.
Q1-Q2 1893: Portobrazilian general-governor has recognized that if the Twin Crowns wanted to keep control of the Niger region, they’d have to establish functional relationship with the Oyo king, whose territories along the coast hold the key to the colony’s prosperity and logistics. Negotiations have started on providing Adayemi I with greater degree of independence within the limits of the original protection agreement that binds him to collaborate with colonial authorities. At the same time, the Portobrazilians were careful not to anger their own home aristocracy that could be dismayed at the notion that some “savage king” could be considered their equal. (Regional quest progress: 36.29%, Portugal-Brazil losses: -0.56 HC, -0.75 IC, -1.2 EC, -0.23 MC)
Stagnant backwaters of Africa with little to no exposure to the world, but unknown deposits of natural resources.
The Dark Continent
1890: Maghrebi access to Transsaharan caravan routes and Egyptian use of the Nile river past the Cataracts means that these two nations naturally have colonial ambitions in the Central-African region. Neither of the nations has any military presence in the vast region yet, but some low-key incidents have already started to take place. For instance, this year a massacre took place along the caravan route near the Chad lake. It is believed that a pro-Maghrebi Tuareg merchant ordered his guards to slaughter a Ummahist mullah and his seven students from Alexandria. Details of the incident are hazy, and it’s unclear if the tragedy was sparked by socially progressive views of the Egyptian missionaries or greed of the Tuareg merchant (whose loyalty to the Sultan of Maghreb is as questionable). What can be said for sure, the heart of the Dark Continent is going to become a stage for such “incidents” moving forward.
The source of the Nile
1890: Search for the source of the Nile river is quickly becoming a matter of prestige and principle for explorers from many countries, inspired by a series of speculative articles published in several popular scientific magazines this year. Geographic societies from many countries are asking their governments to sponsor and equip expeditions to the Heart of Africa, hoping to become the first ones to discover the fabled source of the great river.
1891: The North German Federation outfitted an expedition to find the source of the Nile, but the expedition suffered from a series of poor planning and unrealistic expectations. The attempt to navigate the river all the way from the delta faced vehement Egyptian protest, and the few non-military ships that were allowed to navigate the river couldn’t pass even the first cataract. The army was equally unable to deal with overwhelming logistical issues. Only a small (non-military) part of the expedition was somewhat successful, but the progress so far is horrifically low. (Regional quest progress: 21.52%, North German Federation losses: -2.96 HC, -2.72 IC, -4.36 EC, -3 MC)
Unarmed, but dangerous
1890: Out of all polities existing beyond the reach of “civilized” nations, the tribal kingdom of Baganda seems to be the most organized and populous. That isolation, however, proves to be a blessing and a curse. Its current king, Danieri Basammula-Ekkere Mwanga II Mukasa, is an avid anti-Christian and a paranoid military modernizer, but he is struggling to find a way to supply his army with modern weapons. Some great nations may like it that way, but for others it may open a chance to establish some presence in this remote region of the world.
Stagnant population center of Africa, with complex ethnic composition and unexplored resource potential.
Q3 1893: Confederate colonization of Gabon and Eastern Cameroon has continued, with the colonial forces pushing boundaries of the CSA’s reach deeper inland and into the Greater Congo basin with very little organized resistance from local tribes. (Confederate States of America gains +7.53% Regional Influence, uncolonized gains -7.53% Regional Influence, Confederate States of America losses: -1.25 HC, -0.39 IC, -0.62 EC, -0.63 MC)
1890: Strange tribes of extremely short people, called the Pigmy, live in the depths of the continent. While not very valuable as work slaves, these Pigmy make great and very loyal house servants for their owners, being quite valuable on slave markets across the world. But before selling them, these precious slaves need to be captured, and Confederate slave traders tend to hire local Bantu tribes to do that job for them. This is quickly deteriorating into a strange sort of colonial dynamic, in which Bantu middlemen are growing almost as rich as Confederate American colonizers (and indispensable, to boot).
1890: Porto-Brazilian colonial authorities in Angola are lobbying a project of a railroad that would connect the city of Benguela on the Atlantic coast to Lourenco Marques, the capital of Porto-Brazilian Mocambique. That so called “Latin Belt” would have to face the problem of practically non-existent infrastructure in the African inland. In addition, the Free Boer Republic is vehemently protesting such a project, seeing it as a Porto-Brazilian attempt to block Boer advancement into the depth of the continent.
1891: While Portugal-Brazil’s available civil engineering resources were thrown into the construction of the Panama Canal, its army was tasked with securing the lands adjacent to the future planned route of the Latin Belt railroad. For now, the decision was made to keep the Latin Belt just a poorly patrolled rural road with garrisoned roadblocks every few miles. However, even that humble plan went horribly wrong when dispersed Portobrazilian colonial platoons started suffering from ambushes by local tribes, who used complete lack of effective logistics on Portobrazilian side to their advantage. Military observers say that the local resistance doesn’t scare them by itself, but they are afraid that complete absence of infrastructure means that even army engineers have a trouble supplying the troops so far from home colonies. They request proper civilian engineers to support the effort, and some additional troops to guard them. (Regional quest progress: -9.29%, Portugal-Brazil losses: -4.08 HC, -1.15 IC, -1.89 EC, -1.37 MC)
West Angolan Trading Company
1891: The new trade agreement and alliance between the Free Boer Republic and Portugal-Brazil has created a new need for a trading company that could facilitate the high volume of future trades in the area. Such company was established this year by Boer state-affiliated businesses and is now in the process of bringing its operations up to speed. (Regional quest progress: 61.14%, Free Boer Republic losses: -0.70 HC, -0.18 IC, -1.79 EC, -1.53 MC)
The smell of burning bridges (Angola)
1892: While half of the Portobrazilian army was busy fighting Gobir and Sokoto, a series of hectic raids and suspicious insurgencies took place in Angola, near the Boer-Portobrazilian border. The Boer newspapers almost unanimously depicted the events as a Boer attempt to “investigate the attacks on the Boer settlers by local tribesmen.” However, no such attacks were known to the Portobrazilian press or even the Twin Crowns’ counter-espionage agency, so the raids into the Portobrazilian territory across the poorly marked colonial border raised plenty of suspicion and dealt a good deal of damage to the colony. It seems even more suspicious that practically no damage was done by the “local tribesmen” to the Boer-owned West Angolan Trading Company. One way or another, if the border warfare continues this way, the colony could be completely destabilized.
Q1-Q2 1893: Just like in Mocambique, cross-border raids have stopped in Angola this year, as the Portobrazilian army was redeployed from Nigeria in order to restore order. As slow as the progress is, it seems to be much better than in Mocambique, possibly thanks to the fact that patrolling efforts started in early February thanks to much shorter redeployment time. (Regional quest progress: 20.57%, Portugal-Brazil losses: -2.31 HC, -0.71 IC, -0.18 EC, -0.86 MC)
Q3 1893: Portobrazilian colonial authorities have continued rebuilding peaceful life in the colony, while wearily watching across the border as the Free Boer Republic prepares to fight the Second Atlantic War to the last man, promising ever more refugee (or raiding) problems in the future. (Regional quest progress: 80.07%, Portugal-Brazil losses: -2.36 HC, -0.73 IC, -1.17 EC, -0.87 MC)
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