Alt-history writing project

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randy
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by randy »

I'd have him send down a Company of Marines with a least a Marine Colonel from Quantico along with Leahy, just to ensure that the Norfolk Marines understand where the Chain of Command actually runs.
...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".
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Captain Wheelgun
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

TFBNCC and Randy, thank you for your suggestions.

Would it be better to get the Marines from the Barracks at Eighth & I?
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by tfbncc »

Possibly.

I was trying to remember if the Secret Service guarded the White House at this period in time or if it was marine guards. I'll have to look it up. Leahy could take marines from any naval or marine corps facility anywhere between Washington and Norfolk. It all depends on how you want the story line to jell.
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

Okay, I’ve edited that section. How does this look?

The secretary came in, carrying a large envelope. “Mr. President, a courier from the Texas Embassy just delivered this.” She handed the envelope to the President and left the room.

“Well, let’s see what von Stahlberg’s side of the story is.” He read the report, passing pages to the other men in the room as he finished them. He grew increasingly angry as he read.

“Well, Nimitz,” said Adm. Leahy, “it appears that von Stahlberg shared your suspicions about Admiral Hall. When the tug crews said they had been ordered by Hall not to allow fueling until the next day, he ordered the barges anchored away from his ships. That’s what kept the explosion from doing serious damage to them.”

“Yes, sir. And according to this, two of the five fatalities they suffered, and six of the wounded, were from gunfire, not the explosion. They found rifles and dynamite with the dead civilians. Also, three of the civilians were aboard one of the surviving barges, all shot dead before the explosion. That pretty much destroys Hall’s version of last night’s events. He has guards on the barges, along with men from New York, to make sure nothing is changed or removed.”

“Gentlemen, we need to get this situation under control now. I will be calling Director Hoover as soon as we finish here. In the meantime, Leahy, I want you to gather as many Marines as you can and get down to Norfolk as quickly as you can. I want Hall and anybody who might be following him arrested!”

“The FBI, Mr President?” asked Capt. Puleston. “ONI can handle this investigation. It is a naval matter, after all.”

“President Velasquez specifically requested that the FBI run the investigation, Captain, at von Stahlberg’s suggestion. He said that his officers don’t trust any of the local authorities down there. I’m inclined to agree with him. Also, there are dead civilians, American citizens, involved. That makes this much more than just a Navy matter. Get moving, gentlemen.”

“Yes, Mr. President.” Leahy replied. The officers all stood and left
********************
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by tfbncc »

I think that reads better. What's your opinion?

Ray
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

Picking up from the last snippet...

Two hours later, Outer Harbor, Norfolk Navy Base

As Karl looked out over the harbor, the scene he beheld could indeed be described as a Mexican Standoff. All of his ships were back at General Quarters, with the bridge fully manned and Marines and armed sailors ready to repel boarders. The main and secondary batteries were still trained fore and aft, but the AA Gatlings were pointed out toward the Yankees. The engines were running, ready for any maneuvering orders he might give. The boarding parties on the two remaining barges were also on alert.

Swarming in the water surrounding all of them were a collection of small patrol boats, all commanded by Admiral Hall, who had just sent another demand for the surrender of Karl and his fellow captains. Some of the American sailors were armed, but as yet, Karl hadn’t seen any Marines on the Yankee boats. The Yankees had captured the crew of the boat he had sent to Burleson County to deliver his report. They had tried to get back to San Antonio, but were cut off by the first of the Yankee patrol boats.

Admiral Collins had arrived aboard Burleson County about an hour ago, but he couldn’t transfer over to San Antonio due to the Yankee patrol boats positioned between his ships. They were able to communicate over the short range radio system.

Admiral Collins said “Captain von Stahlberg, we’ve just received an update from the Embassy. The President has been in contact with President Roosevelt, and there are senior officers on their way from Washington to arrest Admiral Hall.”

“That’s good news , sir. Should we tell Hall that, sir? It might get him to back off.”

“Maybe, or it might provoke him into doing something stupid. Things are more or less stable now, I think the best option is to wait for the Yankees to clean up their own mess.”

“Aye aye, sir.”
********************
On board one of the patrol boats, Admiral Hall was becoming increasingly worried and frustrated. Nothing had gone right with this whole plan. He had to get the Texans to surrender and regain control of the fuel barges before his own Navy superiors arrived. He wanted to present them with a solid case for prosecuting the senior Texas officers and expelling the rest. Failing that, he wanted to goad the Texans into firing on U.S. Navy vessels, hoping that would have the same result. He especially wanted to hide any evidence of his involvement in provoking the incidents with the Texans.

Unfortunately, in his hurry to get out here, he had neglected to bring any other officers, or any of the base’s Marine detachment with him. The Marines were all posted at the base gates because of the lockdown he had ordered, and it was taking far too long to get them out here instead. Nor did he have any actual ships to back him up, since he was the base commander, but not the fleet commander. Vice Admiral Tarrant had flatly refused to help in any way, going so far as to commend Captain Welch for his actions in helping the Texans when Hall had asked for Welch to be relieved for insubordination. Tarrant sharply reminded Hall of the chain of command, and that Hall had no authority over any fleet units.

The patrol boat’s radio operator said “Admiral, Captain Gilliam just called from the base command center. He said that Admiral Leahy is on his way here, and he has sent orders that you should stop all attempts to board the Texas ships or the barges until he arrives.”

Hall wondered how Washington had even heard about this, because he had ordered that no reports were to be sent until he could ‘complete his investigation’. Then he remembered that the Texans had launched an autogyro from one of their ships before he could stop them. That aircraft had returned about an hour ago. He had thought about having his men try to shoot it down, but thought better of it. He was out of time, and almost out of ideas. He had one left.

Hall turned to the patrol boat’s captain, “Chief, we need to end this now. Have the Texas prisoners brought on deck, then bring the boat within hailing range of the cruiser.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

When they got close enough Hall called out through a megaphone “Von Stahlberg, This is your last chance to end this peacefully! You, de Zavala, and Black Horse will surrender to me or I will have your boat crew executed! You have five minutes!”

“Sir, you can’t do that!” said the Chief.

Hall had a slightly crazed look on his face now. “Like hell I can’t! I’m in command here!” As he said that, he walked out on deck behind the Texas prisoners. He drew his pistol and aimed at one of the prisoners, a Negro, of course. He raised the megaphone again. “You have four minutes now! No more stalling!”

The patrol boat Chief, realizing that Hall had gone insane, and what he was about to do, tackled Hall from behind, knocking both of them to the deck. They wrestled over control of the pistol. The other crewmen stood still, shocked by what they saw happening.

“Let go, damn you! I’ll have you shot too!” cried Hall.

“No sir, I can’t let you do that!”

“Don’t you understand? They’re perverting the natural order of the races! They’re defying the will of God! They have to be punished! America needs a war with Texas to set things right! We should have conquered them a long time ago and established God’s Law there!”

Hearing Admiral Hall’s tirade broke the stasis of the other crewmen on the boat. Two of them jumped into the fight, helping their Chief. They finally managed to get the gun away from Hall and pin him to the deck.

“Get some rope and secure him!” shouted the Chief.

“You will all burn in Hell!”

“Probably so, Admiral, but not for this.” He turned to the other crewmen. “Get the prisoners unlocked, and let them go back to their ship. We’re done here!”

They released the Texas sailors and helped them back into their boat. The radioman relayed the Chief’s order to stand down to the other American boats. The boats began moving away from the Texas ships, heading back toward the inner harbor and the base.
********************
Seeing the Yankee boats moving away, Karl ordered “Secure from General Quarters! Safe and stow all weapons! Signal those orders to BC and GC!”

After the OOD repeated the orders back, Karl picked up the short-range radio handset. “Admiral, looks like the Yankees are moving off. I’ve ordered the Patrol Group to secure from General Quarters. Do you have any orders, sir?”

“Not at this time, Captain. I’ll remain aboard Burleson County until we can confirm that it really is over. Good job keeping everyone under control.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Did you hear what the Yankees were saying before that sailor tackled Admiral Hall, Captain?”

“Yes, sir. The Admiral again demanded the surrender of myself and Commanders de Zavala and Black Horse, and he threatened to execute our captured sailors if we didn’t comply. Apparently, the other Yankees weren’t going to go along with that.”

“Nice to know that there are still some sane people out there. Now we need to wait for their brass to show up and finish straightening out this goat rope.”
********************
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

Thanks for your suggestions, Randy and TFBNCC. Here’s another snippet, set some time later from the previous ones...

“Ship off the port bow, bearing three one zero” called one of the lookouts. Karl was on the bridge, but hadn’t taken over the conn. He went out on the bridge wing to get a better look at the approaching ship. He called over the assistant watch officers. It was time for a little professional education.

“Ensign Castro, can you identify that ship?”

“Sir, I don’t recognize her. She does appear to be a warship of some kind, though.”

“Haven’t you been studying the Identification Book during our trip, Ensign? We’re off the English coast. I would have thought that it could be useful to know how to identify the most common types of ships we could encounter here. What about you, Ensign Jones? What do you see?”

The Ensign looked through his binoculars. “Sir, she is just hull up on the horizon. I see a tall superstructure aft, with three gun turrets visible.”

“Where are those turrets, Ensign?”

“Sir, they are forward of the superstructure.”

“Does it look like there are any aft of the superstructure?”

“No sir, there doesn’t appear to be enough room there.”

“And how many guns are in the turrets?”

“Three, sir.”

“And what ships would be found in this area matching that description, Ensign?”

Ensign Jones tilted his head, obviously thinking about that question, then his face lit up. “Sir! She should be either HMS Nelson or HMS Rodney!”

“Very good, Ensign Jones. Ensign Hartmann, what if the ship had only two turrets, but with four guns in each?”

“Sir, then she would be a French Battleship, either Dunkerque or Strasbourg!”

“Excellent. Ensign Castro, given the current state of our relations with those nations, wouldn’t you say that it was fairly important to be able to tell a British battleship from a French one?”

“Umm, yes sir, it would.”

“I trust that you will be spending a little more time perusing the Identification Book then Ensign?”

“Sir, yes sir!”

“Return to your posts.”

They walked away, leaving Karl alone on the bridge wing. Lewis walked over, smiling. “That certainly got their attention, sir.”

“Good, nice to know I wasn’t wasting my time.”
********************
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

Another short snippet, an old man gets a blast from the past...

In an apartment building overlooking Portsmouth Harbor

Vice-Admiral Vincent Molteno, CB, Royal Navy, stood looking out the window at the latest group of ships to tie up at the Visitor’s Pier. They had been coming and going for several days. Even though he was long since retired, he still enjoyed watching the Navy he had served in for so long.

This latest group seemed different from the others he had seen. He couldn’t make out what flags the ships were flying due to the light fog over the harbor. The first was a large yacht or small liner. Probably carrying some VIP or other, coming for the coronation that was scheduled in less than two weeks. Next was the strangest thing he had ever seen, a large ship, obviously a warship of some kind, with three hulls and a large, flat deck area at the stern. He was surprised to see the ship stop, then turn within it’s own length and back up next to the pier without the assistance of the tug that was standing by.

He was commenting about this to his daughter, Viola, who was sitting nearby, when he saw the third ship. He stared out the window, not believing what he saw.

“Father, are you all right?”

“I, I’m not sure, love. For a moment there, I thought I saw my old ship, Warrior, coming into the harbor. But it can’t be, she sank in ‘16 at Jutland.”

“Where did you see her, Father?”

“Out in the basin, as if waiting for her turn to tie up at the Visitor’s Pier.”

“I do see a ship out there. Perhaps it’s one of Warrior’s sisters?”

“No, they were either lost in the war or scrapped afterward. But good heavens, she could indeed be a twin for her.”

“Perhaps you should go down to the Visitor’s pier to get a closer look.”

“Yes, I think I shall. Would you like to come with me, dear?

“Why yes, I would, Father. Let me get our coats.”

********************
Aboard San Antonio, Visitor’s Pier, Portsmouth Harbor

Karl waited by the OOD’s in-port station while the team of sailors on the pier finished wrestling the gangway into place. Judging from how heavy it looked, he didn’t envy them their job, either. Chief Jackson was there too, ostensibly to help Karl with his baggage. Karl suspected that he was really going on a hunt for new recipes. When the gangway was finally in place and secure, they saluted the Colors on the quarterdeck and went down to the pier.

As they turned toward the area where the President’s ship was docked, a Royal Navy Admiral came up, with a young lady beside him. He seemed to be staring at San Antonio, as if trying to remember something.

Karl saluted, then asked “Is there something I can help you with, sir?”

“May I ask what ship this is?”

“She the Texas Navy Ship San Antonio, sir. I’m her commander, Captain Karl von Stahlberg, Republic of Texas Navy.”

The Admiral continued staring at the ship, while the young lady stared at Karl. Finally she said “Father, perhaps you should introduce us?”

“My apologies, Captain. I’m Vice-Admiral Vincent Molteno, and this is my daughter, Viola.”

“Sir, miss.” Karl nodded to the young lady.

May I ask where she was built?”

“She was built here in England, by Vickers at Barrow-in Furness, sir.”

“Would it be possible for us to go aboard your ship sir? I should very much like to look around her.”

“I reckon that could be arranged, sir.” Karl turned to one of the Marines at the foot of the gangway. “Corporal Smith, please ask the Officer of the Deck to contact Commander Alexander and have him come out here.”

“Aye aye, sir.” Smith went up to pass the message.

“May I ask why you wish to look at my ship, sir?”

“She looks just like a ship I commanded in the war. When I saw her coming into the harbor, I thought I was seeing a ghost ship.”

“What ship was she, sir?”

“HMS Warrior. I lost her at Jutland.”

Karl’s eyes got very large when he heard that. “I’ve read about that battle, sir. The First Cruiser Squadron got tangled up with the whole German battle fleet. You did an amazing job getting her away and saving most of your crew, sir. And that explains the resemblance. San Antonio and her sisters were all built in British yards, and they’re basically copies of Warrior.”

“Good Lord, Father. You were right. In a way, she is a ghost ship.”

Lewis came up as she said that. “Admiral Molteno, Miss Viola, this is San Antonio’s Sailing Master, Commander Lewis Alexander. Commander, this is Vice-Admiral Molteno and his daughter, Viola. The Admiral commanded one of San Antonio’s sisters at Jutland.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you sir, miss.”

“Sailing Master?” asked Viola.

“Second in command, miss.”

“Oh, like the First Lieutenant on a Royal Navy ship.”

“Exactly.”

“Commander, the Admiral would like to look around the ship. Please assign an escort and allow him to go anywhere he wishes.” He turned back to Molteno.”Admiral, Miss Viola, please feel free to look around the ship. I regret that I’m not able to conduct you around myself, but I have other commitments.”

“Thank you for your generosity, Captain von Stahlberg. I hope we shall meet again soon.”

Viola smiled at Karl. “Yes, Captain, thank you very much for allowing this. And I also hope we meet again.”
********************
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Re: Alt-history writing project

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

I’m still working on this, just some delays due to work. It’s over 36,000 words and looks like it will end up somewhere over 40,000 words.
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Re: Alt-history writing project

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We're waiting (tap tap tap)
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