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Apocalypse Now

Chapter Five: Long-Term Projects

By David bar Elias


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Tanis, Ohio, British Empire
September 1, 2003

Egyptology had been a major fad throughout the British Empire throughout the course of the 19th century, particularly after the Penkham Expedition to Egypt in 1812, during which a scholar attached to the expedition, Carleton Marlowe, discovered the famous stone showing an easy way to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs, which still bears his name today.

Throughout the Empire, all things Egyptian became popular among the local elites. This was especially true regarding place names.

Tanis had been founded on the shores of Lake Eire in 1800, as settlers from the 13 Colonies surged west after the collapse of French authority in the area. An outpost of the powerful Ohio Company (which would not be dissolved until 1898), Tanis grew into a bustling port, where traders of all stripes....from Cherokee Indians to Quebecois trappers, could interact and sell their goods without much in the way of hassle.

Nowadays, Tanis was the focal point of a far more different enterprise; it was a whistle-stop for the trains bearing refugees away from the 13 Colonies to the SubUrbs constructed in Prince Rupert's Land. Train after train, groaning with non-essential civilians, roared to the north.

Tanis was also the site of a mammoth Global Command Centre; the sprawling complex was heavily armoured....with most of the structure well underground.

It was also where recently-promoted First Lieutenant Liam Nuttall was scheduled for a meeting with his counterparts from across the Appalachian Line; they would be briefed on the coordinates of supply, and where reinforcements could be expected in the case of the worst case scenario.

More like scenarios thought Nuttall glumly as he padded his head against the humid heat wave blanketing this part of Ohio. Now with a 20-year-old's body, Nuttall often found himself involuntarily flexing muscle that he had long-forgotten about, even after all these years after rejuvenation.

Nuttall had earned his promotion in 2002 for putting down a mutiny at the King George Military Academy, which had been caused by that stupid git Adam Campbell spreading a rumour that the Posleen would be landing any day (as well as fomenting divisions along ethnic and religious lines, which men such as Nuttall considered thoroughly un-Imperial....that had sparked a panic, which had in turn sparked a riot, as many recruits were still untrained, and many began to attempt a desertion to return to their families....with pirated Galactic Technology crammed into every nook and cranny at that.

Nuttall hadn't hesitated. He had called in the military police, who had shown no mercy. The mutiny had ended with the death of Campbell; Nuttall's only disappointment was that he wasn't the one who had gotten to silence that misery for all time.

Entering the front of the GCC, Lieutenant Nuttall hurried to the lift which would carry him down to the conference room. There were multiple commissioned officers in the lift with him, but he didn't bother with attempting any kind of granddad had always told him: "A Nuttall is a thinker, not a talker. He never speaks unless spoken too, or ordered to by a superior. And he NEVER says anything to draw attention to himself." Liam Nuttall had received that command as a six-year-old, and he had always done his damndest to stick by that order....after all, a Nuttall was always obedient.

The conference room bore a mammoth screen (obviously taken from the Galactics; before First Contact, it only would have been fathomable for the Russians of all people to make such a contraption). The COs lined the antiseptic rows and bid themselves to sit. They were from all possible ethnic groups in this corner of the Empire-Ghurkhas, Sikhs, and Hindus (a legacy of the 19th century Charter Ships which had brought millions of natives from the subcontinent to colonize British North America), Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Iroquois, Choctaw, and Miami Indians, Muslims (mostly of Indian descent), Jews (descended mostly from German, French, and Polish immigrants), blacks (of both Caribbean and North American extraction-the descendents of the slaves freed in the 1870s), and of course, the ubiquitous settlers who could trace their ancestry directly back to the Mother Country....or at the very least Hanover, France, or Hesse. Scenes such as these always gave Liam Nuttall a glowing sensation inside; This is what the Empire is about after all.

After a while, Major General William LaRouche, a thin, anxious looking man of Quebecois descent who commanded this portion of Her Majesty's North American Armoured Combat Suit Regiment began to explain the overall strategy for this sector of the upcoming war, upon which the map swirled and changed. For the next several hours, he debriefed them on the schematics of the oncoming defence of the interior of British America. Most of it was obvious to a person like Liam Nuttall; Hellsfire, these would be obvious to a child with Adam Campbell's intelligence he thought wryly. Naturally, Florida was being abandoned...Nuttall caught a glimpse of what he guessed to be Seminole officers bracing themselves against the table. However, there would be more than enough men to secure that it turned out, there would be the 10,000 men of the Her Majesty's Royal Seminole Regiment; supplemented with more than enough Galactic-made (and Russian enhanced) heavy weapons to blunt any Posleen surge towards Free Louisiana or Indian Territory.

The rest of the conference dragged on, as Major General LaRouche named the regiments station in the various gaps and passes in the Appalachians....until, Liam Nuttall got confirmation of where he would be stationed with his men in the 188th (a division of mostly Marylanders, New Yorkers, and Rhode Islanders); he would be stationed in the Fortress City of Manhattan...which showed up on the map with a jagged dark red line surrounding it. "For great courage and skill in suppressing the mutiny at the Academy, it's clear that this fellow has the mettle necessary to defend this key metropolis for Queen and Country with the 188th. He's the ideal leader for such an assignment. Naturally, the 188th will be supplemented with men from the 90th Armoured Division, and a special regiment of Quebecois infantrymen."

Lieutenant Nuttall swallowed hard, but caught himself. A Nuttall never questions orders, Liam. And besides, this will make for a previous army life long barren of action. Nuttall nodded to himself in agreement with his mind's sound logic....until he realized that his mind's explanation had possessed a very strong Scottish burr....which only manifested itself when he was angry beyond all reason, or scarred out of his wits.

Lieutenant Nuttall spent the rest of the conference, and indeed, every night until the Posleen arrived, trying to convince himself that he was angry beyond all reason, to mixed he would see later, when push would come to shove, in the most horrific and depraved ways imaginable.

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