At the gate of Tyranny

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


At the Gates of Tyranny

By

 Gino Sapiano

Nickolas Gunn

Evelyn Hartley

Thousands of years may pass, but never will it be possible to speak of heroism without mentioning the German army in the World War, then, from the veil of the past, the iron front of the gray steel helmet will emerge unwavering and unflinching, a mortal monument as long is there are Germans alive, They will remember that these were true sons of their nation.

Hans Steiner

 

The world war was the end of an era. Dying empires, ruled by ancient kings, sent millions to die in the grey, foggy trenches. In the murky twilight, in-between the flash of the great guns, a new era was born. Plagued by ideological contagions, it's birth was laced with complications.The scars of that war will never heal.  It proved among other things that brave men are dead ones.

David Lloyd George

 

The next European war may be started by a balkan, but it will be Pomeranian bones buried by british steel.

Otto von bismarck



 

In a british pub named 'The Bear and the Bull' Two men in their fifties sat in a leather studded booth with two plates of food and beer set down in front of them. The German ordered sauerbraten, boiled potatoes, semmelknoedel and kolsch. The Englishman ordered a traditional english breakfast and cider. 

“You come to a british pub and order German food?” Edmond Rockwell inquired. 

“We may be in a English pub, in an English town. But we are still in The Kaiserreich,” Hans Steiner remarked with a slight tone of annoyance. 

Edmond paid no attention to the comment and turned to the waitress. 

“Thanks Kat,” Edmond said to the waitress, ignoring the comment from Hans. She smiled at him. They both knew that she had no interest in him, but she still played it up for better tips. Her family had fled to german controlled belgium during the syndicalist revolution in the British isles when she was just a baby. She remembered none of it, but heard enough about it from the old men in this city. 

“My Kaiser didn't treat you like POWs, yet you still eat like one. I mean look at those sausages,” Hans asserted, pointing to the small breakfast sausages sitting on Edmonds plate. 

“There is nothing wrong with English meat, I just need a little HP,” Edmond Replied, defending his meal. 

“Who eats eggs at night anyway?” Hans added before turning to his meal, already tired of arguing. 

“You don’t see me poking fun at your food, although there are plenty of reasons to,” Edmond retorted. Hans said nothing.

“What's wrong, already done picking on me? You used to have a lot more fight in you.” Edmond replied before dropping the subject and starting in on his eggs. 

There were a few moments of silence interrupted only by the scraping of utensils on the plates.

“Did you read the paper this morning? French border guards shot 160 people trying to cross the border into Alsace-Lorraine last night. They were mostly Jewish women and children that had escaped from one of their camps…” Hans voiced without looking up. Edmond sighed in response.

“I fear the world is about to plunge itself into darkness once more,” Hans stressed, looking up with a thousand mile stare. He could still hear the guns of the great war in his head. 

“You really think the leaders of the world would allow that?” Edmond questioned, hoping against it and remembering the drum like the fire of rifles. 

“Allow it! Those fuckers across that thin channel and just south of us want all of us dead. If it was not for the cool and coordinated mind of the Kaiserin Victoria, this world would have already stepped off the edge!” Hans burst out. 

Edmond glanced around quickly. The pub they were in was noisy and crowded, so no one really paid any attention. 

“Hans, calm down. The war is over,” Edmond reminded his friend, “Plus no one in their right mind would try to fight the Central powers. The German army alone is almost three million men.” 

“No one in their right mind…” Hans muttered while attacking his potatoes, “Syndies aren’t in their right mind and never have been.” 

SIlence fell on the table again, and Hans finished his beer and quickly requested for more. Edmond followed suit, and soon a new round was set before them. 

Hans raised his drink toward his friend and announced, “To the future! May all those Basque snipers shoot the Syndies for us!” 

Edmond raised his glass and said in response, “To the free state of Andorra!” 

The pair clinked their glasses together and a bit of beer spilled on the table. 

“I also read today that the Spanish king's health is deteriorating, can you imagine that country falling to Syndicalism?” Edmond asked, getting back to his meal.

“Oh please, those catholics will never accept that,” Hans answered.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All along St. Mary’s Street, posters advertising the most sought-after call girls of the week were plastered on the fences partitioning the wrought iron skeletons of an entire new district's worth of skyscrapers. At this hour, the only eyes to see them belonged to wandering derelicts looking for a place to sleep after the cops chase them out of Oldtown every night before the sun went down. One particular newspaper box had caught the eye of Paul Bradshaw as he listlessly trudged back to the office where he slept from the store with his weekly ration of rotgut whiskey. In bold, abrasive lettering, it shouted:

NEW BORDER SKIRMISHES INFLAMED IN TSARIST-OCCUPIED TERRITORIES!

He sighed, immediately uncorked one of his bottles of Texas Surgeon and took a gulp as his days as a war correspondent in the Western Front came flooding back uninvited. On the ochre horizon loomed massive gray storm clouds that rumbled like the treads of tanks. He tried not to dwell on it too hard, but the memory couldn’t be suppressed, the Nebraska summer thunderstorms came at the optimum time to link the peals of thunder with the volleys of artillery that forever imprinted in Paul’s mind the symphony of Spokane. 

Operation Old Crow was the nadir of his career and should have been what cemented him as one of the greats of journalism.  Instead, he was utterly broken by those three months in Satan’s playpen some twenty years ago, a washed-up tabloid yellowbelly only fit for covering the inane debaucheries of Omaha’s beautiful people for the masses yearning for a vicarious distraction. Terry Allen’s retaking of the Argonne bridge with a company of one thousand men against a swarm of thirty thousand from all directions was the stuff myths were made of, but instead it became a footnote. True heroism was seen as juvenile to the publishing vampires in New York, they wanted pregnant American women bayoneted in the stomach by White Russian partisans, said it sold better and that outrage boosts morale on the home front. 

 “Fucking coward,” he spat, loathsome of his uncontrollably shaking hands, “Get a grip, you goddamned milk-sop.” This prompted another swig of Texas Surgeon to forget and calm his involuntarily panicked nerves. 

He looked at the label with the cartoon frontier doctor brandishing a shotgun and chuckled. “Patch me up, Doc.” he said ritualistically. It had almost become a catch. He wished that cartoon surgeon were real sometimes whenever he felt he could use a 12ga lobotomy real bad. The stampede of clouds had now obscured the setting sun completely and a bolt lit up the sky like the flash of a camera. Now feeling the comforting warmth of whiskey radiating throughout his body from the inside, he started off in an entirely different direction than his office. He didn’t want to get caught in the oncoming downpour, and though he would never have admitted it, he wanted somebody to talk to. Or at least, somebody to talk at.

Mel’s Diner was a greasy spoon not more than a couple blocks from Paul in an adjacent direction. There weren’t any bars in this stretch of town yet, to his tepid irritation, as a result of administrative meddling by a couple of prominent mafia families wanting to funnel more of the construction workers paychecks into the nightclubs and bars in Oldtown. Any attempt to open an establishment serving hooch in South Omaha was shut down by lack of licenses issued. There was very little in the way of nightlife, but there were several diners and restaurants that altered their hours to be open twenty four hours a day in response. A few of them served liquor under the table if you knew how to ask.

Paul hadn’t been to Mel’s before, but he occasionally passed by. He remembered looking through the window as he passed by at the waitresses going about their business busing tables and food, and he was struck at the fact these working ladies in their yellow pinstripe uniforms were all far too pretty and well-endowed to be working on the South Side, at least through afternoon whiskey goggles. This fleeting impression was enough to draw him to the place as the sky started to spit engorged droplets.

He pushed through the glass door, ringing the little bell that hung from the doorframe. A waitress with a light brown bobcut looked over at him as she stacked empty plates onto a tray.

“Howdy, welcome to Mel’s. Sit anywhere you like.” she tried to say chirpily, but instead came off rushed and curt. It was clearly a canned response akin to breathing for her at this point. Most of the booths were empty, there was no dinner rush to speak of. A few construction workers in one booth staring at the television as they smoked, a younger couple whispering nothing of any importance to each other and trying to stifle laughter at something only they care about, and an old man in a suit playing solitaire on an empty table. Paul assumed he likely did this all day. 

He sat down at a booth overlooked by a saccharine lithograph of a cherub-cheeked boy fishing under a willow tree. He stared at the boy's eyes as he sat down, and eye-locked with the picture he shook his head slowly.

“You don’t know shit from fuck.” he muttered as he hastily whipped out the bottle for a drink and slipped it back in the bag not once breaking eye contact. The fisher boy in the picture had no response for him, just existing in a moment of exuberant laughter on the bed of a watercolor lake, forever. 

“You’re a punk.” He snorted loudly as if preparing to hock a loogey, but he refrained. He never had the intention in the first place. 

“Hey there, what can I getcha started with?” The waitress who had greeted him on the way in had suddenly and silently appeared right next him. The name on her tag was Dorothy.  She stared down at her notepad for a couple second and then looked at him flatly. 

“You know, we sell whiskey here if that’s your poison. I saw that just now, you’re not fooling anyone.”

“Already got a bag full of it right here, doll,” Paul patted his burlap sack full of gently rattling bottles sitting next to him. She half-rolled her eyes.

“Okay pops, you want me to get you a menu? Need something to eat then?” She had clocked in not even an hour prior and she knew it was going to be a long and uneventful night full of stilted  interactions with drunks.

“Naw, that’s not really in the cards for me right now. You see, I’m a journalist working for The O,” he smirked, hoping she’d buy it. In truth, he had been fired from The O after Marguerite Thurston’s bodyguard beat him to a pulp after she declined to talk to him about the work she did on the side, outside her acting career. The public wanted to know about her secret double life, and he’d hyped it up for three weeks and when she said no, his commitment to the craft of arts and entertainment journalism got his ass kicked and put him in the hospital with a broken clavicle among others. Some kind Samaritan whose identity remains a mystery paid his medical expenses in full, but The O let him go at the behest of Marguerite’s lawyer. He worked for the Weekly Sunflower now as a guest sports columnist, and that, he decided, would be the best things would get for him in this industry this late in life.

“The O, huh? If you’re working for that rag, then why aren’t you covering Cat-Hands Jackson down at the Orpheum tonight? That’s where I’d be if I wasn’t on the clock. All my girlfriends went and left me behind.” There was a playfulness hiding real disappointment in her voice as she said that. Paul could care less about Cat-Hands, and simply mistook it as flirting. This woman was easily young enough to be his daughter, and he was piss poor.

“Cat-Hands, isn’t that the, the uh, the negro jazz guy with the hook hand? Never heard him play, don’t really care for jazz.” It had just occurred to him that she didn’t have anything more pressing to attend to, and it looked like the diner was understaffed. 

“Y’know, before I got a job in the tabloids, I covered the last war, right there on the ground with our boys out West.” Her eyes lit up for a split second but reverted to their former glaze.

“That’s a pretty big career shift. I was real young during the war, and my family’s farm was right here just outside of Omaha. I always thought of it as being worlds away. We were sharecroppers. I saw on the news that they're still fighting over in, I think it was Idaho?”

“Yeah, that’s where I was sent to, the Idaho Territory.” He was amazed she even kept listening up till now. His face darkened as he mulled over the Spokane River Offensive in his head as it had played out. 

“The Battle of Spokane is where I died, as far as anyone is concerned.” She wanted so badly to walk away but could tell by the grave expression on Paul’s face that he was carrying more baggage than she could conceive of. She knew she had to listen, and Paul did too.

“I had rode north from Reno immediately after the city had been taken back with a battalion of mostly untrained irregulars,” Paul continued, “Angry Beavers, they were called. They were a volunteer militia corps with no attachment to the regular army. Most of them came from up Northwest so when they got word the Regular Army was gonna make a move to retake Spokane, they loaded up on trains to join ‘em. Most of ‘em. Some marched all the way from Reno or loaded into the back of a wagon like the pioneers did.”

He paused and looked her in the eyes. She blinked, still listening rather tensely. The construction workers’ booth erupted at some baseball game on the television screen. They whooped and hollered for a few seconds before settling down back into the low buzzing of the announcer’s unintelligible voice. 

“What none of them knew,” he continued, “was that the Russians had stationed around half of their remaining forces in Spokane, and they were far better equipped to defend the city than we were to take it. We got off easy with Reno. This was a slaughterhouse. The US Army knew it would be, and they had planned to sacrifice as many volunteers as it took for their guys to get a clear line into the heart of the city. The Beavers were using kids as young as seven since they West had nearly run out of grown men to send into battle. I don’t think a single one of them made it out of that place alive. I sure as hell don’t know how I did, once I joined up with the 17th Infantry Division I had already broken my camera and lost all the negatives. Maybe for the best, nothing but fire, gore and death anyway, but that was my job. Then the German 8th armor division showed up, they thought it would be a cake walk, but Spokane was full of surprises. The massacre of Chester claimed so many lives. They were veterans of the French front, battle hardened and unwavering, after they finally broke through the lines, they killed so many in front of a nunnery.”

Dorothy looked stunned. She had not a single word to say to that.

“I got to see the best and worst the human race has to offer in Spokane, yep.” He nodded and looked down. “Anyways, could I trouble you for a coffee? I’d like to talk more, if you’re feeling so inclined.” Dorothy couldn’t help but crack a bit of a smile.

“Mister, I’m on the clock right now, you know that right? Do you tell these dreary war stories to every pretty face you run into? Jeez,” She laughed as she walked into the kitchen.

“Only tonight. It’s a once in a lifetime offer.” Paul winked at her back and proceeded to have another swig. And then, with nothing else to fill the void, he was finally able to articulate the words that had previously seemed like nothing more than TV static. He turned his gaze to the bulbous, black and white glowing rectangle in the corner of the dining room. A bespectacled man in a suit against a painted pastoral backdrop sat at a desk and read from the paper in his hands.

“Our station has received a report that Kaskadyan forces have surged into Western Montana beginning sometime this morning. FSA military response is pending as of this moment, more to follow soon. Another report from The Golden Circle says that The infamous Czech legion is engaging mexican bandits in central Baja Kalifornia. Chairman Redd of the golden circle has stated he will not tolerate any advance into The mexican territories by Russians. A diplomatic summit is scheduled for the middle of next month. God bless the Free States of America.”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The war torn city of Pittsburgh was the only battlefield for three states. These were the streets where independence was won. The city had changed hands 7 times between The Free States of America, the Republic of New England, and the syndicalist states of America. Then,  when 400,000 American men were encircled and killed like dogs, the city finally fell. Now only small city-states ruled and competed for power in the ruins of the city, each with their own set of beliefs, politics, and values. The Mill, The Pitt, Mt washington, Crafton, Liberty. Just to name a few. 

In the small township of The Mill, people spoke in hushed whispers, on their lips was the same word: Lclyn Tatex. The snowy death. A name, a title for the assassin who took up residence in the bell tower of the old Lutheran Church, preventing anybody from entering The Mill. Few had seen the individual, and even then it was from too great a distance to obtain any information on who it may be. Just a dark figure, silhouetted against the bell in the tower, who shot to kill, and rarely missed. 

A group of refugees, who were clearly blissfully ignorant of Lclyn Tatex, appeared in the distance, making their way toward the border of The Mill. They tried to cross the Ohio river. 

From the old bell tower in the Lutheran Church Lclyn Tatex took a shot, one head, blown clean off. The rifle reloaded, a breath taken, the next shot. A 7.92 bullet going into one person's chest went through the head of a child. They were refugees, but Lclyn Tatex didn't care. The Mill was her town, and it was full. 

The old bell behind her rang out as a bullet ricocheted off. Someone was returning fire, but the shot had come from the Westside, not the side of the refugees. Lclyn Tatex ducked and repositioned, her long red hair moving as she did. She took a deep breath, hiding behind a low wall. After reading herself, she lined up her scope to take the shot. Her hair got in the way as a bullet went into her scope.

Blinding pain, and darkness.

She woke to a headache, pounding like drums against the inside of her skull. She was lying on the floor of the bell tower covered in broken glass. Within seconds she remembered what had happened, recalling how her hair had gotten in the way and the other sniper shot her scope. She vowed to never have hair or a scope again. 

Still laying on the old wooden floor, she unsheathed her Bowie knife. Sharpened daily, it cut through her hair like a razor. After she was nearly bald, she grabbed her rifle. With a fresh round still in the chamber, she tore the scope off. 

She raised her head as much as she dared over the wall of the bell tower, scanning the area from where the shot had come. Her shooting eye was sore, hell she couldn't even see out of it. She looked up at the stone of the tower, all those people's names, carrying Martin Luther's legacy on their backs. She could not let them down, not then, not now. 

 

She took deep breaths. 

In. 

Out.

In.

Out.

In.

Is this what God would have really wanted?

Out.

This is their home, It's up to you.

In.

I have enough already.

Out.

What didn't they take from you?

In.

I could just leave at any time.

Out.

Just like they left you? 

In.

 

Lclyn Tatex refocused her gaze on the ground below,, looking down the iron sights, to the sniper who had shot her scope. He had already moved from his spot to the open. He was a confederate Soldier, still wearing his grey's. 

What was a grey doing this far north? Probably hunting those inbreeds she told herself. All of that happened in the split second before pulling the trigger. She let rip a 7.92 bullet. It traveled two and a thousand feet per second. It hit his balls. A mistake, but her second shot would be on target. Before his body even knew what happened, she had let off the second round. Straight through his skull and both sides of the steel helmet. She collapsed next to the wall and sat motionless for what felt like hours. 

She noticed a lens from her scope on the floor next to her. Picking it up, she looked at herself. Her hair was nearly clean shaved off, her eye swelling up. 

What have I become? she asked herself, What was worth all this pain?What metals have I won with these scars? 

Looking through the glass and beyond her own reflection, she read the name Ruth Fitzgerald. 12/4/1893. In her mind’s eye, Lclyn Tatex saw Ruth's wedding on the steps of this church. How she always referred to that as the best day in her life. Lclyn smiled, the sun had caught her dress perfectly. 

The lens was shot out of her hand, this time from the refugees. She was taken back into reality with a snap. Putting four more 210 grain bullets into her gun that she called Stesk, the Czech expression for a nostalgia you can never experience again. 

 

Deep breath.

In.

Out.

In.

Out.

In.

Now was her time. 

In.

Endless targets. 

Out.

More ammo than they have.

In.

It's up to god to judge them.

Out 

It's up to me to kill them. 

In.

How are they different from anyone?

Out.

How are they different to me?

In.

This is my tower.

Out.

Any meat is fair game.

After one long breath in, she was already firing off the low wall facing south.

 

This is my tower.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It was summer in the small town of Saguenay, The Kingdom of Quebec. The air was moist, soupy, and dense with mosquitos, and if you stepped outside you were relentlessly assaulted. 

Uri Noam Barclay sat inside of an old catholic church as the preseason took place. He had never seen the meaning before, and he didn't now. As the lord's prayer took place he said his own prayer. These services were all pomp and ritual. 

Is all this what I really wanted? All these rites for a simple conversation? 

“No, These are your chains, they are heavy but not My choice. This is Satan's world and this is his cult, you all just live in it,” God explained. 

Uri looked over to see his God in the flesh sitting next to him. Uri couldn't make out facial features because of the radiant heat and glow, but there was an aura of absolute serenity. It was as if time didn't exist; only him and his creator. 

“I forgave you before you were born, even if you won't forgive yourself,” God emphasized. 

“But I still can't forget what I saw and what they did,” Uri remembered, on the verge of tears. 

“I have seen what they did, and what you were powerless to do,” God maintained. 

“Then did you choose to do nothing?” Uri wondered, despair taking his words away. 

“I have held you in the palm of my hand since before time, yet heaven has to wait. You have things to do,” God said. 

“Like what? I am at the end of my rope. My days are spent thinking about what I could have done…” Uri said, full of disillusionment and ennui. The senselessness of his continued existence had weighed on him ever since his family was slaughtered like cattle. 

“If I was done with you, I would have taken you too,” God stated. 

“Then why didn't you?' Uri pleaded. 

“Because Heaven has to wait…” God repeated. 

Uri knew that the figure appearing next to him was the true God, not a figment of imagination. Despite the circular nature of the dialogue, he felt a new sense of purpose that he had never felt before. Although directionless, he now felt something new. 

The lecturer instructed the congregation to recite the creed. 

“I never wanted this, but I do not worship the feet of men. I only wash them,” God affirmed. 

Uri balled his eyes out in the middle of the credo. Everyone around him stood up and crossed themselves, but Uri had his head in his lap, and he wept bitter tears. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Anthony Mattolizza strode into a nearly empty dining hall. Just one older man sat at the head of a table, and a radio played Glenn Miller in the corner. Anthony's fedora was grey, and flat with a purple feather. His black leather jacket was lined with red fox fur.

Four different pistols.

Ammo.

Three knives.

Three packs of cigarettes, three different brands.

Cigars.

A flask of whiskey, another of gin.

Opium.

Cocaine.

Lighters.

Inside of this man's pockets was his entire personality. 

“Who are you?” the man at the table demanded. His face was hidden in silhouette from a fireplace behind him.

“We had an appointment,” reminded Anthony.

“Well, well. The merchant of death,” Tipping his top hat and sitting on the table next to him. 

“Winston fucking Churchill. How the hell are you?” Anthony inquired, smiling with white teeth, through a well trimmed black mustache and beard. His long hair was straight at the top, curly at the end, and his smile could charm the devil.

“The city of Darwin is under lockdown, brave of you to walk around dressed like that in broad daylight,” expressed Winston. He began gulping soup again straight from bowl to mouth. It was an unending production line of tomato soup. 

“Brave of you to leave your doors unlocked, the bombings happen daily here,” Anthony retorted after a long drag of his cigar.

“Only you knew we were here. We didn't bring any battleships, not This time,” Winston Churchill explained. The lines under the old admiral grew ever deeper. 

“Not this time? What does The Remnant have in mind?” Anthony inquired, leaning on his cane, which was actually a shotgun hidden inside of an Ebony cane.

“Wouldn't you like you know? More importantly, what does Anthony Mattolizza have to sell the crown?” asked Winston, now wiping his lip, finished with his soup. 

Winston poured himself a glass of Yarborough Scotch, a very expensive brand of scotch from Melbourne Australia. Yarborough was Aged in burnt barrels. While some people look for a smoky flavour in their scotch, Yarborough was like a house fire in a bottle. The label was an emu wearing a top and a monocle.

  He gave the bottle to Anthony to pour himself a shot, and Anthony kept the bottle. It would be gone before their meetings end. Winston took a cigar from a wooden box that had an Indian pin-up doll on it. He padded his pockets, looking for matches. Anthony stepped forward to light Winston's cigar with a gold lighter. Winston took a long drag, savouring the flavour. After a small cloud of smoke escaped his clean shaven mouth, Winston sat back and waited for Anthony's response. 

“Italian rifles, hungarian pistols, American SMGs, Czech Machine guns. What do you want?” Anthony asked after sitting down next to Churchill. The English bulldog of a man just sat there, silent. Anthony knew the play. 

“Ah, you’re after heavy ordnance. You know I can't do that,” he asserted. Winston slammed his fist on the table.

“I want every syndicalist man on this planet dead. If I have to shoot them myself I will. Since when do you care about laws, international or otherwise?” 

Anthony leaned back and took a long draw on his cigar and studied Churchill. 

“I never have, and I never will. Money is my king. Truth is, I just signed a contract with a Frenchman, selling him heavy ordnance for a few years,” he said with a smile. 

“Fucking scalper, you really are a bastard,” Winston replied. 

“You know the only difference between us is money.” Anthony suggested. 

“Poppycock, at least I have money,” Winston retorted, “You served in the Italian army in the pacific campaign, I would have expected more backbone out of a man who fought in the Vurdun of the east.” 

Anthony felt the burn of the coral shores of Manus island, the man eating bugs, the crocodiles, the rabid blood thirsty Japanese that had holed up on the island. He shook the Atrocities out of his head. 

“Well, I’ll take my leave then, I have money to make in other places,” Anthony said getting up. He put his cigar out in the empty bowl of soup in front of Winston. 

“Where are you running off to now?” Winston Churchill challenged, thoroughly aggravated. 

“Curacao, I have to meet an old friend. I am sure it will go a lot better than this so-called meeting,” Anthony Mattolizza stated, not looking back as he turned to leave, “Take care you old, drunk asshole. Send my regards to the king.”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

About a mile away from the Remnant embassy in Sapporo, a group of radicalized students from the Hokkaido Imperial University had made a boarded-up two story home their base with which they would wage jihad against the imperialist heretics that still held control over the island. Allah had decreed to the martyr and final prophet Shiro Amakusa that in the last days that the Japanese people would be united under the green banner bearing the Shahada and become the vanguard of the Last Caliphate.

Goro al-Atallah Tanigawa had been waiting in the rotting house for six hours on the imam’s orders to meet with a separate cell of the Divine Socialist Youth Front. Fourteen hooded figures shuffled into the building separately under the curtain of rain around eleven o’clock at night, after undoing the six locks which barred the front door shut. Upon entering, all recited the Nine Holy Hadiths from memory as they sauntered up the stairs. Goro barely noticed their entrance until they were almost in the room, his head hung in his lap drifting in and out of consciousness. Two of them collapsed under the weight of their religious ecstasy, tumbling down the stairs, the reverberations awakening him from his slumber.

I know what must be done, he thought instantaneously, as his Pavlovian instinct had prepared him for this moment.  A grizzled man lifted his hood before him.

“Salaam alaikum, brother,” he said as he tossed a vest loaded with C-4 down in front of Goro. His destiny flashed before his eyes. He was reminded of his nine children on Kyushu that he had left to join with his God. He could only hope that they would grow up to participate in the conquest of Kongo for the greater reclamation of the Yamato Homeland, Inshallah. Tears welled up in his eyes, but he suppressed them as he grasped the vest and affixed it to his chest.

“God is great,” he nodded at the man, who nodded back. Goro buttoned up a trench coat over the vest and they all left in silence. As they walked through the rainy narrow back alleys of Sapporo towards the embassy, the others split off two by two down intersecting streets and out of sight. Soon it was Goro alone making a beeline for the embassy. All traces of Western imperialism were to be eradicated from this land, and the world would follow, or so says the Ayatollah Shumei Okawa. Hokkaido was the last bastion of foreign influence and reactionary kuffar left on the Japanese Archipelago, but it would not last.

Goro stepped out onto Victoria Lane. To his left, down a block and a half, was an old building with Union Jacks draped out it’s windows and hanging from flagpoles crudely mounted on the half-timbered frame.

Disgusting, thought Goro, interrupting his as-of-yet unbroken chain of Subhan Allahs he had been reciting under his breath. He knew that his full beard had already caught the attention of the Secret Police.  From opposite sides of the street, two men in civilian clothes nodded at each other and simultaneously began matching his pace. Goro caught this out of the corner of his eyes and disregarded their presence. He was well within reach, and neither would reach for his gun on a street this crowded. Allah would allow him to execute justice, it was ordained. 

He caught sight of a bustling marketplace across the street where a man was selling crabs, and was instantaneously reminded of his father’s failure that had led to his righteous execution. His father had been a fisherman in Kagoshima who had faced a public beheading for catching bottom-feeders when Goro was only nine. He felt nothing at the time, his father was a filthy kuffar whose weakness had been his undoing, such is Allah’s will. He clutched his misbaha tighter and continued praying, louder now. Passerby had begun to glance at him and vacate the way. Many knew what this likely entailed, as Sapporo had been wracked with Jihadist attacks for years now to the point it had become commonplace. Most walked briskly in any other direction, but some panicked and ran. He bobbed his head up and down rhythmically as he prayed.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The rig was an aptly named bar on the industrial wasteland of the free state of Curacao. Pressure from the Gran state of Colombia was mounting as they moved toward annexation, and they staunchly held on to their freedom. 

This hole in the wall dive bar was a nearly empty place filled with a smell like no other. The patrons of this place were covered in oil, naptha tar and other chemicals. It was built on top of a tire factory, and the smell rose and stuffed the place. It was a derelict oil rig, its walls plastered with propaganda posters that were hastily thrown up, one on top of the other. One such poster that could be seen in The Rig as well as all over town pictured a man with a bandana over his mouth, retching in pain as an english bulldog bit his neck. The bulldog wore a tophat and monocle. It advertised, “The only good syndie is a dead one!” Another poster had a German sailor standing on a sinking ship, waving his flag at a british vessel, under which it said in German, “We won’t forget the Falklands.” A third pictured a strong working man smashing open a bank with his sledgehammer as rats with top hats came scurrying out, and it read, “Take back what’s yours.”

Neon lights cast their glow onto the pool tables, for which no one could find a full set of balls. Sloppily painted grenades - largely believed to be deactivated - took the place of cue balls.

The chairs at the bar were rejected tires stacked, and upon one of these sat Lclyn Tatex, her now famous rifle slug on her back, drinking Mill bourbon. The brand had no relation to her little town in Pittsburgh that she guarded so fiercely, but the name comforted her all the same. She wondered how many degenerates had snuck into town while she was away.

Lclyn Tatex shook her head to clear it, she was here for business. The Mill would still be waiting for her when she got back, and she would not allow herself to be distracted. 

There was another, however, who was welcoming any distractions that came his way. As Anthony Mattolizza came sauntering down the stairway, he pointed and winked at the bartender. She knew what he wanted, a drink and her. His drink was a London car bomb, which consisted of Newcastle upon tyre gin with plum saki, served warm. 

He sat down next to Lclyn Tatex who pretended not to see him. They sat there in silence for several minutes. Anthony finally broke the silence. 

“So how have you been Jenny?”

Lclyn Tatex remained silent, and continued to stare straight ahead as she poured her drink on his lap. He was wearing waterproof pants, which somewhat spoiled the effect, but she didn’t care. She had made her point. 

The bartender, an escaped criminal from the Golden Circle, immediately noticed and set about getting a replacement drink for the one that was now all over the floor. She had kept her handcuffs on her wrists all these years, although the chain connecting the two had been cut, and they clinked against the bottles and glasses while she worked. Everyone thought she was attractive, but she was a very bite-your-dick-off kind of girl, and not in a good way. There was a reason that the bar’s slogan was, “The Rig: Where we'll break or yank your chains."

“You were always so hard-nosed,'' Anthony expressed. Silence descended on them again, and although Lclyn Tatex would never admit it, so did an all too familiar sexual tension. 

She reminded herself that she hated his guts, and without looking at him she stated, “You know I am here for a gun.” 

“So straight to the point. I shouldn’t be surprised, you were never one to mix swords with speech,” Anthony said, trying to push her buttons. She remained silent. Anthony knew he was winning this game, even though she would never admit she was playing in the first place. 

The bartender brought him another drink. He leaned into her so that his breath tickled her ear when he whispered, “What's wrong Jenny? You used to like it so much when I was dominant,” He caressed her nearly bald head and continued, “But what happened here? I can't pull on this anymore.” 

Rigid with rage and still refusing to look at him, she pushed her stool back. It made an irritating scraping sound on the floor and she stood up. 

"Forget it. Vladimir Bolotnikov is in town, I'll go see him instead. And who knows, at least he knows how to treat a woman." She threw some cash down on the bar and turned to leave

Anthony realized that he had gone too far, and quickly said to her back, “He doesn't know how to make deals, or treat women. Especially you.” Lclyn Tatex stopped, trying to decide whether or not she was going to leave. As frustrating as he was to deal with, Anthony did have what she needed. 

“Come back, I'll cut the bullshit,” he said, employing his most sincere sounding voice. At that, she turned back and returned to her seat. 

“It's a shame it took a whole drink in your lap for you to come around,” Lylcn responded, finally glancing his way. Anthony tried to reply, but she interrupted. 

“I need a Czech Machine gun. 

“I happen to have some, coincidentally chambered in the same round as the last gun I gave you. It's named Vilnost. It means ‘A new beginning’,” Anthony highlighted. 

“Why not just call it by the model number?” Lclyn Tatex asked, irritated. 

“You kept the other name, I see you still carry it with you,” Anthony said, pointing to the rifle on her back. 

“I'll take it,” Lylcn Tatex indicated.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Goro had taken a hard right once he reached the embassy, hoping to sneak through one of the back doors. He had already memorized the layout of the complex from afar. The sidewalks were almost entirely clear now, and the footsteps behind him grew louder and more frantic. Goro heard the rustling of jackets behind him and wrapped the detonator cord around his finger, pulling it taut in full view of the policemen.

Stop!” one of them shouted, his M1911 drawn and now staring Goro directly in the face.

 “You have five seconds to show me those hands!” 

Goro only pulled the cord tighter before being plugged twice, once in his right arm and the other in his thigh. Across the street, a woman screamed. He doubled over bleeding on the sidewalk, one hand still clutching his prayer beads, and before giving the cops an opportunity to fire again, he snapped the cord.

“HIS WILL BE DONE! DEATH TO IMPERIALISM, ALLAHU AKBAR!”

 

Both policemen had already turned tail and began to run in the other direction, but they weren’t quick enough and were engulfed, much like the embassy itself. What hadn’t been reduced to rubble was now ablaze, stacks of dry parchment and paper walls made for good tinder, even in the rain. Sirens rang out from blocks away as the marketplace across the street became a veritable stampede as civilians vacated the area. Nobody made it out of the embassy alive, the fire had spread too fast even if they hadn’t been done in by the explosion. Nothing remained of Goro save for a severed left hand in the middle of the street, his fingers still tightly wrapped around his prayer beads.

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The Floating city of Waitsborugh, Australia was built above Ayers Rock. After central Australia was flooded in 1927 by completion of the West Buckhorn canal, the Australian islands thrived. The Aboriginals were sent to New Wilhelm's land at the request of Herman Detzner, the crown protector of New Wilhelm's land. 

A majority of The Remnant's capital ships were docked at the port town. In the modern palestra of steel warships, aboard the HMS Hood, Winston Churchill sat in front of a gas powered computer. An attendant (or 'Tendie' as he called them) topped off the gas and oil, then he proceeded to start the 4 stroke engine. After it roared to life he let the choke off. 

An orange lit screen came to life, and after inserting a punch card the screen displayed an auto-gram. It was an encrypted message from the president of Hokkaido, Shinichiro Yasuda. Before reading it Winston turned to his Tendie and ordered him to get him soup.

The attendant looked at him squarely and stated, “I am not your maid, sir.” 

“I don't pay you, the king does. Now get me some tomato soup,” Winston reaffirmed. The oil-covered man stormed out of the room, and Winston Churchill turned to read the auto-gram.

“The Embassy of the Remnant was bombed by mujahideen. A new embassy should not be established until security can be stepped up. We are working tirelessly in the battle against Islamic socialism. God save the King. May the emperor live ten thousand years.” 

Winston was not surprised. If anything he was surprised it took this long. The attendant set down a bowl of used motor oil and gas and said, “There, eat your soup, and make sure Anthony doesn't put out a cigar in it.” Winston looked at him with an expression that showed not even the slightest hint of amusement. 

“You are lucky that you are the only qualified Tendie in Waitsborugh. No one is laughing but you,” Winston advised.

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An old man sat in front of a TV set. The white, black and grey showed the opening ceremony of the 1941 olympics, and he became incredibly mad when he saw a German athlete. He raved for a small time, but slowly relaxed and continued watching.

And here we have the team from the Principality of Persia. Aren't they lovely?” an announcer said enthusiastically. 

“Why yes they are, I have always loved those people,” the old man said, as if he was having a conversation with the TV. 

A foreboding man walked up to the olympics brazier, he was bald and androgynous with a tattoo on his forehead but the grain of the TV had it impossible to decipher. He wore a slate grey pantsuit. The old man did not notice Winston Churchill enter the room until he turned the station to Plunker, a game show where you throw darts shaped like swordfish at briefcases. The man was angry that the station was changed until he saw his favorite game show. Winston sat down next to him and stared at the older man who didn't return his gaze. 

“My king. An embassy was bombed.” 

George the sixth paid no attention to his words. Winston expected this, and he leaned back and smoked his cigar. 

“The soviet Union is attacking Sevastopol. The Keiseriana has stated that if they don't pull out in a week, they will declare war,” He continued, knowing that his words fell on deaf ears.


 


Submitted: June 27, 2021

© Copyright 2021 freyja braucher. All rights reserved.

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