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Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Thu May 12, 2022 6:37 pm
by Captain Wheelgun
Hi guys, sorry for the lack of posting.

I’m still working on the next book, but I decided to start over because the plot line I had been working on just wasn’t working out. So forget everything I’ve posed so far... :twisted:

Still waiting for more info on the Haunted Library anthology. As far as I know it’s still due to publish this month. I’ll let you know when I know more.

OK, OK, back to the word mines...

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Fri May 13, 2022 8:01 am
by Captain Wheelgun
Once more, from the top...

Prologue

August 1939 - Somewhere in France

In a meeting room overlooking Courtyard of the Black Pillar, the High Twelve sat, waiting for the Grand Master to arrive. As usual, all wore their black cloaks of office, concealing their faces within the archaic hood.

“Do any of you know why His Grace called us here” asked Number Twelve. “I can’t afford to be away from the Élysée Palace too long or people will start to ask questions we may not want them to be asking.”

“No idea” said Number Two. “I assume that it has to do with the situation between Germany and Poland.”

“Most likely” said Number Five. “Is there any other thing which could be worth summoning all of us from our normal tasks?”

Just then, a guard opened the door. “My Lords, His Grace, the Grand Master.” Everybody stood and bowed as he took his place at the head of the long table. The guard left, closing the door behind him.

“Be seated, my brothers. As you all know, war with Germany is likely to start soon. I have summoned you to ask if you have any thoughts as to how this may be used to advance our goals.”

Number Twelve said “With respect, Your Grace, I fail to see how war with Germany will help us with avenging the Lost Army. Texas is sure to remain neutral, as they did in the last war.”

Number Five sighed. “Yes, that is the official mission of our order, but apparently you have forgotten why we truly exist.”

“No, I understand the need to gain control of the government of France, but we have nearly accomplished that! All who sit on this council currently hold positions of power within the government, or may be asked to do so at any time! And I have reason to believe that many of our lower brothers also hold positions within the National Assembly. We are within reach of controlling the entire Republic once the People vote in the correct leaders!”

“No, you do NOT understand, Number Twelve” shouted Number One. “The ridiculous farce known as the Third Republic must be swept away, not merely controlled! France requires a firm, strong hand to guide it back to it’s rightful place as the world’s leading Nation! And that hand does NOT, in any way, shape, or form, belong to the People!” The scorn and derision in that last word would probably have eaten through the table, had it had physical form.

“Indeed” said Number Five. “And a return to the Bourbons or Bonapartes is equally out of the question. The new French State MUST take a more modern form, controlling and guiding all aspects of the Nation, but with respect for the traditions of France’s glorious past.”

Number Two said “But furthermore, we must avoid the pitfalls laid by those who would follow the teachings of Marx, whatever their outer trappings. National Socialist, International Socialist, Fascist, each with their own attractions, and all WRONG for France!”

“Yes! The only thing ‘The People’ need is to know their place and their duty to France and to God” said Number Six. “As God guides and commands us, so shall we guide and command France through a counter-revolution to restore the proper ways.”

“All this is true” said the Grand Master, re-taking control of the meeting. “As I see it, the hard decisions that must be made in any war will prove the decadence of the Republic, and we MUST be ready to step in once the fall occurs.”

“Yes, your Grace. And Number Twelve, I have some ideas that will cause all the pain to the Barbarians that you could desire, while aiding in our true mission.”

“What might that be, Number Five?”

“It is better that you do not know, so that your public reactions will be genuine when the events reveal themselves.”

“I do not like this, Number Five...”

The Grand Master interrupted “It is not for you to like or to dislike, Number Twelve, only for you to obey! I believe we have done all we can here today. Numbers One, Five, and Six, you shall remain. The rest will return to your public duties until called.” All but the requested council members stood and left.

********************

When the others had left, the Grand Master stood. “Come to my chamber.” He walked through a door at the opposite end of the room, the others following. He stood behind a small but expensive desk, the others went to chairs on the opposite side.

“You may remove your cloaks and be seated. We shall not be disturbed here.” Matching his actions to his words, Marshal Philippe Pétain set his cloak on his desk. “Number Twelve is becoming untrustworthy. Remind me, how did he end up on the council?”

Number Six, the Archbishop of Paris, said “His father had held a seat before him. And when he was appointed to the Presidency by the Senate, it seemed a good idea to bring him in. This may have been a mistake.”

“That has been apparent for a long time” said Number One, the former Prime Minister, Pierre Laval. “For all his brave talk about avenging the Lost Army and destroying the Barbarians, his actions two years ago when they flaunted themselves off our coast were totally inadequate. Economic sanctions, indeed! How thoroughly useless! Don’t you agree, Amiral Darlan?”

“Yes, I do, Minister. And I told him as much at that time. He refused to allow anything more active, thus leading to Fenard’s disobedience and all the damage that caused, diplomatically and militarily.”

“So, what is your idea for using the coming war to punish the Barbarians, Darlan?”

“It’s quite simple, Marshal. Lebrun is worried that Texas will remain neutral, and continue raking in money while better men fight. This time around, they will not be given the option...”

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Sat May 14, 2022 11:23 am
by tfbncc
Hmmm. A bit of a departure from the tone of the first book. Or is this just another, more powerful version of the klansman they encountered in Virginia? A secret cabal within the French government? Well, let's see where it takes us.

Ray

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Sat May 14, 2022 6:44 pm
by Captain Wheelgun
tfbncc wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 11:23 am Hmmm. A bit of a departure from the tone of the first book. Or is this just another, more powerful version of the klansman they encountered in Virginia? A secret cabal within the French government? Well, let's see where it takes us.

Ray
Secret cabal. Most of the major players in the OPN are the people who ended up running the Vichy government in our timeline.

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Sat May 14, 2022 9:40 pm
by randy
Captain Wheelgun wrote: Sat May 14, 2022 6:44 pm
Secret cabal. Most of the major players in the OPN are the people who ended up running the Vichy government in our timeline.
Yeah, noticed that.

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Mon May 16, 2022 5:30 pm
by BDK
So, bit hard to imagine an Anti-Socialist totalitarian Frenchman or Archbishop.

Papists pretty well default to Socialism, and always have. Same with monarchs. Aristos may not, as the central state usually opposed their wealth and power. Depends on if they felt like money flowed to them, from the state, or from them , to the state.

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Mon May 16, 2022 8:42 pm
by Captain Wheelgun
BDK wrote: Mon May 16, 2022 5:30 pm So, bit hard to imagine an Anti-Socialist totalitarian Frenchman or Archbishop.

Papists pretty well default to Socialism, and always have. Same with monarchs. Aristos may not, as the central state usually opposed their wealth and power. Depends on if they felt like money flowed to them, from the state, or from them , to the state.
There my not nave been many like that, bit they did find enough to form a government:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vichy_France

Pretty much the definition of ‘Anti-socialist authoritarian’ as far as I can tell.

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Sat May 21, 2022 7:07 am
by Captain Wheelgun
Here’s a short snippet. The pressure is starting to rise...

Mid-October, 1939 - The Presidential Residence, Austin, Republic of Texas

President Samuel Velasquez had a worried look on his face as he walked into the secure briefing room. The senior members of his Cabinet and some other select government officials were standing around the table, waiting for him to take his seat. “Please be seated gentlemen, ma’am.” He nodded to the one lady present. “Harry, why don’t you start off with a brief overview of the situation.”

“Yes, sir” said Secretary of State Harrison Lincoln. “Mr. President, we have received a report, actually a complaint, from the French government by way of our embassy in London, that on October 1st, a Texas flagged merchant ship was seen sailing in company with the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee. They claim that one of their scouting planes, flying from their colony in Guiana, spotted the ships off the coast of Brazil. They have demanded to know why Texas is providing support for the German Navy.”

There were several gasps and surprised utterances at this. “That’s ridiculous!” “Impossible!” “They’re lying, as usual!”

Lincoln continued “According to the cable I received from Ambassador de Zavala, the French claim to have photographs of the ships sailing together, with no impression that the Texas ship was doing so under duress. They’ve identified the ship as the MS Estrella del Sur.”

“Is there such a vessel on our registry, Aaron?”

“I’d have to have someone check the records, Mr. President” said Transportation Secretary Aaron Miller. “However, based on the name, she sounds like one of the general cargo and tanker combination vessels owned by the Estrella line out of Brownsville. They usually trade with ports in South America and west Africa, so that would make it possible.”

“I don’t like the sound of this” said the Secretary of War, Joaquin Gonzales Alvarado. “If this is true, then the ship had to have been taken by force. Wasn’t there a report from around that time that the Graf Spee had sunk a British ship? We know that one of their other cruisers, the Deutschland, has seized an American ship, the SS City of Flint, claiming they were carrying contraband. What if this is the same thing? Maybe the Krauts stopped her and got a prize crew aboard before she could radio a distress signal?”

“How did Ambassador de Zavala respond, Harry?”

“Mr. President, he flatly denied the accusation of our collaboration with the Germans and demanded the original negatives of the photos the French claim to have. They refused that, and even refused to show the photos to him and to the British.”

“Waitaminit, Harry” exclaimed Secretary Miller. “They won’t even show their alleged ‘proof’ to their own allies? This stinks worse than the Fort Worth Stockyards in August, Mr President.”

“Indeed it does, Aaron. Dr. Anderson, has the FIS picked up anything about this yet?”

All eyes turned to the only lady in the room, Dr. Helena Anderson, the recently appointed head of the Congressional Archive Service, whose Foreign Information Section was the Republic’s de-facto spy agency. She looked back at the President. “Not as yet, Mr. President. I will send a request to our field archivists for a report. And Secretary Lincoln, that was a good idea by the Ambassador, asking for the negatives. No doubt any photos they did provide would have been, shall we say, creatively edited, to show what they wanted.”

“Thank you, Dr. Anderson. And you can piggy-back your request on to the all-embassy cable that I’ll be sending later today.”

“Thank you, Mr. Secretary. That will get it out much faster than using the normal FIS channels.”

“Since we’re waiting for more information, I suggest we adjourn until tomorrow. Get your information requests out as quickly as possible. Harry, tell de Zavala to keep pressing for those negatives, or at least prints. Even doctored photos will tell us something. And get with Ambassador Molteno to see if he has anything he can give us from his government.”

“Yes, Mr. President.” Everybody stood when the President did, and he left the room.

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Mon May 23, 2022 5:39 am
by Captain Wheelgun
Here’s another short snippet...

Mid November, 1939 - Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Headquarters, London, England

Alastair Robinson hurried down the hall. As head of the French section of the SIS, he rarely had much to do other than the occasional liaison with his French counterpart. However, a short while ago, his chief, Colonel Stewart Menzies, the head of the SIS, had asked him to come to his office immediately, sounding very agitated. He slowed to a more dignified walking pace just before reaching the door to the outer office. When he entered, the secretary advised him to go right in.

“You wanted to see me, sir?”

“Ah, Robinson, excellent timing. Please, have a seat. I’ve just been on the phone with the PM, and he’s handed me a problem that should be right up your alley.”

“What problem is that, sir?”

“Well, to directly quote Mr. Chamberlain, ‘C, I need you to find out just what the bloody hell the the French are playing at with this Texas business!’ So, it’s my turn to ask you. What the bloody hell are they up to? It makes no sense, making accusations like that and then refusing to provide evidence, even to us. Now they’ve seized a Texas-flagged tanker that was going to Portugal, claiming it was actually going to Spain to pass fuel to the Germans. The PM said that Texas’ ambassador has requested the help of His Majesty’s Government in getting the ship released. Have you heard anything from your contacts in Paris?”

“Only that they apparently believe that Texas is on the verge of throwing in with Germany. They are blaming the influence of the large German immigrant community there, along with the long-standing hatred for France stemming from their war in Mexico. I don’t believe that for a moment myself, sir. Oh, the hatred is quite real, and thoroughly mutual. But Texas made a point of staying out of the last war. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them. They had nothing to gain from joining on our side, and even less from joining the Central Powers.”

“Indeed, and there would likewise be no benefit for them to side with the Jerries now. Just the geography makes any kind of mutual assistance nearly impossible. And the Texas Government has long been vocally anti-Nazi. They even took in the refugees from the MS Saint Louis when nobody else would. Bloody hell, they broke off diplomatic relations with Germany after the Estrella del Sur incident. That hardly sounds like a country straining at the bit to go to war with two of the greatest powers in Europe. There must be something deeper going on. I need your section to start digging on this immediately. This has top priority over everything else.”

“Yes, sir, we’ll get started right away. One question, though. Don’t the Texans have their own intelligence services? I remember there was something of a minor kerfuffle in Germany back in ‘37 over some engineers that were smuggled out and then turned up in Texas.”

“Yes, there was. Their deputy military attache ended up being called home before the German Foreign Ministry could PNG him because of that.”

“I hope he didn’t get into too much trouble. That was a very neatly done operation.”

“He appears to have come out all right. He was the commander of the Texas Navy ship that participated in His Majesty’s Coronation review.”

“The one that trolled off the French coast a few days after the review?”

“The very same. My Navy acquaintances tell me that that was also very neatly done. It may be worthwhile to have the North American section keep an eye on him. He could potentially be a valuable friend, or a very dangerous adversary. As for your other question, it seems they do, indeed have an intelligence organization. I was contacted by it’s chief recently, a Dr. Helena Anderson.”

“A woman! That’s quite unusual, sir.”

“It gets better. The reason we never twigged to their service’s existence is because they hid it in plain sight. And in a most unusual way. It seems it is part of their Congressional Archive Service.”

“Cloak and dagger librarians, sir? I’ll say that’s unusual!”

“Quite. And it makes a lot of sense, it you think about it. Hiding an intelligence service in an organization whose job is to collect, organize, and store information is perfect. They have archivists in all of their embassies to do all the normal, mundane record-keeping tasks, but some are more than what they seem. Oh, and that goes no further than this office, unless and until I say otherwise. They could also be useful friends someday.”

“Or dangerous opponents. I take your point, sir.”

“Good. Get cracking on what’s happening in France. This has the potential to get extremely ugly, and we need to have the right answers for the PM and the Foreign Secretary when they ask for them.”

“Yes sir.”

Re: Alt-history writing project

Posted: Mon May 23, 2022 10:00 am
by tfbncc
Things seem to be warming up nicely. I'm looking forward to book the second.