Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 550
Return of General Birkin
On the morning of the 27th of the 11th month, Birkin returned to force headquarters. Claude gave him a warm hug in welcome. The two later went to Claude's office for a private conversation.
Birkin had departed on his trip during the 9th month, whereas Monolith 1st and 2nd Folks would be back in another month. Birkin had returned a month earlier to take over management of force headquarters as Claude was to head to the mainland. There were many things he, the commander-in-chief, had to discuss with the bigwigs in the royal capital in person.
Claude opened a bottle of fruit wine and drank it with Birkin as they talked. The latter gave him a briefing on the mainland's situation, the Nasrian territory, the Great Plains of Canas, the development of the region's fiefs, and the Askilinian and Rimodran territories held by the region's troops.
In the 8th month, the reorganised Reddragon took over Polyvisia in the Nasrian territory while Griffon took over Audin Mountain Range and the Sidinsian territory. Monolith 1st and 2nd Folks were transferred to the Rimodran region as they prepared to return to Nubissia.
After Monolith's return, there would still be four folks of Thundercrash and eight garrison lines, a total of 200 thousand troops, stationed on the mainland. They await Claude's arrival and their reorganisation.
"Pay attention to these three things. Restructure Monolith into four folks per the new standards. 3rd Folk has already been reorganised and is stationed in Cape Lodocus. Now that we've swallowed that territory, we're never giving it back. As for how we'll develop it, Lord Militant Bolonik already has a proposal. It isn't the business of the military administration, so we'll just do our best to cooperate.
"Next, continue work on Operation Wildfire. The pamigar republic has been stabilised. War is the most potent stimulant for a person and a nation's potential. While the pamigar suffered over 100 thousand casualties, their forces are now plenty experienced and well trained. Their three corps are counter-attacking into Wasilisk's colony and forcing the Wasiliskian settlers to request military aid from Opsaro.
"Our first phase was initially supposed to force the natives in Moloshik's colony, Lesnia's second colony, Wasilisk's colony, Fochs' third colony and Opsaro's colony to found their own nations. We would have swallowed Cape Loducus after that.
"We overestimated our ability, however, and most of the first phase was a failure. The pamigar did liberate themselves and found a nation, but the losman have disappointed. They've not only not cooperated, they've even gone on a killing spree. We've thus far counted 300 thousand Lesnian corpses in their wake. Only the young women have been spared, though I'm not sure that's any better given what they're to be used for.
"The two voluntary Shiksan folks we stationed there even stepped out to stop their massacre and rescued some of the women and elderly, only to be attacked by the losman who thought they were siding with the Lesnians. We had the violent aggressors killed, but that prompted the losman to unite and demand we leave their land. They even cut off the two folks' supplies.
"The losman's biggest problem is the death of their great chieftain, Unamas. They no longer have a leader capable and charismatic enough to unite them. His nephews started fighting amongst themselves before his corpse was cold. They've gathered their factions and none are willing to take a step back.
"While Lesnia's second colony is entirely reclaimed, the losman are still a mess. They're useless if they can't band together and form a functioning government. I fear they might even become a burden. If we interfere and support one of them, they'll see us the same way they do Lesnia.
"The strategy department has proposed several ideas. One even suggested we just wipe them all out and take the colony for ourselves. That doesn't help us at all, however. The way things are currently we have plausible deniability, if we step out from behind the curtains, there is no avoiding bloodying our noses.
"At least a quarter of the inland colonies are colonies in name only. In reality they're untouched wastelands with just a couple settlements here and there. Not to mention that many of them are absolutely tiny. None of them are self-sufficient yet, so they'll be a net drain on us.
"We have absolutely no interest in the losman's land. The losman themselves are worth more to us as a buffer, trade market and recruitment pool than the land they claim.
"Leave them be. We'll wait and see if someone capable enough emerges on their own to deal with this. At the very least we don't have to worry about them turning on us. They're too occupied with Lesnia, the latter won't forgive the massacre.
"Word from Southern Freia is that Moloshik, Lesnia, and Wasilisk are preparing for war. They're recruiting and forming new corps for an expedition our agents tell us is planned for the second half of next year. If the losman don't prepare, they'll be the ones to choke on their own blood this time.
"The two revolts have put the mainland powers on guard. They've come down hard on natives in the remaining colonies, and are preparing more troops to come over to Nubissia."
Claude's mouth was dry from all the talking. He filled his glass, downed it, and filled it again. Birkin listened silently, turning to the map on the wall from time to time, and mulled over what he had just heard.
Claude finished his second glass, opened another bottle and refilled it for a third time, then took his place in front of the map. His finger tapped where the pamigar republic had been painted over the former colony.
"I'd hazard the guess that we'll see two operations next year. The colonies will not stand for any natives to have a functioning country, much less one founded on colonial soil. It'll stir up unrest all over the rest of the continent.
"Moloshik, Lesnia, and Wasilisk will move on the republic first. They no doubt think they can leave the losman to their infighting for the time being. The greater threat is the united republic. Our network of informants say both Moloshik and Lesnia are forming three corps. Wasilisk has gotten started on two. That's eight corps; 500 thousand men.
"Let's be frank. This is not going to be easy. You'll be up against it on your own for at least eight months, and you probably have at best as long to prepare. That said, you must keep the republic afloat."
"What do I have to work with?"
Claude flashed him a war-weary smile.
"I don't know, to be honest. The pamigar have three corps fighting Wasilisk, but the fight's still up in the air. In the original plan, the skro and jisdor in Wasilisk's colony should be starting armed insurrections with the pamigar and losman's help to defeat the colonial forces of Wasilisk, reclaim their land, and found their own nation and united government.
"Currently, the losman are suffering from internal strife, so the planned 100 thousand soldiers are gone. The skro's armed conflicts so far are all bark but no bite, making more noise than actually accomplishing anything significant. They're easily put down by the local garrisons.
"While the three pamigar corps are rather capable, they're held back by one Wasiliskian corps and another Opsaroan corps. They do have the advantage, but they can't breach the enemy's defence line and are still in a standoff.
"If things had gone as planned and the jisdor and skro managed to form their own nations in Wasilisk's colony, the three pamigar corps would be able to rest and recover. The losman would also be able to provide two light-cavalry corps. Coupled with the one corps from the jisdor and another from the skro, there would be seven native corps in total. We only have to send another corps to help them to have a total of 500 thousand troops. That way, we wouldn't have to worry about the troops from those nations.
"But now, the only ones we can count on are the three pamigar corps. The losman can't be bothered to send help with all their infighting. As for the jisdor and skro, they're even worse off. The only thing you can do is to convince the pamigar to form two more corps to prepare for battle. That way, you'll at least have five corps to your disposal.
"Also, Bick, your first assignment is to reform Monolith. You may use the extra troops left over to form a voluntary corps to help with the pamigar's fight. The other thing you can hope for is the selection of a new leader for the losman to work with us and provide two light-cavalry corps."
"Why don't you get the two voluntary Shiksan corps to fight Wasilisk?" Birkin asked, puzzled.
"We can't!" Claude sighed. "There are two reasons. The first is Cape Loducus. Before we settle the matter of ownership with the Fochsian ambassador, the two folks will have to be stationed in the losman's territory. In the show we put up with the pamigar to everyone else, the voluntary Shiksan corps have been hired by the losman. If they fight for the pamigar against Wasilisk before the losman situation settles down, our lie will be exposed.
"The other reason is Shiks has sent an ambassador to contact the voluntary Shiksan folks. Fortunately, the losman found out and caught them. That darned Majid III still hasn't given up. His ambassador wanted to convince the officers of the two Shiksan folks to betray us so that Shiks can get another colony on Nubissia. The ambassador offered amnesty for the Shiksan troops' crimes and would allow them to return to Shiks to return to their families and discharge after they manage to take over a colony."
Shocked, Birkin said, "They actually sent an ambassador to them?!"
Claude nodded helplessly. He looked for a document on his desk and handed it to Birkin. "Shiks has informants in our region. As we are calling for the captives to join the voluntary folks, the informant reported this to their home nation. Majid III wants to turn them against us to get a colony for himself.
"Look at this document. The ambassador was clear in his testimony that Majid III personally gave the order. Fortunately, the folks are now stationed in the inner continent in the losman's territory while the ambassador arrived here at a port. As he's white, he got scrutinised by the losman. Having no choice, he revealed his identity as a Shiksan ambassador. The losman then sent him to the branch office we set up there. Being taken captive, the ambassador cooperated and confessed to everything.
"That's why we can't move these two folks. I worry that won't be the last ambassador to come here. If they make contact without us knowing and are convinced, it'll bring us huge trouble. It might even put Operation Wildfire to a complete halt.
"Currently, I'm using a few garrison lines to fill in for those Shiksan folks, having them pretend to be Shiksan mercenaries and stationing them in losman territory. The two actual Shiksan folks have been transferred to a secret camp in Robisto to be expanded. The news brought by the escapees from the Shiksan homeland is spreading. Some of the captives are really enraged. I plan to lead them to attack Shiks next year."
Things clicked into understanding in Birkin's head. "You mean to say, we can't count on the Shiksan folks in the coming year, right?"
"That's right. After new year's eve, I will be returning to the mainland to fulfill the kingdom's order for an ironclad fleet and to reorganise Thundercrash, form a new corps, Typhoon and gather the Shiksan volunteers to make an advance on Shiks when the opportunity shows itself. We'll crush this headache of a nation for good so that our kingdom and autonomous region won't have to worry about them any longer.
"Additionally, I intend to get some war funds from Shiks. Operation Wildfire might take ten or more years to complete. We'll still have to pour in much more funds into it before then. Our income in the region alone isn't able to sustain such an expenditure, so I intend to source some of it from elsewhere. During the Second Great Eastern Freian War, our experience in Nasri showed us that nothing makes more money than robbing a nation. Not to mention, Shiks has always been itching on going to war with us.
"Lastly, I hope we can gain enough immigrants from Shiks to our region. The kingdom has sealed off most avenues of immigration to the region, but we still need more manpower to develop. Those 500 thousand Shiksan captives have lived here for many years and like it here. Most of them want to become permanent residents. However, their kingdom has declared them traitors and they can't return home.
"I used the experience of the two thousand captives when they were sent back to Shiks to stoke their anger. So, now, most of them want to go back to fight Shiks. I've decided to expand them to have eight folks and lead them to Eastern Freia. That way, we'll have enough troops to attack Shiks. Once Shiks is defeated, those voluntary soldiers will bring their families to the region. Think about how many more citizens we can gain by doing this."