Nocht Federation, Citadel — Oberkommando Norden
“What the hell do we even have up there?”
“Sir! It looks grim. Right now the Schneesgarde Gebirgsdivisione, along with the 356th Infantry which was training for snow warfare in the Far North. According to reports at least three Divisions and a tank Division have crossed the Helvetian arctic to Loupland. The Mountain division escaped the trap but the 356th is in danger of being surrounded.”
“Not one Panzer out there? Not a single one?”
“Negative sir! All first line Panzer Divisions are in Ayvarta. The 42nd is in the Higwe, the 27th and the Leibgarde A.L. are in Pelagis. We’ve got the 35th, 38th and 45th in Junzien.”
Walter Weddel was speechless. Because of its separation from the Nochtish mainland, the Far North was often seen as a playground, and it was kept relatively unguarded and demilitarized. Who would fight a war there? It was a place for mountaineers to train and prospectors to dig and the Loup in Loupland to hunt seals. And the weak and pathetic Helvetian elves were the only people on the other side of that icy hellscape. No one cared.
The 42nd was teaching a painful lesson about the way modern warfare was changing the world, and what spaces were valuable. Loupland was trash, the Helvetian Arctic was a gift given in bad faith to a people they never respected. No land army could cross the Snowskin sea into Nocht. “For World Peace” or what have you the Helvetians could have their icy rocks. But it was 2030; and an air army could cross the Snowskin and be within operational distance of Nocht’s most important cities. As they spoke, this was now happening.
“God. I’m really going to get it now. This is ridiculous.” Weddel fretted terribly as he watched his aides scratch their pens across an assortment of maps, indicating the innumerable possibilities available to the Helvetian attackers. Was war even declared? Not that it mattered anymore, Nocht had deliberately failed to declare its own war on Ayvarta in a timely fashion anyway. In this they were reaping exactly what they had sewn.
“What’s the air defense situation?”
“All of the northern FREIJA network is in disarray, but we have fighters now actively engaging the enemy over the cities. Much of the East is thickly defended by air, as a result of preexisting defensive positions from the war with the Franks. But Rhinea took some damage sir. We never thought it could be hit that deep. We’re waiting on more data.”
Weddel held his face in his hands. He never expected to fight this “Solstice War” up here.
“What are their numbers? What are we looking at here?”
“We have at least 200 heavy bombers of the old Beardog and the newer Beardog II variety. Several hundred Cathawk fighters are defending them. Cathawks are obsolete compared to our Archers and especially the newer Crossbow fighter, but in such large numbers–”
“Tell the air force to hasten the pace! My ground forces can’t do this alone!”
Weddel felt like he was carrying a boulder that was slowly crushing him. His knees were shaking from the weight, ready to snap, and his back bowing. Once President Lehner caught wind of all of this, Weddel would never live down what happened, even if it was not ultimately his fault but Air Admiral Kulbert’s laziness! He rubbed down his own chin and stared at the map and felt helpless. Was this modern war? An officer sat in a bunker with aides as blind as he was to the battlefield conditions as a situation changed every second?
And then the phone rang behind them.
Weddel, Marshal of the Oberkommando Norden slowly, tremulously, picked it up.
“Afternoon, Walter; what the fuck is happening in my country?” President Lehner said.
Nocht Federation — Rhinea, Cafe Liberté
Cecilia awakened to the sound of distant explosions, buzzing engines sweeping through the air, and the chock chock chock of propeller-synchronized machine guns blaring. Her whole body screamed with pain. Her vision flitted, things becoming sharp and blurry by the second without warning. She felt something grab hold of her, and saw figures.
Everything was darker than it used to be. The Cafe’s facade had collapsed over the window, trapping them in a gloomy, almost cavernous ruin. There were bodies, and there was blood. Blood on the floor, and on her, and blood on the man and woman carrying her.
“Sir, where can we even go? There’s no place to hide from this!”
“Our best bet would be the subway station tunnel. I can think of nowhere else.”
Cecilia finally recognized Einschel Dreschner and Karla Schickzal, holding her by the arms and legs and trying to pull her out of the remains of the Cafe. She slowly started to blurt something out to them, perhaps a ‘why’ or a ‘thank you’, she knew not which. But then as she got out to the light of the street, and saw the figures dueling in the sky, and the craters on the streets, and the sea of shattered glass in the middle of the road, she remembered.
“No! Stop! We can’t leave! She’s in there!”
Cecilia kicked and struggled and threw both Dreschner and Karla to the ground.
Scrambling over them in a clumsy dash, Cecilia ran back inside the remains of the Cafe.
She looked over the rubble by the intermittent light of a sparking, damaged bulb.
Orienting herself toward the facade, she saw an overturned table covered with debris.
Cecilia cried at the top of her lungs, tears streaming down her eyes.
She threw aside debris and slapped sand away and dug with her bare hands, which were cut with glass and jabbed with sharp concrete, and bloody and bruised the more she dug, the more she screamed. At least her bloody hands unveiled something taking cover beneath the buried table, and she pulled Agatha, bruised and bloody and covered in dust, from out the sarcophagus which the bombs had cast her into. Cecilia shook her.
“Agatha! Agatha please woke up! Please don’t leave me!”
Dreschner and Karla ran into the Cafe, and both of them paused at the door.
Perhaps sensing what the truth might be, they halted their approach with pale faces.
“She’s not dead!” Cecilia shouted at them, so sharply they became startled.
They backed away, arms held up as if they were being threatened with guns.
Once she was alone again, Cecilia put her head to Agatha’s, and she whimpered.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I just. I love you! Why couldn’t you ever just say the same?”
She felt a pulse, as her cheek touched Agatha’s neck. She felt a breath.
She felt hands weakly embrace her.
Cecilia pulled back, staring at Agatha Lehner in her weak, weeping eyes.
“I wish you could’ve been the father Cecilia. It’s so stupid, but I’d have loved that.”
Cecilia nearly collapsed over her lover, crying and screaming with abandon.
Outside, the aircraft started to pull away, their guns and bombs sounding distant.
“We’ve made some mistakes.” Agatha said. “We’ve all, made some mistakes.”
A sudden absence of chaos brought fully to bear the horror and breadth of those words.
Preliminary Report On The Actions of 42nd of the Frost
Operation Gladiator has concluded within strategic parameters but it is our belief that it has underperformed severely with regards to its operational objectives as set forth within the Agenda of the 5th of Frost. As outlined in the agenda, Gladiator’s objectives were:
- Rapid capture of the southern Kingdom of Mauricia’s resources to help sustain and reinforce the Grand Armee: Mauricia is fighting fiercely, but will eventually collapse. However, the “One Day War” that was dreamed of in our plans, did not materialize.
- Surprise bombing raids on Nochtish industry to cripple Nocht’s ability to conduct warfare and/or stop ongoing raids: completely unachieved. 5% of Nocht’s Air Power, 15% of their Air Defense and 18% of Radar coverage was damaged by our raid, at the cost of large losses to our bombing force (35% bombing power lost). Less than 8% of Nochtish military industrial capacity was damaged by the Gladiator raids. Most of the damage was dealt to civilians, civilian infrastructure and public structures. All of the damage is reparable and our bombing power is too low to sustain a full campaign.
- Surprise attack in the Nochtish Arctic and Loupland meant to open a new front in the war and to capture arctic land for air bases: Nocht is reshuffling forces to combat us in the arctic front. Though we have destroyed an Infantry division and captured about 30 kilometers of arctic land, it will be very long before it can be activated for any use.
Through Gladiator, we have proven to the other prospective members of the Pact that we can engage in modern combat as a modern army. However, this gesture must now be backed with decisive action and achievable long term strategy. We hope to meet with you and our Pact counterparts soon to discuss actions where they now matter: Ayvartan soil.
For world peace,
— Helvetian Grand Armee Commandement des Forces Terrestres (C.F.T).